Emma Chandler left her dressmaker’s shop. Her year of mourning for her cavalry officer husband was up and she was planning a small dinner party at her new townhome in London. The sun was setting earlier each day, and today was dreary with the promise of a storm. Emma hailed a cab as she exited the store. Her attention was focused on details for her party and she didn’t notice for some time that the cabby was not using the most direct route to reach her home.
Rapping her parasol on the roof of the carriage, she called, “See here, Cabby! This is not the way to my home. I will not pay you so much as a shilling more for taking this circuitous route.”
Without warning, the cabriolet picked up the pace and Emma could see they were already on the outskirts of London. She reached forward to try to open the hood, hoping she could either signal someone for help or open it so she could jump out and make her way back into the city. She heard a mechanical latching noise and found the hood was now locked with no way for her to extricate herself.
Emma took a deep breath and fought down a rising sense of panic. It would seem she was to be the victim of a kidnapping. Well, the fiends would find they had picked the wrong girl. Her late husband had been unconventional in his thinking. Not only had he left all of his wealth and pension to her, not an insignificant amount, he had done so without any male oversight. But more important at this moment in time—he had taught Emma to defend herself. She smiled. Charles had found the idea of a woman being helpless in the face of any unwanted attention inexcusable. If they thought she would faint and be defenseless, they had better think again.
The cab continued on in silence until it pulled up to a large estate well outside the city limits. Longmere was the baronial estate of the notorious Sir Nickolas Stanfield. She had heard some ripe tales about the goings-on out here. It wouldn’t surprise Emma one bit that Stanfield was behind the rash of kidnappings that had been perpetrated against the young women of London.
As the horse-drawn carriage slowed, Emma made sure that she could slip the razor-sharp stiletto from the handle of her parasol and that the needle-like blade could be unsheathed from the tip. The cab rolled to a stop and two liveried footmen approached the vehicle as thunder crashed and lightning flashed overhead.
The heavier of the two goons unlocked the hood and reached for her. She withdrew the stiletto and slashed at the man. Blood spurted from a wound to his throat as he jumped back, clasping the injury. Not that she had meant it to be nonlethal, he had just been a bit quicker than she’d anticipated. Her husband’s first instruction had been that if she wasn’t prepared to kill, not to bother defending herself at all. Better to beg for mercy and deal with whatever happened after the fact. He had been very proud of Emma’s skill with weapons.
“Why, you little cunt!” exclaimed the other one as Emma flung open one side of the hood, slamming it into his midsection, knocking the wind out of him.
The driver reached down to try to stop her. Emma broke the parasol across his hands. He sat back, screeching at the pain she’d caused. The parasol’s blade in the tip would no longer be viable. Emma unsheathed the stiletto and stabbed him.
Emma threw open the other side and jumped out, breaking into a run the moment her feet hit the ground. There was a hue and cry behind her as she fled. She knew that to look back would only slow her down and might cause her to trip. Emma ran as fast as her legs could carry her. She thought she might actually make the trees that surrounded the estate—the woodland could help to equalize her chances of getting away.
She was within yards of her goal when she heard the sound of hoof beats clamoring behind her. She pushed herself for a burst of speed to see her to the woods. The sound of the horse’s breathing was close behind… too close. She could feel the beast’s breathing on the back of her neck. Out of her peripheral vision, she could see the animal’s flared nostrils. Emma reached out as if to draw the trees to her; they were almost within her grasp.
“I have you now,” came the raspy voice of the vile man pursuing her.
Emma was grasped about the waist, hauled over the front of the charging horse, and deposited face down in front of him, her body dangling over either side.
“Let go of me!” Emma shouted. “I am Emma Chandler. You have no right to kidnap and manhandle me.”
“That’s where you are wrong, my dear Mrs. Chandler. I know who you are, and I am Lord Nickolas Stanfield,” he said, swatting her rump and then giving it a rough squeeze.
“Wh-what do you want of me? I’m nobody special.”
“How very right you are. You are nothing at all. You have no family; no one to miss you. But you do have money and other things I find just as enticing.”
The fashions of an earlier day would have afforded her some protection from his groping, but dresses of the Regency were made of far thinner and of a more diaphanous type than in the past. There was a thin chemise or slip worn under them to preserve a woman’s modesty, but the bloomers worn under that kept a woman’s nether regions bare. His hand stung, but more than that his callous grip on her buttocks mortified her. Emma had never been so misused.
