Lacie Ch. 08byDancingwizard©
*In the arc of this story, (which I consider to be a romance story overall, hence it's category)there are, by necessity, a few darker portions. One cannot create a beautiful, realistic painting without using some pretty dark colors. This chapter contains some of those. They are not "real time" with the characters, but are very dark nonetheless. Just a bit of forewarning. as to the why of it being "romance", as I said, this story is an overall arc. In fact, the actual steamy bits are glossed over entirely until the last chapter. I didn't write this story as erotica intentionally, I wrote it because it was a story I had always wanted to write. So please, sit back and enjoy the rest, if you choose to do so.*
Chapter 8: Lacie's First Month
The days seemed to pass in a whirl of activity for Lacie. The young woman quickly settled in and after a few days passed, she fell into a routine around the house. Lacie quickly became close friends with Ana, Callie and Lindsey, spending as much time with them as possible, when she was not otherwise occupied. True to Bridget's word, Master seldom spent any time around her, barely acknowledging her at times. It didn't seem to Lacie as though he was intentionally avoiding her or ignoring her, he just somehow rarely seemed to be around wherever she happened to be. She saw him every evening for dinner, which was always an amazing meal, but he was so busy at all other times of the day, Lacie never really got to spend any time with him. Oftentimes the only occasions she did see him was when he stopped in to see one of the girls Lacie happened to be working with that day.
The first few times were quick in and out occasions, scarcely enough for Lacie to even notice his presence, (though every time he showed up, her heart began to hammer and her knees seemed like they were made of rubber.) once or twice though, Lacie got to see him for a little while, and it was very easy for her to see how and why the other girls loved him so much.
The most memorable time, Lacie had been in the kitchen with Tatiana, and Master had swept in. He had ghosted up behind Ana while the tiny girl busied herself at one of the stovetops. Wrapping his arms around her, he had pulled the tiny blonde girl into his chest, humming some tune that Lacie couldn't recognize. Ana knew it well though, as she smiled and started humming along with him. He reached out to a small music player he had brought in with him and turned it on.
Soft classical music began to flow from the music player and he spun Ana around as the Russian girl giggled. Spinning her until she faced him, he pulled her close to his body and began to waltz the smiling Ana around the kitchens. Finally, as the music slowed to it's end, he leaned down, his fingertips gently lifting the suddenly blushing Ana's lips to his. The two shared a fiercely passionate kiss before he gently pulled away. Picking up the music player, Master thanked Ana for the dance, in Russian, before slipping back out the doors to the kitchen. The flustered girl was left dizzy and panting, her knees so weak from the kiss, she had to hold onto the countertops for balance while she recovered. A brilliant, glowing smile lit up Ana's face as she looked at the door that Master had left through.
It was obvious that his visit had been solely for Ana's benefit, and both Ana and Lacie knew it. Lacie wanted him to do something like that for her so badly her heart literally ached. She watched Ana for the rest of the day, noting how just that one tiny interlude with Master seemed to make Ana's entire day wonderful. Her friend's happiness from that short visit was obvious to Lacie, as Ana spent the rest of their time in the kitchens with a goofy smile on her face and a dreamy, faraway look in her eyes. More than once Lacie caught Ana humming the tune of the music that Master had brought with him.
Lacie quickly got used to the mountains of work around the house, often spending the day working alongside Lindsey. The submissive young woman helped the other girls out as much as she could when Master had no need of her outside the mansion's grounds. Lacie would get up around seven or eight in the morning, shower, and go to eat breakfast. She was greeted there every morning by Bridget, who handed out her tasks for the day, as well as telling her when her training sessions in the gym would be. Lacie rapidly acclimated to the chores and housework, especially enjoying her days in the greenhouse and farm with Marie and Claire, respectively. Just before lunch, most days, Lacie would join Heather in the gym for her daily workout session, lifting weights and running while the redhead monitored Lacie's progress. Following lunch, Lacie would head back to work, where she would spend the rest of the day until just before dinner.
Once Lacie cleaned herself up, she would join the rest of the household for dinner in the dining hall. It was a sit down meal every day, and the girls always enjoyed the wonderful food that Ana prepared for them. After eating, Lacie was given liberty to do whatever she wished around the house. Sometimes she would go enjoy the pool, swimming leisurely in the atrium, or soaking in the waterfall hot tub.
