❤️ Hello readers!
Here’s the third behind the scenes look at Slave to War, the bits that were deleted to move the novel long. This was the raw, unedited beginning of the third chapter, but was cut for time.
(Spoiler warning for those who haven’t read Slave to War yet! Read at your own risk!)
I take it back. I did not trust Michael.
Staring at the upscale boutique in front of me I wanted to smack him. He knew very well I abhorred such frivolous clothes like those displayed in the window but still he steered me in through the double doors. Inside I didn’t see a single article of clothing. Shiny white walls greeted us and an equally stark desk with a woman behind it.
The haughty-looking lady strolled towards us, taking in our attire. She obviously thought we had the wrong store. “May I help you?”
“Yes. I need a full wardrobe for my dear friend. I believe my father General Xorratti has an account here,” Michael said smoothly.
Her attitude changed immediately when she heard that name. “Ah. Is Vinkent not with you today?”
She regarded me openly and I gulped. Judging by her attire she was an expert in top fashion. She might have even been a model. “Come. You must be cold. Frigid night out there, isn’t it?”
Her demeanor had changed so drastically in the time we arrived I was expecting her head to start spinning. Wave a black credit card and she worshipped the ground you walked on. She opened a door to an open hallway. Many doors lined it and we were escorted into the last one. When we got in it my jaw dropped.
Here was a huge, generously decorated room. In the middle was a walkway where models must come down displaying the clothes. In front was a couple of enormous leather arm chairs. This wasn’t an expensive boutique. This was a fashion house. Why the hell had Michael brought me here?
I backed up unconsciously until I bumped into Michael’s chest. He prodded me forward and the strict-looking woman shut the door behind us.
“Is this your first visit here?” she asked curiously.
“Naw. Dad dragged – er – brought me here a few times when I was small. Sierrenna may have, though. I’m not sure.”
She did a double take and her eyes widened comically. She obviously knew that name. “Really? Didn’t she wear one of Balille’s concept gowns to your birthday party? The violet silk evening dress with the matching illusion pumps?”
Now I knew where I was. Ballile was one of the top, most exclusive designers in the city. No, scratch that; the world. And worse off, he was one of Antigo’s personal favorites whom he had helped rise to the top. Up until I had been unceremoniously kidnapped and forced into servitude, I always received his newest creations as a token of his respect. He knew to scratch my back and I would scratch his, as did all of Antigo’s associates. I hated the clothes just because of what they stood for.
“Oh, I guess so. I must say it looked nice. Pass on my compliments to Ballile.”
“I’ll do just that,” she replied. “Be back shortly.”
As she disappeared, I sank into one of the pompous armchairs. It was so cushy I sank into it and had to push myself back up. It probably had so much give because of all the fat, lecherous men that sat in it with their mistresses on their laps.
Michael sat beside me. I sent him a scathing look, wondering why he had brought me here. It was only a matter of time until someone came after us. “Don’t look at me like that. You need clothes. If the price tag is the problem, it’s my father’s money. So spend as much as of it as you can. But I had another reason for coming here.”
He picked up the phone in the center on the small table. “Yes, you can help me. Would you please patch me through to the Wrap Inger base? I’ll talk to the operator thank you.”
I watched him sullenly as he waited. Now I knew what he was going to do. He had put us in a central location with a cover purpose of hijacking their untapped phone system. Even if he didn’t get the desired party on the line, they would trace the call here and come asking questions. They would discover who had placed the call and come to find us.
“Yes, would you please patch me through to Squadron 472? I have an urgent matter for General McRattin. They’re in the city today? Where?” His eyes darted back and forth as he heard whatever information he was given. “For how long? I need to speak with them immediately. Fine. Tell them that the Rain has been hidden behind the clouds. They’ll know who was calling. Thank you.”
