Chapter 1: The Deal
“What, come to make trouble again?”
The Lioness gave the Manager one of the arch looks she was known for.
“You have got to be one of the most failed investments I have ever made.”
“I take a lot off your chest.”
“You do, but that would make sense if you were an employee, not property. If the scars on your back haven’t reminded you yet.”
She gave him another look.
“I have a proposition to make.”
“You will finally sleep with people for money.”
“Rent me out as an escort.”
“A high-value escort.”
“I don’t sell my body.”
The Manager studied the Lioness’s face. Like all the other girls, she had been bought with the intent of training her as a high-value escort. Like the geisha and European courtesans, they were trained to entertain with their minds and skills beyond the bed. Besides the major languages, they also studied culture, arts, politics, and conversation. He was in charge of programs, and as one of the most learned girls they had bought, the Lioness had become effectively second in command. She made sure the girls kept to the programs, fought for each one to have personalized specializations, and drilled and tutored excellence into them. That way he could focus on finding their clients.
This is when they had hit a snag: the protective Lioness. As a martial artist in her previous life (and in her current life, thanks to the Manager giving in and getting the girls world-class trainers in dance, parkour, and martial arts), she knew what it took to give someone a black eye. It didn’t matter how much they paid. The girls studied the art of knot-tying and pain-play, and understood it, but the Lioness refused to have them return to a client they did not want to.
At first, it didn’t matter. The girls and women were a cut above the rest. Their skills and the long waiting list kept their prices high, and regular clients became normal. Some girls even had exclusive clients, and devoted time and energy to studying them in particular. The Lioness only had two demands: no one got sold off, and no one was bought. She had favor with the Manager (too much, everyone but the girls thought), and money was not scarce, so her insubordination was tolerated until the day one of the girls was sold off.
The Manager had warned Management what would happen, so they had not informed him ahead of time. To make sure he wouldn’t warn her, they sent him to a client meeting on that day. As a result, the Manager arrived when they were already lashing the Lioness in a fury. She had actually made it out of the girls’ quarters and into the Management offices to demand they buy the girl back. Management had managed to acquire some injuries in the wake of her fury, so they were angry.
The Manager held back the lash from the Lioness and threatened to turn it on the girls instead, so she restrained herself and glared instead. They confined her in the clinic and the Manager let the business run as usual. The girls were not stopped from seeing the Lioness, and she would not rest until the Manager investigated where the sold-off girl had gone. Once they found out, the Lioness asked no more, but he knew without asking where he would find her if ever she got free. He fervently hoped she’d be bringing cash and not a katana to that household.
“You will sell strategy.”
“Do you doubt me?”
No, he didn’t. He had trained her and the girls, sat hour after hour to help them become wise ears and voices to their clients. After a while, he could come back only for the trickiest problems; the Lioness would listen to what the clients liked and disliked, and predict policies by their values. It was brilliant and simplistic, and it kept her busy and out of his hair. “Will you sleep with them?”
“No. I will have more credibility if I don’t.”
The Manager’s lips twitched. “I need to launch you properly.”
“No more sales. No more.”
“You are not in a position to make deals,” the Manager reminded her, as if they were not in the middle of a negotiation.
The Lioness looked him in the eyes, then forced herself to lower them. “I know.”
“Why do you put yourself to so much trouble?”
“I die inside, or I wager my body and my life, and die fighting. One is more profitable to you than the other.”
The Manager laughed at the ending. “Deal.”
“Charge a lot!” She told him.
“I’ll launch you like never before,” he promised.