The first thing I did when I got back to my new rooms was sit down and think out exactly what I would do; I knew from working with Tristan and Kayden that no matter how brilliant the idea it always turned out better if you figured out each step before hand. I had one goal- find out where Tristan was; my resources were only those which I could provide for myself and the time I had to complete this whole plan was minimal.
So what I needed was a quick, simple plan- I decided I would find a maid uniform and just come into the mansion, telling anyone who asked I had just been hired then use that to scope out the mansion and figure out what was going on. If all went well then I could come in a second day if I hadn't already found out what I needed to know but I figured it wouldn't really be too hard to find out if Tristan had been there and if he had been I could always make the Duke tell me at knife point what I wanted to know. Definitely not the most convert or stealthy plan even but I thought if I played my cards right, that it could work. It had too…
I asked one of the maids where I could buy a uniform, she looked at me strangely but I explained I was getting it for my maid at home and how it was so difficult to get the uniforms in the country. She seemed to believe me, not that it really mattered, and gave me an address. I then send one of the messenger boys to the address she had given me along with a list of my measurements and a note requesting two uniforms as close as possible to the measurements I requested to be delivered as soon as possible.
A few hours later the messenger boy came back with a large package and the dresses inside- I had been lucky. Then I had dinner and waited, there was really nothing I could do but wait until the morning so I went to bed very early and woke up a few hours before dawn, got dressed and snuck out. It really wasn't too far to the Duke's mansion so I walked there. As I got to the gate my stomach started to churn. I had managed to keep all my nervousness in check until now but I was really starting to worry- I had never really done this alone, not like this. What if they caught me? I was scared. I was good at playing a proud duchess, a silly beauty queen, but a maid? I hoped I could.
I straightened my back and kept my head up though, I wanted to make everyone believe I knew what I was doing even if I didn't. I saw a few people going around to the side of the mansion and disappearing inside so I followed them, hoping that was where I needed to go. Maybe I should have tried to figure out more of the layout of the mansion before I decided to charge it…I thought to myself. I swore under my breath and walked inside, I amost sighed out loud in relief when I realized it was the kitchen.
"What do you need?" Asked a middle aged man who was cutting potatoes behind a long counter. I walked up to the counter and smiled,
"My name is Amber," I said in the sweetest voice I could muster, "I'm the new maid, I was supposed to start work today." The man smiled back and extended his hand,
"My name's Drew. I've been pestering Gustouv about how we needed another maid but he would never listen- I had long given up expecting any help." I smiled, inwardly cringing at the mention of Gustouv's name.
"Nice to meet you!" I chirped, trying hard to play the part of sweet, harmless, innocent girl.
"EVERYONE!" Yelled Drew, getting everyone in the kitchen's attention, "This is the new maid, Amber." I smiled and gave them a little wave pretending to be uncomfortable being the center of attention. A few of them came up and introduced themselves, but most of the others were busy and kept doing whatever chore they were doing. This was easier then I thought, I said to myself, marveling at how simple it was to get them to except me- I hoped no one would bring my appeaarance up to anyone who wasn't so ready to believe what I said. Things would be relatively easy from now on since I wouldn't have to worry about the other workers questioning my presence- they thought I belonged so I was safe right?
The morning passed quickly and I was tired by then time we all got a break after cleaning up after breakfast and starting the mid day meal. I hadn't gotten a chance to learn anything of real importance, only a few snatches of gossip here and there but I wasn't discouraged. I used our break time to talk to everyone and build up 'friendships' so that it wouldn't seem strange or out of place for me to ask about what happened to Gustouv or a stranger(Tristan) visiting or anything else like that.
I had already decided I would stay here at least one more day that way I would have plenty of time to learn about Tristan's whereabouts if he was ever here and I wouldn't be so pushed for time. The mansion was much bigger than I remembered and I couldn't just walk around searching for clues without someone noticing, I was stupid to think I could. This place was swarming with servants. They knew everything that went on- creating their own spy network without even realizing it.
