Warnings at the bottom.

Maddened by the Stars

Fifty-two hours passed since she made her realization. A full fifty-two hours where she didn't speak. Without thinking. It was better to bury everything. Lucy dismissed herself to her room and didn't leave. Perhaps that was why she felt as if she'd been buried alive. She could feel the earth suffocating her, griping its gigantic hands over her lungs and pouring in through her lips. It felt like she was dying.

Johanna cried. Lucy got up from her seat. It was the first time she was excited to hear her baby cry; for the distracted. She pressed Johanna to her chest, whispering sweet nothings to her. The purest being on the planet and the sweetest baby in the world.

Yes, Lucy realized again through tears, she had to. For Johanna.

The baby fell back asleep, leaving Lucy alone with her thoughts. The Lovetts allowed her to stay in her flat without paying rent for this long. They were too kind. Especially since Lucy knew Mrs. Lovett wanted her out. She didn't understand Mrs. Lovett's hatred towards her, but she wouldn't need to know. She wouldn't have another chance to strike up a friendship with her. That was all the old Lucy wanted. Old Lucy was confused as to why someone didn't like her. All her life people liked her. Of course, there were a few she had less-than-favorable opinions of, but for the most part she was a people-charmer. Just Mrs. Lovett never took a liking to her.

It had to be now. Before he reconsidered.

Lucy gathered her reticle and outing things. She tied her bonnet straps under her chin. She kissed two fingers and placed them on Johanna's cheek. Mama will be back in a moment.

"Mrs. Lovett," Lucy said, once in the shop, "I need to run an errand. Will you listen for Johanna?"

She grimaced at her hoarse voice. Her throat hurt from saying less than fifteen words. Lucy could only pray she could make herself seem well enough for him.

Mrs. Lovett pinched the dough sides of a pie before looking back at Lucy. She narrowed her eyebrows, but gave a curt nod. Lucy muttered her thankfulness and left the shop.

The streets of London were as busy as ever. Lucy weaved her way through the crowds, glancing at every street sign. Her chest grew tighter. Bile seeped to the back of her throat when she stepped onto Kearney's Lane. Lucy passed the posh houses until she was at the right one. Every step made her heavier. She knocked with a shaky hand.

The last time she was here . . .

The butler answered. He wore a scowl and seemed to recognize Lucy. She averted her glance. She wasn't much in the mood for politeness.

"May I speak with Judge Turpin?" she asked.

"Are you Mrs. Barker?"


"He's in his office. I will lead you there."

She had to look up to follow him. She forced herself. Her cheeks grew warm or paled. She couldn't tell which. They passed murals and mahogany door frames. Lucy looked across the hall from the office. She recognized those doors.

Not now. Not now.

"Mrs. Barker."

Panic ran through her chest.

There was no time for that. There wasn't a moment to spare. She couldn't freeze.

She had to look at him.

Lucy turned towards Judge Turpin. She folded her hands over her abdomen, clutching her reticule. She couldn't look him in the eye.

"Take a seat, please, sit," Judge Turpin said.

She did, folding her skirts beneath her. Judge Turpin slid into his chair. He was across the desk, but they were too close. Lucy leaned back. Enough to be noticeable, but she was still sitting up properly. Her lower lip trembled.

"And to what do I owe this pleasure?"


Lucy gripped her reticule. "I wanted to address your . . ." What was the correct term for it? ". . . offer. From a few weeks ago." When you did that to me.

Judge Turpin perked up, as if he were receiving a present.


She took a shaky breath and released it. Everything was shaking. Her hands. The walls. Her voice.

"I will accept your offer."

It was too late to turn back. Too late to find another job and try to keep that job. Chase whatever it was that overtook her away. She could move away with Johanna. Find her sister - wherever she was. Make a new home for themselves.

But if Benjamin ever came home - when he came home, he wouldn't be able to find them if they were out of London. Lucy wouldn't be able to find him.

"Excellent, my dear."

He sounded like a snake.

Judge Turpin flipped through a stack of papers. "I will make accommodations for you."

"And Johanna."

"And Johanna." He paused. He was hesitant to keep a child. "I'll get you away from Fleet Street and that flat of yours."

Judge Turpin made it seem like their flat was no better than sleeping on the street. Benjamin worked hard every day to pay for that room. He worked effortlessly for his wife and child. It was their simple little home. Lucy loved it. Next door she could hear Benjamin whistling as he shaved his customer's. He could pop into their flat when between customers. Lucy got to see him whenever she wanted.

