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Lord H’s Ladies

She was a frail looking girl. Her limbs hung about, looking more like a cumbersome load to carry rather than her own body. She kept her red hair cut short to keep it out of her face. Her eyes were a clear blue, like a welcoming ocean. Her pale skin resembled virgin sand of a beach, smooth and white. She would have been considered a beauty if it wasn’t for the red freckles that covered half her face. From a distance it resembled a disease she may have suffered  in her childhood. She had sharp features, which gave her an intense look she didn’t feel. If anything, she was of a nervous disposition, always biting her nails and fidgeting. At this moment she was toying with her t-shirt, pulling it down, adjusting the left side, covering the right shoulder when it slipped off. It took much of her willpower not to pace around the room and chew her thumb down to the knuckle.

Finally, a uniformed man came in the room, followed by a tall dark woman who exuded elegance and something else that the girl could not find the proper word at the moment, for she was too distracted by the gems in her dark curls.

“This is the new girl. He wants to call her Seraphina.  She use to be called Pepper.” The man handed the dark beauty a clipboard and stood behind her. She studied the information slowly, letting her eyes linger upon the information.

“Seraphina…burning one. Of course he would choose such a name,” she spoke to herself, now studying the bright red hair. She ran her fingers through the short mane. Pepper began trembling. She was not accustomed to the feeling of someone touching her in that manner. It was searching and inquisitive with an undertone of affection. She then turned to the uniformed man, asking:

“Has she been inspected?” The man confirmed that there were tests done and the results all came out positive.

“A pure angel for my lord.” The woman kept scrutinizing Pepper. Her violet eyes were spotted with silver, hypnotizing the young girl. Pepper felt like her mind was being dissolved of all her part hurts. She saw and thought of the violet eyes, forgetting the many beatings she received from her father. Gone was the fear of the dark that developed when her grandmother locked her in a cupboard for a day and a half. Pepper barely remembered all the names she was called in school. The faces of the students that regularly shouted them at her were also all a blur. The feeling of loneliness became a mystery to her.

As the layers of pain and hate dissipated, Pepper found that there was still love in her, waiting to be expressed. Pepper could barely contain the joy she felt. Her heartbeat increased as the pleasant feeling spread though her veins. It was as if dragonflies were coursing through her body.

“Seraphina, my name is Serenity. You will call me Lady Serenity. Welcome to the harem of lord H. If you obey the rules and do as you’re told, you will live a blissful life.”  She broke the spell and Pepper had to blink a couple times, grounding herself. She shook her head and looked back at lady Serenity and asked in a soft voice,

“What…what are the rules?”

Lady Serenity gave her a smile, warm and sweet, like honey in the sun.

“Everything you do, say or think must be out of love.”  At that moment, she ceased to be Pepper and slipped in the skin of Seraphina.

“We live only for lord H’s pleasure,” Serenity took her by the arm, leading her out of the building and into a luxurious black car, waiting for them. Seraphina sat in the back with lady Serenity, feeling light headed. It felt like she was watching as an impartial audience member. She listened to the woman sitting next to her with pleasure. The words strung together was like a beautiful melody to Seraphina. The message was lost to her though. She was too lightheaded and euphoric to make out the meaning of what lady Serenity was sharing.

“Are you listening to me?” Her sweet accented voiced broke the thrall once more.

“No…I mean, yes….I am. I think,” Seraphina mumbled, feeling embarrased. She covered her face with her hands, mumbling an apology. Lady Serenity took Seraphina’s hand in her own. Her eyes spoke of sympathy and love.

“I understand this is overwhelming to you. One moment, you are living in poverty, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. Then, you are taken by strange people, given a new name and told to follow new rules. Patience and love are needed, by everyone. When you meet lord H, you will see how great a man he is. Then, everything will make sense.”

Looking into her violet eyes was more comforting to Seraphina than her words. She leaned her head back and fell asleep, holding onto lady Serenity’s hand, enjoying the feel of her smooth skin on hers. Her last coherent thought was the strong desire to never let go of the hand that plucked her from her misery.

