I couldn’t help but instantly appreciate her appearance. She had paired a tweed blazer, a heavy, eggplant colored coat slung casually across her shoulders, black trousers, and leather boots. She was carrying a massive dark red purse which exactly matched some of the thread in her tweed blazer.
I gulped down what was left of my orange juice and immediately rose to receive her.
“Skye,” she greeted. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
I accepted the hand she held out. “Nice to meet you too.”
“I’m sorry I’m late. The traffic was murder. I swear I could have got here faster if I’d walked,” she declared dramatically.
She put her big red bag on the floor and took a seat next to me. At that moment, Madam appeared at the doorway, unsmiling and distant. “Can I get anybody anything to eat or drink?”
“God, no. I’m stuffed. I had a whole apple for breakfast,” Anna said seriously.
I suppressed a laugh and decided then I really liked Anna Franklin. “I’m fine too,” I murmured and Madam retreated, her body stiff and disapproving.
“Well, she’s a whole bag of fun, isn’t she?” Anna commented as she opened her bag.
“She could have a heart of gold,” I said with a smile.
“If she did it would have melted by now with all that acid.”
“Right, let’s get down to business and see what we can do for you,” she said, pulling out a thick leather bound diary/planner.
She uncapped a slim pen, opened what looked like an assessment form and proceeded to ask me to describe my personal style.
I stared blankly at her. “Um, what do you mean?”
She shrugged prettily. “What kind of outfits are you most drawn to? How do you want to look?”
I was a little perplexed at the complication of it all. “I don’t necessarily need outfits. I just need a few basics to tide me over for the next few weeks.”
She paused. “I don’t know your circumstances, Skye, but let me put all my cards on the table so you know where I am coming from. I am the best stylist in Boston if not the whole world. People come from all over the world to use my services. They pay a shedload of money because I am really good at what I do. I can turn a frog into a prince. I was hired to make you look like a million dollars, and by the time I’m finished with you, you will look like a million dollars or my name is not Anna Franklin.”
She smiled. “Good, we’ll begin with colors. What are your favorites?”
Her smile widened. “Mine too. What about fabric?”
“Silk.” I didn’t own any items in silk, but I’d always loved the feel of it.
She noted it down. “Any others?”
“Actually, I will need underwear, thick socks, something to sleep in, and also walking shoes. All I have is what I am wearing,” I confessed.
I saw quick speculation flash across her eyes and was pretty sure that she had guessed exactly what was going on, but she nodded, and said, “No problem. We’ll get you a whole working wardrobe.” Then she pressed on with her questions. Thirty minutes later, she closed her dark red bag, waved a cheery wave, and hurried away. Her plan was to be back at one that afternoon with the first batch of clothes.
Once she left I had nothing to do but wander around the stunning house. I could hardly believe how beautiful and luxurious everything was. It was like being in a dream. Everywhere I looked was beauty and cleanliness. When I looked out of the tall windows I saw more beauty, pristine snow on painstakingly precise hedges and flat grounds that seemed to go on forever. I would have loved to have gone for a walk, but it would have been impossible in the high heels I had on let alone most likely freezing cold too. It was nearly time for lunch and I had still not finished exploring the house.
I was on my way back to the conservatory when I saw Mary Jane coming towards me. “There you are,” she called cheerfully. “A doctor is here to see you.”
I felt my stomach clench, but I smiled. “Oh good.”
She smiled back. “After you have seen your doctor, you can have lunch.”
“That’s good because I’m hungry.”
“Would you like to eat in the orangery, the blue room, or the dining room?”
“The orangery will be fine,” I said quietly.
We dropped into an easy conversation about the house until we got to a small room that looked exactly like a doctor’s exam room. I turned to Mary Jane. “There’s an exam room in this house.”
“Yes, but nobody’s used it before.”
At that moment a man in a white coat walked in from a connecting door. He had a swarthy complexion and dark, shifty eyes. He looked coldly at Mary Jane. “You can leave now.”