It was no secret that the eleven Peterson girls enjoyed being at the centre of London’s social attention.
Every night the struggles of the day were thrown into the night as glitter painted their faces. Each morning they would return to the converted factory. Seven glorious floors, twenty bedrooms, countless bathrooms; an apartment that their father Mr. Peterson could watch over his girls.
However, their nightly antics had not gone unnoticed. Men from around the world threw themselves to their feet, in hope that one day they would be good enough to marry into the family. The prestige and privileged the Petersons held ensured that no man would ever swindle the family out of the fortunes that had been made, not without the proper vetting process every boyfriend had faced. With every precaution the girls grew wiser, finding new ways to exercise their freedom. It was only after quite the scandal with a notorious usurper and social climber, Mr. Peterson had decided the only way to protect his hard-earned money was to ban them from ever leaving without constant supervision.
“You are forbidden to leave this home between ten at night and eight in the morning. I know eight is normally the time you decide to come home but it will now be the time you get up and focus on something. Imelda, do you not want to continue your classic studies?”
Imelda could feel her face burn as the other sisters stared on at her.
“It’s not fair, Geoffrey gets to go out whenever he wants.” Beatrice sighed. Stood in the doorway the only son shook his head.
“Geoffrey hardly ever leaves the confines of this home. Always studying to take over the business someday while you girls parade yourselves all over London. Bringing nothing but shame and disgrace to this family.”
The cool words fell on deaf ears.
“So, what’s the plan?” Ruby would not take no for an answer. Perhaps if Mr. Peterson had let her, she would be a great candidate to run the business.
“We’ve escaped before.” Lucinda was daring than most.
“But he found out how we escaped. It can’t be another awful plan from you, Alicia.” As the eldest, Sinead took control over the situations.
“Whatever plan you gang of idiots come up with, you will be found.”
“What makes you think that Geoffrey?” Lavender questioned.
“Because Natalie, Joyce, Freida, and Morgan always tell father what you have done.”
Eleven shrieks could be heard from that enlarged seating room as they began to quarrel over their loyalties to each other.
“It’s ok for you standing sniggering at us all. You never leave here unless you’re going for a meeting with father. Or getting a new suit!” Imelda cried.
“You think that’s the only time I leave? Sweethearts, I have left every night and have been back by the morning before anyone wakes up, for the last ten years.”
Puzzled, the sisters looked at their only brother. How could he possibly have got away with leaving the reinforced, military security compound without anyone noticing for ten years? Perhaps this was the push they all needed to find their own feet. Aged between 21 and 30, none of them had worked. Family money kept them dressed and have them a gorgeous home to live in. Or perhaps this could be the beginning of the relationship Geoffrey had always wanted with his sisters, gaining their trust and helping them breakout.
“Easily. All these old factories have links underground. There’s sewers or the underground tunnels. The tunnel underneath us leads directly into the stock room for Heaven.”
“The gay bar?”
“I guess you’re learning a lot of things tonight.” Geoffrey looked at the smiling faces of his sisters.
Not to cause any suspicion they decided it would be best for them not to take the mysterious tunnel to Heaven tonight. Instead, years that had been missed between the siblings were slowly being regained. Geoffrey had hated how isolated he was from his sisters. Never having anyone he could confide in as he was growing up and discovering himself. It was only on his seventeenth birthday after his fake friends had gone, the bitterness of being lonely hit him. Deciding no one would miss him if he disappeared for an hour or so, the empty underbelly of the apartment was explored. It was then the tunnel was found and moments later an underaged Geoffrey was drinking tequila like it wasn’t his first time.
“How have you stopped our father from discovering it?”
“The tunnel is hidden behind a wall I put in myself and in front of that is where I park my Jeep.”
“The one you never drive because it’s too big! Tomorrow night we have to go!”
“We will but there’s a catch.”
Geoffrey continued to explain that in order to sneak past everyone he would wear his long hair down and throw a pink bubble jacket and jeans on.
“So, you look exactly like one of us.”
“I have a plan for tomorrow then.” Alicia was excited to get out of the apartment, getting the chance to spend time with her brother.
“I hope you’re not going to say wear our hair up and put a suit on.” Lavender snorted with laughter.
“If you don’t want to get caught, that’s what you all need to do.” Geoffrey smiled at his sisters.
After their night of revelations, the morning sun woke them up. For the rest of the day, they acted how they should. Imelda continued lessons in classical studies. Lavender perfected her vibrato. Ruby took a protest to her father’s office demanding that she could study and work alongside her brother in the company.
Soon enough eleven sisters found themselves dressed slickly in suits ready for their brother to help them escape.
“Only one of us can be seen at a time. Go to the car and wait. If you see anyone, hide. The cars are open. “
The mission was for the sisters to go down first with Geoffrey following them. One by one they arrived waiting patiently for the last person to arrive. Twenty minutes had passed when Geoffrey laughed at their petrified faces.
