The dark night shielded her from the curious eyes that were bound to catch her in the scorching daylight. Acai rushed along the back streets, hoping to get to the brothel before he was gone. He was the young teen named Thomas, the house’s newest addition. Coins jangled in the reticule that was attached to her dark green dress in the robe volante style. Her brocaded slippers (with their pointed tip and low heel) allowed her more speed than the usual high heels.
She had taken a carriage as far as the driver would allow. That didn’t matter, however, as it was not too far on foot from here on out. Finally, she saw the home that looked like a French dollhouse, illuminated outside with two mid-size street lamps. Walking down the well-paved path Acai felt anxious that he might be gone or bought already.
To Acai, he represented a small part about this sour world that she could actually save. She knew this part of this hard reality, as she had once been a slave herself. Her dark exotic complexion and golden cat eyes won a high price for her body. After that, she had been imprisoned for a long misery by an older man that had done horrid things to her. Acai had only won her freedom when her “lover” died and had given her all of his earthly wealth in his will.
Now Acai was knocking on the door of this place of evil. She put on her best poker face as an elegant butler opened the heavy thing. The middle-aged man was dressed in a uniform that was from the past fashion. These brothels were always behind the style, as Acai remembered.
“Whom may I ask-?”
“Miss Acai! What brings you here at this time of night?” Came the sugary sweet voice of the brothel’s Madame.
This older woman was resplendent with jewels and dressed in a rich golden gown. She wore an expensive fragrance whose strength almost had Acai gagging.
“I was interested in the pretty poppet you had just recently acquired.” She said these words serenely while tasting them like poison on the tip of her tongue as they came out of her mouth.
“Oh yes! Thomas. We’ve had many inquiries about him.” The Madame replied silkily.
Acai could feel her eyes on her purse and the emeralds on her neck and in her ears.
“I am sure you do. He is precious.” Acai enthused as the homely woman lead the way to an ugly sitting room.
It was decorated in that nausea-inducing pea green that was so popular, for reasons Acai had no explanation.
“Please have a seat.” The Madame offered.
Acai shook her head.
“I am here to make an offer,” Acai told her wanting to cut through the games.
The Madame looked both surprised and delighted. These were gone in a flash as shrewdness slipped in.
“Oh but I don’t know if I can part with him ye-.”
The sound of coins spilling from Acai’s purse onto the coffee table interrupted her.
“I think I might also be able to part with my jewelry,” She offered, taking out her drooping emerald earrings, “I’m sure we can come to some sort of compromise.”
The emerald necklace was slowly sliding from her neck.
“I’m sure we can!” The Madame returned, practically salivating.
She called for Thomas, who had been listening from the darkness at the top of the stairs.
“I want to make an offer.”
There was a sharp intake of breath. The knocking on the door had frightened Tom. It was true; people had been coming to “see” him all day. They had used his body for a steep price. No one had made an offer though for his whole person. These (mostly men) had only wanted temporary satisfaction.
When he had heard Acai’s name, he had grown hopeful. She was well known in this world both for her story and her charity. He hoped that she was here to save him.
Tom quickly backed away from his spot. He felt a mix of hope and confusion towards Acai, and anger towards his Madame. As he walked down the stairs, he grew a little uneasy. Even though he hated this transient home for little over a month, it was scary to think of going somewhere that was foreign to him, especially if it was not permanent.
Tom shuddered before he walked into the room. Everything stopped as his baby blue eyes caught the sight of Acai. She was gorgeous with her cat-like eyes, and feline features that would not have worked on any other woman. Her skin was a dark copper, almost gold. Also, she appeared taller than most women. Acai had the bearing of an Empress.
“There you are darling!” The Madame exclaimed with false affection.
Tom jumped a little, forgetting that his captor was also in the room. Catching himself, he gave a quiet “Hello”.
“I have some news that might upset you.” She said, her acting skills lacking.
Tom could only look in her direction, not even daring to breathe with a silent wish.
“You will be leaving us, and going to live with Miss Acai.”
Tom exhaled, pretending to look sad as the Madame went on to tell him that they would surely miss him, but he was going to a good home. He thought that she might even be able to squeeze out some crocodile tears as she took out her handkerchief. He almost laughed when he saw that her eyes were still dry.
