The Loves and Labours of Doris Sloane, Chapter 1

  • Posted on May 26, 2024 at 2:29 pm

Note from BlueJean: Sometime in the latter half of 2022 I happened to ask JetBoy if I could tinker with an unfinished story of his. Foolishly, he gave me his blessing, and so I began scribbling in earnest, gleefully adding brand new scenes, including one that involved a ferret running amok in a car. Having read my radical retelling of the first chapter, JetBoy very calmly explained that it wasn’t really what he had in mind. After apologising profusely and promising it would never happen again, I set to work on a more restrained effort, and over the course of many months, he and I tossed the story back and forth like two tennis players with a word ball, adding new parts, expanding others, reworking dialogue, and fleshing out characters. The result of our considerable labours awaits you below – a story entirely devoid of ferrets.

Note from JetBoy: In the midst of editing work on BlueJean’s “The Beekeeper’s Daughters” (if you haven’t read that story yet, why the hell not?), I offhandedly told him that I had an unfinished novel, set nearly a century ago in England, that I’d been chipping away at for ages. Curious, he asked me to send him what I’d composed thus far; I did so, then forgot he’d even asked to see the thing. Imagine my surprise when, a few months later, BlueJean asked if I’d be okay with him putting in some work on it. Honestly, I couldn’t think of a better person for the job, so he got the go-ahead. 

When I got my first piece of reworked text, I was horrified by how many changes he’d made. (I imagine a few dozen past and present Juicy Secrets authors muttering, “Now YOU know how it feels, dickweed.”) But upon taking a closer look, I noticed that most of the alterations didn’t alter as much as I’d thought, and nearly all of them were spot-on. I went through what he’d done, making changes and additions of my own, then threw it back to him…. aaaaaannnnnnd just like that, we were off and running.

Since BlueJean writes at least ten times faster than I do, he ended up composing a hell of a lot of the new material which, like everything else, got passed back and forth until we were both satisfied with the result… though I contributed new scenes as well. At this point, we’ve been through the text so exhaustively that it’s hard to say who did what – a collaborative work in the very best sense of the word. And if I may speak for both BlueJean and myself, we are well pleased with the final result. It’s not Lolita, admittedly… but for a couple of amateur authors, it ain’t too shabby. 

So here it is, dear friends – Chapter One of the BlueJean/JetBoy lesbian novel. Hope you like it. 


By JetBoy and BlueJean


I am old now, so I will tell my story while I still have the time and memory to do so. For whom I recount it, I’m not sure – this is certainly not a tale for grandchildren, or for the pensioners I play bridge with on Thursday afternoons. Perhaps I tell it for myself, to gather it all together in one place, that I might make sense of those years and all that happened in that old house.

Yes. For myself, then.

I was left an orphan at the age of eight when my parents perished in a ballroom fire one New Year’s Eve. There were no living relations to take me in, so I was thrown on the mercy of the state, who subsequently shunted me into a Catholic institution for girls with no families – a dreary, miserable place that seemed to exist solely to wring all the life and hope from those who washed up there. Even at my tender age, though, I had a fierce determination to make something of myself.

The orphanage allowed no idle hands. We were apprenticed in various vocations suitable for young ladies on the lower rungs of society – maids, secretaries, house cleaners, cooks. In many ways, those institutions served as human factories, churning out cheap labour for the privileged few. As one of the brighter girls, I was trained in the role of caring for children. In those days it was quite common for families to take girls from orphanages for live-in jobs as nannies and governesses when they came of age.

As it happened, I turned out to be rather good with children, having become a sort of mother figure to several of the younger girls. I could also read and write well, and came to be quite deft with a needle and thread. So when Mrs. Victoria Shaw, a widow with three daughters, came looking for someone suitable to look after her girls, the sisters presented me to her as a potential candidate. I was terribly nervous that day, enough that I could barely meet her gaze, but she seemed to approve of me, and I was given the position.

This was a most fortunate turn of events. If I did the job well and gave no cause to displease my employer, I might have a home with the Shaws for at least two years, possibly even longer. As I had not a soul to call family, this was perhaps my only opportunity to free myself from the stigma of poverty and charity; to find my own way in the world.

So I packed my meagre belongings: three dresses, two changes of underwear, a single pair of shoes, a bracelet that had belonged to my mother and a Bible given me by the Mother Superior, a parting gift that was surely intended to remind me that though I had managed to escape their grasp, God would still be watching. I would later abandon it on the train, taking great satisfaction in that small act of defiance. I left without a backward glance, accompanied to the station by one of the sullen drabs who worked in the orphanage kitchen. There, I boarded the train that took me to Croydon, from where I would make my way to Shadowglen, the house where the Shaw family resided.

The year was 1935, and I had only just turned sixteen.