She had no choice. Lucy lost too many jobs. She couldn't take care of Johanna. This was the only option she had left. The only way until Benjamin came home again.

Judge Turpin escorted her to the door, jutting out his chest with pride. He won. Lucy felt littler than before. He turned to her at the door. She stared up at him. She should say something. Words failed.

"Thank you for your kindness, Judge Turpin."

"Anything for you, my dear." He touched her shoulder. She flinched. "Please call me Joseph. It seems only appropriate."

Lucy nodded, but did say his name.

She couldn't get away fast enough.

She came as Benjamin Barker's wife. She left as Judge Turpin's mistress.

Death's mistress.

Darling, Heart, Love, Sunshine, My Angel, Aphrodite, Love of My Life.

Every nickname Benjamin gave her made her heart flutter. Whether they came from something silly she did or a Greek Myth. Lucy adored them all. She clung to those memories. She went as far as to dedicate a separate page in her diary for all the things Benjamin called her.

Judge Turpin called her, "my dear." My. He was proud of his possessiveness towards her and he wasn't afraid to show it off. Her throat seemed to swell whenever he called her "my dear". She couldn't stop him.

It made her miss Benjamin even more.

As the hired help moved her things to the townhouse, Lucy stumbled through her boxes. She tried to help with the packing at first, but Judge Turpin said her help was unneeded. Lucy came across her diary. She hadn't written in ages, but she slipped through the pages. Catching a few dates here and there. She didn't stop to read any of the entries. It would be too painful. The moving help didn't need to catch her crying again. But she landed on the page of pet names. Lucy went down the list, reading each one with her lips pressed into a small smile. Thousands of memories flew from the page. It felt like centuries ago. They were so young back then.

She could laugh. She could cry.

Lucy looked at the doorway. A mover was holding her husband's set of razors. Had it been all that long ago she wanted to kill herself using one? She looked away.

"Excuse me, ma'am?" a mover said, leaning against the doorway, "The judge is downstairs. He wants to see you."

Lucy nodded her thanks. She pushed herself up from her seat and began down the stairs.

"Oh, she won't want those!" Mrs. Lovett exclaimed.

She paused. Lucy turned towards the noise but didn't enter the other room. She had no energy left to learn what was going on. She caught glimpses of the conversation between Mrs. Lovett and a mover. At least, Lucy guessed that was who was speaking.

"Give 'em here." A pause. "Of course, I know! Been her landlady for years, I have. I know her like the back of my hand. She won't want them." Another pause. "Just like that, thank ya, sir. Now, while you have a break, would ya like a pie?"

Lucy stepped away. It was none of her business and she didn't care anymore. She found Judge Turpin in front of the shop, watching the movers work. Should she alert him she was here? Tap him on the shoulder? Call his name? She moved her hand, but couldn't bring herself to touch him. No, she shouldn't be such a coward. There would be a lot more touching later on. She shouldn't be afraid of touching him now.

"Your honor," Lucy said, "You wanted to see me?"

Judge Turpin faced her. He closed his fingers around her hands. She pulled away. It could have been an instinct or her own doing. She didn't know. Lucy scolded herself.

"I wanted to clarify a few details with you."

"Shall we go into the shop then?"

Judge Turpin didn't hide his disgust as Lucy followed him inside. They took a seat near the table with the mover. He swallowed his last bite and went back to work. Lucy adjusted her chair. She only moved her chair to hear Johanna better. Yes, yes, that was it. Lucy glanced back at the judge. She shivered.

"For Johanna, I have hired a nanny. She will take care of her, so you won't have to."

A nanny? Lucy always wanted a little help with Johanna, but she had Benjamin before. One of her childhood playmates had a nanny. Her nanny slapped her and her sibling's hands if they misbehaved. Those tales horrified Lucy even back then. Her old friend hardly ever saw her parents. Lucy wanted to take care of Johanna. Wanted to be a part of her life. She knew she was being ungrateful, but Lucy would be a part of Johanna's life.

"But Johanna . . ."

Judge Turpin patted her hand. "You won't have to work a day in your life. And I wouldn't want you too tired."

She looked down and nodded.

"When Johanna is older, I will find a governess for her. I have purchased a townhouse near Kearney's Lane for the two of you, my dear."