In no time it was time to start working again and I was lost in the business of the kitchen. I actually found I really enjoyed it, it was some how relaxing to just have to worry about getting food done in time and setting the table right, not spilling the food. It was freeing to me after all that I had been going through. But I knew it wouldn't last, nothing good ever does.
The only time that day where my nervousness really returned was when I was serving the Duke during dinner and he stopped me.
"And who is this?" He asked, staring at me with his piercing brown eyes. I looked down, one to hide my nervousness and two so that I appeared humble- I hoped I appeared humble and not like a naughty child trying to hide something.
"I'm…I'm Amber , the new maid, sir." I said hardly above a whisper. Praying he didn't recognize me or realize he had never hired another maid.
"Ahh, I must have forgotten," He said stroking his chin.
"Today is my first day, sir." I said hoping he wouldn't question my anymore.
"Oh, of course!" He exclaimed like he had just remember, I was tempted to laugh- it was funny how far people would go to avoid looking ignorant or confused. I smiled and continued serving dinner, he didn't say another thing to me so I was happy. I contemplated stabbing him as I served him some thick slices of meat but I knew that wouldn't help anything and likely get me killed before a got anywhere near Tristan.
By the time I got back that night I was dead tired, I just managed to shrug my clothes and drop into bed before I was asleep. I had spent all day at the mansion but I hadn't learned anything about Tristan or where he had been, but I was determined to try again the next day because I was positive Tristan had been there and if I didn't find out anything from the duke then I would never find him. The duke was the only lead I had.
The next morning I got up early, ate, dressed and headed back to the mansion. The morning and afternoon went just the same as the day before, but I have to admit, it was fun because I got to joke and talk with the other maids- I kept an eye out but I didn't really see anything suspicious. I didn't hear anything that would help me, these things take time! I kept repeating to myself trying to keep my hopes high.
"Who going to take this platter upstairs?" Asked Drew. All the other maids suddenly pretended to be really busy, I laughed and took the platter from Drew.
"Where do I take this?" I asked, wondering why all the other girls didn't want to take it- they probably just don't walk all the way upstairs I thought.
"Third story, 5th door on the left. Just knock before you go in and put in on the table then come right back down here."
"Okay, I got it." I said, and headed for the stairs. The girls all stopped and watched me leave, what's going on? I wondered but just shrugged and kept going.
I knocked on the 5th door and went in, it was a huge, beautiful room. I walked in slowly and quietly, I heard soft even breathing and looked around trying to find the source. There was someone sleeping on the bed. I set the platter down on the larger mahogany table in the middle of the room and crept closer to the bed.
When I got a look at the person on the bed I leaped back and almost screamed, was it possible? All this time he had been just upstairs…Tristan! I turned and ran back to the kitchen.
"Amber! Are you okay? What happened?" Exclaimed on of the maids, Hannah. I shook my head and pushed by everyone to where Drew kept his big butcher knives.
"Oh no you don't!" Exclaimed Drew as he saw what I was heading for.
"Oh Amber! Did he touch you?" Cried Gina, another maid.
"It's okay hun, he does it to everyone- its part of the job really." Said Hannah trying to comfort me. I shook my head,
"Let go of me!" I cried, "You don't understand!"
"What happened?" Asked Drew.
"I'm going to kill him!" I growled.
"No you're not! You'll be hanged for it, Amber!" Gina answered.
"Only if I get caught."
"What did he do?" Asked Drew again.
"He ruined me life!" I hissed, "He lied to me, got me to trust him and then betrayed me!"
"What?" They all chorused, confused.
"Darling, you're life's not ruined!" Cried Gina, "It's going to be okay, I swear!"
"Just let me go! He's a traitor to our country! I need to kill him!" I continued, I was shaking with rage.
"We can't let you hurt him…" Muttered Drew, "Even if he deserves it." I screamed in frustration and started struggling. Drew was stronger than me but I caught him off guard and threw him off me and grabbed a knife before any of them could get to me.
