Blackwell Academy

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Prologue


“It is a different world. You’ll do well to remember that, girl.”

Estella arrives at the prestigious Blackwell Academy, filled with mysterious students and intriguing Professors. Unaware of the underlying dangers she faces, Estella must dance with Blackwell’s powerful players, navigate the world of BDSM and believe in trust once more, in order to uncover and survive Blackwell’s guarded secrets.


“Unpleasantly headstrong, and overly-curious.” My best friend faces me. Her sweet smile illuminates the waiting room we were escorted in by her three butlers, who she promptly shooed away. She twirls a strand of her cascading blonde hair absent-mindedly as her delicate shoulders rest against one of the overstuffed seats we’ve settled on.

I shift my weight, uncomfortable in these pompous-looking chairs.

“Gee... thanks, Eline.” I sigh and leave the ‘Describe yourself’ box empty. I hit the edge of the blue ballpen against the plastic clipboard, trying to ignore the snaking nervousness wrapping around my gut.

“Anytime.” She giggles, emerald eyes twinkling. “I can’t believe we’re almost there. The airport driver should be here soon.”

“Hm.” I focus on the booklet I was told to complete prior boarding, but the words swim on the page.

I know the power that Blackwell name brings to any situation- it opens countless doors- not to mention career opportunities and the potential in finding a partner (as Eline keeps drilling into me). But more than that, its ancient, prestigious and rigorous tutelage tailor students to become powerful alumni- and succeed in whatever endeavours they pursue. The fact that BDSM is intertwined in the process doesn't phase me... much.

I vividly recall my disbelief when I spied the acceptance letter on doorstep of my apartment. I immediately called Eline who cried for an hour from happiness and insisted we go together.

She knows the chances of... someone like me attending the place are more than slim. And yet, even when my excitement died down after reading the full letter, and spying the words, 'Conditional acceptance', I felt determined to seize the opportunity.

“You can finish it on the plane.” Eline nudges me with her elbow, bringing me back.

My eyes flick to her excited ones. “I’ll probably try to nap.”

“Nuh-uh.” Eline shakes her head. “You promised you’d help me with my forms!”

I chuckle at her expression, anxiety melting away as I do. “Fine. But you have to give me something better than ‘headstrong and overly curious’.”

Unpleasantly headstrong.” Eline quips but sees my scowl and quickly amends, “But you can write uh…” Her eyes land on the grey V-neck longsleeve she forced me to wear after seeing my choice of a plain black T-shirt. “Boo- uh…. brave, brainy, beautiful, brunette!”

I roll my eyes. “Did you just give me random words starting with B?”

“Nope.” She pops the word. “But you should definitely add big-breasted.”

The corner of my mouth twitches. “I’m sleeping on the damn plane.”


Eline’s whines eventually cease when the driver arrives to lead us to a sizable black car. We enter and I stare at the scenic landscape we pass. Eline’s family grounds are in the middle of lush greenery.

I glance at her. She’s busy filing her long, manicured nails when her phone rings- her parents’ last attempt to drill some common sense in their daughter, no doubt.

“Here.” Eline hands me her glittery rose-gold phone. “I’m done talking to them.”

“Uh…” My hands hover in the air, debating to listen to the yelling on the other side.

“-I swear to you, Eline if you don’t call every night, your father and I-”

I gulp and quickly bring it to my ear.

“Hello, Mrs. Glanz. It’s Estella.” I send daggers to Eline, who conveniently stares out the window.

“Oh! Estella, dear. When will you finally call me Constance?” I feel Eline’s mother’s sigh. I wince.

“Sorry Mrs.- Uh.. Constance. Force of habit. Do you want Eline back? I’ll make her listen.”

I watch Eline stiffen and pout. She knows damn well I’ll grapple her and shove the phone against her face if I want to. Or if her kind mother tells me to.

But all I hear is silence.

“Constance?” I grit my teeth. Being on a first-name basis with one of the most powerful women in the world is… unnatural to me.

“No, that won’t be necessary. I can’t tell you how relieved I am that you’re with her, dear. I know she’ll be safe with you.” A pause. “And happy.”

I hear something in her voice, enough for me to hesitate concluding our conversation.

“Keep each other close. And stay vigilant.” Eline’s mother says with finality.

“We will.” I tell her, smiling faintly. “Your daughter’s smarter than you think.”

I’m sure Eline hears the musical laugh coming from the phone. “That I know already. Remind her of me sometimes, will you? Safe travels, dearies.”

She hangs up.

I hand Eline her phone back with a scowl. “What was that for?”

“Momma always calms down when she speaks with you.” Eline grins, satisfied with herself.

I was about to give her a well-needed earful, when the driver announces, “Ladies, we’re here.”


Having gone through the lengthy airport check-in and security, our boarding is immediate.

We take our seats on the plane. First class.

I wrinkle my nose, recalling Eline’s parents insisting I accompany their daughter, claiming I’d keep her in check.

If only they knew.

Eline and I open our booklets once more.

The ‘describe yourself’ box haunts us both.

I try to concentrate on some damn adjectives, but I struggle. “Fuck it. I’ll just...” I mumble and was about to write when I find Eline staring intently at me.

