Breaking Blood on Alabaster

Breaking Blood on Alabaster is my new fan fiction, mixing historical fiction with BDSM.

When did BDSM start? When did Doms emerge? I'm sure there are answers for these questions somewhere, but I prefer to make up the answers with my own deviant imagination.

So, this is my take on a man from 1899, an oil tycoon, playboy billionaire that owns most of the newspaper companies in New York and several rather large tenements on the lower east side. Not only does he hide his untraditional sexual appetites—tying up women, flogging them and giving pain mixed with pleasure, but he also has a bloodlust he explores through fisticuff fighting at various underground clubs. The more blood he spills, the more he feeds his inner beast.

What happens to him when he becomes entranced with a feisty widow unafraid of him, detests his wealth and isn't afraid to slap him into the vanilla world? Will he bite back? Oh… we can hope.

A few warnings upfront on this story. There is an attempted rape scene by a drunk guy, but there’s no nudity and it’s stopped before it gets anywhere. It’s in chapter 12, and she does get called a whore and a slut by this man. This scene’s not much worse than what happens in Twilight when Bella’s being followed, and kind of along the lines of the attack by James at the end of that same book. Also, there’s some minor edge play in the final chapter with some consensual cutting. I’ll try to give a warning at the beginning of both of these chapters in case these are scenes you'd rather avoid.

Enjoy this dark and bumpy ride.

Chapter 14 -- visuals contrasting lower and upper classes

The contrast between Edward's lifestyle and Isabella's is much easier to comprehend when you see pictures and sketches of what it looked like.

In 1903 $500 a month would rent a 10 room luxury apartment with steam heat, elevators, electric lights and servants rooms. Edward also had more than one carriage, so to say his life was vastly different from Isabella, well, yeah, I think we can see the stark difference between their backgrounds. This picture is the apartment interior of a wealthy owner in 1903. Pics taken from this website:

This is what a female's room looked like in one of the Vanderbilt Mansions:
This is what I imagine Edward’s home looking like from the back.
This is actually Niblo’s Theater, Niblo’s Garden, Broadway in 1852 in the picture below, but gives you a general idea of what I had in mind. See how she might be able to sleep on a bench in his garden without much notice? It’s a massive space with tons of vegetation.
Normally, a rich man like Mr. Masen would live in the top apartment of an expensive building, but there were some homes like these still around.

This is the entrance to the Vanderbilt’s twin mansion residence in 1900. So, this is gives you an idea of how the other half lived.

This is what I imagine Edward’s home looking like from the front. This is a depiction of the old Walton mansion on Pearl Street, which no longer exists:

Drawing room… Doubt Isabella had one of those.
As a bachelor, this would be a typical dining experience on various evenings for Edward, and this was in 1899, from this website:

Now, before we switch gears, let's look at the fancier dresses Isabella wore for ocassions like the tenements society rally and later, the dress she wore at the club. The black dress resembles some of what I imagined Isabella's blue dress looking like at the rally (the one on the right particularly). The yellow dress is is the type of dress I imagined Rosalie swapped and had Isabella put on, only crimson in color.

Once Isabella's fancy clothes were cast off, this is what she came home to. This is the interior to her home. Big difference, isn't it?
Her tenement hallway. These were often very dark and gloomy and the water closet would probably be at the end of the hallway, which everyone on that level would share. Yep, one toilet for all these families.
This is a kitchen in an improved tenement, but you can still how crowded this is. And this is definitely a nicer one, because she has an actual window so there’s natural light coming in. In the poorer tenements, many of them lacked windows, so in the summer when it was hot, many of the people slept out on the roof.

This is what the entrance to her tenement might look like, but minus all the junk outside since the other widows living in her tenement would have kept it clean out front. Probably not a dog either.
Whew! Hopefully this gives you a better idea of why Isabella's so hesitant to go from a humble living situation to a life of convenience and oppulence.

Chapter 11 -- organ grinder

I wanted to share a picture of an organ grinder, since I wasn't entirely sure what they looked like.

Here's the link for it:

Chapter 4 notes and visuals

Newsboys had a 2 week strike in July of 1899, refusing to deliver the papers. The price per paper bundle (100 newspapers) went up from $.50 to $.60 because the newspapers had an increase in sales. That was quite a big deal since the newsboys only got paid $.30 a day and could not return the papers they hadn’t sold during the day. The boys refused to deliver the papers and held rallies and protests.
Remember that dude that played Batman in the new rebooted version? Yeah, he’s hot. Well, he was in a Disney movie years ago called Newsies about this very subject. A dancing, singing Christian Bale is kind of amusing.

