To start at the beginning, use this link: Link to Chapter 1
Monica was nearly asleep when the lights in her room flashed three times. Guessing that this was the signal for dinner, Monica got up and tried pressing her thumb to the door lock. She was pleased to see the door open, and she left her room and followed the other girls into the kitchen. There was no dining table and no chairs, but each woman picked up a plate from a stack near the stove and then served herself from the large pot on top. Then they found a spot at one of the counters or at the food preparation table in the center of the kitchen. Now Monica got to see all of the other women who were part of this harem she was in. None of them spoke, so the only sounds were the clinking of silverware or the serving spoon. Their dinner consisted of Spanish rice with bits of chicken in it, along with some slices of melon and orange in a bowl. They had water to drink. There didn’t seem to be a limit on the serving size, so Monica filled her plate.
In addition to the nurse in her white leotard and the mistress in her black one, there were two women in red, three in yellow, two in blue, and four in pink. All of them were attractive, and all had Hispanic features- though they ran the full range from light brown skin and reddish hair to very dark skin and black hair. Although they didn’t talk, the women looked at each other and smiled or nodded. Monica also noticed that they took the opportunity to touch each other frequently as well, letting their backs slide against each other as they moved through the kitchen, or giving each other a quick squeeze of the hand. Monica was included in this silent communication, and the women who stood to either side of her at the counter patted her hand or quickly wrapped an arm around her, welcoming her to the group though they weren’t allowed to say the words out loud. Monica examined the chart and saw that the women in pink were assigned to housecleaning, and the ones in blue were attendants, whatever that meant.
Dinner took maybe half an hour, and when each woman was done she put her plate and cup in the sink. Then they all stood around for a moment while Mistress Calahan stood by the job chart.
“It is a relatively quiet evening tonight. Jennifer and Tania will be serving Mr. Ruiz dinner. The rest of you will finish up your jobs and then go to your rooms. Monica has a special assignment, and I will need Maria to help her.”
Once the instructions were done, the women split up to their tasks. Those assigned to the kitchen started washing the dishes and cleaning up. The others left, walking slowly to their rooms.
“Monica and Maria, come with me.” Said Mistress Calahan.
She led them into the bathroom and had Monica sit at the make-up counter.
“Monica, I need you to do your best make-up job. Like you were going on a date. You will be meeting Mr. Ruiz tonight and you need to look your best. Maria, I need you to help with Monica’s hair. She had it in a French braid when she arrived and I think that is an attractive style for her.”
“Yes ma’am.” The two women said.
Monica did her best make-up job, though the brands and colors available to her were slightly different from what she was used to. Maria did a very nice French braid in her hair. The whole process reminded her of the feelings she had as she prepared for her date with Renaldo. Oh how she wished she had told him no! But how was she to know it was a trap? When they were done, Mistress Calahan sent them to their rooms. She told Monica she would escort her to Mr. Ruiz when he was done with his dinner.
After waiting in her room for about an hour, Mistress Calahan came to Monica’s door. Monica followed her down the hall and out another thumbprint controlled door into the main house proper. Once they passed through the door, the décor shifted. Utilitarian tile floors changed to marble, and white scuffed walls changed to rich browns and golds. Ornate fixtures lit the hallways, and expensive-looking artwork adorned the walls. They walked down a hallway, up some stairs, and then through an archway into a large room. One wall of the room was all glass that opened onto a balcony over a beach. Monica could see the ocean in the distance. There was a huge flat screen TV on another wall, and Monica could see a man’s head above the back of a couch facing the screen.
“Mr. Ruiz. I have brought Monica here as you requested.”
“Very good Christina. You may wait in the corner. Monica, come around here so I can see you.”
The man turned off the TV, and Monica walked around the couch in front of Mr. Ruiz. Her captor sat comfortably on the couch, with his feet up on an ottoman. He wore a cream-colored silk shirt, open at the collar, and a great many rings upon his fingers. When Monica walked in front of him, he smiled.
“Very nice. Turn around so I can get a good look.”
Monica turned in a slow circle.
“Normally we collect women only after carefully vetting their appearance.” He said. “Our customers can be very demanding. But in your case we had other concerns, so I was afraid I might get someone who didn’t meet my high standards. But it looks like we did quite well in your case. I am very pleased. Stand right there for a bit.”
Mr. Ruiz reached over to a landline phone on the end table beside his couch.
“My technical experts tell me this phone is untraceable.” He said. Then he proceeded to dial a number. A female voice answered.
“Is this Marta Garcia?” Mr. Ruiz asked.
After presumably getting an affirmative answer, he continued. “I have someone here who wants to talk to you.”
