Chapter 20: Cross Sell
High Society thrives on the appearance of the natural. Gone are the bright colors of the lower class leaving only golds, browns, and blacks. — Juminar da Golid, The Perfect Society
“Thank-thank you!” said Falim na Maifir. “She looks so beautiful!”
Lily smiled and looked up at Dinsanas. The teenage girl couldn’t be smiling any more and still have her head on her shoulders. The sea-green dress flowed down over her wide hips and became a shimmering wave that ended with a debutante sheer cream. She had used her magic to color the individual folds so there was an even transition from color to cream.
The top of the dress dress drew attention away from the young girl’s shoulders and breasts but the flared collar worked perfectly to cradle her face, argumentatively her best asset.
Mindil, sitting primly on the bench next to Falim, handed a silk cloth for the crying mother. Her ever present smile brought a flutter to Lily’s heart; they had been stealing kisses from each other most of the morning. For the most part, though, Mindil minded the front of the store while insisting that Lily work on finishing Dinsanas’s dress for the first of two fittings.
Lily was thankful for the time. The dress fit better than she hoped, the young girl was dedicated to maintaining her figure for her presentations. There was only a few adjustments needed. She ran her hand along the chiffon and adjusted the colors slightly.
She looked up at Dinsanas. “Do you like it?”
“I… I… it’s so beautiful! I love-love it!” She spun around, her eyes shimmering with her own tears. The hope and joy was palatable in the store.
Lily enjoyed it, basking in the joy. Yes, it was one of the minor events, a sports game in early evening with a celebration dinner. It wouldn’t have the attention of most of the city, maybe only a few rags and gossips, but it was still one of her better jobs and she was proud of the work.
It was unfortunate that Djulian didn’t see that.
Mindil cleared her throat.
Lily looked up guilty. When she saw Mindil shaking her thumb at her, she ducked her head and forced the despair from her heart. It took her a moment. As she calmed down, she noticed that Dinsanas wore simple slippers. “Have you gotten shoes for this dress? I might have to adjust for the heel.”
Falim sighed. “We haven’t had much luck. There isn’t a single debutante shoe in this part of the town.”
Mindil perked up. “Why don’t you head over to Simil’s? She has these beautiful three laces with an inch heel. They would look perfect with that dress.”
Lily froze and then looked at her friend.
Falim made a low noise in her throat. “We tried that. She has beautiful shoes but they are all late season colors.”
There was something mischievous about Mindil’s smile. “Lily dea Kasin can color them to match the dress. It will be perfect.”
Heat rushed through Lily. She had never thought about coloring shoes to match dresses before. The revelation made it hard to breath as she stared at Mindil and Falim.
Both the mother and daughter stared at Lily. “You-you can do that?” asked Falim.
It wasn’t any different than coloring wood or hair. “Y-Yes.”
Mindil winked at her. “I’m sure she’ll do it for a discount since you already bought the dress. Maybe two hundred jems? Buying the proper shoes of color at this point will cost you five or six hundred.”
Falim’s smile grew wider.
Lily could only nod.
“In fact,” Mindil continued as she arched her back slightly. “I also bet if you reserved a time for the day of the party, Lily would come to your house and color your daughter’s hair and lips too. She would be perfectly matched form head to toe.”
“There won’t be another debutante who will coordinated so perfectly. She will be insured to draw everyone’s attention.”
Dinsanas reached up to stroke through her hair. It was a light brown, nothing remarkable but it had the brittleness of being recently colored with magic. “Can-can you really… I thought it had to be blonde or brown. They said I couldn’t do blonde because my hair wouldn’t take the alchemical mixture.” She look sheepish. “I was a light blue.”
Lily rarely thought about hair color. She couldn’t remember her natural color after so many years of changing it reflexively. The idea of a High Society woman not having browns, golds, or blondes was unheard, but she did remember a style a few years before where women would tint the ends of their hair.
She started to speak but then Mindil interrupted. “She can make you a blonde too with just a hint of color. Trust me, it will be stunning. She’ll do your nails too. You get them polished, any color, and she’ll make it match. It shouldn’t take more than an hour plus a carriage fee.”
Unaccustomed to Mindil’s forward speaking, Lily fought showing her blush. She was capable of doing everything Mindil said, she just never thought about before and had no idea how much it would cost. She guessed it would be about the same as the shoes, a couple hundred jems.
“Bedame dea Kasin didn’t mention these services earlier,” Falim said sharply.
