I don’t know if we’ll get in big trouble for it, but it was so nice.
I was standing in the little library area, near the fireplace, looking for a new book to read. I don’t know why I bother as there are never any new titles there and I’ve read all of them at least three times, even the ones that don’t interest me. Anyway, last night was no different so I was trying to decide which book would be worth a forth reading when I heard a voice behind me.
“Excuse me. I’m sorry to interrupt you…”
It was a girl. Well, a woman really but she wasn’t much older than me. She was so elegant though! Despite being dressed only in her underwear, she stood tall and proud. And oh my, but she was tall! I know I’m fairly short (is 5 foot 2 inches short?) but this beautiful lady was easily 5 foot 9 or 10, maybe more. Anyway, she stood there smiling at me with a look of kindness in her eyes that made me feel happy. Remember that I told you no one except the most awful, most brutal and cruel of the men had spoke to me since Taun brought me back? And that none of the girls or women had even made eye contact with me let alone spoken to me? Well, then you can imagine how surprised and happy I was!
I tried to sound casual and friendly as I spoke to this lady. I was sure she’d remember who I was or be told off for talking to me and I desperately didn’t want her to leave.
“Oh it’s quite alright. You’re not disturbing me at all!”
“Do you see the woman sitting in the arm chair at the far end of the room?”
I looked around. “Yes, I can see her.”
“She has asked me to request that you join her. If you don’t mind.”
I frowned, very confused at both the request – as it came from a woman – and the fact that it was a request. But I wasn’t going to jeopardize the situation. I would be thrilled to spend the evening chatting with two women instead of being abused by a man!
“Of course I don’t mind!”
“Wonderful! Please follow me.”
We walked over to where the lady was lounging in one of the very comfortable arm chairs. She looked up and smiled as we approached.
“Here is the blonde girl you asked for.”
The lady sitting in the chair nodded. “My, she’s a pretty little thing. And so tiny!”
I think I blushed. It felt very odd. I have stood in that exact spot many times and been stared at, commented on, and of course touched by many men. But, coming from a woman, the same words seemed so very different. I didn’t find her gaze – which slowly perused my body – or her words in the least bit demeaning. I think I actually liked it!
I felt I should say something, rather than just stand there blushing and smiling. “Thank you.”
The lady nodded again, in a very demure and gracious way, before continuing. “And what is your name, pretty little one?”
“Clara. May I ask you yours?”
Should I have asked her that? I wasn’t sure how to speak to her. She was a girl, so surely a prisoner or maybe a willing slave, but not one of the men. Yet, the way she looked at me and also something in her tone of voice made me want to treat her like I would have if she had been a man.
“It’s Najda. No need to stand there, you’ll get tired. Why don’t you sit here at my feet, if you like. We can chat for a while.”
Was that an order, suggestion, invitation? I had no idea but I was very pleased indeed to stay and chat and if that meant sitting on the floor then so be it. Besides, I wouldn’t have dared sit on one of the chairs, as Najda was doing because I was too scared of what would happen if a man saw us. I was still sure we’d get in trouble just for talking.
“Thank you Shiroona, for bringing me this little treat. Why don’t you dance for me while I get to know Clara better?”
As I watched, the tall and elegant woman who had first spoken to me nodded and then, with a smile that looked proud and happy, she crawled onto the low table nearby and began an extremely beautiful and sensuous dance. I could have watched her all night!
I felt a gentle touch on my head and looked back up at Najda. She had her hand on my hair and was stroking me gently. I don’t understand this. A few weeks ago, when Taun had me in exactly the same position I had hated it! It was so humiliating to be treated like a puppy, to be at his feet as though I were an animal. But something felt so different sitting with Najda, feeling her soft caress in my hair. It felt kind; not demeaning.
And then I felt something else. It was strange too and the more I think about it the less I understand it. Najda’s hand moved to just above the nape of my neck and, gently but very firmly, she held onto my hair and tilted my head so that I was looking up at her. Then, with one finger of her free hand she gently – oh so softly and slowly – traced a line along my neck until she reached my collar.
“Is that a necklace?”
I remember that I swallowed. I felt very uneasy but wasn’t sure whether it was from her question or her touch.
“It’s a collar.”
“A collar? Who are you owned by?”
“Taun. I think.”
