The Mistress of the House Ch. 01

Hannah hauled her suitcase from the boot of the taxi before it sped off, leaving her alone on the empty country lane. She was stood next to an old gatehouse, although all the windows were bricked up, the door sealed behind a metal sheet. At least the gate was open, although a heavy chain and padlock hanging from the dark metal showed it could be locked closed. Why had she agreed to this job, out in the middle of nowhere? The money, mostly - three months cleaning work, that paid what she would normally earn in two years! Probably some old dear, unable to keep on top of the dust in the few rooms she used. But the place was miles from anywhere, even the nearest train station a long and expensive taxi ride away. She checked her phone - no reception, of course.

She started trudging up the long drive, the manor house easy to spot, set on a hill ahead of her. When fully maintained, it must have been glorious, with rolling grounds and a huge garden, but now everything was very much run down and clearly delipidated. A statue peered at her from a cocoon of greenery, a toned six-pack stomach barely visible beneath moss and vines. Her arms were getting more and more tired, her case dragging at them more with every step. But if she was going to be here for a long stay, she needed to bring clothing, as well as... entertainment, something for the lonely evenings. She was only 23, she needed something to keep her entertained and turned on! A strapping young gardener or groundskeeper to keep her company would be nice but seemed unlikely.

She passed several outbuildings - some cottages, a boathouse, a pavilion - but all looked boarded up and unused, except for the stables, that looked open and in use. She would have to explore later, but she should find the owner first.

By the time she got to the front door, up a grand staircase of its own, her arms were burning from the strain of carrying her case, sweat making her clothing stick to her body. The door was fronted with a brass face that glared at her, long tongue forming the knocker. No doorbell, or any other sign of modernity. She took a moment to compose herself, tidying her long, brown hair into a ponytail, hoping she didn't look too tired and sweaty. Then she lifted the knocker and let it drop.

A loud "thud" sounded, the door vibrating under the impact. The sounded cascaded into the house, probably echoing amongst empty rooms. She could imagine ancient things arising from their rest, shuffling up and coming to answer the door. If it was an old lady, then hopefully she had her rooms near the door, or Hannah would have to go exploring and try and find where she lived.

There was the tattle of a chain, two hard "clunks" of bolts being moved open, and then the door creaked open.

It was opened by a woman, notably taller than Hannah, and likely so even without the heeled boots she was wearing. A taut red leather skirt fell to her knees, her breasts straining against a blood-red satin top, her hair a deep, glossy black against her pale white skin. Her eyes were rimmed with dark eyeshadow, jewelry shining on her ears and around her neck, even in the gloomy light of the hallway. She looked down at Hannah without speaking.

'Uh, good morning.' This wasn't what Hannah had expected. 'I'm Hannah. I'm here for the maid position?'

'Ah, little Hannah, of course. Please, come in, follow me.'

The woman started to walk away, the place dark enough she almost vanished into the shadows, as Hannah scrabbled to catch up. Inside was a grand reception hall, the walls covered with oak panels, so dark they were almost black, the rugs underfoot a deep, crimson red. Hannah's arms started to ache again almost immediately as she hauled her case with her. As they stepped away from the door, it swung shut with a loud "crash", the sound cascading through the manor.

'Are you, um, the lady of the house?' Hannah tried to peer through some of the doors they pass, but they were moving too fast, leaving only the vague impression of furniture under dustsheets, display cabinets in far too many rooms, all looking dusty and dirty.

'Of course I am, my dear, although I prefer the term "mistress". Just myself, and this big old house. I do have a gardener and a cook as well, although it may be some time before you meet them.'

She stepped through an open archway into a strangely modern living room, at least in contrast to what Hannah had seen so far. Black leather sofas with plenty of cushions, a coffee table covered with dust and food stains, a plasma TV just as dust-covered. She sat down, gesturing at Hannah to sit as well.

