Chapter Twenty-Four

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Hannah was absentmindedly pushing scrambled eggs around her plate. Her stomach was hungry and yet the thought of eating made her nauseous. Her late-night visitor had put paid to the any sleep she had hoped for. Tonight she would lock her door, but doubted it would make her feel relaxed. She wondered whether she should say something to Diana, but then thought against it.

"Not hungry," asked Diana.

"No, sorry," she replied.

"That's okay, after all, you do have an exciting meeting this morning. I've taken the liberty of asking Martine, my stylist to come around and dress you."

"I am old enough to dress myself," Hannah replied, indignant.

A loud laugh interrupted her annoyance.

"Oh Hannah, you silly thing, Mother didn't mean that."

Hannah turned to see Edward smirking at her in the doorway. Wearing pressed beige chinos, a pale-blue oxford shirt and with a cream cable- knit sweater draped over his shoulders, he looked every inch the preppy student. His hair though, seemed to rebel against this style convention. A dirty blonde colour, it was just above shoulder length with an unruly wave to it. Today he had tried to tame it somewhat in a low-tied ponytail held by a brown leather strap. It didn't look good.

"Martine will find you an outfit to wear and help you with your hair and make-up." said Edward. "All the girls at school think she is fabulous."

He walked forward and pinched a slice of her toast and gave her a sly wink. Hannah shuddered at the gesture and averted her eyes back to her plate.

"I have a gala meeting this morning and John had to leave early for work, so I've asked Edward to take you to the Council before he heads to school..."

Hannah went to interrupt and decline the offer, but Diana continued...

"It'll be nice for you and Edward to have a little one-to-one time together". She smiled at them both. Edward nodded enthusiastically.

"The Council are arranging your lift home". Diana dabbed the starched white napkin around her mouth and stood up. "I'd better get going. Have a great day you two, I'll see you for dinner tonight."

Diana pushed her chair in and left the room, her 5 inch heels clicking all the way down the hall.

The breakfast room suddenly became silent and oppressive. Edward was seated opposite again and his head was tilted slightly to one side as he stared at Hannah while chewing his food. It was clear to Hannah, that he was appraising her, like a farmer might appraise a heifer at market.

The doorbell chimed.

"I'll get it," Hannah cried and leapt off her seat desperate to be away from Edward, and almost knocking over the housekeeper as she ran to the door.

"Well hello, you must be Hannah that I have heard so much about".

A short girl with shocking pink hair leapt forward and planted a kiss on either side of Hannah's face. Hannah stood awkwardly, unused to such physical contact of strangers. Only your family and loved ones hugged you when you were Flawed.

"I'm Martine and I'm here to make you look wonderful. However looking at those cheekbones and those eyes I don't think my work is going to be too hard. Now come on, show me your room." She pushed passed Hannah and started up the wide staircase. By the time Hannah entered the room, Martine was already rifling through her wardrobe.

"Now, you are meeting some pretty important people today and you have press conference too. I think we should go for a smart, but elegant look. We need to prove to them all that you ain't Flawed anymore, honey. Okay, so I think you should try on this and ..."

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