Mr. Ruiz stood up and held the receiver out to Monica. “Just tell her that you are healthy and safe for now.”
Monica took the receiver. “Hello, Marta?” She asked.
“Monica, is that you? What’s going on? Are you OK?”
“I am healthy and safe for now.” Monica replied. Carlos immediately took the receiver back out of her hands.
Mr. Ruiz sat back down and Monica could only hear his side of the conversation.
“Marta, I assume you recognized your sister’s voice. My name is Carlos Ruiz. I believe you may have heard of me. I just wanted to call and let you know that your sister is currently my guest. As she told you, she is healthy and safe at the moment. And she will stay that way as long as you follow my instructions.”
There was a pause as Carlos listened to the answer. He smiled as he spoke again.
“No, I won’t hurt her. In fact, my nurse tells me she is a virgin. That makes her very valuable. I have clients who will pay a lot for that. But none of those clients will hear about her as long as you provide me with the information I need. She will be my waitress at dinner, and I will appreciate looking at her but not touching. She looks very attractive in a leotard.”
Carlos listened for a few moments, then spoke again.
“Just make sure you are at home in the evenings. I will be calling you periodically to ask some simple questions. As long as I receive truthful answers your sister will be OK. Do you understand?
After presumably receiving an affirmative answer, Carlos hung up.
“Christina, you may take her back now.” Carlos said.
“Yes sir.” Answered Mistress Calahan.
Monica looked at the woman in black with new eyes as she led her back to her quarters. Mistress Calahan might be in charge of the other women, but apparently she was just as much a prisoner as the rest of them. Monica wondered what Mr. Ruiz wanted from her sister. She knew her sister worked for a police department in the U.S., so apparently her captor needed some information about something the police were doing. But was it general information? Or was it something specific? And once he had what he wanted, would he really let Monica go? And who were these customers he spoke about? Monica’s stomach twisted up inside her as she considered the likely answers to her questions. She had heard stories about drug lords and human traffickers, and most of those stories did not end well.
Before long, they were back in the harem quarters. Mistress Calahan told Monica to go to the bathroom, after which they went to her bedroom and the mistress followed Monica inside.
“You did pretty well today, Monica. But I hear you spoke out of turn. Did you say anything other than ‘Yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ to the guards?
Monica was a little surprised. “Yes ma’am, but I really needed to go to the bathroom!”
“And now you made it worse. Did I say you could talk?”
“For your information, the guard was instructed to escort you to the bathroom every three hours. It appears that he waited at least five hours, and he will be punished for his disobedience. But I am afraid you also disobeyed. I suggest you get undressed and put a diaper on.”
“Yes ma’am.” Said Monica. She put her leotard and tights on the floor with the dirty set from before, and then put one of the diapers around her loins.
“Sit on the bed and put your legs in the shackles.”
Monica did as she was told. Then she put her left wrist in a shackle as instructed by Mistress Calahan. The other woman then locked a shackle around Monica’s right wrist. Then she took a square of the foam tape out of her fanny pack and sealed it securely over Monica’s mouth. At least there was no handkerchief this time. Monica was a little surprised when Mistress Calahan pulled one of the sheets out of her dresser drawer and covered her with it.
“You are allowed to make your bed and put your sheets in the laundry whenever they get dirty.” Mistress Calahan said. “The punishment for talking out of turn lasts until just before breakfast.”
Mistress Calahan left, leaving Monica alone in the darkness. Once she was alone, she let the tears flow.
After another uncomfortable night, Monica was awakened when the lights came on and the door opened. Mistress Calahan entered and unlocked Monica’s shackles, then sprayed the solvent on her gag so that she could peel it off.
“Grab your dirty clothes, go take your shower, check the job board, and put some clean clothes on.” Calahan said. “I’ve got to go unlock Lucia too.”
Monica took off her diaper and put it in the garbage can, then walked out to the shower. The other women were also leaving their rooms, though none of them were naked. Their leotards were wrinkled and stained so Monica guessed they were the clothes they had been wearing the day before. There were two large baskets in the laundry area, and the women all stripped down and put their leotards in one basket and their tights in the other. While they were undressing, Lucia and Mistress Calahan joined them, though Lucia was already naked like Monica. Then they all trooped into the shower room and began washing up. Like in the kitchen the day before, the women seemed to replace verbal communication with physical contact, and Monica found that one of the other women washed her back and helped her wash her hair. When they were done showering, they all dried off using towels from a stack near the shower room and then they all walked into the kitchen to check the job board.