“The bedame doesn’t trust her own ability. You’ve seen how she can change colors of fabrics.”
“That is fabric, hair—”
Mindil stood up interrupting Falim. She swayed over to Lily, the look in her eyes hungry and dominating.
Lily felt a flush of excitement as she rose up. She was a prey to Mindil’s look and already knew what the suggestion was. With a trembling hand, she reached up and combed her fingers through Mindil’s orange-tinted hair. The magic rippled along her senses and the hair adjusted in color to match her dress.
Both mother and daughter gasped with surprise.
Lily lost herself in Mindil’s eyes as she cupped the back of her friend’s head. It was hard to resist the urge to pull her into a kiss, a deep one. It seemed like the only response to the gaze being focused on her.
Mindil pursed her lips, then parted them slightly to lick them.
A heat fluttered between Lily’s legs, a rush of heat that tingled her clitoris. She fought back a moan as she reached out with her thumb and caressed Mindil’s lips. The wave of heat redoubled inside her as the lips took on the same hue.
When she finished, she stared at the results for a long time.
Lily pulled back with a gasp. “Sorry.”
Falim coughed into her hand—she was smiling—and then stood up. “Let me see.”
She made a show of inspecting Mindil’s hair and lips carefully but even Lily could tell that she was getting excited. Her daughter hid her hopes even less, she was bouncing on the fitting pedestal as she brushed her own lips.
Mindil winked at Lily.
“How much-much?” asked Falim, her eyes darting back and forth.
Lily started for the paper, to give her a chance to work out numbers.
“Twelve hundred jems, plus a carriage,” said Mindil confidently.
She froze. Mindil had just listed a price that was a third of the original dress. Trembling, she peeked at Falim to see the response.
“That’s a lot of money.”
Mindil shrugged and then gestured to Dinsanas. “How many times does she get to make a first impression? Can you imagine having her walk in with something no other debutante has? Can you imagine the looks when she stands out among all those other girls?”
Falim glanced at her daughter who was giving a pleading look back.
“How about nails? They run about two hundred, don’t they? And the hair? Did you request coloring or just dressing?”
“Dressing, the coloring was—”
“About five hundred, right?”
Falim’s shoulders slumped. “Seven.”
“And Lily’s magic lasts the entire night without smudging. She’s done mine twice now and it can handle drinking, sweating, and talking without a problem. Imagine all those problems you and I have had during our presentations? She wouldn’t have to worry about any of that.”
Lily noticed Mindil didn’t mention her presentations, but that made sense. There was bad luck associated with Lily.
“That’s still a lot of money.”
Mindil’s grin grew wider. “Well, if you do the shoes, she’ll do the lot for a thousand. Shoes, hair, lips, and nails. Plus she’ll be at your house and gone before you know it, no distractions, no worries. You can be sure the color will be exactly what Society requires.”
Even Lily could tell that Falim was sold. It only took another twenty minutes of negotiation and cajoling before she signed the order. When both mother and daughter left, they were talking more excitedly that they were practically saying the same sentences twice.
Outside, it was late afternoon. Warm enough that the traffic had lessened but not enough to color the streets with a sunset.
Mindil turned and gave Lily a big smile.
“What did you do?”
She arched her back again, the opening over her cleavage straining to contain her breasts. “I was thinking that you really aren’t confident in your abilities. That is strange since you are utterly amazing.”
Lily’s retort died in her throat. She blushed instead.
Mindil stepped closer, slipping one arm around Lily’s waist and drawing her close. Their lips were only inches away once again.
Lily’s heart beat faster as the heat between her legs grew almost boiling.
“You just need someone to stand up for you.”
“You are fantastic, I said that.” Mindil rolled her eyes and then kissed Lily right on the lips. It was soft but more aggressive than before. Mindil was in charge of the embrace and it sent little flutters of heat coursing through her body.
Lily would have swooned from the intensity but Mindil held her tight, grinding her large breasts against Lily’s. The hard points of her nipples, thimble-sized and peeking through the fabric, poked into the softness of Lily’s chest. It felt good and strangely erotic.
When Mindil broke the kiss, she whispered to Lily, “Later, I’ll show you how to thank me properly.”
Lily didn’t know what it meant, but the sultry whisper brought an intense wave which buckled her knees. She let out a soft moan.
Mindil guided her to a bench and sat her down. She slipped an arm around Lily and drew her into another deep kiss. The softness of her lips was intoxicating.
Lily gingerly reached up to cup Mindil’s breast. She could feel the large nipple hard against her palm and she gave it a slow circle as she lost herself in the softness of Mindil’s kiss.
