I led Thaddeus up to my room and closed the door behind us, resisting the urge to slam it. I really should not be so affected by this. After all, how many men had I been with that called me obscenities as they were lying with me? Too many to count. Compared to them, Thaddeus was a saint…so far. When I turned around I saw him seated on the bed, taking off his boots before placing them on the floor. I quickly unlaced my dress and let it fall to the floor, exposing my chemise underneath.
Thaddeus looked up when he heard the soft fabric hit the floor, and raised a single eyebrow. "No corset?"
"Would you like for me to wear one?"
He simply shook his head and stood to remove his coat. "No, I simply wondered why you, Siren, and I assume the others, never wear corsets."
"They are a hindrance. The Madame says it frustrates men when they have to remove too much clothing to get underneath."
At this Thaddeus let out a laugh, making dimples appear on each cheek. It gave him a boyish charm and for a moment, I felt a smile tugging at my own lips. "It frustrates us, huh? I never thought of it like that."
"I do have a corset in the closet, should you desire it," I offered again, gesturing towards the plain wooden door that led to a tiny closet.
I had five of everything: dresses, pairs of shoes, chemises, and stockings. I also had one robe and three corsets: all lace with frills and other adornments, in green, red, and white. The expensive clothing came out of the money I made, of course. Other than those articles of clothing, I had no other luxuries. If we asked the Madame, sometimes she would take the money we earned and buy us something we desired. It was in her best interest to keep us somewhat satisfied, yet still submissive and obedient. She sometimes indulged tiny desires, but little else.
Thaddeus shook his head. "No, though I can assure you it would not frustrate me to remove it. I am a very patient man."
"So, what would you like me to do?" I asked, slowly walking over to him. So far I hadn't been able to place Thaddeus in a category. All men went into a category, and once I knew how they thought, what they liked, I could put on a mask and be the girl they always wanted. Some men liked brainless, giggling girls; others liked audacious, witty girls. I had nothing on Thaddeus yet, but I would prove to him that I could be just as good as Siren. I had been doing this longer, I knew how men worked.
"Hm?" he asked absentmindedly as he removed his vest and then his shirt, exposing a well-muscled chest.
"Oooh," I purred. When I did not know what category a man fell into I would pretend to be impressed with his body, and then gauge his reaction. If he acted shy and modest, he usually preferred a bold, flirty girl. If he acted arrogant and proud of my reaction, he usually preferred shy, giggling girls. It was by no means a fool-proof method, but it gave me something to start with.
At my soft noise he looked up and gave me a grin, amusement lighting up his eyes. It wasn't exactly arrogant, but I could try the giggling routine and see how he responded. I walked over to him batting my eyelashes, then sat down on his lap.
"I love men who have muscles," I giggled, running a hand down his chest. When he sent me a wink, I giggled again, looking downward to appear demure. "Oh, if you keep doing that I just might faint! You would catch me, right?"
He smiled at my comment and nodded, but it didn't quite reach his eyes. He was no longer amused, but looked like he knew what to expect, and that somehow bored him. This one was difficult to pin down. Maybe I should try bold and witty.
"I'm only teasing, Thaddeus. You don't need some swooning ninny on your arm!" I said, playfully giving his shoulder a push. He looked slightly confused by my sudden change in demeanor, but gave me another half-hearted smile and playfully tapped my nose.
"I never thought you were a swooning ninny, uh…" He turned to me, a sheepish look on his face. "What was your name again?"
I wanted to roll my eyes. "Does it really matter? Call me whatever you want. You can call me Jezebel for all I care."
He chuckled at that, and I raised an eyebrow. "I'm sorry, but I cannot image you as a Jezebel. You don't look wicked."
I lifted my chin high. "Jezebel was a Queen. She could order men to do whatever she wanted. She could command them to kneel before her, or feed her while she lounged in a couch. So much power in the palm of her hand."
"Maybe so, but I cannot stand women like that." Well, back to the drawing board. What exactly did he want?
"Then what shall you call me? Gomer, perhaps? Was she not a prostitute?"
"You don't look like a Gomer either."
"Well, looks can be deceiving, and you know nothing about me."
"Then why don't you tell me more?" he asked, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me closer. He wanted to know about me, but why? I suddenly realized it was because I had specifically reminded him he knew nothing about me, and that made him curious. Curious men liked mysterious women that they could not figure out. He had also playfully tapped my nose not moments before. His job as a lawyer was most likely a mundane, dull job. He came here to unwind and have fun. I could try the mysterious, playful type so many other men loved. Why had I not seen it before?
"We both know you did not come here to get to know me," I shot back. The goal was to keep him interested in pursuing me. Don't give in too early, and keep him guessing. Never let him think he knew everything.
