Silence greeted me as I took in my surroundings. The seventh floor looked and felt deserted. I wondered how long had it been since anyone been up here. Trying to control my excitement, I begun walking around the seventh floor, not worried about getting caught.
The silence made me enjoy my surroundings more. The marble floors were gleaming like they had been recently polished. I got a closer look at the paintings and saw that some of them were portraits of Elizabeth. So the entire floor was dedicated to her. Was this where she stayed when she was young? Did the seventh floor belong to her?
Moving forward, I came across a thick wooden door. Without thinking twice, I turned the knob and found it locked. Shaking my head, I ventured farther, trying to open the doors but found them locked. It was like the secrets wanted to stay buried, did not want to see the light of the day.
Well good thing you found the diary, otherwise you would never have found out who or what was on the seventh floor.
While walking around, I finally came across the grand room where I had seen Elizabeth’s portrait for the first time. For some reason, the doors of this room weren’t locked, giving me access. I turned the knob and quietly slid inside, trying my best not to make a sound, even though the chances of me being heard were pretty slim.
The room was exactly the way I had seen it when I last stumbled upon here. A gigantic portrait of Elizabeth hung on the wall, making her look like a queen of this castle. However, there was one thing that didn’t make sense to me as I gazed at the portrait. Elizabeth looked older, in her thirties; how and why did her portrait looked so recent if she had been banished years ago? The only way that I could think of was that maybe, somehow, Gideon and the others were still in contact with Elizabeth—if she was alive, that is. But if Gideon was in contact with his sister, why act like she didn’t exist?
While I contemplated the complicated mystery, making it even more complicated by coming up with one farfetched scenario after another, I decided to halt my processing’s regarding Elizabeth, and instead decided to find out more about her. So with one final look at the portrait, I turned on my heels and strode out of the grand room.
As soon as I exited the room, my eyes landed on a grand marble staircase. Gideon told me that the floors seven and above were forbidden. Indulging my curiosity, a bit more, I hastily climbed up the staircase, feeling like a kid who was about to do something wrong.
However, as soon as I reached the eighth floor, my jaw dropped. Everywhere I looked, Elizabeth’s face greeted me. There were about twenty portraits of her, and a few of an older woman with blonde hair, hanging on the walls in a straight, horizontal line. The woman in the portraits was Elizabeth, there was no doubt; however, in some portraits she was young, no more than a pre-teen, while in others she looked older. The portrait in which she looked the youngest looked very old and a little worn out, with a four year old Elizabeth standing next to a beautiful couple holding a baby in a blue blanket. I shuffled forward until I was standing in front of the portrait. I gently brushed my fingers over the portrait, feeling the smoothness of the glass case. The baby that the couple was holding must be Gideon, he was the second born. The family looked happy.
Smiling to myself, I stepped away from the portrait and gazed around. Aside from the portraits lining the walls, the eighth floor had a lot of tables pushed against the walls with lots of velvet boxes placed on them. The tables blocked the entrance to all the doors on the floor, leaving me once again confused and curious.
You really need to learn to mind your own business. Why do you always have to go poking your nose in things you’re not supposed to? Get a life or at least a hobby and stop prying into people’s business. My subconscious sneered as I eyed the big, red, velvet box with a gold latch on it.
It’s my husband’s business, which means it is my business.
Temporary husband. Stop poking your nose everywhere. What will your husband think of you when he’s going to find out you went behind his back and entered the forbidden territory? He’s going to kick you out of this castle before you can say Elizabeth Maslow.
I’ll cross that bridge when I’ll come to it.
Moving forward, I surveyed the velvet box before running my fingers over it. If this box belonged to Elizabeth, then that meant she loved velvet. Her diary was velvet bound, and now these boxes. In a couple of portraits, she was wearing heavy velvet dresses. Seeing the golden latch, I moved my fingers to it.
Don’t do it.
Pulling the latch, I opened the box and was greeted with lots of expensive jewelry. I picked up a few pieces of jewelry, eyeing the sparkling gems with awe and fascination. Why on Earth were these things lying in the open? True, this place was forbidden, but anyone could come up here and steal them. Either, this part of the castle was forbidden for everyone, family and staff alike, or the Maslows trusted their staff way too much.
Quickly putting the jewelry back in the box, I shut the box and moved on to the blue, velvet one which was lying next to the red one. The blue box was slightly smaller than the red one. Without thinking twice, I opened the blue box.
You are going to hell for this. Gideon will never forgive you. Turn back and go back to your room. Your husband trusts you, do not break his trust.
However, what I saw in the blue box was enough for me to throw caution to the wind and ignore my subconscious. There, staring at me, were four children, all of them below the age of ten. The girl was the oldest with shiny, blonde hair tied in pig tails, while the boys stood next to her, smiling, their eyes narrowed in slits as the sun beat down on them.
