The outline of the building loomed above her, around her, in the growing pink of the late afternoon light. She shuddered, but it wasn’t just due to the way her stomach rolled as the towered attic cast pointed shadows diagonally either side of her. The trunks of the huge trees had formed shadowed barriers all the way from the gate to the door. She almost felt that she had to prove herself, her reason for being there, to Nature before she would be able to gain access.
The closer she walked to the house, the more she noticed how it was both impressive and foreboding, yet exuded a sadness that only the dilapidation of years could evoke. When she reached the stone porch, one the imitation Ionic pillars (Dad would be proud of her recognition) flaked as her skirt brushed against it. As she brushed the dusty stone away, she noticed the dark bricks around the door had lost their edge, not rounded with weather wear but pitted and with jagged parts missing. They seemed to have a grey screed over them, something translucent, almost ghostly, which prevented the rich depth beneath showing the house to its best.
Ella scanned the windows: the paint was black and dull, yet she was fascinated by the colours that appeared to have once covered the black. Each one still hung onto the last of the flaking strips of a rainbow of colours. From where she was, she noted red, green, yellow on the underside of various upstairs window sills. Craning her neck high and skewing the light from her eyes with her hand, she could see the white on the underside of the sill high above the bedrooms. It stood out, a loner among the shadows and darkness all around her. Ella felt her heartbeat faster than it ought to have been. What would it be like inside? She blew out her lips, trying to gather herself together; it didn’t do much good as she convinced herself that she spotted a figure at the window of a room on the ground floor. Fixing her eyes to the front door, she knocked. Going eyeball to eyeball with an inhabitant wasn’t how she wanted to begin this meeting.
Footsteps clacked across the floor inside. She’d expected to be tortured by the inevitable creeping of the shoes getting closer to the door over pained seconds that felt like minutes. But the footsteps were crisp, fast, and a young man’s face appeared round the door, emitted some kind of strange squeak, and seconds later, she was standing on a chessboard stone tiled floor, covered in the centre by a red—or what was once red—carpet.
“You’re Ella? Oh. Wonderful. I’m Henry. Um…”
Ella watched the shock of blonde hair swishing about with the speed of the sweeping confusion on the young man’s face. He twitched in the suit that stood in for a butler’s uniform, and Ella couldn’t help but notice the bulge in his rather tight trousers. As nervous as she was, she had to stifle a grin; she was sure that Henry’s job description didn’t involve impaling the prospective housekeeper. Henry hadn’t seemed to notice. In any event, he certainly didn’t nudge it down with the heel of his hand, or stick his backside out to attempt to counteract the protrusion, like other embarrassed men had done in her presence.
Hadn’t she been told on the phone that the staff had been here ages? Everyone but Henry, maybe. The poor young thing seemed out of his depth. “I’m here to see—er—I’m here about the job.”
“Job?” Henry’s face screwed up into a fortnight old grape. “Master’s expecting you, about—about the—”
“Thank you, Henry. I will deal with Ella now.”
She hadn’t noticed the door opening to the right of the large square hallway. There, standing against the heavy, dark doorframe was a man, maybe about forty, dressed in a black suit, edged in purple satin, a white shirt beneath. Once again, Ella was struck by the notion that a translucent grey clung to the colours. But, if she was honest, she really wasn’t too concerned with the colour of his clothes. Her heart was banging, her skin felt hot, and the sudden throb between her thighs responded to the sight of the pale face, and the short black hair that rolled in waves on the top where it was a little longer. The voice that had dripped dark syrup down the phone now ran treacle from that doorway and allowed it to ooze into every one of Ella’s senses. She’d never, ever throbbed on first sight before. Not that it meant anything. She took a breath and smiled, then headed towards him, hand outstretched.
“Good afternoon. I apologise if I’m a few minutes early. I—it didn’t seem to take half an hour.” What she didn’t tell him was that she’d taken ages to put on her make-up, had tried to make the time up by half-running, and given in, flagging down a taxi when she’d rolled over on her ankle. She was just grateful it felt all right, and she wasn’t hobbling like Quasimodo to meet the man she assumed must be the Master.
He smiled, and nodded toward Henry. “I believe I have all we need. I hope. Henry, you may leave.”