"Stay back!" I commanded, "I have nothing against any of you but I wont hesitate to hurt you if you try to stop me!" I backed towards the stairs with the knife held in front of me, with no thought of how stupid and careless I was being. When I got to the stairs I turned and started running, smashing right into something hard and warm.
"Deirdre." The familiar came from whomever was holding me. I screamed and tried to get free, he pushed me back and into the wall. The knife dropped from my hand. I stopped struggling and tried to get a look at his face. I just stared for a moment, the man had a full beard and longish hair.
"Deirdre," He repeated. Had I lost my mind? It couldn't be…
"Kayden?" I whispered. He smiled, and let go of me.
"How? Why are you- you have a beard!" I stammered. I was so stunned I couldn't even be mad at him, to be honest all I wanted was to have him hold me.
"Of all the things you could say, you comment on my beard?" He laughed, "It's fake of course, the hair too."
"Oh." I whispered and looked down, then I saw the knife and remember Tristan. I dived for the knife before he could stop me and stood with my back to the wall and the knife out in front of me, between us.
"Deirdre don't," He pleaded.
"You would say that you coward! You care more about him then you ever did about me!"
"No! Deirdre, you know that's not true!"
"No I don't know. I used to think you cared, I used to think he care too. But I was wrong both time- I didn't understand then that everyone was just using me as a tool to get what they wanted."
"Shut up, Kayden! Just shut up! Stop saying my name over and over like its going to change my mind. Now I'm going to kill him and you too if you try to stop me."
"Not here, I'm not saying we let him go but we can use him to get more information. Besides you wouldn't get out of here alive if you killed him here."
"Information! Is that all you ever think about?"
"I don't care! I don't care about all that!" I cried, "He needs to die-"
"Deirdre, I agree he does but-"
"But nothing! You know what he did to me! You can't even begin understand, he hurt me more then you can imagine…" I closed my eyes, trying to keep the tears welling in my eyes at bay.
"I'm so sorry I let him hurt you." Kayden whispered and looked me straight in the eyes.
"Being sorry doesn't erase what happened." I said angrily.
"I know, I would do anything to be able to go back and change it. Change everything."
"Kayden…" I began but I couldn't find the words to say.
"Please forgive me." He said quietly and took a step closer.
"Don't come any closer!" I warned, still holding the knife out. He took another step forward.
"Stop Kayden!" I cried, "Don't make me do this!" He took another step forward, looking me in the eye, then another until him chest was touching the tip of the knife. My hands were shaking,
"Please, Kayden," I whispered. His face swimming before me as tears gathered and spilled from my eyes, with one swift movement he gently took my hand and took the knife from me then gathering me in his arms and kissing me. I gasped, startled then I wrapped my arms around him and held him like I would never let go.
"I'm so sorry," I whispered into his chest then I started to cry even harder, he just held me and stroked my back.
"It's all going to okay, Deirdre." He whispered. And I believed him, all I wanted was for him to be right. But deep down I knew it wasn't that easy. A few minutes later Drew rushed in, looking agitated and out of breath,
"Amber! There you are! I was worried- I thought you were really going to do it!" Kayden and I both turned to him, it took me a moment to realize he was talking to me.
"I'm so sorry, Drew." I tried to smile and wipe away my tears, "I…I felt so ashamed, and angry. I lost my mind for a few moments."
"It's a good thing you caught her," Drew said turning to Kayden.
"I know," Kayden smiled awkwardly, "But let me tell you, she almost gave me a heart attack charging at me with her wild eyes and that knife!"
"Lord, I know. She was so upset weren't you, dear. She flipped me over to get to the knives. I never thought such a slight, gentle girl could do anything like that." Said drew.
"Oh Drew! Are you alright? I'm so so sorry!" I cried, looking at him for any injury.
"No, no! I'm fine." He smiled. But he was looking at me differently now.
"Okay good," I answered, looking embarrassed and in truth I was. I had acted like a stupid, hotheaded man.
"My girl certainly has a temper but I've never seen her like that before." Kayden shook his head, "I have half a mind to go kill that bastard myself." Drew gasped and looked worried, thinking he would have to step in again, "But that would be a suicide mission and I have no urge to die as of yet."
