As Sybil lay in her bed after Mr. Prescott's departure, her cheek buried amidst the down of her pillow, her eyes staring straight ahead out the window at the dusky before her, a single solitary tear, without emotion, traveled sideways down her cheek. It finally settled onto the pillow and she blinked irritably, her ash blonde eyebrows fluttering as though to bat away any guilt she now felt. For there was a thread of guilt in her heart springing from her newest endeavor.
Courtesans were not supposed to feel guilt or conscience or love. Especially not love. This was perhaps, deep down in the fibre of her being, the main reason for her betrayal. For as she lay upon the luxurious fur, the night air mixing with the warmth of Lucien above her as he made love to her, a dangerous sensation came over her. Yes, when they were in the throngs of passion, Sybil felt the type of contentment not associated with the giving of pleasure but with the receiving of a very mutual pleasure. She felt ashamed afterwards because in her line of work falling in love was a folly as comical as a slapstick skit in which a proper gentleman slips on a banana peel and falls face first. This was not a courtesan's realm; her realm was two-dimensional, material, flippant. As she had learned once before, she could not afford to fall in love.
Sybil sat up immediately as her maid entered. Kitty was bearing a single, sinister note in one frail hand, and suddenly, despite the sunlight filtering in through the French windows, the room was overcome by a heaviness. Sybil gingerly accepted the piece of mail, recognizing the paper and the spindly , masculine handwriting on the envelope. Lucien’s. Daintily she broke the seal and stared at the script. The letter was ominous; slight in substance and alluded to no usual reward. Foreboding as it was, with such little praise and arriving so suddenly after her affair with Mr. Prescot, Sybil could not jump to her own conclusions. And perhaps she had been sloppy about her deceit for a reason. Perhaps it was the designated time for Hers and Lucien’s relationship to come to its inevitable conclusion.
Nevertheless, she felt an iron fear well up in her chest, constricting, like the tightest of her corsets. ‘Emotion breeds fear’, she reminded herself as she slipped from her bed and began searching about her armoire. She would wear her strongest, most striking gown; a jewel-toned deep indigo with a silvery-metallic sheen. The fabric stuck to her so tightly, much like a second skin that a snake must shed, and enhanced her stature so well, that she seemed almost statuesque. And on top of that, Lucien could interpret as he liked, she would wear the first necklace her client had gifted upon her. She would be demure, truthful, collected. If he had truly learned of her deceit and was enraged because of it, if he had invited her to him home for such reasons, perhaps chiefly to disgrace her, she would flutter her fan and laugh in his face. She was in a separate world than he was; a whore’s world, and the rules of her profession reigned supreme in her mind over the more selfish demands of her customers.
Sybil quirked her lip as she glanced at herself in the mirror. She had chosen to play the 'Virgin' for the night. The irony of it all seemed to exhude from her attractive self. Her dress was a wild shade of orange, with many embellishments. The top part of the royal dress had to be sewn together by hand by her lady's-maid while Sybil was wearing it, it was so form fitting. She was the perfect queen Elizabeth; except for the fact that she was a courtesan. She fluffed her excessively curled hair with one heavily ringed hand. The final vision of orange, plus the sapphire necklace she had recieved from her 'admirer' contrasting with that, was astounding. She knew she would stop any man in their tracks.
She would rise to the challenge of being the queen of the ball.
When she was finally satisfied with herself, she called to Caroline who was in the other room. "Almost finished, my dear?"
Ah, so things may be looking far better than before! I recieved two pieces of post especially which hint at such a change in fortune for me. One is a note from Edward, requesting my services again. It seems as though he cannot keep his mind from me.
Another letter, which is a mystery to me, has arrived very recently. Once I recieved it I was compelled to write upon it in my journal at once! Whoever the man is, he is an enigma to me. What is more important, though, is the content in which came with it. It was an exquisite chest, tiny in size, but gigantic in contents. A necklace fit for the queen had been enclosed! I simply cannot believe it! True emeralds they seem to be, and gigantic! Who is this mystery man? Why, it sends my thoughts into a frenzy! Who could afford such a trinket, and give it to a Courtesan nonetheless? Could it be Edward Thorpe? I have no definite prospect.
It suits me quite well, anyway. I shall show it off at the next ball, wherever it is. I do not care of who hosts such parties, only the men attending. I shall dazzle them all with my new piece of jewelry!
Sybil, the best wench in all of London, has finally regained her glory!
Allmond, Blaise: Handsome, 27, holdings in the country and in Austria.
Breton, Percy (Lord): Handsome, 35, one daughter(17), vast country abode.
Diego, Salvador: Handsome foreigner, 29, holdings in Spain and in the country.
Dyachenko, Vanyel (Baron): Handsome foreigner(Russian), 22, acres upon acres of land in Russia, country abode.
Fenris, Chester (Viscount): Handsome, 22, suffering from mania, family estate in the country.
Legrant, Janus (Colonel): Handsome, 28, family estates in the city and country.
Maddox, Benny: Handsome, age unkown at moment, family holdings in the country and in Scotland.
Martel, Collin: Old, age unkown at moment, 2 daughters, abodes in the country and in the United States.
Parkinson, Alexandar: Handsome, 32, one female ward, estates in the country and the city.
Price, Thomas: Handsome, 26, widower, lives with sister, country abode on lake.
Remington, Arthur III (Sir): Old, 45, various estates and townhouses.
Roland, Patrick: Handsome, 26, no family holdings at the moment.
Rutledge, Damien (Earl): Handsome, 25, one female ward, various estates.
Tepes, Vladmir III (Magistrate?): Handsome foreigner, 27, large family holdings in Romania
True, Esmond: short, 26, personal holdings in various estates.
So then, I have arrived.
It is nothing like London, I must admit. I can actually pause, close my eyes, concentrate, and hear absolute silence. I am not sure whether that is a good or bad thing. We shall see how this rustic piece of land treats me.
My last memory from London was not a good one. An impetuous man, lowranking rapscallian with a roving hand, drunk as he was, began commanding my services! On the side of the road nonetheless! Ah, how people judge me! No matter how hard I try, I will never be anything more than a commonplace whore to most. I gave him a wilting glare and announced to him calmly that I was not a prostitude, and that he should get his filthy boot off from the edge of my gown.
The hierarchy is a bit more complicated. I am nothing like my viler counterparts. No, I am allowed to choose my men, just as a sensible woman is. The only deviation is the overlooking of boring formalities of courtship and marriage and the added bonus of the fattening of my purse. Never will you espy me roughly pressed up against a wall in an alley, nor will you find me paraded out in front of a waiting man. No, I make my own dates, and I do what I feel like doing. If the man falls below my requirements (eg: not rich enough, not attractive enough), I have all the right in the world to turn him down. And I will.
So now I am sitting outside underneath a gazebo, enjoying the clear air and azure sky, and wondering how different my life will be like here. Perhaps I will be looked down upon, but that will end soon. I am one to retalliate.