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Finding life in the dismal summer of 1987.

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I earned an audition for a company in San Francisco a month earlier when I was a solid B cup. Now, after losing three more pounds, I was still pushing a full C. My genetics were pulling me away from the only dream I knew existed. A woman with a flat chest and a thick blonde mustache asked me to give my audition spot to another physically better-suited girl.

I should give up my barre for a pole if I wanted to pursue a career in dancing. Perhaps a drama team might…

When I was thirteen.

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I know all the parents out there are saying, “Oh my, how unfortunate.” But it wasn’t. His advice came to me at just the right time and probably saved me years of heartbreak.

I told him I needed a devil, someone worse than my step-father. He looked at me and shook his head. “You don’t know the devil. He always kills what he loves. You need a sheep. Somebody your father can’t touch. Some boy not in the game at all. Like one of your white boys from school.”

Simple, easy, elegant even. But I didn’t…

Her reasons for marriage were vastly different from yours.

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In decades past, marriage was a financial necessity for women. Many of our foremothers married to ensure their security and safety in a world that was anti-female at best and physically hostile at worst. The political and economic landscape was significantly different fifty or sixty years ago.

The tribe didn’t allow for very many deviations in your personal lifestyle. You could be a wife and mother, or a plaything and a whore, or a pitied unmarried creature doomed to walk the earth alone — a clowder trailing behind you.

For men…

Onus Angelorum — Pax’s offer to Alerie.

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

To guide a servant is to know a measure of toil and worry.

Letting uncertainty die beneath the master’s shadow is a welcomed reprieve from life.

The invitation to obey another is a rare gift of freedom.

When sweet freedom ends, I take up the mantle of responsibility, guiding my servants forward with fresh eyes. When I demonstrate my trust and submit to the will of my master, I will be free again.

I offer you freedom and peace like you have never known or will ever find within another being again.


Chapter 11 — Henry and Alerie at the reception.

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Henry put his fork on his plate and pinched my arm lightly. “Are you done with your dinner?”

“I’ve decided I’m not going to eat the green tops on my carrots. I could, but I’m choosing not to. A clutch big enough for my phone, and a protein bar would have been a better choice.”

Henry laughed and pulled his napkin off his lap. “Let’s get a drink. Did I spill anything on my shirt?”

I hopped off my chair and took Henry’s arm. “Nope, but there’s a chunk of bread…

Chapter 10 — Henry and Alerie arrive in New York

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We took a small plane into LaGuardia and a car to Rockefeller Plaza. Endless hours waiting in my father’s Manhattan office as a child made the city feel flat to me. The Plaza felt alive now like this secret carnival world was hidden underneath the dull business façade I experienced before.

Henry’s mother was almost in tears when we arrived. The bride’s parents were unaccounted for.

“What’s going on?” I whispered. “This is your aunt’s wedding?”

“Two brides, Aunt Chick’s parents are stuck at the airport. Sounds like my father…

Chapter 9 — Alerie and Henry prepare to travel.

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Saturday morning, I slept in past nine wanting to be rested and fresh looking for the long day ahead. I managed to get in an hour at the gym. The endorphins from exercise cleared my head and calmed my mind. Plus, the water pressure at the gym is much better than in my apartment.

I left the building happy and clean with wet hair and an empty stomach. The air outside felt fresh and new. The strange situations from the week felt obsolete in the Saturday sunshine.

Henry sent a text…

Chapter 1 — Alerie and Leo start off the story together.

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Leo’s body is a stunning example of superior breeding, but his shower rendition of ‘Dust in the Wind’ is terrible.w

Pulling the crumpled sheets with me, I crawled back on the naked mattress and savored the rush of endorphins only time next to his skin produces.

Spicy perfume from my clove and honey body wash floated in the steamy bedroom air. I imagined Leo standing under the hot water, smelling my scrubs and conditioners, deciding what bottle to try next.

Over the last few years, Leo’s still teen-like body…

Chapter 8 — Alerie and Henry get ready to attend a wedding.

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“You’re punctual. Two-thirty on the nose.” Henry dressed casually in light jeans, a faded blue college t-shirt with only half a Colonel emblem left, and bare feet. Very different from how I usually see him.

“I was afraid I wouldn’t find a place to park.”

“Tomorrow night, a car service will pick us up. We can leave your car locked in the garage.”

“Sounds good.” Henry opened the door wide, revealing the beautiful honey-colored hardwood floors and motioned for me to walk inside past him.

The sparsely decorated…

Celie Wells

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