had been accepted to Tulane it had been one of the most exciting moments of her life. She'd get out of the bayou, away from the almost heart-wrenching poverty of her parish. Most of the kids her age didn't even graduate, and those that did ended up at LSU or in Lafayette. She got to go to Tulane
! About as far away from the dirty Red River and the slummy country towns north of Shreveport. Sure, some might call New Orleans names, but for her it was the Big Easy, the capital of the world, and it had been amazing to get move there. Scholarships and everything! It was too good to be true.
As most things that are too good to be true, it really was, and while Clarissa loved living in New Orleans, loved attending a Southern Ivy, loved the challenge of the course work as she started pursuing a degree in Environmental Biology, she did not
love how poor she was. The scholarship covered tuition, room, and board- and that was only from September to May, when school was in session. Most of her new peers were rich- old rich, plantation rich or oil rich- this wasn't an issue. She couldn't keep up though, and last summer, between her first and second year, most of them were taking fabulous vacations, or internships, or short study abroad programs. Claire was back outside of Shreveport, living in her parent's trailer, and swearing that never again
She'd found some employment of course, enough to cover insurance on her crappy Civic she'd been driving since high school, and to fund a little bit of recreation. Waiting tables and that sort of thing. It wasn't steady though, and constantly interfered with her school schedule. Tulane isn't the kind of university where one can just show up and half-ass some papers at the end of the semester, it was demanding, it was challenging. She needed time to get into the library, to work in the lab. Besides, $300 a week part time might get her through during the school year, but as it was coming to a close, she knew that would barely make a dent in the expenses of summer, especially if she wanted to stay in New Orleans.
Busy girl though, Clarissa, and hard worker. She figured things out, it's how she escaped north Louisiana, it's how she'd figure out this dilemnna. Towards the end of her second year the nineteen year old found a listing for house keepers. Not in the work at a hotel making beds, but a more detailed listing, through a headhunter website. It paid well, very well, seemed to good to be true.
And, as most things too good to be true, it was. The woman at the agency had warned her that the client was a bit eccentric. Lived in a big plantation house spared by Katrina a decade ago. Warned that a few girls had worked for him already, some had quit pretty quick. There was some insinuation there, Clarissa caught it, but wasn't sure exactly what it meant. Some girls had made it there for almost a year, and when Claire asked why they
quit, the ones that weren't flakes, the ones with solid employment, the agency woman had said very little. Had looked at her almost sadly, or maybe it was judging. "If you're interested I need your sizes," she had said instead, and for more than three times what she was making now, with a much more flexible schedule, Claire was very interested.
A few days later her application had been accepted, but she had to swing by the agency first. Had to be fitted for her uniform. Immediately Claire caught onto why the agency woman called the man eccentric- it was a euphemism- and she saw why so many girls had quit so soon. It wasn't a uniform, it was more like a costume, something out of a cheap soft adult movie on late night cable, the quintessential French maid. This was New Orleans after all, and while she wasn't so sure, especially when she realized how short the skirt was, how the seam ran up the back of her legs and how it was stockings, well she almost backed out. Shreveport, Oil City, Red River, she couldn't go back there, not again, had worked so hard to make it out. The top was low cut, showed her stomach and back, and was sleeveless, "What about the tats?"
Claire had asked, and the agent had given her an almost predatory smile, Claire had caught that too. The client wouldn't mind at all.
Trying it on in the office had been one thing, wearing it as she drove across town, outskirts of town, that had been another. She had worn a jacket in even though it was April, was eighty-five degrees, had to cover this thing up somehow, because there was showing off, and there was showing off
. Pulling up in a rounded driveway Clarissa almost backed out, almost quit before she started, then thought of those other girls. Hell, they'd made it a week. So could she. Walking slowly in too tall heels to the dark double doors in the shade of live oaks, she gave the metal clapper a rap rap rap.