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About the author:
Born in 1985, Karie grew up just outside downtown Philadelphia. A landscape of rowhomes, city playgrounds, and a century-old Catholic church and schoolhouse served as the backdrop to her life's own story.
After moving to Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1999 with her parents and sister, Karie went on to graduate from Riverdale High School and Middle Tennessee State University. She now works as a technical writer and graphic designer, as well as working on her writing in her spare time.
Karie is married to her wife, Manda. They live together with their cat, Sabrina.
What inspired you to write your book?
I wanted to write a tale of romance between two women, and set it during a historical period. Something about the Victorian era, with its prim propriety and deeply buried undercurrents of properness, classism, and Orientalism seemed like an interesting and complex backdrop to set a tale in.
Combine that with a fascination with people being changed in height, one with the horror and awe of being swallowed alive, and the dynamics of a relationship between maid and mistress, and I felt I had the ingredients for a perfect story.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Cassandra touched the end of one finger to the tip of her tongue, moistening it ever so slightly, and turned the page of her novel. She sighed as the young man it described – a handsome suitor in the prime of his life, with dark hair and a tan complexion – leaned the lady of his interests against a tree. Their bodies pressed together in a way that, even though the author described them as mostly dressed, still brought a blush of pink to her cheeks. It was simply scandalous, she thought to herself with a shiver.
The young lady looked up and past the brim of her hat, bent down to shade the fair skin of her face from the warmth of the afternoon sun. Her maid had approached from elsewhere in the walled gardens, smiling as she always did. Her face, with skin a warm brown in color, was half covered by long, black hair, a white scarf tied under her chin to hold its length away from her eyes. Her young figure was wrapped neatly in the plain, black dress of a servant, her white apron crisply ironed and tied in a bow at the base of her spine.
She was a lady from the Continent, though Cassandra was never quite clear from which nation she originally immigrated from. It left an air of mystery between the two of them, she supposed. It caused her to look forward to the moments throughout the day when their paths would cross each other's.
Cassandra smiled and acknowledged the servant girl's presence, nodding as the other woman balanced a silver tray on one hand. "Lord," she said, glancing up to look for the sun in the sky, and found it descending towards the roof of her estate. "Is it tea already? I swear, Estelle, I should have a clock placed in every room, not to mention this garden."
Estelle nodded, the gesture displacing not a single hair from underneath her scarf. "Your tea and your delights, my Lady."
Cassandra perked up at that.
Estelle handed her the small, covered dish, waiting until Cassandra held it in her lap before starting to pour her tea. Cassandra moistened her lip, excitement building beneath her breast as she lifted the lid to expose her delights.
There, laid out on the china, was a line of three miniature human figures, their limbs tied and bound together, their torsos covered in a glaze and powdered spice to cover their nakedness. Each lay motionless on the small plate, staring up at her, waiting.
Her delights, she thought, her mouth starting to water in anticipation. An illicit little treat she bred with her servant's help, and the sole source of her income. They were alive, marvelously alive; she could see their tiny chests rising and falling as she hovered over them. All three were male, as was her preference. She enjoyed the female ones from time to time, but there was just something about the male variety she found particularly delicious.
Her long, slender fingers floated above their bodies, pausing a moment over each as she decided which she wished to enjoy first. Estelle had seasoned each one differently, a small sampling of the flavors she was preparing to sell this season. The mint one seemed as though it would go best with the scent of the tea Estelle was pouring, she decided, sliding two fingers around the tiny man as she picked him up.
"They're the most recent vintage to come of age," Estelle said, matter-of-factly.
She examined the boy, turning him from side to side. One finger brushed along the creature's spine; a quiet giggle fluttered past her lips as she watched him shiver beneath his mint coating. She breathed deep, drawing the scent of mint inside of her. "They look healthier every year."
Her servant nodded. "The more I study the book, my Lady, the better I learn to care for them."
The book, she mused. It was magic, after all, that bound the delights to their shrunken form. Her house and her family held many secrets, secrets that were buried deep underground in an ancient room the house was built on top of. The hidden room was a treasure trove of forgotten, forbidden knowledge; things she once believed were confined to lurid fantasies printed in cheap novels.
The letter she discovered in her parents' belongings, though, made it clear that no, these things were real. It took weeks of searching for her and Estelle to find the entrance; when they did, though, a new world of possibilities opened with it. The pages of the ancient tome they discovered contained the awful knowledge of how to shrink a human being down to size fit for one to consume. Desperate to retain possession of her family's estate, it was her last, best chance to sell something truly spectacular, something that would titillate her fellow aristocrats enough to make them hand over their money by the shovel-full.
