It was a sad affair, really, if she stopped to think about it, feeling the need to bring in someone else as protection. She really shouldn’t need it, not with her abilities. However, the need to maintain her public image while William was gone necessitated the presentation of someone more…intimidating than she herself appeared. The world saw her as a petite young woman, and that didn’t mesh with brute force to fend off any threats that may come her way. This was the idea she had to accept for the sake of the family business, and so she’d grudgingly made the decision to purchase a servant.
Slave, really, but the word soured in her mouth. Not on any moral grounds, mind you–she had no objection to being waited on hand and food–but on the basis that it sounded too anachronistic for her tastes. It evoked outdated chains and whippings. Shaking her head, Claire stepped up to the front desk of the center to register before being allowed to view those up for purchase. “Claire Wandesford,” she told the clerk, who did a double take upon hearing her name, scribbling it down in his haste to offer Claire a head bob of deference.
“Ms. Wandesford, we had no idea you’d be here today. If there’s been an oversight…”
She cut him off with a wave of her hand. “I made no call, at ease. The visit is impromptu. If you’d be so kind as to let me in?” Flicking her eyes over to the main gate that separated the office, of sorts, from the market proper.
“Certainly’ ma'am.” The guard all but scrambled over himself to open the heavy door, half bowing to her as she passed. Claire afforded him a tiny smile as she left him behind, letting her mouth fall as soon as he was out of sight. Readjusting her grip on the big silver and white bag she’d brought with her, she lazily slung her jacket over the opposite shoulder and let out a quick sigh. This was precisely the thing she needed a personal guard for. Having chosen a knee-length pale pink, multi-layered dress reminiscent of an opening rosebud, Claire felt….vulnerable. Not because she couldn’t fend for herself, but because she wouldn’t be allowed to. It would hardly be socially appropriate. Her outfit would hardly have mattered, so she’d decided pretty was best, at least. She wrinkled her nose and proceeded to the first row of cells, senses overly alert to her surroundings.
After a few minutes’ immersion, she decided there were three types of servants here: those who wanted noting to do with this and tried to remain as inconspicuous as possible; those who were overeager and trying to catch the attention of someone, anyone; and those who were out to impress. They were showing off their various skills by flexing, singing, lascivious intimations of what new owners could expect. None of them particularly thrilled her, and she pressed pink lips together thoughtfully. Each new aisle seemed filled with the same old disappointments, and she made to leave, disheartened, until she heard someone call out. Uncertain if the shout was directed at her, Claire’s scrutinizing blue eyes sought out the source.
A tall, dark skinned specimen who was indeed waving directly at her. Surprised at such boldness, one brow arched sardonically and she approached his confines, bringing her purse up over her shoulder so she could rest her hand in the crook of her opposite elbow. “Is that what you believe I’m after?” she challenged, but there was a playful glimmer in her eyes. She tilted her head, loose curls falling over her bare shoulders.
Within inches of the bars, she took a moment to look him over, certainly appreciating his bare chest no matter her banter. “Though goodness knows I could use a talented hand in the kitchen…” It was more a mental note said aloud, but it was true nonetheless. If he had any skills whatsoever regarding physical violence, on top of cooking, Claire might just have what she was after. A little bit of bulking up and he would look the part.
“How are you in combat?”