Beside Monica’s name was a pink sticker that said housecleaning – harem and halls on it. Monica followed some of the other women out to the hall and then went into her room and put on her tights and a pink leotard. Then she went to the bathroom and combed her hair before joining the other women in the kitchen. Breakfast was a bowl of Cheerios, milk, and a banana. After they were done eating, Mistress Calahan told Monica to collect a cleaning cart from the storage area and follow her. Then she led her down the hall to the first door on the side.
“Press the thumb plate.” She told Monica.
“Yes ma’am.” Said Monica, touching the plate. The door opened to reveal a room identical to Monica’s.”
“Dust the dresser, use the dust mop on the floor, and empty the garbage can into the big bag on your cart. Then go around and do all of the bedrooms in the harem. Dust mop the hallway last and when you are done, stand by the door to the main house. Since you are on housecleaning duty, all of these doors will open for you today.”
Monica started on the cleaning. It was certainly a more pleasant task than the previous day’s work had been. Emptying the garbage cans was the worst part, and Monica was a little surprised to see that many of the trash cans had wet diapers in them, and that a bag of diapers and wipes was a common feature of all the rooms. When she thought about it, Monica decided it made sense, since they were all locked in their rooms at night and there was no way to make a midnight bathroom run. The harem was designed like a capital “O” with the common rooms in the center and a hallway surrounding them. There were 8 bedrooms along each long wall. The rooms closest to the main house were slightly larger than the other rooms, and these were the ones set aside for the mistress and the nurse. Mistress Calahan’s room had a desk with a computer in addition to the standard bed and dresser. Monica could see a fingerprint reader beside the computer monitor, and she wondered exactly how much access Mistress Calahan had. Did she directly control the door locks, or did she someone outside the harem manage that detail? Sophia’s room was the same size, but her desk contained medical supplies. Monica wondered what Sophia did when not tending to the medical needs of the women. She wasn’t on any of the work crews, so maybe she had other duties?
Monica finished cleaning the rooms and then ran her dust mop through the hallway. She stood with her cleaning cart just to the side of the door for about half an hour before Mistress Calahan came through the door.
“All done?” The mistress asked.
“Good. Now take the garbage bag, tie it closed, and set it next to the door to the outside. One of the guards will take it out to the compacter later. Then you need to fill a bucket with mop water and bring it along with your cart.”
Monica took care of the trash and got the mop water and mop. There was a tray on the cleaning cart for the bucket and a clip to hold the mop.
“The door into the main house has been set to accept your thumbprint for today, so when your water gets dirty you can come back here to refill your bucket. Use the dust mop and then damp mop all of the hallways in the main house. The halls are wide enough that you can mop half of them and leave the other half for people to walk on, then mop the other side when the first side is dry. Do you understand?”
“Good. One rule you need to understand. There are thumbprint locks on many of the doors, but you are not allowed to even try them. They won’t respond to your print anyway, but your print will be recorded and the punishment for trying is 24 hours in the shackles.”
Monica was glad Mistress Calahan had warned her. Otherwise the temptation to try some of the doors would have likely been great, especially if they looked like they led outside. She gathered up her supplies and went through the door to the main house. Monica didn’t really know her way around the building, but she supposed it wouldn’t be too hard to figure out as she worked. She started at the door and cleaned the right half of the hall all the way to the end. By the time she was done, the floor was dry back where she started, so she changed the water in her bucket and did the left half of the hall. There was not a lot of traffic through the area, but occasionally one of the guards would pass through. One of the other women came past as well, carrying supplies for dusting. She winked at Monica and then dusted the paintings along the dry side of the hall before slipping into one of the rooms along the way.
Monica found that the hallways on the ground floor were shaped like an “H.” The door to the harem was at the bottom end of one of the long sides of the H, and of course there were various rooms off of each side of the hallway. Some had closed doors and thumbprint locks, but some of the rooms simply had an open archway into the hall. The biggest of those rooms was a large salon centered between the legs of the H near the harem entrance. The first hall Monica cleaned turned out to be the front hall, as there was a foyer off of the hall and large front door with windows to each side. Monica was not sure if she was supposed to clean the foyer, but since it could perhaps be thought of as part of the hall she went ahead and mopped its floor as well. There were windows on either side of the door, and Monica could see a long curved driveway that went out through a gate in a tall wall.
The center leg of the H was wider than the long hallways and had a stairway to the second floor on one side. A guard stood at the foot of the stairway and watched Monica with interest as she cleaned the area. After finishing the center hallway, Monica started on the other long leg of the H. This back hallway was apparently the ocean side of the house. Near one end was another large room with a pool table, a putting green, a ping pong table, and a few other tables set up for cards or board games. The far wall of the game room was glass and overlooked the beach. Near the other end of the hall was a doorway flanked by two guards. One of them was Julio, the guard who had pinched Monica the previous day. Monica stared working on the other half of the hallway, and when she had mopped it she went to get clean water. When she came back to do the other side, there was a line of footprints down the middle of the section she had already mopped. Monica quietly mopped up the footprints, then started on the other half of the hall. When she got to where the guards were, they stepped to the side to allow her to mop. Monica made sure not to turn her back on Julio.
