two. by DarkandLovely
Silverware clinked and scraped against the exquisite china.
“How fare the negroes in your company Alexander?” Hands lifted the fine chutes of champagne to awaiting lips.
“Most of them behave as they ought. But some can be much more difficult than what is necessary.” The powder from the wigs left residue on the jacket shoulder.
“And the women?” Several of the Ladies at the table stopped eating, lips pinched.
“Ah, we’ll finish this conversation later then?”
“We shall my Lord. Please enjoy some of the meat pies. It’s most savory.”
“Look at them. Pigs.”
“I’ve never understood how they can eat so much at one time.”
“Meanwhile we barely get fed more than twice a day.”
“Anne is lucky. She gets to get left overs once finished serving. She never shares. Selfish wench.”
“Hey now. Anne has to look out for Anne ya know. Should she share with any of us she could get in a lotta big trouble.”
“Zadie what do you think? Do you think it fair?” She blinked at the lot of women crowded around the hallway, contempt and annoyance in their expressions.
“Well… I think…I think we deserve more yes. But, we should also be careful not to bite the hand that feeds us.”
“Says Miss ‘Goody Two Shoes’ You know Zadie will agree with anythin’ long as she stays out of trouble.”
“Well, she’s smart she is! You should follow her example Colette!”
“We should get back to work before they catch us.”
“Agreed.” The lot of them scurried away from the lavish dinner party, rushing to find work.
“Have you any advice on the art of pleasure?” Hands stopped brushing her hair.
“I’m….I’m sorry madam. I don’t understand what you mean.” Eyes took in the seemingly bashful girl.
“You have to know. It’s uncommon of your kind not to know.” Fingers carefully lifted and the brushing commenced.
“If I may ask madam, why do you ask?” The woman stared at her appearance in the mirror, lips pinched tight.
“Why do I ask? Well… let’s see…first thing is because I assumed… silly of me I know… but I assumed you could help me find ways of making my husband more…agreeable.” Cheeks warm, the saliva in her throat dried up and her tongue stuck to the bottom of her mouth.
“I’m sorry madam. I can’t answer you. I don’t… I don’t know how to answer.” She lifted away from the vanity and her brushing hand. Turning, she faced her.
“You know you are one of the objects of my husband’s desire. You are aware of that aren’t you?”
“When we lay together, he has this way of making me feel like I’m invisible. Like I’m just a wisp of thin watery paper that he can brush away with the touch of his finger.” She stood still as the woman reached up and lifted her chin.
“And yet even with this feeling, he gets so much satisfaction at the mention of your name. It’s like he becomes this insatiable pleasure seeking beast and only then do I find myself not feeling quite as invisible.”
“Now it makes sense why. Why he desires you so much. You’re at his disposal. And yet you are untouched. You have not been tainted yet. Whereas I have been tainted many many times by his hand.” The woman she was convinced was mad took a slim finger and slid the curled index down her skin.
“It is the thrill of the hunt that will destroy you. For he will wear you down until there is no chase. All that will be left is complete surrender. And when it is that you do surrender Zadie… I will then see to it that you cease to exist.” She grew still, chills slipping down her body.
“Madam… I-I-Is there anything else you require?” Smiling, the woman took her finger away and the smile was falsely sweet.
“No. That would be all for tonight.” Curtseying, she remained calm as she went to the door and turned, bowing her head. Only once the door to her room was closed did she allow the tears to slip down her cheeks.
Chains weighed him down but there was nothing he could do about it. Arms pulled straight out on each side, he could do nothing but stand still as they gawked at him.
“What a magnificent specimen! Are you sure he’s not human?”
“He has the body of a man but the innards of a beast. They say he has five stomachs housed somewhere in his abdomen.” If he could have, he would have laughed. How stupid. They really would believe anything.
“It’s body is most perfect. How does it have the appearance of a shapely man if it stays in a cage all night and day?”
“Those of his kind are born this way. Physical activity is not required of them to keep their shape.”
“What of reproductive capacity? Is it able to breed?” The man smirked and took hold of his manhood, seizing it in an iron grip. He hissed his teeth at him, eyes narrow and menacing.
“His seeds are of the most superior caliber. Though he be beast, should he breed, a most interesting hybrid would be born.” Some of the women in the crowd hid behind their fans. Others did not. Their eyes glued to the quite improper actions of the handler as he forced the organ to awaken and stiffen. The animal growled in fury and tried to get away but the chains held him still. A hand gripped his hair and forced his head back, his neck encased with a cast iron collar.
“With its seeds a drink is produced that they say can cure even the most minute of illnesses.”
“How is that possible? Is it not the same color, consistency and quantity that of an actual man?”
“You forget…this is a blood sucking demon. It feasts on human blood and yet in return its blood has the same ability as his reproductive serum to heal. It is most suitable for men who struggle with the erectile problem.” A enraged cry left his throat and finally relief came as the man took his hands away from him. A beautifully translucent and almost dewy result came from him and was captured in a chute of champagne. The handler grinned at the disgust and curiosity on the faces of the crowd.
“I assure you it is perfectly safe to drink. It has no taste or odor. And as you can see, it practically dissolves into nothing when mixed with another liquid.”
“Have you had it yourself?”