Ella caught the look that flew between the two men. She couldn’t place it, but it left a tingle down her spine which rested itself in her buttocks as the Master, which clearly he had indicated he was, held open the door to the room behind him and inclined his head towards her. As she walked past, she smiled, noting the dark eyes, resembling midnight. The front of his jacket brushed her shoulder blade as he followed her in and closed the door behind them. She wasn’t sure if it was that, or the illogical sight on a warm day of a roaring fire that left her body in a constant state of hot pulses. Fire was one of those things that mesmerised her. It brought back memories of her grandparents’ house: washing hanging on a clothes horse behind her, as she sat, always a little too close, so that the flames hypnotised her young eyes and the heat burned, just so it tingled at the point of stinging. Someone always came along and whipped her away, sitting her on a cold chair at the other end of the room. She’d never got the chance to push herself to the limit of what she found bearable.
Ella started as reality stepped in, and the Master of the house took her hand. He didn’t shake it, however. Instead, he took her fingers in his own, his thumb exploring the length of her hand from fingernail to wrist, then lifted it to his mouth and kissed it, his eyes remaining fastened to her own. In this room, darkened by the red velour curtains and the fire glowing in the grate, the high-backed chairs placed either side of the fireplace, and this man in his black suit and with his eyes holding hers, Ella had the distinct impression that she was in a Victorian novel. It quite made her jump to be brought from her musings by his question.
“So, you live locally?” He inclined his eyebrows. The tone suggested conversation, but his mouth remained straight, his lips full of colour, and, as Ella couldn’t fail to notice, his cock had grown hard and strained at his trousers since his thumb had run over the surface of her hand. The flicker of the open flames cast a rich glow onto his right side, leaving any protrusions to his suit highlighted to her vision. Wow! So far, she’d met two men at this house, and both were apparently very happy to see her.
“Yes, I do live locally. How do you know?”
He coughed, which awoke the realisation in her that she wasn’t actually talking to his face, and she blinked hard, hoping that any flush of embarrassment that he’d caught her looking was disguised by the collaboration of the flames.
“Your hand was warm, warmer than if you’d arrived without having exercised your body at all to get here. Your body itself has a heat emanating from it that I’m excellent at detecting. And your eyes have a richness that only comes from short journeys. Long ones tire people’s eyes. And I can only assume you are hot because you’ve undone an extra button at the top of your blouse. The tan line tells me that you don’t normally wear it like that. Are you hot, Ella? I think you might be.”
She nipped her lips together, silently berating herself for thinking that all men would fall for a glimpse of a bit more than just the top of her cleavage, and for giving way on her principle of getting the job on merit. Maybe Daniel’s direct, obnoxious and self-centred expectations of our times together had rubbed off on her. She made a mental note to tell Daniel where he could stick his cubbyhole blowjobs and fast-track sex before drinking with his mates. Determined to rescue the pre-interview before she killed it altogether, she smiled simply at the dark eyes that still hadn’t finished boring into her face, and replied, “Yes. I’m very hot.” But then her mouth lost connection with its direct line to her brain. “Is that a problem or an advantage for this job?”
He smiled. It was brief, and it revealed a slightly uneven array of near-white teeth, far more endearing than the perfect brilliant whiteness of the smiles that invaded the TV every evening. It made him more real, more human. The thought of that, that she was seeing exactly what she was getting, lit a firework of heat deep inside her, which spread down as far as her groin. It rested at the tops of her thighs as he spoke once more.
“I need a mistress.” That warm feeling changed into a throbbing dart that shot itself straight between her legs as his eyes explored her body then came to rest back on her face. It was a split second motion, but there was a power to his presence that aroused her. He knew exactly how to use his words; intelligence was supremely sexy as far as Ella was concerned. But it wasn’t just the contents of his brain that was making her pussy ache. His stare was spreading a strange feeling of weakness through her, a feeling of subservience she wasn’t used to, and instinct left her wanting him to push her to the floor and rip open her blouse so he could suck her nipples through her bra. And, oh boy, she’d let him.
She was brought back from her reverie with his qualifying words: “The house needs her. But she must be suitable, and she must want to be here. I won’t force you to be interviewed, Ella. It’s a gruelling process.”
Had he been able to tell what she was thinking? She bit her lip. “You…you need a mistress for the house? There’s a household? More than just you and Henry?”
“Yes. A small one. And a business, which is run from inside.”
“I see. What kind of business? Is this part of my duties, too? If I get the job, obviously.” Subconsciously she rolled her eyes at herself once more as he remained silent at her deluge of questions. She tried a different tack. “Could you tell me more about the interview process?”
This, he responded to. “Of course, if you want to know.”
“Yes, please.” What did he think she was doing there? Obviously she wanted to know. She needed to know what she would need to go out and buy. New suits? Did she have to wear an apron, like they all do in films? ‘Mistress’ was, after all, surely a glorified title for the housekeeper it was pretty clear he needed. It wasn’t difficult to notice a layer of dust on any surface that didn’t make immediate and regular contact with anyone in the house.
