“Just a minute.”
“Oh, there you are,” I said as soon as I saw her carrying a big pot for the servant’s lunch, her curly hair tied to the top of her head.
“See? Today’s your favorite vegetable stew, my love,” she showed me the contents of the pot. “And I even slipped a piece of beef steak just for you,” she whispered.
I grinned as I retrieved the information. It was the advantage of having the cook as your lover. Sometimes I could even taste what our master served to his guests—and the feast tasted even better. It was, of course, without my mistress knowing, let alone Master Antipholus.
I had just gone home from the market, where I had just bought nice leather for Luce to make a new bag with six pennies my master had ‘thrown away’ to me when he had bought a nice cloth at the market yesterday. Master Antipholus didn’t thought that coins mattered anymore since his marriage.
Now before anyone asked… Yes—Luce was my lover. No matter what people said about her, I was sure we were a couple, and I didn’t even know how this happened. We first met when Master Antipholus and I had moved to my mistress’ resident—that now was called The Phoenix—thanks to my master’s corny sense. After that, it had just happened. I wasn’t even sure how we ended up together.
I remembered the first days when I had started living here. I had isolated myself because I never liked new people, especially when I was the new people in the house. I had tried to be with my master as much as possible just to avoid talking to the other servants, though it had meant more bruises on my head. I had always thought that the servants had been talking about me on my back. The only servant I had made contact to—just because I had really really had to, was the one who had brought me my meals and sat with me on this exact table without any reason. And that was Luce.
I had learned her name on my fifth day, just after she had asked me my name first. After that, we had started to find an excuse to talk to each other more than we should have. Maybe that was the start of everything with her.
When I was waiting for my lunch and finally took my usual seat, the corner-most seat in the servant’s dining hall, Bridget came in and told me that mistress wanted to see me. I bet it was just something unimportant related to my master. I shooed her with an ‘after lunch’ and a careless swing of my hand. She seemed uncomfortable with my answer somehow and huffed as she turned around and left, but I wished I hadn’t cared. I was famished.
As usual, Luce took a spoonful of vegetables for me first and I’d wait for her to take the last spoon of it and sat together with me. When I was waiting for her, the other servants were talking about how our master had skipped lunch again and how upset our mistress was.
See? I bet all of the pennies left in my pocket that my mistress only wanted to ask me if my master had been with me the whole morning and the answer was: no.
Now that I mentioned it, I hadn’t seen my master today. He hadn’t woken me up with his feet this morning. Well, but it was not the first time. Sometimes he forgot to do his morning ritual of kicking my feet just to wake me up to order me to do something—and sometimes he just wanted to annoy me. So, maybe everything would be as normal as every day.
“Dromio, don’t wait for me. I still have to chop the pork for the guests that master have told us will come,” Luce said as she walked passing me, carrying the empty pot to the kitchen.
“Oh. Are you sure?” I shouted. I wished I could’ve had this lunch with her today. I wanted to show her the leather I had just bought. I had chosen the leather myself. I thought this one would match her skin and look good on her.
“Yes,” I could hear her voice from the back of the kitchen in the middle of the usual chattering of servants complaining about the weather or their job.
“Well, okay then,” I nodded, kind of disappointed, more to myself since she was already off to somewhere in the kitchen.
I quickly snatched a piece of bread from the large basket in the middle of the table and was ready to take my first bite when suddenly Bridget came back with more urgency. She was telling me that the mistress was coming here to strangle me.
I almost scoffed. Of course, I didn’t believe that. Either it was a joke or the women were trying to pull a prank on me again. As if they had ever succeeded anyway. And if—if they ever succeeded anyway, I could always tell Luce to cut their lunches. I narrowed my eyes and smirked at my own thoughts.
I was ready to take the second attempt to take a huge bite of bread when suddenly—
It was really the mistress—with even higher voice. Her first shout had been enough to silence some servants sitting near the door and her second shout had been enough to silence all of the chattering in three seconds and made all servants threw their eyes onto me, including Bridget with a very annoyed look saying, “Told you.”
I sighed as I threw my bread onto my plate and quickly left the leather for Luce on the table. No matter how much I wanted to see her happy face when she saw my little gift, I knew I just couldn’t run from my mistress.
Somehow I knew something bad—really bad, would happen to me.