The After Effects

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Instilled Fear

I could've groaned as the hot water pelted my skin.

Could've... Who am I kidding? I straight up moaned as the steamy water burned my skin.

I woke myself up mid-snore this morning, feeling refreshed and absolutely comfortable. The silk sheets of the comforter encased me, making it hard for me to want to get out of the soft bed. That was until I remembered the hot shower.

To my surprise, shampoos, conditioners, and soaps filled the closet of the bathroom, along with fluffy towels and many other toiletries... I grabbed the best smelling shampoo and conditioner, a vanilla and cherry blossom smell along with a soap that smelled of roses.

I scrubbed my head with the amazing smelling shampoo and conditioner, working every strand of hair with the soap. After my hair was thoroughly washed, I covered every inch of my skin with the rose body soap... twice. The hot stream pouring down on my skin washed the soap away with no troubles, the sight mesmerizing.

And for the first time in years, I used the razor that was supplied in the closet, shaving every inch of my skin.

By the time I was ready to get out of the shower, my skin was an angry red and fog filled the huge bathroom. But a stupid smile split my face, something I couldn't help.

I drug my hand across the mirror, attempting to clear the fog coating it, but it did little.

I wrapped a towel around me and another around my hair before I left the bathroom, in search of clothes.

No noise could be heard around the house, Harper still asleep.

I padded my way through the living room and into my room, before shutting the door and opening the black colored wardrobe.

Instantly my smile dropped as I saw the dresses hanging on hooks inside the wardrobe. Horrid dresses. I shut the wardrobe and turned to my new clothes that I'd bought yesterday.

I pulled on the matching black underwear and bra, before shimmying into the tight black leather pants. Next, I buttoned up the black and white plaid shirt, a rare shirt nowadays. Concluding my usual dark look, I slid on black stiletto high heel ankle boots that were supplied in the wardrobe.

If I'm going to deal with castle folk, I mean as well look good doing it. I justified the heels with myself, since they were something I couldn't wear while out in the wilds. But I'm not in the wilds... I'm in something worse... A castle.

Taking my hair out of the towel, I used a new brush that had been in the bathroom and brushed out my hair. The bristles were gentle as they pulled apart the knots in my hair, doing an amazing job at taming my mane of hair.

I could definitely get used to Castle Life. I smirked, deciding to leave my hair down.

"Ivy?" A small, sleep-coated, voice pulled me from my thoughts.

I opened the door to my room to find Harper rubbing her eyes while stumbling across the living room.

"Good morning, Buckaroo." I smiled at her.

Relief flooded Harper's eyes as she suddenly sprinted towards me and wrapped her arms around my waist. "Oh thank goodness, I thought it was all a dream."

I pat Harper's head as she hugged me tightly. "How about you shower, while I run down and get us breakfast?" I asked. Harper pulled away and rapidly nodded her head.

"Alrighty then." I led Harper to her room and opened her wardrobe. I was shocked to see little girl's dresses filling the closet. How did they-?

"Look at this one!" Harper exclaimed while lunging for the sparkling teal dress. I reached up and took the dress off the hanger for her, bringing it down to her level, she beamed as she grabbed it from me. "I'm going to look like a princess."

I smiled as I led her to the bathroom and helped her pick out what soap and hair products she wanted. She picked a sweet-smelling soap and minty smelling shampoo and conditioner.

Once she was all settled, I left her to her own devices and made my way through the castle and to the kitchen. The whole way to the kitchen, my eyes were on high alert, searching for the familiar face that I knew was lurking somewhere around here.

Kitchen staff bustled around, cleaning up from breakfast.

I smiled at the main cook as she turned around and spotted me almost immediately.

"Lady Bjerke!" She grinned at me, obviously more comfortable around me then she was last night. "I don't recall seeing you at breakfast?"

I nodded my head. "That's why I came down, I was wondering if you had any leftovers and could make up two plates for me?"

"I'd love to." She turned around and barked some orders at her helpers before she turned back to address me. "Anything else, I can do for you, Lady Bjerke?"

"Please, just call me Ivy." I insisted.

The head cook nodded, "Alright then, Ivy, if you ever need anything just ask for Sarah and I'll come running."

I nodded my thanks before leaving the kitchen so they could work. Leaning against the door frame, I stood beside the kitchen door while I waited for my food.

A prickling feeling of being watched filled me again, though I could see nor hear anybody besides the kitchen staff. That's two times now. I scanned the hallway and beyond, looking for any sign of somebody but came up empty.

How odd?...

"Lady Bjerke?" A voice asked, hesitance and fear coating the voice.

I spun to the door, having been completely lost in searching for whatever was causing me to feel strange. The boy from last night stood outside the door from the kitchen, my food wrapped up and in his hands.

"Oh thank you." I gently grabbed the food from him, not wanting to scare him as he refused to make eye contact with me.

Once I had the food, I made to turn away in the hope of making him more comfortable. "I'm sorry." The same voice said again.

"Excuse me?" I quirked my eyebrow. He has no reason to apologize, so why is he?

"About last night. I didn't know who you were and I was horrible to you." The boy spits out the words swiftly, panic made him shake slightly. "I deserve whatever you-" His eyes looked everywhere but mine.

"It's fine." I sighed. "You have nothing to apologize for. It was a misunderstanding, that's all." I reassured the boy, who was barely older than Harper and trembling in my presence.

That retched title and the fear it instills in people...

The boy sighed, relief sagging his shoulders. "Thank you so much, Acer."

I fought the urge to rage at the title, correcting him instead. "Just call me Ivy, please."

The boy finally made eye contact. "Thank you... Ivy."

"Likewise," I said as I excused myself.

Taking the food back upstairs, I got to smell it the whole way there. The mouthwatering smell.

"I've got food," I announced as I closed the front door.

Harper looked fresh out of the shower, the beautiful teal dress fitting her perfectly. Her wet hair sat in a heap at her neck, begging to be brushed out.

"I feel like a princess." Harper squealed as she lunged for the plates of food.

"Uh no." I wagged my finger in her face. "We're going to brush that mess before we eat."

Harper frowned, but didn't fight me as I directed her to sit on a chair while I retrieved the extra hairbrush I had spotted early in the bathroom closet.

I brushed out her hair while she hummed the whole time. Once her beautiful white hair was knot-free, I pulled it back into a nice braid, feeling almost proud of my work.

Once done, we both snatched up the breakfast food and dug in.

Flavors flooded my mouth as I ate the best french toast I've ever had. The sausage and bacon on the side were cooked to perfection and nearly made me moan as I devoured the entire meal.

"What are we going to do today?" Harper asked, bouncing in her seat, having already finished her meal.

I turned and offered her a smile as I spoke, "How do you feel about school?"

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