The sun shone high in the sky singling mid-day but the warm sun did nothing to fight off the cold and icy end of the harsh winter chill. Snow still coated the Boston streets in a slowly fading blanket and Belle French couldn't walk to class from her dorm room without a thick knitted scarf and a pair of gloves to fight off Jack Frost. Winter always seemed so magical to children, the anticipation of the holidays and snowball fights, by seventeen or so though the wonder had worn off and winter just became annoying and cold.
Despite having lived in Boston for most of her life Belle still hadn't forgotten the warm soothing heat of Australia, the warm breezes that carried the scent of the sea; when winter rolled around Belle longed for her homeland. Maybe she'd been a bird in a past life, would explain her desire to migrate for the winter.
Chattering echoed all along the gray hallway of her dorm building, she'd been gifted the unfortunate position of being in a middle hall so she got the sound of everyone from all four cardinal direction; clearly she'd drawn the short straw. Girls talked loudly about boys and mid-terms, how they hated whichever girl it was they hated and which teachers they wanted to fuck. Belle didn't like stereotyping places or people but she'd really not had much of a choice when she'd moved in and started university. Every now and again laughing would sound from somewhere but the auburn-haired beauty paid them all little attention.
Normally Belle have been studying or reading a thick book cover to cover for the umteenth time but not that day. No on that chilly Wednesday Belle found herself at her desk with a certain website open; The House Of Scarlet. It was a porn website, that was easy enough to figure out by the title alone. However, the reason Belle was watching it wasn't quite so readily obvious. In truth, the reason wasn't one people would have thought of first, second or even third; she needed to decided if it was the right job for her.
Cerulean orbs peered down from her computer to the jet black business card that lay beside her laptop, someone had kept the design simple but the colors alone made sure everyone knew where it had come from.
Belle studied English Literature and Library Science, had an obsession with books, she was only just over five-foot and had never been particularly outgoing … was The House Of Scarlet really the place for her? The blue-eyed angel sighed deeply. No, it wasn't, not at all, but Belle didn't really have much choice left. Her Papa couldn't pay her tuition and the mortgage despite what he said and Belle couldn't live with the guilt of putting him under so much stress. Moe French's slight gambling issue hadn't ever helped either. He'd always been the best father he could possibly be for Belle, his beautiful and only child, but when people stopped coming into his flower shop there hadn't much he could do. People now chose the convenience and cheapness of marts and grocery stores instead of paying that little bit more for something not only beautiful but that would last more than the journey home. Belle had always thought her father an artist when it came to floristry, he'd lit up when making an arrangement and Belle had adored watching him. Since her mother had died though it hadn't filled his heart as it once had.
Belle didn't want to leave her studies, she loved learning, although, it was so much money. So much that could have been spent on keeping a roof over her father's head and gone towards running his business. Not paying her tuition would lift the weight of Atlas off of Moe.
The young beauty looked back to the site open on her laptop with a sorrowful sigh. It was designed along the same lines as Mister Hatter's business card with a gold border and a list of options down the side in a thick but neat, black font; Log Out, Rooms, Videos, Photos, Multi-Cam, Chat, Play Room Schedule. At the very bottom sat a red box with 'private' in capitals and Belle could only imagine what went on in private mode. In the middle was a large video screen showing off photos of the girls, sliding from one to the other. She had to admit all the girls were beautiful, then again she supposed they had to be if The House of Scarlet was going to turn a profit. At the very top of the screen was the same black lettering sat a list of names; Red, Tinker Bell, Baby, Ariel, Mulan, Princess, Tamara and finally Cruella. Belle wondered what the girls were like, she couldn't know for sure but Belle thought anyone who used the name Cruella had to have some sort of evil power thing going on. The very end of the line of names held a single question mark and Belle knew that it would soon hold whatever name she chose. She was still debating over that, because it would hold her name, she knew that much for sure.
Belle went through the cameras of the girls in varying states of undress, another sigh. They all had so much confidence, even just doing usual daily things like grabbing a bottle of water from the – frankly massive – kitchen. The Australian wouldn't have called herself timid exactly but she certainly wasn't excessively demonstrative either.
