Forbidden Fruit

Miss Adamantia Jones disembarked from the airship with a sharp clap of boots on the platform, the on-deck goggles tucked into the secret pocket of her bustle bounced against her. The midshipman with the thick mustache had winked at her in such a way that she was certain he suspected the theft.

It was not the first time her employer sent her first class, far from it, but these were the finest caliber goggles she’d ever had the pleasure of wearing. If the midshipman had confronted her, she might just have activated the switchblade knife in the handle of her parasol and engaged in a bit of welcome violence. But this, of course, would have jeopardized her contract and the contraband in her valise, so despite her minute disappointment, the midshipman’s wink was for the best.

With a glance over her shoulder, she checked the busy dock for followers before hailing a hackney. Thirty minutes later, Miss Jones found herself in front of a large home with hand-carved decorative eaves. She handed the footman her card and was escorted to the parlor to wait for Mrs. Sebastian Oliver of New York City. Miss Jones had never met the woman, but based on her reputation, she was someone to court for an acquaintanceship.

Opening her valise, Miss Jones removed ten unique kaleidoscopes that had been manufactured at the order of Mrs. Oliver, full payment upon delivery. When the brass tube was twisted, one could peer within and see the most beautiful colors, like the stained glass of Chartres Cathedral.

Miss Jones smiled at the secret. With a very particular twist, the colored glass fell away to showcase images of an erotic nature. Hands, breasts, tongues, penises, toes, mouths, and sometimes whips and other accoutrements, all moving against each other in delightful patterns. During the overnight flight, she had locked her door and observed the delicate craftsmanship of each kaleidoscope with such close attention that she was left flushed and breathless, her clothes in moist disarray.

“Thank you for your competence and discretion, Miss Jones,” Mrs. Sebastian Oliver said, her words brusque, as she and her voluminous skirts whisked into the room. She was large-boned with a little more muscle and sharp edges than was perhaps regular for her standing, but she offered the chaise with a delicate wave before examining the kaleidoscopes on the table.

Miss Jones nodded. “It is my pleasure, Madam. My employer sends his kindest regards.”

The footman brought in a small basket and placed it next to the chaise by Miss Jones.

“Our agreement,” Mrs. Oliver said with an air of dismissal.

Miss Jones withdrew a gold coin featuring the two-headed god Janus from the basket. With a flick of her wrist her employer’s token disappeared into her skirts. The basket also contained strawberries, banned from all thirty states and far more dangerous to transport than items of a lewd nature or even the priceless coin. But these were worth the exceptional risk, they were entirely hers.

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Genre: Steampunk
Wordage: knife, fall
Wordcount: 500

Image: How Do You Do by Isaac Henry Caliga


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