Chapter 1: I missed you too.
This is an original and fictional story. Any resemblance with true events, people (death or alive) and places is a coincidence. If you see this story published in any plataform other than Inkitt, please report it as plagiarism and let me know.
I’ve been a maid my whole life, or at least as far as I can remember.
My mother was a stranger who one stormy day arrived at Lancaster Manor malnourished, beaten and heavily pregnant asking for help. The state she was in caused her to go into labour earlier and I was born that same night.
She never said her name or my fathers, neither she explained the trouble she was in. She died due to labour complications, but with her last breath she muttered my name while holding me close. Nobody filed a missing person report with her description, nor there was any accident near the property, leaving our origin in the dark. The only thing I have left from her is a silver necklace she was wearing that day, not even a picture to remember her, but lady Lancaster says I’m her living portrait except for the eyes and my unruly hair.
After my mother’s passing, the Lancaster family took me in and cared for me almost as their own child, except for the luxuries and lack of responsibility. I used to take lessons with private tutors, I play the piano and know how to speak three languages; their real son probably knows five times what I do but, as I said before, I was also a maid at their mansion. I’m just grateful they gave me an education instead of letting me be a stupid country girl.
The housekeeper, Helen, is like my grandma, she thought me everything I know about being a maid. She widowed after very few years of marriage, without offspring, and was so heartbroken that never got married again. As a kid I was always in trouble with her because she’s very strict and scarier than the devil when she gets mad, but behind her stern gaze I know she cares deeply for me.
I’d not say I’ve had an easy life but I’ve been happy here and my hardships are bearable, almost frivolous. I’m not mistreated, on the contrary; and everyone treats me fairly, praising me when I perform well and scolding me when I misbehave or make a mistake.
This week is my 21st birthday and it’s the first time in years I’ve missed my death mom and inexistent dad. In the Seven Lands Kingdom it’s tradition to throw a big party to announce the passing of age, in some cases it is also an engagement party for it isn’t legal to marry before both parties have reached adulthood; but the most important thing is a secret ceremony passed from one generation to the other in which the legacy of the family is taught and special abilities surface. Unfortunately for me it’s strictly forbidden to do the ceremony with someone not blood related, which means I cannot be awakened in the traditional way.
Truth to be told, I’ve been researching the matter and there is another ceremony for people like me. Each district has a sorceress with knowledge beyond imagination, they are in charge of maintaining the balance and one of their ceremonies is the awakening of orphans like me. Bad news is that information isn’t common knowledge; I don’t know where to find her and I’m running out of time.
I look at my reflection in the mirror to find a pair of electric blue eyes, unruly curly auburn hair, plump cupid bow’s lips and a straight nose dusted with freckles. My uniform doesn’t make justice to my body, I have small breast but big hips and tights with a nice and round butt and a narrow waist. All my assets are hidden under a thick pair of black pants, a white long sleeved button-down and black jacket. Luckily, we don’t have to wear a ridiculous maids custom with the skimpy skirt or the apron, Lady Lancaster is a jealous woman and won’t let us be a temptation to her husband.
I fight my curls for a good half hour before I can tame it to a clean chignon and head downstairs to grab a coffee before my hectic day begins.
I greeted the few maids and cooks that were already in the kitchen and groggily sipped a cup of coffee, feeling the caffeine pump through my veins. I snatched a toast from a basket and got ready to work. Each member of the staff has their own daily duties but, in each section, there is a board with weekly special assignments.
This week the board was a total mess, we had so many things to do that Helen had to borrow an extra board. All the fuss was because the young master and heir of the Lancaster family was coming back home after five years abroad. He left a couple months after his coming of age when no women in the Seven Lands turned out to be suitable to become Lady Lancaster and the King requested a group of young noblemen to enhance the relations with the neighboring kingdoms.
In my opinion that was only an excuse to party hard and have sex with exotic foreign beauties. Over the years some of the ambassadors, a title given by the King to sound as a legit operation, came back with a wife-to-be and a mistress or two. Beautiful women, none of them with physical similarities, some were obviously in love with the noble they arrived but some others had a greedy shine in their eyes. The only thing all of them had in common was that they gave birth to healthy babies after five or six months of pregnancy, a medical miracle if you ask me.
“You have a big bunch of work today. Why are you wasting time spacing out?” my best friend Ilse pulled my out of my thoughts. I grinned and pushed her playfully. After a quick check to our duties, I grabbed her to go to the main hall and start working.
Tomorrow is the welcoming party for the young master and, just as Ilse said, we had a big bunch of work. Ilse arrived to the mansion a couple years back after her awakening, apparently the ceremony revealed she would find her happiness here and her special ability was the envy of the other nobles. She is a bit telekinetic; she can replicate the movements of objects she’s touching which is very useful when you are throwing a party with over two thousand decorations. She only needs to prepare every set of materials the same way and while she makes one all the others will make themselves.