"Can I really do this?” She questioned herself. “I have to but can I?" Doubt hung in her mind, horrid little voice that just lingered at the back of her brain unhelpfully.
It appeared the cameras were in everyone's bedrooms as well the rest of the house, there were two shower cameras too but Belle seriously doubted that there were only two bathroom in a house that size. That knowledge actually brought a smile to Belle's face, knowing that they weren't forced to go about their bathroom routine on camera for all the world to see.
For along time Belle just sat there going back and forth through the mass cameras, it was to be her job and so Belle had to get used to them. When she finally managed to pull together her composure Belle shut the lid of her blue laptop softly and took her cellphone from the pocket of her dark wash jeans. She punched in her four digit pin, her mother's birthday, and scrolled through her contacts list until she found her Papa. The phone rang twice before he answered, his deep voice filled her ears and calmed her nerves.
"Belle, My Girl. How are you? I haven't heard from you in a while."
He sounded so happy to hear from her, and Belle was most certainly pleased to hear his voice. He always managed to sooth her, even without trying. She smiled knowing he'd just say 'I'm you're father, it's my job'.
"I'm good, Papa.” She told him in the happiest tone she could muster. “I actually called to tell you some good news. I got a part time job for one of my Professors." Belle lied smoothly. "Yeah, it's great, with the extra money some friends and I have managed to get an apartment off campus. It's cheaper and there's more room. It's a win-win." Belle did her best to sound like she was excited rather than going to work for a porn website, kept smiling knowing he'd hear the effect it had on her voice on the other end of the line.
Silence lingered for a moment and Belle worried he'd seen straight through her lies.
"Oh Belle, that's wonderful. What's the job? How did you get it?"
"Just little things, organising some books and helping her out, nothing too stressful really. May have to pick up her dry-cleaning once in a while but I can live with that. I'm basically her PA. Then again it's the least I can do since she put in a good word for me on the scholarship."
This was it, the big lie she needed to sell. If Belle could get away with telling Moe that she'd gotten a scholarship then she'd be home free, he'd not question his daughter suddenly having a lot more money and not needing tuition and she'd not have to worry if her Papa could keep paying the mortgage. If she could get away with all that then no one would ever have to know what Belle was really doing.
That silence lingered again and once more Belle panicked through the quietude. Moe French didn't have the first clue on how universities worked so she doubted he'd have some in depth comment but that didn't mean he'd just believe her; unless the relief washed the questions away and by God Belle it did.
"I'm so happy for you, Sweetheart.” Oh thank Christ, her mind screamed. “You know, the French family must have gotten a guardian angel because the shop has been going great lately."
That got a raised eyebrow out of the literature student, every time she'd spoken to her Papa in the last month it had been beyond awful. Maybe things really were looking up for her family, or perhaps they did have a guardian angel. Then again, Belle wasn't about to go looking that particular gift horse in the mouth.
"How about your meetings?" She asked as casually as possible a moment or so later.
At first her father had refused to accept he had a gambling problem, fought her on the subject left, right and centre, but when Belle had told him there was no grocery money yet again because he'd gambled it away Moe French had realized he'd needed help. She smiled, Belle had been so proud of him when he'd admitted that. Moe had been going to meetings ever since and the addiction had steadily gotten easier for him since.
"I haven't skipped any, Angel.” He promised. “I have one tonight actually, seven o'clock I'll be there. Last night I sat with an online casino loaded up for a while and didn't place a single bet, didn't even want to."
"That's fantastic, Papa, but you shouldn't tempt yourself so much."
The call went on like that for a while and Belle actually forgot that she had originally called to lie to him. Moe was just so happy to hear her voice and catch up that Belle felt like everything would turn out alright; that everything was normal. They spoke for a good nintey minutes since they hadn't spoken in almost three weeks, in fact the call only ended when Belle had to go to class.
A few days later found Belle wrapped up in her white knitted scarf with her luggage waiting at the main gate to be picked up. Her cases were a teal color and one of them was completely dedicated to books, there was a little bit of an obsession going on there but Belle didn't much care.
