I could see half of his face through a sheath of light that slipped from somewhere in the room. I wanted to step back but I was pinned on the wall with his hands on my wrist, pushing me a little harder. His breathing rapid, his pinkish sexy lips almost touching mine. A familiar smell of an aftershave tickled inside my nose. God! He’s waking up every hormone in me!
“No. Don’t kiss me! Oh, God, don’t you da—” I looked around me as the sharp sound of bell kept ringing.
Madam Lennie glared at me while holding a small bell enough to wake a girl who had an intimidating dream. I felt my face burning with shame. Two maids who looked exactly alike, were staring at me, their big lips were pursed but it was obvious they were trying their hardest not to laugh, their chinky eyes betrayed their fake stoic look. My eyes went down on as I notice they were holding something. A white silk, bulky dress, and white flat shoes patterned with sequences.
What are they doing here? I asked mentally.
“The Master will see you in ten minutes. He expects you to be early,” Madam Lennie spoke.
“What? He’s—he’s what? He’s going to see me? Why?” I asked in a panic. What did I do wrong now?
“For your information young lady, you forced the Master about this matter. I want you out of your bed now and stop complaining. He sent this clothes for you to wear on your breakfast with him,” she explained in sarcasm.
“Breakfast? He’s really—never mind!” I rushed out of bed then snatched the shoes and the dress.
The twin jerked, shocked with my sudden move.
“Ma’am, we’re supposed to help you with that—”
I held my hand, signaling them to stop. They eyed each other, then they settled their gaze back on mine.
“Just go out, please. I can do this all by myself, I don’t need any help, thank you,” I continuously said then walked towards the bathroom.
I gargled some mouthwash then searched for the dry shampoo I thought I saw when I was organizing my amenities.
“Moisturizer, hair mask, shower gel—no. Where is it? There! Dove!” Was I forming a habit of talking to myself in private? I opened the cap then sprayed the dry shampoo on my hair.
I didn’t know working in a mansion could be such torture. How was I supposed to get into the Master’s room earlier than the ten-minute time he instructed? Madam Lennie just woke me up!
I quickly put on the dress that I noticed, has too many ties… Ties? Ties don’t zip. Zipper zips, not ties. How was I supposed to tie this up all by myself?
I went out of the bathroom, almost tripping. Madam Lennie and the twin were still in my room. I heaved a sigh of relief.
“Turn around and chew your pride, you can’t tie that dress in perfect knot alone,” Madam Lennie said. I lazily turned my back on the twin.
“Don’t you have any sense of fashion in you?” Madam Lennie questioned. “Take off your bra.”
The maids secretly laughed. I ignored. Wait. Take my bra off?
“Are you kidding? I’m going to have breakfast with the Master and I’m not going to wear a bra? Isn’t that a little inappropriate? I should be presentable.”
“Yes, you should be and this bra could slip out of that dress. Didn’t you notice the padding of this dress?”
I placed both my hands in front of the dress then squeezed it a little. The padding. Yeah, there was padding but no, I did not—in my whole life—tried to go out of my room without wearing any brassiere.
“The Master isn’t going to strip you, young lady! I can’t believe he is actually going to show himself after all these years.”
“It’s uncomfortable. God, I’m only going to eat breakfast with him, why is everyone overreacting?”
She unhooked my bra then grabbed it out. I rolled my eyes. Harassment at its finest.
“How long it has been?” I asked raising both my arms so the dress would perfectly fit my body.
She sighed, “I lost count, but it was more than ten years, I think. You’ll feel comfortable soon enough. You’ll feel the paddings doing their job,” she assured. “What information do you have? Why was he desperate for it to the point where he’d show his face in exchange of hearing it?”
“You’ve been taking care of him since he was a kid, you said.”
“Yes. I know his family. I’ve been working for them for a very long time.”
“Why are you suddenly talking to me?” I could feel the tightness of the dress as Madam Lennie knotted the ties.
“Frankly, I want to know how the meeting will go. I am expecting you to tell me how he is in front of someone else.”
