Charlotte Wicks dashed down the third-floor hallway after her younger brother. Unfortunately, at sixteen, William was much too fast to catch, and with a mental age of about seven, he was too strong-willed to listen.
“William!” she called again as she spun into their Chinese servant’s room. She skidded to an abrupt stop as she took in the sight before her.
What a large penis! That’s all that she could think. Ken Jin has an immense penis. She made a valiant attempt to divert her thoughts. Why, for example, was Ken Jin kneeling half naked on the floor in the middle of the afternoon? Why were three very large needles embedded in the flesh right above his very large organ? And why couldn’t she look up into the man’s face?
She didn’t ask any of these questions, of course: all were completely inappropriate. Despite the debauchery that ran rampant in Shanghai-and in this very house sometimes- Charlotte wasn’t supposed to know about men’s organs or what they did with them. Or that Ken Jin had entertained a good number of her friends with his very large penis.
Her brother, of course, had no such restraint. “Mama says not to touch that,” he said loudly and pointed at Ken’s Jin’s dark red erection. “She says you’ll go to hell and burn for eternity with the devil.” He frowned. “But she didn’t say anything about needles.”
Ken Jin didn’t respond, except to leap to his feet and hastily drag up his pants. That successfully hid the view, but it probably also drove the needles even deeper into his flesh.
“My goodness,” Charlotte breathed, “doesn’t that hurt?” She blinked, startled by her own stupid comment. Of course it hurt. Taking hold of her curiosity and her errant brother, she made herself turn away from the blushing Chinaman. Then she addressed her gangly, adolescent sibling.
“You cannot go bursting into people’s chambers, William, even if it’s a servant’s room. It’s simply not fair.” And who knew what one might see, she added silently. “Come along now. We’ll let Ken Jin collect himself and ask him politely to visit us in the library, shall we?”
She tried to lead her brother out, but the boy had been growing again and was larger than she. When William didn’t want to leave, she couldn’t force him; and right now, William would not be distracted from their father’s First Boy. Truth be told, Charlotte was also intrigued by the handsome young Chinaman. He was desperately intelligent, running her father’s extensive business dealings single- handedly while keeping her debauched father and religious mother in opposite corners of the city. With his help, Charlotte was able to keep the house servants in line and manage her rather unusual younger brother. Plus, every one of her friends had commented on how very handsome and skilled he was in a variety of bedroom arts. She couldn’t vouch for the latter, of course, but she could attest to his looks.
Ken Jin was tall and muscular, of twenty-eight or twenty- nine years, and had lush black hair pulled back into the most perfect queue. His face was nicely formed, his shoulders were broad, and he had a generous Well, all his physical attributes were built along generous lines. Still, she had no idea that Chinese men-even young healthy ones-were so largely endowed. Or perhaps, she was simply uninformed. After all, her only real experience with men’s organs came from assisting her brother with his bath. Perhaps Ken Jin was normal and her brother abnormal. It would stand to reason.
“You shouldn’t scratch there either,” William said loudly, doing just that. “It makes it worse.”
Ken Jin nodded formally to Charlotte’s brother. With his trousers back in place, the only indications of anything untoward were the dark flush to his cheeks and the expanding circle of crimson on his tented pants.
“One of your needles has drawn blood,” she said, once again proving that she was an utter failure at keeping her attention fixed where it ought to be. So she tried again. “Come along, William. Ken Jin will join us in the library.” Assuming he didn’t bleed to death first.
“But Nanny said he would take us to the park,” William wheedled.
Charlotte nodded. “Yes, yes, of course, dearling, but the park is outside, you know, and we can’t get there by staying here.”
William blinked in his uncomprehending way, then abruptly turned back to Ken Jin. “Why do you have needles in your stomach?” he asked.
Charlotte sighed. Sometimes her brother could fixate on the most inappropriate topics. It didn’t help matters that she was desperately curious to know the answer as well.
Ken Jin bowed again, no doubt driving the needles deeper. “It is a form of medicine, Master Will,” he responded in his low, smooth voice.
“Yes, William,” Charlotte agreed. “A Chinese form of medicine. Now let us-”
“I want to see,” William interrupted. Then, to her horror, her nearly six foot tall brother lumbered forward, his hands going for Ken Jin’s pants.
“That is quite enough!” Charlotte cried in her best disciplinarian voice. William stopped his advance, thank God. “Into the library, young man. Now!”
Another long moment went by as the boy hovered, obviously undecided. Then Ken Jin spoke, his manner extremely pleasant. “I should be happy to take you to the park, Master William, but you must let me don the appropriate shoes.”
Charlotte’s brother frowned at Ken Jin’s bare feet. They were nice feet, Charlotte noticed, and wasn’t that an odd thing to think about a servant’s feet? But they were nice: the skin was smooth and not hairy, the toes long and well shaped. They were masculine without being a coolie’s hoary feet.
“All right,” William finally said, spinning on his heel and abruptly dashing out of the room. Charlotte felt her lips curve into a soft smile. Truly, her brother was a sweet boy even if he was sixteen and slow.
She turned back to Ken Jin. “Thank you for your assistance- ”
“My shoes,” he interrupted, his voice uncharacteristically tight. “Please, Miss Charlotte, let me put on my shoes.”
She frowned, abruptly realizing that she wasn’t looking at his feet but at the dark bloodstains on his pants. There were three circles now, exactly above the three needles, and the tenting fabric wasn’t quite so pronounced.
“Shoes. Yes, of course,” she babbled. “I’ll see you in the library, then?” She didn’t know why she was lingering. She couldn’t truly ask Ken Jin why he had stuck needles into his She ought to be going. And yet
The muscles of his jaw bulged as he clenched his teeth. “Yes, Miss Charlotte?”
“Do you require any bandages or salves?”
“No, Miss Charlotte.”
She swallowed. Of course he didn’t. Ken Jin was the most self-sufficient man she’d ever met. “Well then,” she snapped, abruptly bringing her thoughts back to order. “I shall just wait for you in the library. After you um”
“After I don my shoes, Miss Charlotte.”
Yes. Your shoes.” And with that, she spun around and fled.