She disappeared like smoke and he turned to me. “This won’t take long,” he said, opening his bag. I had been dreading a physical exam, but all he did was draw some blood. He asked me if I was on the pill and I nodded. He asked me for the brand and noted it down. After that he nodded formally and told me I could leave.
The relief of not being poked and prodded was so great I almost skipped towards the orangery. I knew I had no diseases. In my whole life I’d never had sex without a condom. Mary Jane was waiting for me.
“That was quick,” she commented.
“Which is always a good thing.”
She laughed and gave me a choice between lasagna, pan fried chicken breast with rocket salad, and lightly smoked salmon with wild rice. I chose the salmon and it turned out to be the best thing I’d ever tasted. Whoever the Chef was he was astonishingly good.
The rice was delicate with a faint whiff of some spice I could not recognize, and the creamy yellow sauce that came with it was to die for. Dessert was a slice of cherry pie, not made in the way American pies are, but open with a thin flaky crust. It reminded me of a piece of pastry I’d once bought from a French patisserie.
Anna Franklin must have arrived while I was eating, because just as I finished she was at the doorway and had prepared everything in another room for me. “Are you ready to try out some clothes?”
I nodded and rose.
“I am pretty sure everything will fit perfectly, but there might be one or two things that you simply don’t like and we can take those away,” she said, as she led me to the music room where there were three racks of clothes and a long mirror on wheels. A dark-haired, pale girl, in jeans and a turtleneck sweater, smiled at me.
“This is Elizabeth, my assistant,” Anna introduced.
“Hi,” I greeted.
“It’s lovely to meet you, Miss,” she replied formally.
“What would you like to begin with?” Anna asked, waving towards the racks. On the racks were sequins, silk, and tweeds. Dresses, coats and skirts.
“Um, the underwear.”
“Of course,” she said and made a gesture with her hands towards one of the racks. The assistant jumped to her command. I grabbed a lacy white bra and panty set and both women turned away politely as I got out of my slutty bra and into my new underwear. It was obviously very expensive, because the fit was amazing, but the material felt soft and silky.
“Ready,” I said and both women turned around to face me.
“Great, let’s start with this dress,” Anna said, as she reached for a blood red, silk dress with a plunging neckline.
I stepped carefully into it and the assistant zipped me up. It was so expertly cut it flowed over my body like a second skin. I stepped into the red shoes Anna’s assistant laid out in front of me. It had a modest slit that came to about halfway up my right thigh. If it had been blue or green I would have felt like a mermaid.
Anna clapped her hands together with satisfaction. “Wow! I knew the moment I saw it that it would be perfect for you. You look fantastic.”
Her assistant wheeled the mirror towards me and I saw my reflection.
For some seconds I couldn’t help staring in astonishment at me in that dress. I looked… regal and beautiful, like a Princess in a fairy tale. And yet, I was not regal or a princess in a fairy tale.
When I was growing up I had always been given the role of the fairy or the Princess in school plays and even as far back as two months ago I had felt unsoiled and unblemished, but now I no longer knew what I was.
When Katie had first found out about my arrangement with Salvatore, she had asked me how I was going to survive the psychological impact of selling myself for money?
My response had been simple. “By not thinking. If I don’t think about it, I’ll get through it. And besides, there’s really nothing to think about. It’s just one man, for one month. For my father’s life, it’s worth it. It’s truly not that big of a deal.”
Then it had become two months, and now it had become two men. Suddenly a panic arose on my insides and I couldn’t stand the dress on me. This was not who I was. I immediately began to take it off.
“Hey,” Anna called, her eyes filled with surprise. “Don’t you like it?”
“It’s beautiful. I’m just not sure about the color,” I mumbled as I pulled the zip down.
“Okay, no problem. But red is always a good color for blondes.”
“Yes, I’m sure, but um… maybe… um… something black.”