Since I’m currently working on some erotica set during World War One, I’ve gone back to my research materials.
The photo above reminded me of one of my favorite scenes in The Moonlight Mistress. It was a scene I didn’t realize I was going to have until I got to that point and started writing.
Lucilla watched Kauz’ housekeeper finish with the laundry, pick up a basket, and go inside by a rear door, letting it slam behind her.
Lucilla stared at the motor, thinking.
Pascal emerged. He did not turn towards the side garden, but walked quickly towards her, his shoulders rigid. He ducked behind the tree’s trunk and swore.
“Stay calm,” Lucilla said. She picked up her bag and handed him his rucksack. “The servant went inside. We’ll walk to the motor now. There’s no crank, it must have a self-starter.”
“Then we commandeer his vehicle. Isn’t that the word? You know how to start the engine, don’t you? I can do it, if you don’t know how.”
Pascal only hesitated a moment before seizing her arm and walking back towards Kauz’ home. The motor was parked in the garden.
“Not too quickly,” Lucilla murmured. “We must behave as if we have every right.”
“He will hear the engine.”
“There’s a clear path from his garden to the street. We must be quick. Do you know where he is, in the house?”
“He returned to his library.”
Laughter gurgled in the upper region of Lucilla’s chest as she ducked beneath damp shirt-tails, fluttering in the summer breeze. Pascal pushed his way through a sheet. She would never have dared this on her own, would never have entertained such desperate measures had the night not changed her entire idea of herself. She would never have imagined that stealing a motor could be such a thrill.
She laid her carpetbag gently in the rumble seat, took Pascal’s rucksack, and laid it in as well. Pascal quietly opened the door; he fiddled with the spark and throttle levers while she arranged herself to block him from view and kept a wary eye out. He looked at her beneath his arm. “When the engine catches, be ready. You must drive.”
Lucilla nodded and gathered her skirts into her hands. The engine roared and Pascal threw himself onto the seat, sliding across. She followed, remembering to release the hand brake before she slammed the door and sent the motor into high gear. She hadn’t driven in over a year. “It’s like cycling,” she said to herself, turning onto the street. Behind them, she heard slamming doors and shouting. She gave the motor more petrol, and soon the shouting faded. It was satisfying to drive faster than Kauz could run. She hoped he’d seen her. He could add thief to whore, she thought with savage glee.
c. 2009 Victoria Janssen