A couple of times, Lacie had an embarrassing moment or two when she went to soak in the steamy water, and accidentally walked in on some of the other girls having a steamy moment of their own. Lacie was invited to join them a number of times, mostly by Claire, but she always politely declined. Other times she joined a group of the other girls in the theater for popcorn and a movie. Sometimes Lacie simply wanted to lose herself in a book, and she curled up in her favorite squishy armchair, tucked away in a quiet corner of the library. More than once Lacie drifted off in the comfortable chair only to wake up in her own bed the following morning, still fully clothed. When she asked Bridget about it, the older girl gave Lacie a knowing look, and whispered one word to her.
Lacie grinned at the thought, knowing that he cared enough to make sure she returned to her own bed every night, even going so far as to carry her if he had to. Lacie began to think of the mansion as home in only a few weeks, and even bad days were heaven there, compared to the alternatives. The other places where Lacie could have ended up would never have been anything like the mansion, despite Lacie still not knowing where she would have gone had Master not gotten to her first. Lacie never quite worked up the courage to ask Bridget that question, wondering if she was better off not knowing. Still, Lacie figured she had time, and if it ever became too important, she knew Bridget or Master would tell her if she asked. Still, sometimes she wondered.
As much as Lacie loved the mansion and her new friends, something about her life seemed... off. One day Lacie was walking from greenhouse to lunch, seeing Heather and Callie giggling together as they approached from the other direction. Entering the dining hall, Lacie saw Tara, Claire and Ana standing in a group, laughing at something the Russian girl had said. Everything about all of the other girls seemed so... right. They seemed to belong. That was when it hit Lacie. She knew why part of her felt alone, empty. She knew why some part of her didn't feel like she belonged among the other women. Each of them had found something she loved, something she could do better than the rest, something that set her apart. Lacie hadn't.
The realization hit Lacie like a thunderbolt. Rather than comforting her, the knowledge of why Lacie felt alone only made her feel worse. Over the next few days Lacie sought ways to set herself apart, but found, to her disappointment, that although there were tasks she was good at, she did not truly love doing them. Resigning herself to the idea that she might never find something that could set her apart, Lacie went about her life, day after day, slowly sliding into a depression. The other girls noticed, but Lacie was too ashamed to tell them why she felt so poorly about herself. Master's absence only made things worse. Then one night, something happened that almost made Lacie completely forget her problems. She woke to screaming, a bloodcurdling shriek of absolute, pure terror.
Lacie was ripped from her dreams by the loud, piercing scream. Immediately, Lacie's heart began to pound in her chest. Throwing her sheets off her body, Lacie dashed to her door, tossing it open as she ran out into the main hall to investigate the terror filled screaming. More shrieks rent the air as the girls appeared in doorways, all in various states of night dress. Lacie looked down the hall as she attempted to locate the source of the ear piercing screams. The girls all rushed towards the sound, finally realizing the non-stop screaming was coming from Claire's room. Joining the headlong rush to her door, Lacie arrived later then most of the other girls and was unable to see into the screaming woman's room.
A light flicked on at the end of the hall and Master sprinted towards the assembled women, Looking over towards him, Lacie saw that he was barefoot and shirtless, wearing only a dark blue pair of silken pants. The look in his eyes frightened Lacie, the grim look on his face prompting her to step away from the crowd around Claire's door a second before his mouth opened and a single command boomed out into the hallway.
Lacie grabbed Lindsey and tugged her out of Master's way as he dashed headlong into Claire's bedroom. Letting go of Lindsey's arm, Lacie slipped into the room behind Master. Someone behind her flicked on the lights. Master reached Claire's bed and literally tore her sheets away, throwing the covers halfway across her room in his haste. Reaching down, he grabbed Claire's thrashing shoulders and shook her awake, yelling her name as he did. Claire's eyes snapped open with a gasp. Immediately, the terror stricken woman threw herself at Master, clutching tightly to him. Her eyes wide with remembered fear, Claire held on to him as if he were a rock keeping her from drowning in a raging river, as if he were the only thing anchoring her to the present, keeping her from being swept back to whatever dark terrors had filled her dreams. Master wrapped his arms around her and began stroking her back, murmuring into her ear as he held her tightly, while she sobbed into his shoulder, her eyes wide and unfocussed.