I smiled a little then nodded. “Sure. Madam Lennie. I thought you are just an emotionless human being,” I joked. “But you care for him, right?”
“Yes. Come now, I’ll take you to the dining room.”
“Dining? He’s going to show himself to everyone?”
Madam Lennie shook her head, “No. It’s just you and the Master. No one is allowed to enter the dining room, while he’s inside.”
I nodded. “I see.” I blew out a sharp breath. “Okay. I’m ready.”
Madam Lennie stopped at the entrance of the dining room when we got there. The maids gathered with her.
“This is how far I can take you. Oliver will serve your breakfast in about an hour, that would give you and the Master enough time to talk. You are late as usual. The Master might be inside when you come in.”
I nodded. “Thank you, Madam Lennie. I’ve been looking forward to this day,” I giggled.
She smiled. “Good luck and you don’t have to knock.”
I nodded then smiled back.
I didn’t knock just like what I was told. When I got in, I was expecting him to be sitting, waiting impatiently on the long table, but he wasn’t. He was standing in front of a beautiful painting of a girl. It’s as if the girl was staring at him. I smiled as I realized he really was the guy I saw in the bathroom. The same feature of a man stood in front of me, the same perfect back view yet covered in a navy blue designer suit. I cleared my throat, loud enough to catch his attention.
“I know you are there Miss Hart,” he said icily, yet the melodious sound was present. He was still looking at the painting.
“I’m sorry if I had to do this.”
“Sit down, Miss Hart,” he ordered.
I sighed. I took the chair on the other side of the long table then sat quietly.
The world seemed to stop then slowed down as he turned around to show himself to me. His face. Half of this face was exactly the features of the man on the painting in the living room. It wasn’t until he showed his whole face that I realized he was wearing a mask.
A white mask.
On the right side of his face.
Master Brandon sat on the other side of the long table. He placed the black folder he was holding on the table then tapped it thrice. “This is your contract. I want you to watch me sign this using my own fingers, just like what you asked for.”
I didn’t understand a bit of what he just said. My eyes were glued to his face. Why was he wearing a mask? He was obviously gorgeous in the painting. It was him. I couldn’t be wrong. But why is he covering his face? I mentally asked.
He was beautiful with just half of his face showing.
“Miss Hart?” he called.
“Hi. Yes?” I stuttered.
“Did you hear what I just said?”
I swallowed, “Yes,” I answered softly. My eyes still at the unmasked side of his face.
He looked away, but my gaze followed his movement. “Don’t look at me,” he uttered.
“No. Please don’t look away.” I didn’t know where my words came from.
“Don’t what?” he asked huskily.
“Don’t look away,” I repeated softly. “Master...”
He cleared his throat, “Let’s proceed, Alayna.”
“Say that again and look at me,”
I swallowed, “Mister Lucien, I mean, Master Brandon, I—you—um, you are wearing a mask.”
“Does it bother you?” he asked.
“No, no. I was just wondering why.”
“It doesn’t have anything to do with our deal.” He finally faced me. I almost fell out of my seat. I was honestly looking at the painting since the day I got here. I didn’t expect that the painting would really turn out to be the Master.
“You are the man in the painting.”
He smirked, “How could you know?”
“There,” I pointed my finger on the unmasked side of his face. “It’s you.”
He exhaled a deep breath, “Miss Hart if you still want your contract, I don’t want you to say anything that doesn’t have to do with our deal.”
“I’m sorry...um, you showed up with a mask. I was just...surprised. But, you’re here, physically, and I’m glad you showed up.”
“You’re not going to tell Lennie what you’re seeing or I’m going to break our deal. Do you understand?”
Why? She was so worried about him! “Okay. Sure,” I agreed.
“And stop. Staring. At. Me. Like. That!” he warned tightly.
“I’m sorry, you’re just so…so beautiful,” My eyes widened in shock when the words I said started to sink in. I covered my mouth then looked down on my lap.