“What did you cook for the Master?” Madam Lennie asked. She didn’t bother checking nor tasting the food I prepared for the Master.
“Uhm...chicken piccata and grilled bread. It was listed on the book Sir Oliver gave me. I chose the dish because I know how to prepare it perfectly,” I confidently said then smiled at her, almost proud of myself. “But, it’s all thanks to you, Madam. You told Sir Oliver—”
She cleared her throat, “Very well. I’m going to present this to our Master now, and you will have to step behind me.”
I followed Madam Lennie as she started walking on the corridor, pushing the food trolley that carries what I cooked for our Master. We stopped outside his room. I couldn’t convince my lips not to frown as I tried to observe everything. If the Master ate in his room, why did he bothered having a large diner in his house? Since I stepped inside the house, I’d been so full of questions.
Madam Lennie knocked thrice. Not waiting for someone to answer, she opened the unlocked door herself then took a step in. I was about to move to follow her when she interrupted.
“Stay here,” she demanded crisply. I almost raised my right brow.
“Master promised me a contract, I think it’s just right for me to go see him,” I insisted.
Madam Lennie smirked at me mockingly. “You forced the Master, and as far as I can remember, he didn’t make any promises.”
“I just need assurance!” I argued. “Just because he gave me an important position, doesn’t mean everything is settled. I still don’t know how long this would last. I have to talk to him.”
“You really got some nerve somewhere inside you, Miss Hart,” she commented. “You stay here,” she repeated. “You’ll be informed if the Master asks for your presence.”
I sighed sharply. What kind of Master was he? He had no sense of humility! I complained silently. How fair it was that Madam Lennie was the only person allowed to enter his precious room? People around him work so hard and all he ever did was watch them from some hidden cameras? How creepily impolite! I kept lurking while tapping my right foot on the floor.
What’s the point of having a lot of money when you’re all alone? Indeed, money is never everything. He was comfortably eating what I prepared and I was here waiting outside his room, full of worries and anxiousness. I wondered if what I was doing right now would be enough to at least cost a penny so my family could eat. How could I ever trust someone that seemed so… invisible? I clicked my tongue in disbelief.
Madam Lennie came back with an empty trolley. Undoubtedly, he liked what I made.
“Did he say something?” I asked with excitement, blinking my eyes.
“Well, congratulations, Miss Hart. He did not complain about the meal,” she informed with an empty expression.
I bit my lower lip, smiling. “Really? Um, you asked him, right? If I could see him?”
“Did he said yes? What was his answer?”
“Nothing. Obviously, he’s not going to see you,” she pointed out.
I sighed. “Alright, alright.”
I reached for my toque blanche from my head, held it down then swallowed. I couldn’t sense a drop of courage in me, but I didn’t care.
“Tell him to forget about the soup because I quit! I’m going to expect my salary for today’s hard work, first thing in the morning,” I raged.
“I will tell the Master what you just said, Miss Hart,” she said with a nod as if it meant nothing. I chinned up. I had to at least show some dignity.
“Good. Then, you gotta tell him now.”
“Of course, Miss Hart,” she acknowledged, her expression stoic. “But only when I’m done with my chore for the day.”
“Just what kind of person are you? You pretend that you’re the head of the workers here, but all you say is the opposite. What’s wrong with this house? Why is it so dark and gloomy? It’s suffocating,” I infuriatingly questioned. “Forget what I said. I’m leaving tomorrow morning, probably none of you will ever notice. And he could bid his last goodbye on that information he’s dying to know, but won’t get the chance to,” I bluntly said then readied myself to leave. “Excuse m—Aw! What the hell?”
A strong hand pulled my arms, it made my back slapped against the wall. I squeezed my eyes shut with the pang of pain I felt then opened them, only to see nothing but darkness. Everything happened so fast I could still feel the firm grip on my arms on top of my head. I was still pinned against the wall. I swallowed hard, blinking my eyes rapidly, wishing to see a sheath of light but nothing appeared. The only thing I noticed on the abyss I was stuck with; was a familiar scent I knew I had smelled before. The man under the shower instantly popped out of my mind, and I could never be wrong.