Emma kicked and squirmed, trying desperately to extricate herself from his grasp. Stanfield slid to a stop and wheeled his horse around to gallop back to the manor house. The air on her bare bottom made her blush as the villain lifted her skirts over her back and rubbed her exposed globes, trailing his fingers down the cleft between them. He tapped her dark rosebud lightly before delving down between her legs to touch the place only her dead husband had touched before.
“I am a widow, Sir; I am no virgin.”
He reined his horse to a stop. “Good, the blood I seek is not from a woman’s maidenhead, but I will have your blood… and so much more.”
“Let go of me,” she said, reaching back to draw down her skirt.
Stanfield’s hand crashed down on her bottom and then when her legs parted from the blow, he swatted her nether regions with enough force that she cried out.
“You will learn, my dear girl, that what I bare, stays bare—be it your pussy or your tits.” He flung her off the horse and into the waiting arms of the man who had kidnapped her and brought her here. “Take her to her room. Have Danville prepare her for dinner,” said Stanfield.
“Aye, my lord,” the man answered as he hoisted her over his shoulder, ensuring that her backside remained exposed.
Emma looked around at those who were gathered. Some were servants; they were easy to spot by the terror or haunted look in their eyes. Others were peers of the realm. She recognized them, rakes and bon vivants all. The tales she’d heard of Longmere were ripe, titillating to be sure when described in the abstract, but not when happening to her. She had to remind herself that she was a descendant of a crusader. She would not tremble in fear.
The man ascended the stairs and stalked down an upper hallway, opening a door and tossing her onto the bed. “Danville will come for you. I hope you fight her. I’m going to volunteer to help if she can’t manage you on her own,” he sniggered as he left.
As soon as the door closed, she rushed to it and tried the lock. No such luck. She turned and scanned the room. Emma ran to the window; there was no balcony, but perhaps she could find a way to climb down and save herself from whatever Stanfield had in store. She opened the window and stuck her head out.
“You will not get away. You might hurt yourself but that won’t matter to his lordship. The gift he will bestow upon you tonight will restore any malady that plagues you,” said a woman Emma assumed must be Danville and who could only be charitably described as handsome.
“I will report him to the police.”
The old woman chuckled malevolently. “Others have thought that and either learned to embrace their gift or were too ashamed by the pleasure he gave them and killed themselves. But he has special plans for you, and you will never be allowed to harm yourself.”
“What kind of monster are you? How can any of you be a part of what he hopes to do to me?” Emma asked desperately.
“Omissa spe,” Danville replied as she advanced on Emma.
“Abandon all hope?”
Danville nodded. “It is his lordship’s motto and you would do well to heed it. Now you must be prepared.” There was a soft knock on the door. “That will be your tub. I need you to remove your clothes and wait in the corner while it is filled.”
“I will do no such thing.”
“You will learn to do as you are told. There is no opposing Sir Nickolas. Several of the men, including the coachman have offered to hold you down and strip you naked. You will either then be put in the tub or I will sponge you off while the men hold you down. The coachman is hoping for the latter. Will you obey or must even this be forced from you?”
Emma had continued to back away from the evil-smelling crone. Once she had her on the side of the bed opposite the door, Emma leapt onto the bed, scrambling across it to fling open the door, only to find the coachman standing outside with an entire entourage of servants carrying a tub and buckets of water.
“Naughty, naughty,” scolded Danville. “Hugo, fetch me the birch.”
The coachman smiled with eyes as cold as ice as the old woman wrapped her skeletal fingers around her upper arm. Hugo returned a few moments later with a bundle of switches.
“I can hold her down, Danville,” he offered helpfully.
“That won’t be necessary, will it, Emma? Wouldn’t you prefer to hand me your clothes and go stand facing the corner while they prepare a nice hot bath for you or do I need the birch to persuade you?” Danville wheedled.
Emma scanned the faces of all of those waiting to bring in the tub and fill it. She saw not even a shred of sympathy among them. She realized she needed to play for time and if she were to escape, she would need to be able to run or even ride, both of which would be impeded if she got herself birched.
“No, that won’t be necessary,” she said with as much composure as she could muster.
“All right then, you men put the tub down in front of the fireplace and leave us. Since Emma has decided to be a good girl, only the female servants will be allowed in to fill it.”
