Felicity sat in the tub as the shower sprayed her with warm water. Her knees were pulled to her chest and her arms were wrapped around her legs. Felicity rested her chin on her knees as she stared at the wall. She strummed her fingers on her arms as she fought to focus. Felicity closed her eyes and willed the water to wash away the last several weeks.
Felicity, now clean and dressed, moved in to the small kitchen area. She casually moved from the counter to the fridge seemingly without a goal. Felicity had gotten accustom to the new home and she had heard the sounds of the electronics. The almost silent whirl and whine of the cameras had been distinctive once she focused. Felicity opened the fridge and stood there with the door open then closed it. She paced back to the bookshelves. Felicity paused when she heard the keys. She quickly grabbed a book and sat on the couch. Felicity relaxed once the door opened.
“Good evening,” Dawn entered with a smile.
“Hi Dawn. How are you?” Felicity pretended to mark her place and placed the book on the table.
“I am well. How are you feeling today? Gavin said that you had cold symptoms,” Dawn placed the bags on the counter in the kitchen area.
“Much better after the rest and soup. I think it may have been allergies. The seasons are changing?” Felicity knew it was a risk but took it anyway.
“Oh my. I must tell him to make sure he removes his shoes and such before he comes to visit. With autumn air come complications. I’ll be sure to get medicine for that the next time I go to the store. Here are your feminine care products and he requested a new shampoo and soaps. Everything else is for here. Go on and put those things away,” Dawn handed the items to Felicity.
“Thank you Dawn,” Felicity took the things to the bathroom.
Felicity closed the door a quarter of the way. She placed the shampoo and soaps on the side of the tub. She edged herself at an angle behind the door and opened the cabinet there. Felicity took a breath and opened the box of tampons. She quickly slid the envelope from it and stuffed in her bra. Felicity kicked the door closed and made show of putting the box in the cabinet there. She returned to the kitchen.
“Gavin will not be with you tonight. He has a meeting with a client from Japan. Would you like me to cook for you tonight?” Dawn folded the bags.
“No I will be fine thank you.”
“Alrighty then. I will see you. He has programmed the house number in there correct?” Dawn pointed to the phone that hung on the wall.
“If you need anything ring me dear.”
Gavin watched as the interior designer put the finishing touches on the bedroom. He was pleased. The new security had been installed and all the adjustments had been completed in the days prior. Gavin felt the tingles in his chest and his mouth slowly turned up. He waved the last of the crew out and rushed down the stairs. Gavin pulled the keys from around his neck and opened up the doors.
“Felicity my love,” Gavin called out as he entered.
“Yes?” Felicity appeared from the bedroom.
“Did you pack the bag like I advised?”
“Remember it is okay to call me Gavin now,” Gavin took her hand into his.
“Yes Gavin I have packed my bag. Should I retrieve it now?” Felicity kept her head bowed.
“Yes. Put on your slippers and grab your bag.”
Felicity did as instructed. She felt Gavin’s eyes on her. His nervous energy made her anxious. Gavin took her hand into his.
“Felicity today is the day. Fifteen years I have searched for the perfect mate. I have been stern I know but I have loved deeply. I knew when I saw you the first time almost two years ago now that you would be the one. Felicity,” Gavin took a breath and a grin spread across his face, “you are now part of my life. I am taking you to the house. In the house the same rules apply. Nothing has changed except you will have more freedom and responsibilities. I am ecstatic to be able to share this with you. Only one other had made it this far. She was nothing. You are the only one worthy of me,” Gavin kissed her hand.
“I am glad to share this with you,” Felicity forced on a smile for his benefit.
Gavin led her up the stairs to the main house. He gave a quick tour to familiarize her with the layout. Gavin ended the tour with the bedroom they would eventually share.
Felicity eyed possible exits and weapons as they moved through the house. She realized in most of the house the cameras were not hidden, all windows were barred, and all doors connected to the outside required finger prints to open since there were no door knobs. Felicity took a deep breath as he lead her up the stairs to the bedrooms. She gasped as they entered the master. Felicity did not want to be impressed. She moved around the room and touched everything. There was a large television mounted on the wall, all the furniture was cherry, the bed was a king size, and it had all the closet space a woman could ask for.
“I did observe you. I know your likes and wants. I probably know you better than you know yourself. I designed this room with you in mind. There are new clothes in the closet for you as well, the television has cable, and the bathtub in the en suite has jets. Before you ask yes the there is a shower as a separate stall.”
“My perfect master suite,” Felicity mumbled.
“Anything for my love,” Gavin pulled her into his arms.
“Gavin this is too much.”
“Nothing is too much for you my dear,” Gavin kissed her lightly.
“Th-thank you,” Felicity pressed her face to his shoulder brow creased and lips in a fine line.
“Alright. I do have to be on my way. There will be a dinner party next week. Think of what you would like to cook to meet my friends,” Gavin let her go and moved to the door.
“Your friends?” Felicity felt the blood drain from her face. <Great other sociopaths.>
“Yes. You have earned outside contact. Stay beautiful my dear,” Gavin blew her a kiss and left the room.