Shadowglen was to the south of Croydon, on the rural outskirts of London. I would surely never have found it on my own if my new employer hadn’t arranged for one of the locals to meet me at the train station, a rather rumpled old man who took my case and placed it on the backseat of a battered old truck, then opened the passenger door for me. “Doris, is it?” he croaked. “I’m to bring ya to Mrs. Shaw’s.”

“Oh, thank you, that’s very kind,” I replied as I climbed inside. The old man shut the door, then hobbled round to the front of the vehicle to crank up the engine, a feat that seemed to require considerable effort, as well as some choice language. When eventually the truck spluttered to life, he shoved himself behind the wheel without a word and we were on our way.

I hadn’t seen the countryside for many years – when I’d been very small and my parents had still been alive – so the ride to Shadowglen was a wondrous slideshow of greens and browns and yellows. The bright vibrancy of it all amazed me – a treat for the eyes after the dull grey spaces of an orphanage that seemed to drain the colour from anything it touched. And the air was so clean. When one has experienced the dirty green smog of London, the country is… well, a breath of fresh air. I wanted to gulp it down like cool water.

The old man didn’t seem to be one for conversation, but I was content to enjoy the scenery with the window wound down and that wonderful air rushing against my skin. After a couple of miles, he turned his truck onto a road that, I soon realised, wasn’t a road at all, but the thoroughfare of a large house that, for all my guileless naivety, seemed more like a palace. Was this really to be my new home?

After thanking the man and retrieving my case, I climbed the steps of the main entrance and stood poised at the doors. Steeling myself, I timidly raised the heavy brass knocker and brought it down, the loud crack making me jump.

Expecting a butler or housemaid to answer, I was surprised when Mrs. Shaw herself came to the door.

This was the first time I had met my new mistress since her visit to the orphanage, and it was only now that I became fully aware of her beauty. She was tall and slender, with dark blonde hair that hung loose around her shoulders, and striking blue eyes you could easily lose yourself in. Her smile radiated warmth, and at the sight of it I felt my nervousness ease somewhat.

“You’re here at last,” she said. “Welcome to Shadowglen.”

I dipped into a little curtsey, just the way I’d been taught. “Thank you, ma’am.”

“’Mrs. Shaw,’ will do just fine, I think,” she told me. Turning on her heels, she seemed to float across the floor with the smooth elegance of a dancer. I lingered on the doorstep, unsure if I was supposed to follow or not, until she peered back at me and extended a hand. “In you come, then. Let me show you around.”

As I hesitantly ventured inside, she added, “I’m afraid I was unable to meet you at the station myself. One of the tyres on my automobile is flat as a pancake, so I was obliged to have our gardener, Mr. Farnsworth, fetch you here. I trust the ride was satisfactory?”

“It was fine, ma’am – er, Mrs. Shaw, I mean,” I answered, wincing inside at how scatterbrained I must’ve seemed. Fortunately, my new employer didn’t seem to notice.

She gave me a tour of the house, or at least the parts that were relevant to my job – the kitchen and scullery, the dining hall, the drawing room. When we were done with the ground floor, I followed her upstairs. At the end of a lengthy passage was the room I would call home.

“It’s a little on the small size, but I do hope it’ll suffice,” Mrs. Shaw said as she took my case from me, setting it down on a sturdy wooden chest of drawers.

I could only stand there and gawp. I’d not had a room of my own since I was a child, and was astonished that this one would be all mine. Beside the chest of drawers, on which a mirror rested, was a large wardrobe, cut from the same dark wood. Blue curtains framed a window that looked out onto a well-kept garden, their colour matching the wallpaper and the eiderdown on the bed. The bed itself was small, but looked infinitely more comfortable than the cold metal bunks we made do with in the orphanage dormitories.

“Oh, Mrs. Shaw, it’s… it’s lovely!”

While I’d been gazing around me in awe, Mrs. Shaw was peeking inside my little case. “Dear me! Is this all you’ve brought with you?”

“It’s… all I have,” I mumbled, shamed yet again by my wretched poverty.

She looked at me thoughtfully for a few moments, then reached out to give my hand a squeeze. “Don’t worry. There’s a seamstress in town. We’ll bring her over to measure you for some new things.”

I thanked my new mistress, grateful for her generosity, but it did sting my pride a little. Once I had the means to do so, I would march up to the shops, head held high, and buy whatever I needed with my own money.

Mrs. Shaw placed a hand upon my shoulder. “Come now. I’ll introduce you to the girls. They’re most eager to meet you.”

With that, we left my new room and went back through the hallway. “My daughters have only had one other nanny,” I was told. “Miss Haggerty had been with my family for many years. She took care of me as a child, actually.”

