The Duke of Eastchester is dead, and thank God for that. I had gotten sick to death of the stink of his sick room. He farted, he vomited, he shit himself. The smell permeated into every room of the castle. I avoided him entirely that final week. I busied myself fucking the carriage boy in the stable. Harry is a good boy with strong muscles and I shall keep him on. I shall however get rid of the Duke's laywer, an idiotic man who believed that women have little use for finance. Well he shall see, won't he? I will also get rid of "Cook" an old bitch with a warty nose who hated me. She thought me a commoner who had married above my station, and so I had but that was because I had the finest tits in the land, and now a pox on anyone who crosses me!
I pretended to cry when the physician led me into the sick room as the Duke was breathing his last. I tenderly stroked his fevered brow when in reality I desired to crack his head open with his chamber pot. I held his puffy, swollen hand and thought about biting it; each finger, one by one, until they bled. When I knelt down on the prieu dieu pretending to be overcome with grief, inside I was a giddy as a young lamb in a spring meadow. When they washed his dissolute body down with soap and water, I wanted to claw out his vacant eyes. At the graveyard as the parish priest dolefully intoned the 23rd Psalm, I could scarcely keep from laughing and dancing on his grave.
I am not by nature a wicked woman. The Duke however was the devil incarnate. In the beginning, he was the perfect gentleman. My poor mother was speechless before his pomp and circumstance, his gold carriage, his team of stallions, his brocade jackets. I was a young girl, barely fifteen, when he took me as his bride. He savagely deflowered me on our wedding night. For hours I couldn't move. I was in such pain. My white eyelet gown stained in blood. He slipped out to join a pack of whores he kept waiting in the stables. I cried myself to sleep. And the next morning too shamed to ask for help, washed out the blood from beneath my fingernails, washed out the sheets.
I tiptoed down the grand staircase into the dining room. My legs were weak and shaking. The Duke was enjoying toast and tea. He completely ignored me. I spent the years summoned to his bed whenever he requested. I endured his temper and his violence when he was drunk. Often he beat me, though never about the face. Why did I not leave? I believed I was enslaved. In captivity. And I wanted my mother to have some peace, and she did. The Duke bought her a fine house in the countryside, and though I wasn't allowed to visit her, my spies told me she lived a good life. I was permitted to attend her funeral and wept bitter tears.
But now he is dead, and his kingdom is mine. There is but one fly in the ointment. Four days after his mouldering corpse was laid to rest, I was summoned to the main salon. And there before me stood his bastard child. A shivering, tiny slip of a girl, perhaps 13 or 14. And so pale she looked like a ghost. She looked up at me, and said,
Creator and co-author of the award winning The Erotica Project. Author of erotic short stories published on Salon.com. Producer/author for NPR. MA from NYU. Published by Cleis Press, Seal Press, Heinemann Press, New York Press. Reviewed in NYTimes, Village Voice, Art in America, London Sunday Times.