Their CourtesanBy: Cynthia Dane
“Mr. Hutcherson just pulled up.”
Judith, perched at her vanity with a tube of mascara in hand, glanced at her boss’s reflection in the mirror. “I’ll be right down.” She lowered the mascara. Why did she bother dressing up so much? Mitch never cared about her makeup. The man was blind in one eye and oblivious with the other.
“The Cigar Room and the Entertainment Den are both booked for parties tonight.”
“Uh huh.” Did Judith’s boss think she didn’t pay attention to what went on around there? Judith wasn’t second-in-command at Le Château, the country’s most prestigious pleasure house, for nothing. If she doesn’t know what’s going on, then I probably do. That morning Judith went over tonight’s bookings with the closest thing to a steward the house had. “I’ll babysit him in the salon before bringing him up here.”
Monica, the owner of Le Château, leveled her eyes at one of her main employees. Keep looking at me like that and your face might freeze that way. Judith respected her boss, especially when it came to that petite – and currently heavily pregnant – woman’s sense for business, but she did not appreciate being looked at as if she were a petulant daughter. Monica could save that bullshit for her own daughter, should she have one. “Make sure he goes home happy, Judith.” Great. Now she was passive-aggressively lecturing her. “He’s brought us more business this past year than any other patron.”
“Why do you think he’s my patron?”
Monica took her leave of Judith’s room, stopping a maid in the hall to delegate instructions regarding the reviled Cigar Lounge. Glad I don’t have to be in there tonight. Whenever Judith worked a gathering in there, she came out with five years shaved off her life. The secondhand smoke alone was enough to make her glad she never suffered from bad allergies or asthma. Not like another girl who worked there. Poor Chelsea spent half her nights avoiding the room and hoping nobody was in there puffing on a Cuban until they died – maybe or maybe not before her.
Judith, on the other hand, could work any room without much argument. She had been at the Château since its founding a little over a year ago. Granted, so had most of the other girls – minus Holly, who was new and still a bit green – but Judith was the first hired and the first promoted. To say I know what I’m doing is an understatement. She looked herself over one more time, running her fingers through her thin blond hair and making sure not too many blemishes stood out on her face. It was a hard life for a professional. My pussy is ready to game. Judith stood up and scuttled out of her room, continually pulling down her tight black skirt because she didn’t appreciate a draft blowing up her ass.
Mr. Hutcherson stepped through the main entrance when Judith reached the bottom of the grand staircase. He looked up, a grin of derelict hope crossing his lined face.
He wasn’t an ugly man, but he also wasn’t the type of man Judith yearned for. He was nice, generous with gifts, not too bad to look at, and treated her with enough respect to keep her from complaining too much. He didn’t even want a ton of sex, and half his visits comprised of sharing drinks and ranting about business and personal ventures before falling asleep snoring in her bed. When they did have sex, which was an expectation of her profession, he didn’t futz around. In, done, out. This was after she was done entertaining him, of course. That could run so many gamuts, depending on how they felt. (More like how Mitch Hutcherson felt.)
“Evening, Mr. Hutcherson,” Judith said softly, batting her eyelashes as she took his coat. The man, who sported salt and pepper hair and a plain black suit, wrapped his arm around her before letting her lead the way to the nearest salon, where she poured them both drinks and commenced listening to him rant about business associates while he rubbed her knee.
There were many words for what she did. Officially, Judith and the four other girls under main employment were referred to as “entertainers” or “hostesses.” Colloquially, however, clients and the public called them pricey escorts, prostitutes, and her personal favorite, whores.