His expression turned serious. “Anna, do you have your heart set on living in the Manor?”
I didn’t think I had a choice in the matter. “I think Devin expects me to stay there. He said he spent a lot of time fixing up my room.” I paused. “Besides, where else would I live? Uncle Jack said Devin owned me now.”
“Devin owns you?”
He’s not supposed to know I’m a slave. Stupid girl. “Well, I’m his mistress…” I corrected.
“What if I said I wanted you to be my mistress?”
I blinked in shock. My mouth opened to speak, but I didn’t know how to respond.
Kurt looked disappointed. “I didn’t mean to offend you, Anna. I was just thinking…I mean, I would treat you just as good as Devin does. Better, even. I could find you a nice place to live and anything else you could want. I want you, Anna. I want to know that when I come into town, I can be with you. I want to know you’re safe.” He was so earnest in his speaking. “If I wasn’t married, I’d stay here, but…as much as I detest my wife, I love my children and could never leave them.”
He’s married and has children. I vaguely remembered hearing someone saying something about an unfortunate marriage. But then again, what did it matter if he’s married? Devin is married, as are most of the men I’ve slept with. The best I could hope for in life was a decent master. I would never marry. Did Kurt want to be my master? Would Devin allow that? I looked up at Kurt. “You would have to speak with Devin, Kurt. I can’t make a decision like that. It’s up to him.”
He pressed his lips together and looked thoughtful. “Then that’s what I’ll do.” He smiled, eyes determined, and held out his hand. “Let’s go have lunch.”
We walked down several flights of stairs to the very bottom of the house where the kitchen was, below the entrance floor. This was a more casual living area than the one I’d seen upstairs.
Frau Gersten came out of a back room as we walked in. She greeted Kurt in German and they had a short conversation, then she disappeared again.
We walked outside to the back yard patio and saw Wilhelm sitting on a chair, reading the newspaper. “Good morning,” he greeted us with a smile. “Sleep well?”
Kurt grinned and I smiled shyly. We sat on the outdoor couch across from Wilhelm and Kurt put his arm around me, pulling me against him.
“Vati, I don’t want to take Anna back to the Manor.”
“I know,” Wilhelm said with an amused expression. “You said so last night.”
“I mean it even more this morning.” Kurt frowned.
“I figured you would. I called and had a long conversation with Devin this morning and told him what you and I had spoken of last night. He is willing to share her with you. I was actually quite surprised at how accommodating he was.”
Share me? What does that mean?
Kurt frowned. “That is surprising. Perhaps what you heard was wrong?”
Wilhelm shrugged. “I don’t know. But he is willing to let her live outside the manor. He said if we found something within a few miles of here, it would be more convenient for him as well since he lives in the area.”
“I suppose that’s true.”
Wilhelm turned to me. “Anna, how would you like your own place to live, instead of at the Manor?”
“Devin really would let me live outside of the manor?” I asked softly. The thought both thrilled and terrified me. I’ve been so isolated for so long, and now Devin is letting me live on my own? How can I manage that?
Frau Gersten announced that lunch was ready and the three of us went inside. Wilhelm had eaten already but he sat with us at the long wooden table.
As we ate Wilhelm told us about his conversation with Devin. “He’s very pleased that you like her, Kurt. He was hoping you would. As I said, he is willing to share her with you. The terms would be that when you are in town, she is yours to do with as you please, as long as he doesn’t have a more pressing engagement. He doesn’t anticipate that happening, but there are set engagements that he will let us know about. When you are not in town, she, of course, is Devin’s.” He turned to me. “Anna, he wants you to learn to be social again. I told him about you meeting friends last night and he wants you to spend time with them. He acknowledges that you’ve been isolated for a long time and need to learn how to be around people again. As long as are you are available when he needs you, then you are free to do as you please. You just need to take care of yourself.”
“Free?” The word echoed in my mind. Maybe Devin hadn’t really meant what he said about me being a slave.
Wilhelm smiled at me with affection. “That’s what he said.” There was a touch of sadness in his eyes, but I couldn’t understand why.
Free! My heart flew like it had last night at the ballet. I could be my own person, to an extent. I could go out with Jenna. And go to Aaron’s party. I could dance. Tears of joy filled my eyes. I closed my eyes and smiled, imagining…freedom.
My eyes snapped open. “I don’t have a job. I don’t have a way to support myself.” I didn’t know how much it cost to live, but I knew I didn’t have any money. And no skills, aside from in bed. If I started dancing again, maybe, but that was years away….
“Anna, you don’t need to worry about that. Devin and I discussed that. Mistresses are always well taken care of.” He smiled. “Devin gave me the name of a realtor who is researching furnished apartments that are move-in ready.”
I looked at Kurt. His eyes were full of joy as he smiled at me. “Please, Anna. Let me take care of you.” He took my hand and kissed it. “I want to buy you the world,” he whispered, eyes dark with passion. “I won’t ask anything of you other than when I’m in town. I want you to be free to go shopping. And go to parties. And spend time with Jenna.”
I smiled as he listed off things I’d never done. He was so earnest and sincere, I melted at his gaze and nodded.
Kurt beamed. “Gut.”
I smiled, happy that I made him happy.
Wilhelm excused himself to call the realtor while we finished eating. He returned a few minutes later to let us know that the realtor was almost done compiling a list and would call him back in a few minutes.