“It’s too bad somebody walked on the clean floor.” Julio smirked. “I’m sure it was an accident.”
“Yes sir.” Said Monica, and continued her cleaning.
“What’s up with you, Julio?” Asked the other guard.
“It’s her fault I got barracks KP for the week.” Answered Julio. “Stupid chick can’t hold her pee for a few extra minutes.”
Monica was glad when she was done with that hallway. She changed her water again and then tried to figure out how to get all of her cleaning supplies to the second floor. She wheeled her cleaning cart to the base of the stairs and stood there for a moment, trying to figure out how to get it all up the stairs. The guard noticed her hesitation and then spoke.
“You’re trying to get all your supplies upstairs, aren’t you?” He asked.
“There’s an elevator just over here.” He led her around to a door in the central hallway behind the stairs.”
“The elevator isn’t labeled, but you can just press the thumbprint reader and it will take you upstairs.”
“No? Don’t you want to go upstairs?”
“Well, this is the way to get there. Just open the door.”
“Oh, this is so frustrating. I wish I could just ask you to tell me what’s wrong. Would you like me to get Christina?”
Monica was feeling frustrated as well, but after spending two nights gagged and shackled, she wasn’t about to do anything that might cause a third night of the same. The guard walked away and went up the stairs. A few minutes later, he came back and Mistress Calahan was with him.
“I’m so sorry.” She said as soon as she got close to Monica. “I forgot to tell you about the elevator, and that you were allowed to use it to get upstairs. I’m glad Tomás here was perceptive enough to come and get me. You both handled the situation exactly as you should have. Go ahead and open the elevator door, Monica.”
Monica put her thumb to the plate and the door opened. Mistress Calahan got into the elevator with her and they both rode it to the second floor. Containing none of the expensive materials seen throughout the rest of the house, the elevator was obviously designed purely for the use of the staff. When they got out, Mistress Calahan rushed down the hall and entered one of the rooms. Monica started her cleaning job again. She found that the upstairs was organized pretty much the same as the downstairs, though there was only one room without a door – the same one she had met Mr. Ruiz in the night before. She could see him sitting on the couch, talking on the phone. The two women given the job of attendants were also in the room, wearing their blue leotards and each standing in a corner. As Monica neared the end of one hall, a door opened next to her and one of the other women came out. She was also wearing pink, and she was pushing a cleaning cart. She smiled at Monica as she passed, carefully using the dry half of the hall. Then she entered the next door down, pushing her cart into what looked like a luxurious bedroom.
The rest of the day passed uneventfully, and Monica was pleased to be able to sleep without restraints. She hadn’t been asleep for long, though, when the lights in her room came on. Not sure what to do, she got up and walked out of her room. As she entered the hall, she saw the other girls coming out of their rooms as well. One of them grabbed Monica’s hand and they walked together into the central room. It was interesting to see how the others chose to sleep. Most were wearing their clothes from the day, like Monica. But several of the women had taken off their tights and just wore their leotards. And two of them had put diapers on underneath their clothes. Mr. Ruiz was waiting there, smiling as the women filed in and stood in a line in front of him. They were all there except Mistress Calahan.
“This is always a hard decision.” Mr. Ruiz said. He walked down the line of women, caressing the cheek of one, running his fingers through the hair of another. Monica felt her stomach tighten as he approached her position. When he got there, Mr. Ruiz looked Monica up and down, then smiled and patted her cheek.
“There’s no need to be afraid. I promised your sister I wouldn’t hurt you, and if I allowed them to talk, I’m sure the other women would tell you that there is nothing to fear. But I will give you a few more days to settle in. For tonight, I think I would like Ximena to visit me.”
Mr. Ruiz took the hand of a tall woman with long, straight black hair. She was wearing a pink leotard, and Monica remembered her as the one who had dusted the pictures in the hallway. Ximena was smiling as she walked away with Mr. Ruiz, and it seemed to Monica like some of the other women were actually disappointed. Once Mr. Ruiz and his choice for the evening left, the rest of them filed out and went back to their bedrooms. Monica wished they could stay out of their rooms and spend some time together, but apparently it wasn’t allowed, as no-one dawdled. A couple of the women did pat her on the back or squeeze her hand, but only on the way back to the room.