They said their goodbyes, Tom spying a new emerald necklace around her wrinkled neck. He glanced over at Acai who wore no jewelry, and then saw the emerald earrings on the table, with the coins. It was an exorbitant sum, and he felt, not worthy of him. He had begun to worry that this was more than his personal value when Acai gave him a winsome smile that made him forget everything.
A hackney waited for them outside, waiting to take them home. Tom waved away the hand that offered to help him. He got in easily, holding out his hand so that he would be the one that helped Acai inside.
“Thank you.” She said in that low raspy voice that was hypnotizing him every time she spoke.
Tom continued to hold onto Acai’s hand as their ride began. He scooted a little closer and nuzzled into her shoulder.
“Please don’t abandon me.” He pleaded quietly.
Acai hugged him close promising that she would never, immediately understanding where he was coming from. Tom had been robbed of his childhood. Though she did not know his personal story, she could guess. He had probably been kidnapped or sold to the brothel that had acquired him for a sum. These people then sold his “services” for a price hoping to get back their money and then some. There was a sense that he didn’t know where he belonged, and that no one would ever love him.
Tom cuddled against her, feeling as though he had found a kindred spirit. Acai looked down at him, not realizing how beautiful he was. She loved his golden curls, running his hands through them causing him to purr. She had noticed before that he was taller than her, probably a little above 6’0’. He also had beautiful big sky blue eyes that seemed to reach her soul. He was adorably gangly, still growing into his body, lending him more innocence.
“Can I ask how old you are?” She asked gently.
“16.” He replied readily, biting his lip as he waited for her judgment.
“Just a baby.” Acai murmured, kissing his forehead.
Tom sighed with relief and gave a little yawn. Acai continued to let her fingers play amongst the blonde curls.
“We will go to sleep when we get home.” She murmured.
“Home.” He repeated with relish.
Acai cuddled him close for the rest of the ride…
As the carriage slowed Tom looked out to see his new home and was amazed. The white estate was enchanting rather than intimidating. He admired the fountain, wishing that he could play in it. All of it caught his imagination.
“Wow,” He murmured in awe.
The door opened, and he stepped down, helping her down with him. Those blue eyes looked up at her with admiration. She smiled back down at him before stepping down herself.
“Let me show you to your bedroom.” She announced as she saw him try and hide another yawn.
She squeezed his hand as he tried to protest.
“Just follow me,” Acai instructed gently.
Tom relented following her inside. A servant led them up the stairs.
“I’ll take it from here,” Acai assured him.
Still holding hands, they walked towards an opened room. Tom was already frowning, not wanting to be separated from Acai.
“You’ll be pleased by this arrangement.” She said as if reading his thoughts.
Acai had been right. Their bedrooms were connected to Tom’s happiness. The walls opened to his vision of a room, Acai telling him that it could be closed if either of them wanted any privacy. He hoped that this would never be, as he was quickly becoming attached to Acai.
“I hope you do not find the room too…feminine.” Acai ventured as they both walked in.
Tom shook his head.
“I love it.” He said sincerely.
The room was a beautiful deep blue and gold with its walls, curtains, and blankets brocaded with gold and white. The bed was a canopy with thick curtains of the same dark blue. He adored the golden gilded mirror right above a little strangely shaped dresser.
“All right, your nightshirt is laid out on the bed-.”
“Will you tuck me in?” Tom asked looking child-like in the dark.
“Yes,” Acai replied, “just come and get me when you are ready.”
Tom nodded as she disappeared into her own room. He had never changed so quickly, almost tripping over his enthusiasm to get to her.
“I’m ready!” He called out eagerly, loving the sound of her throaty chuckle in response.
Acai seemed to glide into his room, finding him near the bed. She pulled back his covers, patting for him to crawl inside. Tom hopped happily, lying back as Acai pulled the covers up. She could see him adorably fighting sleep as she leaned in to kiss his forehead.
“Goodnight Thomas.” She whispered sweetly.
“Wait!” He cried out groggily.
“What is it, sweetheart?” Acai asked taking his hand.
“Will you be my mommy?” Tom asked sleepily, watching for her response.
“Yes darling, I will,” Acai replied, kissing his palm.
He grinned; finally able to accept the sleep he had so far been fighting. Acai slipped into her room, ready for sleep as well. Somewhere in the middle of the night, she felt someone creeping into her bed. Acai briefly opened her eyes, spotting Tom. She opened her arms to him, and he snuggled against her with a satisfying sigh.
“Sweet boy.” Acai murmured before falling back to sleep again.