Disclaimer: Most of the characters in this story are those from the Fifty Shades Trilogy. They remain the rightful property of E L James. Recognisable brands, places, music or films remain the property of their owners. No copyright infringement is intended.

Hello Everyone,

So I'm making the leap and jumping into the world of AU fanfiction. I don't really know what to say at this point, just that I hope you like this first chapter. :)

For those of you following my other story, The Good Will Come, I am still working on that. I haven't abandoned it. I just wanted to try something a bit different. I'm hoping to update both TGWC and this story simultaneously. However, as some of you might know my schedule is a little hectic, so I hope you don't mind delays!

Again, I hope you enjoy this chapter. I'm working more!

Much Love,

Chelsea x


Invitation only cocktail bar, the latest in the Esclava chain. Vacancies available. Experience essential.

I looked over the advertisement for the hundredth time. The edges of the page are torn from my constant fidgeting, and the ink has smudged in a few places, the remnants of it pressed into my thumbs. It's safe to say I'm nervous. Terrified, even.

I came across the advert yesterday morning, after scouring the jobs section of the previous nights' newspaper. Every morning I check the papers for any new vacancies, trying to find something I haven't already applied for. I'm desperate for work and way past the point of being fussy. I've applied for cleaning jobs, babysitting, admin… but it's been pointless. The most I've received back is a kindly worded rejection letter. When I saw this advert I jumped straight onto my computer and emailed my résumé to the name on the bottom of the page. So what if I'm an English major with a 4.0 GPA. We all have to start somewhere, right?

I graduated from Washington State University eight months ago and I haven't had a single interview. It's a tough economy for graduates. It's not about what you know these days, it's about who you know. No place wants to employ someone who spent their college days working in a hardware store. They want someone whose daddy can help increase annual turnover. Like my best friend and roommate, Kate. Her father brokered a deal with the Seattle Times in order to get her an internship there. My father is dead and my step-father is ex-marine, not a businessman. When I finished college, I joined Kate in Seattle. She had a spare room and I thought I'd be able to find a job easily. I was so very wrong. Since I moved here, I've been living off Kate's wages and generosity.

My bus rolled to a halt and I looked frantically out of the window, realising this is my stop. I scrambled to my feet and rushed to the front, quickly jumping off, my feet hitting the pavement hard. I thought I heard the driver laughing at me before he drove off. I scowled after him. I really hate getting the bus but I didn't have enough money to fill up my car. My bank balance is closing in on zero and gas is a luxury I can't afford right now.

I walked slowly along the sidewalk, trying to smooth down my plain white blouse and maroon coloured skirt. I caught sight of myself in a store front window, pausing to double check that nothing is tucked into something it shouldn't be. I look okay, I think to myself. My hair is pulled back into a simple ponytail and I only applied a small amount of mascara to my lashes. I'm not confident with makeup. I've never been artistically inclined, as my mother so frequently says.

The short walk from the bus stop to the night club is pleasant enough, but my stomach is rolling so fast I feel like I could throw up any second. I can feel that cold, nauseous sweat spreading over me. I'm not familiar with this part of the city. It's the expensive side of Seattle, where all the rich kids hang out. I had to check the address and route online when I got the call last night to say I had an interview. Before reaching the tall, black, mirror fronted building, I counted at least seven other night clubs. None of them look like the type of places I've been to before. Admittedly, Kate had to drag me to them but still, this doesn't look like the sort of place where people are throwing up in the streets at three in the morning.

The front of the club is overwhelming, the mirrored exterior enough to disturb my nerves even further. You can't see inside at all, only the street reflected back at you. It's like there's something to hide in there… Above the door is the word Maîtrise written in deep red, the letters curled and calligraphic. I wonder what it stands for. It looks French. I did two years of Spanish in high school and failed it miserably.


"Huh?" I snapped my head down from the sign, hearing my name being called out by a gruff voice. I found a tall, broad shouldered man standing in front of the now open door.

"Steele?" He repeated, a little more firmly this time. He frowned at me, folding his muscular arms across his chest, the sleeves of his t-shirt tightening and digging into his flesh. His hair is jet black and his eyes almost the same in colour. "Are you here for the interview?" He slowed his words down, talking to me as if I'm deaf.

