She noticed him as soon as he walked into the bar. There was a sudden lowering of voices, the other girls were quiet, their eyes down, and she saw that other men greeted him silently, with the sort of respect one owes to someone special. He went to sit in one of the leather chairs near the wide window, and to O’s surprise signalled to her to come to him. O stood in front of him, silent. “You are O”, he said in a deep and yet youthful voice, “Anne-Marie has told me about you, and Sir Stephen”. O could not stop herself shed a tear. “I have come to take you with me”, he said in a matter of fact voice. Then, against her usual discipline, she looked at his face, his eyes. He smiled. “I have told Anne-Marie to have your iron rings removed. I will give you a pair of rings to wear if you wish, but this time of silver. Also I have a new collar for you, and you will find it more comfortable.” His eyes were grey, the pale grey of autumn clouds near the sea. O knelt and started crying, unable to stop. He slowly pulled her to him, cradling her in his arms.
Later he took her to her room. He had brought her clothes, and lingerie. Anne-Marie came in with her tools. She showed great respect for him, as he watched her remove O’s rings. Then she asked O if she wanted her to undo her collar. O said yes, all the time looking at him. When this was done, he thanked Anne-Marie who left the room. He took O in his arms. She felt at the end of a long road, and she wanted to belong. She fell asleep in his arms. In the morning, he helped her dress in her new clothes. Then they left.
The following year O gave him a son.
(This story was prompted by a comment from Gemini on my previous post. The full story can be found here)