It was the scent of exotic flowers that stirred Seraphina from her deep slumber. She soon realized that it was a soft matress under her body and a heavy down blanket covering her, feeling soft against her bare skin. She opened her eyes, greeted by darkness. Dark shapes of furniture started to appear as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. Seraphina wondered where her clothes were and who undressed her. She had wishful thoughts that it was lady Serenity.

The girl stepped out of the bed, feeling her way around the room. On a chair she found a robe to cover herself with. The fabric slipped on her skin so softly, startled Seraphina with how delicate it felt.

Just then, the door opened, letting in a bright light from the hall. Seraphina shielded her eyes, trying to adjust to the brightness and see the figure at the door.

“Oh! You’re awake,” the voice belonged to a woman. She sounded surprised to see Seraphina standing. The lights were turned on, flooding the room in a soft glow. The girl that startled Seraphina walked about, turning on the many lamps. She smiled kindly at Seraphina.

“You must be hungry,” she said. “I asked Sema to bring some food. Maybe you wish to freshen up? We have the bathhouse that is always ready.” She finally finished her rounds and stood before Seraphina.

“My name is Selene. It’s a pleasure to meet you, my sister.” She wrapped Seraphina in an embrace and kissed her on each cheek. There was the sweet smell of roses and vanilla that surrounded her.

“How many others are there?” She asked, wishing lady Serenity was the one to greet her so intimately.

“There are many of us. I’m not certain of the exact head count. You would have to ask lady Serenity for that.” Selene sat on a reclining chair, looking up at Seraphina with a bright smile. There was a wave of discomfort that washed over the young redhead.

“How old are you Seraphina?”

“Eighteen years old,” she whispered, uncertain about what do to with her hands. She twisted her fingers, chewed her lower lip and kept her eyes on the hardwood floor. Selene smiled and giggled. The sound she made was melodic. She took Seraphina’s hand and sat her on the reclining chair.

“You’re so young! I can’t believe Lord H actually found you.” She brushed a few wisps of Seraphina’s hair from her eyes and studied her. Seraphina took the opportunity to do the same. Selene’s main feature was her big brown eyes. They were bright and energetic, looking around with love. Her auburn hair hung in loose waves, past her waste. She had a voluptuous chest that put Seraphina to shame.

“I don’t know…I mean, all I kow is that I was offered shelter and all my needs met to be at the disposal of a wealthy benefactor. I don’t know who he is or what he looks like. What do I have to do? Clean his house or be his assistant?” Seraphina blurted out her ignorance, making Selene giggle once more. She wrapped a short red strand around her perfectly manicured finger. It sent shivers through Seraphina’s body, and then soothed her shaky nerves.

“Seraphina, you have nothing to fear or worry about, not anymore. Lord H. expects nothing that you are not willing to give. Everyone here will support you and love you no matter what. We’re your family now.”  Selene’s voice lowered and took on such a soft tone that the young girl couldn’t help but believe it instantly. She leaned her head on Selene’s shoulder and let herself be guided through the many mazes of the mansion.

She was scrubbed, polished and scented from her toes to her hair. For the first time, she had a manicure and pedicure. Selene chose a golden colored polish. Her hair, though short, was styled a little more effeminately. No one made a single comment about the freckled side of her face. Every hand that touched her had nothing but love and care. Seraphina felt special to be accepted by all the beautiful women she met. As she was being dressed by a blond beauty with heart shaped lips, Seraphina vowed to herself to do all she could for her new family. No matter what Lord H. required of her, Seraphina was going to comply with a loving heart.

Days turned into weeks quickly enough. Seraphina spent her days keeping busy as she could within the confines of the mansion. Every morning, she explored the two levels of the library. She would run her fingers over the spines of the many books, reading the titles of whichever book that caught her eye. There was the old manuscript with a green spine and gold letters that discussed the many religions and spiritual paths of the world that captivated her for three days. She spent time reading stories of love lost and conquests gained; of the art of conversation and how best to make people love you. Books about the economy and how to run a successful business did not go unread.

Seraphina would chose her book and sit on a sofa on the second floor. It had big fluffy pillows to lean back on and enough space to move around as she read. There was a table next to the sofa made of old wood. Every morning, there was a fresh bouquet of sweet smelling flowers and a tray for her breakfast. Most days, it would be a plate of fresh fruit drizzled with honey and chopped nuts. It was accompanied by homemade Greek yogurt, tea and fresh fruit juice. Seraphina would sit for hours, eating a light breakfast and getting lost in the many books.