He turned to me brightly with a hint of sadness in his eyes. “Let’s get you clothes and then get out of here. They’re here nearby in the city. They were dragged to some diplomat’s side to protect her at a baseball game. It’s an old grandmotherly type woman who I’ve met. She likes to request her ‘favorites’ and bring along arm candy to reminisce the days she was good looking enough to catch their eye. Not sure how McRattin was the chosen one this time. She usually likes dark and handsome as opposed to blonde and stup-”
He changed course as I looked wryly at him. I understood the word stupid though he had cut himself short. “Stupendous. That’s the word I was searching for. Haha, right. But this will be easy enough to finagle. There’s a private box at the stadium reserved for military generals. I’ll bet that’s exactly where they are. Now where did that woman go? We-”
The back door the sharp woman had exited in now opened to reveal none other than Ballile himself strutting through the door. He still wore his signature spiky black hair the same way and the usual monocle hung off his head with a chain. I had always thought he looked ludicrous with it but the general public predictably ate it up.
He spotted me, threw his arms open wide and squealed in his signature high pitched voice in welcome. “Sierrenna, it has been too long! You must introduce me to your friend. Enchanted to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Michael said uneasily as the smaller, skinnier fellow leaned in and kissed his cheek. I hadn’t mentioned to him Ballile’s signature flamboyance also came with an insatiable appetite for younger men, women, and both at the same time on a regular basis.
“I had hoped I would hear from you after I had that last dress custom designed for you. McRattin came in here and said who he was shopping for and I knew I had my vessel to carry my exquisite creation! You wore it marvelously!”
I nodded, trying to be friendly. He didn’t seem to notice that I was not responding back verbally. Either that or he wasn’t bothered. I had never been the most verbose person as it was.
“Yes, I must agree,” Michael said. “But now she needs a new wardrobe. We’re in a bit of a hurry, so if you could have one packed up, that would be great.”
Ballille tapped his foot contemplatively. “Yes, I have all of her measurements on file and to my happiness she fits all of the samples of my new collection. And with her new prestigious station with McRattin, I absolutely insist she bring all of them with her.”
He wanted me to wear them publicly. That would indeed bring him good business. But I was never going to have anywhere to wear those. I needed loungewear and travel clothes, not high fashion.
“That sounds wonderful,” Michael said. “But she’s been keeping her public presence pretty low, so maybe some more understated, basic pieces would do better? We wouldn’t want to waste your masterpieces on eyes that won’t appreciate your work.”
“Hmmm. Too right. Are you well, Sierrenna? You don’t usually like being spoken for.”
“She has a throat injury,” Michael said quickly. “I’m the mouthpiece for now.”
Ballille nodded speculatively. “Indeed. Well, I’ll have some more modest pieces packed up for you. In the meantime, I will not have you go out of here in that dreadful attire. I know that’s his jacket, but that crop top and skirt? How tacky! I’ll have a screen brought out so you can change in privacy. Call me when you stage your next public event. And you,” he said gesturing at Michael’s informal white t-shirt and ripped black jeans with work boots. “Keep the jacket you gave her on. It makes the rugged look work for you. Otherwise you look like a common slob. Ciao!”
He glided out of the room with the grace of one of his models, twirling his pencil as he went. Michael looked at me with raised eyebrows. “So I’m a common slob?”
I shook my head as the model-like lady reappeared with a bag and a box. A screen was carried in behind her by two frightened looking assistants and put up. They retreated from me as fast as they could and the woman handed me the items. “He is having the rest packed up. He’ll have it sent wherever you wish.”
I nodded my head in thanks and headed behind the scrim as Michael told her the address. I opened the bag and was relieved to see black jeans, a black knit turtleneck, and a leather jacket to match. In a smaller box was a tiny pair of underwear and bra, along with thigh high black leather boots. Inside was an even tinier box was a long, simple necklace that ended in a black metal cross.
I donned the impeccably fitting outfit and shoes before walking out to meet Michael. He gave me the once over. “Shall we?”
I nodded and slipped behind him into the long stark white hallway. It was strangely befitting. In all the whiteness, I moved along all in black. Poetic somehow. I was one black spec walking across the pure tones. What an accurate depiction of my life.
…” (Copyright 2017 ©️ Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel)
Hope you enjoyed the scene! If you haven’t picked up your copy of SLAVE TO WAR yet, make sure to grab your copy here! It’s free on Kindle Unlimited!