“You think? You don’t know who your owner is?” Her little laugh was delightful and helped relax my suddenly very tense body. I giggled too, although mine was more from the embarrassment.
“It’s very complicated. A man called Taun bought me, at least he told me he did, but he said that he was leaving me here because he didn’t want to punish me himself and he didn’t know if or when he would come back for me. So… I don’t know if that means I’m his or not. I don’t even know if he really did buy me in the first place because I wasn’t there. I ran away. And he caught me. Which is one of the reasons I’m back here. It’s very, very complicated…”
Najda’s finger wiped away a tear as it rolled down my cheek. I stopped talking and realized that I had started to cry.
“Yes, that does sound complicated. But it’s okay. It doesn’t change anything for me. I was just curious and didn’t mean to upset you. Shiroona?”
I don’t know if Najda was trying to change the subject but she was now looking at the gorgeous dancing woman.
“You do dance so superbly. But I think it would be even more superb if your body were a little less covered. Wouldn’t you agree, Clara?”
I must have blushed again as I nodded in agreement. Shiroona did indeed have a splendid body. As did Najda, in fact. Of course, as she was sitting the whole time I couldn’t really see as much of her but when she smiled at me her eyes shone with an enticing mix of fun, warmth, curiosity, kindness, and mischief. I don’t think she was that much bigger than me (although, as I said, I didn’t see her standing) but for some reason I felt very small and fragile when I was with her. Maybe it was because her beautiful dark skin reminded me of Mr. Negulesco but I doubt that had anything to do with it.
I watched, trying not to look but completely unable to look away, as Shiroona took off her bra and panties. She seemed to thoroughly enjoy what she was doing and even winked at me as she threw her under garments in my direction. I’m sure I blushed even more. I need to work on trying to control that.
Shiroona continued dancing, dressed now only in very high heels, stockings and a garter belt. We watched her in silence for a while. Najda stroked my neck and shoulders lightly and the tingles her touch sent down my body I told myself were just from the slight chill of the evening air. I think someone had opened a window earlier in the afternoon and hadn’t closed it even though it was now almost night time.
I was also still really worried that we’d get in trouble for just sitting around like this. Maybe not Shiroona as she was dancing but probably me and definitely Najda because she was sitting in a chair which was definitely against the rules and neither of us were actively looking for a man to serve or please. I so wanted to spend the whole evening like this but I was getting more and more nervous. Najda noticed.
“Something is bothering you, Clara. What’s the matter? Would you rather I didn’t touch you?”
“Oh no! It’s not that. I like… I mean… I don’t mind at all what you’re doing it just that… are you sure you’re allowed to sit on a chair? Aren’t you scared you’ll get into trouble?”
Najda laughed. She has such a lovely, happy and carefree laugh. “Get into trouble for sitting on a chair?”
“Yes… if one of the men sees you.” Then I realized something. “Oh… you’re not a prisoner here? I mean, you’re not one of the Retreat girls?”
And her response made no sense at all but I’ll always remember the way she looked at me when she spoke. “I am, or I am not. I could be; I probably am, but I might not be.”
I nodded as though I had completely understood her words but I was none the wiser. She smiled at me as she continued to speak. “Don’t worry about me, pretty little one, let’s just enjoy the evening.”
And then the hand that was holding my hair in that firm but gentle way, pulled back slightly so that my head was tilted back. I closed my eyes and her lips were so soft on mine. So warm and smooth.
I’m so sorry, my dear, loyal friend, I hate to admit this but I just don’t know for sure how that wonderful evening ended. I must have fallen asleep. I remember snippets. Just brief, illogical pieces that don’t seem to fit together. Was the whole evening a dream? It certainly doesn’t seem to make sense that there were no men around and that we didn’t get into trouble. But then again, there are some evenings when there are no men at all in that room. Did I fall asleep with Najda’s hand slowly stroking my hair and then dream that she kissed me or did she kiss me and then I fell asleep a while later?
I wish I knew. The only thing I can be sure of is that I was there last night because when I woke this morning I was lying on the rug next to the armchair that I remember Najda sitting in. So either I fell asleep and dreamed the whole thing or some of it really happened. I guess some of my questions will be answered if I see the two women again and then at least I’ll know that they do exist. But I really hope the memories are real. Even my memory of Najda kissing me? Do I want that to be real too? Am I brave enough to tell you the truth?See More of Charlotte & Clara: