Chapter 1: Assessment
Hello, my name is Samantha, I'm 19. Six months ago I left convent school. I was totally naive, totally innocent. This is what they did to me.
I assumed when they gave you a place at university they gave you somewhere to live. A week before term we found out I was wrong, but my parents drove me up there and found a place for me.
"This one looks too good to be true," Daddy said. "'Accommodation for right student. Rent free but help with cooking, etc.'"
Daddy rang it. He said it sounded all right.
When we arrived we checked the address carefully. It was an enormous house with its own driveway.
A nice lady in her early thirties greeted us. She was wearing white trousers and a white shirt with the collar turned up at the back. She had blonde hair tied back with a ribbon. She showed us into the sitting room.
"I'd have thought you'd be overwhelmed by replies, Mrs. Miles," Daddy said.
She laughed. "We have been, but most hadn't read past 'rent free' and frankly we wouldn't want most of them in the house. And please, call me Paula. We did consider an au pair, but with no children we didn't think there would be enough for her to do."
We quickly established that I could cook, that I spent my school holidays helping around the house and that I wasn't afraid of hard work.
We went to see the room. It was lovely. A big bras bed, dressing table, television, and its own bathroom. Bath, wc, hand basin and the whole far end was like a big open shower area. The bathroom was tiled and mirrored from floor to ceiling. I thought Mummy would say something about the mirrors, but she didn't.
"You'd be in luxury here, Samantha," Mummy said.
Downstairs Daddy said: "Well, I think we like it, don't we, mother?"
Mummy liked it.
"Samantha?" Daddy said.
I nodded. It would be a bit like home.
"That's settled then," Paula said. "It's yours. You can move in whenever you like."
"One final thing," Daddy said. "I take it you don't allow boys in the room? We don't believe in that sort of thing, do we, mother?"
Paula said no boys would be allowed in my room.
Everyone was happy. Mummy and Daddy went to get my things from the hotel while I had a conducted tour of the house.
Paula showed me where everything was in the kitchen and dining room and told me when I would have to do breakfast and tea each day.
We toured through the conservatory and then back into the hall.
"That's Josh's study," Paula said. "Nobody is allowed in there, not even Dora." Dora was the twice weekly cleaning lady.
Upstairs was their bedroom, we didn't go in. Next to that was a room with a long oak table in it, then Josh's upstairs study, then my room. Across the landing were two other bedrooms and a bathroom.
Mummy and Daddy came back with my suitcase. We said our goodbyes, Mummy fighting back the tears as usual. I'd always felt a bit upset at the start of term at school, but I liked school, I liked the routine. From early prayers at seven to lights out at eight thirty or nine o'clock in summer, everything was arranged. It was nice being at home, of course, and Mummy tried to find lots for me to do, but it wasn't the same.
Mr. Miles, Josh, came home as Mummy and Daddy were leaving. He must have been well over forty. The back of his neck was very hairy.
I took my case upstairs and came straight down again to help Paula do tea. The three of us sat together, which I hadn't expected. It was a bit awkward, but Paula was a good talker. Josh was a dentist. He didn't say much. I felt like an intruder.
We arranged I'd help Paula do breakfast the following morning before I went to Mass.
I went upstairs and unpacked, cleaned my teeth and went to bed.
Paula let me do most of the cooking at breakfast time. I said I'd be back by quarter past twelve to help with Sunday lunch.
But Father Flanagan wanted to have a long talk with me - Daddy knew him somehow.
I walked back as quickly as I could, but Paula had already started lunch.
"You're late," she said. "Did you get held up?" Find a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, relationship, anonymous sex or love online.
She was very nice about it, but I decided to go to early Mass next Sunday.
That afternoon Paula suggested I go for a walk to get familiar with the area. I walked for miles around the town, the park and up to the university.
The next morning I cooked breakfast. Josh came down in a suit, Paula came down in her dressing gown.
