18 Chapter 18 - Stella“s POV
He saw her. She stood at the water wagon, holding her water bag, waiting for her turn. She normally avoided trying to get water at this time of the morning, but she couldn't stand to be there when he returned.
How could she have missed getting the door closed? She was certain it had been latched securely, she even jerked on it, to make sure.
Watching as the water slave, Martha, filled the water bag, she found herself wondering if she could do anything else before returning. Why did this have to happen now???
Pausing next to one of the horses, she wiped the tears from her eyes. There was no reason to make people wonder about the master. She didn't want to get him in trouble. It was just an accident. He hadn't meant to look in and see her.
He was probably thinking about all sorts of things though. She had hoped to have several more years before she had to worry about that. Having watched her mother deal with men since she was very young, she hadn't wanted to worry about men. That was the whole reason she had tried so hard to be with Stu and then worked so hard.
The small man had been a hard master to follow, but he had cared more about food then he had about anything else. She didn't have to worry about sex with him.
She was only eight! This was so unfair!
The master was only seven! Most men couldn't even do the deed until they were at least ten. Her mind kept wandering back to the look on his face when she turned around. Her eyes were not his first stop.
Holding her cheeks, she knew her face was red. It would be red for the rest of her life. Setting the water bag down for the driver of the master's carriage, she turned to the door.
She could do this. She had to do this. Opening the door, she stared at the floor. Oh, no, he was looking at her. She picked up her plate, that he had gotten for her.
"There's your breakfast," he said, looking up briefly, before looking back at his paper.
"Thank you," she managed to choke out. He didn't even notice she had picked up the plate! How was she going to live with him after this? Her mind was racing. How long before he started requiring her to do some of the things her mother had to do?
"You've been doing really well in etiquette classes. The teacher even told father about how well your progress was." He didn't even look up as he said it.
"Thank you for noti…cing…" Her cheeks burned even brighter. That was the response she was taught to say. How could etiquette be so horrible? She had just said the proper response. She wanted to fall through the floor. She tried to think of anything to come up with an excuse to flee.
He sighed. Was he annoyed with her? Was she not good enough? Was he wanting her to do something else?
"We are having a big supper tonight; would you like to help with the food? I'm sure the cooks in the kitchen would greatly appreciate the help."
She was up and moving as her mouth said, "Thank you."
"See you later," he said as she reached the step outside the door.
She froze. Did he really want to see more??? Swallowing her vomit, she darted off towards the kitchens. Why was she acting like this?
When she agreed to be his servant, she had known at that time that he might want certain things from her. But she had never expected the day to come this soon. Keeping her head down, to avoid having to talk to anyone, she went straight to the kitchens.
She had been here so many times, no one questioned when she stepped up and started helping. They must have known something had happened, because no one said a word to her, and she was grateful to that.
Huge shipments of food had arrived, and everyone was busy putting it away and cooking at the same time. The head cook, Fred, was very insistent that they use the old stuff for the regular meals, and that they should save the new foods specifically for the meal that evening.
Fred greatly enjoyed having her there, and put her to work helping to prep the foods that she had the most experience with, after working so closely with Stu. She threw herself at the challenge, working hard to occupy her mind with something other than what had happened that morning.
"You're such a great worker! It would sure be nice if you stopped by more often." Fred grinned at her, as she paused between running ingredients back and forth, and checking on the dishes she had almost done.
She grinned back at him, feeling accomplished. She had managed to forget for a time, what had happened.
"I'm not sure my master would let me do that, but I am having fun,"
"Oh, I know you're only here because the young master is prepping something special for tonight. Master William was very insistent that the meal tonight be perfect."
"I had noticed we're only using the new ingredients for it," she said, looking around. Seeing a pot of soup start to boil, she rushed over to stir it and lower the temperature a bit. Poking at the fire, she got it calmed down. That soup doesn't normally boil that easily. She wondered if someone had added a new ingredient when she wasn't looking.
Glancing at Fred, who was busy talking to another girl about a delicate dish he was preparing for dessert, she shrugged. He could be trying something new to try and impress Master Joseph.
He always got so caught up in his work, that he hardly noticed anything. Thinking about him, she frowned again, and her face started to pinken. It was almost time to go get him for supper.
Hesitating outside the door, she had to take several breaths before opening it. She couldn't look at him as she informed him it was time for supper. He answered quickly, apparently caught up in the excitement of casting his first spell. Breathing an internal sigh of relief, she followed behind him. At least she would have a few more hours of respite before she had to worry about anything else.