The first shoe drops… The second will be a little harder…
Acceptance – Part IV
She left in the middle of the night, not saying a word to anyone, though she wanted to. Wrapped in a long, thin coat, and wrapping her arms around herself, she darted from the place she called home and made her way to the streets. Her only companion was the clicking of her shoes on the concrete sidewalk. She had left her comfort behind. She did pause, just once, to look over her shoulder as if reconsidering her plans, but then turned away, almost meekly, before moving onwards.
Moments after she had disappeared from the view of anyone watching, a black car pulled up alongside. The man driving it was simply a thug doing the bidding of the one that paid him as he rolled the window down. “About time you gave up. Get in, he’s waiting.”
She hesitated … for a moment, her hand touching the door before opening it and getting inside. The car drove off moments later. Little conversation passed between the two. It was probably better that way, for her sake.
“You defied him.”
She kept her thoughts to herself, saying nothing, but looking ahead.
“What made you go back to him.”
She had a thin smile and replied, for the first time: “It’s what he expects.”
The drive was long from one side of the city to the other. His domain—not a home—was isolated, and looked out over the world that he ruled over. It was built to impress those that he dealt with, owned, or otherwise wanted in his power. Perception was everything, after all, and it was … what he expected.
She looked out of the window as if seeing the place for the first time—or was it so that she didn’t have to pay attention to the thug in the car with her? Either way, the reflection in the glass was that of a short, well-endowed brunette with troubled eyes.
There was no ceremony when they passed through the guarded gates, nor was there anyone there to greet her when the car pulled up to the main doors, the interior of the dwelling lit up brightly, the wealth beyond the doors obvious there.
“You know your way inside.”
She nodded, just once.
“I don’t see what he sees in you.”
She opened the door and stepped out, but, before closing the door, said in a quiet voice, “It’s what he expects.”
She watched the car leave, its tires making crunching noises on the ground as it moved off to what were laughingly called the servant’s quarters by him. When all was still, she turned towards the doors, took a long breath and as her hand reached out to turn the door handle, a proverb came to her …
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Opening the door, she paused there to take the scene in. He loved money. It was really his only true love; everything else was just window dressing to that. Marble floors, the best in furnishings: everything had been put towards things, as he always did, since, as he believed, only things kept their value.
Getting her bearings, she moved away from the entranceway. She was going to start by going upstairs to look for him when she heard a voice to her right.
“I’m pleased you are here.”
She stopped, not moving, not daring to turn around either because she knew exactly what she would see. He would be standing there, the King of his domain. She could not walk away either, so she did the next best thing. She rested her hand on a nearby railing and closed her eyes to gather her strength.
“Will you keep your word?”
“Why should I? I have you. I have him.”
There was a long pause, then he asked: “Show me your right wrist.”
Raising her right arm slightly, she shook the sleeve of her coat and revealed that her arm was bare, no pink bracelet to be seen there.
“Excellent. I will teach you your place again, Celeste.”
With that he walked away from her, leaving her there, alone, in a deeply dark and foreboding mood. After he left, she walked upstairs and found the room that was hers. The door had been closed for some time, it seemed; she needed to push against it before it would open and allow her within. She left again about one hour later, dressed as he preferred her: nude, save for a steel collar around her throat and black boots with far-too-high heels.
She decided that the hobble dress was a much better choice. But he would never allow her to choose what she wanted to wear. It was, after all, what he expected: he was the one in control and things were done his way.
She found him in his study after searching the mansion; really the first place she should have looked, but she did not, could not. He was reading a file: business, brought money, which was his one true love, after all. She did not say a word as she entered, her head bowed to him. Moments later, she knelt beside him, still looking at the floor, and waited for him to acknowledge her.
He didn’t for some time, the only sound in the room being the turning of pages.
“You still remember your place, at least.”
More turning of pages, another long silence, then: “Why did you defy me?”
She continued to look down: “I was wrong, sir. I beg for forgiveness …”
This silence was longer still, then she heard him pick something up, and then the doors to the room opened.
“Take her to the dungeon. Put her with that bitch’s toy. I’ll teach them both a lesson in the morning.”
She did not resist when the two thugs picked her up and carried her away from him. She expected that they would do something as punishment for defying him … but they didn’t. They weren’t kind, but it seemed as if she was still … somehow … important to him, if only a little bit so.
Being dragged outside was a surprise. It wasn’t the warmest of nights and, being bare to the world, she shivered in the cold badly. It was a ten-minute walk from his domain to the place that one of the thugs called “Purgatory.” A flight of stairs descended into the earth, the door at the bottom a thick, steel one. Passing through, it was obvious that the place had been once some kind of wine storage, now put to more distasteful duty.
The floor was uneven stone, the walls the same. Very old—there seemed to be some kind of etching on some of the stones. Her eyes pausing on a few; the thugs didn’t notice her focusing on them.
The hallway had, on either side, bare and open metal cages, none of them being used or lit save for the very last one on her left. She found herself within that cage moments later, the thugs locking the door once more and then walking away, turning out the lights before locking the main door once more.
After they left, she moved to the back of the space, finding there a pile of blankets covering a body. She froze, not daring to hope that he was beneath all of them. Finally she found her voice: “Joseph?”
In the darkness, she heard a rustling sound, then: “Celeste?”
She darted over to him, her hands pulling the blankets away, needing to see it was him and he was well. His hand found her wrist before she touched him and held her fast.
“Where is your bracelet?”
For the first time, she smiled, a warm real smile: “It is what he expects.”
As all of this unfolded, there was a knock at the door of the old Victorian mansion. Standing outside was a single figure who patiently waited for the door to be answered. When the door was opened she smiled and asked if she could speak with Sheryl.
When the young man found his voice, and managed not to drop to his knees in submission, he asked her to please enter and, after guiding her to the sitting room, darted off to find his Mistress. “Mistress? There is” … The pause was telling, really … “ a woman here to see you.”
She entered a short time later: pink hair in a pixie cut, sparkling blue eyes, pink lips, her signature pink latex sheath dress and heels there, as well. It was, after all, what was expected. She greeted the woman with a smile before taking her place there. “Is there something we can do for you?”
The women regarded her for a long uncomfortable moment. Her red lips were in a thin smile as she asked, “Can we speak in private?”
She found that was, for some odd reason, a good idea, and dismissed the young man that had brought the raven-haired dream to her. After he left, she could only watch in silence as the visitor came closer, the scent of … cherries … in the air.
She found herself looking into the woman’s eyes … so green … so very green … framed by the darkest of raven hair …
The visitor reached out a slender hand, her red nails shimmering in the light of the room, and touched her chin in a familiar way. Her eyes now glowed a soft green … hypnotic … powerful … taking her host’s attention completely as this enigmatic visitor asked, “Where is Sheryl, my dear?”