Picking up the photograph, I turned it around to inspect the back when I saw the names of the children. The first one was Elizabeth Maslow, followed by Gideon, Kieran and then Brenton. There were more photographs in the box. I quickly pulled all of them out of the box and slowly looked at each picture, smiling as I saw Gideon and his siblings growing up; going from children to teens and then reaching adulthood. There were only two photographs of all four of them at the age of eighteen.
I was smiling while looking at Gideon at the age of ten when a shrill sound tore the silence of the eighth floor. My heart jolted as I jumped, dropping the pictures and watching them all scatter on the marble floor. Cursing myself, I quickly fished out my phone from my pocket only to see Gideon’s name flashing across the screen.
Shit, Gideon why do you call every time I’m doing something wrong?
Taking a deep breath, I accepted the call and hesitantly put the phone to my ear. “Hello?”
“Hello, little fairy, how are you?” Gideon spoke. I could sense he was smiling while talking to me.
“I’m fine, thank you. How are you? Are you having a good day?” I enquired, bending down to pick up the scattered photographs with one hand.
“I’m great, and my day is going fine, however, it could be better,” he said.
“How could it be better?” I questioned, picking up a handful of photographs and placing them back in the box.
“Well, my wife is a wonderful cook and I was wondering if she would cook and bring me lunch,” he responded.
“Yo—you want me to make lunch for you?” I queried, making sure I heard him right.
“Yes, and bring it to me, if it’s not too much of a problem for you,” he replied.
“No, no, not at all, I’d love to make lunch for you, what would you like to eat?” I asked, grinning from ear to ear as I listened to Gideon. I couldn’t believe it; my husband had requested me to make lunch for him. I had no idea why I was feeling so happy, I just knew that I wanted to make Gideon happy, and if he wanted me to make lunch for him, then I was going to make the best meal he had ever tasted.
“Anything, as long as you make it,” he answered.
“But still, there must be something you want to eat,” I stated, picking the remaining photographs and putting them back in the box, making sure to place them neatly.
“Surprise me.” Was all he said.
I chuckled. “Okay, when should I come by your work place?” I enquired, walking towards the staircase.
“As soon as possible,” he answered.
“Okay, I’ll see you soon.” With a smile, I hung up.
Forgetting about Elizabeth, I hurried to the library and glided down the library stairs to the sixth floor. From there, I exited the library and headed to the kitchen, my thoughts on Gideon and what to make for him.
Helga’s frosty eyes greeted me as I entered the kitchen. I narrowed my eyes at her and walked to the pantry with my head held high. Quickly getting the ingredients that I wanted, I began cooking lunch for my husband.
After one and a half hour, I was putting the beef wellington and fish and chips in a basket for Gideon. I told the maids to only prepare lunch for Nico once he arrived and to make sure he changed out of his uniform. Once all was set, I left the castle and told the chauffeur to drive me to Gideon’s work place.
The chauffeur dropped me outside Maslow Enterprises after twenty minutes. I walked inside and took the elevator to Gideon’s floor, nobody stopped to ask me who I was and why I was there. But, as the elevator doors opened and I arrived at Gideon’s floor, his PA greeted me.
She was around twenty five, with brown hair and green eyes. She was dressed professionally, and her features were enhanced with makeup, making her look beautiful.
“Good afternoon, how may I help you?” She asked me.
“Uh, I’m here to see Mr. Maslow,” I said.
“Do you have an appointment?” She enquired.
“Um, no,” I replied. Gideon didn’t tell me I needed an appointment before coming here.
“I’m sorry Ma’am, but I can’t let you see Mr. Maslow without an appointment.” Just then, my phone rang. I pulled it out of my purse and accepted the call when I saw Gideon’s name.
“Little dove where are you?” He asked.
“I’m outside your office, you didn’t tell me I needed an appointment,” I said.
Without replying, Gideon hung up. After a few seconds, the door to Gideon’s office opened and Gideon emerged looking as handsome as I had last seen him—this morning. He smiled as he strode towards me.
“Why don’t you go inside; I need to speak to Melissa about something.” He told me. Nodding my head, I gave a small smile to Melissa and went inside Gideon’s room.
Gideon’s office was just as I remembered the last time I was here. The couch and the glass table were against one wall. The desk with a computer and other office supplies were to my right. It was clean and everything was in place.
“So what did you cook for me?” Gideon asked as he came back.
“I made beef wellington and some fish and chips, I hope that’s okay?” I carefully set the basket on the table.
“It’s perfect.” Gideon kissed my lips before sitting down on the couch.
“Thank God you came; I was worried that your lunch will get cold.” I opened the basket and took out a clean plate and the rest of the items. I cut a generous slice of beef wellington and added some fish and chips on the plate before presenting it to Gideon.
