“Real love is composed of ecstasy and agony.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello
It was Alexandra’s first ride in a Rolls Royce. It was her first ride ever in a luxury car of any kind. The back seat was like an expensive couch. At her fingertips were all the comforts she didn’t have in her one-room apartment over the gym back home. She felt out of place. She was a fighter, not a pampered call girl. Doubt crept into her mind.
In return for this luxury, all she had to do was take a bullet for her Viscount. I’m fucked, she thought. I’ve been screwed since birth. Unpleasant memories of the orphanage and streetlife welled up. If I didn’t need to eat, breathe, and practice breeding things would be simpler. Maybe I’ll get my wish after all. I guess I might as well enjoy this while it lasts.
“We have arrived Madame Drăgana.” The driver stopped and let the guards look in. Satisfied, they opened the gate and let him drive through.
“Where is the house?” Alexandra asked. Looking around at the rolling hillocks and fir trees made her nervous. Most of her trips to the woods never ended well for her. The forest reminded her of something she couldn’t place. She always felt afraid unless someone was with her. That was before she met Mr. Cho. He’d taken her off the street and treated her like a daughter and a kind of junior business partner. She smiled thinking about Cho and their little business deals.
“Castle, the driver corrected. We travel across the estate for a few kilometers before our arrival. Enjoy the view.”
The driver watched Alexandra in the rearview mirror. A smile flickered on her face. Good, he thought. She likes the scenery. She’s a tough one. I wonder how long it will take Lord Răzvan to break this Mustang. She better have some strong hips, or he’ll crack her open like an oyster. The driver snickered and looked to the front.
“Nothing Madame. I have an allergy from all these evergreens.”
Alexandra ignored him.
The high peaked roofs and fireplace chimneys came into view first. It was like a distant mountain carved into a castle. It even had a crenelated wall and Keep. The Carpathian mountains in Romania were beautiful, Alexandra thought. I could get used to living here. As they got closer and more of the expansive castle came into view, She relaxed. There was a sense of balance in the starkness of the gray stone set against the blue sky and green of the open fields, landscaping, and flowers that welcomed her.
The Rolls Royce pulled into a covered portico where a woman around Alexandra’s age opened the door and offered her hand to help Alexandra out of the car.
“Good day my Lady, I hope your trip from America was uneventful. My name is Dari. I’ll be your handmaid during your stay. If you need anything at all, please allow me to take care of it for you.” The girl dressed in service whites was pretty and graceful. Her personality seemed genuine to Alexandra. That only made her feel uglier. She felt like an alley cat at a pedigree show. She adjusted her dress and followed her handmaid into the lower level of the castle. What is a handmaid anyway? She thought to herself as she watched Dari’s petite butt wiggle down the hall keeping time with the clack-clack-clack of her shoes.
Dari gave Alexandra the tour of the common areas of the castle. She pointed out the places that only the Viscount Răzvan could enter. They walked the grounds as Alexandra felt her tension drain away into a schoolgirl giddiness. They talked about the do’s and don’ts of estate life until they got to the subject of Cezar, the Viscount Răzvan. Dari was evasive and careful not to give her own opinions or say anything negative. Alexandra thought that was odd. Maybe it was just an employee thing showing the boss respect.
They ate lunch together, compliments of the kitchen staff and finally Dari took her to her quarters.
“Do you like it?” Dari asked.
“Like it? Alexandra turned in slow circles like she was waltzing and took in the room. I love it! I’ve never had a place like this. I don’t even know if I can breathe right in a place like this.”
Dari laughed along with Alexandra. Both women seemed to feed on each other’s energy and excitement.
“My Lord gave you one of the best rooms on this wing. It’s a corner room with two balconies.” The handmaid opened the sets of French doors to the balconies, and they went outside. “I love this view. From up here, you can see all the way to the lake and the mountains in the distance. This is the south side and gets good sun. A girl can get a good tan in privacy here,” Dari explained.
Alexandra was feeling that tingle in her stomach again. She felt almost drugged by the sensory overload.
Dari, sensing Alexandra’s excitement, took her hand and led to the other balcony at the end of the room’s western wall. “Every night the sun sets over here and gives us the most glorious colors. Later you will see the stars and Milky Way. It’s so magical, it’s hard to go to sleep.”
After an enjoyable introduction to all the amenities of her room, bathroom, and dressing room, Dari said goodbye. “Get some rest. I’ll be back at 6:00 pm to bring you dinner and at 7:00 pm my Lord will see you. With that, she was gone, and the adrenalin pumping in Alexandra’s heart began to wan.
“My god, what have I signed up for.” Alexandra could not get the Viscount off of her mind. That first time she saw him, he had electrified her senses. She felt undressed by his eyes, but she liked it. What the hell is wrong with me, she thought. I feel like I know him, I’ve missed him and wanted him all my life, and now, here I am. This is crazy. I’ve got to give up caffeine and masturbation. That shit is wrecking my head.
She spent time unpacking her suitcases delivered to her room. Afterward, she lay down on the bed to catch her breath and drifted off to sleep. A recurring dream preyed on her jet lag and crept into her subconscious. It was always the same theme. Dark figures and shadows flitted around her. Men shouted and cursed their approval of her rape. She felt tied up somewhere. It was dark with only a fireplace and a few candles suspended from a low ceiling to light the place.
Her nakedness shamed her. She relived the beatings and penetrations. The smell of sour sweat, stale beer, acrid smoke, and damp earth filled her nose. Then the worst of it came. The pungent slippery taste in her mouth like snot as they each took their turn with her. She gags and vomits. They laugh. Fingers bind in her hair. Her head jerks back. A blade bites into her flesh. She chokes. Her screams sound like blasts of wet air from her ripped open neck.
Something different happens this time. The Viscount appears, and everything goes away. She is free, uninjured, and sitting alone in a dark room. She watches as he comes to her. She looks up. His face is soft with emotion. Fingers lift her chin and brush the hair from her eyes.
“No more my love,” he says. His voice is deep and halting like he considers each word before he utters it. The end of each word draws out as if he is unwilling to let it go. It’s hypnotizing. His thumb traces her bottom lip, and then he lowers his head to kiss her.
“Wake up sleepy head! You need to eat and freshen up.”
“Who else? The handmaid’s cheeriness aggravated Alexandra as she tried to shake off the nightmare’s lingering effect. Her new friend set her meal out on a small table against the wall. “Come on now, eat up. The Viscount will want you ready to work tonight, and he will not tolerate being late or unprepared. Here are your things for tonight. It looks like a workout night judging from this. Dari held up a sleek pair of exercise pants and a jog bra. Do you need any help getting ready?”
“No. Thanks. I can manage. I’m just a bit jet lagged that’s all. A work out would do me good,” Alexandra replied.
“Good. I fixed you a light meal so you won’t have a heavy stomach. Afterward, you can have anything you like, just let me know, and I’ll get it for you.”
“How will I find you?” Alexandra asked.
“I live across the hall, just ring my bell on the door.” With that, she was gone.
After she ate, Alexandra took a quick shower and put on her outfit Dari brought her. It fit perfect. The material was like silk on her skin. The Viscount is going to see the total package in this getup, she thought. The butterflies in her stomach returned.
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