“The interview is a lengthy process. It lasts seven days, and you arrive the evening beforehand, so you can decide if you still want to proceed. I don’t have contracts to sign, not at any stage. I’m sure you find that strange, but I will not obligate you. You enter the interview willingly. At any point you wish to leave, it is possible, up to half way. Then I expect total commitment until the end of the week. If at the end you refuse the position, you will be cared for accordingly.” His face betrayed a fleeting expression that she couldn’t place. “Is that too much for you?”
“No. That sounds fine.”
“This is not like any other position you’ll have ever come across, Ella.” His finger hooked under her chin and held her face to his eyes. “I want to know just one thing. I want to know about your experience.”
“I’m…I’m not sure what you want to know about my experience. I’m a professional—a teacher. But I’m intelligent, and a quick learner. I’m not at all a stranger to housekeeping and caring for people. My m—”
He placed a finger on her lips. He was cool, not like ice, but like she remembered the feel of her mother’s skin when she touched it in the coffin. A state of nervousness combined with her strange arousal, and she struggled to retain control of her thoughts as he interrupted her.
“I want to know what your sexual experience is.”
She opened her eyes wide. Her mouth stayed firmly shut.
“If you’re unable to answer this question, Ella, then I don’t think I can accept you for the interview. You need to be able to respond to anything I ask of you.”
“It’s not that I’m unable to answer. I—just wasn’t expecting a question like that.”
“Do you have any, Ella?”
His eyes drove their darkness into hers, smothering them, extinguishing conscious thought. Before she realised what she was saying, she replied, “Yes, I’ve plenty. But none with anyone as stunning as you.”
If the ground could have opened and devoured her whole, she’d have volunteered to dive in the crack. When she braved the Master’s face, he stood there, utterly expressionless.
“I’m glad you can be honest with me, Ella. I’d like you to arrive on Friday, and spend next week here.”
Her chest banged hard. She was due back at work on Monday. “Yes, that’s fine.” Decision made: she’d ring in sick, and hope no-one saw her wandering about with a suitcase. If it went well, maybe she could write her resignation letter while she was still here, ready, just in case.
“Just one thing, Ella.” Both his hands clasped her face, so her eyes were lost in his once more. “The position of Mistress is special. And it involves, as everything does in this house, give and take. If you take from the house, you have to give back. There is no question of going against that. Do you understand?”
“No, not really. Not completely. But I want to prove I can pass the interview. I want the position. I really want to be your Mistress.” Mentally, she wanted to stick her fist in her mouth. If she hadn’t have been taken off-guard by him again, her answer would have been rather more diplomatic than that. What did he do to her every time he looked at her? She would have to be more careful during the interview. More in control of her own thoughts and feelings.
He nodded. “One more thing. During the first part of the interview, you will always have a choice. If at any point you decide you do not want to follow my instructions, you only have to say, and the interview will be terminated without question. Even at the end, should you complete the interview, the position is not compulsory. Your views will change over the next week. Expect it; embrace it. But if you can’t cope with it, you must say.”
“I understand.” She frowned. “You’ve already told me you expect complete commitment if I stay for the second half. What happens during that?”
He opened the door to the room, to find Henry walking apace across the hallway. Ella noted a near-smile hover on the Master’s lips. “We’ll concern ourselves with that if and when we get that far. Please bring any personal effects that you wish with you on Friday. Don’t bring clothes. Everything you need will be provided.”
“Will you be present all the way through the interview?”
The Master’s lips brushed her hand. “Oh, Ella, I’ll be watching you all the time. Guiding you. Pushing you. Making you realise what it is to be my Mistress.”
How she held her welling arousal within her, she had no idea. Her entire body was ready to convulse. She watched his nose twitch. Could he smell it? Oh, she wanted him to be able to sniff out her scent. In a semi-dream state, she allowed him to lead her from the heat of the room, to the cool hallway. Her senses returned to her there, and she realised Henry was watching her with a piercing stare, hands twitching and unable to hold his feet still. She was still wondering how to make her legs move without her pussy wanting to explode as the Master returned to the room without looking back at her, leaving Henry to show her out.
She stepped outside, and turned to thank the agitated Henry, who whispered straight in her face with wide eyes. “Please. Please become the Mistress. I can feel it. I can feel how much you want it. Please don’t say no.”
As the door closed she was sure that, if Henry had wanted to feel it, she’d have let him. It took her the entire walk home and three strong coffees before she could think straight. And it took forty minutes and five orgasms with the aid of a vibrator before she thought it was worth changing her soaking knickers.
Roll on Friday.