I walked to college because I wasn't sure of the buses. I didn't like my first day there, everything was so disorganised. Nobody told you where to go or what to do. Tuesday and Wednesday were better as we got into the routine, but there was still far too much free time.
After tea on Wednesday Josh went out to play bridge. Paula invited me into the sitting room for a talk.
"So, are you settling in well, Sammy?" she said. Nobody else ever called me Sammy, but she seemed to like to call me that.
"Yes," I said.
"We're not working you too hard, are we?"
"Oh no." In fact I didn't have enough to do really, but I didn't like to say so.
"Well, tell me about college. What's a typical day like? Tell me everything you did today."
"This morning we had Mr. Clunes on classification systems, then after the break a lecture on book binding, then lunch..."
"Is the food good? What did you have for lunch?"
"Bangers and mash," I said. "After lunch we had a tour of the university library, then a study period when I read, then I came home."
Paula laughed: "So, you went the whole day without going to the loo."
I laughed too. But Paula was looking at me as though she expected a reply.
I could feel myself blushing. "No," I said. "Yes, I went to the loo."
She was still looking at me expectantly. "When?" she said.
I thought this was a rather strange thing to ask, but I said: "At lunchtime and at tea time."
"And do they have that dreadful hard loo paper?"
"No, it's quite nice really."
"So, you dried yourself with that, did you?"
I looked down. What an embarrassing thing to say. I nodded and muttered a 'yes'.
There was a silence. I looked up. Paula was shaking her head.
"Can I give you some advice, Sammy?" she said.
"Yes?" I said.
"I've noticed you do that. It is rather unbecoming, you know. When you're embarrassed you blush, look at the floor and mumble. Don't. Look the person straight in the eye, smile and answer. So you say 'I went to the loo for a wee at lunchtime and tea time and each time I wiped myself dry with soft loo paper.' See? Try it." She was looking at me insistently.
I tried to smile and I said: "I went for a wee at lunch time and tea time and each time I wiped myself dry with soft loo paper." Then I looked down into my lap.
"Ah ah!" Paula chided.
I looked up at her again.
"See?" she said. "That didn't hurt, did it? Remember that."
"Yes, Paula," I said.
"Now, tell me about the library, what's it like?"
Relieved we had got off such embarrassing things I told her about the classification system they used and about the computer system linked to the internet, and how it allowed author, publisher and date searches. She seemed really interested.
When I had finished she said: "You see? When you're comfortable with your subject you talk very well, very well indeed. That's how you must talk all the time, Sammy, even when it is about something you find awkward. Will you do that for me, Sammy?"
I said I would.
On Friday evening Paula said they liked breakfast in bed on Saturdays. I wasn't sure it was quite right for me to be going into their bedroom, but I took their breakfast up at 9 o'clock as requested. I knocked on the door. Paula said 'come in'.
They were both sitting up in bed. They were wearing matching red striped pyjamas which I thought was sweet. I put the tray down on the table beside Paula and left.
They were both out for most of Saturday, so I gave the kitchen a good clean, Dora wasn't very thorough, then I did some college work. After dinner I read for a while before going to sleep.
I went to Mass early on Sunday morning, then came back and did breakfast. Josh was dressed for golf, Paula was in her dressing gown. When Josh had gone out Paula said: "I'm going to have a long soak in the bath. Bring me a big mug of tea in about half an hour would you, Sammy?"
I wasn't sure it was right for me to go into their bedroom when she was in the bath, but I timed half an hour exactly, then went upstairs with the tea tray.
I knocked on the open bedroom door. Paula said 'come in'.
"Where shall I put it?" I said.
"Bring it in here, Sammy, bring it in here."
I hesitated before approaching the bathroom door. I knocked on it to warn her I was about to enter.
"Come in, come in, come in," Paula said.
As I went into the bathroom Paula sat up in the bath. I looked down to the floor in order to preserve her modesty.
"Where shall I put it?" I asked quietly.
"Here," Paula said, indicating the stool beside the bath.
I moved over to the stool without looking up and put the tray down, then I left.
Paula came downstairs when I was in the kitchen.