"Thank you, sir."

He ordered his carriage and took Lucy to the townhouse later that day. She hesitated, leaving Johanna behind. She already owned Mrs. Lovett for the other times she watched her.

It was wite. All white and too lavish. Lucy felt dirty standing outside. Should she remove her shoes? The dirt on the soles would mess up the floors if she didn't. The townhouse might as well have been a ballroom or event hall. The walls and fireplaces were lined with marble. The beds were softer than a baby's skin. Lucy ran her hand down the sheets. They reminded her of holding Johanna's hand. She moved her hand back and turned to Judge Turpin.

"Thank you, your honor. You are most generous."

Was all she could think of to say.

Judge Turpin nodded, clearly proud of himself. He should be. The townhouse was magnificent, not homey, but marvelous. As promised, it was near Kearney's Lane, which she hated. In the pit of her stomach a heat grew strong, burning her. Lucy needed to ask when her "services" would be needed. To prepare herself. She already felt like a prostitute, although she wasn't home. Many men took mistresses. Their wives couldn't or wouldn't pleasure their wants. They turned to lower women to seek their pleasure. Lucy was married. But the moment they got word Benjamin was dead, Turpin would force her to marry him. She had to hope the day Benjamin came home came sooner.

Lucy didn't bother saying goodbye to Mrs. Lovett. She seemed to have thousands of things to do. The last thing she needed was to speak with Lucy. That was all right. Lucy would be all right.

It was pouring when she woke up. Lucy watched raindrops tumble down the big window in the barbershop. She went through her normal routine, tending to Johanna and such. She wrapped her in a blanket, covering her head from the rain. Judge Turpin arrived in his carriage.

"Take today to make yourselves comfortable. The nanny should be there already," he said, "I will bring the carriage by at seven."


Lucy hadn't realized Judge Turpin would require her so soon.

"Have you seen I Capuleti e i Montecchi, my dear?"

She shook her head.

Judge Turpin leaned forward, setting a hand on her knee. She grimaced.

"I can assure you that you'll enjoy it."

She said nothing.

Johanna fussed. Lucy bounced her on her knee. She always liked it when Benjamin bounced her on his knee. But now Johanna didn't calm down. Judge Turpin scowled. Lucy murmured she was sorry. She hummed in Johanna's ear.

Johanna screamed.

They arrived at the townhouse. With a clench jaw, Judge Turpin helped her inside. Apologies ran off her tongue like mad. An older woman ran up to her, holding out her arms. Lucy moved away from her. She did not know this woman. What did she want? The woman wore a maid-like uniform. A maid wouldn't take her baby. Lucy was certain that wasn't a maid's job.

"Give her the baby, Lucy," Judge Turpin said.

"N-no." She stepped back again, nearly hitting the judge. "I don't know who she is!" Lucy had to shout over Johanna.

"That's the nanny, fool!"


Lucy handed her the baby. As she let Johanna go, part of her felt like she would never see her again. She watched Johanna's puffy, red face disappear into a long hallway and through a door.

Her arms never felt so empty.

Even if Johanna was screaming, Lucy would rather be with her than with Judge Turpin alone.

Judge Turpin laid a hand on her shoulder. "In the meantime, take a bath. You'll want to look your best for the opera tonight."

Lucy almost didn't bathe out of protest, but a look in the mirror convinced her to ask a maid to fill the tub. Her eyes were lined with purple, as if she was bruised. Her hair was matted. And that dirt feeling. It had been ages since the ball, yet she felt caked dirt on all of her limbs still. No matter how hard she scrubbed. Even as her skin bruised and scratched, it wouldn't rub off.

She returned to her room, or what was supposed to be her room - it didn't feel personal at all. Lucy felt like a houseguest. Here to stay for a week or two. Not forever. A maid sprawled a dress over the bed. How sweet. Judge Turpin was bribing her for her affection. Lucy reached out. Her fingertips barely touched the satin fabric. A maid picked the garment up.

"Let's get you dressed, my lady."

She wasn't a lady and never would be. Lucy was like any other woman in the world. She was Lucy Barker and that was all.