"Maybe not, but plans often change."
"Not here. Nothing ever changes here. It is so boring," I said with a sigh, hoping up off his lap. It was anything but boring here, but if he thought he might fall into the category of boring around here he'd work harder to be anything but. Men always liked things more when they had to work for them.
"Come here," he said as he undid his pants, not even bothering to look up as he said it.
His head snapped up and his eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "What?"
"You heard me." I folded my arms across my chest and gave him a challenging look.
He was stunned into silence for a few seconds, then a slightly confused but charming smile worked its way across his lips. "Please?"
I gave him a faked, tolerant smile, then raised a hand and stifled a yawn. It drove men crazy to think their charm didn't work. In the end, he would relish the thrill of chasing. First, I had to insult him just a bit, make him doubt himself, but I always had to be careful with this. Some men got angry very easily and I ended up with bruises and scars for daring to say anything ill about them.
"Siren always talked about how fun and interesting you were, but I guess she was wrong. You are starting to bore me."
He leaned forward, looking slightly agitated. "Come over here and I will show you I am not boring."
I smirked. Next: pay them a few compliments to build back their ego, and let them know they have a chance to win me over. "I know your type: big, tough, and smart, are you not? You are used to getting what you want—used to charming people into doing what you want them to do. Well, your charm does not work on me, I am immune to it. You want me? Come and get me."
His look of confusion quickly gave way to a more amused expression. Checkmate. He slowly rose from the bed. I took a few steps back as he advanced toward me, a smile spreading across his face with each step. His hand shot out to grab me, but I jumped back and spun behind the table, putting something solid between us. Dipping my fingers in the basin, I flung water at Thaddeus. He looked stunned for a moment, but then let out a hearty laugh as he reached up and swiped a hand at the water dripping down his cheeks.
He leaned forward and placed both hands on the table, smirking when I took a step back. Suddenly he dashed around the table and I ran over to the other side of the room, scrambling over the bed in the process. When I glanced back I saw him chasing after me. I snatched the discarded dress up from the floor nearby; when he was close enough I threw it over his head and used his momentary distraction to dart past him back to the other side of the room.
"You are not very good at this," I teased. He grabbed the fabric and pulled it off his head, revealing a mess of disheveled caramel curls.
"I thought I would give you a fair chance to escape," he shot back, giving me a smirk.
He bolted across the room, and I dashed to the side to escape, but his hands reached out and grabbed my arm, pulling me against him. I struggled for only a few minutes before his strong arms wrapped snugly around my stomach. I could feel the heat from his body creeping through the thin material of my chemise, giving me a warm, pleasant feeling.
Thaddeus's hand spun me around and he grinned down at me. "I got you."
Then he leaned forward and lightly tapped his nose against mine. I laughed at the gesture, then reached forward and tickled him. He let out a very unmanly yelp and jumped back. I spun around and ran over to the wall, sending him a triumphant look.
"You little minx," he laughed.
He ran over to me and I narrowly avoided his hands as I jumped to the side and ran around him towards the wall. I spotted the crumpled dress too late, and tried to stop, but instead I slipped on the silken material. I felt my heart jump to my throat as I fell backwards. Just when I thought I would slam into the ground, a pair of arms caught me and placed me back on my feet. Before I could process what had happened Thaddeus scooped me up and carried me over to the bed. He pulled me down into his lap and then wrapped both arms around my waist.
"You should stop running before you hurt yourself," he teased. I let out a laugh and turned my head to face him. I felt one hand leave my waist, and then the other followed suit as he reached up and began to remove the ribbons holding my hair up. I did not fight this time and let him take the adornments out of my hair until it cascaded around my shoulders in dark brown waves. He ran his fingers through my hair and then leaned forward, nuzzling against the soft skin of my neck.
"Admit I am not boring."
"Well you might not be boring, but are you worthy of all the praise Siren gives you?" I asked, giving him a smirk. I could not give in just yet, or else the game would be over.
He turned around and pushed me down into the mattress. I held back the sigh at the back of my throat. I had been having a pleasant time, but now I had to do what I had been paid to do. As he reached down and removed my chemise, I bit down on my lip and focused on the cracks and specks on the ceiling. My mind ventured away to long ago memories of summers spent lying under the stars with my father and sitting next to my mother beside the fireplace, watching her mend our clothes. I blocked out everything else and focused only on the good I could remember.
I laid on my side, the covers pulled up to my chin and an arm rested on my waist. Thaddeus would soon be asleep and then I could go to the window. In fact, he should be asleep by now. I couldn't hear any snoring coming from him, but he had been silent for a few minutes. I slowly tried to remove myself out from under his hand when it tightened and I heard him move next to me.