The men did as they were told and then departed. Danville looked at her and raised her eyebrow in question and threat. Taking a deep breath, Emma removed her clothing and handed it to Danville, embarrassed that her nipples were taut from the cold. Danville waved her into the corner while she helped the other women prepare the tub. Emma stood facing the wall, something she had never been required to do by either her father or her husband. Neither had ever subjected her to corporal punishment.
There was a capricious knocking on the door. Danville bade the woman closest to open it. Two of London’s most notorious scoundrels entered.
“His lordship said Richard and I could take a slap and tickle before she got in,” said one Emma knew to be the second son of the Earl of Somerset.
“That is most unusual, unless Sir Nickolas has changed his mind about her destiny,” mused Danville.
“He lost a large sum to me at whist and an even larger one to Richard here at dice,” explained the earl’s son.
The two men came up on either side of her. Each ran a hand up under her breast, lifting it as if to weigh its heft and then pinching her nipple. Emma cringed as their hands ran down her sides and over her flanks, cupping her buttocks before kneading and squeezing them, each landing a harsh wallop to one cheek. She hissed as the pain bloomed across her derriere.
“Oh, he’s going to enjoy her,” said the one called Richard.
“I hope not. I’d pay a ripe amount to have this one in my bed for the weekend,” said the earl’s son.
Danville snorted. “She is not for the likes of you. You must have won very large amounts. Now you have had your fun. Leave me so I can prepare her for his lordship.”
The earl’s son reached up and tweaked her nipple. “That’s a shame. If Nicky changes his mind, tell him I’ll make it worth his while.” He ran his hand down her back and patted her rump.
“Get your hands off me,” Emma seethed.
“There will come a day, you’ll wish he’d given you to me,” he said, turning away.
When all the others save two of the older maids and Danville had left, Emma was helped into the bath and afforded every luxury to bathe with. The water had a scent that she didn’t recognize.
“What is the fragrance of the water?”
“A new flower brought back from East India called the crepe jasmine. His lordship thought its delicate aroma suited you.”
Danville watched over her and handed her a towel when she emerged from the bath. When Emma was dry, she was helped into a scandalous gown made of a gossamer fabric with no lining. No chemise or bloomers were offered to her.
“I can’t wear this,” she stated quietly.
“You can and will. His lordship means to show you off for his dinner guests this evening.”
“You can see through the material and it is designed for the chemise to cover my bust. Without it…”
“Your pretty tits with their dusky areolas and succulent nipples will be viewable by all. And when he has you dance in front of the fire, they will see your fine shape, the swell of your hips and the apex of your thighs; they too will be on full display.”
“That is monstrous,” Emma said.
“That is his way,” Danville said with a shrug. “After they have all eaten their fill, they will be escorted to their beds by those who have come before you and have all their wanton desires fulfilled. Meanwhile, if you display yourself for his guests, his lordship will take what he wants from you in his bed. Otherwise, he will lay you out on the dining table and feast on you there while the others look on being serviced by the ones who preceded you.”
Emma was stunned. The crone talked about it as though she were discussing the weather.
Emma was forced into the almost transparent gown and shown to the dining hall. She was shocked to see eight men gathered at the table. Behind each man stood a nubile young woman completely nude, with a collar around her neck, a chain descending from a center ring to another ring, and three chains hanging from it. Each of those chains was attached to a clamp-like device. Two of the devices were applied to the woman’s nipples. The third chain ran down the remainder of her body and appeared to be attached to the woman’s clitoris.
At the four corners of the room and on either side of the door were shirtless men in skin-tight breeches. Each was outfitted with a black leather harness that went over their shoulders, across their expansive chests and then formed a cage around their bulging phalluses. It served to frame and contain them. Emma had been married and so had an understanding of the male anatomy. The men were aroused, but the harnesses kept their cocks from rising and jutting away from their bodies. Their staffs seemed to strain at their confinement, and Emma wondered idly if they were as uncomfortable as they looked.
