"Jocelyn, what are you doing?" Harry asked, returning to the house as the sun set. It hadn't been as blistering today, screened by clouds.
"Do you know what they're saying at the University?" she asked, wide eyes glittering green. "That we...sell sex." She whispered the last.
"Blasphemy," he said, chuckling. He opened the door and stepped past it. "Does Sophia know?"
"Yes," Jocelyn said, flouncing around the door behind him, closing it on the neighbors. "She says there are always rumors and they're always wrong."
"But they aren't! I knew to come here because of rumors. I don't want someone showing up with a wad of twenties asking me to blow him."
"Don't be silly, Jocelyn," Harry said, climbing the stairs to change out of his suit. "No one pays more than twenty for blow job."
Jocelyn threw the tiny hammer she held at his head. It missed, as she'd intended, but crashed into the wall behind.
"Cool down, Jocy," Harry said, putting his hands on her shoulders. "What are our clients going to think when they come and see that plaque on the door?"
"That we respect them, that we don't charge them."
"That we're putting ourselves above those who use prostitutes?"
Jocelyn sigh and slumped a little. "I suppose. I'll go take it down."
"Thank you. Where is everyone?" he asked, looking at the empty overlarge bed where the group normally met and spent the day while the sun burned in the sky.
"I don't know," Jocelyn murmured, looking around. "No one is downstairs," she said, cocking her ear. They could both hear every noise in the house. There was water running in the kitchen. They both headed there.
Before they arrived, however, the front door opened and a small woman with curly black hair stormed in. "What is the meaning of this?" she cried, holding a rectangle of black plastic in her hand.
"I'm sorry, Mistress," Jocelyn said.
"I'm not your mistress," Sophia growled. "This is the last thing I need today."
Three more men and another dark haired woman crowded into the entryway. "What's going on?" the black man asked. "Why are we all standing here? Is it fixed?"
Jocelyn looked at Harry and shrugged. "Is what fixed?"
Sophia growled in Italian and stalked toward the kitchen. She wore a Chanel suit that looked new. It probably was. She didn't often leave the house. Lynn's dress was similar in style, very new fashion. Jocelyn felt a little dumpy in her old dress. Of course, it didn't make sense for her to wear fancy things into a medical lab.
Sophia sighed in relief, smiling for the first time since bursting in the door. The men had all gone upstairs, but Lynn stood with Sophia and Jocelyn in the kitchen. Jocelyn went to turn off the dripping tap and slipped on the wet floor, catching herself on the counter.
"We had a plumbing issue. I think we're going to have to replace the pipes." Sophia sighed heavily. "It's going to be expensive." She looked at the plaque in her hand. "I was thinking of asking for donations."
Sophia chuckled. "Let me guess. Rumors, my curious kitten?"
Sophia put both arms around Jocelyn's neck and kissed her. "No harm done, kitten. But please, don't rush into things."
"Yes, Sophia," she said quietly, chastised. "Of course, if I didn't rush into things, I wouldn't be here."
Sophia laughed and Lynn joined. "I suppose none of us would. Let's get hold of those men before they're completely involved in each other, shall we?" With her arm around Jocelyn's waist and another around Lynn's she lead them both back to the stairs. They could already hear the antics behind the door. The large bed wasn't empty any longer.