There was nothing worse than an entitled prick with more money than sense, and no awareness of how condescending he sounded while speaking to a pair of tits instead of a woman’s face.
At least Sienna thought so until she met the entitled pricks wife.
With perfectly manicured fingers, the bitch clicked her fingers and gestured to the still full water jug on the table.
“Refresh this,” she barked, not even looking in Sienna’s direction. “And if you don’t crush the ice, I will send it back faster than it takes for you to apologise for the mistake.”
But not as fast as it would take for Sienna to throw the crushed ice over her bleached blonde hair.
“Of course, Mrs Appleton. I’ll be back in a moment.”
Service with a smile. That was Sienna’s motto. She was fucking good at her job. No. Not just good. She was the best. And that was why, despite the irritation she felt at the not a hair out-of-place Mrs Appleton, no one would ever know.
Working at Whistleberry Gentleman’s club had taught her a few things over the past year. She knew how to play the system and earn the tips that not only put her through school but helped her buy those pretty vintage heels that she otherwise couldn’t afford.
Mr Appleton, for example, preferred a quiet server who didn’t mind him staring at her chest but pretended not to notice his wandering eye. His business associate, Mr Alton, was his opposite. He wanted someone to flirt with and laugh at his shit jokes, while allowing his wife to dehumanise the waitress he’s picturing naked.
The wives were similar, actually. As long as they felt like the most beautiful woman in the room with an ounce of power over someone who would lose their job if they dared fight back, they were happy. It was funny to Sienna, the lengths they would go to prove they were better. What was funnier - they all knew their husbands were screwing anything in a skirt that paid them a compliment. Their Stepford wife routine did nothing to prove to anyone that their marriages were the picture-perfect snapshots they wished to present to the world.
That was another thing about working at Whistleberry - you learned to read people and see past their facade.
Founded in the 1800s, it became the place to go for legal gambling. They invited those who could afford the exuberant fee to come and throw away their money in testosterone-fuelled competitions. Because the prices were so steep and the bets so large, only those fortunate enough to have amassed vast wealth had access to the country manor.
Over the years, the exclusive nature of the club became a matter of status. It didn’t matter how rich you were - if you weren’t a Whistleberry member, you weren’t worth knowing. With continued success, Whistleberry evolved with the times, finally allowing women to enter the previously male-dominated club. Gambling took a back seat, lavish parties becoming the norm instead. Disguised as charitable events, they were nothing more than pissing contests where men and women alike played here are the reasons I’m better than you.
Present-day Whistleberry still boasted its exclusivity and for a cool fifteen thousand joining fee, anyone could be part of the elite. Keeping true to its roots, there were evenings full of gambling, parties, and charity balls. During the day, businessmen gathered in small groups to share some drinks, play a round of golf and cheat on their wives. It was the place to be if you were a somebody, but miss one of the monthly payments of just over a grand and you’d be out on your sorry arse and everyone would know what a plebeian you were.
Sienna scoffed at the thought as she carried the jug of icy water back to the Appleton’s table. She could never fathom spending such large amounts of money on a membership. Hell, she begrudged paying her Netflix subscription, and that was nothing compared to the monthly fees of Whistleberry.
It wasn’t as though nothing about the lifestyle appealed to her. She would love to wear an expensive dress and wear equally expensive shoes to a themed event. The only time she’d walked into a restaurant and not worried about buying anything off the menu was at McDonald’s, and it would be nice to do the same in a place where the walls didn’t have colouring pages covered in scribbles pinned on them. She had to admit, there was a certain charm to the idea of brunch and afternoon tea, high tea and any other tea that wasn’t consumed in front of the evening soaps with a plate balanced on your knee.
Perhaps she was jealous of the life these people lead, she thought, refilling the Appleton’s glasses and leaving the jug with a smile.
Then again. Maybe not.
“My dear, what is this you’ve brought me?” Sienna held back a smile as she met Mrs Appleton’s gaze. “I asked for cubes of ice, not crushed. Anything that small is a choking hazard.”
For a toddler perhaps.
“Oh, Mrs Appleton, I do apologise.” For bringing you exactly what you ordered. “I will correct this at once. I’m so embarrassed.” At your blatant attempt to exert your power.
Once upon a time, this situation would have mortified Sienna, causing her to fumble and stutter her words, cursing herself for making such a rookie mistake. As it was, she had seen this one too many times and knew exactly how to deal with it.
“Oh, that is a lovely brooch, Mrs Appleton, if you don’t mind me saying. What exquisite taste you have.”
The brooch in question was neither lovely nor exquisite. In fact, Sienna thought it was a cheap bit of tat she could find in Claire’s Accessories for a fraction of the price Mrs Appleton paid. With three golden strawberries hanging from a single silver stem, it was nothing special. But to Mrs Appleton, it was probably her most prized possession, a symbol of her wealth.
