I slammed the door of my bedroom shut and let out of a scream of frustration. How on this bloody Earth did they manage to install a gate in less than twenty four hours?! It was like they suspected that I would try to sneak upstairs. I wanted to hit something so bad. But I still wondered how did they managed to install such a huge gate in less than twenty four hours when I did not hear any sounds that suggested a gate was being installed?
Here’s a hint for you, they have money, my subconscious told me.
And she was right. Gideon had money, lots of it; and for once I wished he had used that money on cheap tarts, who had nothing better to do than shake their arses in front of men all day and all night, than spend his money on installing a freaking gate! It was utterly crazy how men always say women go around spending money on useless things when they themselves spent outrageous amount of money on things that weren’t even necessary—like a gate.
The problem I now faced was, how in the Buckingham Palace was I supposed to find out about the woman now? Where would I find information about the top floors? Who was going to tell me?
No one. You’re on your own. You now have less than a year to figure out the mystery, my subconscious stated.
But how? I needed a clue, any clue that would guide me to unravel this mystery. This castle was a little help. In the fast paced tour that I took by myself of this place, I only saw a few pictures of Gideon and his family and not a single picture of that woman, except for the one in the circular room. Which left me with nothing to go on.
Curse you, Gideon.
My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a soft knock. The door opened to reveal the one person I really did not want to see, the older maid.
“Malady, the cook is ready to prepare lunch, what would you like to eat for lunch?” The older maid asked.
Her words took me by surprise. Why was she asking what I wanted for lunch? I would eat whatever they made, shouldn’t she be asking Gideon what he wanted to eat? It was his house after all.
“Uh, I’m not going to have lunch, just ask Gideon what he wants to eat for lunch and make that,” I told her.
“You’re not going to have lunch?” she questioned, her eyebrows raised.
Did she not hear me the first time? Maybe I should tell Gideon to fire her, she was getting too old to work here now.
“No, I’m not hungry,” I answered, wishing she would just leave now. And it was the truth, I really wasn’t hungry...at least not for food. What I was hungry for and was desperately craving was information regarding the forbidden territory.
Sighing in relief after the door shut softly leaving me alone once again in my room, I begun to contemplate the numerous possibilities regarding the top floor.
It was clear that in order to know why the floors seven and above were prohibited I first had to find out about the woman in the portrait. Who was she? Was she Gideon’s girlfriend? His wife, perhaps? No, she couldn’t be his wife, they both had the same shade of sea green in their eyes. Maybe she was Gideon’s mother, she certainly looked the part, being all graceful and royal, she put the queen to shame. But why would he not have more picture of his mother around the castle? If I had a mother like that, I would hang her portraits all over my house.
The knock sounded once again and it took everything in me not to growl. The door opened once again to reveal the older maid, I really should ask her name, couldn’t keep calling her the older maid forever.
“Malady, Mr. Maslow is on the phone for you,” she said, holding out the phone for me to take.
“Hello?” I spoke to Gideon after taking the phone from her hand.
“Why aren’t you eating?” Gideon enquired bluntly.
“Uh, who told you that?” I asked him, even though I had a pretty good idea who would tell him.
“That’s not the answer to my question,” he said with annoyance.
“And that’s not the answer to mine, either,” I retorted brazenly.
“Listen to me, and listen to me good, you are going to have lunch and you are going to eat a proper meal, understand?” Gideon stated, causing me roll my eyes.
“I’m not hungry, so yeah, I’m not having lunch, when are you coming home?” I responded.
“Alice,” Gideon begun, making me gulp. He used my name when he was angry—as far as I had known him, which had only been a few days. “I’m going to call again after thirty minutes and if I get to know that you haven’t had lunch, trust me you will not like the consequences,” he threatened.
“Gideon, I’m not a child, if I said I’m not hungry that means I’m not hungry,” I told him.
“Well, little peach, you’re certainly acting like a child so I’m going to speak to you like one, go and have lunch, I will not tell you again,” he replied.
“No.” I hung up.
Throwing that nasty woman a glare, I handed the phone back to her, fuming in anger. I had a feeling that this woman did not like me very much. I mean, why would she go behind my back and call Gideon like a nanny complaining to the parents about a petulant child.
“Why did you call Gideon?” I asked her, still glaring at her.