We reached a door with a little plaque on it that read Rebecca, the name surrounded by brightly painted flowers. “She came into a bit of property in Essex, and chose to retire, and I made the decision to seek someone… nearer the girls’ age as a replacement.” Mrs. Shaw carefully studied my face. “I feel certain, Doris, that you will work out quite nicely.”

She rapped her knuckles on the door and briskly opened it to draw me into a cheerfully-lit bedroom.

Three girls awaited me within. The eldest lay on her belly on a four-poster bed, while the younger two sat cross-legged on a rug spread before a small hearth.

“Here she is, children!” Mrs. Shaw announced.

I stepped out from her shadow and adopted a confident stance – back straight, hands resolutely linked in front of me. In truth, I was a tad nervous, but determined not to let it show. “Good afternoon, girls. My name is Doris Sloane.”

Mrs. Shaw pointed to each girl in turn. “This is my eldest, Rebecca. And there’s Sophia. And finally, my baby, Melinda.”

The two youngest girls found their feet and stood before me in what seemed to be a combination of respect and curiosity, but the older daughter just looked me over, making no effort to move from her place on the bed.

I already knew their ages. Rebecca seemed older than her fourteen years. Sophia, the middle child, not quite twelve, gave me a little wave.

Ten-year-old Melinda pouted. “I’m not a baby, Mummy,” she complained, but her frown quickly dissolved into giggles when Mrs. Shaw wrapped both arms round her waist and lifted her from the ground, then peppered the child’s face with kisses.

“I’ll leave you all to get acquainted. Supper will be at the usual time,” Mrs. Shaw told us as she made for the door. I smiled my thanks and gave her a nod of the head before turning my attention back to the three pairs of eyes watching me carefully.

“I only like for Mother to call me Rebecca,” the eldest girl stated – a touch haughtily, it seemed to me. I hoped I wouldn’t have any trouble from her. “Would you call me Becky instead?”

“I’d be happy to, Becky,” I replied. “If that’s what you prefer.”

“Mummy says you’re an orphan,” Melinda blurted out. “What happened to your parents?”

An alarmed Becky immediately shushed her youngest sister, while Sophia hissed, “Shut up, Melinda!”

The child was quite embarrassed, but I took no offence at her curiosity. Taking a place on the rug, I told them what had befallen me – that my parents had died; about my time at the orphanage. True, it wasn’t entirely proper for a nanny to tell her life story to the children she was caring for, but better to quell the whispers sooner rather than later, I thought. And besides, I wanted to establish a rapport with my charges, to show them I could be confided in. To me, trust was as important as respect.

The two youngest had what seemed like a million more questions, but Becky was still quietly appraising me, chin propped up on her hands while she listened to us chat, saying so little that it was hard to know whether she approved of me or not.

“I hope we can be friends,” I told them all when there was a pause in the conversation.

“Mother says you’re mainly here to help with Melinda and Sophia,” Becky told me. “I’m old enough to look after myself.”

I thought it best to let that pass for the moment. Mrs. Shaw’s eldest would either warm to me or she would not. Time would tell.

“Do you like George Formby?” asked Sophia, and Melinda merrily tinkled away on an invisible ukulele.

“I know who he is, but I’ve not really heard many of his songs,” I explained. “We… well, we were never allowed to listen to that kind of music at the orphanage. Just hymns, mostly.”

An expression of outrage flashed across the eleven-year-old’s face. “That’s awful!” she cried, as if I’d told her the nuns kept us chained to the walls at night. “We have a wireless downstairs. They play George Formby numbers quite often. And jazz, too.” She offered me a shy smile. “Would you like to listen with me after supper?”

“Of course,” I told her, glad for any opportunity to get to know the girls better.

The sharp tinkling of a bell came from downstairs, and the girls rose to their feet. “That means it’s time for dinner,” Melinda told me.

I took her hand in mine. “Lead the way, then!”

The ten-year-old smiled proudly, and the four of us made our way downstairs to the dining room.


Those first few days and weeks at Shadowglen took some getting used to. When not occupied with the two youngest children, I was familiarising myself with the layout of the sprawling house and learning the ins and outs of housework, laundry and clothing repair, as well as numerous errands that took me into town and back. I threw myself into the work, and – exhausting though it could be – enjoyed keeping busy.

Much of Mrs. Shaw’s day was occupied with the running of her late husband’s company from the study she now called her own. Often she would venture into London – whether for business or social calls, I wasn’t sure, and it was certainly not my place to ask. I was amazed to see she owned her own automobile, and even more so to see her behind the wheel. A woman driving was practically unheard of back then, and it spoke much of her independence and strong character.

So it fell to me to make sure the children had their breakfast and got off to school on time, that their uniforms were clean and smart, and that they attended to their homework at night. During the day I mended their clothes, cleaned their rooms or ran errands for Mrs. Shaw.

