She tries to put the phone down calmly, as though she hasn't heard the best news she could possibly hope for. It's not the best job- nowhere near it in fact, but the pay is a phenomenal amount and what could she lose?
Her parent's death was hard on her. She didn't just lose her parents in the plane crash, but all her friends too. She shut down on them all and wouldn't talk to them, and they eventually gave up trying.
She also lost her job and has been living off social welfare for the past four months. She saw the advertisement in the paper and decided to give it a shot.
Looking around her bedroom, she pulls the sheets off the crumpled bed and gets some clean ones from the press. She isn't too good at cleaning, but she's going to have to try if she's going to keep her new job.
Like she said, it's nowhere near the best job: she's going to be a housemaid. She generally hates cleaning, but it's the recession and she can't be fussy.
She's starting later today, so she decides to practice cleaning her apartment. She does try to clean, but like most other twenty-two year olds, she doesn't find it at all entertaining and eventually gives up when she gets bored.
Lifting the matrass up in the corner closest to her, she spreads the sheet across the bed and tucks it in under the corners of the matrass. The result is a slightly lumpy, but clean, looking bed. The duvet will do for now, she decides as she throws it over the bed and pats it down.
She used to be a PA to Roger Daniels, the owner of a large publishing company. She loved her job and made good friends there but, after the death of her parent's, she quit, not thinking about the future as she wallowed in her own self-pity. As she cleans the dishes that have been taunting her all week, she can't help but think how big of a step down her new job is going to be.
After the hours drag by, it finally is five o' clock and she sighs in relief, dropping the filthy rag into the sink as she wipes the sweat from her forehead. She then remembers that her new job is cleaning and she wants to dive back into her freshly made bed and burrow under the covers.
The clean plates wink at her as she opens the fridge door, almost as though they know a secret and are teasing her with it.
Crescent Road isn't too far from her apartment, so she is going to wait until 5:20 before leaving. It's a twenty minute walk and he wants to meet at 5:45. Five minutes means she's reliable, but not too eager.
Drinking the glass of milk she poured, she can't help but think how different the apartment looks when it's clean.
Walls now free of pancake mix from a terrible attempt at making them, the tiles glint and reflect the light from the dust-free chandelier. Pots, pans and plates put away, table clear of all papers and writing materials, the kitchen looks like it did when she first bought the place when she was eighteen: clean.
She's typically not a neat person and has had some arguments over how the place is to be kept with previous roommates. 'If everything was put in its place, nothing would be lost, would it?' That was her dad's favourite thing to say when she asked him if he saw a missing item.
The walls are free of pictures and photos, a lone painting hanging here and there. It has been five months since she lost them, her parents, but the pain is still fresh and she can't think of them too much without crying. 'It won't get any easier; we just learn to live with it.'
At 5:16 she gets her shoes on, not wanting to sit around the apartment and think about them. She knows that will result in her not leaving the apartment and losing her job before she even gets to start it.
There's no doubt she lost weight after the bad news. She used to be slightly overweight but she didn't care about it too much. Not the tallest person around, she stands at 5'3 but likes her small size. High heels are usually a no-go for her, but since she's wearing a skirt, runners won't work with that and she wants to look professional.
Skirts are special occasion attire for her but she wants to seem sophisticated, despite the fact she is going to be cleaning a house.
Blond hair in a loose ponytail and coat over her arm, she leaves the apartment for the first time in six weeks.
Crescent Road is where the wealthy people live. Rich, snobby, snooty, posh, call them whatever, but she'll go with wealthy.
Though she knew this, the size of the house is beyond anything she has ever seen before in her life. She wouldn't be surprised if there were soldiers at the iron gates surrounding the house, like they have at Buckingham Palace in England.
What must be at least three storeys tall, the house covers three, maybe more, times the amount of land as the houses around it. Wrought iron gates locked and walls surrounding the rest of the house, she nervously presses the button on the gate and waits.
The voice startles her as she was expecting a robotic, monotonous one, not the sound of a deep male voice that sounds like he has come back from a hard session at the gym: rough and slightly breathless.
'Hi, um, this is-,'
Before she can state her name and reason of presence, the gates open noiselessly as the voice instructs her to enter the grounds.
The completely level ground under her feet doesn't help her keep from stumbling as she frantically wonders the same thing since she first saw the house: why is she here? Grass that looks manicured and greener than freshly planted grass takes up the majority of the grounds. Orchards of trees of every kind stand upon the ground in clumps, bushes and potted plants at the walls.
A huge, oak door that could be seen from the gates, a knocker of a lion's head in its centre awaits her as she makes her way up the immaculate steps and onto the decking outside the house.
Smoothing her skirt and hair, she taps the knocker lightly, surprised at the loud sound it produces from such a soft tap. 'Good evening, Mr Jamison,' she practices saying but cringes; she shouldn't sound as though she's about to cry at any minute, and the crack in her voice does just that. She tries again.
'Good evening, Mr Jamison,' but that's too cheery and makes her sound like a seventeen year old talking to her crush. 'Good evening, Mr-,'
'Yes, I heard the first two times,' a deep voice answers, sounding amused. 'Need I return the sentiment the same amount?'