The maid pulled at her dressing gown. Lucy flinched away from her. The maid was taken aback, and Lucy muttered an apology. She fought a reflex to grimace as the maid dressed her. Petticoat after petticoat. Lucy asked for an extra. The opera house might be cold, she told the maid, and she wanted to be prepared for that. The maid, although confused, helped her into another. The dress went on last. Layers upon layers of cream muslin. The sleeves were difficult. Lucy felt silly the way her arms hung in them, like putting a circus tent around her arms. She adjusted herself several times, to no avail. She would feel silly no matter how she carried herself in this dress.

True to his word, Judge Turpin arrived with the carriage at promptly seven. The opera began at eight, giving them time to mingle with his friends. Lucy couldn't imagine anyone calling Judge Turpin a friend. Perhaps acquaintances would be a better word for what they were to each other.

Their carriage just pulled up at the opera house and Lucy already missed Johanna. As they went up the stairs, she prayed no one would recognize her from that night. Her pride was already ruined. The doors opened, making her lightheaded.

"Your honor!" a man shouted from the chatter. He pulled Judge Turpin into his social circle. Lucy trailed alongside. "It's a pleasure to see you here tonight."

"It is, isn't it?" Judge Turpin turned to Lucy. "This is Miss Abberley."

Abberley. Her maiden name. She was Lucy Barker. Not Lucy Abberley. She hadn't been Lucy Abberley since she married Benjamin.

One woman's eyes flashed with recognition. Lucy tensed. Her insides shriveled up.

"Miss Abberley, it's a pleasure to meet you," she said.

Everyone followed suit. Judge Turpin went through their names. Lucy didn't catch any of them. The woman who recognized her kept her gaze on her. Lucy sent a smile her way. The woman smiled back with an evil in her eye.

They found their seats. Lucy could hardly ease herself to enjoy the performance. The opera modeled Romeo and Juliet. Lucy never enjoyed the original play. It was more to Benjamin's taste. She preferred Shakespeare's As You Like It with its love story and comedy. Romeo and Juliet was tragic. She found it almost boring. Lucy prefered Shakespeare's lighthearted works. The comedies. The ones that didn't end in suicide.

Her extra petticoat proved to keep herself warm, perhaps too warm. Lucy fanned herself harder. Judge Turpin gave a sideways glance in her way. Lucy gave a weak smile and stopped fanning. Her legs felt like they had been soaking in the sun for more hours than necessary. Lucy lifted her skirts a few inches from the ground for a moment. A wonderful, breathing moment.

At intermission, the men went to play cards with one another, leaving Lucy with the fellow women to belittle her and ask why she came as Judge Turpin's companion. Lucy wiped away the sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand. Her extra petticoat was a terrible idea. Lucy left to go to the powder room. The woman who recognized her spoke loud enough for Lucy to still hear her.

"Didn't you recognize her, Vesta?" the woman asked.


Lucy could swear the woman rolled her eyes.

"She's the woman from the masquerade a few nights ago."

"What woman? There were a lot of women there."

"The madwoman." She paused. "Remember now?"

With a flushed face, Lucy walked to the powder room as fast as she could.

At the end of the performance, Judge Turpin bid the others farewell. He wrapped his hand around Lucy's waist and guided her to the waiting carriage. He sat too close to her. Close enough for Lucy to feel how warm he was.

The first time Judge Turpin raped her, she screamed. Lucy cried and screamed until her voice was hoarse and she felt sick. That was only a few weeks ago now. It felt like yesterday. This time, she did nothing. Lucy did not fight him. She did not scream. But her tears streamed down faster than ever before.

Forgive me, Benjamin.

She wanted to see Johanna. She hadn't seen her since the nanny tore her away from her. Lucy wanted to hold her baby in her arms. Kiss her chubby cheeks. Count every finger and toe. Admire how innocent she was. How perfect.

Before Judge Turpin woke the next morning, Lucy gathered her petticoats again. She dressed herself, tying her corset too loose around her tender breasts. She snuck out of the house, finding herself lost among the inhabitants of Kearney's Lane. She wandered her way through, avoiding eye contact with everyone she passed. Relief filled her at finding the townhouse. Lucy knocked at the door. Having forgotten she lived here now.

A maid answered, clearly taken aback at her appearance. Lucy pushed past her without speaking. She wandered the halls.

One door was slightly ajar. Lucy peeked inside. The nanny from earlier looked down over a crib. Johanna. Lucy ran inside. She nearly pushed the nanny to the side as she picked Johanna up, holding the infant to her chest. She was home. She was home. Johanna was safe.

