The Magistrate (The Prisonworld Trilogy) by Keira Michelle Telford

Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013

« II »


Her mind heavy with thoughts of Rylan’s not-so-subtle flirtation—what to make of it and what to do about it—Carmen drags herself home through the deserted city streets.

It’s after midnight, and in London’s Square Mile, that means a curfew is in effect. Only Magistrates and police have licenses to be out on the streets here after the stroke of twelve, and on her short walk home, Carmen only passes two City Police beat constables and a stray cat.

Though the Square Mile boundary isn’t protected by anything but warning signage, the restrictions are usually well adhered to. The automatic punishment for getting caught in the wrong place at the wrong time is a one month stretch in one of His Majesty’s prisons, and you’ve only got to see the inside of any prison once to know that you never want to go back there.

Besides, most who live outside the Square Mile wouldn’t be caught dead in it. To them, the Square Mile—home to the CPS headquarters—is little more than a cage for Magistrates and toffs, and Carmen still can’t quite believe that she’s a part of it. She should feel lucky. Instead, she feels like the first rat to leap from a sinking ship. She’s not an Eastender done good, she’s a deserter and a pretender.

Swiping her Authenticard at the main door of Victoria House, an apartment building on the corner of Tudor Street and Temple Avenue, in zone EC4, Carmen exchanges a smile with the night guard and hits the button for the lift.

On the third floor, her two bedroom flat is small—barely more than eight hundred square feet—but it’s everything she needs. The furniture is brand new, the walls and floors pristine, the countertops granite. If only it actually belonged to her.

No sooner is she through the front door and her flatmate, Eleri—the flat’s true owner—dashes toward her from the living room.

“Finally!” she squeals excitedly, clapping her hands together. “I was almost ready to leave without you.”

“Leave? To go where?”

Eleri snatches up Carmen’s hands and tries to get her to dance in the hallway.

“I’ve got the fidgets and I want to burn off some energy before bed.”

Despite Eleri’s best efforts to entice her into a waltz, Carmen remains reticent.

“Do we have to? I’m so coopered. Not to mention, it’s after midnight. What about the curfew?”

Eleri laughs. “We live so close to the boundary line, I can almost see it from my window. For Pete’s sake, I think we can make a run for it.”

“You want to dance so badly it’s worth risking a stretch at His Majesty’s pleasure?”

“Maybe you could be the one to detain me.” She slinks up to Carmen with a wicked smile and her arms outstretched, her wrists pressed together. “Handcuff me. That way, if the Old Bill sees us, you can say you’re executing a warrant.”

Carmen sighs.

Eleri’s right, though. The City Police—who are responsible only for maintaining order in the Square Mile—wouldn’t dare to question a Magistrate.

“Fine,” she relents, holding up her index finger. “One hour, and that’s your lot.”

Eleri clasps her hands together and bounces up and down on the spot. “I’ll be a good girl, I promise.” She shoves Carmen lightly toward her bedroom. “Now go on, get changed. You look like the grim reaper.”

“I am the grim reaper.”

Carmen feels like death, her black clothes a reflection of her mood. Eleri, on the other hand, couldn’t possibly be any livelier. Her shoulder-length platinum blonde hair is streaked with bright pink—matching the color of her lipstick. She’s wearing a strapless white satin bodice with faux lacing at the front and a hidden zipper at the side.

Her petticoat is three layers of pink and white ruffles, shorter in the front than in the back, and she’s paired it with a pair of thigh high white socks and white, patent leather high-heeled pumps—she looks like a music hall dancer. When she spins in circles to give Carmen the full picture, her skirt flares up, revealing a pair of hotpants and a homemade, lacy garter with a bow sewn onto the front.

They appear to be the same age—scarcely twenty—but Carmen feels so much older. Her mind weighs heavily, as though she’s aged about thirty years in the last eight, and the road to adulthood hasn’t been easy for her. In contrast, Eleri is so happy and carefree. Her exuberance for life makes Carmen feel like an inadequate stick in the mud.

Under pressure to enjoy herself, she rummages through her dresser for something appropriate to wear. As she does so, she senses Eleri lingering in the doorway behind her, watching her, deep in thought, waiting for right moment to spit out the words that are primed on the tip of her tongue.

“Did you off anyone today?”

There they are.


The Magistrate

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Genre - Lesbian Romance/ Dystopian/ Neo-Victorian

Rating – R (18+)

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Website http://www.ellacross.com/