“Anna, is there any place in the city you’ve always wanted to live?”
“I never thought about it,” I said honestly.
“Never really thought about what?” Alex walked into the room and I jumped.
After dreaming about him for years, his real presence was disconcerting. Maybe because he didn’t seem like the man in my dreams. He was friendly, yes, but not overly warm. Except at the restaurant…
I blinked at Alex’s voice and saw him looking at me. I bit my lip. What did he ask me? Panic rose in my heart as I desperately searched my mind for the question he’d asked.
“I was just asking Anna if there was a place in the city she’d wanted to live in,” Wilhelm explained. “We’re going to go look for an apartment for her to live this afternoon. Would you like to come? Your insight might be useful.”
Alex looked impassively at me. “You aren’t staying at the manor?”
I shook my head slowly watching him fearfully. Is he angry at me for not answering him?
“Devin and I spoke this morning. We decided that it would be best for Anna if she had a place of her own so she can learn to become independent.”
Alex looked sharply at his father. “So you’re going to stick her in some apartment and leave her there?”
“Of course not. I have spoken to a realtor and he is compiling a list as we—” Wilhelm’s phone rang. “It’s him. Excuse me.” He walked into another room and answered the phone.
Kurt put his arm around my shoulder. “Devin decided he’d be willing to share Anna with me. So we’re going to find her a place to live.” He looked at me. “What kind of car would you like?”
I looked at him bewildered. “Car?”
He looked amused. “You don’t think I’d let my mistress wander around on the bus, do you?” He nuzzled my neck and I closed my eyes and sighed. “Anything you want. I’ll make sure you have a maid. And a car.” He kissed my ear. “And money to buy anything.”
“Kurt, you have a family to support. You can’t possibly pay for me to live as well.” I shook my head. “It’s too much.”
Kurt and Alex looked at each other and laughed. “Anna, do you know who I am?” Kurt asked. “Who my family is?”
I looked between the two of them. Their eyes were glinting with amusement. I felt rebuked and I lowered my head, rubbing my hands together. “I heard someone refer to your father as a duke or something,” I mumbled.
“Ja. Anna,” Kurt said. “My father is the Duke of Hesse. Hesse is the state in which the city of Frankfurt is located. A handful of families were allowed to retain their titles after they were outlawed in the early 1900s. Ours was one of them.”
I looked up. That meant nothing to me, even though I had the feeling it was supposed to be significant. “Ok.”
I saw Kurt look back at Alex and say something in German. Alex nodded and walked out of the room, returning a few minutes later with a magazine. Forbes. The cover read: “The Worlds Billionaires.” Alex opened the magazine and there was a picture of Wilhelm next to the number “10” and “Wilhelm Kunze Herzog von Hesse & Family” and “diversified.” I looked at the top of the page. It indeed was a list of the world’s billionaires.
My mouth opened and I stared at Kurt. What do I say to that? What on earth am I doing here with him? I pushed the magazine away and looked back down at my hands. “What do you need me for?” Sex, stupid.
“I wasn’t trying to make you uncomfortable, Engel. I just wanted to assure you that I can easily take care of you. It will be my pleasure to do so.” He cupped my chin and brought my head up to look at him. “I like you, Anna. A lot. I think you deserve to be spoiled a little. I can do that. I want to do that.”
“I’m not worth all the trouble and expense. I’m fine at the Manor.”
“I don’t want to stay with you at the Manor, I want to stay with you in your own place. I want to go home next week knowing that you have a good, safe place to live. That men won’t be knocking on your door in the middle of the night.”
I knew he liked me. And it would be more convenient to Devin if I were closer. The Manor was far away and it wouldn’t be easy for Kurt to have to go out there every time he wanted to see me. I supposed this meant that I would be seeing Kurt on a semi-regular basis. What does Devin want me to tell him about them? I gave him a timid smile. “I will do as would please you, Kurt.”
His smile for me had a touch of sadness to it as he leaned forward and kissed me. “I want you to be happy, Engel.”
Wilhelm walked in. “Alex, are you going to come along with us? Otherwise Grant will pick us up.”
“Who’s Grant?” Alex asked.
Alex glanced at me then back at his father. “Ja, we can take the SUV.”
Wilhelm finished his conversation and hung up. “He’s emailing me a list of properties.” His phone beeped. “And here it is. Shall we?”
“Anna, bring your ID in case we need it,” Kurt said. “I want your name on the property.”
“My ID? Oh, my driver’s license?” I thought for a moment. “I don’t have it with me. It’s at Uncle Jack’s house. I don’t normally carry it.”
“You don’t have a purse?” Alex asked.
I shook my head.
“Where does your uncle live?” Alex asked after studying me for a moment, his jaw tight. “We can stop by and pick it up. Do you have a key in case he’s not home?”
“No, but there’s always a door unlocked.”
Alex gave me a strange look then shook his head. He disappeared for a few minutes and then returned. “Alright, let’s go.”
We went to the garage and got into Alex’s black Mercedes G-Class SUV. His silver SLS Roadster was parked in front of it and another black Mercedes sedan was next to that. I gave Alex the address of Uncle Jack’s place and he plugged it into his GPS on the dash. The screen indicated it was only two and a half miles from here. I’d been right in my guess.