The story of Sheryl continues and a bit more of what her situation is becomes clearer…
Acceptance – Part II
The hallway that Sheryl stepped into was brightly lit, warm, inviting. Doors, some open to reveal one of her courtesans there, others closed for the privacy of those behind them. Her own personal curse was there, but in spite of that, the needs of those who came to her would always come first. As she passed one door, she sensed within the heat of two souls entwined …
… and smiled. A bit of passion helped to calm her in the worst of times and this was, truly, one of them by far.
But there were the best of times as well, and she recalled how all of this began…
The pause that followed, as Sheryl well knew, came when he wanted to ask something of her that he expected she might refuse. The thing was, truly, she had never once refused a request he made, for the simple reason that what was asked for was never something she could refuse. Looking back, she wondered if she should have, just this once.
He stood there, fidgeting with his bracelet a moment longer, “How wealthy are you?”
“That’s an odd question, but, I’m well enough off. What possibly brought up that question?”
“How much do you enjoy working for the escort service?”
The shift in topics was a surprise, but Sheryl told him the truth, “I’ve been moving away from it, to be honest. It is not as important as … as you are.”
He turned away a moment, smiling. Sheryl did like it when he was a bit embarrassed, “Some of the others there are thinking of moving away; starting something on their own. You, Mistress, have given them all the ability to do so.”
A nod, “Well, I hope that, whatever they wish to do, they are successful in doing so. But, especially if they are leaving, then there is little reason for me to remain.”
“No, Mistress. You do not understand. You have given them much. You respected them—all of them. You gave freely of yourself to them, supported them, and made them be more than they ever expected them to be.”
This was confusing to her, “I did what I thought was right, Joseph. That’s all.”
He smiled, a smile that usually meant that she didn’t quite understand what he meant.
“Will you come with me? I would like to show you something.”
The drive was not that far, less than an hour from the condo she—they—had called home for some time now. They arrived at an old, worn out, dilapidated Victorian mansion. She really would not have been surprised if there were bats in the belfry and cobwebs in every room. To call the place a fixer-upper would bring shame to many other houses … But there was something about it that she couldn’t quite put her finger on. Sheryl continued to look at the place for quite some time after he turned the engine off.
“You do understand that I am not a vampire? We have been through all of that, haven’t we?”
He chuckled, “Oh I know, but that’s not why we are here.”
He left the car, then opened the door for her. Moments later he had guided her to the front door and paused there.
“Remember I said that I chose you as Mistress?”
“Yes, I do. I never forget.”
He turned the doorknob and opened the door for her, “I’m not the only one.”
While the outside looked to be a mess, just inside the landing the house was … spotless: the wood floors gleamed, freshly polished; the walls were covered in intricate patterned wallpaper; furnishings surrounded her that must have cost … Well, in truth, she couldn’t really guess, but she was sure that no expense had been spared.
She heard the door close behind her and turned to look at him, “What are you trying to explain, Joseph?”
He nodded further into the place, past an archway where there appeared to be a larger, dimly lit room. From it, Sheryl could sense … devotion? The quizzical look she had was met only with a smile and an outstretched hand.
The sight she beheld next was one that Sheryl would never forget. Stopping just inside the archway, her senses were overwhelmed by emotions of a strength she had never experienced before. There, kneeling in a circle, was every single soul she had touched, every single person whom she had helped, taught, befriended. They did not look down, but towards her, open, freely gazing upon her, their united desires only one thing at that moment: devoting themselves to her and her alone.
Joseph entered and took a place to Sheryl’s right, kneeling there, not saying another word. The silence was both terrifying and arousing to her. So many souls … so much raw power that she could draw on … control … make whatever she wanted of it.
The realization of that thought in her mind made her shiver … and another of Tera’s proverbs came to her …
Seduction is not a one-way street.
Out of the shadows came the sound of heels clicking and in the next moment the surprises continued as Sheryl stood face to face with someone she didn’t expect there.
Her name was Ashe. She ran the agency. Once she was a very popular call girl who had managed to bankroll her way into ownership. She was, to be honest, a little bit past her prime, and of late had been spending less and less time there.
Sheryl could see the worry lines around Ashe’s brown eyes. In spite of that she still cut a figure in the rather flattering blue dress she wore, and her greyish hair was still as perfect as it ever was. The more troubling thing was that Sheryl also sensed … acceptance—sad, in a way—within her.
“Ma’am. What … what is going on?”
“It has come to my attention that …” she regarded the others there with them a moment, “… that you are planning something?”
Sheryl shook her head: “I know nothing about this. I have no idea what’s going on.”
“What are you planning, Sheryl?”