“Don’t worry, you won’t be having that problem now,” Gideon said, picking up a fry and popping it in his mouth.
“Does it taste okay?” I asked nervously. I worked hard to prepare this meal and I wanted Gideon to like it. It would make me sad if he didn’t like it.
“It tastes perfect, little peach. Why are you sitting like that, eat something, I want my baby to be healthy,” he ordered.
“It’s okay, I’ll eat when I’ll go home. I made this for you,” I replied.
Shaking his head, Gideon placed his plate on the table before standing up. From the basket, he took out a second plate and filled it beef wellington and fish and chips before sitting back down. Cutting up some beef wellington, Gideon begun feeding me. I tried to stop him, but he told me to stop talking and eat.
After fifteen minutes, Gideon fed me the last bite before putting the now empty plate on the table and picking up his, which he did not touch the moment he had started feeding me.
“There is a charity function on Saturday, I want you to accompany me,” he said out of the blue.
My eyes widened as I heard him. “Me?”
Gideon nodded. “Yes, we’ll go shopping for a dress for you,” he stated.
“But, but, I can’t go with you,” I said.
“And why not?” He enquired.
“Don’t you remember? You were the one who said he wants a woman with class and status to accompany him to social functions. And I’m not that woman. Yo—you should ask someone else to go with you.” My heart hurt when I said this and I had no idea why.
Gideon all but slammed his plate on the table, causing me to jump in surprise. I looked at him to see him glaring at me, his sea green eyes hard. Before I knew it, Gideon had pulled me on his lap and had cupped the back of my head with his hand.
“Listen to me and listen good because I’m only going to say this once. You are going to accompany me to this charity function and all the functions and social gatherings from this day forward, is that clear?” It was evident from his words that he only wanted to hear a ‘yes’ from me.
“Bu—But you said—” he cut me off.
“Forget what I said. It was in the past, and it’s gone now. You should focus on the present and what I’m saying now, got it?” He looked in my eyes, willing me to agree to him.
“Yes,” I said softly.
“Good girl.” Gideon kissed me like he had no intention of letting me go. Like this marriage was based on love and not on a contract. It was confusing, yet it succeeded in penetrating my heart, making me fall for my husband. I was falling in love, and I had no idea how I could stop.
The sound of a throat clearing broke Gideon and I apart. I looked to see a beautiful woman standing with a file in her hands. Gideon stood up and greeted her.
“Trish, how are you? What brings you here?” He asked the woman.
Trish looked about 5′8 with a glossy mane of auburn hair and hazel eyes. Her skin was smooth and her eyebrows were plucked to perfection. She was a beauty, a woman perfect to play the role of Gideon’s wife.
She waved the file in response to Gideon’s question. Gideon took the file from her and opened and both of them started conversing in hushed voices, while I sat there and stared at the two of them. A strange feeling started brewing in my core as I eyed my husband conversing with the woman. An unfamiliar ache shot at my heart as I saw Trish smiling secretly at my husband. It didn’t take a genius to know that Trish liked Gideon, more than an employee liked an employer. No, she wanted Gideon. She wanted my husband.
After ten minutes, Trish gave another secret smile to Gideon before sashaying out of his office. Gideon came back and sat down next to me.
“Are you going to marry her?” I blurted out before thinking.
“Who?” Gideon asked with a frown.
“Trish,” I answered.
“What? No, why would you think that?” He looked at me like I had lost my mind.
“Because she likes you and she has class and status,” I stated. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gideon did marry her, she was perfect, and exactly the kind of woman Gideon wanted.
“She doesn’t like me, I’m her boss and she’s my employee, that’s it,” he said firmly.
“No, she likes you, more than an employee should like an employer,” I responded.
Gideon chuckled. “Are you jealous, little one?” Gideon’s statement took me by surprise. Was that what this was? The strange feeling in my core, the unfamiliar pain? I couldn’t be jealous, could I?
“What?! No, why would I be jealous?” I feigned ignorance. Deep down, I wasn’t so sure.
“I don’t know, little fairy, you tell me.” Gideon gave me an amused look.
“I’m not jealous. I’m just saying that even if you do marry her, she will be perfect for you.” I said this with a heavy heart. Despite not wanting to believe it, I had a feeling that Gideon was right. I was jealous. Despite not wanting to, I had fallen for him, and it was the biggest mistake I could make.
“Well then, let me tell you that I’m never going to marry Trish, she’s not my type,” Gideon said, contradicting his earlier statement about wanting a woman with class and status.
I did not believe Gideon. I knew once this year was over and I was out of his life, Gideon would marry Trish, or someone like her. And he belonged with women like Trish. I just hoped that leaving Gideon would not break me.