Other than her scarf Belle wore a little white beret that matched her coat and a long black jumper paired with light blue jeans. She really wished the cold weather would go away and let spring rule the land. Its not Christmas any more, she thought as she pulled the business card from her pocket for the millionth time to look at it while she continued to wait.
Gold seems to be a running theme, she thought to herself, wonder why. She could have understood red or pink what with the name being Scarlet but gold seemed somehow odd and perfect all at the same time. Belle focused her blue orbs on 'The House Of Scarlet' written in beautiful calligraphy, powerful but unassuming. She couldn't help wonder if powerful but unassuming described the entirety of The House, probably not.
Belle found herself quickly tugged from her thoughts when a pristine black limousine rolled to a halt in front of her, she stuffed the card back in her pocket just as the back passenger window wound down to reveal a handsome, dark-haired man with bright blue eyes and a cheerful but devilish smile. In a way it was nice to see Jefferson again rather than some random guy just sent to pick her up, made her feel like a valued employee rather than a chore.
"What made you change your mind?" He asked with genuine curiosity in his tone.
"I have my eyes on a new book." She responded with a smile in an attempt to be coy and fun.
Jefferson's smile turned to a gin as he opened the car door and shuffled over so she could sit down beside him. Belle turned back for her, rather large, bags only to find a bald, bearded and short man moving them to the trunk for her; and where the hell did he come from? Her suspicious didn't last long though when Jefferson introduced the man as Leroy their driver. 'Get in the car, Belle' she heard the handsome man say and it was the jolt she needed to get her to move from the sidewalk.
The limousine was spacious and upholstered in rich black leather that Belle was sure was worth more than anything she owned. Limos were usually statement cars or prom goers trying to make a night of it but somehow Belle found herself relaxed amongst the display of wealth.
Not long after the car pulled away from the gate Jefferson started talking about The House Of Scarlet. He kept his tone soft and gentle like he would somehow spook Belle, really where was she going to go, wasn't like she could dive out the car as it hurtled down the street. They were in a moving car and she'd already handed her dorm key in; I made my choice.
"… Some people will probably think I'm a scum-bag praying on young and beautiful girls like yourself." He began while gesturing with his hands; that devilish smile hadn't gone anywhere. "I'm not. Like my card says I'm the House Manager and that involves knowing the girls personally. Knowing who will cause problems and make a fuss just so there's drama, so I'm also the unofficial talent scout." He chuckled and Belle flashed him a smirk. "It just so happens that it's the young and beautiful girls who have the talent for this line of work. My boss is like the Hugh Hefner of the twenty-first century, you should know that. Mister Gold is a genius and far from what the street would call a Pimp.” He leant forwards then as they went around a corner and whispered his next sentence conspiratorially. “Gold doesn't like people knowing this but he is a good man."
Belle found herself smiling again, Mister Gold huh? Well that explains all the gold writing and the website. She felt safer now answers had started to pop up left and right.
"And what about the pay?” Belle began only a little hesitantly. “It sounds too good to be true."
"That is all up to you, Belle. Nothing is forced, you get to do what you want, The House Of Scarlet doesn't have a script, if it did it would be boring. We track every eye on all the girls every moment of the day. If you bring in money you get rewards. If you have an off week then it drops back down to base pay … but you still get paid." He emphasised the last sentence. "Everything and everyone you do is up to you."
Belle liked that, no one decided her fate but her, despite what she was signing up to do Belle would still have a choice and that made her feel a whole lot better about the situation. She already liked Jefferson and Belle was sure she'd like Mister Gold to. Having her own choices still intact made her feel safe and at ease, maybe she could do this job after all. There was something that worried her though.
"What about, you know, stalking? Crazy people?" She asked cautiously.
"Gold made sure that The House Of Scarlet is the most secure site of its kind. Gold has a whole off site team of techs who monitor the site constantly. They are the ones who make sure the site can't be hacked, breached or anything else."Jefferson looked down to his cellphone for a moment, thumbs moving quickly and then he was speaking again."Guys, say hello to Belle."
The dark-haired man turned the phone around so Belle could see the screen, there were three men in what looked like a basement office grinning at a webcam.