The first stock were orphans, forgotten children taken from the streets and drugged with the compounds described in the book. The first, a boy, she ate bare – no dressing, no glaze, simply the bare taste of his skin inside her mouth. That sensuous flavor of something terrible on her tongue, the feel of it writhing as it slid down her throat, and the realization that her body held something alive captive within it, sent power surging through her blood. Hundreds, she realized, would pay for this pleasure, and she would charge them a premium for that luxury.
None noticed, or cared, for the disappearances; orphans and urchins disappeared all of the time, the victims of this or that horrid crime. It was simply an artifact of society in Angliea, the forgotten byproduct of the social tiers that kept money flowing properly and greased the gears of burgeoning industry. That a few disappeared every month, every year was of no consequence so long as the factories remained sufficiently staffed. Cassandra herself couldn't care less. She was a self-made woman and she was, at least, giving these children more purpose than they otherwise would ever have possessed in the world.
She slipped the first slowly between her lips, pushing it inside, tasting the mint as the boy slid onto her tongue. It was refreshing, cool as the breeze through her red hair. Her tongue moved the tiny, bound body forward and back along its length, tasting the natural flavor of his skin as the mint glaze and cream drizzle melted away in the humid heat of her mouth. If sunshine possessed a flavor, she thought to herself, it was surely captured in this tiny creature's skin. Dry, warm, with the slightest hint of salt.
The corner of her mouth turned up as she swallowed, sending the young man into her throat to descend into the depths of her body. She took the napkin Estelle offered her, blotting specks of mint flavor from her lips before accepting the warm cup of tea the woman handed her. She chased her tiny prisoner with the liquid, the bittersweet taste filling her body, warmth chasing the cool mint down into her core.
"Are they to your liking?"
She looked up and nodded to Estelle as she set her cup down to pick up another delight, the cinnamon dusted one this time. "Oh, yes," she said. "You always prepare them perfectly. The mint complimented his taste marvelously… more of your studies, I take it, Estelle?"
The dark-haired woman shook her head. "Simply applying my kitchen work to this, my Lady."
"Marvelous." She placed the next treat into her mouth, nearly coughing as the bite on cinnamon hit her palette. Her tongue shoved the tiny body against the roof of her mouth, sandwiching him between that rigid surface and the thicker cushion beneath him. She could feel him struggling, surely panicking at the violent force she'd exerted on him.
Carefully, she lowered her tongue, curling the muscle around him as she allowed her mouth to water up. When she felt him start to slide, she tipped her head back and swallowed, coughing again as soon as he fell over the entrance into her airway and safely downward towards her stomach.
Estelle moved quickly, pouring a small glass of ice water for her employer. Cassandra's hand lunged out for it, nearly knocking the crystal glass from the girl's tray before she wrapped her hand around it. She clung to the cool glass, letting water pour over her tongue and down her throat, soothing the over-stimulated taste buds. "Sorry," she said, blushing at how roughly she'd grabbed for the water.
"It's nothing, my Lady. Are you alright?"
She nodded, allowing her breath a moment to slow to normal before having more tea. There was one more of the delights left in the dish, white chocolate and brown sugar this time. She looked up at Estelle, smiling at the girl. "Have you tasted the new vintage yet, dear?"
Her servant blinked, balancing her tray on one hand as she held the other to her breast. "I… why no, my Lady. That wouldn't be proper. The stock are your property, after all. I have no right to taste them without your knowledge."
Cassandra waved a hand at her, shaking her head. "Oh, don't start with that nonsense. They're your work as much as mine, and it's your efforts that keep this stock managed."
"My Lady," Estelle blushed; it was rather cute, Cassandra thought to herself.
She picked the last of her delights up, holding it carefully between two fingers as she raised her hand toward Estelle. "Here, you have the last one. A show of thanks, for your service to me."
The rose color on Estelle's cheeks burned brighter. The sight stirred something in Cassandra, lighting a fire within a heart as easily as her novel did. The servant girl stammered for a moment, shaking her head. "I really couldn't, my Lady."
"Oh, of course you could."