Too soon, Mindil broke the kiss and pulled back. “You really shouldn’t do this in front of the street. Someone might see.”
Lily glanced at the workshop door. A sigh slipped from her lips. She wanted more, she already craved it and could spend hours touching and caressing.
“Not that anyone will look,” Mindil said with a sly grin. She started to pull Lily back, but then stopped with a hiss. Frowning, she let her arm slip from Lily’s waist and brought it between them to rest on her own belly. “I really wish I could stay, but I should have arrived at Pavin’s Starlit Edge hours ago.”
“Pavin’s Edge? What’s there?” Lily tightened her fingers on Mindil’s breast. She couldn’t leave, not after kissing her so sweetly and then shaking up her world by offering new services. Lily wanted to find out what she meant by learning how to “thank her properly.” It was a promise of something and she was anxious to be taught.
“Our two girls have spent the winter at my daddy’s manor. He’s a Pavin but there are a few Kasin cousins who also live there.”
“Children? Hasan never mentioned you had children.”
Mindil rolled her eyes. “Typical. He wouldn’t have thought about that.”
“You never mentioned girls either.”
Mindil’s smile grew wider and she rolled her eyes again. “Typical, but in my case, I was so interesting in talking to you I completely forgot about Emiris and Kilin.”
The intimate moment cracked. Lily let her hand slip from Mindil’s breast, her fingertips catching on the hardened nipple for a moment. Then she realized she had left a red hand print on Mindil’s breast. With a flush, she reached up.
“No, please don’t.” Mindil looked down and then giggled. “Okay, you might want to fix that.”
Lily grinned herself as she spread her fingers across Mindil’s large breast. She could feel the heat underneath her palm along with the rapidly beating heart underneath. It excited Lily to know that her touch brought a moan to Mindil’s lips.
With a push of her power, Lily repaired the color and tweaked it to match the season.
It was hard to concentrate with Mindil’s soft gasps and the way she pressed her breast into Lily’s hand, but she managed to finish. Reluctantly once again, she let her hand slip. “H-How long will you be gone?”
“Four days or so. I’ll be back with the girls. The housekeeper and cook are still at home, so Hasan won’t starve or walk out naked. He doesn’t do as much if I’m not there.”
Lily flushed at her previous sessions of pleasuring herself at the idea of Hasan’s naked body.
“If you are willing, you might see if he wants to have dinner with you. I know he would like to get to know you better.”
Guilt stabbed Lily. Hasan has been a lot more than curious about her. She could still feel his fingers up against her inner thighs, inches away from her most private of places. The proper thing to do was to tell Mindil, but that would ruin her trip and maybe throw everything into chaos.
It made Lily feel worse that she was keeping a secret from the woman who swept her off her feet.
“Something wrong?” asked Mindil.
“N-No, I just was thinking.” Unable to look Mindil in the eyes, Lily stared down at her hands in her lap. She wanted to cry as the guilty knife twisted back and forth, reminding her that she had almost ruined their marriage.
“Well, if it is about your new services, don’t worry about it. It will take a day or so for gossip to get around and someone to build up the courage to ask you for the same thing. Shoes are much cheaper if you don’t have to get them in the right color.”
“I don’t… that isn’t it.”
Mindil hooked her finger under Lily’s chin and tilted her head up. “You are beautiful and talented, Lily. No matter how much the horse fuckers—”
Lily snorted with her laughter.
“—scream and yell, just remember that. You will figure out that dress, it will be on time, and you will stun this city with your abilities.”
Mindil sighed. “I don’t want to leave but if I don’t get started, I will never hear the end of it from daddy.”
She stood up then picked up her bag next to the empty paper sack that had sweet sandwiches from the morning. “But you need to not charge any less than twelve hundred. Start at fifteen and make a show of lowering the price. And don’t schedule anything before Dinsanas, she gets the first one. That teaches everyone to jump faster.”
Saddened and wracked with guilt, Lily could only nod.
Mindil slipped her bag over her shoulder. The action caused her cleavage to press tightly together and the dress to ride up on one generous hip for a moment.
Lily wondered what it would be like to slid her hand up underneath the fabric. What would it feel like to touch another woman’s naked sex? Would it feel like hers? Would it get wet?
“Well, this wasn’t I had planned today. I wasn’t expecting to get distracted by the prettiest girl I have ever kissed. It was worth it, even if I have to pay the driver to ride as if death followed him.”