Lacie heard an odd hiss coming from her Master as he leaned over Claire. He was holding himself in a kneeling position at the edge of her bed, allowing Claire to simply hold him. Looking down at him, Lacie saw thin trickles of blood running down his back. Claire was clutching so tightly to him, her fingernails were digging into his back and going so deep they were drawing blood. Stoically saying nothing, Master ignored the pain and stayed almost motionless, only moving his hands, trying to comfort the sobbing, fear stricken woman.
Slipping one arm under her legs, Master lifted Claire as if the girl weighed no more than a feather. Holding her tightly to his chest, he moved towards the doorway. The girls parted before him, giving him the space he needed to pass by. As he did, Lacie got a good look at Claire's body. It was the first time she had seen Claire without clothing covering her lower back and legs, or water obscuring her body from view. Lacie gasped in horror as she beheld the marks that seemed to cover half of Claire's body.
Deep, jagged scars criss-crossed Claire's legs and back. The long, ragged lines cut across each other, some of them partially obscuring her tattoos. The flesh along either side of her ribs was pitted with small circular burn marks, likely from lit cigarettes that someone had pressed to Claire's skin. The skin along her upper back had a large number of small, shiny patches of burned skin that had healed into tiny teardrop shaped scars. Lacie had seen scars like that before, when her father had burned himself with exposed wires when at his job as an electrician. Someone had tortured Claire, burning her with electricity, over and over again.
Running from Claire's room, Lacie rushed down the stairs, knelt over one of the toilets in the bathroom and vomited. Tears filled her eyes as she heaved over the porcelain. Lacie absently heard someone enter the stall behind her. A gentle hand began to rub her back as Lacie vomited again, the mystery girl's other hand holding Lacie's hair back as she heaved. Finally, Lacie's roiling stomach quieted and she leaned back, panting as she wiped the tears off her face.
"How... how could... anyone be that... cruel?" she asked.
The mystery girl behind her squatted next to Lacie, and pulled her head into a gentle embrace. Lindsey's voice filled her ears as she responded.
"There are a lot of very evil people out there. I see them more than most of us here. Claire's second owners were horrible, cruel, evil people. Sadists of the worst kind. The kind of people that make you want to run as far away as possible, as fast as possible. She was kept restrained for two years while they tortured her for fun. That's why she ran when she got here. She thought she was being moved to a torture facility, or a testing site for new devices. I hate them for what they did to her." Lindsey stood up and opened one of the cupboards under the sink, pulling something from underneath.
"Who... Who were they?" Lacie panted, still kneeling over the toilet.
"It doesn't matter, Lace. It's Claire's story to tell, and I've already said more than I should have. Here. Rinse your mouth out."
Lindsey handed Lacie a small Dixie cup with a small amount of translucent green liquid in it. Lacie detected the strong odors of alcohol and mint. Tossing her head back, Lacie poured the mouthwash between her lips, swishing the stinging liquid around before spitting it out into the toilet bowl. Panting, Lacie struggled to her feet, nausea still gripping her stomach. Weak kneed, Lacie stood and shambled out into the hall. She grimaced as she leaned over, holding the banister beside the staircase as a strong wave of dizziness swept over her. Lacie absently noted the sound of a toilet flushing, and she heard Lindsey move up behind her as Lacie took deep breaths, trying to calm her twisting stomach and frayed nerves.
Lindsey wrapped an arm around her and led the slow moving Lacie back upstairs. Cresting the top of the staircase, Lacie saw the other girls gathered in a group outside the open door of Claire's room. They appeared deep in quiet conversation, but most of them stopped talking when Lacie appeared. Heather walked out from the group, pulling her robe tighter around herself as she headed towards Lacie.
"You okay sweetie? You look a little pale." she said, concern in her voice.
Lindsey responded for her.
"She threw up a bit. We washed her mouth out, but she's still feeling a bit nauseous."
"Take a few deep breaths Lace. You'll feel better."
Lacie sat down and leaned her back against the doorframe of her own room. Fresh tears began to pool in her eyes as Lacie lowered her head. Wiping them away, Lacie choked out two words.