There was plenty to be done, but somehow I still managed to find some free time for myself on occasion. The garden was a great pleasure to me during those days. The best the orphanage could offer was a high-walled backyard every bit as cold and glum as its interior, so sitting on the well-kept lawn of a beautiful house to eat my lunch or simply unwind felt rather decadent.

Shadowglen’s cook, Mrs. Broomfield, was a plump woman with a no-nonsense attitude but a kind heart who sometimes needed assistance in the kitchen. She lived down in the nearby village, and came to the house most days to prepare meals. She and I forged a quick friendship, and I was given the extra task of serving breakfast to Mrs. Shaw and the girls.

It was a thorough, but fairly steady routine, and after the first two weeks I felt comfortable with the workings of the household, and content with my new life.

As the weeks passed, I came to know the Shaw girls and their very different personalities.

At ten, Melinda was a little on the shy side, but her affection knew no bounds. She loved to be cuddled, and we soon grew close enough that she would often find a place on my lap during the evenings while we sat in front of the fire in the drawing room. She loved stories, and I would read to her as she lay tucked up in bed – though sometimes, if a tale was especially thrilling, she would insist on discussing the finer points of it with me when it was long past time to turn the light out and go to sleep. She was quite the budding horticulturist, and took great pride in her ability to name all the different plants and flowers in the family garden. Melinda was an unofficial assistant of sorts to Mr. Farnsworth, the taciturn old man who came by several times a week to maintain the grounds of Shadowglen. She was the only one there who could get much more than a nod out of him.

Eleven-year-old Sophia was the mischievous pixie, brimming with youthful energy. If a set of feet was heard racing up and down the stairs or dashing down the hall, they were certain to be hers. She had an insatiable curiosity about everything under the sun, equally content to watch a bird building its nest as she was studying the great fold-out atlas Mrs. Shaw had given her as a birthday gift. If Melinda’s great love was stories, then Sophia’s was undoubtedly music. Much of her time was spent listening raptly and sometimes dancing or singing to tunes on the wireless, until some distraction caught her attention and away she would fly, eager for a new adventure.

Becky was quiet, contemplative; perhaps even a little withdrawn. She was a voracious reader, and would often retreat to her room to bury herself in some book or another. Being the eldest at fourteen, she required much less attention than her younger sisters, so I didn’t have an opportunity to spend as much time with her.

I sensed a sadness in Becky that left me puzzled at first – she seemed to lack for nothing in life, after all – until I recognised the same melancholy in her that sometimes settled over me. I suspected my own fits of depression stemmed from the death of my parents, and I wondered if hers had something to do with the loss of her father. Since she was closest to my age, I hoped the two of us would become friends, but she remained distant – not hostile, simply aloof.


A month after my arrival, Mrs. Shaw summoned me to her study. I sat in the chair opposite her desk, nervously wondering if I had done something to displease her, but she simply asked me how I was settling in and whether the girls were behaving themselves under my care. Then she told me there was no need to address her by her surname anymore. “You may call me ‘Miss’ from now on,” she said, gently resting her hand upon mine. My cheeks coloured a little as I thanked her.

Not long after that, Mrs. Shaw gave me a gift that has sustained and enriched my journey through life – the love of books.

We had been taught our letters at the orphanage, but only for the purpose of studying the Good Book, or the old eighteenth and nineteenth century morality tales that we were expected to read to the younger children in our care. Genuine literature was frowned upon, seen as a corrupting influence by the harridans who controlled our lives. Those few girls who loved to read were mocked by the sisters for “putting on airs,” which all but ensured they would be teased and tormented by the others. And any girl caught with a book from the notorious Prohibitorum List – Madame Bovary, Canterbury Tales, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and numerous others – was soundly punished, and the offending tome consigned to the kitchen stove. “This is the only suitable book for a young lady,” our Sister Agatha routinely declared, brandishing her Bible like a weapon.

In that way, I’d attained womanhood with little to no interest in reading for pleasure. It took me by surprise, then, to see how devoted Mrs. Shaw was to her books. Her study held a generous library, and each day my mistress would pass an hour or two there, curled up in her chair with one of the many volumes that crowded the old oaken bookcases.

I suppose it was inevitable that I would wander into her study in my spare time to gaze at the well-stocked shelves, curious about their contents.

Eventually, I took one down, intrigued by its title: The Old Curiosity Shop. I opened it to the first page, read a few lines, and soon found myself caught up in the characters and their story. Without giving it much thought, I drifted over to the nearest chair to read a little more.

I was wrenched back into the here and now when I noticed my mistress standing in the open doorway, watching me.

I leapt to my feet, snatching the book just in time to prevent it from tumbling to the floor. “I – I’m sorry, miss!” I stammered, suddenly numb with horror. I’d been caught snooping. This was a disaster.