'I see you are already taking in the task ahead of you, my dear.' She crossed her legs, scrutinizing Hannah with curiosity.

'So, uh, sorry, what's your name, Miss? The advert didn't say.'

Hannah looked around the place - for someone so neatly and stylishly dressed, she must live like a slob. The place was worse than a student flat!

'My name is Miss Coerator. A pleasure to meet you, Hannah.'

As Hannah sat down, she almost fell into the sofa, the cushions too soft to support her, the springs utterly shot. Miss Coerator perched on another part of it, where the structure must still be sound. 'How much of this place do you use? It's massive!'

'Well, not much really. I own most of the surrounding land and rent that out, but I only use a few chambers here. I seem to need a new maid to do each room. So, Hannah, do you have any prior experience in cleaning?'

'It, uh, sounds like you use up a lot of maids! Yes, some, I've worked at a few other places as a cleaner - at a few old people's homes, or universities in the holidays, that sort of thing.'

As the woman slid closer to her, Hannah shifted, hiding slightly behind her case.

'Yes, the poor things never seem to last long. But this is no retirement home. And you should be proud to be allowed to clean here; it is a grand old place, albeit in need of some work. But I will show you to your room, and your new uniform. I wouldn't want you to be spreading dirt all over my lovely home.' She laid a hand on Hannah's shoulder and smiled, before rising to her feet. Hannah stood as well, feeling short next to her.

'Uh, yes, Miss Coerator. Did you say "uniform"?' This scarcely looked the sort of place to have a uniform!

'Oh yes, there is a uniform. It is essential to your role, that you remember you are here to work, and not laze around as though you were a guest.' She started to walk away, Hannah having to trail along behind. This place got guests? Who would want to stay here? It was a struggle for Hannah to keep up, having to take care not to move her case over stray rubbish, or possibly out-of-place antiques.

They traveled up another grand wooden staircase, although the wood was grey from the dust atop it, a wine-red carpet bright atop the wooden tiles of the floor. Was she refurbishing the place?

'Come, Hannah, the day is wasting.'

Hannah was starting to realize why the other cleaners might have left, despite the generous pay. The place was a mess, it needed a whole team of cleaners, not just a single maid! The walls of this part were stone - maybe it was an older part of the building? Miss Coerator came to a doorway and pulled on a chain around her neck, a key emerging from her cleavage. It was a strange-looking thing, covered with spikes and spines, looking as though chains had been melted over it.

'Yes, Miss Coerator.' Hannah was trying not to pant, her arms feeling like they were about to fall off, as Miss Coerator unlocked the door and stepped inside, Hannah following behind.

Inside, rather than the dusty and dirty chamber Hannah expected, it was an extravagant room, the most luxurious she had ever seen. Was this Miss Coerator's room? There was a king-sized bed, fine sheets embossed with silver roses, the walls a soft white. A huge screen took up the wall opposite the bed, an open door showing a walk-in wardrobe filled with neatly-arranged clothing bags, all plain white or black plastic. Through a door was an en-suite bathroom, with a free-standing porcelain bath, metal taps gleaming. There was even a phone - a modern one, not an antique - on the bedside table and light jazz playing from speakers in the corners of the room.

'Welcome to your new home.'

'Is this... is this my room? It's gorgeous!' If this was the room for a cleaner, how much fancier would Miss Coerator's own room be?

'Yes, this is all yours. At least, until your employment terminates.'

Hannah moved to the wardrobe, looking with curiosity at the clothing bags - they were the sort of things used to preserve fine suits and dresses, not what she expected to see in the servant's quarters.

'Don't touch those. Now, although this is, in many respects, an old-fashioned house, I do maintain some touch with modernity. I will supply you with a tablet that can be used to track and monitor your tasks, as well as how much work you are doing. I expect to see great progress. Should you fail to do this, then your pay will be docked, or I may have to let you go. Do you understand? And the phone can only be used for internal calls - I don't want any wasted time, you understand?'