"Hello Belle." Said three men in unison.
She waved at the screen for a second or two and gave the three geeks a smile. The men were surrounded by servers, monitors and a load of other technical stuff that Belle hadn't even seen before. Mister Gold had a team constantly watching over the site, he really must have had the girls' safety down and a priority and rightly so.
"That's Sidney Glass, Isaac Heller and August Booth, they're the ones that make The House Of Scarlet the Fort Knox of websites." He glanced out the window and then looked back to Belle with his beautiful blue-eyes. "Take a breath Belle, we're here."
The car rolled to a gentle stop stop and Belle stepped out the car with Jefferson right behind her. She gasped upon seeing the house she would soon call home. There was a thick natural looking wall that lined the whole property in the middle of nowhere, the house itself was a large, almost excessively so, and though clearly modern it somehow managed to retain an older, more Victorian manor house, vibe. The fact that the place was salmon colored was a little strange as well but maybe that was by design? The huge porch with a swing seat drew Belle's attention, she could easily imagine cuddling up there and listening to the birds in the summer warmth with a good book. Much to her own surprise she could see herself being happy here already. It might have been unexpected but it wasn't unwelcome.
Out front near where they'd come to a stop on the driveway sat a small and unassuming shed-like building from which two rugged men appeared and came towards them. One was taller than the other but both looked fit and ready for anything. The taller one had a beard and a waistcoat that Belle thought would have looked more at home on a small town sheriff.
"Ahh, just the men I needed to see,” began Jefferson as he shoved his phone away, "Belle, this is Gold's chief of security Graham Humbert and his capable deputy Robin Locksley. Will Scarlet must be doing his rounds. Don't worry, Belle, with these three hunks in charge of Security you have nothing to worry about.”
Belle shook their hands with a smile as they greeted her, she couldn't help but note the perfect level of European accents going around and Belle found herself loving it. English, Irish, what could make it better? Maybe a Scott to complete the set?
"You won't have to worry here, Belle." Said Graham with a smile and a cheery tone. "We have little to no problems here. We only have to turn one or two people away every few months. That only happens if they manage to follow one of the girls home."
"No one gets passed us." Added Robin assuredly.
"We'll let you get back to it boys." Jefferson told the guards before he guided Belle towards The House.
Belle loved the front door with its little squares of colored glass, she would bet that when the sun shone through the door it lit up the vestibule with a gorgeous ocean of light.
Leroy passed them in the vestibule and headed straight through into the living room on her left and up the stairs with her cases; clearly not a very chatty man. The staircase was made of a dark cherry wood and led up to a landing that looked down over the living room. Never in her life had Belle seen a house quite like this one and she'd only seen one and a half rooms. For a moment she'd silently questioned why they needed a living room quite so large but then it had dawned on her, there was an army of girls living in the house.
Jefferson led Belle into the living room through a large arch to her left and Belle discovered that every effort – and an awful lot of money – had gone into making The House of Scarlet beautiful. The room had a dark hardwood flooring topped with a large black sectional that looked up to a wall mounted television above a roaring fire, Belle could feel the warmth and it brought a grin to her face. She could see through to the kitchen via another archway and it looked equally clean and perfect; Belle suspected she could quickly grow to like it there.
"We have over sixty cameras." Jefferson explained as he gestured to a camera up on the wall giving a full view of the room. "We have them all over because it gives the viewers a sense of actually getting to know you all, being part of it. None of the cameras are in the bathrooms except two, one on the ground floor by the gym and one upstairs near the back staircase. Though they're there you don't have to use that one if you don't want. There's no cameras on the right side of the house past the back staircase either as it's what we like to call 'the boy's wing' it's got Gold's room, his office, my office as well as Victor's and my bedroom. Gold's library is up there too.”
"Library?" Belle's eyes brightened.
"Yeah,” the House Manager nodded. “Gold set it up so the girls have somewhere just for them, there's a private sitting room as well on the other side of the dining room."
"Wonderful!" Then Belle remembered what Jefferson had said and her brow furrowed. "Wait who is Victor?"