But Mrs. Shaw was quick to calm me. “You’ve done nothing wrong, Doris. Everyone in this house is allowed to use the library.” She paused, noting the volume I held. “The Old Curiosity Shop, eh? That was one of my favourites when I was your age. Have you read Dickens before?”

“No, miss,” I meekly replied. “We didn’t have many books at the orphanage… mostly just for children. For us to read to them, you see, when we went into service.”

She frowned. “So… you weren’t encouraged to read for yourselves? For pleasure?”

I shook my head. “Not really, miss.” I gave an unsteady laugh. “We… we weren’t supposed to do much of anything for pleasure.”

“Appalling,” Mrs. Shaw muttered. She seemed lost in thought for a moment, shaking herself out of her reverie with a comforting hand upon my arm. “My dear, you are well clear of that horrid place.”

Then she smiled at me, and dear reader, it was like the sun emerging from behind a dark cloud. Of all the things I remember about my mistress, it’s her beautiful smile that shines brightest in my memory. The way it would draw out her dimples and make her eyes sparkle like precious pale sapphires lingers in my mind to this day.

She gestured toward the book I held so reverently. “Doris, it would make me very happy if you were to take this with you. Read it at your leisure; bring it back when you’re done. Then you may take another – any you like, as often as you want. Books are meant to be shared and enjoyed by all.”

Something about Mrs. Shaw’s gesture touched me deeply. I’d had ample reason to note her kindness, but this meant something more to me, somehow. My mistress was allowing me a level of privilege that felt almost… intimate.

I thought of the satisfaction Mrs. Shaw took from her reading, realising for the first time that I might have that very same sense of fulfilment for myself. There they were, lined up and waiting, each book a world waiting to be explored. In opening her library to me, she was inviting me into a new, better life.

Thank you, miss,” I whispered, hugging the volume of Dickens all the more tightly, overwhelmed with gratitude. I surely would have seized her hand and brought it to my lips to kiss, had a mere servant girl been permitted such a liberty.

I think she might have been a little embarrassed by my response to her generosity. She gave my arm a reassuring squeeze. “You’re welcome, Doris. Let me know when you’ve finished the book. You can share your thoughts on it.” With a wistful smile and a satisfied sigh, she murmured, “Yes. Good,” then drifted from the room.

For a moment I stood there, unsure what to do next. I wanted to spend more time with Mrs. Shaw, to gaze at that lovely face, hear her soothing voice. At the same time, I wished to immerse myself once more in The Old Curiosity Shop. But a glance at the clock told me the girls would be home soon, so I carried the precious volume back to my room, where I placed it on the night table.

Within two weeks I was reading as often as I could spare a moment, devouring one book after another. True to her word, Mrs. Shaw let me borrow from the library whenever I liked. And she always managed to find time to chat with me afterward about the stories and characters. At first I was timid and self-conscious about voicing my own impressions, but my mistress managed to draw me out, encouraging me to speak freely. She treated me as a friend, something no adult had ever done before.

I quickly came to relish our conversations, and began asking Mrs Shaw to recommend books she especially loved, that I might enjoy them as well. Sometimes when poring through a novel, I found myself pretending she was reading it too, enjoying the story along with me.

My admiration for Mrs. Shaw, I was beginning to realise, was straying into the realm of infatuation. She was like no woman I had ever known – strong-willed and extraordinarily beautiful, with a sense of elegance and poise that fascinated me. I believe every young girl needs an older woman to look up to, and in Victoria Shaw, I had found mine. My secret dream was that I might become like her someday, once I’d found my place in the world.

I slowly settled in, feeling more a part of the Shaw household with every passing day. It was the first time in my adult life that I had ever truly experienced a sense of belonging. I was content. And it was a very good feeling indeed.


The day things changed for me came six weeks after I took my position with the Shaws.

I remember starting awake in the middle of the night, a cold sweat clinging to my body, my breath coming in short, sobbing rasps. The nightmare was a familiar one: my mother and father reaching out to me from the flames of the ballroom, their screams, the reek of burning flesh. In fact, I had not been there that night, but in my dream I was always present – frozen in place, unable to help them.

I lay there in the dark and wept, my head throbbing painfully.

I was unable to rise the following morning. When Melinda came to find out why I hadn’t been there to help her dress and braid her hair for the Sunday church service, I told her I was feeling unwell with a bad head. But I was harried by guilt, and knew I should drag myself out of bed and soldier on, or at least explain to Mrs. Shaw why I wasn’t there, attending to her daughters.

As it happened, the lady of the house came to me instead. Her blonde hair was swept back into a neat bun and she was wearing her Sunday best. She gave me a glass of water, then dropped two small white pills into my palm. “Wash those down, they’ll help with your headache.”