"Sammy," she said. "Let's go and have a little talk in the sitting room, shall we?"
"Sammy," Paula said when we had sat down. "You really are very shy, aren't you? Surely you've seen hundreds of girls in the bath before, at school?"
"Oh no!" I said. "We had proper partitions." I explained how any kind of immodesty was avoided at bath time or when changing for games or for bed.
"So you've never seen anyone with no clothes on before?" Paula was laughing at me.
"No," I said, hurt. "Of course not."
"Sammy, you must learn to relax. You walk around all day hardly saying a word, blushing when anyone says 'boo' to you. Relax, burn your bra!" She laughed again. "Tell you what," she said conspiratorially. "This evening, don't wear your bra when you come down for dinner, live a little!"
I couldn't see any point in that. I blushed and looked down.
"Ah ah..." Paula went.
I looked up.
"Well?" she said. Again she was giving me that insistent look that only allowed one reply.
I didn't understand why she was doing this, but she wasn't leaving me any choice. I shrugged and nodded.
"And don't do that," Paula said sharply. "Don't shrug. Either say 'yes' or say 'no', but don't shrug. OK?"
"Yes, Paula," I said.
That evening I came down to dinner wearing my jeans, a thick shirt and a pullover. I did not wear a bra. In the kitchen Paula said nothing about it. I moved carefully so it wouldn't be obvious I had nothing on underneath. As we sat down to the main course Paula patted my hand and said: "Well done, looks lovely," and she glanced at my front.
"Yes," Josh added. "Lovely, just how I like them." He was referring to the lamb chops.
Paula and I tried not to laugh.
In the kitchen after dinner Paula said: "That wasn't so bad, was it?" Josh's silly comment had made it feel like Paula and I were in a conspiracy. Quite fun really.
I nearly shrugged, but instead I looked Paula in the eye, smiled and said: "No, it wasn't so bad."
"Good, that's good," Paula said. "You're learning, Sammy. Go to college without your bra tomorrow. Be daring. Will you?"
I couldn't think up a reason why I shouldn't, so I mumbled: "Yes, Paula."
She was looking at me again, her eyebrows raised.
I looked her in the eye and said: "Yes, I will go to college tomorrow without a bra."
"And Tuesday and Wednesday?"
I had shrugged before I realised it, but I said: "And Tuesday and Wednesday."
"Now," Paula said. "No breakfast tomorrow. Josh has got an early flight. I'm going to have a lie in so you do whatever you fancy."
When I got up to my room I was shaking. I didn't know why.
The next day I wore a shirt and a pullover to college. I'd never gone without a bra in public before. That part of me is quite big. I felt uneasy, as if everyone was looking at me.
On Wednesday evening, after I'd tidied up the kitchen, Paula called me into the sitting room for one of her talks.
"How was it without a bra?" she asked.
To be honest, after I'd got over the first morning I hadn't really minded, I hadn't felt sinful and actually nobody seemed to take any notice. I wondered why I had felt nervous about it in the first place.
"It was all right," I said.
"Good, good, Sammy. I should go without it from now on if I were you. Will you do that?"
"All right," I said.
"Tell me about your boyfriends," Paula said.
I felt embarrassed but tried not to show it.
"I haven't got one," I said.
"Past boyfriends then?"
"I've never had one," I said.
Paula looked at me in momentary disbelief. "Never?" she said.
"So you're a virgin?"
I was shocked she should ask such a personal question and shocked she thought I might not be.
"Of course I am. I don't believe in that sort of thing before you're married."
Paula was shaking her head in surprise. "Well, well, well. We must get you a boyfriend. Just a friend, of course. Surely someone at college has asked you out, a pretty girl like you?"
I told her about Damien, a second year.
"Invite him for tea," Paula said. "Tomorrow, Thursday. Yes?"
I said I would.
When I got up to my room someone had been through all my things. I could tell everything had been moved. Everything was there except my bras. They had all gone. I didn't say anything.
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Copyright MR 2013