"Where are you going?"
"Nowhere, I was just adjusting myself," I lied. There was a slightly rustling, and then the hand on my waist moved up to my shoulder, pulling me onto my back. He propped himself up on one elbow and the sheets fell around his waist, exposing his sweat slicked chest. His curls were matted against his forehead, and even I felt overheated.
"Would you like for me to open the window and let a breeze in?"
He shook his head and reached a hand forward, moving a wet strand of hair away from my face. My mind flashed back to Colin and I had to fight back the emotions that rose up inside me.
"I would like for you to tell me your name." I should have suspected he would bring that up again.
"You can call me whatever you want."
"I want to call you by your name."
I decided to give in and reward him. "My name is Lavinia."
He smiled at his small accomplishment. "Tell me more about you."
"Why are you so curious?"
He opened his mouth, then closed it and furrowed his eyebrows. "I don't know. There's just something about you that fascinates me. I want to know more." My plan had worked, he was captivated by me. Still, the night was not over. I had to keep him interested until he left in the morning. After that he would go right back to Siren, but I would have the knowledge that I was just as good as her.
"There is not much to tell."
He leaned closer. "Of course there is. Tell me anything. Tell me about your parents."
I felt a pain in my heart at the mention of them. I wonder what they would say if they could see me now. Would they disown me? Would they pretend that I did not even exist? I pushed the troubling thoughts away and turned my gaze back to Thaddeus.
"Both are dead."
"I'm sorry." I could tell he meant it. "How about we talk about something happier, yes? Tell me about your interests."
"I have none."
Thaddeus furrowed his eyebrows. "Everyone has something they enjoy. What do you do for amusement?"
"I think about the past. The happy memories," I replied, averting my gaze. I had never told anyone my secret to drifting off before, but I figure it could do no harm.
"Is that how you spend your days? Living in the past?" Genuine concern and just a hint of pity shone on his face.
"There is nothing else to do."
"Surely you must have something you enjoy doing. A hobby, perhaps?"
"Why is it so important to you?" I shot back a question of my own. He moved his elbow and laid down beside me so that our faces were only inches apart. I could feel each exhale of breath fanning against my face.
"I want to know you," he replied, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. I looked away for a few moments, contemplating it. Finally I looked back into his bright blue eyes and nodded.
"I enjoy looking at the stars."
His eyes lit up with interest and a smile stretched across his face. "Astronomy! What a coincidence. I admit that I have little knowledge in that area, but my younger brother has an interest in such things. I convinced him to show me where some of the constellations are."
Now I was interested. "Which ones?"
"I cannot remember the names, but one had two fish."
"Yes, that was it. Then he told me about a dragon, and the story of a woman who was chained to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster."
"Draco and Andromeda." I paused for a moment before sitting up, and Thaddeus followed right after me. "Those three constellations can be seen in the sky tonight. Would you like to see them?"
He nodded and stood, pulling his trousers on while I went to the closet and pulled out a robe. I walked over to the window and Thaddeus joined me moments later. I turned my gaze up to the sky.
"Do you remember where Andromeda was?" I asked.
"Yes." He pointed a finger at a patch of sky.
"Other side of the sky," I said, gently taking his hand and guiding it to the constellation. "Your brother is correct, Andromeda was chained to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster. She was the daughter of Queen Cassiopeia and King Cepheus. It started when her mother bragged that her daughter was more beautiful than the sea nymphs, who grew angry and asked Poseidon to punish her. He sent Cetus the sea monster to attack her kingdom, Ethiopia. Cepheus was told by an Oracle that the only way to save his kingdom was to offer his daughter as a sacrifice to the sea monster, which was why she ended up chained to the rocks. But in the end Perseus rescued her. His constellations is over there." I guided his finger to another group of stars in the sky.
As I pointed out the stars and their connecting lines I felt Thaddeus's free hand snake around my waist.
"Tell me more," he said as he rested his chin on my shoulder. I smiled as I continued my tour of the skies. It may not have been what I planned before, but it was keeping his interest…and I found myself having fun as well.
I'd like to thank my subscribers: Celaena Sardothien Everdeen, Deepest Shadows, Glory and Gore, Precautious Pancake, RosettaJones, WritingCats, sarahsanttos, xProsperityx, my favoriters: Albannach, Deepest Shadows, Glory and Gore, Nightshade011, xProsperityx, and my two reviewers for the last chapter: .3 (for some reason Fictionpress will not let me post the name and cuts off the first two words. Please refer the comments to see who I am talking about) and Deepest Shadows. I always take critiques and suggestions into account as I write. :) As always, any comments are appreciated.