She paused, then admitted, “I am planning on leaving; with Joseph, if he wishes to be with me.”
Ashe looked at the others in the room with them, “I have heard something different. From what I understand, all of those here wish to leave with you.”
Sheryl was dumbfounded, and the look she had was complete and utter shock, “I …”
Ashe stepped closer to her, “Answer me one question: are you worthy of them?”
Sheryl shook her head, “No. Absolutely not.”
“Are you sure of that?”
“I have done nothing more than be who I am. I have not done anything more than that.”
“You are wrong, you know.”
It was then that Sheryl noticed something she hadn’t before. Placed in front of every kneeling soul there was a pink bracelet … exactly the same as Joseph wore.
“I never … I didn’t …”
Ashe took Sheryl’s hands in her own, “No, you didn’t. They chose for you … for both of us. I was going to offer you my place and leave … retire … leave everything to you.”
Sheryl shook her head, tears beginning to form, “No, this isn’t what I want. It isn’t …”
Ashe shrugged, “You want to do the right thing. If you do not take my place, there is another who will. Someone who is not like you. You care; you have cared. You will look after them because that is who you already are.”
Tera’s voice came again …
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is say yes.
Sheryl bit her lip, “I am not their Mistress. I am only Joseph’s.”
“He chose well. They chose well. Accept that you are Mistress with my blessing and be what they need. Please? For their sake?”
Sheryl looked back at Joseph: the trust, the complete trust in whatever she decided, so very plain upon him, the pink bracelet shining on his wrist. “I promise to do my best.”
When she looked back to Ashe, she noticed that not one bracelet remained on the floor … and Ashe had lifted her right wrist to reveal that she wore one, as well … “Of course you will. Joseph chose well.”
Sheryl entered the sitting room and found, as she expected, the one that she loathed more than any other being in the universe sitting there.
To most he was a nothing: a face in the crowd, one that could be overlooked so easily. But the seeming normality hid behind it a force that wished to be more than he was. He was human, completely so, but morals were long past from him. All that mattered was what wealth, what power, what gain he could realize at the expense of others.
Specifically, right now, at her expense.
He had been examining the suitcase he collected each time he visited, Sheryl refused to deal with his underlings before and, after what happened … there was no possible way she would deal with anyone else but him.
She wanted to see him, dissect him—unfortunately, not physically—try to pick apart what might make him crack and give what she wanted. The problem was, she knew exactly what it was he really wanted from her. If the thought of him near made her skin crawl, there was no possible way he would have what he wanted. But he would never know that … for good reason.
As such, the game began once more, one piece after the next moving over the board they played on …
Sheryl crossed from the archway to the Victorian chair that rested near to the wrought iron fireplace, unlit now … not lit for some time. She brushed her dress smooth behind her and then settled into the chair, her hands resting upon the deep black fabric of the upholstery. She was a pool of bright pink surrounded by the deepest of darkness … a reflection, perhaps, of how she truly felt in that moment.
“It’s about time you came.”
The smile hid Sheryl’s true thoughts, “Oh you wish that you could manage that, don’t you?”
Instead she tilted her head slightly forward and spoke, “My business is mine. You asked for me, I am here. What would you like?”
Sheryl’s smile didn’t change an iota, “You know the answer to that.”
He seemed to be mentally undressing her, which Sheryl was quite sure would be the extent to which he would manage such a thing as he continued, “Pity. We could rule if you did.”
Sheryl’s eyes narrowed slightly. The foolish mortal always believed that power was the be all and end all. It had taken Joseph for Sheryl to understand what was more important.
“I am not at all interested.”
He shrugged, almost dismissively, “Then I’ll have to find one of yours that will.”
Sheryl’s thoughts moved to the others standing around the edges of the room, trying to blend in, but unable to hide from her what their feelings were. Some were quite willing to kill this mortal in her name. Others simply rejected him out of hand. Still others considered a means to trick him for Sheryl’s benefit.
But the one overriding feeling in the room, the one that warmed Sheryl, was that not one of those that had given her the gift of being Mistress thought about leaving her.
Sheryl could have laughed, or stood and threatened him, but before she could do so, Celeste came to stand to Sheryl’s right and said, quietly, as was her way, “We are spoken for.”
Sheryl nodded slightly in unspoken thanks to those in the room, knowing full well that the one sitting across from her had no real understanding of all that they had done, not just to her and Joseph, but to all there.
This was the game he played each and every time he came here. Now, it was her turn, as it always was … “How is he?”
The silence was, as always, something that caught in her chest … but on the outside, she was still calm and controlled in his presence …
… as long as that would last.