"Yes, yes I am." I nodded, taking a step forward. I rocked on my heels a little. I'm wearing a pair of Kate's high-heeled pumps. I didn't have any shoes suitable for an interview. I'm a Converse kind of girl. The shoes fit me fine but they're starting to rub the skin around my heels and toes.

I pushed out my hand to him and he shook his head disapprovingly.

"I'm just here to show you in. This way." He nodded backwards, inside the club. I gulped hard, feeling my throat growing dry. He stepped back and held the door open for me. "Well, come on. I haven't got all pissing day. I've got stuff to do."

"Right, sorry." I said rapidly. I rushed forward and teetered into the building. It took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the darkness of the interior.

Everything is black, dark wood, accented with blood red furnishings. The floor is dark parquet and shiny. The walls look like velvet, like they're not even real. It's much larger inside than I imagined, with a gothic staircase at the back leading to the floor above. The mirror theme is dominant in here too, at least one ornate fixture hanging from each wall. My face is everywhere, pale and looking timidly back at me.

The bar fills the centre of the room, like a giant circle with the middle full of bottles of all different colours and sizes. It's an intimidating sight. I can feel my heart racing in my chest.

"That way," he makes me jump, coming to stand just in front of me. He pointed to door on the right. I looked around and noticed that there are several doors spaced out around the room. "Just go straight in. Don't bother knocking. She's waiting for you."

"She?" I repeated. "So you're… you're not interviewing me?"

"Does it look like I've got time to do that? I've got to get this place ready to open." He fired grumpily at me. I clenched my jaw. "Just hurry up. You don't want to piss her off before you've even met."

He waved once more towards the door and then disappeared around the bar. I noticed piles of boxes on the bar top. He didn't look up at me again. He began tearing open the boxes, ripping apart the packaging, breaking the eerie silence with harsh, whipping sounds.

I shook off my wayward thoughts and approached the heavy, decorated door. It's carved with strange markings of things I don't recognise or understand. I didn't knock. I just pushed it open and inhaled a sudden, sharp breath.

Behind a long, mahogany table sits a slender, middle aged blonde. Her platinum coloured hair has been pristinely sleeked back into a bun, freeing her face from any obstructions. Her expression is blank, the only movement being the pursing for her thin, crimson lips. I stared at her for a second, until she glanced up at me.

"Miss Steele, I assume?" Her voice addressed me coolly, with frustration locked away in it. I nodded. "Well? Come in. Don't just linger in the doorway." She huffed and tilted her chin down to her desk, where a laptop is open in front of her.

The office is large – probably too large for just one person. The walls are a similar shade of red as outside, but adorned with several pieces of artwork. Not a mirror in sight. The painting directly behind the desk is the largest and depicts a woman leaning backwards over a table, her face squirming and twisted. She looks in pain…

"Sit." She snapped at me, looking to the lone chair opposite from her. "Now."

I stumbled forward and collapsed into it, immediately dropping my satchel bag to the floor. I made a quick apology but it was frivolous. She ignored me for a long while, tapping away on her keyboard and humming small sounds to herself.

"Erm… d-do you have a copy of my résumé?" I asked her finally, when the silence became too much for me to bear.

"Yes." She answered abruptly. She stole her eyes from her computer and looked to me. She arched her sharp brow. "Not very impressive, is it?"

"Excuse me?"

"Three and a half years employment at a hardware store?" She read off a lone piece of paper on the desk. I recognised it as my résumé. "You sold wallpaper and power tools? Did you even bother to read my advertisement, Miss Steele?" She almost growled, leaning forward against the desk. I found myself subconsciously leaning back into my chair, to get as far away from her as possible.

"I –"

"I need someone who can serve drinks and waitress, not a happy-go-lucky schoolgirl who can ring up a register for the maximum purchase of fifty dollars."

My cheeks started to burn.

"Why the hell are you wasting my time?" She lifted her chin higher, cocking her head to the side. "I explicitly asked for someone with experience. I assumed any idiot would realise that meant experience in bar work."

"I knew that's what you meant." I uttered meekly. "I just…"

"You just what?" She teased.