'No, sir,' she quickly says, blushing crimson as she looks up.
She has never had a boyfriend before but, in all fairness, she has never wanted one. She prefers to be friends as it's much less complicated.
Tanned, but not so much as to look orange, his muscles bulging out of his shirt, the man before her looks every bit the elusive Mr Jamison she has heard of many times. A slight smile plays on his lips as he looks down at her, his 6'4 build towering over her to the point of intimidation if she'd let it.
'Would you like to come in?' he asks, gesturing into the house with a swift jerk of his head. Dark brown hair moves at the motion, tumbling around his face and making it even more of a mess than before. He looks as though he has just gotten out of bed.
He looks to be in his late twenties but, as handsome as he is, he doesn't produce any feelings of attraction from her.
Stepping over the boundary between the outside world and the house, she steadies her pace as she follows him through the grand hall. He stops walking as they come to a door. Her heels clack on the wooden floor, sounding throughout the hall as there is no other noise.
'After you, Ms Lynn,' he says, holding a door open for her to enter through.
With a mumbled thank you in his direction, she walks into the room. A table that could seat ten is the only object that is not on a wall. White cloth that looks to be linen covers the table, the chairs pushed in underneath it as a small candle flickers in the centre.
'You can stand, but there are seats,' he says, his voice close to her, much closer to her than it was a few seconds ago.
She pulls out a chair and takes a seat on the left hand side of the table. The seat of the chair is cushioned, but the comfortable effect is ruined by the straight backs that force proper posture of its occupant.
Hands wrung together in her lap, she bites her lip as she tries not to show how nervous she is. She is going for a job as a maid, not a meeting with the President.
'Would you like a drink?'
She has been waiting for Mr Jamison to sit down and had expected him to take a seat at the top of the table, but the voice comes from her right. She looks over to see him sitting beside her in the centre of the table, looking at her with an expectant look. She shakes her head.
'Very well.' With a click of his fingers, something she has never been able to master, the sound of footsteps is heard before a door is opened and shut, leaving them alone in the room as a man she didn't even notice leaves.
She takes a deep breath, trying to calm down, but the touch of his hand just about makes her jump out of her skin. His hand is on her arm and her chair jerks back as she jumps, but there is no noise made from it, not a squeal like there usually is.
He acts as though she hasn't started and continues to talk, not taking his hand off her arm. She wants to jerk it from his grasp, but she can't do that without giving away the fact he makes her uncomfortable.
'You said on the phone that you have no experience as a maid, correct?'
She nods in answer, not trusting herself to speak. Why is she so uncomfortable?
'And you are twenty-two?' Again, she nods.
After several more questions confirming the information she relayed to him on the phone, he pauses for a moment, looking thoughtful as he stares into the distance. 'Are you married?'
Her eyes widen at the question and it must be noticeable as he quickly assures her, 'I don't mean to invade on your private life, I am just curious.'
Biting the inside of her cheek, she shakes her head. He nods, rubbing his stubbly chin with his forefinger as he stares at her. With a final short nod, he breaks from his trance. 'I should inform you that no one has been able to keep this job for very long. In fact, some people can't even withstand the first day and leave straight after. It is frustrating having to keep hiring when people drop out on me and I need to make sure you need this job and will stay for at least a month.'
Why do people drop out? Is it that he gives a lot of work? Is it that the pay isn't enough, though she can't see that with the amount he offered her for the job. Maybe they were attracted to him and thought they didn't have a chance if he was their boss. That could be possible and is more likely than all the other thoughts in her head.
Does she need this job? Yes she does, more than she'd like to admit. She hates having to live off social welfare and staying in the house all the time: her parents wouldn't be proud of her seeing the way she is living now, would they? No, they wouldn't.
'I promise I will stay, no matter what.'
Humming a tune to a song she has yet to find the name of, she straightens the duvet on the bed. It's her fifth time making a bed in the past three hours and she's getting better each time. She'll be a pro at bed changing in no time, she thinks to herself, smiling slightly at her terrible attempt at humour.
She has cleaned the two guest rooms and the bathrooms that come with the rooms, part of the kitchen, but not all of it, and the living room. She is now in Mr Jamison's room and is slightly nervous she is going to do something wrong.
The walls are plain and beige and covered in expensive paintings, works of art and busts are on tables and walls around the room. There's a door to a bathroom that she hasn't cleaned yet to her right. The clothes in the wardrobe and the bed now made, she picks up a pair of shoes that are on the floor by the bed.
The sound of a wrapper crinkling is heard when she steps on a mat and, frowning, she lifts the corner up and blushes when she sees the small, square packet on the floor. Hoping the red will leave her face, she lifts it up and finds it open, making her blush even more.
'No need to blush,' a voice says from behind her, causing her to jump up and hide the packet behind her back. It's Mr Jamison's room and most likely his empty packet, so why is she hiding it?
He saunters into the room, shutting the door behind him and, why, she doesn't know, locking it. Her hand falls to her side as she wills her cheeks to stop burning up, but the demand is ignored.