Silence filled the hallway as all of the assembled women looked at each other, sharing looks of care, concern and helplessness. Master's door wasn't completely shut and they could still hear Claire's terrified sobs drifting out into the hallway. Long minutes passed while they stood in silence, each of them feeling deep compassion for their sister, torn by their own helplessness. It was Tatiana who moved first. Wiping her own tear streaked cheeks, she moved quietly down the hall, squeezing arms and whispering words of comfort to the other girls in the hall. The women all followed her, occasionally casting glances towards the half open door at the end of the hallway. Finally, Ana reached Lacie. Kneeling down beside the teary brunette, Ana gently took Lacie's hand and helped her to her feet. She leaned in, giving Lacie a strong hug, which Lacie returned fiercely. The Russian girl whispered in her ear.
"I am now wanting the some hot chocolate. Are you for joining us?"
Lacie nodded silently, gripping Ana's hand tightly as she slowly walked back down the stairs. Eventually, as they moved off, the sounds of Claire's sobbing grew quieter and quieter, until they couldn't hear it anymore. A somber mood filled the group, and they moved in slow silence. Sniffles and sighs were the only things Lacie heard all the way to the kitchens. Walking through the large double doors, Lacie wanted nothing more than to forget what had just happened. Needing something to do in order to take her mind off Claire, Lacie quickly moved about the kitchens, helping Ana put some milk on the stovetop, gently stirring as the Russian girl set out mugs and began to melt small bricks of chocolate. Once the milk began to billow steam, Lacie took it off the stove and added the chocolate that Ana had in her double boiler. Gently stirring the thick liquids together, they poured hot mugs for all of the assembled women. Heather muttered something quietly. Lacie couldn't hear her, but Bridget asked Heather to speak up before Lacie could.
"I said, 'I had hoped she was over the nightmares."
"So had I." Lindsey said, staring into her mug.
"You mean this has happened before?" Lacie asked.
Callie lifted herself onto a nearby countertop before lifting her mug into her lap, slowly sipping the hot drink.
"Not for a while. It used to be a lot worse."
"When she got here it was much, much worse. She had nightmares like that nearly every night." Tara agreed.
"I'm sure you can understand why." Heather said. "Poor woman had it worse than the rest of us combined."
Bridget looked up at Lacie. "It got better eventually, but for a long time she had to sleep in the guest wing. She kept waking the rest of us up."
"Did something change?" Lacie asked. "To make it better?"
A small smile graced Lindsey's features. "Yeah, something did change. Me." Lacie's perplexed look prompted Lindsey to elaborate. "Master bought Claire a few weeks before me. I was raised by my parents, then sold to Master when I was old enough. His parents were friends with my parents before his family died when their house burned down. My parents asked him to buy me, since they knew he had the money. They knew I'd be treated well here.. We'd actually been childhood friends till his parents died. So when he bought me, I already knew him." Lindsey sighed. "I'd only discovered a year earlier that I...well, liked girls, if you follow my meaning, and I was nervous being around so many attractive women."
All the other girls sipped at their drinks slowly, half listening to Lindsey's story. It was obvious most were absorbed in their own thoughts, only half paying attention. It didn't seem as though a single one of them even tasted their drinks as they sipped. They only drank so they would have something to keep their hands and minds occupied. The alternative was... unpleasant. Lindsey had a faraway look in her eyes, telling the story for Lacie's benefit as much as for everyone else. It drowned out the memories of Claire's screaming.
"Well, I had a bit too much to drink my first night here, because I was so nervous, and I misremembered which room was mine. It was one of the rare nights Claire was sleeping in her own bedroom." Lindsey shrugged at the memory, an apologetic smile on her face as she looked across the room at Lacie. "I was drunk, stumbled into her bedroom, lay down next to her and passed out. I don't recall much that happened that night, but I remember the next morning well. When I woke up, still clothed, mind you," she said. "The sun was shining and I was laying in a bed that wasn't mine with a sleeping girl in my arms." A full smile blossomed on Lindsey's face at the memory. "She was so beautiful, just laying there. I remember I moved back a bit, trying to get a better look at her face. She made the cutest little whining noise and pulled my arm back over her. I laid my head back down and scooted closer, just holding her. Then she smiled in her sleep. She was absolutely beautiful. I closed my eyes again, and I was out like a light."