“Did you think it was our father?”
The walls were genius. Panelled wood swept over, hiding the secret passage. Ten minutes of walking in the dark, a quick change and they were ready to dance.
The nightly escapades continued for a month without suspicion. However, it soon became apparent that all twelve were too tired during their meetings and studies. The bills for new shoes was growing at an alarming rate.
Mr. Peterson knew all twelve of his children were up to something but what was the question. Being no fool, he rushed to hire a private detective to find out what his daughters were getting up to. He promised them they could choose one of his children to marry if successful.
Another month had passed and the first detective found himself without a job. This became the pattern for the next year. No matter how hard they tried to find where they left from, no one could figure it out. Yet, more pictures circulated of the famous Peterson children in the morning news.
Mr. Peterson was soon to give up hope when an email caught his attention. A gentleman promised to find exactly where his family kept disappearing to, he knew the clubs they were found in. It wouldn’t take him long to catch them.
“Edmond, lovely to meet you.” The next day Mr. Peterson welcomed Edmond as the others were out.
“A privilege to meet you, sir. I don’t mean to be blunt but before I can accept this job I need to explain I have a certain way of working. Prior to my arrival how were the other detectives brought into the home?”
“We disguised them as chefs.”
“Conveniently you would have a new chef every month?”
“Well yes, it wouldn’t be that odd if we changed our chef.”
“But still the first of every month there is a new chef. They know to avoid there. I will only arrive after they have retired for the night. After this, I will sit in your security control room. They will not know I’m there.”
“And you expect the same pay?”
“Yes, and to marry one of your lovely offspring as promised.” Edmond serious tone did not make way for any light-heartedness. He was striking in his appearance and manners. Tall, obviously spent every spare moment he could in the gym and dark eyes to match his brown hair.
It had become routine now for them all to go to bed at ten. It would give them enough time to be ready by twelve and then leave. Clothes hidden in gym bags and suits on, their normal plan unfolded. Only this time, instead of a lazy man waiting for them to leave out the back door, side gate, or ludicrously straight out the front door, Edmond’s eyes were glued to the tiny monitors.
A flash of a suit and Edmond assumed it was Geoffrey. A minute later another Geoffrey walking the same way, this one slightly shorter. Each minute saw another Geoffrey walk past. Until finally, the real Geoffrey walked slowly down the hall to the lift and into the car park. Swiftly, Edmond followed.
Catching a glimpse from behind a car, it was obvious how they had all been leaving without anyone knowing. Waiting ten minutes, Edmond proceeded to open the hidden panelled door, leading him directly to eleven suits on the floor next to a case of Grey Goose.
Armed with information, Edmond left the twelve siblings to enjoy their night. He knew tomorrow everything would change for them.
Like clockwork, the twelve-drunken brother and sisters stumbled in and climbed into their beds. It seemed like only moments later they were awake again.
“Get up! Father is furious! Get up and go to the dining room on the second floor! Now!” Ruby ushered everyone out.
As the Petersons took a seat at the table, Mr. Peterson emptied out a large sack filled with broke heels and destroyed leather brogues.
“For over a year I have been questioning whether or not I was losing my mind. Broken shoes, new dresses, new suits and the stench of alcohol first thing in the morning. But it seems I cannot keep you girls away from going out! Geoffrey, I am most disappointed in you for letting your sisters convince you to follow in their shoes.” A brief laugh was muted.
“It was me who convinced them to come with me, to leave as I have for the past eleven years. To have them by my side working together as we should.” Geoffrey defended his sisters. It only took one year to reverse twenty-eight.
“That’s enough. I won’t punish you any longer. It’s evident I have twelve bright children, but you are adults now. This past year it has been a relief to see you all work towards something other than your social media. With that being said, I have promised Edmond his choice to marry. Do not argue. It’s about time at least one of you settled down and left. Edmond your choice?”
“I don’t think he’s gay Edmond.”
“He is.” Ruby smiled at her brother.
Of course, if you know Mr. Peterson, his shrewd business nature may make you think he wasn’t understanding. However, after Edmond chose Geoffrey he congratulated them both.
Naturally, it didn’t last long. Two complete strangers are unlikely to find their happy ever after with each other. Nevertheless, Geoffrey kept Edmond around as his personal security.
Ruby and Geoffrey went on to take over their father’s business and within thirty years more than tripled their personal net worth. Imelda gained her doctorate in classical studies and still teaches in Oxford.
The other sisters led fulfilling lives and careers including authors, politicians, and singers.
No matter how far away they are, the twelve Peterson siblings always laugh about the time they dressed in suits to dance the night away.
They became affectionately known as The Twelve Dancing Princes.