"Pardon me, my lady," the nanny said, "Miss Johanna is trying to sleep."

Lucy ignored her, opting to sit on the rocking chair instead. She took in the fresh baby scent all babies had and closed her eyes. Safe. Johanna made her feel safe again.

But this was only the first time out of many to come.

There were two unspoken rules between Johanna and her mother. Number one: don't ask why her mother was crying. Number two: don't ask where her mother disappeared at night.

Johanna adored her mother. She wanted to be everything she was. Elegant and kind and beautiful. Everything about her mother was beautiful. She could make anything pretty.

Sometimes, though, her mother was sad. Johanna knew she was sad, even when she denied it. There were tears in her eyes.

One night, when she couldn't sleep, Johanna snuck into the halls. Mrs. Cloughton was asleep. She couldn't get caught. Johanna didn't know what to do with her newfound freedom. She ran down the halls, light on her feet. She twirled and blew kisses to a fake audience.

Sobs echoed from down another hallway. Johanna stopped, frightened at the noise. She crept closer to it. Why, the crying was coming from her mother's room. Johanna moved in closer. Carefully. She peeked her head in the door.

Her mother sat on the bed, with one arm hugging her knees to her chest. The other wiped her eyes. Her mother was crying. Johanna gripped the side of the door, making her knuckles go white. Was her mother disappointed with her? Johanna didn't clean her room when Mrs. Cloughton asked her to yesterday. Was she mad about that? She couldn't be sure.


Johanna froze. Every muscle within her pulse with fear. She stepped away from the door.

"Johanna? Come here."

Her mother's voice was hoarse. Because she was crying?

Johanna did as she was told. She sat on her mother's bed. Her mother pulled her into her lap and kissed her head. She rocked slightly, but Johanna liked that. It was like the rocking chair. She looked up at her mother with a smile, but her smile dripped away at what she saw. Johanna reached up, patting her mother's cheek. Her mother flinched.

"Mama! Your lips are hurt!"

Her mother ran a hand over her lips, grimacing as her fingers contacted the bruises. She swallowed.

"I have an ouchie like that, too," Johanna said.

"You do?"

"Uh-huh!" she replied, nodding. Johanna pulled up her nightgown and pointed to her knee. "Right there."

Her mother pouted out her bottom lip. "I'm so sorry, Jo."

"It's okay."

"Let's make our ouchies feel better together, all right?" Her mother helped Johanna under the covers of the bed before setting herself in. She wrapped an arm around her. Johanna snuggled under the extra warmth. Her mother kissed her cheeks with her bruised, puffy lips. "Does that feel better?"

Johanna nodded.

Her mother wrapped her arms around her.

Johanna learned, then, that sometimes her mother needed her to kiss her bruises. Sometimes her mother needed a hug. Every time her mother got home at night, or even in the early morning, Johanna would meet her. She would comfort her. It was for her mother. Not because Johanna needed that comfort, too. Not because she feared the dark more than anything else.

She met Judge Turpin when she was seven years old. Johanna heard the name before. Her mother mentioned him to a servant. A servant mentioned his name to her nanny or her governess.

"Who is Judge Turpin?" Johanna asked Ms. McDermott.

Ms. McDermott scowled. "That's none of your concern. Now, onto your German grammar. You've been avoiding that for far too long, Miss Johanna."

She scowled and leaned backward in her chair. Partially because she had to do her German lesson, but mostly because she was nowhere closer to learning who Judge Turpin was. She could ask her mother, but something told Johanna that wasn't a good idea.

Later the same day, Johanna stopped near her mother's room door. She could make out a conversation between her mother and a maid.

"Master Turpin has insisted on it, I'm afraid."

"But why?" Her mother slammed something down, jolting Johana. "Why would he want to meet her? Why does he insist on meeting Johanna?"

Johanna sprang forward to hear better.

"Most likely because he pays for her nannies and governess and such, ma'am."

"But she never asked for any of this. I never asked for any of that."

"Sorry again, ma'am, that's just what he ordered me to stay."

"It's not your fault at all, Nettie. It's just . . ." Her mother sighed. "Never mind." A beat. "Did he choose a date already?"

Johanna could imagine her mother sitting at her dresser and taking out her planner.

"Friday, he said."

"Friday, Friday, Friday. I'll have enough time to prepare her, then."