I help her prepare the stations, Lady Lancaster wants seven different types of decoration, making our job much more difficult, but what the boss want they get. I give myself five minutes to appreciate Ilse’s magic before running upstairs to tidy up the guest rooms. We’ll have around five hundred people in the mansion walls for the party and over a hundred are staying the night. My unlucky soul is in charge of supervising the task and, considering I’m a head maid, arrange our VIP gests accommodations myself.
It’s almost dinner time when I finish. I catch up with everyone in our dining room. It’s nothing fancy, a room next to the kitchen big enough to fit a table for twelve and a window facing the side of the property. We usually seat someone next to it to monitor the main entrance which is barely noticeable but give us enough time to rush if needed.
I chat a little with Lisa and brief Hellen in the activities of the day. I love her as if she was my grandma but she’s getting a bit too old for the job, I try to help her as much as possible but Lady Lancaster will have to appoint her replacement soon which makes me sad because I don’t want to lose her too.
After diner I check on Lady Lancaster, a good habit learned out of mistakes, you never know when the masters will come up with a last-minute request. I write down everything she wants and bid her goodnight. I change my uniform for a thin nightgown and a light coat, I grab a lantern and my notebook to head for the library and do some research before my midnight rounds.
The younger girls always attract lots of attention from the male members of the staff and we don’t want to have any pregnant girl out of wedlock; I’ve heard enough sad stories about abandoned women and abortions going wrong. I’ve lost a friend to that destiny before and ever since I promised that I would do everything in my power to prevent it to happen to anyone else. Thus, the midnight rounds are a must of my day-to-day life.
In my way to the library, I catch a lovebird trying to force his way in through a window and scold the lad a tad too harsh, taking mental note of the bedroom he wanted to get into, the young lady was going to get her earful in the morning.
Finally, I reach the library and go straight to the oldest section. Some of the books are so old the pages are extremely fragile and there is a big pile of ancient scrolls in languages I don’t understand. I take a few I haven’t checked yet and seat in my usual spot next to the window in the corner.
A low screech alerts me and I tense, the library isn’t off limits to me but it’s very late and I don’t want to get in trouble. The sound of a purr and a flying fluffy ball landing on my lap make the tension in my shoulders disappear.
“Hello, sir. Buttercup” I greet the cat, my loyal partner in crime. He’s too old to play pranks with me anymore but he still makes me company when I come to the library or am sewing in my room. “How many mice did you catch today?” I scratch behind his ears and smile at his scoff, as if he were saying catching mice is a low activity for such a high-class cat like him. “Very well, I’ll stop teasing you and start reading. We haven’t found it yet, Sir. Buttercup”.
I grab the last scroll with trembling hands and open it carefully, praying it’ll contain the information I’m looking for. The title shatters my hope in a million pieces “Healing plants: Herbs, flowers and trees which may save a life… Are you SERIOUS?” I scream throwing the scroll across the room with all my might and falling to the ground in the process. “It’s useless, Sir. Buttercup, I’ll never find her” I sob clenching my hand against my chest.
The cat gives me a pitiful look and rubs against my leg, trying to comfort me but the tears don’t stop flowing down my cheeks. Suddenly, a big shadow fall upon me, startling me and making me recoil in fear to the wall. With a blurry vision, due to the tears, I can’t identify the figure in front of me, but I can tell it’s not Lord Lancaster nor one of the staff members, he’s just too big.
“Identify yourself or I’ll scream for help” I threaten him, grabbing a heavy book as a weapon. Maybe if I hit him on the head, I’ll be able to escape.
“I know a pen is sharper than a sword, little mouse, but I don’t think the same applies with a book” a deep voice chuckled.
I whipped my eyes furiously to get rid of my tears and get a good view of the man in front of me. I could swear I was hallucinating because the must gorgeous specimen of a man was standing in front of me. He was very tall, at least six feet, with broad shoulders and a strong chest showcased by his unbuttoned shirt; he had a strong jaw and high cheekbones covered by a light stubble slightly darker than his wheat blond hair and thick eyebrows framing a pair of beautiful emerald green eyes.
A deep chuckle took me out from my daze and then realization hit me. In front of me was no other than the young master and I was ogling him. Embarrassment tinted my cheeks red and I bowed deeply.
“Welcome home, young master. Please forgive the intrusion, I was not informed of your arrival. I’m the maid senior of the household, Enid.” I raised my head and noticed he was looking at the pile of scrolls next to me. I quickly grabbed them and put them back in the shelf.
“I didn’t know you liked botanic” he murmured handling me the scroll about healing plants I had thrown across the room.
“I don’t” I hissed, snatching it from his hand. “Therefore, the flying lesson across the room” He chuckled, earning an eyeroll from me. I was beginning to remember how infuriating he was. It’s not like we hate each other or something, we just don’t get along. We were raised like family, but at the same time we were taught the differences between us making our relationship a complicated one. “If you don’t need anything, young master, I’ll take my leave. Tomorrow is the big party and I would hate to deprive you from much needed sleep to enjoy yourself in such a joyous day”
I bowed slightly and strolled to the exit before something else happened. I was about to cross the threshold when he spoke again.
“I missed you too, Enid”