“I’m so s-sorry, Miss!” I stammered, my tears welling up all over again. “I – I’ll make up the time, I promise!”

Shushing me, Mrs. Shaw placed a hand upon my damp brow. “There’s no need to apologise. Try to get some sleep, and I shall come see you when we return from church.”

She closed the bedroom door and several minutes later I could hear the sound of her car disappearing up the driveway. I pulled the covers up around my pounding head, and eventually an uneasy sleep took me.


I awakened some time later to the sound of my bedroom door opening, then footsteps on the hard floor. The aspirin had softened the edges of my headache, but melancholy still coloured my soul.

I had been beset by these fits of depression for years, not frequently, but often enough to dread those times when they descended upon me. I saw it as a weakness, and grew infuriated with myself whenever these attacks occurred. I’d hoped that Mrs. Shaw would never see me in this state. Would she think less of me for it, or simply assume it was nothing more than a bad head and leave it at that?

She pulled a chair next to my bed and sat down. “How do you feel?”

I could smell her perfume. The scent awakened a strange longing in me, one I couldn’t put a name to. “Much better, thank you.”

“I’ve asked the girls not to bother you for the rest of the day.” She tugged her white kid gloves from her hands, then placed a palm against my brow. “You’re very warm. I hope you don’t have a fever.”

I stiffened a little at the sudden contact, but beneath that, something else stirred, something I would not – could not – entertain. “I don’t think I do, Miss.”

Mrs. Shaw must have sensed my unease, and sought to reassure me. “I have raised three girls, you know… and looked after them when they fell ill.”

Her hand remained upon my brow, her thumb gently stroking my temple. With the other hand, she slowly pulled the covers down to my waist.

“W-what are you doing, Miss?” I asked in a small voice.

“Checking to see if your skin is flushed. A fever will show most prominently upon the chest.” She began to unhook the buttons on my nightgown.

“I don’t think it’s a fever, Miss,” I protested, fighting the impulse to push her hands away. “I feel much better now.”

“Shhh… don’t argue. It won’t hurt to see.”

She pulled the gown open, baring my breasts. I attempted to cover them with my hands but Mrs. Shaw would have none of it. “Now, now. There’s no need for modesty between the two of us. I should think you were used to this kind of thing, being around other girls all those years.”

Needless to say, Mrs. Shaw understood little of our lives at the orphanage. We girls were seldom exposed to nudity, even our own. The sisters taught us that the body was a shameful thing, a vessel for sin. We dressed and undressed in near darkness, and bathed quickly in tiny isolated cubicles. To allow one’s nakedness to be seen by others was considered wanton, and any girl caught at it was sure to be punished.

I think I understood the folly of such oppression at the time, even if I was too young to express it in words. Nevertheless, I had no choice but to keep my head down and toe the line with the rest of those unfortunate souls. To do otherwise would have been a folly all its own. And yet, the daily rituals we endured had become so rehearsed, so ingrained, that my unexpected state of undress, and this sudden intimacy with Mrs. Shaw left me feeling vulnerable, even threatened.

Her eyes met mine, and something passed between us. She placed a hand upon my chest and stroked me there, her fingers brushing against the swell of my burgeoning breasts. “You’re quite lovely,” she told me softly, and I felt my face warming. “I don’t believe you have a fever. But you’re to stay in bed for the rest of the day. I shall bring you some soup later.”

Her hand trailed down to my belly, and a shiver thrummed through me. She looked into my eyes again. “Do you mind me touching you like this?”

I shook my head. What else was I to do? Slap her hands away and tell her to leave? She was my employer, and I didn’t have the luxury of jeopardising my position. But in truth, although alarmed at the way she allowed her hands to wander, the attention was not entirely unwelcome.

Suddenly her mouth was close to my ear. “Good,” she murmured, and in the next moment was gone from the room.

I lay there in a daze, my nightgown slung open, the sound of my own breathing loud in my ears. Somewhere out in the garden I could hear the girls playing in the afternoon sunshine, and the strangely comforting rattle and clunk of a push mower moving across the lawn.

Mrs. Shaw had left me wanting – awakened something that demanded attention. Sometimes, at night, as we lay in our beds in the orphanage, that same need had found me, found some of the others too, I suppose.

I have already told of how we were expressly forbidden to touch ourselves in ways deemed inappropriate, but it bears repeating, if only so you understand how a child’s innocent, inquisitive nature can be hollowed out and replaced with guilt and shame. It was drummed into us by the sour creatures who ruled our lives that masturbation was a mortal sin, that we were risking our very souls for a moment’s fleeting pleasure. We were taught to wash certain parts of our bodies as quickly as we were able when bathing, lest we succumb to earthly temptation. The sleeping quarters were policed after hours, and any girl caught touching herself was marched before us all the next day after morning prayers and punished for her actions.

