"Hey Champ." Said a very familiar voice, making my heart skip a beat as anxiety and disbelief filled my being," Didn't even miss your old man, did ya?"
Tears welled up in my eyes as I forced myself to turn and face someone I last spoke to 10 years ago.
There in the flesh stood my Dad. Reynold Samuel Carson.
"Don't have anything to say to me? Well I have a bunch to say to you, Boy." He scoffed, even though that didn't alter the smile on his face." London my Boy, you have to move on." He shook his head in disapproval. For some reason, anger started building up in my being, but before I could let it out, he looked at me with a sad smile," Son, I love you more than life itself, even though I no longer have it." He joked, before his face turned back to being sad," I only want the best for you and this resentment, this hatred, this loss of hope, is not."
"Then please help me." I quietly begged, like the child I am.
His softly smiled at me and nodded," I've already done my part, but now it's your turn."
"What do you mean?" I asked, even as I saw his form as it started moving backward, getting smaller and smaller," Take care, Son. Always remember that I only want the best for you and I love you." His form disappeared, leaving only his voice echoing," Take care."
My feet moved before I could think towards the disappearing voice," Dad!" I called.
"Take care, Champ." His voice echoed, before a bright, white light hit me full force, the force pushing me back.
I jumped up and noticed that I was on an unfamiliar bed. An unfamiliar, concerned woman's face came to my vision making me ask," Where am I? And who are you?"
"Calm down, Dear. It's alright. My name's Sophia, Miss William's housekeeper and you're in Miss William's residence." She softly answered with a gentle, motherly smile.
I closed my eyes with my hand as a groan of pain left my lips at the oncoming headache. My father's words silently repeating in my head before finally disappearing into nothingness. My memories of earlier today flashed back to me, almost taking my breath away at the intensity, like a wake-up call.
"Honey, are you alright? You seem a bit shaken up?" She asked with a look of worry.
"Ye-yes, I'm alright." I sighed, running my hand through my now greasy hair, before I paused for a thought," Pardon me for asking, but isn't Blake Black, Lenora's housekeeper?" I asked.
"Yes she is, but only in training." Sophie answered.
Sophie looked to be in her early or mid forties, with her rich, shiny, brunette curls. Full lips, full and long eyelashes, button nose with a couple freckles on her cheeks and perfectly arched bushy eyebrows.
"Wow, when was the last time I had a man give me a once off." She giggled.
"Pardon?" I asked in embarrassment at being caught staring.
"Well you see Hon, I'm fifty two years old, but unfortunately, I lost my beau two years back and haven't given dating a shot since." She chuckled." I haven't been entertaining the male population, but ladies in this house keep trying to encourage me to go back in the game. I'm so self conscious about my age, so I don't even try." She freely chirped.
"Well, you're one of the most gorgeous 52 years old, I've ever seen Ma'am. I honestly took you for someone in her forties." I admitted with a friendly smile.
She fanned her face with her hand as a blush took over her rosy cheeks.
"Oh, what a kind young man you are." She said," Well, before I forget my actual reason for coming here. I came to invite, well actually call you down for dinner. The ladies told me that you didn't have lunch today, which is a unacceptable, so I came to ensure that you do go down for dinner." She sternly said, in a motherly tone that left no space for arguments.
I smiled and raised my hands up in surrender," Of course Miss Sophia. I was just so exhausted when I got here that a nap was unavoidable." I explained.
"Alright," She sighed, before smiling up at me, " I take it you'll want to freshen up first, so I'll leave you to that. You'll find me in the kitchen, then I'll take you to the dining room for supper."
"Thanks Miss Sophia." I smiled in gratitude.
She waved me off with a kind smile," Oh hush, please just Sophie will do, Sweetheart. Now, off with you." She shooed as she got off the bed and made her way to the door." I'm expecting you down in 30." She said, before leaving the room and closing the door behind her.
She's definitely right, I need a shower. I got off the bed and made my way towards the bathroom. I took a quick 7 minutes shower and applied some of my scentless lotion. I then pulled on a new, clean pair of boxers and my outfit. I left my hair to air dry because I didn't know where to get a hairdryer and I didn't want to bother anyone with asking.
I made the bed, before exiting the room and jogging downstairs to the kitchen. Chattering had me stop outside the kitchen and shamefully eavesdrop.
"I'm telling you, if that girl doesn't start dating him, I'm gonna kill her." Came Blake's voice.
"Right. He's so kind looking." Agreed an unfamiliar voice.
"Trust me, he is and don't forget his looks. The man's looks are dynamite." Came Sophia's voice in agreement.
"Plus as much as I'd never admit it to Miss Williams, I can see that she's always longed for a man. Someone that will love her and Emma. She might always try to ignore it, but it's as clear as day." Said a familiar voice.
Wait, Miss Williams? They're talking about Lenora? Who are they matchmaking her with?
What is this negative feeling I'm feeling?
As if you don't know what it is.