Any woman who was married to a member of the club was lovingly, sickeningly, dubbed a ‘Berry girl’. It was neither cute nor funny. And yet, the brooch existed.
The designer must laugh his way to the bank. They looked cheap; they felt cheap, and Sienna was almost certain the gold and silver were just painted. And yet every single woman in the place was wearing it displayed proudly on their bosom.
She followed Mrs Appleton’s gaze as she looked at the various brooches around the room.
Ms Tinsley, great, great something of the founder of Whistleberry, Mrs Ellroy, wife and sister of two prominent members, and Mrs Davies, one of the oldest current members, all wore the brooch. But Sienna hadn’t complimented them, had she?
Their eyes met, and an understanding passed between them. Mrs Appleton knew the compliments weren’t real, and Sienna knew the other woman didn’t care.
Of all the women wearing the same piece of crap, Mrs Appleton was the one with the attention.
“You are so kind to say so,” Mrs Appleton said, all hostility gone from her tone. “It was quite expensive, of course.” Quite a rip-off, too.
“Well, it looks lovely on you, I must say,” Sienna said, smiling so convincingly she deserved an Oscar. “I can just tell you put so much thought into that blouse, too. Gorgeous with your skin tone and such a compliment to the colours of your brooch. Valentino, is it?”
This time, genuine emotion passed across Mrs Appleton’s features. “Why, yes. What a good eye you have Miss...?”
“Starling. Sienna Starling.” It wasn’t a good eye. Sienna had been eyeing up that same blouse on one of her drunken Internet searches for clothes she could never afford. “Well, I don’t want to keep you much longer. Let me just take care of my mistake.” She reached for the jug only for Mrs Appleton’s perfectly manicured fingers to grasp the handle.
“Never mind that. I’ll make do,” she said. “I shall just... drink slowly.”
Sienna forced herself not to grin at her victory. “Are you sure? It really is no bother...”
“Quite sure. Go on now, I’m sure you’ve other tables to take care of.” Turning back to her husband, who had been staring at Sienna’s tits the entire time, Mrs Appleton effectively ended the conversation.
And that’s how it’s done.
Feeling smug, Sienna rushed to the bar for refreshment, knocking back a glass of water filled to the brim with ice cubes. It was the small things that got her through the day and enjoying a beverage with the ice demanded by her tables was one of them.
She was ready to move on to her next table when she noticed the subtle change of pace in the staff.
Her heart sinking, she made herself look busy, scrubbing the already immaculate bar and hiding her glass out of sight.
Someone important was arriving.
Only that would make the team move faster than they already did. Sienna was dying to look up, to crane her neck and find out who was coming. Of all the club members, three men made up the elite. The Crème de la crème, they were the Brad Pitt’s of Whistleberry. Practically royalty. Top dogs.
And the table you wanted to wait on.
Mr Sheldon, the manager of Whistleberry, randomly selected servers to wait on these tables, and Sienna had seen her colleagues fired on the spot for doing a poor job. Mr Sheldon didn’t fuck around with the Entwistle’s, Huntington’s and the Carmichael’s.
For good reason. The three men topped the UK’s richest list and played musical seats with the coveted top spot. Sienna had served two of them. Mr’s Entwistle and Carmichael were firm friends and often dined together, but she had never had the pleasure of waiting on Mr Huntington.
Everyone wanted his table. Do a good job, and he was more than generous, tipping more than a full month’s wage. It didn’t hurt that the man was absolutely gorgeous, too. Tall, dark and handsome was a phrase made to describe this man, and he had the quiet confidence of someone who knew nothing was out of their grasp, which made him even sexier.
Sienna would be lying if she hadn’t had a daydream or two about Mr Hunky, but he was also married and so completely off-limits. She didn’t fuck around with unavailable men, even if the chance presented itself.
With a sigh, she finished cleaning the bar as Mr Huntington himself entered the room and drew attention to himself immediately, just with his presence. His usual band of loyal sycophants trailed in behind him and they took residence at his usual table. Sienna allowed herself a momentary glance, biting her lip before shaking her head and returning to work.
She would have killed for that table, but once again, luck wasn’t in her favour. The honour tonight went to Miss teeth, tits and ass. Penny Joyce took her job seriously. She had a smile that was all teeth and a laugh that sounded like nails on a chalkboard. She was also Sienna’s best friend, but that was neither here nor there.
Such a pity.
Putting Mr Huntington and Penny out of her mind, she forced herself to focus on the job at hand. When she finished, there wouldn’t be a bar glass that didn’t sparkle like a diamond.
So what if Penny got the gig of a lifetime?
Who cared if Sienna couldn’t afford the Gucci shoes?
Why did it matter if -.
“Sienna! Are you listening?!”
Blinking in surprise, Sienna focused on Penny suddenly in front of her, her usually perfect make-up smudged with unshed tears. Sienna looked over the other girl’s shoulder and saw Mr Sheldon talking to Mr Huntington.
Well shit. This couldn’t be good.