We all knew the consequences of being caught – the bite of the cane across the palms, the shaming that accompanied it. And there were always tattletales, eager little sister’s pets who would do just about anything to get into the good graces of those monstrous harridans.

But sometimes the calling was simply too great, and in the dark, fingers would snake down beneath blankets, quiet, quiet, as quiet as can be.

This time, there was no one to hear me. It was my room. Mine alone. And my nightgown was open, and my hand was upon my belly, and a cool breeze blew across my bare skin from the open window.

With an eye towards the door, I touched myself – hesitantly at first, just a fingertip trailing along the warm cleft of my vagina. My other hand found a breast and kneaded it softly, a shared rhythm with the finger that had found the opening to my womanhood and was now probing the moist warmth within. When the liquid sounds of my exploration shattered the silence, I froze briefly, then remembered there was no one there to inform on me. Alone. So wonderfully alone.

I felt the tide rising within me, but with nothing to fear and no urgency to finish, this time it was mine to control, mine to make wax and wane as I saw fit. So I denied myself the release I craved for a long, wondrous while; taking myself to the very brink of ecstasy several times before allowing the waves to carry me over.

And I plummeted headlong into that delicious abyss… the sweet death that, strangely enough, was also a giver of life. And at that moment, dear reader, I was very much alive.

On to Chapter Two!


31 Comments on The Loves and Labours of Doris Sloane, Chapter 1

  1. Kim & Sue says:

    Brilliant! A very good start. We are enjoying everything about this first chapter, and it is very novel like in the best sense.

    Well done lads!

  2. Bird0772 says:

    You guys need to collaborate more often…..even w/p the sexual material at the end I’m loving the story. The chased masturbation and tense flirtation at the end was the cherry on top of this part of the novel….cant wait for next part

  3. Mystery Mouse says:

    I am sure that this page will soon be full to overflowing with effusive praise for this story, so I thought I’d best say my piece while I still have the chance!

    This is very nicely done, indeed. It genuinely feels like a proper period piece. It’s not just the setting, or the vocabulary, but also the cadence of each line. It’s very slick.

    I’m reminded of Fanny Hill, in fact.

    In particular I must praise the chapter headings. I know, I know, they’re not part of the story. But making them centralised Roman numerals just lends a sense of elegance that is really fitting with the story itself.

    My compliments to both JetBoy and BlueJean. I’m looking forward to the rest of the novel and I’m very excited to be getting in on the ground floor.

    (Or first floor, if you’d prefer.)

  4. Big Rhys says:

    Excellent start! Well done for the co-operative approach to pulling this off. Only regret is that I read so quickly I usually go through several chapters in one sitting but now I have to be patient, which is frustrating but I know it will be worthwhile.

  5. Jordan R. Kain says:

    Rachael Yukey raised the bar for erotic fiction with Strange Brew and Pages From A Diary and JetBoy and BlueJean have boldly stepped in to meet the challenge. Writing like this is why I check juicysecrets every day to see what’s been added. Outstanding first chapter, my friends.

  6. merendinoemiliano says:

    Much intriguing. Thanks as Always for your work on this site

  7. Sapphmore says:

    As soon as I started reading it put me in mind of David Copperfield, and as I write this, strangely, Henry James’ ‘Turn of the screw’ came to mind, despite no supernatural element. I felt as though this could be a Dickensian novel in the vobabulary as Mystery Mouse says, but also the flow and mood that the thoughts of our heroine portray. Even if you hadn’t mentioned the period, many people who do read proper books would probably have picked up on that. I think from this small part I can already feel this would actually be worthy of being published as a novel and maybe later made into one of those period dramas, except for the fact, guessing what might come in later chapters, we know it never could be.
    Well done both!

  8. Nikki says:

    A wonderful scene setter … I’m looking forward to see how the story develops

  9. Purple Les says:

    I read a lot of Dickens when I was a young teen. I only recently read the Old Curiosity Shop. I think it was Dickens best. This story has some of that vibe, but being set in 1930’s to start out I wonder if we have to see our heroine deal with the depression and WW 2.

    Lady Chatterly’s Lover did come out in 1932 but it was heavily censored and only came out unexpurgated in 1960 in the UK.

    I digress. You’ve both done a great job. And I had to laugh at the shoe being on the other foot for JetBoy with BlueJean’s changes.

    Looking forward to the next chapter. Great job setting up the story and meeting the main characters.

  10. Sapphmore says:

    If I’d known about the ferret sooner I’d have got our naughty little Poppy to do something anarchic just to wind JB up.

    (I added this comment under Jetboy’s about lemurs but think it didn’t upload as it’s too many levels)

    • Mystery Mouse says:

      It uploaded. I think you were able to get onto the last reply level.

