A bad feeling began to wash over me like a waterfall, as I got to my feet and made my way to him. As I neared him, I could almost swore that I heard him swear under his breath, but he used one hand to quickly wipe his face clean of any evidence of emotion before he turned to face me.
“I must travel to Utrecht this afternoon. I have a pressing matter to attend to. I will return this evening,” he said.
“Why are you telling me this?” I asked in confusion.
“Because I want you to know why I will be gone. And to ensure that nothing foolish happens in my absence,” he said pointedly.
I nodded in understanding. In other words, he didn’t want me to think this would be a good time to break any of the girls out.
“Am I excused, Kerstan? I’d like to get back to my room and um ...,” my voice trailed off, not finding the right words to lie with.
“Yes. But she isn’t there. She’s in the Care Room where she is not granted visitors. Do you understand me?” he asked, grabbing me by an arm.
I nodded and he let me go. Kerstan stepped aside, allowing me to leave his room, and I found a grandmother waiting to escort me back to the room all of his glorious hookers shared.
I thanked her after she left me there and had I known how truly tragic the evening was going to turn; I would’ve followed my gut instinct and went to the Care Room. I would’ve told Minikin that I wanted nothing more to help her. I would’ve told her that she was still of much worth. I would’ve told her that somehow it was going to be okay.
But I never did go and it was something that I would regret and hate myself for later on.
“God, I wish I spoke the fucking language around here!” I shouted angrily as I sat down on my bed feeling defeated.
I had just come back from desperately trying to coerce one of the grandmothers into letting me into the Care Room, but the language barrier and probable heads up from Kerstan, made it beyond impossible.
I reached under my bed for my cigarettes and let out a shout of frustration when I pulled out an empty pack. If ever there was a time that I needed some nicotine it was at that exact moment. I crushed the pack in my hand before I threw it across the room. The other girls stole glances at me before starting to gossip amongst themselves. Christ only knows what they’ve heard, but what they’ve seen so far holds true; any of them who get close to me get punished and I didn’t know why.
There has to be some way to get down to her. There has to be some way to let her know that I was forced to sit there and watch what happened to her.
“Dames?” an elderly voice called out, snapping me out of my thoughts.
I turned my attention to the door and the eldest of all the grandmothers was standing in the center of the room, while the others dispersed dresses to us.
“When Kerstan returns tonight, he will have with him his wife,” she said in slow, broken English. “You are to not speak a word of what this home is for. She believes it to be a boarding school and you will present yourselves as such. Am I understood?”
The other girls nodded, while I stared at her incredulously. He’s married? And this is a boarding school? Is his wife that fucking stupid?
“There will be many consequences for any of you who break these rules tonight,” she warned before leaving the room behind the other grandmothers.
When she left, I put my dress on, an idea formulating in my mind. No way in hell was I going to let this go on for any longer than it had to. I would bargain with Kerstan; let me take Minikin away from this place and his little, shitty secret would be safe with me. If he didn’t I would expose him to his wife and watch the fire burn.
Dusk fell quickly and the girls and I were led to the dining room again. We were all seated like proper little things when Kerstan entered to room with an extremely elegant woman on his arm. To say she was beautiful would be an understatement; to say she was a goddess would be almost perfect.
“Dames, this is my Xandra Janssen, my wife,” Kerstan said to us.
I was too busy staring at her to care what her name was. She was almost as tall as Margit was and had dark red curls that fell to her back. Her lips were painted dark red to match her hair and her big brown eyes were kind and unassuming. I would compare her skin to ivory; smooth, flawless, and impossibly pale. She was dressed as extraordinarily as Kerstan was and they looked more like they were going to a ball than to have dinner with us.
All of the other girls brightly greeted her, but I sat back in my chair and folded my arms over my chest. Xandra didn’t notice my lack of manners, but Kerstan did and his gaze turned to stone when it settled on me.
“I’m Lieve,” I said getting to my feet and extending a hand.
“Hello Lieve!” she replied in a bright voice, shaking my hand. “It is a pleasure to meet you!”
“Same,” I grinned. “Please, have a seat. I would love to get to know you.”
She smiled widely at Kerstan as she took the seat beside him, which just so happened to be the one that was almost directly across from me. I had planned it perfectly because I wanted him to hear my words. Much like what Minikin believed, I wanted Xandra to believe that I had a hand in this because then it would make sense as to why I had slept with her husband the night before.