"You will, my lady."

"Thank you, Nettie. You are excused."

"Thank you, my lady."

Nettie almost bumped into Johanna on her way out. They apologized to each other at the same time. Once Nettie was gone, Johanna glanced back at the door. Her mother wanted to prepare her, whatever that meant. Johanna knew how to curtsy and act politely if that was what her mother was concerned about.

After dinner, her mother came into the nursery. Johanna threw her doll on the floor and took her mother's hand. She looked up at her with a sigh. She looked down at the floor.

"I'm sure you've heard of Judge Turpin," her mother said.

Johanna nodded. I'm going to meet him this Friday, she wanted to stay but stopped herself. There were things she shouldn't say sometimes.

"Well, you are a whole seven years old now," her mother continued, making Johanna's chest flare up with pride. "I think it's time you meet him." Johanna nodded again. "He'll be here on Friday. Remember what Mrs. McDermott told you about acting like a lady? You must remember your manners when you meet him, darling."

"I do."

In fact, Johanna was a little offended that her mother didn't think so. She acted like a lady. Just like her mother did.

Friday afternoon came. Ms. McDermott spent most of the morning preparing her for Judge Turpin's visit. Johanna's head spun with all the new rules there were. Cross your ankles. Tilt your chin. Press your lips together. Tidy your hair. Johanna felt silly with the result, but she knew her mother wanted her to act like a lady for Judge Turpin. Speaking of her mother, she seemed jittery. She ran around the house, frantically putting things into place, although they had the maids to take care of that. Johanna didn't like how anxious she was.

A knock came at the door. Johanna jolted into position. The perfect, ladylike position. Ride answered the door.

Judge Turpin did not look how Johanna imagined. Now that she thought about it, she didn't know how she imagined him to look, but it wasn't like this. His hair wasn't completely grayed but showed he was aging with the white patches on his head. The feeling he brought into the room made Johanna's muscles freeze. What did Ms. McDermott tell her to say?

"Your honor," her mother said, almost in a whisper, "This is my daughter, Johanna."

Johanna simply sat, having to tilt her head at Judge Turpin's tall frame to see him properly. Her mother prompted her to raise. She did, keeping her gaze on him. Johanna gave a quick curtsy.

"Good day, sir," she said.

"Good day."

Johanna didn't know how she imagined Judge Turpin to look, but in her mind, this was certainly not how he sounded. He spoke slowly, enunciating his words like a stage actor. He was a judge. Judges had booming voices. They struck javelins in their stands. Judge Turpin did not sound like a judge, even though he was one.

In her surprise, she did not know what else to say. Her mother stood by her and gave no promptings. She smiled at her. Johanna smiled back.

"Have you been enjoying your studies, Johanna?" Judge Turpin asked.

Johanna nodded.

"Speaking of her studies," her mother said, "Johanna better get back to them."

She went off to the nursery but turned around. Judge Turpin stood close to her mother. Very close. Johanna didn't like it. Her mother pulled at her hair and leaned away from him. Judge Turpin only got closer. Uneasy, Johanna found her way back to the nursery.

Judge Turpin became an unwanted presence in her life. He came around the house more often. He crept too close to her mother. When they sat, his hand went on her mother's knee. No matter what she did, he wouldn't move. Sometimes he whispered things in her ear. She turned away with a tired-looking expression. Her mother did everything she could to prevent Johanna and Judge Turpin from being alone together. She was grateful.

Johanna graduated to longer skirts that hit around the ankles. She was ten years old. According to her mother, she was practically a lady now. She was becoming more like her.

Even as her mother tried to separate Judge Turpin and her, it couldn't work every time. Like when he came for dinner one night. Johanna was already exhausted from the events of the day. What more could happen? Her mother had to check up on things, which left them alone.

"There's been something I've been meaning to discuss with you, Johanna," Judge Turpin said, adjusting himself in his chair.

She bit back a yawn. "Yes, sir?"

"Seeing as how I'm the only present male figure in your life, I find it only suitable that you should call me father."

Johanna blinked. She did not want to call Judge Turpin "father". At Hyde Park, she often saw other girls her age with their fathers. Yes, she envied them. But she didn't want Judge Turpin to act as her father. He ran his hands through her mother's hair and touched her too much. It almost disgusted her.

"N-No, thank you, sir," Johanna said, after a pause, "I'd prefer to call my birth father . . . that."