In the afternoon, she would walk around, familiarizing herself with the rooms. She found a pool, an exercise room, a tearoom, a dining room, the kitchens, a social room, three different gardens and more yet to discover.

Her evenings were spent with the other woman of the mansion. Selene was often her dinner companion and they would drink sweet wines throughout the night, sharing memories of their pasts. Most of the stories were from Selene, as Seraphina felt uncomfortable to relive the tales of her past. After a bottle or two of rich wine, Selene would whisper stories of the other girls. Yet, whenever Seraphina dared to inquire about their benefactor, all of the women would simply give her a mischievous smile and say that all will be revealed in time.

Five weeks passed in this lush new lifestyle and no one asked anything of Seraphina. One afternoon, sitting in the garden of roses, she received a gift wrapped in yellow silk paper with orange and purple flowers. One of her sisters, Soraya, came to give it to her. She simply smiled, placed the gift on the bench before Seraphine, and walked off, without a word of explanation.

Seraphina slowly unwrapped the package. There was a card on top with her name written gracefully in cursive letters. On the back was the same graceful writing, inviting her to dinner that night. The present was a deep green gown made of a material softer than silk. Seraphina blushed at the sight of such an elegant dress. She had never worn clothes as beautiful as this dress.

“Time to face reality,” she whispered to herself, playing with the card, twirling it around.

Selene prepared her for the meeting. After scrubbing and massaging Seraphina’s body in oils, she expertly applied make-up in colors to flatter her blue eyes. Her short red hair was mussed mindfully, then diamonds were applied. Around her throat and wrist were more strands of diamonds.

“You look like such an elegant woman in this gown! I love this color on you,” said Selene as she laced the back of her dress. Seraphina stood before the mirror, speechless. She could not recognize herself. The woman she perceived was a different person from the shy, scared girl who was approached with a chance to truly live out her potential. Her mind had been filled with knowledge, her heart emptied of hurt, pain and fear and her body honored and cared for.

“Who am I?” She whispered, touching her reflection in the mirror.

Seraphina was driven into the city. It was the first time since her transformation. The tall buildings and neon lights looked monstrous to her now. She had adjusted too well to the serenity of the mansion.

The car stopped in front of a secluded high rise, away from the bustle. The building looked old and decrepit from the outside. A young man, hiding in the shadows, spotted the luxury car and quickly opened the door for Seraphina to step out. He kindly ushered her inside where, from carpet to ceiling, luxury lingered. Thick green carpets muffled all her steps, keeping the mood of secrecy. A crystal chandelier hung from the heigh ceiling, casting rainbows on the walls as a breeze blew through the room. Gilded frescoes followed Seraphina as she was being led up a flight of stairs. Soft music could be heard in another part of the building. After a long walk down a dim hallway, her escort opened a door to a great hall with tables interspersed around the room. Couples were dinning or sharing drinks, quietly conversing. Seraphina noted how richly dressed everyone was. As she weaved her way through the tables, no one gave her a second glance.

Her guide brought her to a raised dais where an intimate tabled waited with two chairs, a bottle of champagne and two crystal flute glasses. He pulled her chair and served the champagne then quietly walked away.

As she sipped the bubbles, Seraphina lost her mind in contemplation as she wondered about Lord H and what he looked like. Was he tall or short? Did he have a full head of hair or was he bald? Was his voice deep? Could a person drown in his eyes? Was his skin soft or was he plagued by some strange skin disease?

The change of music pulled Seraphina from her musings. Soft string instruments overlaid with electronic beats captivated her. She looked around and noticed a woman wrapped in silks, weaving through the tables, dancing for the diners. Every move looked like silk blowing in the wind, she way she swayed and glided hypnotized the audience. The dancer smoothly danced her way around the room, greeting everyone with a smile. She stopped at Seraphina’s table, moving her limbs to the beat of the music. Seraphina’s lips parted in awe as she observed the dancer weaving a conversation between her body and the music. The way her muscles gracefully responded to each change of rhythm hypnotized the young girl. As the dancer moved to the next table; Seraphina turned to see that she wasn’t alone at the table.

