Chapter 11. Author's note - Google "The Modern Prometheus" if you're unsure about this title. It will make itself evident why I chose it. Anyway, votes and comments are much appreciated!
"What the hell is she doing?"
That was what Nightingale heard as she was making sure her corset was straight. She looked up to see Peppermint eyeing Rose warily.
Nightingale smiled wanly, seeing Rose's lips mutter with the mantra of the Inamortas' names.
"She's reciting all our names. It's a coping strategy. Like the one I taught you," added Nightingale.
"After tonight, go introduce yourself to her, Pepper," instructed Nightingale. "She hasn't met you yet. She was astounded to know that there are sixteen of us in total."
Peppermint smiled equally as wanly. However, even that unhappy expression say prettily on her gorgeous face, with its olive-toned skin, its dark brown eyes, framed by masses of black hair. Like all Inamoratas, Peppermint was breathtaking.
"Ready, Rose?" asked Peppermint, approaching her.
The girl eyed her nervously.
"I'm Peppermint," she said kindly. "We've never met."
"Hi," squeaked Rose.
"Hi," she chided gently. Nightingale had to smile at the endearing, cooing tone that Peppermint used. "Now, are you ready for the auction?"
"No," said Rose, pure terror making her eyes wide and her breast heave.
"Recite," said Nightingale, sounding for all the world like a strict schoolmistress. "Recite, and think only of that."
And so Rose did, her eyes closed, lips moving silently. Her breathing soon calmed and she opened her eyes to look at Peppermint and Nightingale.
"Where is she?" boomed a voice from behind them.
The three of them all looked around to see Bobby stride in, rubbing his hands together.
"Here, Bobby," said Rose, her voice quavering.
He gave her a little slap to the face. She gave a soft cry. He gave her another. This time, she got the idea and simply regarded him, her eyes huge with unhappiness.
"No crying," snarled Bobby. "Surely Nightingale taught you better than that."
"She's only five days old. How the fuck is she supposed to know any better?" muttered Peppermint, so softly that only her sister Inamoratas, with their sharp hearing, could have heard her.
Rose shot her a thankful look as Bobby grabbed her by the arm and, without so much as a goodbye for Nightingale or any of the others, dragged her out into the Club. Through the thick door that separated them from the clientele, they could all hear Bobby roar out Rose's name, her status as only five days old, and her starting price.
All at once there was a commotion of shouting as clients attempted to outbid each other for the right to deflower poor Rose.
"I can't listen to this," said Sparkle, covering her ears. Most of the other Inamoratas followed suit, shuddering as they tried to block out a sound that reminded all of them of their first clients. The only Inamoratas who remained passive were the older ones; Magenta and Mermaid remained utterly impassive, though anger sparkled in their eyes, and Ruby and Cocoa listened with sadness.
Nightingale, however, moved close to the door and pressed her ear to it until she could make out exact words.
"We should join the clients the moment the bidding hits fifteen thousand marks," she said. "Before then, and we'll distract them. After, and Bobby will be pissy that we're late."
"How high is it now?" asked Mermaid, approaching her.
Nightingale eyed her warily. Mermaid rarely spoke, preferring to use only her languid beauty to communicate with clients and her expressions to speak with her sisters.
"Five thousand," Nightingale replied.
The other Inamoratas, with their hands over their ears, could not help but hear that figure.
"Ten thousand? Why is it so low?" asked Aphrodite, a full-figured blonde, approaching Nightingale.
"That's not low," replied Glitter. "That's what most of us fetch in the early stages of the auction. You were just lucky because you're shaped the way you are."
Aphrodite rolled her eyes. "Hardly. You do realize that we're all equally attractive, don't you?"
"But some of us do have more natural charm than others," interjected Emerald. Lace, who was standing next to her, nodded. "You've got almost as much raw magnetism as Nightingale."
"I'll take that as a compliment," said Nightingale, too nervous for Rose to respond with anything wittier.