"I am." Came a deep voice from behind her. Belle spun round to find a tall blonde man with sparkling blue eyes as he took long strides through the vestibule and into the living room. "I'm Victor Whale, the live in doctor here."
Doctor Whale held out his hand for her to shake and Belle took it quickly, his hands were pale and calloused. He flashed her a smile and Belle took an instant liking to the doctor. He seemed like a loyal man to her, someone who would fight for someone he cared about no matter what, even if it made him seem bad to people on the outside. Belle was not often wrong about what she found in people's eyes and she hoped it was no different now.
"Gold likes to know you girls are well taken care of. With me you have fantastic medical care, I assure you." He grinned.
Yes, she really did like Victor. He was the perfect level of cocky and sweet. There was however one thing that worried her a little.
"So you two just live here … with a group of sexy young girls … all the time?" Her tone was more teasing than concerned and Victor found himself chuckling.
"It's alright, you have nothing to worry about." Began Jefferson but was interrupted quickly by Doctor Whale.
"We're gay." As if to prove that fact Victor leaned in and kissed the dark-haired House Manager deeply.
"You'd better be after that kiss." Hummed Jefferson happily.
Belle smiled at Jefferson's words, she had to admit they made a very cute couple. Jefferson cuddled into his husband's chest as the blonde pressed a kiss to his lovers mop of dark hair. Victor stood ever so slightly taller than his lover, Belle guessed that few people would ever notice that but with Belle being so short she had a great sense for height.
The new girl had gotten completely lost in her thoughts until she saw a beautiful young woman in a cherry red pair of shorts and a black tank top matched with six-inch ankle boots approach, Belle suddenly felt mouse-like in her teal converse; I have to put my heels on the second I get to my room.
This girl all in red stunning beyond belief and was totally at ease with the mass of camera's that littered the house, she was in her element. Belle hoped this woman's courage rubbed of on her.
"Do you see how different we are from the basic sites out there? Has Jefferson given you the we're the Fort Knox of websites yet?" Belle nodded with a polite smile. "Oh, how rude of me, I'm Red. Nice to meet you."
Before Belle could say or even think a single word this Red character had pulled Belle into a hug, all the auburn-haired beauty noticed was a faint scent of apples and cinnamon coming from her hair.
"My real name is Ruby." She whispered into Belle's ear and then pulled back.
"Great name.” She chuckled. “Why don't you say hello to the boys." Ruby gestured up to one of the living room cameras mounted high up on the wall.
Belle tried to look confident as she waved to the God only knew how many people that were watching her at that very moment. You can do this, Belle! Suddenly Ruby clapped her hands together and spoke with an excited grin.
"Well, I think its tour time!"
Victor pressed his lips to Jefferson's plump pink ones once more before welcoming Belle, or Lacey as they would now refer to her, to The House and then took his leave back the way he'd come. Ruby took charge after that, seemed to take great pride in taking Belle though The House with Jefferson just a few steps behind them, every now and again she'd point out new rooms; the most surprising of which was the sauna. A sauna? They have a sauna? Soon enough Ruby came to a smaller staircase, past what she'd learnt was Victor's office, that hugged the wall and was made of the same dark wood as the set of stairs Belle had seen upon entering the house, mansion more like, added Belle's mind unhelpfully.
She followed the scantily dressed woman down the long central hallway on the ground floor, past a fairly sized room she learnt was a private sitting room and through a set of glass doors into the gym. One wall had been entirely lined with mirrors while the others had been painted a Persian green that gave the room a strange naturalness. Various gym equipment lay dotted about the vast room but what had really caught Belle's attention was the young Asian woman working out over by the punch bag as well as a purple clad girl running on one of the treadmills.
Ruby bounded over to her fellow House Girls and lent against the treadmill. Neither woman stopped in their motion, just carried on punching and jogging.
"Mulan, Princess, our new recruit arrived." Sang Ruby happily.
"Oh, hello." The dark-eyed woman panted as she stilled the punch bag's movements and turned to face Belle. "Welcome aboard, I'm Mulan."
"Lacey.” Belle thrust her hand out as she introduced herself but no one made any attempt to shake it. “It;s nice to meet you, and thanks."
