I sat on the bench, twitching nervously, listening to the voices on the other side of the door. One voice suddenly rose angrily and I heard a sound like a slap, before a young blonde woman stalked out of the door wearing sky high heels. The woman's hand was on her cheek and there were tears in her eyes. She glared down at me before striding away, muttering to herself, angrily. I stared after her, feeling a wave of anxiety wash over me.
Nervously, I fidgeted with the skirt of the purple satin dress that was two sizes too big and had been hastily fastened with a wide black belt at my waist. Beside me, my companion grabbed my hands in his and smiled at me, reassuringly.
"Leave the dress alone. You look fine."
"B... but this place is so..."
"Perfect for you," he replied, before I could continue. I ducked my head and felt the heat of a blush; not having the heart to tell him that he was wrong; this place was far too good for the likes of me. The Twilight Club was an exclusive club for very wealthy men. They came for gourmet food, vintage wines and liquors and entertainment which ranged from classically trained musicians to burlesque dancers. The club had a dual reputation; some classed it as the most elite establishment of its kind and others as nothing more than an upmarket Moulin Rouge. But the pay was good and all of the girls who worked there knew they would be well protected. This could be the perfect opportunity for me; the chance to finally be off the streets and independent after so long.
"Mr Black? You can come through now," said a petite brunette, appearing at the doorway. "Your protégée can wait here while you speak to Mr Hale." She gave me a cursory glance, seeing how my hands were trembling with nerves. He stood up, with a smile and waltzed through the door, confidently.
I sank down in the chair and watched as Jacob went through to the office and then hunched up again as the door closed. My fingers automatically went back to the folds of my dress, worrying at the fabric again. I heard the cold voice that had risen in anger just moments earlier and leaned a little closer to the door, straining to hear what they said.
"We do not take charity cases, Black," said the voice. I shivered, my mind flitting to the picture I must make; my dark hair drawn into a claw clip to try and hide the fact it hadn't been washed in a few days, my face pale, large eyes shadowed after days without sleep and then there was the matter of the dress. It was the only one I could find at short notice and it was too big. It hung from me like a bed-sheet or a tent and I was not convinced that my current appearance would be enough for them to see my potential. Jacob had done his best, but he knew nothing about what girls wore, even after having me live with him for the last three months. The first outfit he had suggested, a cropped top and short skirt I had flat refused to wear, my hand hovering uncertainly over my stomach when he showed it to me. He had rolled his eyes, mistaking my movement for modesty and then produced the second option; the dress I was wearing. He said a friend had given it to him and I hadn't the heart to turn it down. He so desperately wanted to do something good for me.
"Look, man, she's a classy girl. If you meet her you'll see what I mean. There's definitely something about her that will appeal to a certain type of clientele. Trust me."
"Fine, bring her in."
I felt a rush of nerves and got slowly to my feet, as Jacob appeared at the door. He winked at me, trying to get me to relax and I gave him a tremulous smile. When I entered the room, I saw a large mahogany desk with a leather swivel chair and sat in the chair was one of the most beautiful men I had ever laid eyes on. His blonde hair was wild about his head, his full lips pursed together in a pale face, but it was his eyes that grabbed my focus. They were golden brown and I could not take my own eyes from them. The man leaned across the table towards me.
"She needs to learn some manners," he said. "Emmett."
From behind him my attention was brought to a large man, wearing a tight black t-shirt that emphasised his muscular chest and bulging biceps. His hair was cropped short and his lips curved into a smile. He stepped forwards, but Jacob moved in front of me, protectively.
"Forgive her; she has not had much experience of your... kind before." He turned and gave me a warning glance. I immediately lowered my head, as Mr Hale held up a hand and Emmett stepped back. Jacob looked back at him and gave a wolfish grin. "Allow me to present Isabella Swann."
The petite brunette at the side of the desk gasped and her hand flew to her mouth, but she quickly covered her reaction when Mr Hale looked across at her. He got to his feet and came round the desk. His hands reached behind me and yanked the clip from my hair, so that it tumbled about my face in lank strands, making me flush. His eyes narrowed and then he grabbed the dress I was wearing and fisted it in his hand.
"It is hard to see her qualities in this state, Jacob," he commented. A shiver of apprehension ran through me, but he took a step back. "Alice, what do you think?"
The brunette stepped forwards and ran her hands over my body, pausing at my waist, which was hidden by the dress. She tilted my chin up and looked into my eyes and then she smiled.
"She will do well enough. Look at those eyes, Jasper! She looks so... innocent...We have a vacancy for a waitress..."
"She would make an exceptional waitress..." started Jacob, but Jasper cut him off with a glare.
"Have the contract drawn up immediately. She can start tomorrow night. Alice, find her a room. I would suggest Isabella Swann that you spend tonight resting. You will need to look your very best tomorrow. You stay here, Black and we will sort out the paperwork."
I looked across at Jacob, fearfully; I hadn't expected that I would have to live here. He crossed the room and enveloped me in his arms, kissing my brow, gently.
"You'll be fine, Bells. Whatever else this place might be, it is protection of the best kind. It will keep you off the streets and keep you safe. I wouldn't have brought you here if I thought you'd get hurt..."
"Enough," said Jasper, smoothly, from his seat. "We have a contract to write. Alice."
The brunette sashayed across the room and I followed her out, glancing over my shoulder to see Jacob sitting down with Jasper Hale to draw up the contract that would change my life.