She reached out with her other hand, taking Estelle's, leading her to lean over her while remaining careful not to knock the platter of dishes from her servant's other hand. She hadn't noticed just how nicely the girl's dress was tailored to her figure, how neatly it conformed to the shape of her body, the flat plane of her belly and the broad span of her hips. She had never seen the woman undressed; it would be unseemly, of course, to look upon her servant in such a state. It was certainly her right, being of a higher station than her servant, but the thought of an aristocrat expressing her longing for the touch of one of her servants was entirely unbecoming of her position.
Still, though, her mind raced at suggestions of the girl's skin through her stockings as she walked, at glimpses of her neck and collarbone.
She brought the chocolate-flavored delight to Estelle's lips, slowly easing him into her mouth. The girl's mouth opened to accept the snack, blush still covering her face beneath her closed eyes. Estelle's tongue caught hold of the treat, dragging him inside, pulling him out of Cassandra's fingers, bit by bit.
Cassandra's fingers brushed against the girl's lips; for the briefest moment, she felt the slightest pang of envy for the boy resting against her tongue. He was gaining a more intimate knowledge of this woman than she ever could, would know her in ways impossible to her. Her fingertips hesitated to pull away from those lips, their soft, cushioning flesh keeping her digits close like a magnet.
She was not one of those ladies, she told herself as she watched Estelle suckling on the boy within her mouth, cheeks shifting each time as the tongue hidden inside squeezed at the body it held. Men were handsome, men were attractive, and the thought of one filling her made her think sensual, improper things when she fell asleep at night. That heat that could split her open and surge deep into her body, the feeling of capturing part of her lover within herself forever, was spine tingling. What woman, she scolded herself, could ever provide her with such a feeling?
And yet, and yet, there was a mystery and a beauty to this girl, to this particular girl, that she wanted to dive down into. She wanted to penetrate her interior, to flood and fill and overwhelm her body just as she longed for someone to do to her. The delight she suckled on in her mouth would do so, she realized, if only for a short time while her body broke him down into the raw material it would use to sustain every particle of her being. That, even she could not provide.
Her fingers traced back along Estelle's face from her lips, down until it met the line of her jaw and back to her throat. She felt the twitch of the girl's tongue pushing her snack backward, the motion of her throat muscles relaxing to open the passage to admit him down to her stomach. Then, he was in her throat, fingers tracing the lump descending along Estelle's neck as she swallowed until they met the collar of her dress. The boy slipped out of sight, sealed forever within Estelle's body.
Estelle breathed, licking her lips before covering her mouth, embarrassed.
"Definitely a good vintage?" Cassandra asked, blushing herself as she pulled her arm back. It took every effort not to touch her fingertips to her servant's mouth, again.
"D… definitely, my Lady."
"Very good. Thank you." She cradled her tea cup in her hands, its contents already lukewarm, not nearly as warm as Estelle's skin. "I will be in when I am finished with my novel. I would like to attend to my correspondence before I sit down for dinner tonight. If I've not left the garden an hour from now, please come and remind me?"
Her servant girl nodded before taking the now-empty dish and hurrying away, the click of her shoes on the stone path through the garden receding faster than they had approached earlier. Cassandra exhaled, resting a hand on her stomach, feeling it start to squeeze and work at the tea and food now filling its interior. She smiled and, once Estelle was comfortably out of sight, wafted her fingertips under her nose. The girl's lips smelt strongly of vanilla. A shiver ran through her as she imagined licking that taste from them.
She turned back to where she'd left off with her novel, but her thoughts were no longer on the couple described in its pages – they wandered, instead, to Estelle. Images of the servant girl laying under her, her clothing tossed aside onto the floor, the girl's body growing steadily bigger as she grew smaller and landed between breasts normally held tightly under her simple dress. Fingers that served her food, that handled her laundry and dusted her furniture plucked her from her chest and dangled her over her mouth. That sweet, pink-rimmed portal opened wide beneath her, beckoned her, sealed behind her as Estelle trapped her inside and swallowed.
Cassandra's hands lay over her lap, her desire surging through her body. She imagined the view the delight she fed her had as he slipped past the back of her tongue and into her throat, soft, silken walls wrapping tightly around him. She raised one hand to her heart, imagining the echo of the organ within Estelle's chest in her ears. The warm embrace of her belly, deadly as it was, was so inviting that she could not push its call from her thoughts; deep in some hidden recess of her passions, she longed to dwell inside that beautiful woman's body.
She cursed under her breath and set the book aside again. That settled matters, she told herself. She would invite the girl to her study for tea after dinner. Perhaps, she thought, picturing the girl's puckered lips from behind closed eyes, she would share a delight or two with her, as well.
Scandalous, she thought. Deliciously so.