"I just really need this job, Mrs…" I paused. Shit, what was her name? I crunch the advertisement still in my hand, now soggy from my sweaty palms. I looked down at it, trying to make out any names.

"Lincoln. Ms Lincoln." She told me. "It's a very bad sign when you can't remember the name of your potential employer, Miss Steele." She huffed.

"I'm sorry," I shook my head. "But I really need this job, Ms Lincoln…I know I don't have experience but I'm a quick learner. And I'm good with people. My previous employer will vouch for that... I will work any hours you have, for any rate of pay. Really, I don't care. I just really need the money."

I was begging her. I've never begged anyone for anything. I've never been that sort of person. But right now I am. I never thought I would be prepared to get on hands and knees, pleading for something, but I've reached that low. I'll kiss her feet if it'll get me this job.

"I need this job." I continued.

She paused and looked over me, her eyes meandering up and down my front, from my shirt to my hair. She made a clicking noise with her tongue and then looked back to her computer.

"You can show yourself out."

"What?" I gulped. "Is that it?"

"What more is there to say?" She shook her head, oblivious. "You have no experience. You're no use to me."

"But –"

"But nothing, Miss Steele. You've wasted both our times coming here."

"Then why did you invite me for an interview?" I half shouted at her.

"I thought I would humour you." She smirked, her eyes staring wickedly into mine. "I could have wavered the experience but, putting this frankly, you simply do not fit the profile I am expecting of my employees."

Profile? What's that supposed to mean? I glanced down at my shirt. It's crinkled in places. I didn't have time to iron it properly. I was running late this morning.

"So you can leave now." She told me again. The coldness of her tone made me feel two foot tall. I felt my stomach sink down into my core, grief spreading through my body. I couldn't move. I felt numb.

"I need this job." My voice broke in the middle. "Please?"

Her eyes remained on her computer. She didn't shake or nod her head. She just sat there, transfixed by her screen and the rhythmic tapping of her keyboard. She looked up only as the door behind me opened. She smiled to whoever was standing there.

I took that as my cue to leave.

"Goodbye, Miss Steele." She dismissed me.

I rose unevenly from the seat and picked up my bag from the floor, flinging it over my shoulder. I turned quickly towards the door, practically racing over to it. I kept my head down. I didn't want her to have the satisfaction of seeing me cry.

"Sorry –" I blurted as I bumped shoulders with the man standing in the doorway. I looked up from the floor for a moment, but my vision was blurred so much that all I could make out was a black suit. He grunted a noise but I was long gone before he had the chance to shout at me.

I ran out of the building as fast as my feet could take me. The fresh air struck my prickled skin. The tears came crawling down my face as soon as I was ten feet away from the door. I hunched forward, feeling a pain in the pit of my stomach. I feel like I've just been punched.

God, I'm useless… I can't even get a shitty bar job. Four years in college, a shit ton of debt, and what do I have to show for it? Absolutely nothing.

I stand still for what feels like an eternity, moving only when I stopped crying and managed to pull myself together. I straightened my back and pushed my hand into my pocket, reaching for some cash. I counted the small amount of coins and sighed… it's not even enough to get the bus home.

"Great…" I sniffed, wiping the back of my hand across my face. "Looks like I'm walking."

I kicked off Kate's shoes and threw them into my bag. It took almost thirty minutes to get here by bus. God knows how long it'll take to walk back.

"So how did the interview go, Annie?"

My step-father's voice tickled my ear. He sounded so happy. He was overjoyed when I told him about the interview. I didn't have the heart to tell him it was only for a bar job, so I let him believe it was for one of the publishing jobs I applied for a few weeks back. I don't want to tell him how badly the interview went. He'll be crushed.

"It was okay," I lied, gnawing at my fingernails. I dug the phone into my ear and prayed that he wouldn't be able to find the deceit in my voice. Ray Steele is like a sniffer dog – he can spot bullshit from a mile off. "But I don't think I'll hear from them for a couple weeks. Look how long it took them to ask me for an interview." I forced a laugh. I sounded false, and I knew Ray had picked up on it.

"Oh." He paused. "Annie?" his voice softened, becoming whisper like.

"Yeah?" I mimicked his tone.