Shut up, subconscious. There's no way, I'm going to admit to feeling that feeling. Not now, not ever.
Seeing as I've had enough eavesdropping, I decided to make my presence known. I walked into the kitchen, instantly stopping all the chatter and turning everyone's attention on me.
"Hello Mr London. I hope you had a lovely, restful nap." Asked Blake with a polite smile.
"Yes, I did. Thank you for asking." I awkwardly smiled. The feeling of everyone's eyes on me, made me so uncomfortable that I just wished I could become invisible.
"Well, how about I introduce you to the staff?" Offered Sophia with the same kind smile as earlier, soothing some of my nerves a bit. "So, you already met Blake, the housekeeper in training, also known as my niece." She pointed to Blake who threw me a friendly smile," Then we have Cleo, the maid," She pointed to a shy looking woman, who gave me a barely noticeable smile," Then lastly we have the chef, Penelope, whom we all call Penny."
"Hello there Hon. Good to meet you." Penny kindly smiled.
"Good to meet you too." I smiled back, my smile a bit more shaky and awkward than hers, but definitely far from insincere.
"You'll only be meeting Miss Emma's live in nanny, Ellie tomorrow. She was on leave for the past week that Mr and Mrs Williams were here." Sophia explained," Now, how about I show you to the living room. Little Miss Emma's waiting. She's barely containing her excitement, she must really have taken a liking to you, London."
A warm feeling settled into my chest at that moment as a soft, calm smile took over my lips without my permission. I don't know why, but hearing that Emma likes me made my night. It filled me with so much happiness, that it was difficult to contain it.
"Oh, then I wouldn't want to keep her waiting." I politely said, not wanting to show my hidden excitement, but not wanting to come out cocky and conceded either. That's when I realised that she had only said that Emma was waiting in the living room, meaning that Lenora might not be joining us, but I somehow felt the need to ask." Will Lenora not be joining us?"
Sophia smiled at me and shook her head before saying," Unfortunately she will not. She is busy with work so she asked me to apologise to you on her behalf. This is not an abnormal circumstance. Miss Williams tends to be stuck knee deep in work, not even nose deep." She softly chuckled," So shall we?"
"Alright." I replied.
She lead me out of the the kitchen and down the hall and into a room with a medium sized, oak table with matching oak chairs. My eyes scanned over the table, until they landed on a small figure sitting on the left hand of one of the edges.
I think she felt my eyes, because she looked up at me. Her eyes only met mine for a couple of seconds before she averted them just as fast.
I turned to Sophia, just for her to mouth,' She's shy' with a smile.
"Miss Emma, Mr London has come to join you for dinner." Said Sophia sweetly.
I walked the couple of steps to her and sat next to Emma with a smile. "Hey Emma." I greeted, not knowing how much I should have prepared my ears.
"I'm so sorry to disturb you two from your conversations, but Miss Emma needs to go bath and prepare for bed now." Said Sophia with a sympathetic smile as Emma pouted at her.
"Can't I stay longer Mrs Sophie, please?" She begged with puppy dog eyes.
"I'm afraid not, Darling. You know your mother would not approve and nor would I to be honest. Growing girls need to get enough sleep, Sweetie." She declined with a soft motherly smile.
"Alright," She sighed in defeat, even though a smile remained on her face," Will Mommy come kiss me goodnight tonight?" She asked with hopeful eyes.
"Of course, Baby." Came an exhausted voice from the doorway, making us all turn to face the owner.
"Mommy!" Called Emma excitedly, instantly jumping off the couch and to her mother at the door. Lenora looked so worn out that I felt a part of me break for her, even as she smiled at Emma enthusiastically. I could clearly see the exhaustion in her posture and face, she just didn't want to show her daughter and for that I admire her.
She disappeared upstairs with her, leaving Blake and I alone in the living room.
"Wanna have some ice-cream?" Blake's voice suddenly chimed.
"What?" I asked, making sure that I heard her correctly.
"Well, Penny wanted to know if you'd like some ice-cream? Miss Williams declined and unfortunately it's already Miss Emma's bedtime so she also can't join us." She explained.
"Okay. Thank you, I'd like some." I accepted with a small smile.
"Great!" She excitedly chirped," Follow me." She said, before leading me back to the kitchen.
Upon entering the kitchen, I was met by the sight of two bowls of untouched ice-cream. Penny offered me mine with a smile, which I returned as I reached over to take it.
"Thank you." I said.
"You're welcome, Sweetheart." She smiled, taking a spoon of ice-cream into her mouth.
"I don't want to offend you, but may I please go eat in my bedroom. I fear passing out while eating it in the living room." I joked.
"Umm, sure. I'll come fetch your bowl later." Assured Blake with an understanding smile.
"Don't worry, I'll bring it myself. I don't want to bother you more than already have." I said, with an apologetic smile.
"Don't worry, it's okay. I don't mind besides, it's my job after all." She assured with a reassuring smile.