Mulan had smooth skin and long dark-hair tied back in a tight ponytail, so stunningly beautiful but there wasn't any mistaking the power inside her. It was clear that she could do some serious damage if she wanted to and in that moment Belle made a mental note to stay on Mulan's good side, I like my face arranged the way it is thank-you-very-much.
"And I'm Princess." The woman on the treadmill gave Belle a little wave.
"Let me know if I can help you with settling in, if I'm not in my room I'm probably here." Mulan gestured to the room around them.
It was only then that Belle noticed the camera mounted up in the far corner, Belle had actually forgotten about the thousands of eyes on her and she wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not.
"Thank you, that's very kind."
Jefferson suddenly piped up which made Belle jump a little, to be honest she'd forgotten he was there since he hadn't looked up from his phone since Ruby started her tour. As House Manager he was probably always dealing with one thing or another.
"Mulan brings in the main girl on girl viewers with the help of Princess here." He smirked.
Good to know, Belle hadn't thought she'd have to do anything like that, she had no attraction towards women at all and started to panic a little until she remembered what Jefferson had said on the drive over; 'nothing is forced', 'it's all up to you'. With the memory of those words Belle calmed herself down. She couldn't go losing her nerve now, that wasn't an option.
"Yeah, don't go stealing our act." Giggled Princess.
With that Mulan went back to her punch bad and Princess hopped off the treadmill then vanished off to get a shower in the locker room. The House Manager and Ruby led Belle back up the hall, past the play room – a place Belle didn't think she was quite ready for - and through into the kitchen. Equally modern as the gym and living room with a large window that looked into the sunroom; the auburn-haired beauty couldn't wait for summer and sitting in there with a thick book.
Belle's head snapped up to a slender woman with shoulder length dark-hair and a unfriendly vibe about her, she munched away on a red apple as she glanced at Belle with all the attention one would give a fly buzzing around her their face.
"Who are you?" It was more of a demand that a question and Belle found Ruby answering for her.
"This is Lacey, the new recruit."
"Be nice to her, Tamara." Jefferson added without looking up from his cellphone.
Ahh, so that's Tamara, The House Of Scarlet's resident bitch. From what Belle had seen on the website she hadn't been able to figure out why Tamara was at The House of Scarlet, then it had dawned on her this disinterested dominant thing worked for some guys.
"She looks like a librarian." Tamara sneered before taking another bite out of her apple then simply strutted out the kitchen like she didn't have a care in the world.
A moment or two past before Ruby rested a comforting hand on Belle's shoulder and spoke reassuringly.
"That's Tamara, and she thinks you're competition. You should take it as a complement."
Belle was no match for her, not really. Tamara was gorgeous and elegant looking with an edge of rebellion like she was the villain of some fairytale while Belle was just … well she was just Belle. Plain old Belle, frankly she still couldn't quite believe that Jefferson had taken notice of her let alone given her his card and a job offer. While Belle knew she certainly wasn't ugly she'd never thought herself all that prepossessing. That could change though, this place would be good for her confidence and if Jefferson thought Belle could do this then she needed to start having some confidence in herself.
Soon Belle found herself led out of the house to a gargantuan pool via the patio doors and she did have to ask herself if this house went on forever, the entire house had no end of stunning sights; like living in heaven. Technically this would be her workplace but whoever had designed The House of Scarlet truly had an eye for detail, had made it a home not just a whorehouse. Before she could get much further with her thoughts a hand was thrust in her line of sight by yet another stunningly beautiful redhead and the brightest smile Belle had ever seen. Seriously, where does Jefferson find these girls? Mentally shaking herself Belle shook the cheerful redhead's hand.
"I'm Ariel, so glad you're here. I love it when we get new people." Ariel spoke quickly as if demonstrating her excitement.
Just like with Victor, Jefferson and Ruby, Belle took an instant liking to Ariel and found herself quite happy to discover she had so many natural friends at The House Of Scarlet. Tamara might have been standoffish and disinterested but that didn't mean all the girls were, don't judge a book and all that.