Emma’s sex life, such as it was, with her husband had been tolerable. What she knew about what happened between men and women was mostly confined to her own experience. Her mother had been dead by the time she married and her friends either knew even less than she or found the subject distasteful and the act itself something to be endured. Charles had mostly been solicitous and businesslike in his approach. He would come into her room after she had retired to her bed and the candles had been snuffed. He would ask her to lie on her back and crawl into bed before raising the hem of her nightgown. Charles would then roll on top of her as he lifted his nightshirt out of the way and, taking his male member in one hand, would prop himself up with the other and shove himself up and into her. Bracing on his forearms, he would use his haunches to move back and forth a few times, just barely igniting her response, before his male fluid would burst forth from a more powerful jerking motion as he grunted in satisfaction. He would then give her a kiss on the cheek before withdrawing to his own room. Other than the first time, it was rarely painful and only occasionally did it feel uncomfortable. But sometimes Emma was left feeling as though there was something missing.
“My dear girl, you look beautiful. Come and sit with me,” bid Sir Nickolas.
Fear and lust permeated the room. If she was honest, she felt a heavy dose of both, mixed with a dash of disgust. She could feel her nipples tighten as they often did in response to the cold. But the room was warm, overly so. When she stood riveted to the spot just inside the massive double doors, one of the harnessed men gave her a gentle nudge.
“You look beautiful, my dear; no need for you to be embarrassed. Welcome to my humble abode,” called Sir Nickolas.
Emma looked around the room in all its splendor and then at him incongruously. They both knew the room was opulent even by upper-class standards.
She licked her lips and swallowed trying to alleviate her dry mouth. “We both know this room and this entire estate is anything but humble. In fact, it borders on gaudy and gauche.”
Emma had to stifle a giggle. Lord Stanfield looked positively insulted. Deciding to capitalize on his momentary lack of control and ignoring her own state of undress, she took a deep breath and continued.
“I suspect that the gilding on the furnishings is much like you—very shiny and done for effect, but scratch the surface and all you find is cheap pot metal,” she said in a steely voice that belied any sign of the nervousness she was feeling. “Your so-called friends are here not because of any affection they might hold for you but because they owe you money or are as depraved as you in their behavior but lack either the character for true debauchery or the funds with which to indulge it.”
There was an audible grumbling from the men seated at the table. Instead of being insulted, Sir Nickolas merely smiled.
“Well played, little one. You are correct in your assessment—both the furnishings and those in attendance this night are merely window dressing for my amusement. My true entertainment for the weekend is you. Now come here to me.”
With another, less than gentle nudge, Emma was propelled forward. Sir Nickolas stood and held out the chair to his right. As she got closer, his hand snaked out and grabbing her by the upper arm he pulled her toward himself, bending her over the table forcibly, shattering delicate china and crystal as he did so. Sir Nickolas tossed her skirt of her gown up over her back and head. She had little time to consider his treatment or even recognize that her derriere was now on full display before his hand delivered a startling wallop to her exposed globes.
Emma tried to rise, but was prevented from doing so as Sir Nickolas’ hand pinned her upper body to the table.
“What a naughty little girl you are. I shall take great pleasure in training you to serve my needs.” He continued to spank her as he lectured. “It is obvious that your late husband failed to discipline you as he should have.”
Each time he landed another hard swat to her backside, Emma had to bite her lip to keep from crying out. This was her first time experiencing a spanking; she didn’t like it one bit. Or did she? She could feel the inkling of something akin to pleasure, not from the pain but from this man taking possession of her, exposing her to his friends’ lustful stares. Such thoughts were wrong, but they came to her unbidden and persistent.
She blushed knowing that if he raised her off the table now, the tips of her breasts would be harder than ever. She could feel the eyes of the men surrounding her riveted to her rounded backside as it grew warm and tender as Sir Nickolas continued to spank her. She heard several chairs being pushed back from their places. His hand on her bottom hurt, but the sense of arousal she had when first brought into the room and then as she had taken in the scene was beginning to grow. His hard hand as it swatted her buttocks made her feminine sheath clench in a way it never had before, as though it had come to life for the first time. It throbbed, and moisture pooled between her thighs.
Sir Nickolas continued to spank her as both pain and desire spread across her derriere. His hand descended in a hard swat at least a dozen times, catching the fullest part of her rounded backside. The longer he continued his treatment of her, the more a sensation akin to pleasure blossomed under his touch. Emma began to writhe in response to what he was doing. The little jewel at the apex of her legs that she had often rubbed after Charles’ exercise of his conjugal rights was now being subjected to the same treatment it had when her husband had coupled with her.
“Look at that,” said the earl’s son, “you can see her getting wetter by the minute.”
Emma was mortified. He was right. Sir Nickolas wasn’t just inflicting a spanking on her, he was awakening something deep and dark and dirty within her. Something lewd and obscene. Her nether region seemed to have come alive. It was reacting to his treatment of her in a way she could never have imagined. It pulsed and strained, aching for something and it was wet… not just a little bit, but a great deal. She could feel herself becoming drenched.
Sir Nickolas was driving her toward something she had always feared, something that bordered on feral but called forth all her most primitive, animal-like reactions. Emma’s feelings were building, creating a new dynamic between her and Sir Nickolas. She should have been shocked and dismayed, should have been trying to escape his brutal treatment, and yet she instinctively knew that this man could provide her with knowledge she’d secretly longed for.
The tension between them grew, fueled by the sounds of men moving their chairs away from the table and the women being shuffled around into different positions. The idea that all of these people were watching her chastisement should have made her feel vulnerable and violated. Instead she had a growing sense of feminine power and, right behind that, a pleasure unlike any she had ever known.
Suddenly, Sir Nickolas stopped spanking her. Instead he softly rubbed her now swollen globes. She didn’t want him to stop. No, that wasn’t it. She wanted the spanking to stop, but not the intimate touch that was now being inflicted. His hand went between her legs and he rubbed the swollen bit of tissue that was hidden at the top of her nether regions. She gasped when not one, but two fingers penetrated the place where only Charles had ever gone. He thrust them rudely in and out of her. Emma could feel her body producing more of its natural lubricant to make his handling of her become more and more pleasurable.
Sir Nickolas jerked her to her feet, allowing her to look around. Several of the men were sitting back in their chairs, their flies open, their male members stiff and hard as the women who had been standing behind them knelt in front of them using their mouths to enclose and suck on their engorged phalluses. Emma was spun around and tossed onto her back, her dress rucked up around her waist and then thrown over her head as Sir Nickolas sat down in the chair he had intended for her, pulling the chair closer and draping her legs on either side of his head and down his back.
Emma tried to rise but hands other than Sir Nickolas’ held her down. Someone else lifted her dress from over her eyes and she could see the look of lust on the faces of two men she recognized from the better drawing rooms in London. Each of them pinned one of her shoulders to the table with one hand and pinched one of her nipples with the other. She barely had time to register what was being done to her by the two men holding her in place before Sir Nickolas’ fingers parted her labia as he leaned forward, burying his head between her legs and latching onto her feminine nubbin to suckle. Emma’s back arched up and she pushed her nether regions closer to his tongue as her eyes rolled back in her head and fireworks seemed to explode across her sight.
She could vaguely hear the heavy breathing, panting, grunting, and groaning of the men that surrounded her. She could hear the sound of women sucking and licking, doing, she supposed, to the men what Sir Nickolas was doing to her. Emma’s breathing become shallower and more erratic as the pleasurable sensations he was creating expanded exponentially as she writhed on the table. The men holding her palmed her breasts and rolled her beaded tips between their fingers before pinching them.
“Good lord, what a delightful little cabbage you have there. Is her honey as sweet as it is copious?” joked the man called Richard. Emma watched as he shoved the head of the woman servicing him down further along his staff.
“She is indeed sweet,” said Sir Nickolas as he raised his head. “Dear girl, I fear your naughty behavior has upset my plans for the evening. I may have to have Danville take the birch to you after I’m done. Gentlemen, please take the woman assigned to your pleasure and return to your rooms.”
“Damn, Nicky. I thought we’d get to watch you give her a good ramming,” said one man.
“Or perhaps have a turn ourselves,” said another.
“Can you at least have her birched bent over the spanking horse so we can watch and enjoy ourselves?” called a third.
“Out,” Sir Nickolas ordered.
Emma wondered what circle of hell she had been drawn into and why was she not more afraid? Worse than that, why did she long to feel Sir Nickolas replace the two fingers that had been reinserted into her and were gently stroking her feminine sheath. She could feel the sensations building again. As the men stood to do as Sir Nickolas had instructed them, Emma wondered for the first time if she was capable of feeling the intense pleasure that had permeated her being earlier.
“Stop, please. Just let me go. I won’t tell anyone about this,” started Emma.
“I will not stop until I have forced you to yield to our mutual need. Have you ever climaxed before?” he asked casually as though they were sharing tea and cakes in a drawing room.
“Cl-climax?” she asked.
Sir Nickolas chuckled. “Yes, my sweet girl, that building of pleasure that bursts forth and encompasses every part of your being. Let it overcome you, savor the feeling of ultimate hedonistic indulgence and know that I have so much to teach you.”
He pulled her back to him as he sat in his chair, positioning her on the table so that he could latch onto her pleasure nub. Emma couldn’t help but close her eyes and lay back savoring the desire that swirled through her nether regions and was rapidly expanding to encompass her entire being. Her toes curled and her muscles seized as Sir Nickolas continued to lick, suck, and nip her entire feminine area, stopping just short of penetrating her sheath. Her hips began to undulate of their own accord. Sir Nickolas increased his attention to her pleasure. As her body prepared to tumble into the abyss of another orgasm, he nipped and sucked her nub. Just as she was about to reach that pinnacle, he inserted the tip of one finger in her bottom hole. Emma cried out, but not in pain.
Sir Nickolas raised his head and looked deep into her eyes. She could swear an other-worldly fire burned just beneath the surface of his gaze. Emma felt drugged. Where was her resistance to his violation of her body? Why was she beginning to crave the sensations he seemed to create so effortlessly?
Emma watched as he smiled at her malevolently—a feral and predatory grin. He continued to finger both her dark passage and her feminine sheath. Emma moaned in pure sensual pleasure. Her eyes glazed over as the carnal sensations washed over her. She tried to focus on him and could have sworn she saw his two top canine teeth elongate as he lowered his head. Emma was unprepared for the vicious bite he inflicted just above and to the side of her mons. She screamed as his teeth pierced her flesh and he began to suck the blood from her body. She struggled and beat at his head as he continued to feed on her body’s vital fluid.
His teeth still piercing her flesh, he pushed her more fully onto the table. Emma felt blackness descending and realized she didn’t care. Her body had ceased to struggle and had embraced the indulgent gratification he seemed to be able to give her. As the blackness enveloped her, the head of his rigid member slid between her thighs and parted her feminine folds. He surged forward, impaling her on his staff. Emma’s entire body convulsed in a powerful orgasm—something which, before tonight, she had never experienced.
Sir Nickolas began vigorously stroking within her. He drove them both into a state of pure animalistic need. Emma instinctively arched her back offering her feminine sheath more easily for his frenzied use. The size of his member was far greater than Charles’. While she had barely felt Charles’ stroking, Sir Nickolas’ staff stretched her so that the hard rod pistoning inside her scraped along her inner walls. It began to swell and twitch before he gave a last brutal thrust, cried out and came deep inside her.
Emma collapsed beneath him, completely spent and unable to move, the thin gown rucked up around her waist and baring her breasts. Her body was damp with perspiration and the wisp of a garment clung to her skin. She felt him withdraw and stand. She heard him fold himself back into his trousers and saw him button them closed from the corner of her eye. He crossed to the sideboard, opened the crystal decanter, and poured a healthy dose of a dark red liquid into a heavy cut wineglass and brought it to her.
“Drink this. It will help restore you,” he said, bringing the goblet to her lips and tilting it into her mouth.
The wine was awful. She would expect a man of Sir Nickolas’ breeding and standing to have a better wine collection. This red wine was heavy with no floral or earthy notes. In fact, the most prevalent taste was metallic with an aftertaste of a salty tang. She tried to avoid swallowing and batted at his hand. He persisted and forced the vile-tasting concoction down her throat, causing her to sputter and spit.
“Good girl,” he said as she finished. “You have pleased me this evening. You will be taken back to your room, stripped, and put to bed. See that you stay there. If you are found anywhere other than the bed or over the chamber pot, you will be punished.”
As he withdrew from the room, the memories of what he had done, and worse, how she had responded seemed to abate. She would figure out a way to escape this nightmare. She was lifted in the arms of one of the leather-clad brutes who she now realized had witnessed her shame. He carried her up the stairs and to her room. The bed had been straightened and turned back. The beast set her on her feet, stripped her naked, and then laid her down, drawing the covers up and over her unclothed body. Emma tried to be embarrassed but could not find the energy to do so. She closed her eyes as darkness fell and was fast asleep within minutes.