'Uh, yes, Miss Coerator. Are there any personal areas you want me to avoid?'

She strode over to the wardrobe. 'What size are you, my dear? And thank you for asking - there are two areas you would do well to stay away from. One is my personal chambers and the adjacent room - it is normally locked, so you shouldn't be able to get in anyway. The other is in the basement. It is unlocked, but if you go down there, I will be quite cross. Do please ignore any strange noises from down there - it is quite draughty, so it can often sound like a person moaning. Not ghosts, I assure you.' She gave a thin smile. 'Now, your size?'

'Uh, size 8, Miss Coerator. And I'll stay out of your bedroom and the basement.'

She flicked through the bagged-up outfits, plastic rustling. 'Hmmm... You'll have to squeeze into a size 7, I'm afraid. Now, drop your clothing, my dear, and we can get you into your new uniform.'

'Um, thanks, Miss Coerator, but I can dress myself.'

'I think I will dress you myself, Hannah. I am paying you, after all, and it is important that the uniform be worn correctly, in every particular. Now, it's 9:12, and I'm docking money for every minute you hesitate. Do as I ask, and you might just earn some money for today.'

Hannah winced, knowing it was too good to be to true. The woman was definitely odd but hopefully not too much of a pervert. She surrendered, trying to turn away as she undressed.

'Relax, Hannah. There isn't anything wrong with this. Didn't you use to change in front of the other girls at school?'

'That was a little different!' But she couldn't leave now, so Hannah pulled her jumper over her head, thankful her brown hair was in a ponytail rather than loose, then pulled her jeans off. The room wasn't warm enough to be standing around in when wearing only her underwear, and she looked away as there was the crinkle of plastic.

Miss Coerator moved up behind her, cloth brushing against her back, making Hannah shiver. 'I'm going to pull it over your head.' Hannah moved her arms appropriately, letting the outfit be pulled onto her, Miss Coerator twisting it into place. Hannah opened her eyes, looking at her new attire in the full-length she was stood opposite to.

It was a tight, black mini-dress, low-cut in front with a white frill along the bust. It was structured almost like a corset, compressing her hips, waist and stomach, and the skirt was frilled and very high, doing little to hide her butt and crotch. The thing was backless as well, exposing even more of her skin, some kind of cording tight against her back, allowing for further tightening of the corset.

'Uh, what is this, Miss Coerator? I was expecting something a little more... practical.' Although she was dressed now, the outfit was sufficiently skimpy that it did little to help with the heat, the fact that it was backless making her feel even more exposed.

'You just need to adjust, my dear. Now, let me help you with the corset.'

Hannah had never worn anything like this before, and wasn't used to the pressure it put on her body, or how exposed she was. She plucked at the skirt, trying to push it down, without much success - there simply wasn't enough fabric to push down and cover herself more! Miss Coerator wrapped something around her neck, buckling a frilled leather choker in place. Her nailed hands lightly brushed sensitive skin as they tightened the cords against Hannah's back, squeezing her body further.

'It's... very frilly, Miss Coerator.'

'You look very good, Hannah. The frills suit you. Although those shoes...' She looked down at Hannah's feet, currently shod in battered trainers. She ran a hand down Hannah's back, then stooped and untied the shoelaces, as Hannah obediently lifted her feet to allow them to be removed. From the bag were pulled a pair of high-heeled shoes, heels at least four inches, shiny and black, with straps to secure them around her ankles. They were strapped onto Hannah's feet, elevating her height, but throwing her off-balance - heels this high were something she had never worn before! And even with them on, she was still shorter than Miss Coerator and had to lean on her for support.

'Now for the cleaning equipment. Some of the chemicals used are quite harsh, and I wouldn't want your lovely hands damaged.' She spun Hannah around and gave her a push against her back, sending her staggering against the wall, having to put her arms out to support herself. As she flailed, Miss Coerator grabbed Hannah's left hand, strapping a black leather mitten in place, a heavy cuff locking around her wrist. It forced Hannah's fingers into a curved shape, like an action figure meant to hold something.