“Stop. Will you?” he finally spoke with a sharp, angry voice.
The Master? I mentally asked though it was pretty obvious. Who would snatch me out of light just to talk to me in darkness? I couldn’t suspect another man other than our strange master.
“Or what? Who wouldn’t lose his temper in this kind of bullshit situation?” I snarled.
“You’re yelling at Lennie! I just need some time!” He whispered hard and tight, but I sensed the tension in his voice. He was breathing heavily, just like me. Our breath was louder than our voice. His chest was pressing against mine. He felt... hard.
“Let me go, please! Can we please turn on the light?” I pleaded in a low voice.
“No!” he shouted then released my hand. “How did I ever end up meeting a woman like you?” he asked in frustration.
“You already said that twice and if it wasn’t clear to you, I. Don’t. Care.” I retaliated. Not being able to move, the darkness made me feel immobilized. How could this man move comfortably in the dark? Was I having an encounter with a supernatural creature? I inhaled frustratingly then sighed sharply, shaking the ridiculous thought away.
“I’m going to arrange the contract, but can’t you just wait? I still have to consult my lawyer about this. Besides, you agreed to do it tomorrow, how can you be so stubborn?” he answered impatiently.
I couldn’t hold back my curiosity. “Why are you living like this? How could you live like this? Why can’t you just show your face?”
“Why would you want to see me in the first place?” he asked back. No hint of anger in his very masculine voice.
I swallowed. “I was just... you are…” I sighed. “You have no manners,” I commented under my breath. “Do you think to talk to people without showing your face is a sign of a good attitude? It’s rude and too informal. I don’t want to end up like Madam Lennie who became humorless because she worked for you like this.”
I gasped as I felt him breathe near my left cheek. He smelled... sweet with a drop of aftershave. “I am a monster, Miss Hart. You wouldn’t want nor wish to see me,” he uttered then added, “if you only knew.”
“Out!” he demanded, back from being blasé.
“You can’t do this forever you know,” I insisted.
“I said, out. Now,” he repeated gruffly.
“Okay! Fine! But Master,” I answered. “I’m still expecting the contract.”
“I hate repeating myself, Miss Hart. Go. Out. Now!” His footsteps faded. I jerked when all the lights clicked open. My eyes searched for him instantly, but he was nowhere. My head throbbed in pain. Everything was much complicated than I thought. I walked my way out of the room.
Madam Lennie wasn’t waiting outside. I decided to go into the main kitchen, wishing to see a normal human being to talk to. Perhaps, Sir Oliver.
Weirdly, two maids were looking at me then whispered to each other as I passed by them, walking my way straight to the fridge to get myself a glass of water. The other maids stopped talking then watched me intently.
I poured myself a glass of cold water and drank it all straight when Sir Oliver came. I was in his station after all.
“Hey,” he approached.
“Hi.” I forced a smile.
“I heard about your little scene,” he matter-of-factly said, smiling, crossing his arms over his chest then leaned against the fridge.
I frowned. I knew what he meant, but he smiled like it was not the Master we were talking about. Oh, right, he was his cousin. “What actually wonders me,” I started, “was how you became cousins. You’re crazy if you didn’t notice your huge difference.”
He chuckled then cocked his head, “You’ll get along with him soon. He wasn’t always like that,” he replied then shrugged.
“Oh, and by that, you meant he was worse, right?” I responded smirking sarcastically. “Sorry, I don’t mean to sound like the bad witch here.”
He gave me another glass of water, I gulped half of it.
“Nah, he’s kind and gentle. My cousin,” he comforted smiling. “Oh, well... at least he liked what you cooked for him.”
I nodded. “Yeah. I’m going back to my room. Thanks by the way.”
“For being normal.” I laughed. “Thanks for this,” I lifted the glass of water then gulped it empty.
He grinned. “You’re welcome. Good night, Alayna.”
“Good night, Sir Oliver.”