Why do I mention this? Because the newspaper business was volatile in a lot of ways. Created a lot of controversy.

Also, wanted to mention that in 1901 in New York City, 25% of the workforce were women, so it wasn’t completely unheard for a woman to work, but for the sake of the story, I’m gonna take artistic license here and say it was highly irregular in the newspaper industry.

I thought you might also like to know that in 1901, the average household in New York exceeded their incomes monthly by spending 20% over what they made. 43% of wages went to food, 13% to clothes, 23% to housing, and 21% to other. Household supplies or entertainment maybe? Maybe doctors? Who knows… And since there was no refrigerator back then, people in tenements stored some of their perishable food items out on the fire escape or balcony outside their window (if they had one) and they had to shop for food frequently at the market. Frequently most likely meant every other day? I would think meat you’d have to buy daily if you could afford it; same with milk. Think about how their drying laundry was hanging outside that window as well off lines strewn from one building to the next. Sound like where you want your food stored? Probably not, but they had little options.

Now, you might be wondering why Rose mentioned that there were 2 other widows living in the apartment building Isabella’s residing in. Oftentimes, a widow would almost act like a cleaning lady, tidying up walkways, cleaning halls and stairs, things of this nature, in exchange for free rent. It kept the place clean, and gave the appearance of a more upscale type of tenement, so it would attract more tenants. If there were already 2 there before Isabella, then she would not be able to go this route. She had to find some other means to support herself, hence the art.

Burlesque dancers at this point in time made on average $75 per week! That’s a ton! Imagine how much a high class call girl would fetch? I couldn’t find any numbers on that, but I’m thinking at least $100 to $150, depending on if she was attracting wealthy men that were generous or not. Contrast that kind of money with a typical factory worker that made about $12 per week. As you read future chapters of this story, keep an eye out for how much money you see Edward giving people, and you decide if he’s generous or not.

On to Pig Alley… There was actually a movie about this very area, called The Musketeers of Pig Alley, filmed in 1912, and released in 1915 to audiences. They actually used real life gang members in the film from the area. It was considered the first gangster film in history, so that should tell you this was a very rough area to live in, and yet, Bella walks through there frequently. Not necessarily overly-frightened, but prepared for something to happen. That’s why Roman taught her how to defend herself. It was originally named Pig Alley because pig farmers in years past (1840 was when it received this name, before that it was known as Mixed Ale Alley) would allow their pigs to roam through this area, rather than keep them in their homes. Can’t blame them, really.

Here’s a depiction of Pig Alley from 1892. Picture taken from this amazing website: I’ll be posting more pictures from this website in future blog posts.

This is what the market would have looked like for her when she bought her food.

This is supposed to be the typical cramped tenement. As you can see, some of these people here are ill or injured in some way. Probably from their jobs.

This is the type of thing Bella might have seen at surrounding tenements on her street:

I love this picture of these ladies gossiping. It’s said that at night, the streets would be very lively, and there were many a lady that would take the time to gossip. It’s very easy to imagine them talking about a very busy, very infamous Mr. Masen here.

Bella was quite progressive by trying to work daily at the paper. Here’s a depiction of what other working women were dealing with:

This is what it said below this picture (and no doubt, a lot of the children that worked were most likely newsboys, and a lot of these newsboys didn’t even have shoes or coats, were filthy, and spoke like they were almost illiterate):


"The Enemies of the Working Girl"

The title of the image makes reference to the numbers of families who did piece work at night and/or or using underage children as laborers. "Working girls" of the time were trying to get improved working conditions and wages through unions and strikes.

There is this amazing sketch for some reason blogger won't let me post, so I tried to put on my facebook group and on my wall, but that didn't work either. It showcases the type of amazing art work I would think Bella capable of selling to the newspapers when she had the time available. It has this outstanding reflection of the street. I can imagine that she loved capturing moments like these. Absolutely stunning, and there's a great look at a typical woman, crossing the street. Classic female Edwardian figure with a tight corset under her dress to get that S shape. Wow. I have no idea how she could breathe, let alone walk.

I'll keep trying to figure out a way to post it, since I love it so much.

Life was obviously hard for Isabella, and for the people residing in her area of town. Unfortunately, families did not have a lot of options in regards to birth control. This website talks about the types of birth control used at the turn of the century:

Usually men would withdraw (coitus interruptus). If they had money, they used a sheath, which was a type of condom, not always very reliable though.

Women were told to avoid intercourse right after their period, which is actually a safe time to have sex unless the woman regularly has short cycles of around 21 days. Otherwise, for women with a 28 day cycle, it’s the week following when a woman usually ovulates and is most fertile (this based on my own research with natural family planning which has a 99% success right when followed precisely).

