Vivianne wore tracksuit pants and a white halter as she sat among the boxes and bolts of fabric that had taken over her once-immaculate dining room. The eight-seat, solid mahogany table was strewn with materials and paperwork for the corsets on order. Her head screeched from the onset of a migraine. The corsetry business that had started as a sideline had taken over her life and home. Between her schedule and Rhiannon's shift work, she had not even had time to flog her lately. Vivianne headed to her humble kitchen and grabbed a couple of headache tablets. She had planned to rest and nurse her headache, but the phone rang. While she was debating whether or not she should answer it, the machine picked up.
"Viv, sweetie, we're baaaack!" Kate's cheerful voice crackled through the speaker.
Vivianne raced to pick up the phone. "Kate, darling, how are you? When did you get back? Where are you now?" Vivianne had been missing this beautiful lady who had come into her life eighteen months ago.
"Sir and I got back about five days ago; he has been holed up with business until now. We were wondering what you were up to; we thought we might pop over for a visit."
A quick glance over the kitchen/dining room area, and Vivianne decided it was best to meet out of the house.
"How about we meet somewhere else; I can come to you?" No sooner were the words out of her mouth when the doorbell rang. "Shit! Can you hang on a sec? Someone's at the door."
"Sure, sweetie." Kate could hardly keep the smile out of her voice.
As Vivianne opened the door, she saw Kate hanging up her mobile phone. Kate was tall, tanned, and wore her gorgeous collar. She shone as Victor's wench. Victor stood beside her.
"Girl, what are you doing to me?" Vivianne said, still with house phone to her ear. Vivianne looked at it and tossed it onto the hall table.
Victor stepped forward as Kate embraced Vivianne warmly. As soon as Kate had released her, Victor kissed her on both cheeks and wrapped her in his arms. Vivianne sighed heavily.
"What is this all about, my dear?" Victor took her chin in his finger and gently raised it. He was a sophisticated man who was extremely intuitive, and always elegantly dressed. Vivianne looked up to him, in more ways than just stature; at the moment, she felt very fragile. They, of course, were unaware of the chaos of the inner sanctum. Vivianne led them through to the dining room and waved a hand.
"This." She fell into sobs as Kate put her arm around her.
Victor patted her hand and said, "Well, obviously business is doing well, but can I say, I think some organization is in order!"
Through her tears, Vivianne smiled. "I know, Victor. The corset orders have just gone crazy since your ceremony a month ago. Asher created that web site for me, and since then, I have been inundated; so much so, I can't fill them all myself." She sniffed and continued, "I also haven't had time to find anyone to help me. I am swamped! With the correspondence and the shipping, the sewing and the patterns..." She broke down again.
"Come, come, don't fret. Let's go find a seat in the lounge. Kate, put the kettle on and make us all a cup of something."
"Yes, Sir." Kate hurried through to the kitchen
Victor took Vivianne through to the lounge. No surface in that room was spared, either. He cleared space on the couch and sat with her. His arm engulfed her small frame. She rested there until the tears finally subsided.
"Now, my dear, what is this really about? The business is only part of it?"
"Yes, Victor, I seem to be getting those headaches again; you know, like the ones I've had in the past?" She held her hand up to the side of her head.
"What has brought the headaches back?" He asked, concerned. Since he started as her mentor, she had opened up to him and divulged some of her troubled past.
"I don't know. Everything is going so well: the business, my beautiful Rhiannon, and well, I guess I'm just waiting for the crash. Like the last time everything was going well."
"Dear Vivianne, you are in a very different place now; you are no longer the frightened girl I met. Eighteen months has passed since Geneviere left and I started mentoring you as Vivianne. Why do you think that this is all going to go poorly?"
"I don't know, Victor. It's just how it has always been in my life."
"Well then, I think maybe it's time to change that. What do you say to the possibility of reclaiming your home and moving the business elsewhere?"
Vivianne stopped hiding her head in his shoulder, looked up at him with utter confusion.
"What I mean is that I would like to get you set up in a shop. Asher has been keeping me informed about the website and the orders, and I know that the time has come for you to take your place in the world of business. With your talents and my backing, how could it not work? That is what I have been doing the past five days; not even Kate knew the details. I recognize a good investment when I see one." Victor could not keep the smile from his face.
"But where... when...?"
Kate chose that moment to return with the three steaming cups of coffee and some food on a tray.
"Here are some things I threw together from what you had in the kitchen, Vivianne. I'm assuming you haven't eaten today. Am I right?"
"As usual, you know me so well. You both know me so well." She looked up at Victor with a mixture of love and respect, and he gave her a gentle squeeze. Vivianne took one of the cups from the tray. Kate handed one to Victor and then sat.
"We'll have our coffee and then go look at the place I have leased for you, shall we? I have also managed to find a young girl with exceptional organizational skills in my office. I will continue to pay her salary, and you will have her for as long as you need to get your business organized."
"Oh, Victor, you're too kind, but I can't take one of your staff; I shall find my own."
"It is not an option, Vivianne. She has already started working on the database. Asher and Belle are at the shop now."
Kate looked up quizzically at them both. "What did I miss?"
"Well, wench, you know how I have been busy with business? I was setting up a shop for Vivianne. It is almost ready, but we must finalize some things today, and that requires her input."
"Oh, you are sneaky, Sir. I thought we were just coming for a visit!"