Judge Turpin pressed his lips together. "I provide for your education. I provide for your housing. Would it kill you to call me father?"

"I, uh. I . . ."

Her mother burst into the room. "I apologize for the wait. Ride should call us in a moment."

Later that night, her mother pulled her into her room.

"What did he say to you?" she asked. Demanded.

Nothing bad, but should Johanna tell?

"Nothing, Mama." She paused, reflecting on what he said. "Where's my father?"

Her mother took a shaky breath and fell onto the bed. She buried her face in her hands. Johanna watched her, wondering what she should do. Her mother took a shaky breath and looked back up at her.

"That's a story for another time," her mother said, "Now off to bed. I know you're tired."

But Johanna wasn't. She was anything but. Her mother looked, well, sad when she mentioned her father. Had he hurt her? Was he a wicked man? Johanna never imagined her father was a dangerous man. Then again, she didn't imagine Judge Turpin's voice to be so slow. She didn't imagine him to walk like that. There were many things she imagined that didn't come to fruition.

When Johanna was twelve, she learned what a mistress was.

Her courses started. Her mother told her she was a lady now. Johanna didn't imagine they would be so uncomfortable. Since she was now a young lady, there were many worldly things she needed to learn about. Lovemaking, for example, was one of them. Though her mother didn't give too many details. She would learn later. All she knew was lovemaking, or intercourse, made babies and provided people with pleasure. Her extent of knowledge didn't go far beyond that.

There was a book on her mother's desk from Judge Turpin. Johanna knew she shouldn't pry, but she had never seen that book. It couldn't hurt to look at it.

She was scarred.

The first section was titled, "Keeping a Mistress". Reading through the pages made her stomach squirm. Johanna wiped away guilty sweat and put the book back. She turned away from the room, wishing she would go back in time and warn herself not to read the book.

Her guilt chased her throughout the day, into the night. Into the next week. Instead of reading aloud Mariana, she thought about the contents of the book.

"What's a mistress?" Johanna blurted out.

Mrs. Derleth pushed her head away, making her double chin more prominent. She cleared her throat and looked at the closed door.

"Well." She paused. "A mistress provides a man with pleasure."

Pleasure. Johanna nodded.

"Like intercourse?"

Mrs. Derleth paled. "That's what it is, yes." She exhaled. "Now go on. 'I would that I were dead.'"

Johanna continued in the poem, but stopped. She looked back at her governess.

"But I thought you weren't supposed to have intercourse outside of marriage. That's adultery, isn't it?"

Mrs. Derleth ran her hand through her hair with a sigh.

"Sometimes men take mistresses if their wives won't let them have . . . intercourse. They provide them with money and housing. Now, go on. 'Hard by a poplar shook alway.'"

Perhaps it was the explanation spinning through her head or she was plain wide awake, Johanna could not fall asleep. She took to wandering the hall again. There was the staircase - don't fall. The hall across from hers.

"No-not here."

Her mother.

Johanna neared the door to her mother's room. But stopped. This wasn't a plea for her. It was a plea against him.

Judge Turpin pinned her on her bed. His face was buried in her neck, her yellow hair. Her mother murmured things to him. Johanna felt sick looking at it, but she couldn't turn away.

"No, please, Johanna-No! Sir, please."

Johanna had to go.

Her mother was the mistress. That explained how they could live in their townhouse, even though she didn't work. Well, did being a mistress count as working? Johanna's head was buzzing. How would she know? She wanted to help her mother. But she couldn't. What could she do?

What couldn't she do?

Johanna should have done something. She should have stopped Judge Turpin. He hurt her mother.

"Let's make our ouchies feel better together, all right?"

She loved her mother. So why didn't she help her then?

Her mother never spoke of it. But Johanna couldn't help her guilt whenever she saw her in the morning.

She wasn't allowed to leave the house by the time she was fourteen. For whatever reason. Johanna knew it wasn't her mother's doing. It was Judge Turpin. Perhaps he didn't want her talking with others about how her mother was his mistress. Not that she would ever do such a thing. Judge Turpin didn't trust her.

Her mother was furious.

"She's a child!"

"Johanna is fourteen years old. That's hardly a child."


"Must I remind you I provide for you? Lucy, dear, I do so very much for you and your daughter. You could at least give me this."