"Goodnight." I said, before turning around and walking out of the kitchen and upstairs to my room. I opened the door with my unoccupied hand and closed it behind me.
The white sheets had me sitting on the carpeted floor instead of on the bed. I didn't want to get the cover dirty with ice-cream.
I sat down and took a teaspoon's worth of ice-cream into my mouth, the taste making a moan of delight escape my lips. It's been so long since I had some ice-cream and ice-cream's my favourite dessert. The taste made my taste buds go crazy and my stomach do flips of delight and joy. Before I knew it, I was stuffing teaspoon after teaspoon of delicious ice-cream. I finished the whole bowl in minutes, leaving my tastebuds wanting more of the delicious treat.
It's probably Blake.
"Come in." I answered.
The door slowly opened to a face I didn't expect.
"Hi London. I'm sorry to bother you but Emma insisted I come and call for you." Lenora softly said with an apologetic smile.
"No, it's alright. I really don't mind." I lightly brushed her worries off.
She smiled at me in gratitude before looking at my position and asking," If I may ask, why you are on the floor?"
I looked down at my hands in embarrassment before honestly replying,"I didn't want to accidentally spoil the bed with ice-cream."
Lenora's expression turned to one of surprise before she asked," Why? I mean, they can always be washed. There's no need for you to do that." She softly said, making the embarrassment grow even more. She seemed to notice that because she said," Anyway, Emma?"
"Oh right," I hurriedly answered, getting up off the floor with the bowl and teaspoon still in my hand," Please lead the way."
She smiled and turned around, leaving the door opened as I followed right behind her. I pulled the door a little opposed to leaving it completely agape. She lead me down the hall to a spacious, light grey room with a darker shade of grey, coloured carpet. There was a single bed in the middle, where a small figure lay.
"I think I'll leave you two alone. Goodnight, Sweetheart." Lenora softly said with the softest smile I've ever seen on anyone before.
"Goodnight Mommy." Emma enthusiastically, but sleepily said.
Lenora gave her one last smile before walking down the hall, leaving me alone, standing by the doorway.
"May I come in?" I asked.
"Of course." She giggled, hiding her head under the covers.
I chuckled at her cute behave as I walked into the room an towards her princess themed bed.
"Your mommy said you wanted to see me." I reminded.
"Aha," She nodded before shyly saying," I just wanted you to come say goodnight to me." She admitted.
"Oh," I said," Well Goodnight, Sweetheart and have sweet dreams." I softly wished.
"Goodnight Mr London." She sleepily smiled," Don't forget to give me a kiss on the forehead like Mommy, Grandma and Grandpa."
My heart skipped a beat at the request as nervousness filled my being. Would Lenora approve.
I looked over at her, ready to decline, just for that declination to fall away deep into my head at the innocent look she gave me. Her sleepy face making her even more adorable.
"Alright." I found myself saying, before leaning down and gently placing a kiss onto her small forehead, making her close her eyes.
"Mr London, I really like you." She sleepily whispered, making a smile take over my lips," I really wish that Mommy and you will get married."
Those last words had my mind racing in thought as a cold feeling took over me.
"I'm happy to have you here." She drifted away as sleep won her over.
Those words were all I needed to take me out of my dark abyss of a world. They filled me with hope that I thought I had lost.
The most genuine, smile of joy appeared on my face even as I walked out of her room and turned off her light. Even as I closed the door and walked downstairs, the bowl in my hand long forgotten.
The smell of coffee wafted into my nose as I entered the kitchen. Lenora had a bottle of water by her a side and a cup of what I presume to be coffee in her hand.
"Is she asleep?" She softly asked.
"Yes. Are you going back to your office?" I asked, even as irritation for who knows what grew in me.
She sighed in exhaustion, before looking up at me with red, tired eyes.
"Yes." She softly answered," I'm trying to push as much work away so that I can have more time to spend with Emma, but the closer I get to finishing, the further away I seem to fall back." She softly explained," Don't get me wrong, I love my job, but it can sometimes get a bit overwhelming. I don't know why I'm telling you this, I'm sorry. I better get back to work."
"It's alrighty. I get it. I don't know what your profession is, even though I could swear I know you from somewhere. Either way, I can tell it's taking a huge toll on you. But, just try to take it easy. Your health is worth more than anything, especially for you daughter. So try to not overwork yourself, okay?" I softly advised.
She gave me a soft smile with a nod before saying, " Goodnight London and I'm sorry I couldn't join you for dinner tonight."
I shook my head with a smile," Its okay. I understand."
She gave me one more smile before leaving the kitchen I listened to her footsteps as they disappeared down the hall.
With a soft sigh, I quickly washed my bowl before heading upstairs to my bedroom. I entered the room and closed the door behind me, before pulling off my clothes and putting it on the laundry basket's lid. I walked back to bed and pulled away the cover and sheet before slipping under. The minute my head touched the pillow, I was a goner.