"You are okay for money, aren't you?" he said with concern oozing from him. "I mean, I can transfer some cash into your account if you need a little extra this month. Just enough to tide you over, yeah?"

I sunk into the couch, wishing for it swallow me whole.

Since I came home from the interview, I've hauled myself up on the couch with my comforter and the remainder of the icecream from the freezer. I showered as soon as I came in, needing to scrub the tears and disappointment off me. It was dark when I finally got back, and my legs were burning from the walk. I took the long route home, too scared to walk through the side-streets and alleys. I freaked myself out, thinking that I was being followed. I convinced myself that a car was following me. Every turn I made, it appeared behind me, at a crawling pace. It only disappeared when I turned off into my street and rushed to the front door, opening it quickly. I stepped inside and looked out, watching the black car speed off. I didn't get a look at the driver or the licence plate.

Kate text me earlier, to see how I was. She reminded me that this isn't the end of the world, that she can sub me more money, but I don't want pitying. I don't want people throwing money at me. Call me Elizabeth Bennet but I want to earn whatever cash I can. The last thing I want is to be a charity case.

"Annie? You still there?" Ray's voice broke me from my thoughts. I could envision him sitting forward in his armchair, putting his hand on his knee, his heavy brows furrowing in the middle. "Annie?"

"Yeah, still here." I said quietly. I closed my eyes. "Dad –"

"Things are real bad, aren't they?" he cut to the chase. I've kept the dire state of my finances a secret from him, making out that I had a lot left over from my last paycheck from Claytons Hardware Store. "It's bad, isn't it?"

"Dad…" I nodded against the phone, feeling a new swell of tears creeping into my eyes. I know what he's going to say. He's going to tell me to move back in with him – move back to Portland. "Dad, I… I…"

A loud beeping pulsed into my ear. I pulled the phone away from me and saw an incoming call waiting. Caller unknown.

"Hang on a second, I've got another call coming through. Probably something for Kate." I pressed hold on Ray and picked up the unknown caller, sniffing back my emerging tears. "Kate Kavanagh's phone."

"Err… I'm calling for Anastasia Steele." A male voice greeted me, gruff and familiar.

"This is she."

"It's Cal. From Maîtrise. You came for an interview today." He told me. I nodded. It's the guy from earlier. His voice is the same side of angry as before.

"Oh, right, I wasn't expecting a call back." I mumbled. "Ms Lincoln didn't… well, she told me her decision earlier."

"Yeah, whatever, she told me to call you anyway." He shot back. "You start tomorrow night. Be here at eight thirty on the dot. No later or you're out, you got it?"

"Wait, what?" I pushed off the couch, sitting up far too quickly. "I… I got the job?"

"You're on trial for a month. If you fuck up, you're out the door, Steele." He warned me. "I don't have time for wasters. I'll be responsible for your training. Ms Lincoln's told me that if at any point I see you struggling, I'm to cut you loose."

"You must be mistaken." I shook my head and brought my hand to my mouth. "Ms Lincoln said no earlier. She said I was wasting her time."

"Maybe she had a change of heart…" he sniggered. "You want the job or what?"

"Yes! Yes, I do."

"Good. The uniform is all black. For girls it's a black button up blouse, short sleeves, with a knee length skirt and plain black pumps. Stockings are preferred but not essential. We supply the uniform. I'll send someone over to your house tomorrow morning. Ms Lincoln guessed your size. If it doesn't fit, call me ASAP and I'll get something else to you." He reeled off. I nodded along silently to him. "Hair must be clean and tied back at all times. Makeup needs to be discreet and minimal. You got all that?"

"Yeah, I think so."

"Eight thirty." He reminded me. "Salary is to be determined. We'll pay you at the end of the night. We'll work something out for next week. That's if you last the night."

"Thank you… Thank you so much." I rushed the words, my tongue struggling to get around them.

"Don't thank me. You wanna thank the boss." He said quickly before cutting off the call. For some reason, I didn't think he meant Ms Lincoln.

I sat still for a second. I feel uneasy for some reason. Like there's something I'm missing. A catch or something…

I looked down at the phone and took Ray off hold.

"What was that all about?" he asked.

"I'm not sure…"