<His friends? This is a trap.> Felicity moved to her bag. She opened it and unpacked to distract herself.
Felicity watched as Gavin instructed on the place settings for the dinner table. Felicity tried not to roll her eyes at the repeat of the last hour. Felicity had completed finishing school and was aware of how to set a table properly but Gavin was persistent in teaching her how it was to be done. Gavin cleared the table and stacked everything on the roll out serving tray.
“Alright now your turn,” Gavin crossed his arms over his chest.
Felicity nodded and stepped to the tray. In less time than it had taken Gavin, the table was set and candles lit. Felicity placed her hands behind her back and stepped aside for Gavin to look it over. Gavin walked around the table and nodded his approval.
“Well done. Now have you picked out the recipes that you will be making tomorrow?” Gavin stood by her side.
“Yes. Do you have a list of any food allergies? I would not want to make any of your friends ill.”
“There are no food allergies. Let me see what you wish to cook.”
“There is nothing to show. I have it all in my head. I used to cook for my family. I know several family meals that I can prepare. I have selected a chicken and a seafood dish. That way they have the options of what they would like,” Felicity bowed her head as Gavin moved to stand in front of her.
“Memory. I do not like that. I prefer to see the meals that you wish to prepare so that I may make sure they are appropriate,” Gavin held out his hand.
“Of course. I can pull something similar up on the computer for you,” Felicity allowed herself to be lead to the office.
Gavin pulled the keys from around his neck and unlocked the doors.
“If you please,” Gavin gestured for her to enter first.
Felicity sat at the computer with her eyes closed. Gavin reach around her and typed in his password.
“You can open your eyes.”
“Here,” Felicity pointed to the screen after she found something, “my recipe is a little different because it is a family hand me down. Then there is the other.”
“Hm,” Gavin read over the meals, “these are acceptable.”
“Thank you,” Felicity let a small smile grace her lips.
“Dawn will be here soon and she can take the grocery list to make sure it is completed today,” Gavin shut off the computer and walked Felicity out of the office.
Felicity walked around the kitchen and itemized the appliances and pantry items. She made a mental list of what she needed for tomorrow night. Dawn arrived that afternoon prepared for the active evening of precooking.
“Dawn,” Felicity greeted her with a smile, “you don’t live here?”
“Not any more. Gavin has you in the main house so there is no need for me to stay here. You have the honor of keeping him company and taking care of him. I will be here Monday through Friday part time. He will be all yours on the weekends,” Dawn sat down her bag and looked around the kitchen, “no prep work yet?”
“I have a few things that I need from the store,” Felicity handed her the list, “will I be able to come with you?”
“Unfortunately not. At this time you have not been integrated into the lifestyle enough,” Dawn looked over the list.
“Am I going to die here?” Felicity muttered.
With a sigh Dawn turned to her, “that is up to you my dear.”
“I don’t really like that answer at all.”
“I understand that this is not the ideal situation or the perfect courtship. I have done this time and again. You have excelled where others have failed. I believe from your nature that you will survive. I trust that you know yourself as well as you know the rules here. Felicity you have a fantastic survivors instinct,” Dawn held her eyes for a long moment, “alright deary I am off to the shops. I will return shortly. Go on and begin the prep work for what you can.”
Dawn brought in the knives and other cutlery when she returned. Felicity eyed the items as she worked with Dawn in the kitchen. She glanced at the cameras and knew that it was not worth the discipline. Felicity turned her attention back to the work in front of her.
“These are beautiful knives. This kitchen is a dream,” Felicity filled the silence to keep the tension down.
“He has set it for his perfect wife,” a grin crossed Dawn’s lips, “Gavin is thoughtful even though he in unconventional. After we finish here we will begin review for tomorrows rules and expected behaviors.”
Felicity resigned to make the meal and evening as spectacular as she could. She was a captive but no less a perfectionist.
Felicity was amazed at her appearance in the mirror. She had taken time and followed the guidelines and the result was stunning. The dye had faded in her hair so her natural vermillion had returned. It was swept back in an elegant French braid. She wore no makeup per Gavin’s request. Felicity looked down at the empire waist dress. The blue brought out her eyes and the green pattern made her fair skin flawless. Felicity took several deep breaths. She slipped on her shoes and put on the earrings that had been on her dresser when she returned from her shower.
“You look gorgeous,” Gavin entered the room.
“The guests will be here shortly. Dawn has arranged all the food. All you have to do is be amazing. I know that you can accomplish that,” Gavin took her hand and kissed her finger tips.
They settled in the foyer. Gavin gave her a refresher on the evening as they waited. The bell rang and Felicity jumped.
“You will be outstanding,” Gavin reached the door and opened it, “Will. So glad you could make it.”
“I wouldn’t miss it for anything. This must be the wonderful Felicity,” Will reached out his hand.
“It is a pleasure to meet you,” Felicity held out her hand.
“Oh the pleasure is all mine,” Will kissed her hand.
“Please come and have a drink before dinner,” Felicity led him to the sitting room.
“I certainly will.”