'It's a natural thing that can't be stopped sometimes.' He looks at her like he's asking for her view on it. Not knowing how to answer the non-question, she nods, continuing to look at the ground as she fists her hands, regretting the action as the wrapper makes a crinkling sound.
'You agree with me?' he asks but doesn't seem to be asking a question as he opens a drawer by the bathroom wall. Does he purposely phrase statements as questions, and questions as statements?
A moment later, he apparently finds what he is looking for and shuts the drawer, setting the item on the top of a table as he walks across the room and shuts the blinds, making the room dark even though the light is on.
He stops in front of her, a smile on his lips as he runs his eyes up and down her body. She shudders from the look in his eyes, dropping the wrapper onto the ground behind her as her mind panics. His eyes follow the wrapper to the ground before running back up her body to her eyes.
'There will be no use for the empty ones,' he says, taking a step towards her, his eyes darkening as she takes a step away from him, moving closer to the bed as it's the only way she can move. 'But the unopened ones will come in handy.'
Without warning, he grabs her hips, pulling her roughly to him as he slams his lips against her, their teeth clashing from the force. His fingers dig into her hips as she tries to get away from him, kicking and scratching at him as he forces her mouth open and invades her with his tongue.
Her heart is pounding furiously and her brain is refusing to work as it's paralysed with fear, shutting down as she kick at his shins to get him to release her. Her attempts are unsuccessful as he shoves her back onto the bed, her head hitting the duvet she had just laid out moments ago.
'We can do this the easy way,' he growls menacingly, reaching an arm towards the table and retrieving something, 'Or the hard way. You can choose; both of them work for me.'
He has her pinned to the bed, helpless as her arms are above her head, pinned at the wrists as one of his hands hold them to the bed. Her legs as crossed at her ankles, unable to move as his hips hold hers in place. His chest against hers, he pulls back slightly and pushes something against her temple hard and she knows she is going to have a bruise in the morning.
She swallows hard, feeling tears threatening to come but refuses to give into them. She may be powerless physically, but there is no way he is going to see her cry, let him have power over her emotionally. She wiggles her legs, trying to free them of his grip, but he has them pinned too tight, almost cutting off the blood circulation.
'I'm going to need a final answer,' he urges, trailing the metal object down her cheek and neck, his mouth following the path as she tries to pull her shoulders up to stop him. It doesn't work as he holds her wrists together tighter and she feels a tingling sensation in them, like the warning that pins and needles are about to strike.
Her skin crawls as he sucks on the spot below her earlobe, nipping at it before smoothing his tongue over it to soothe it. There is no pleasure from the touch, only more pain and disgust as she cannot get free.
She bucks her hips, trying to get his mid drift off her but he sighs, shaking his head in disapproval. The bruising pain is removed from her temple as he pulls the gun back, circling the tip with his thumb lovingly, almost like a caress.
'You don't have to make this hard,' he says, his other hand releasing her wrists as it trails down her body, stopping just below her ribcage. 'We can both benefit out of this.'
Her wrists free, she lashes out at him, going for his face as she tries to bend her knees. The attack takes him by surprise, but only for a minute and he soon has her restrained again. His jaw is clenched, a small bruise forming on his cheek and a scratch on top of his eyebrow as he glares down at her in rage.
She should have expected it, but she didn't; gun in his hand, he swings his arm forward, connecting the butt of the gun to her temple, hard enough to make her see fuzzy dots in her vision. More pain than she has ever felt in her life causes her to cry out, her hands trying to reach for the source but they can't.
'You fucking little bitch,' he hisses at her, his eyes darker than before. 'For that, we're going to do this my way.'
She doesn't know how, but a few seconds after those words, her wrists are tied together with a binding of some sort. It's sort, velvet maybe, but it's much too tight for there to be a pleasurable feel to it.
Her hands restrained, he lets go of her wrists and trails his calloused hands down her body, groaning when he reaches the waistband of her skirt. She thrashes around on the bed, not knowing what else to do to delay his wandering hands.
Groaning and muttering something under his breath, he slides his hands under her shirt and traces lines on her stomach. Tears fall as the hands slide higher and there is nothing she can do to stop them.
'I should inform you that no one has been able to keep this job for very long. In fact, some people can't even withstand the first day,' he had said to her after the interview. It's hard to believe that they were talking only a few hours ago.
She thought that it was because they were attracted to him, or maybe the workload was too much. And she agreed to stay, no matter what.
The tears come faster as his hands move lower, but she's still helpless against him. As his mouth descends on hers once again, she can't help but think of the quote someone told her after her parents had died. 'It won't get any easier; we just learn to live with it.'
Is this the same? Will the pain she is feeling now get any better or will she just have to live with the feeling of worthlessness forever?
Coming out of her thoughts, she catches sight of the gun in his hand, but he's too busy focusing on her skirt that the grip is loose. Her hands tied at the wrists, she pulls them from over her head and reaches for it, hoping he won't move it from her grasp. He doesn't realise what she is doing until it's too late.
Holding back a sob, she pulls the trigger.