      If you can’t see the comment on your side, I wouldn’t worry. That’s just Big Lemur trying to cover it up.

  11. kinkys_sis says:

    Beautifly written guys. That’s what I call ‘proper’ English. There are even words I’ve never heard of – ‘harridans’ for example, I looked it up now so no need to explain.

    Methinks Mrs Shaw’s a naughty lady – don’t you just love it!

    A minor thing jarred with me. “Doris, is it?” he croaked. “I’m to bring ye to Mrs. Shaw’s.” That doesn’t strike me as right for South London. It sounds more like two hundred years previous, or west country.

    • BlueJean says:

      Thanks for the feedback. I think you’re right about Mr. Farnsworth. That “ye” always seemed a bit off to me, but sometimes it takes another pair of eyes to confirm it. I’ll see if we can fix that.

    • kinkys_sis says:

      ‘Beautifly’ what is that????????????? I point it out before someone else tells me off.

  12. BlueJean says:

    Many thanks for all the comments. We’ve been working on the story for so long, it’s kind of amazing to see it posted at last.

  13. Birdie says:

    Excellent story telling, with lots of lovely possibilities. More please.

  14. Powertenor246 says:

    I feel I absolutely must agree with both Jordan and M. Miliano as well as Sapphmore in their comments above. Some of the vocab, cadence, and syntactical rhythm of this story gives the flavor of a nineteenth century novel, but absent the horrible sloggishness of the anachronistic terminology that there is a terminal preponderance of in Dickensian fiction. That is why I have never found the ability to make it through even two chapters of any fiction of that period. It would either put me to sleep, or give me enough of a headache as to allow me to understand the plight of migraine sufferers. This story, however, uses 20th century words and concepts we are all familiar with so we understand the character’s mental position and/or emotional state without having the need of a degree in communications to do it. Keep up the great work you guys… I hope you can do the same with the younger ones so we can enjoy and understand them as well.

    RGB3 aka

  15. kinkychic says:

    I’m not quite understanding why some comments make reference to Dickensian; the story is set in 1935. As such, the dialogue is almost perfect for a middle-class family of that period, Mr Farnsworth excepted.

    I echo my sister’s words and I thoroughly enjoyed this chapter.

    • Sapphmore says:

      My reference to Dickens and even James, was not so much about association with the actual period of those works, but more about (as Powertenor246 put it) the flavour that the story evokes of the whole era between the mid-19th and early 20th century. Some of the vocabulary used is not so common these days but would still be familiar to the youth of today, except maybe the ‘chicken children’ (as those that hang around outside cheap fried chicken joints speaking in faux-gangsta were labelled by comedian Mickey Flanagan). Examples include ‘displeased’ rather than ‘upset/annoyed’, ‘radio’ replaced by ‘wireless’, ‘harridans’ instead of ‘miserable cows’, or “As I had not a soul to call family”.
      It would take someone well-read to use words and phrases like these rather than take the easy option and I think that’s why the story works so well in making us believe in it.

    • Hornykate says:

      Ferret? Did I miss something? Quite wonderful story. I look forward to future chapters.

  16. joaomgcarreira says:

    Eu sou residente no Brasil e escrevo em português
    Espero que isso não seja um problema
    Achei essa uma das melhores histórias publicadas nesse site e espero, ansiosamente, que novos capítulos sejam revelados em breve para nossa alegria e deleira

    Google translation:
    I live in Brazil and write in Portuguese
    I hope this is not a problem
    I found this to be one of the best stories published on this site and I eagerly hope that new chapters will be revealed soon for our joy and delight.

  17. Erocritique says:

    How good was that for an opening chapter!!!! The hook has been set deeeeeeep. I find myself invested in every character’s personal story. The atmosphere is fantastic, and the environment is perfect. Bravo guys!!!❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  18. Mo says:

    Bravo!! A superb start to tempt the reader into this world. I don’t normally enjoy period pieces, however the narrative structure, including characters that feel true to life, grabbed me and pulled me in.

    An excellent new addition to a collection of finest erotic fiction.

  19. JetBoy says:

    Thanks to everyone for the praise. Wow, my head’s gonna get too big for my turtleneck sweater!

    Seriously, though – this story was a genuine labor of love, BlueJean was an amazing partner, and you good people are the greatest audience imaginable. Blessings and hosannas on you all.

  20. Jim Muir says:

    This is a very good opening to a story that reminds me slightly of Dorothy L Sayers or the great Agatha Christie writing in the Ninteen Thirties as the language is almost perfect. Let’s hope that the story continues to evolve where all three of the girls get together with their mother and Doris for a tremendous tale of sapphic joy
    You guys are absolutely brilliant

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