“You did what?” Rogue asks as I habitually bite my chapped lips. The question seems rough, but not as bad as being slapped. If Zach weren’t opposed to hitting his servants, I know that would have been the case.
“I didn’t mean to let it happen. It just kind of… did.”
I try explaining the situation while Rogue finishes washing the dishes. I express why I had declined Zach’s offer; I need to keep my distance for a while.
“Cassie, you can’t do that. You know exactly what will happen if any of the women coming to the house find out about this.”
I nod my head. The peculiar understanding of a 21-year-old career-servant. In my first home, the grandson caught me crying – I missed my Mother Ester and my friends. He began using it against me. One servant fell in love with her master, and female suitors throughout the home made her life hell, all because she was love-struck. The men are rough, but the women know how we tick. We are one and the same, most of us.
“Why are there so many women around here?” I ask Rogue, wanting to clear my mind of the situation.
“Old man Addison told his son to find a woman to start a life with–” Just then, Rogue is interrupted by John.
“Now Zach doesn’t think his father knows his son well enough to find him the perfect woman.” I nod my head while John continues. “And besides, most women here flirt with Zach but at the end of the night, come to Rogue to satisfy their needs.”
I only reply with a light smile and eye-roll. Rogue is a typical blonde haired, blue eyed man. His eyes are the only captivating part of his body; they can trap you, kill you on the spot.
“Too bad I like guys more than ladies,” is Rogue’s only quick-witted reply.
I have learned that Rogue got his nickname because of his tendency to sleep with any man when given the offer. Rogue is a known rebel among the servants. I feel empathy towards him – he had fallen in love but was given to another household before he could say anything.
“So, what is this I hear about Cassie being mad at Zach?” John asks.
“It was an accident, okay? I didn’t mean for it to happen.” I pick my nails with purpose, thinking more about my knowledge of Rogue.
Rogue is only 27, but far more serious than John who is in his late 30s. John is a trouble maker and takes the role of an annoying older brother. He has black hair, cut and spiked to imitate a younger look. We can all tell his age by his lavender eyes, the way they are dulled by years of experience.
“Don’t worry Cass. I’m just throwing shots ‘cause I’m bored,” he reassures me before he jumps onto the counter, lightly bumping my left shoulder. I smile kindly, returning the favor.
“Cassie, can I see you for a second?” I hear Zach calling me from the adjacent room. I follow his voice and find him, arms crossed, leaning against an antique mahogany table.
“Yes, sir?” He looks at me as he did when we met, pacing around me.
“I have a dinner to go to, and I need a date. The women my father handpicked know nothing of me or what I do, but you do.” He gives me a sincere chuckle and looks directly into my eyes. “You know far more than an average servant, let alone a 21-year-old servant.” I nod my head, understanding my knowledge comes from reading and experience.
Zach’s family owned a photography business that he ran away from to pursue the New York dream. He travels the world now. He never had a necessity to learn about the family business, but he took it on as a hobby. Zach knows everything to know about photography.
“What’s your favorite color, Cassie?”
Confused as to why this is important, I only answer with, “Midnight blue, sir.”
He nods his head, still pacing.
“Do you know now to dance?”
Mother Ester had taught all the girls, but it has been so long since I have even been asked to dance. “I haven’t for some time, sir.”
“Well, I guess I’ll be seeing you once a night for the next few days to improve your skills.”
Hiding my emotions from Zach is difficult, particularly with the beads of sweat streaming down my cheeks, leaving a trail of anxiety. The company at the dinner would much rather see me be beaten than join their high-class society.
“Do you understand, Cassie?” Zach still has his arms crossed.
“I understand, sir.” I continue to count the wooden floor tiles, biting my cheek.
“Good, I’ll see you tomorrow morning then. Good night.”
I watch as he walks up the grand staircase to his room. Concentrating on Zach’s posture as he strides, I am startled by a pair of arms hugging my shoulders.
“Don’t worry kid, everything will be fine. Most of the dinners Zach goes to are only five hours long. He usually only stays for two of them, just long enough to eat and talk and show he is alive,” John says, with his arms still around me.
I return the hug, an impulsive decision only because of my need for the affection, but pull away quickly.
“Good night, John.” I walk upstairs to my room.
Passing Zach’s room to get to my own, I can hear him arguing with someone. I just bite my lip and keep up the pace, fighting the urge to spy. I strip off my dress, put on my pajamas, and lay in bed. Laying down, looking at the stateliness of my room, I think about how this week will be different. I must fake every feeling to get through this dinner, being in his world for only a few hours. The thought of being in his world shakes me to my core. Being in a world where people only care for themselves seems so cold and empty.