Felicity maintained her place in the sitting room. She greeted the new guests as they arrived. Felicity realized as they sat down at the table she had enjoyed the meet and greet. Once all plates were filled Felicity stood.
“I would like to give thanks to you for traveling here tonight. It is a pleasure to have my table full. I look forward to many more gatherings. I hope that the cooking is pleasing. To a wonderful evening with great friends,” Felicity raised her glass.
“Cheers,” Gavin raised his glass from the other end of the table.
Felicity kept the topics light and steered the conversation as Gavin had instructed her. She accepted the compliments of her cooking with a simple nod and thank you to each guest. Felicity maintained her position two steps behind once dinner had concluded. She stayed behind Gavin as he made conversation with his friends. Gavin ushered her to a corner and she took the seat without hesitation.
“One more glass of wine then the sparkling water. We do not want them to think of you as a lush,” Gavin instructed.
“Yes sir,” Felicity kept the smile on her face as he leaned to her ear.
“You have been excellent tonight. Do not do anything to cause me to punish you,” Gavin kissed her ear and walked off to where the men had moved to a separate corner.
“Your Gavin is mighty handsome,” Mary took the seat across from Felicity on the couch.
“He has always been easy on the eyes,” Jane sat next to Mary.
Both women were unremarkable in appearance. Felicity saw the ordinariness of the women challenging. There was nothing that stood out. She tried to hold them in her memory in case the information was needed. The small talk was a bore and Felicity allowed her mind to flow to her life before Gavin.
“So how did you and Gavin meet?” Amy brought her back to the present.
“Oh well we met in my self defense class. He came in to help an instructor and it was love at first sight,” Felicity hoped her smile was as wistful as it had been when she practiced it.
“Oh my how charming,” Mary giggled and held her hand over her chest.
“He didn’t think so when I hip threw him,” Felicity chuckled.
“Gavin does like control so I can only imagine,” Jane smiled a little too familiar for Felicity to ignore.
“You speak from experience?” Felicity gave Jane her undivided attention.
“Oh you didn’t know,” Amy leaned in after a glance to the men, “Jane and Gavin were a thing years ago. Jane just fell in love with someone else. Gavin was upset about the break up but moved on. I think her name was Claire but then she left town for a job in Paris.”
“The way Gavin speaks of you I doubt he will remember the numerous others,” Mary laughed, “he kept this wonderful secret for over a year. It is so fabulous to finally meet you. I can see why he kept you hidden. You are intriguing, charming and a fantastic host. I would keep you for myself as well.”
“I think that is enough wine for you,” Amy took the glass from Mary and handed her water.
“How long were you and Gavin together?” Felicity moved to Jane’s side.
“Maybe six months.”
“How was he back then?”
“Oh uh,” Jane eyes quickly went to Gavin’s figure that had his back turned to them, “I don’t think that I want to talk about that. Maybe we can have lunch together and we can talk about it another time.”
“How are you going to manage that with Felicity’s agoraphobia?” Mary asked.
“My what?” Felicity shot a look at Amy.
“That is why we had not had a chance to meet you isn’t it? Gavin said that you have agoraphobia,” Amy narrowed her eyes.
“I,” Felicity stood and moved back to the chair against the wall, “I prefer not to call it that. It is more of a social anxiety and panic disorder. It isn’t all of outside that terrifies me. It is part of dealing with my PTSD. Agoraphobia is just a generalized label that people that are unaffected like to use,” Felicity held her head high as she improvised from the given script.
“We should change the subject,” Jane suggested as she gulped down the rest of her wine, “I don’t think we know each other well enough to get personal.”
“Thank you Jane,” <plain Jane brunette. I can remember that.> “you are always welcome to come over for lunch. I will check with Gavin on what is acceptable,” Felicity gave a polite smile.
“That sounds like a great idea,” Jane mirrored the smile.
The conversation returned to the mundane lives of the other three women as Felicity plastered a smile on her face and nodded. Gavin called an end to the night and the guests hugged and kissed before they took their leave. Gavin escorted Felicity back up to her room.
“Undress. I will draw you a bath,” Gavin rolled his sleeves up as he headed to the bathroom.
“As you wish,” Felicity replied as she removed her jewelry.
Felicity stepped into the tub once she was undressed. Gavin washed her as she remained silent and obedient. Gavin handed her a towel and left the bathroom. Felicity dried off quickly and met Gavin in the bedroom. She stood before him nude with her hair loose around her shoulders. Felicity kept her eyes down cast as Gavin circled her.
“You are wonderful. Tonight you were marvelous. I could not have asked for better,” Gavin touched her with his finger tips, “I am very pleased. I will see in the morning for breakfast. Sleep tight,” Gavin kissed her lightly and left.
Felicity stayed in the spot. Gavin had been known to return without notice and expect her to be where he had left her. Felicity remained unmoving for two hours. With weak legs and sore shoulders Felicity dressed and got in bed. Her mind drifted to Jane then immediately to the security system. Felicity swallowed hard fear thick in her throat. She closed her eyes and prayed to a god she had not believed in for years.