“It’s my job, Malady, if you go against Mr. Maslow it’s my job to inform him,” she replied evenly, pissing me off more than I already was.
“What’s your name?” I queried.
“Helga,” she responded.
“Well, Helga,” I spitted out her name, “I did not go against your boss, I simply refused to have lunch.” I gritted.
“Not doing what he wants is going against him,” she argued, making me want to slap her.
“I’m his wife not his enemy, so me refusing to have lunch is not going against him,” I snapped.
“You are his wife, it is your duty to do whatever your husbands wants you to do.” God, did she not know when to shut the bloody hell up?
“No, I am his wife, which means I’m his equal, so I’ll do whatever the bloody hell I please, and you have no right to go behind my back and inform my husband about every little thing I do,” I replied.
“I’m always going to inform Mr. Maslow about every little thing you do because he pays me, you don’t,” she stated, her wrinkled face made me wish I could stretch the loose skin like an elastic, eventually tearing it.
“Get out,” I seethed, glaring fire daggers at her.
Helga turned to leave my room but stopped as she stepped out of the threshold of my room; turning slightly, she looked at me.
“I’ll bring lunch for you, Malady,” she said and left my room, closing the door behind her.
Quickly marching over to the door, I locked it shut. It was official, Helga hated me, and I had no clue why. I never did anything to the woman, and she talked to me like as if she was the owner of this castle and not Gideon. The woman actually had the nerve to accuse me of going against Gideon, my own husband. Was she crazy?! I had to talk to Gideon about her. The bitch didn’t know her limits nor her place in this castle.
Letting out a scream of frustration, I threw myself on the bed and quickly pulled the duvet over me. Turning to my side, I closed my eyes and willed sleep to come and take me far away from bossy husbands and nasty maids.
“Come on, little dove, wake up,” Gideon’s voice penetrated the thick fog of peaceful darkness surrounding my mind.
Reluctantly, I opened my eyes and came face to face with my husband, who was sitting on the edge of the bed, looking down at me.
“What time is it?” I asked, more like croaked, my voice sounding deep.
“It’s 3:00 pm, you slept for a solid two hours, now get up and eat your lunch, it’s going to get cold,” he ordered.
“What time did you come home?” I asked, pushing myself up to a sitting position.
“Just now, I had to cancel my meeting,” he told me, lifting the tray of food from the side table and placing it gently on my thighs.
“Why?” I asked, making no attempt at eating.
“Because my stubborn wife refused to have lunch,” he answered, lifting the spoon filled with rice up to my mouth.
“Don’t tell me you cancelled your meeting because of me?!” I asked, aghast, feeling guilty.
“Why else would I show up here so soon, waking you up so you can have your lunch?” No, no, no, he wouldn’t do that. Gideon wouldn’t cancel his meeting just because I refused to have lunch.
“You’re bluffing,” I said.
Gideon gave me a look that clearly told me he was not bluffing; which only resulted in guilt piling in the shape of big rocks in my stomach, killing the little appetite that had appeared just now.
“Open your mouth,” Gideon ordered, still holding the spoon in front of my mouth.
“Gi—Gideon, I—I’m so sorry, why did you cancel your meeting? You shouldn’t have done that, your work is so important,” I said to him.
“Yes, but my wife’s health is more important than my work,” he replied.
His words made my heart flutter. Was it true? Did Gideon care about me? I mean, I’m sure he did, why else would he cancel his meeting and come home just so he could make sure I would eat something. He really cared.
“Really?” I asked, wanting to be sure that Gideon really cared about me.
“Yes, if you are not going to be healthy then the baby would not be healthy either, and I want a healthy baby.” And he knew exactly how to burst my bubble.
My heart cracked, while my subconscious laughed at me. Stupid, stupid Alice. How many times have you told yourself not to get ahead of yourself and believe stuff that would never happen? But no, you always have to see things that are not there, believe things that would never come true.
“Oh.” I stared at the food placed on my thighs, too embarrassed to look at my husband.
“Yes, now open your mouth and eat, I don’t have all day.” I opened my mouth, letting Gideon slide the spoon in my mouth.
Gideon fed me until not a grain of rice was present on the plate. Once I had eaten to Gideon’s satisfaction, Gideon took the tray from where it was resting on my lap and placed it back on the side nightstand. Standing up, Gideon took off his suit jacket and dropped it on the bed. Unbuttoning his shirt, Gideon strode over to the bathroom and closed the door.