Ruby asked Ariel where the others were while Belle glanced around the vast garden, she vaguley heard the redhead say something about bedrooms before she went back to sunbathing by the huge curved pool in her little pink bikini. This was it, she was going to be shown to her room and Belle would finally start work at The House of Scarlet, she'd be one of them, Lacey would be added to the list of girls on the website and the game would truly begin.
Belle's feet started to yell at her as they climbed the main stairs to the second floor, her feet seemed to think she'd walked a mile around the house. As they climbed the stairs they passed Doctor Whale who informed his lover that Cruella had left a few moments ago and meeting her would have to wait, not that it ' s a bad thing he'd mumbled under his breath before vanishing off towards his office. Belle found herself wondering if Cruella was worse than Tamara, Belle decided it was best not to think of that.
Suddenly the red clad woman came to a halt before a large white wooden door that had a green glittery 'T' on it. For a moment the auburn-haired Australian thought she was back at her dormitory.
"Don't worry, it's only Tink and Baby left and then that's all of us." Ruby told her before she pushed the lettered door open.
On the other side was a blonde with her hair piled up on her head in a bun and in nothing but her emerald lingerie sat before her computer. "Sorry Tink, didn't know you were doing a show, just wanted to introduce you to Lacey."
"Hey, Lacey." Greeted Tink without taking her eyes from her computer screen, there was a ping and Tink smiled. "Oh yeah, girls you're going to want to leave the room for this next bit."She informed them as she began to unclasp her delicate bra.
Ruby shut the door quickly and glanced up at Jefferson for a second with a look that said you talk for once, I've done everything else! He must have understood because his voice soon filled the long hallway and his phone got shoved into his inner breast pocket.
Jefferson cleared his throat. "Tink is rather popular with businessmen so she's normally busy at lunch and when everyone gets home from work." He explained. "Tink's very sweet though … not when she's working."
With that he turned around, walked to the end of the hall and knocked on the door to his left. It was made of the same white painted wood but held a 'B' in yellow glitter, Belle sensed a theme and looked down back the way they'd come to prove her hypothesis. As she expected there hung a 'R' in red on the middle door that Belle assumed was Ruby's room, opposite that was a pink 'A' then a 'M' in silver all the way at the other end; no doubt all the other girls had one of these letters as well though she didn't see how it had become a thing. Just as Belle turned her attention back to the door in question a young blond pulled it open. Her hair hung damp around her innocent face and only a towel covered her porcelain skin.
"Baby this is Lacey." Said Jefferson in a here's your topic, discuss style tone.
"Ah, fresh meat. It's about time we had some of that. Welcome." Baby smiled. "I'd love to stay and chat but I have a show to do. Lacey, you want to grab a drink later?" She asked with a raise of her eyebrows.
Belle nodded and a drink sounded great before, it would be nice to get to know everyone. The door closed then, only to open again a half second later.
"Em, Jefferson, I don't want to sound like I'm nagging but Gold still hasn't paid me for that threesome last week."
A look of realisation crossed the House Manager's face while Belle let the word 'threesome' settle in, she supposed this sort of conversation was normal for The House of Scarlet.
"I'm so sorry Baby, Gold doesn't even know about that yet. I forgot to tell him, don't worry, I'll deal with that now for you."
Baby smiled and shut the door again, Jefferson gave them his apologise and then departed quickly, his phone half way out his pocket before he'd even reached the end of the hall.
Ruby chuckled. "As you can gather that was Baby, she gets all the Sugar Daddy action because she still looks like she's fifteen. She may look sweet and innocent but she's really not."
"How old is everyone then?" Asked Belle curiously.
"Cruella is the eldest, she's twenty-seven, then it's Ariel at twenty-six. Tamara's twenty-five. Mulan, Princess and Tink are all twenty-three. I'm twenty-one and Baby turned nineteen not too long ago." She smiled. "Why?"
"Oh it's nothing. Just... well I expected all of you to be no older that twenty-one.” Belle shrugged. “Don't really know why."
"Well, how old are you?"
"Twenty-one."Belle answered with a smile, in hindsight she'd probably expected every one to be from off campus and so that meant them all being her age or younger.
