What more could she want?
She had everything she needed placed in front of her. They offered her shelter, food, glamorous gowns, sparkling jewels and friendly company.
What more could she wish for?
She had never lived so financially secure or safe in her previous eighteen springs. Her parents were so kind to her, yet they could offer her so little in terms of materialistic possessions. They sheltered her with love, which meant more than the world to her.
What more could she have?
Her beloved parents both passed away. Her dear mother died from child birth delivering her little brother, who followed the next day. The grim reaper took her father's life away by a failure of heart. They left her no fortune, no home. Fortunately, she had a relative who took her in; her Aunt Ainsworth.
Aunt Ainsworth offered a room for Aeries with much hesitation and annoyance; for Auntie wasn't exactly the kindest creature in England. And of course, Aeries had to work for her stay. Auntie owned a fancy little place called Chamomile Candles, a rather high-class restaurant and lodge. They needed pretty, young and high-class harlots for the Elite men of the ton. Not to mention the pleasing amount of gold that could be fetched with a virgin.
Aeries gazed lifelessly at her reflection with a heavy heart. She knew what she was worth, for a harlot was only valuable on her first night. What becomes of her afterwards was no more than a degraded object of countless men's sinful releases…
Two light knocks on the door awoke Aeries from her reverie.
"Miss Aeries Elaine Delilah, I regrettably notify you that your scheduled companion for tonight, Sir Winfred Mallory cancelled his engagement with you due to an urgent business affair."
Aeries' heart leaped with joy. Tonight, she could stay a virgin for one more night…
"So you are to be accompanying his friend, Lord Van Husen for tonight."
A flood of despair washed over her as Nancy helped her into a sinfully red gown.
"Auntie, what do you suppose I should do? He's an Earl!" Aeries breathed as her aunt ushered her up the spiral stairs bustling with drunken laughter.
"His lordship paid extravagantly for his stay and he demands perfection. You, are the closest thing to perfection amongst the harlots left unbooked here, so please him as much as you can or no dinner for you tomorrow!" Before Aeries could laugh at the foolish punishment, she was left alone in front of a first-class room with a number 21 on it.
Aeries knocked faintly on the door as she pondered the man's chances of being deaf. Her knees turned unbelievably weak and her hands grew cold. What was she supposed to do? She knew that they please men in a very intimate way, for money. Nancy had told her between giggles about what happens between a man and a woman, Aeries flushed furiously during the lesson; how could one be so wanton?
She knocked again.
Lord Van Husen sat in the Victorian chair at ease with a thick; mauve covered book laid open in his lap. The content of the book was tiresome and dry, yet he occupied himself with it, while enjoying the delicious wine of the Chamomile Candles.
The reason he honored this small but fancy lodge with his visit was simply because of a friend's suggestion. He was told that they have the oldest wine, a few professionally trained cooks, and a few high-class prostitutes. He wasn't quite interested in any more harlots for he shared way too many memories with them in his younger years; but since he's bored beyond reason, and richer beyond imagination, he'll amuse himself one more day with drunkenness and debauchery.
Instead of clothing himself with deluxe garments, his attire was elegant, expensive, and yet simple; mainly composed of dark colors. He was quite tall compared to the other gentlemen of the ton, and also well built due to his passion for strenuous sports. Unlike the current fashion; his hair was black, straight, unpowdered and untied. Never bothered with those foolishly-looking wigs neither. His features were sharp and rugged, his dark brows carved dangerously above his jade-colored eyes. Beneath the graceful nose was a line that never curled to form an amiable smile. He had everything a man would wish for: appearance, status, money, women and adventures; and yet, he was dreadfully bored.
Lord Van Husen had inherited his appearance, his status, and his fortune from his father, being the oldest son. Thus he owned the title: the third Earl of Van Husen. He had a vast knowledge thanks to the endless tutoring from the greatest teachers for his early twenty years. Then he just lost himself in brandy, women, gambling and wild parties hosted by the loveliest of the ladies till morning.
Yet he never discovered the purpose of his existence…
A few light taps on his door echoed throughout his silent room, he reached over to his glass and took another sip.
"Enter." He called behind the glass lightly and drained the remaining.
"Lord Van Husen, I…I am sent by Madame Ainsworth..." A rather sweet, shaken voice spoke softly behind him.
He turned around and frowned disapprovingly. What stood before him looked like anything but a harlot.
"Why, you're only a child!" He exclaimed with amusement in his voice as he arched his brow in curiosity.
"I am eighteen-springs, milord…"
"Speak up, child, I don't have a taste for human flesh, what is your name?"
"Aeries, milord, Aeries Elaine Delilah." The girl spoke up a little and he finally caught her eyes, they were a lovely shade of amber; he noted silently.
"Miss Delilah," He nodded towards her and set the glass back on the desk. "Are you aware of your tasks as my companion for tonight?"
A cold chill of wind pierced her bones as she carefully avoided his cold stare.
"Yes, I have been explained..."
There she stood- a girl Aeries, too innocent for her exotic name, he thought with amusement. He never bothered with any good deeds, for his conscience long ago had abandoned him. He wanted to deflower this delicious-looking gem, for there was no goodness left him, but at the same time a forgotten emotion called pity stirred inside him. He was amazed and studied it ever so carefully, and couldn't remember the last time when the cold-blooded Earl ever felt pitiful.
He had to send her away, before he changes his mind and does something he'll surely regret in the future.
End of Chapter 1