Bunny felt relieved when Belva, Tula, and Inez left. If looks could kill, she knew she would have been dead and bleeding on the Persian rug in Cordelia's dining room. Cordelia thanked her again for helping. "Now I know I am just a source of inheritance instead of a beloved relative." Luther and Mercer laughed.
Cordelia added,"Guess I no longer have to worry about dying a suspicious death."
"Great!" Bunny said, "Now I have a price on my head. "
Luther smiled,"Don't worry."
"Easy for you to say. I have yet to have a pleasant experience with any of them yet."
Cordelia just smiled, "I know dear. Every family has some pills, we just have 3."
Bunny gave Cordelia a hug. "I've got to go back to work or Wade may fire me."
"I seriously doubt that. And, if he does, you tell him to call me."
They all said their goodbyes and Bunny left.
As soon as the door closed behind Bunny, Cordelia looked at Luther and Mercer, "How Anna Belle managed to rear a child like that, I'll never know? Thank goodness, she is not like her mother . . . or her grandmother for that matter."
Luther shook his head. "I think the key word there is 'rear' - I don't think she did. Anna Belle was so consumed with her life and disappointed that Bunny wasn't up to her standards, that she wrote her off early."
"I only wish Harrison had lived. I honestly think she would have make him so happy," said Cordelia.
Pearl walked into the dining room with a tray of ice tea glasses and served a glass to Luther and Mercer. As she exchanged Cordelia's glass for a fresh one, she laughed. "Oh I agree, 'Mr.' Harrison loved her even with her Spam and Twinkies." Everyone laughed.
At the Gentleman's Club, Anna Belle was relieved that the talk of John Barker's death had died down. For the first time in weeks, she felt like the possibility of a scandal was in the past. It still amazed her that Wade and Henry were able to handle that without anyone in the club suspecting a thing.
Business was going well, in fact so well, she was having to manage memberships which was a sticky wicket. Politically, she felt she could not offend anyone, but there was only so much room in the house to run the business in a comfortable way. The thought of a 2nd house had crossed her mind. She also had to consider the thin line she was walking between the husbands and wives. So far, Anna Belle had managed to stay above any issues. The last thing she needed was to push too many wives too far.
That same morning, the doorbell rang at Anna Belle's. When she opened the door, she found a nice looking middle aged woman. "May I help you?" asked Anna Belle.
"Yes mam. I am looking for a job. A month or so ago, just after we first moved to Gallagher I spoke with you and you were so kind. I understand that you operate a club. It dawned on me this morning that you probably have some services I can offer you."
Anna Belle was not sure about the woman but curious enough to invite her in. They sat down in the drawing room. Given the time of day, no one was there, so she felt comfortable bringing someone she did not know inside the house. The woman just looked around the room. "This one of the most lovely rooms I have ever seen. It is so fancy."
Anna Belle thanked her. "Do you have experience working in a house?"
"I do, although it was several years ago." She smiled,"But, these are skills one never loses."
Anna Belle had never considered an older women, but maybe some of her members would feel more comfortable with someone more 'experienced'. She was attractive and spoke well. Her hands were clean and her makeup well done, but not too much so. Anna Belle looked over her. She was probably a size 12 and fairly buxom, always an asset.
"Do you need a place to stay?" Anna Belle asked, knowing most of her girls did not have a home and one thing that they appreciated was a safe place to live.
"No, I have a house here. Well, actually we rent a house."
" 'We'?," asked Anna Belle.
"Yes, my husband and I."
"And he has no issue with this?"
"Well," she looked down at hands,"I haven't exactly told him I wanted to go back to work. But he didn't have problem when I worked before."
Anna Belle had to think about this. "Is your husband a member of the club?"
"No, I don't think so. He is really involved in community activities and I am usually with him. He has never mentioned it."
Thinking she had nothing to lose, Anna Belle stood up. "Would you like to see the house?"
Anna Belle explained the games and comradery the members enjoyed in the drawing room. She moved into the bar room and explained about her bartender and how each member had his own tab and the bill was settled in house, where they paid monthly. Nothing was mailed to a home or office. Discretion was of the utmost importance.
They moved into the large dining room with its huge dining room table, side board, buffet, and other lovely pieces. Anna Belle waved her arm toward the buffet. We serve a full light supper buffet every night, in case any of the members have missed a meal or just want a snack. The menu varies nightly.
Anna Belle moved back into the hall and led her up the grand stair case. "My girls are out shopping this morning, so I know they would not mind me showing you their rooms." They walked from room to room, Anna Belle telling the name of the girl in each room.
"So this is where they live?"
Anna Belle was taken aback,"And work. Of course we are very respectful of the members' privacy and use the utmost discretion."
"So they work in their room?"
Anna Belle did not answer the question. She led her down the rear stair case to the morning room where the large kitchen table was. "We all eat here. Meals are provided. It is important to me that all my girls eat good nutritious meals. Naturally, they never eat with the members, that would be unprofessional."
"Oh, of course. In the last house I worked in, we never ate upstairs either. We knew our place."
Anna Belle looked at her. "Oh, it is not a matter of them 'knowing their place', I just feel it is better to separate business and everyday life. One doesn't want to blur that line."
They walked into the kitchen. Anna Belle explained that when she bought the house, she had to redo most of it. But the kitchen had to be completely gutted. There were 2 full time cooks so meals could be served any time 24 hours a day.
"Oh, and also, I have a doctor who takes care of everyone's medical needs and maintains total discretion. I require my girls to see him at least once a month. I pay for that."
"Wow, so you offer medical coverage as well as meals."
Suddenly Anna Belle realized there was an issue here, "Everyone who works with me has a special 'skill'. For example Amber handles younger members with very little experience, Molly and Elizabeth do anything members wish. Miranda is into bondage. What is your area?"
The lady smiled, "Oh, domicile upkeep, laundry, and some cooking - although that is not my strong suit. I am also a seamstress."
Anna Belle smiled,"You know. I have been so rude, please excuse my poor manners, I never asked your name."
"Oh, Winfred, Winfred Walker."
"Well, Winfred, I must say I did not recognize you."
Winfred blushed,"Well. I have made some changes."
"Right now I do not have any openings, but if you will leave me a number where I can reach, I will call you when something comes available. No doubt you would be an asset to any business."
"Oh, thank you."
"One thing that I do ask. Because this is a private club, the members are promised total protection of their privacy. I would appreciate it, if you would not share what you have learned this morning. I know you probably find that odd, but it is a business principal of mine. Hopefully, I will be able to call you soon." Anna Belle paused. "I also may know some other people who could use your services. Would you have issue with my inquiring for you?"
"Oh, no mam. I would appreciate any help I can get. And it was so nice for you to spend time with me. You have a beautiful house and you can count of my not saying anything."
Anna Belle walked Winfred to the door. They said their goodbyes. Winfred left and Anna Belle closed the door.