“You really wanna let them know you collect secrets like stickers and fight like a demon? That’s stupid, Este.” Her low voice reaches my ears. I turn to her. Her mouth is set in a thin line, grave eyes glaring into my dark ones.

“Even I know not to write pure truth. And I’m blonde.” She adds, tapping her own clipboard with her bedazzled, pink pen.

I offer her a brief smile, spying the worry in those green eyes. “You should write ‘extremely self-aware’ and ‘wiser than I let on’.”

“Hmf.” She slaps my arm before flicking some of her extensions. “I think I’ll settle for… ‘fashionable, flirtatious and fun’. Watcha think?”

“Fantastic.” I answer.

She giggles and holds my hand on top of the large armrest separating us. We get a couple of inquisitive glances as the seats around us begin to fill with middle-aged businessmen.

Eline continues filling the form out, her pink tongue slightly out as she concentrates, unbothered by the attention we seem to gather.

I look down at the rest of my empty form and decide to employ my golden rules.

Rule number one: bend the truth, but don’t break it.

I scribble away.


“ ‘Observant, self-reliant and fair’ ? What kind of boring-ass answer is that?” Eline sputters over my shoulder.

I wince at her shrill voice ringing in my ears and finish the last question on the form about hobbies. “An honest but vague one?”

Eline grumbles something I’m not sure I want to hear.

I laugh at her disgruntled face. “You really think someone’s gonna take their time reading these in detail? It’s simple bureaucracy, El.”

“Tsk.” She tuts and scolds me, going on about the chance of future partners and the importance of one’s reputation.

I wave her words aside and remind her she still has fifty-three questions left to answer.

After helping Eline finish the rest of her questionnaire, we agree to watch Aladdin together before nodding off to sleep.


I awake to the sound of Eline’s gentle snoring. Eyes still closed, I swallow and find myself practically dying of thirst. Groaning, I open my eyes to see Eline’s hand clasping mine over the armrest. I slowly remove my numb limb from under her weight and stand in the low-lit corridor.

A flight attendant passes, and I ask her to bring me some water.

She does, and offers me the crystal glass from her tray. I thank her and take it. I gulp the cool liquid down my parched throat quickly- too quickly.

I cough into my elbow and curse my clumsy drinking.

I finish stretching my arms over my head, when the hairs behind my neck stand erect.

“Excuse me.” Someone whispers behind me. I turn around, and see an old man- evident with his neatly-combed white hair. His expensive suit seems to elongate his already tall figure.

“Yes?” I ask, trying to blink my sudden drowsiness away. I blame Aladdin.

“Are you both headed to Blackwell Academy?”

The grogginess vanishes, replaced by instant alertness. I scrutinize the man in front of me, but am unable to see his face properly. His melodic voice is strong- not feeble like I expected.

“Yes.” I answer. “Are you?”

A pause. “No. But I know many who went.”

The pitch and accent of his voice is soothing, almost lulling. I find myself trying to inch closer to see-

Eline’s snore grows louder, starling me slightly.

“Do you need something?” I ask, a strange sensation clawing through me. Dull apprehension takes over my initial curiosity.

I can still see the shape of him, and that’s all I need should things… happen.

He chuckles, the sound familiar, yet bitter. “Many things, but nothing you can offer me now, girl.”

I scowl and will my eyes to fucking see. “Listen, geezer. You’ve five seconds to move it before I kick-”

“A word of advice, if I may.” The man interrupts. Despite my waning focus, he brings my attention back to him with his tone.

“You may not.” I frown at the insistent blurriness invading my vision and this pushy stranger.

He ignores me. “Choose what to show, and hide what you know.” His recited words make my skin crawl.

I wrinkle my nose. “Creepy words, from a creepy man.”

“You should take heed, nonetheless.”

“Urgh.” I’m done with this guy and very annoyed at my depleted energy levels. I should’ve gotten coffee. “Unfortunately, it’s one of my rules to not take advice from strange men.”

My body slumps back in my seat, unable to keep proper balance with the incoming turbulence. My eyes seem to shut by themselves.

“Rules have many meanings over there.” I hear the man muse. “It is a different world. You’ll do well to remember that, girl.”


“Estellaaaaaaaaa!”

My world is shaking. Earthquake?

“Estellaaaaaa!”

I groan and squint to see a groggy Eline close to my face, hands on either side of my shoulders. “Yay. You’re awake.”

I narrow my eyes.

“Eeeek. Okay, wait. For my defense, your neck is bent weird and I want to make sure you’re-”

On cue, my spine aches.

Indeed, my head is craned to the side like some puppet. My body faces one way, like I fell backwards on my seat, while my head slumps outwards.

Definitely not healthy.

“Oof.” I whisper and adjust my damn body.

Eline yawns and pulls me close to her. I let her. Her seat is layed like a bed’s. She presses a button on the side of my armrest and my seat moves to be horizontal, like hers.

“There.”

“Ahh..” I uncoil my legs, grateful for the newfound comfort. “Thank you.”

“No probs.” She nestles her head next to mine and we sleep once more.


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