"Glad to hear that!" Drew sighed in relief. Kayden smiled. "Amber, you go home and rest. You've had a hard day and deserve a rest." Said Drew kindly. I shook my head.
"I need something to keep my mind off of what happen," I looked down, "I would go crazy if I had to go home now, I wouldn't be able to stop thinking about it. Please let me stay! I'm fine I promise." I looked at him hopefully. He looked skeptical but nodded.
"Thank you so much, Drew!" I said in relief and turned to Kayden, "I need to get back to work, I'll see you tonight?"
"Of course, right after work like always." Kayden smiled and gave me a quick kiss before he left.
"I'll take this…" Muttered Drew, picking up the knife I had taken.
"Oh, yeah I'm really sorry Drew…" I trailed off.
"Don't worry about it, dear." He patted my arm, "Let's go there's work to do."
"I'm not sure I'll be back tomorrow," I said sadly, "I don't think I could bare seeing that bastard again…" Hoping he believed me.
"I figured as much," He looked down, "I don't suppose you'll ever tell me who you really are…" I looked at him sharply, I guess he didn't believe me.
"What are you talking about?" I asked innocently.
"I'm not stupid, Amber." He shook his head, "I played along cause I didn't know if your lover is in on all of this…"
"All of this?"
"Lord! Don't play dumb, I know Lord Tristan didn't just molest you! I mean how could I now know when you were raving about treason and such!" Drew exclaimed.
"So, who are you?"
"I doubt you'll know who I am…" I mumbled, wondering if I he would tell the Duke and get me arrested.
"I'm not going to tell anyone, especially not the Duke." He said like he had read my mind.
"It's a long story."
"Like I said before Lord Tristan deserves to die, he treats all my girls horribly but I won't have any of them wrapped up in his murder. So if you do it make sure it doesn't lead down to my kitchen." He said sternly, I nodded.
"I would tell you if I could but the less you know the better for everyone…"
"I didn't you would tell me." He mumbled.
"Deirdre is my real name," I said compulsively with a quick smile, "But I don't you would know me by that name…"
How many names do you have?"" He said with a laugh.
"Too many." He shook his head.
"Darcie Swan," I exclaimed suddenly.
"What?" Drew said with a confused look, "You worked for her?"
"No, I am her." I answered, feeling a thousand times lighter- not that it really mattered that he knew but he had been kind to me and I felt like somehow I was paying him back.
"Darcie Swan!" He gasped and took a step back.
"Drew! Come on! It's not that serious!" I laughed slapping his shoulder lightly, "There's work to be done!" I couldn't help laughing as a walked back to the kitchen leaving Drew gapping behind me, I guess I had more of a reputation then I thought.
I kept catching Drew staring at me for the rest of the day but I don't think he told anyone because none of the other girls acted any different except to give me a hugs and kisses when I came back in, they were probably more relieved that they weren't going to get in trouble then the fact I hadn't killed Tristan… The rest of the day sped by and I was surprised when I saw Kayden waiting for me by the kitchen door that led outside.
I couldn't help feeling shy when we left together, he took my hand and we walked silently for a while. I don't think either of us could find a way to put what we felt in works, but I was fine with the silence for the time being- I hadn't really realized how much I had truly missed him. I had made myself so busy so I couldn't think about him and now all the sudden I wasn't and he was right there with me.
I led him to my rooms and he laid down on the bed, pulling me down beside him. I sighed contentedly and curled up next to him, as close as possible like I believed he would just disappear or something. He kissed my cheek and I smiled scooting up so I could kiss his lips.
"I love you." He whispered.
"I love you too." I answered and snuggled closer to him, breathing in his warm scent. What am I doing? I asked myself, scared to death he would leave and hurt me again. I was afraid I couldn't take that pain again.
Next thing I knew the birds where chirping and the sun was shining threw the curtains. And Kayden was still there, right beside me, his arm draped over me.