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Page 27 of Alpha (Alpha 1)

The gown was…like nothing I’d ever seen. Not in real life, at least. I mean, I watched the Golden Globes and the Oscars and whatever enough to know that this was one expensive dress. It was…stunning. Incredible. It was the kind of thing Jennifer Lawrence or Olivia Wilde would wear. Not me.

I swallowed hard as Eliza held the dress up by the hanger. She nodded as she assessed the way it would look on me. “The dress,” Eliza said, eyeing me curiously. “It is a Dior.”

I choked. “I. What?”

“Mr.…my employer, he spares no expense.”

“He told me his name was Roth,” I said, realizing Eliza was under an injunction to not reveal anything about him.

“Ah. Mr. Roth. Yes. He thought I should inform you of this.”

“This is a Dior gown?” How much would such a thing cost? I had no way of knowing. A lot. A lot a lot. “How is that possible? I thought those had to be, like, custom-fit?”

“The logistics of how he managed it are beyond me. But he assured me it will fit you perfectly.” Eliza set the dress on the bed and went into the closet, rifled through the lingerie, handed me a black satin set. Strapless bra, barely there thong. I peeked a glance at the tag of the bra: Fredericks of Hollywood. My size, of course. “This will do, I think.”

She turned away as I dropped the towel and put on the underwear, and then the bra, which pushed my tits up so they assumed almost unlikely proportions. I mean, I was fairly well-endowed, but this bra did literal magic for my cle**age.

She rifled through another section of the closet, and then handed me a slinky, silky midnight-blue dressing gown. I slipped it on, tied it, and actually sighed out loud at the luxurious feel of the cool fabric against my skin. “Why don’t we get your hair and makeup done, and then we shall see the effect in total. Come, sit.” She ushered me to the vanity, held out the chair for me, and then threaded her fingers through my hair.

“You—you’re going to do my hair?”

Eliza nodded. “Yes. Of course.”

“So you’re his housekeeper, plus you do hair and makeup?”

She smiled at me, the first warm, genuine smile I’d seen from her. “‘Housekeeper’ isn’t really an accurate word for my duties, I think. I do whatever Mr. Roth needs. Harris sees to his personal safety and security, as well as acting as chauffeur. Robert assumes business matters, and I tend to his personal needs.”

“Is there anything you can’t do?”

She grinned again as she began brushing through my hair. “Close a business deal. Shoot a gun.” She gestured at the dress, lying on the bed. “And wear that dress.”

Thirty minutes later, she had my hair falling around my shoulders in loose spirals, swept away from my eyes and sprayed to stay for the evening. Shit, she was good. My hair looked amazing. And then, with the same efficient skill, she did my makeup. Light foundation, a bit of blush, smoky eyes, bright candy-apple-red lipstick.

She stepped back when she finished, nodding. “There. I think that’s good. You are very beautiful, Miss Kyrie.”

I smiled at her. “Thank you, Eliza. I mean, for doing my hair and makeup. It looks amazing. Better than I could have done on my own, that’s for sure.”

“It is no matter. It was my pleasure. Truly.” She hesitated, as if deliberating whether or not to say more. She licked her lips, glancing into my eyes and then away. “Mr. Roth, as you may have noticed, is extremely private. He lives alone, spends nearly all of his time here. I am, most of the time, the only person here. So, to have someone else in the house is pleasant. To have another woman? It is truly a pleasure.”

“You must get lonely, then, huh?”

She shrugged. “Sometimes.”

I sensed it in her, and I wondered if she was married, if she had kids, or if she lived here, lived to serve Roth. I didn’t think asking her outright would be polite, so I didn’t. Instead, I just leaned in to give her a tentative hug. “Well, I’m here. For how long, I don’t know. But while I’m here, we can be friends.”

“That would be…” She sighed, as if hunting for the right word. “Nice. It would be nice.” A glance at her watch, and her eyes widened. “We need to finish getting you ready. Harris will be ready to pick you up at six precisely. Neither Harris nor Mr. Roth appreciates tardiness.”

“Yeah, somehow that doesn’t surprise me.” I took a deep breath. “Let’s get me into this dress, then.”

Eliza held the gown for me as I gingerly stepped into it, adjusted the skirts and then fitted the bodice to my br**sts. Holy shit. This dress was tight. I mean, it fit, but it was molded to my curves like a second skin. Walking would be tricky, something told me. I very rarely wore dresses this tight. It was emerald green, sleeveless, the hem sweeping the floor around my feet with room to spare for a pair of heels. It looked a bit like the dress Jennifer Lawrence wore to the SAG awards, actually, just in a different material and color. There was a pair of heels to go with the gown, emerald green to match the dress. Shit. This outfit was probably worth more than I’d ever made in my entire life.

And then Eliza reached into a pocket of her apron and withdrew a wide black box. When she opened it, I had to steady myself with a hand on the wall. Lying on the black satin inside the box was an elaborate emerald necklace, a pendant with an emerald the size of my thumb, teardrop-shaped, suspended on a chain woven from twisted strands of platinum. As well, there was a pair of matching teardrop emerald earrings, also chased with twisted and braided platinum.

“Holy…holy shit, Eliza.” I bit my lip, just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. “I can’t wear that. It’s…I can’t even fathom how much that set costs. It’s on loan?”

Eliza lifted an eyebrow. “Loan? Certainly not. Mr. Roth has no need to…borrow…jewelry.” Her tone was amused, almost contemptuous. Not of me, but of the concept of borrowing. “He purchased this set for you, for this occasion.”

“I—I. Um. I don’t even know what to say.” I sucked in a breath, extended a finger to touch the pendant of the necklace. “I’ll feel self-conscious wearing all this. I don’t know if I can do this.”

“You are a very beautiful woman, Miss Kyrie. You have absolutely no need to feel self-conscious. And besides, you will be dining in private with Mr. Roth, as well as sitting in a private box for the opera. You will not be walking the red carpet, as they say.” She put a hand on my bare shoulder, her palm cool and dry and comforting. “You can do this.”

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