49 Master and the maid- Part 2
Vivian who had gone to dust the west wing of the mansion stood in front of the large family portrait that was hung on the spacious wall with two lamps that lit on each side in the deserted hallway. The portrait was of Mr and Mrs Carmichael with a young Leonard who had a grumpy look on his face in the painting. Her memories of her childhood had meshed into one single heap that she didn't remember when it was painted.
Taking the dry cloth she had brought along with her, she began wiping the edges while being gentle on the paint. When it came to wipe the side where Leonard stood next to his mother, she couldn't stop the warmth that began to spread on her cheeks as a small smile pulled her lips upwards thinking about the younger Leonard.
He hadn't changed, and neither had she.
Even after all the things that had transpired, he was still the boy who protected her in his own way. They had grown up in time but they were young in their hearts. Though he had branded her with the slave bond to him as the rest of the servants in the Carmichael mansion, she was still somewhere special than the rest which Vivian didn't deny to notice.
Though he hadn't told it in words, he had gone to the point of insulting Lady Shirley in front of her just for her sake and that thought itself added fuel to her changing feelings for him. Nor Martha or Paul was next to her but she knew this much that she could count on Leo to have her back.
Once she was done cleaning the portrait, she moved to the next one which consisted of the deceased Mr Carmichael's parents in it with him and his brother, Sullivan. Thinking about Mr Sullvian made Vivian uncomfortable. He might be Leonard's paternal uncle but she avoided him in the mansion like a plague that was going to strike her if she happened to come in front of him. Unlike his brother Giles, Sullivan showed no mercy to the humans, he disliked humans from the high society and it was no question how he felt for the servants, especially when one of them was responsible for his brother and sister-in-law's death. It wasn't just his ideas but also the way he looked. He was a scary man.
"Vivian," she heard the new housekeeper Jan speak as he approached her, "Master Leonard needs your assistance in his room."
"Won't master be eating lunch in the dining room today?" as it was past noon, Leonard sometimes had the habit of either skipping his meal which she would send to his room so that he would at least take a bite. At those times, the food would come out untouched but that didn't stop her from sending the food to his room.
"He will have his meal later. He needs help in bathing," Jan stated before adding, "He's already gone up to his room. Don't make him wait," at his words, Vivian could feel the palms of her hand sweat which she instantly wiped on her apron to follow the housekeeper.
"Sir, Jan," Vivian began keeping up with his quick pace, "I haven't finished cleaning all the portraits in the West Wing. Is Movari busy with work?" she asked him. It was usually the maid named Movari who helped him bathe.
She wasn't? Thought Vivian to herself nervously. Why was she being sent to bathe him then?
Coming from Lord Nicholas' mansion, Jan was the kind of person to speak much with any of the servants except for delegating the orders that needed to keep the mansion running smoothly. Not questioning further, Vivian handed the cloth to the housekeeper before making her way up towards Leonard's room. As she got closer to the room, her mind had already begun to spiral out, her heart thudding in her chest as she quietened her heart that had begun to thud by taking a deep breath.
Knocking the door, she heard Leonard's voice saying her to come in.
As she turned and pushed the doorknob to step inside the room, she caught sight of Leonard sitting on the edge of his large bed reading a letter in his hand. He had changed himself into a dark blue robe from his previous clothes. Due to the way he sat with his legs crossed one over the other, a part of his thigh was visibly making her quickly look back up to his face.
Bowing her head, she got inside his bath to prepare the tub by turning the faucet as warm water flowed down the tub. The water must have been prepared by Jan before he came to tell her, thought Vivian as it wasn't hot enough that would burn at the touch. Adding salts and necessary scents into the bath, she twirled her hand as she waited for the water to fill up the tub. When everything was ready, she went outside the bathroom to call him,
"The bath is ready," her voice drifted into the room but he was too engrossed into the letter he was reading that he failed to hear her. She cleared her throat, this time speaking louder than before, "Master Leonard?"
"Hmm," he responded keeping the letter on the bed and walking towards the bathroom. Just before he went to untie his robe, he turned around to see her standing one step outside the bathroom, "What are you doing standing there?" Vivian's eyes met and she couldn't stop the small drums beginning to thud which she wasn't sure if it was her imagining it as she could hear it through her ears.
Leonard didn't miss the way her breath hitched, her senses were on alert as he turned around to face the tub while facing his back to her.
The Duke didn't know what it meant to persuade someone carefully whom he was in love with.
Since the time his eyes had fallen on Vivian and since he had called her Bambi she was his to worry and care for. The tender flower bud that he had protected from everyone had grown to be the most delicate flower which he didn't want anyone taking away. He didn't like that men had begun to take notice of her, especially Mr Wells who had asked her to move to his residence after severing the master-slave bond in the Carmichael mansion. He didn't know what the previous letters held but the one that was received today was enough to put him off the edge. He couldn't stop gritting his teeth over what was written.
The girl was his in every sense.
It might have been a subtle move for Leonard when he had hugged Vivian in the Lord's mansion but for the human girl, things had flipped upside down. Her innocent feelings towards the Duke had slowly begun to change and she had come to become fully aware of his presence. And Leonard noticed it.
He noticed everything when it came to her. The way she moved and breathed, the way her eyes had begun to drop unable to hold his gaze when he looked right into her eyes.
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