Prostitutes, like Rosalie, would have used sponges dipped in vinegar, or lemon or various other astringents in an attempt to kill sperm. Some of these solutions used in conjunction with a sponge actually caused deaths.

Now you can see why a lot of poor women resorted to performing their own abortions since many of them already had 10 or more people living in their tiny tenement apartment. It wasn’t unusual to have 12 people sleeping on the floor side-by-side.

I didn’t even bother to look up how they performed their own abortions. Frankly, I didn’t want to know. I figured it’d be pretty gruesome, and not something I even wanted to think about.

Hope this gives you a glimpse into their world I’m trying to share with you. More posts coming soon with more visuals and even more information.

Chapter 2 notes on bathing and newspaper industry:

First thing I wanted to mention was the bathing and hygiene of 1899 for the poorer individuals, particularly those that lived in the lower east side.

A lot of my information I got from this website:

The stuff in italics is directly from this source:

In the oldest and poorest tenements water had to be obtained from an outside pump, frequently frozen in winter. The privy was in the back yard. Later buildings generally had a sink and "water closet" in the hall on each floor. Newer and better class tenements had sinks in the kitchen. They were all "cold water". Water for washing dishes and clothes and for taking baths was heated on the stove.

A majority of tenements in the 1890s did not have indoor plumbing. In some tenements the only water came from a faucet in an unlit hallway and some tenements had only one faucet per building, supplying up to fifty tenants. Bathroom, when available, where most likely no more than one per floor and shared by several tenants. The common bath frequently did not include a tub or shower.

Tenement bathing usually took place in the kitchen in a dish pan, the sink, or a portable tub.

To make bathing available to the tenement dwellers, the city eventually built public baths.

The first public bath in Manhattan was opened on 326 Rivington Street in 1902 and in five months accommodated 224,876 bathers, about three times as many men as women.

In addition there were floating baths along the river. These were as much swimming pools as places to wash, thus combining recreation and public hygiene. The floating baths were a kind of wooden wharf enclosing a swimming pool that allowed the river water to flow through. In 1902 the floating baths were used by 5 or 6 million in the summer season.

As I looked at other websites, it seemed like floating baths were the most common way to wash their bodies.

Clothing was either washed at the river or in a co-operative wash room, and then would be hung out to dry on the lines strewn between more than one tenement. You’ve probably all seen pictures upon pictures of this time period of clothes hung out to dry, flapping in the breeze. That was the only way they had to deal with their laundry.

Now, onto the rich and how they lived. Contrast Edward’s lifestyle with our Isabella’s. Here’s what I learned:

By 1893 New York contained 700 "apartment" houses. Nearly all of them were equipped with "electrical and steam appliances." This included the passenger elevator which made the upper stories of these building more - instead of less desirable - as the top floors of walk up tenements were. The easily accessible top floor was far away from the dust and noise of the street and nearer a cooling summer breeze. However, most of New York's wealthy left the city to spend the summer at their county or beach houses.

Eclectric lighting was clean, odorless and constant. Steam heat was controlled by a thermostat enabling a constant temperature. The ordinary apartment consisted of seven to ten spacious rooms generally all on one level. Moreover, the wealthy had servants - maids, butlers, cooks and nursemaids - to take care of those nasty chores for them.

By 1900, telephones were in wide use, so it’s safe to say Edward owned one and used it, whereas Isabella, did not.

Now, for the newspaper industry, I already mentioned in chapter 1 author notes the New York Herald in 1899 was actually the biggest newspaper in circulation, not the Times, and the editor of one of the other major papers, the Evening Post, at that time was William Cullen Bryant. Odd that his middle name is Cullen, i’n it? Now you know which newspaper company she wound up going to. I have no idea if he was married or not, but for this story, he is. And he has his own reasons to hire Isabella, and give her 2 week’s worth of wages upfront.

Also, one other tidbit of info on the Evening Post, in 1916, editor George Horace Lorimer discovered Norman Rockwell, then an unknown 22-year-old New York artist. Lorimer bought two illustrations from Rockwell, using them as covers, and commissioned three more drawings. Rockwell's illustrations of the American family and rural life of a bygone era became icons. During his 50-year career with the Post, Rockwell painted more than 300 covers

I had no idea how this all started, and was surprised to find this out.

Hope this helps. I was surprised at how fascinating I found this time period in New York. Normally, I don’t gravitate to this area or age, but for this story, it simply worked and I was enthralled by what I learned along the way.

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