(an excerpt from the book)
“Lulu, tell Miss Amthys’,” Doris called from down below. “Him’s here.”
“Comin’,” Lulu hollered back. Lulu stepped into the room moments before Aimée’s customer arrived to give her mistress another once
over. Once again, she smiled in approval.
“Miss Aimée. That
war… that man, he gonna take to you right quick. Come on now,” she
said, hustling her along, “you don’t want to keep him waiting.”
“I’m not interested in anyone taking to me right quick; and I don’t care if he must wait! Why do you hurry me along so?” Aimée stood in front of her chair and stared into her
Will he be gentle with me?
Lord, if you truly are there… make him not be mean to me, nor harm me.
“I guess I’m as ready as I shall ever be.”
Aimee fussed with her skirts and pulled herself towards
the door. So far, she had sensed protection somehow from the worst. Today would change all that.
By the time she reached the foot of the stairs her fears increased.
Turning around briefly she looked up to see Lulu still observing her.
Lulu nodded as she moved on towards the parlor.
He was facing the window.
The tall, impeccably built officer, dressed in his Union blues carried
himself with a commanding air of self-confidence. His legs stood
apart his hands were clasped together behind his back. Aimee couldn’t see his face, but did catch sight of the
wide brimmed hat sitting on the edge of the table beside him.
She smelled the pungent perfume of Nina immediately, as the woman
walked up behind her and leaned in to whisper something in her ear giving her a start.
“Treat your guest kindly, Rosette.”
Nina took her fingers and pinched Aimée’s ear lobe sharply.
“You did not mention he would be a Yankee.” Aimée said
Nina disregarded her.
The odors of intoxicants seeped through the woman's pores and heavily clashed with her stale perfume.
Aimee's cringed just as the
officer turned around and looked down at her with a grin. She almost lost her footing.
“Not you! I—I
cannot believe ‘tis you!”
Nina stepped in front of her.
“What is this? Rosette,” she stated coldly, her teeth clinched. “We
do not postulate with our customers. The
fine officer here has come requesting you specifically, and has paid a pretty penny
on your behalf, to have you accompany him this afternoon! You will not let him
down…now, will you?”
With an abrupt turning she grabbed Aimée by the elbow and led her
to the Yankee. “My apologies, Captain,” she said sweetly. “Rosette is fairly new with us…not yet accustomed
to our ways. She is a bit timid. Perhaps you can go easy with her…this first time?”
“No problem,” replied the captain, still
smiling. “I’ve been looking forward to this—outing, with—Rosette, here. I’ve heard…good things! Later this evening, I vow I shall return her right
to where she belongs.”
He seemed to be perusing Aimée from head to toe then
stopped again as if to see the smoldering look, clearly smitten by the girl with her fetching and innocuous demeanor.
“Marvelous,” said Nina, clasping her fingers together,
and glancing over at the panic-stricken young woman, then back at the officer. She
lifted a brow showing surprise at how an officer of the Union would choose a woman of innocence,
over all her others, who were much more experienced.
“Your gentleman awaits your greeting,” she reproached
Aimée with a jerking nod.
Aimée nodded reluctantly
then glared at the captain. She had no desire to greet him in any other way than
she had done already. Instead, all she could think of were cinders flying through
the air, the smell of singed garments, and destruction. All because of men like
the one who stood before her.
She vowed right then she would hate every moment she had to spend
with the man, loathing it with every ounce of strength she had.