The marketplace had to be the best venue to pick up females. At the age of twenty, I would have been happy to visit every day, but James would not permit me. As Alpha, his commands were followed without question, so my visits were limited to once a week.
I had to admit, it worked out better that way.
My past catches never approached, never asked why I had not called to visit or if I would see them again.
From fruit to art, to lace, to the blacksmith’s stall, I walked. With each step, familiar smells drifted over me: Lorna Rushford, Helena Longbarrow, Matilda Thornberry. Each brought with her a memory.
Paintings of marketplaces often depicted them as cheery, colourful, and bustling with activity. The latter conception may have been correct; however, they leaned more toward grey and dreary, and the air often filled with yells of anger and bitterness as opposed to joyful greetings.
At least there were the scents: hams and boar’s heads, fruits, wines, the steam of cooking soups, and, my most favourite of all, the freshness of ripe women.
They noticed me as much as I did them. My refusal to conform to the current trends in attire ensured I stood out from the other males who bothered to arrive. Whereas the women’s glances would be appraising, perhaps even hopeful, the men’s glares offered nothing but scorn for my dark trousers tucked into knee high leather boots, and for the shirts I never bothered to secure with woven laces. Men had been hung for far less than inconsiderate fashion sense. Yet, I did not care. I was not like them and never pretended to be.
A whisper drifted across as I meandered through the crowd: “’Tis Mr Holloway, Eleanor.”
With a tilt of my head, I spotted the speaker leaning into her sister, who fluttered her lashes in a clear attempt to catch my attention.
Eleanor had turned out to be a worthy virgin. The scent of her blood drove me wild as I had plunged into her.
I smiled to myself as I turned away.
Farther along, pausing to sample the crisp apples, I caught Mrs Lawson’s scent. The older ladies may not have been as pure, but they could not be denied their eagerness to please. For that reason alone, they made for an entertaining afternoon.
My nose lifted to track her, and I found the woman beyond a table stacked high with fresh loaves, hidden behind her fan, which she waved with vigour. I recalled that her petticoat had held many layers, and the removal of them turned out to be almost as much fun as the act itself. I wondered how she explained the damage to her pompous husband.
A new aroma begged for notice, faltering my step as my nostrils flared. Strong, yet understated, alluring and seductive, the unsullied flavour carried the exceptional deliciousness of womanly musk.
Possessed by a need to find the source, I tilted my head and allowed my nose to lead.