“It is thanks to this that I am able to please my wife. Before I had such a terrible time.”
“Would anyone be daring enough to try it?”
“Madness I say!”
“Not a chance in heaven or hell.”
“I’m sure then perhaps a Lady would like to test the effects of it on her skin? Said to smooth wrinkles, crow feet and even make moles disappear.” Some of the fans came down.
“You joke with us! Do you take us for a fool?”
“See for yourself.” One such Lady rose from her seat and came toward them. She had the beginning of crow’s feet around her eyes but otherwise was still very much beautiful.
“My husband no longer finds me desirable. I’ve…I’ve tried everything. Every cream there is.”
“One drop will make them go away.” Hesitantly, she removed her glove and slowly dipped her finger into the cup. Touching her face, she tapped her skin a couple times before she was given a mirror. To the amazement of the crowd, the crow’s feet appeared gone.
“My God! It worked!” As the crowd began to surround him, the handler forced him to be taken away. It never failed. After such humiliation, the beatings came and he was thrown back into the cage naked bloody and bruised.
To say she wasn’t fascinated would be most untrue. The many dresses, hats, even the jewelry. It amazed her to think that one would have the amount of money to afford such finery. Eyes downturned, she watched as Mrs. Charlotte Nolan and three of her friends stood by the entry staircase. One of them had a hat and a fan and despite this still managed to turn a pale red. But oh was her dress beautiful. The body was all white and flowed like the morning air. Down near her feet three ruffles, two white and one a cream beige decorated the bottom of the ensemble. She had appropriately matched the dress with a becoming straw and blue ribbon bonnet with a matching blue coin purse and fan. Another Lady had on an eggshell blue dress with slight puff sleeves and elegant white lace gloves. They looked like the muses or something most mythical.
“Taken are you?” Jumping at the voice, she grew still. Dread slipped down like ice down her back.
“Shouldn’t you be working Zadie?” Turning, she faced him, head bowed.
“Y-yes sir I was just about to-”
“Don’t use that pretty mouth of yours to lie.” She couldn’t find words to reply, nervousness making her stomach tighten.
“I’ve yet to get a really good look at you. It’s a shame that after five years I’ve yet to really see your face.”
“M-Mister No-” He drew in, backing her against the stair banister. Taking a hand, he lifted her chin with a curled finger.
“Your skin is like the finest ebony.”
“Mister…Mister Nolan I…”
“It’s like liquid dark, a smooth silky night sky.” Blue-grey eyes roamed her face, from her eyelashes to her lips.
“Magnificent. You’re a vision.”
“Please…please sir. Lady Nolan will be very upset with me…please.” He let go of her chin and grinned.
“Come with me.” At first her body refused to move. But at a warning glance from him, she did as he bade, following him down the stairs. They walked past fellow servants who brushed, cleaned, scrubbed and cooked. Past more who went to fetch coal and wood. Where was he taking her? They seemed to be growing deeper and deeper into the belly of the house and it was making her very uncomfortable.
“Pay attention to the route I’ve shown you Zadie. You’ll be required to know it without assistance later.”
“Sir?” He didn’t answer but instead went to an old wooden door. Opening it, he went through the threshold, commanding she follow with a simple order. As she followed him down the winding staircase, every hair stood up and an unexplainable feeling took hold of her. A curious feeling of both dread and excitement. Once she reached the last step, she found that he was already several paces ahead of her.
“Mister Nolan…do other maids know of this place?”
“Not but few.” His cryptic answer as he continued, leaving her to almost run to catch up to him.
“Why me?” She found herself asking next. He stopped and slowly turned. In the dimly lit corridors, everything about him seemed very menacing and dark and it more than frightened her.
“You ask too many questions Zadie. A good girl always keeps quiet and minds her business.” Biting the inside of her cheek, she gave a meek nod as he began to walk again. Sighing quietly, she turned to see a door unlike any of the others. It had a large black iron bolt across the whole of it whereas the others a simple key and lock.
“What are you doing? This way.” He ordered, making her jump again. Turning, she hurried to follow him.
When they reached their destination, she felt herself grow cold with a sweat as he opened the door to the room.
“Go in.” Swallowing thickly, she obeyed to find the door shut behind her and locked. It was a strange room. It was fashioned like a costume set, different gowns, shoes and props.
“My Lord what is this?”
“This is a place I come when I find myself inspired.”
“Yes. Not many know this about me but I am a painter.” Her eyebrows shut up.
“I’ve found inspiration with you Zadie.” He went and selected a gown, one just like the ones Lady Nolan and her friends had worn.
“I wish to paint you.”
“…um…Sir…I-” She knew though that she didn’t have a choice in the matter. It didn’t matter how much she refused, rejected and declined him. Should he want her painted, he would have her painted.
“While we are here…the two of us in this creative space…I believe it would be alright to address each other differently. Up there,” He pointed to above their heads,
“We are Lord Nolan and Zadie. But down here we are Alex and whosoever you desire to be.” Holding out the dress, he smiled.
“You must keep this a secret. Just between you and I.”
“O-Of course Mist-er-A-Alex.”
“Good girl then. Now that I’ve shown you my wardrobe room, I wish to show you the place where I actually create. Come.”