“Lady Serenity!” She blurted, feeling the hot flames redden her cheeks. She looked down at her lap, feeling like the weak girl she was before entered Lord H.’s care.  Lady Serenity smiled playfully.

“You were expecting someone else?”

“Well, yes. I thought Lord H. … I mean, it’s been over a month and I’ve yet to met him,” Seraphina dared to look at the woman sitting before her. Her dark hair was held up by pearls. She wore a black gown with a sea foam green ribbon wrapped around her bust. Her nails were the same color. Her skin shimmered under the intimate lighting of the restaurant as she picked up her champagne glass.

“I always meet with the girls first. To see how they are adjusting,  if they are ready to meet our great benefactor.” Lady Serenity sipped her beverage, gracefully placing it back on the table and continued:

“The girls tell me how much you’ve…blossomed. They say you keep your mind and body active. You engage everyone with genuine kindness. You help when you can, you’re open with everyone about where you come from. Well, to some extent. I can tell you have changed for the better.”  She paused as the waiter brought an appetizer. Zucchini stuffed with garlic and tomatoes, covered in melted cheese. Seraphina’s mouth watered as she smelled the food. She could not bring herself to start eating before Lady Serenity.

“There is just one matter that disturbes me.” Seraphina’s heart skipped a beat before it went racing in panic. She feared that, out of her ignorance, she angered one of her sisters. She began mumbling an apology, feeling tears build up. Lady Serenity stopped her with a gentle squeeze of her shoulder.

“That’s not what I was talking about. Everyone in our home loves you. We are all worried that you’re denying your true nature.”

Seraphina looked around the room, avoiding Lady Serenity’s concerned gaze. She started biting her lower lip, something she hadn’t done since starting to live in the mansion, surrounded by her sisters.

“There’s no need for me to…indulge in that side of me,” she replied, trying her best to sound confident.

“It is who you are! To deny it or neglect it would be to deny yourself. How can you let yourself be loved if you haven’t fully accepted yourself?” Lady Serenity’s question hung in the air. She started eating the zucchini dish. Seraphina sat back, feeling confused by the choices before her.

“Remember our rule Seraphina.  Everything you do, say or think must be out of love. To accomplish that, one must feel love, for oneself. That is the root.”  She pushed away the dish and finished her glass of champagne.

“What must I do?” Seraphina was desperate to keep her new family. If she had to wake up the side of herself she feared the most, then she was prepared to face her darkness…all for the sake of love.

Lady Serenity smiled as she reached across the table and held Seraphina’s hand in hers.

“Don’t hold back your true being.”  She brushed away a strand of hair from Seraphina’s face and smiled. The remainder of the night was spent in pleasant conversation about the events at the mansion and the books Seraphina has read. Lady Serenity knew all the books and had insightful comments for all of them. She spoke positively of everything. Seraphina wanted to ask her about her personal life, yet she was too afraid of being rebuked. However, by the end of the night, she could not hold herself back:

“How long have you been with Lord H.’s harem?” She risked the seemingly innocent question. Lady Serenity smiled sadly as she pushed away the remains of her dinner. She took a moment to formulate a proper answer.

“Let us say that it has been many years. I was forced to leave my native land. I came here because a friend of mine said it was a safe place for people like us. It was safe, yet it offered no opportunity for me to thrive…not until I met Lord H. I was the first he rescued. The harem was my idea. I wanted to create a space where our kind could thrive and blossom in the many possibilities.”

Seraphina felt a wave of gratitude as she listened to the story. She wanted to hear more details about how the harem started and of Lady Serenity’s relationship with Lord H..

“It’s getting late. You should go back to the mansion and get some rest. You have big opportunities coming.”  Lady Serenity smiled as she stood up from the table.  Seraphina was disappointed that they were not leaving together.

“Where are you going?” She asked, sounding much like a child. Lady Serenity, ever the maternal figure, kissed her on the cheek and said:

“Our Lord needs me tonight.” She slipped an envelope in Seraphina’s hand. The young girl blushed and blurted the first thought she could grasp:

“Thank you for the dress. I love it.”  Touching the diamond at Seraphina’s throat, Lady Serenity simply smiled and said:

“We’ll talk again soon enough.” Then she walked away.

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