'I don't think I'll get much cleaning done like this, Miss Coerator.'

'Oh, it's very simple. They have a side where a scourer or polisher can be fitted, and the outside is made for wiping and cleaning. Or other equipment can be fitted. Now, do kindly stop complaining, and maybe we can start you with some actual work?'

Hannah shifted awkwardly, Miss Coerator's body warm against her back. Miss Coerator grabbed her other hand and forced it into another mitten, locking it in place. There was a metal d-ring on each wrist, like something else could be attached, and small clips where a padlock could go, to lock them fully into place. Then Miss Coerator took an electronic tablet, the size of a phone, and tapped it several times.

'Let us test your basic skills. This device will track your movement and how much work you do. This way.' She gave Hannah a push, sending her tottering on her heels, just about managing to stay standing. They walked down the hallway, Hannah moving by lurching forward and catching herself, Miss Coerator giving her a push every time she slowed.

'Is this really necessary, Miss Coerator?'

'Oh yes, Hannah. Now do stop complaining, or you job will become much, much harder. Open that door.'

It took Hannah several tries before she was able to get it open, her bound hands fumbling at the handle, unable to properly grab it. She pushed against it with her shoulder, almost falling through as the door opened, to reveal a room filled with dust-sheets and glass-fronted cabinets, the contents hidden behind grime. Miss Coerator gave her another shove, forcing her into the room.

'Now, I expect you to start from the top, and work down.' She gestured at a shelf, filled with bronze urns. 'Your gloves have cleaning pads built in, which can be used to buff the bronze in here. You may begin.'

Hannah staggered forward and rested against the surface for a moment, before pulling herself up onto the cabinet. The skirt was so short that Miss Coerator could see everything, but it was nice to take the weight off her ankles and calves. She started rubbing an urn with one hand, the pad doing a good job of lifting away dirt and grime, restoring the metal to some semblance of cleanliness.

She looked over her shoulder at Miss Coerator. 'Carry on. I have other work to tend to rather than watch you all day.' She rummaged in a drawer and pulled out a webcam, setting it on the table opposite. 'But it would be best for you to presume I am watching all the time. The items in here are valuable, and I would take it amiss if any of them were to be stolen or broken. I expect to see good progress, do you understand?'

'Uh, yes, Miss Coerator.'

'Good.' She turned and left, closing the door behind her. There was an unsettling metal "click", as she locked the door, sealing Hannah in.

This place was remote enough that it didn't make much difference - there was nowhere to escape to anyway, so Hannah set to work.

It was hard to measure time, the only light coming from a small window. Hannah had managed to clean half a dozen of the urns, but her hands were now covered in grime and dirt. She pawed at the buckles on each wrist, but the leather around her fingers was so stiff, so the things may as well be padlocked on! It was the same for the shoes - the buckles were far too small and fiddly to untie without her fingers free. By now, her arms were burning, a deep pain starting in her muscles. She tottered against the door. There was no handle on the inside, no way at all for her to escape. She glanced at the camera, the light blinking at her. Surely Miss Coerator had better things to do than watch her? But it would probably be best to look busy, just in case.

Despite the pain in her arms, she polished off another urn, before looking around the room more - everything was covered in dustsheets but looked like furniture; chests, cabinets and crates. The only thing poking out from between the sheets was a metal pole, about waist-high, topped with a strangely bulbous metal lump. It was mounted onto a metal base - although still grimy, it looked newer than most of the other things in the room.

Glad to take the strain off her knees, she started cleaning out, wiping her hands up and down the shaft, trying to ignore the feeling that it was like a giant cock getting a handjob, the enforced curve of her hands just about the right shape to buff and polish the metal, trying to ignore how exposed and bound she felt, hands locked into gloves, a camera watching her every move.

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