Belle had never expected to find people who had made a real career at The House Of Scarlet. Cruella and Tamara had clearly been at The House a long time, would she still be there when she turned twenty-seven?
Ruby drew the newcommer's attention then by pushing the door directly opposite Baby's room open, both stepped inside the letter-less room. Belle knew that soon it would hold an 'L' for the name she'd chosen. Her suitcases rested softly on the large bed, larger than any she'd ever slept in. In fact the whole room was larger than any bedroom she'd come across, at the very end of the wall adjacent to the white door was a desk and Belle found herself looking around for the little black camera, it only took a second to find perched above her door like the raven above the pallid bust of pallas.
"You're right next to me, so if you need anything you know where I am."
Ruby wore one of those smiles that filtered into her dark eyes and Belle knew that the other girl was trying to comfort her, thankfully it worked... a little anyway. This was to be Belle's room, no, Lacey's room. Belle didn't belong there but maybe Lacey could.
“Your camera isn't on yet so we can talk freely at the moment.” Ruby went and sat herself on Belle's bed. “Mulan, Cruella, Ariel and Tink don't use their real names at all, not sure why, but they don't. As for me, Baby and Princess as soon as we're outside or off camera we revert to our actual names. Like I said, I'm Ruby but you should know the other girls as well. Baby's real name is Ashley and Princess' is Aurora. No guesses for why we call her Princess. Also, a word of advice, avoid Cruella and Tamara when possible.”
“They that bad?” Belle questioned hesitantly.
Ruby shrugged. “Not, bad exactly but they are not going to be your friend, or mine, or anyone else's. Don't worry though, you've got me.”
That got a smirk out of Belle until a thought hit her. "Where did Jefferson go?"
"Hmm? Oh, the right side of the second floor is the boy's wing like we said, Jefferson and Gold have their offices down there. The library is also down there.” Belle lit up at the mention of the library. “Basically that half of the house has no cameras nor does Victor's office or the sitting room down stairs. Everywhere else though is cameras galore. Oh! Apart from the basement and the attic since they're mostly just storage.” Belle felt reassured at the reminder that there were several off camera spaces, and a library too, what could be better … not doing it at all Belle's mind told her quickly much to her displeasure. "Most of the time you won't notice Gold or Jefferson are here. We see Victor more since he's our doctor but he tries to stay out of the way as well. The cameras are here to watch the sexy young girls, not a middle aged man and a couple of loved up gay guys; there are other websites for that.” Ruby joked. “Gold can be ruthless and a monster at times but he never ever does anything to hurt us, the only us. I've ever heard him yell at Cruella and she had it coming, well, it was more hissing through his teeth really. To be honest he makes us all feel safe. He takes care of us. You'll get over his gruff and standoffish attitude eventually.” She clapped her hands together then and pushed herself up from Belle's bed in favor of going to the half open door. “Anyway, I'll let you settle in."
With that and a friendly wave Ruby left Belle alone with nothing but her thoughts, her Papa would never approve of The House Of Scarlet, never, not for one second. However, it was the only way she could still go to school without her father going bankrupted, if she made as much money as Jefferson had said she would then Belle would even be able to help him with the mortgage. Oh how she longed for that. Moe French had raised her alone after her mother died, helping him when he needed her was the very least she could do. Moe was her father after all.
Didn't take Belle long to decide to lead herself out of her thoughts, if she thought of her father too long then she'd start to second guess herself and she'd already done that ten or so times. She turned her mind down a different road entirely and onto the mysterious Mister Gold, she imagined a man who looked much like Jefferson did but with less product in his hair, she knew he'd be older than Jefferson Hatter but other than that Belle knew nothing about Mister Gold. The man was truly a mystery, maybe she should have found out who she'd be working for before accepting the job. Still both Ruby and the House Manager had been quite positive about him so Belle hoped she had little to worry about.
With a sigh Belle indulged in her musing as she started to unpack and set up her new life at The House Of Scarlet. Cerulean orbs flashed up at the camera that hadn't been turned on yet, she could do this, only Belle decided her fate and this was what she'd decided.