"Would you like to wind up on the street? Who would want you? You said it yourself, you can't keep a job. The only job you could keep would be a prostitute."

Johanna held up her skirts and ran off.

She didn't ask questions when her governess didn't take her for their afternoon stroll. She missed their outings to Hyde Park. Johanna missed seeing the birds for sale and chatting with their seller.

For her birthday, her mother gave her three birds. Johanna named them with special care. Mabell, Daisy and Jenny. Johanna chose each name carefully. Mabell came from a poem. Daisy after the flower. Jenny was simply a name Johanna liked. She loved her birds.

Somehow, Judge Turpin found more ways to spend time alone with her. He sat too close. His hand grazed across her knee once or twice. As an accident. Judge Turpin looked down her dress when he thought she wasn't looking. Johanna excused herself and changed into a less revealing dress. It made her sad. Johanna liked that dress. She had looked forward to wearing it that evening.

Though her dresses, which Judge Turpin supplied, only got more revealing. Johanna only now realized how much cleavage her mother's dresses showed. Her dresses were never too raunchy, but wearing them made her uncomfortable. Especially around Judge Turpin.

Lucy didn't expect to see Judge Turpin this week. He told her previously the next seven days would be busy for him. Yet here he was. With a bouquet of flowers, no less. She simply stared back at him before remembering her manners and inviting him into the hallway.

"Could we go somewhere more private?" he asked.

A bar of ice ran through her chest. Not here. Johanna was here.


"There's something I need to discuss with you."

Lucy looked back at him. If it was anything like the time he wanted to discuss "advice" for her, she wanted the conversation to take place behind closed doors. She led Judge Turpin into her personal parlor. He wouldn't try anything in there, just to be safe.

"Well, what is it?" Lucy questioned, wiping her hands on her skirt.

"Your Johanna has grown into a beautiful young lady, hasn't she?"

Any mother knew their child was beautiful. The best of the batch, even if they wouldn't admit it. Lucy was the same. Johanna resembled herself. Lucy never thought of herself as beautiful, however. But Johanna took the best traits from both of her parents. Lucy's colors - yellow, blue, ivory. Benjamin's shapes. Round face, wide smile, enormous eyes. Johanna was perfect. Lucy hated the way Judge Turpin said that about her daughter. It reminded her too much of the way he talked to herself.

"She took the best of both of us," Lucy finally responded, "Benjamin and I, I mean."

"She takes her studies seriously?"

"Yes, sir."

"Allow me to explain the reason for my visit, my dear." Judge Turpin shifted in his seat. "Johanna is sixteen. It is time for her to look for a husband."

Lucy blinked. "A husband?"

With Johanna married, Lucy would be alone. She had her daughter for all these years. They helped each other. During the nights with Judge Turpin, Lucy looked forward to Johanna's embrace. Her comfort. But she shouldn't be selfish. When Johanna married, she could leave. She could get away and forget this situation. She would have a life. A life, a family. Everything Lucy wanted all those years ago.

"Yes." Judge Turpin sighed. "I have a compromise for you."

She did not like his tone.

"What is it, then?"

"You can stop being my mistress if I can have your permission to marry our dear Johanna."

Marry Johanna? No. Lucy experienced Judge Turpin for herself. Her daughter would not go through the same thing. Lucy would die for her. Life without pleasuring the judge would be a relief. But to give away her daughter. Sinister. She couldn't live with herself. It was Johanna over herself. Every single time.


Judge Turpin looked at her. "What?"

"No. Absolutely not."

He rose from his seat. Lucy glared up at him. How dare he even ask. How dare he.

"I hope you realize you can't keep her forever. Someday, Johanna will get on without you. You need to let her find a husband. Someone who can support her through rational means."

He left.

Fifty-two minutes passed. Lucy simply sat in her parlor. She folded her hands on her lap. A maid brought in tea. She didn't partake. She got up from her seat and found her way to Johanna's room.

Johanna was singing to herself. Lucy smiled. When she gave her the birds, Johanna said she would have to sing for her lark. She was glad she actually did. It was sweet. Innocent.

Her daughter would not end up like a caged bird. Blind and confused. Lucy would trap herself so Johanna could run free.

Her daughter would not have the same fate as herself.

Warnings: Pedophilia, Implied/Reference Rape, References to past rape, Turpin is just really creepy, implied/referenced sexual content.

Thanks for reading!