I cursed myself for letting my dreams and fantasies get the best of me. I wasn’t stupid enough to think that there was going to be someone out there who would love me and care about me, but that did not mean I did not want someone to love me and care about me. I know I was on my own against this world, but it would be nice if there was someone who would, just once, fight this world for me, or at least help me fight this world. I should definitely kill all my dreams and fantasies; they would never come true if the recent events were anything to go by.
The bedroom door opened and in walked Helga, making me wish I had claws for nails so I could shred that loose wrinkled skin. Narrowing my eyes at her, I tracked her every move, watching with extreme concentration as she padded over to the nightstand and picked up the tray with her wrinkled, bony hands.
“You should do what Mr. Maslow wants, he had to leave work early because of you,” she told me.
Her words made me see red. The bitch was speaking when it was not her place to speak. I was so talking to Gideon about firing her, the bitch needed to leave, and fast.
Giving me her back, Helga shuffled out of the room. I threw the duvet off me and got out of bed. Marching over to the vanity table, I gathered my hair in my hands and tied it in a pony tail.
Gideon emerged from the bathroom just as I was drinking a glass of water. His hair was wet, droplets of water falling on his shirt.
“Gideon?” I called out to him, as he walked over to his side of the bed and grabbed his watch from the nightstand.
“I want, no, I need you to fire Helga,” I told him.
Gideon gave me a look that clearly said he thought I was crazy for even suggesting something like that.
“And why would I do that?” He questioned.
“Because she hates me and has a serious problem with me,” I answered.
“Really?” Gideon walked over to me. “Does she have a problem with you or do you have a problem with her?” He enquired.
“Why would I have a problem with her? I don’t even know her! She has a problem with me,” I stated.
“Little fairy, I don’t know what your issues with Helga are, but I’m not going to fire her over some insignificant womanly feud,” he told me.
My eyes widened at his choice of words. Insignificant womanly feud, that’s what Gideon was calling it!
“There is no feud, I’m telling you she clearly hates me, so why can’t you just fire her?!” I nearly shouted, my temper, once again getting the best of me.
“Helga has been loyal to this family and had been working here for a really long time, I am not going to fire her just because you ask me to after less than a week of coming here,” he responded.
“You’re siding with her?! Why are you defending her? I’m your wife!” I shouted this time.
“Correction.” Gideon stepped closer to me, invading my personal space, making me feel small. “Temporary wife.”
It was like he slapped me. Those two words made me realize exactly what he thought of me. How little I meant to him. How insignificant I really was. Those words weren’t just true, they told me exactly what I was—nothing. I was nothing. I had no worth, nothing. Hell, I bet the staff had more respect and worth than I did.
“You’re right, all this is temporary,” I said, trying to keep my voice even, not letting my emotions betray me.
“Exactly, so just deal with it, bear with Helga, it’s only for a year,” Gideon said.
He was right. It was only for a year. Then I was going to leave, not Helga. Gideon would tell me to leave, not Helga. Gideon would cut his ties with me, not Helga. And his words also told me something else. Gideon would always choose Helga, not me. He was going to choose a wrinkled, old maid over me.
Because I was temporary.
I nodded silently after hearing Gideon’s words. When he saw me nod, Gideon’s shoulders relaxed and he, in turn, gave me a firm nod before sauntering out of the room.
Once the door shut firmly behind me, I let out a strangled sob. I thought if I told Gideon about Helga he would put her in her place, but instead he had put me in my place; once again reminding me I was nothing more than a baby making machine that he was paying one million pounds to.
I was pathetic. Men actually wanted something from me in order to marry me, no one wanted me out of their own accord, no one wanted me just because maybe I had nice hair or something. I was pathetic.
Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes. Instantly Nico’s face came to the forefront of my brain, making me realize exactly why I was doing this, and why I would continue to suffer through this sham of a marriage.
Steeling my resolve, I squared my shoulders and held my head high. I didn’t need Helga or Gideon. I had more important things to deal with, like finding a cardiologist for my brother, my only family.
Wiping my face with my hands in order to wipe any remnants of tears, I turned and strode purposefully out of the room, slamming the door behind me.