″The house is coming along nicely, Monsieur Blake.″
Esmee walked past Ben, while smiling gently, unnoticed by her employer. Ben’s attention was focused on the house plans he had in his hands. He barely lifted his eyes to catch her sweetness. Esmee walked into the kitchen, pushed past several workers and found her way to the stove. She was baking a cake for Monsieur Blake and she wanted it to be perfect. He was such a sweet man, when he wasn’t all up in his head. Which was most of the time, but she saw him for who he really was. A man with a genuine heart who needed to be loved. She knew she would never be the one to capture it. She was but the help, a live in housekeeper, maid, what she knew how to do, she did it. She knew what kind of food he liked, how he liked his flowers watered, but the way into a person’s heart was not by keeping his house. She pulled the cake out of the stove and looked at her marvelous creation.
″It needs to be bigger. The living room is not the size we agreed on.″
Xavier looked at him with a bewildered look. Do it over? Bigger? How big did Monsieur Blake want his house? He had already added seven rooms to his already gigantic mansion, and he wanted more? He wouldn’t have any green left in back if he continued this way.
″If that’s what you want, that’s what we will do Monsieur Blake.″
Ben walked away satisfied. He had come from so little and now he wanted so much more. He walked past the kitchen and into the room that was to be the dining room. Up until today, the room had been closed off because of all the debris and the wet paint. He pushed the door and walked into the room.
Ben cringed inside when he found the room decorated with birthday streamers and balloons. Everyone looked so happy to see him, the least he could do was act as much. But he wasn’t. His birthday was just a reminder that he was getting old and life was passing him by. He had woken up with a strange feeling of emptiness and he wanted to fill it with material things. He knew in a sense it wasn’t right, but his entire life had been filled with heartbreak up until this point. Houses, cars, clothes, yachts. Material things couldn’t hurt you. He thanked every person for being there and walked up to Esmee.
″You know I hate birthdays.″
She smiled and turned around. She picked up the cake and uncovered it.
″I know you like cake.″
He looked down and saw the most intricate piece of work he had ever seen. She had baked a simple lemon cheese cake, but she covered it with light blue frosting imitating the ocean. On top, she placed a yacht made of fondant, with a tiny green sail. Exactly the same logo as his own. He looked up at Esmee and caught her smiling. He thanked her and had her place the cake aside. How could this woman be so kind to him? He had been in his own head this entire time. He had barely taken the time to notice her. This little fiery raven haired beauty. She was definitely not aiming to be gorgeous, she had not one ounce of makeup on and her uniform was ill fitting to say the least. But she had a twinkle in those hazel eyes and her heart was kind. He thought of her as a mere employee up until that very moment.
Esmee knocked on the door and waited. How could Monsieur Blake walk out on all those guests? Sure he hated birthdays, but why be rude? She crossed her arms and tapped her small foot against the wooden floors.
She walked inside his library and closed the door behind her.
″Dear Esmerelda, what seems to be the problem?″
She walked up to his desk and placed her hands on it.
″I know you don’t want to get old, but it’s a part of life. You have to accept it and move on Monsieur Blake.″
He looked up at her with a smirk on his face.
″Please call me Ben.″ Esmee was taken aback. He had never looked at her so closely before. She blushed and took a step back.
″Why can’t you appreciate your own birthday Ben?″
His name came out slowly from her parted lips. It seemed strange just saying it.
″I appreciate the effort you put into it Esmee. Thank you.″
There was something different about Ben, something had changed in him.
″I will leave you then.″
He stood up and walked to her.
″Stay for a little bit and have a drink with me.″
She walked to the door and opened it. ″I don't drink. Good night, Monsieur Blake.″
Esmee was cleaning the backyard, talking to herself it seemed. Ben watched from the kitchen and smiled. She sure was one beautiful woman. He wanted to ask her to diner, but he didn’t know how. He hadn’t been on a date in over two years and he was shy. Benito Blake was shy and nervous. He hated it. This woman could potentially hurt him.
Esmee sang while she passed the rake through the leafy grass. She was in her own world when she was alone. She thought about Ben and his asking her to stay with him. She felt so shy when she was around him. He made her feel vulnerable and she hated it. Only one man had made her fall in love and falling out of it hurt like hell. This new man could potentially hurt her.
Ben walk into the room and knew at once she was in it. The painters were finishing up in the living area and Xavier was off to the side checking on the work that still needed to be done.
″How many days until it’s completed Xavier?″
The worker turned and came face to face with a much calmer Monsieur Blake.
″Three more days and we can move onto the kitchen.″
″Perfect Xavier. Good job.″
He walked to the side of the room where Esmee was watering the plants.
″I need to speak with you.″
He motioned for her to step outside. He followed her and made her stop before reaching the grass.
″Tell me what I should do with the yard.″
She looked around, not much possibilities. He had added so much to the house but he had paid so little attention to the outdoors. Their was a large oak tree though, it provided good shade if one wanted to read beneath it. Now that she thought of it, a swing would be perfect. Her father had built her a swing when she was little and she had loved the feeling of almost flying.
″A swing on that tree would be lovely.″
Ben imagined her, swinging with her long raven hair flying in the wind. He became mesmerized. Esmee saw his eyes change and turned to go back inside. He held her by the arm.
″Please don’t go. I wanted to invite you to diner tonight. What do you think?″
She liked this man, but she didn’t want to lose her job when all went south.
″I think we should keep the relationship we have right now.″
Ben nodded, but thought she was wrong.
″I won’t give up Esmerelda. I like you more than an employee and that won’t change.″
She nodded and walked away. Damn the stubborn woman, why couldn’t she see he meant it?
A few days past without the pair talking more than a few kind words. Ben wanted to take it slow, but he definitely wanted the end result to be a date with her. He decided to install the swing himself as a surprise for her. He knew from a very reliable source that her birthday was in two days and that gave him enough time to put it up.