I followed Jonah and Temperance up the stairs. Jonah waited beside the door Temperance opened and we walked inside. Lady Delilah was sitting at a table by the window. She was absolutely breathtaking. Her pale brown skin was unblemished and so smooth. She turned to look at me and I was struck speechless by her eyes. They were the darkest blue I’d ever seen almost indigo and so beautiful. Her face was delicate with a cute button nose, lush, heart shaped lips, a small, willful chin, angular cheekbones, and a mess of lustrous honey blonde curls that fell around her beautiful face.
“Good morning, Harper,” she said.
“Good morning, Lady Delilah,” I said, bowing politely.
“We are very happy to have you on our staff. How have your first two weeks been?”
“I am happy to be here as well, my lady. My first two weeks have gone great. Aileana has been a great help and very friendly.”
“She is amazingly friendly,” she said with a hint of a smile on her perfect lips. “I’ll let you go greet my brother. He hates cold food.”
“Who doesn’t?”
“Exactly. It’s nice to meet you.”
“It’s nice to meet you too, Lady Delilah.”
She smiled and I bowed, leaving the room. Jonah led the way upstairs to the next level. My palms were starting to sweat. I don’t know why I was so nervous. Maybe it was because I’ve never had to do something like this in my eighteen years. I’ve never had to meet my employer and worry about impressing them. I rapped on the door and opened it when I heard the male voice inside call, “Come in.”
Jonah went in first and I followed him. He set the food on a table in the corner that had two chairs placed at it. He bowed and asked the viscount if he needed anything else. He squeezed my shoulder as he left the room.
“So you’re Harper, correct? I’ve met the other two new maids.”
I raised my eyes to look at Lord Greyson and was once again struck speechless. I should have known he’d be just as beautiful as his sister. He had the same skin tone as her but his was bronzed from being in the sun more. His eyes were the same indigo blue as hers and so vivid. His hair was darker than hers was; browner with streaks of golden blond. He had a strong, square jaw, angular cheekbones, and luscious full lips that I could see a faint smile gracing them. I shook my head.
“I apologize, sir,” I said quickly. “Yes, my name is Harper Dering.”
He stood and I noticed how tall he was. He had a lean, wiry body that looked hard and perfect under the clothes that seemed made especially for him. With the kind of money he possessed that was probably true.
“Why don’t you join me for a moment, Harper Dering?”
He was teasing me and I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.
I walked over to the table and took a seat. He sat across from me. His blue-eyed gaze was trained to my face and I felt heat rise to my skin.
“Have you eaten?”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Please call me Damon. I hate ‘my lord,’” he said.
“Is that proper?”
“How old are you?”
“Eighteen. I just turned eighteen about three weeks ago.”
“So young,” he said softly. “It is proper as long as I approve of it.”
“Does anyone else call you by your given name?”
“Not that I know of.”
I was feeling uncomfortable. He was looking at me intently, his gaze smoldering. He ran his eyes over my face as if he was searching for something. My stomach dipped and heat rose to my face again.
“I am unsure what to do.”
“I take it you do not have much experience with servitude.”
“I do not. I only worked at home, helping my mother with my younger siblings. My father died when I was sixteen and she needed the help.”
“I’m very sorry to hear that, Harper. I can image that must have been hard.”
I nodded in agreement because it really had been. My mother is not the most loving woman at least not towards me and my sisters. She gave all her affection to our brothers so when Father died she got worse. She just expected us to be her domestic servants. I missed him and his warm laughter and the long talks we would have about any and everything. He was a kind man and I do not know how he ever married my mother. I was happy when she told me I was coming to Dubbury to work just to get away from her.
“Call me ‘Damon’ when we are alone, please?”
He smiled and my stomach flipped. He had a magnificent smile that lit up those blue eyes. I smiled back and bite the corner of my bottom lip.
“Of course, sir.”
He looked at me.
“I’m sorry. Of course, Damon.”
“Where are you from and how did you come to work for me?”
“I’m from Voxhagen. And my mother knows Mrs. Tabard. I believe she wrote to her a month before my eighteenth birthday to inquire about openings for maids.”
“Voxhagen is a five-day train ride from here, correct? About eight by carriage?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Why would your mother send you all the way here? There were no positions in Voxhagen or the surrounding cities?”
“I’m sure there were but I’ve never particularly gotten along with my mother and she wanted me far away so that I do not corrupt my younger siblings. My older sisters are in Baccavale and Ashfall which are equally far away from Voxhagen but that was their choice. Roxie is still working in Ashfall but Alberta is married and has children now still living in Baccavale. She didn’t want to go back to Voxhagen. My older brother married and lives in Baccavale as well. My other older brother lives in Ashfall where Rox lives and works in the stables at a manor house.”
He was listening intently and I wondered why I was telling him all of this.
“I am so sorry. I have forgotten my manners. You do not want to hear all of this,” I said.
“I don’t mind, Harper. I like listening you talk,” he said in a lazy voice.
The way my body reacted to his words was odd. I did not usually react to men that I’ve just met like this. Leigh is a very handsome man and he did not have this effect on me and I’ve known him for two weeks. I did find him attractive and pleasing to look at and I flirted with him but nothing like what Lord Greyson was doing to me with just words and looks.
I swallowed. “You’re kind.”
“How many siblings do you have?”
“I’m the fifth born child. I have two older sisters and two older brothers. And then I have four younger brothers and two younger sisters. So there are eleven of us total.”
He took a sip of his coffee. “That is a lot of children. Did you like that growing up?”
“It was fun. I always had someone to play with growing up. I have great relationships with all of my siblings but of course I’m closer with some than others. And I was close with my father.”
“But not your mother.”
“Not my mother,” I said. “I do wish my sisters were not so young that I couldn’t bring them with me.”
“My mother is...well, let’s just say that she favors boys over girls.”
“She mistreats girls? Her own daughters?”
I shrugged. “I guess. And my younger sisters are only six and four. Natalie is the youngest. Chelsea is the second youngest. They will have to deal with our mother’s neglect and her ignoring them and working them like slave servants for twelve and fourteen years.”
I looked out the window behind Lord Greyson. I was trying to will myself not to cry. I could only hope that some of their older brothers would help them and take care of them.
“I’m sorry about that,” he said. “I know it must be hard having to leave them behind to be treated like you were growing up. But maybe one day you will be able to provide for them.”
“Maybe one day,” I said with a soft smile.
“You say you were closer to some of your siblings. Which ones?”
He seemed genuinely interested and I’m sure it was giving him some sort of entertainment while he ate. Since I wanted to stay in his presence and I didn’t mind talking about my family, I obliged.
“Roxie and I are only a year apart and there’s only a year between me and my brother, Collin so I was always closer with them. I was never that close with Alberta who is ten years older than me; she was more like a maternal figure. I have a good relationship with Bailey who is a couple of years younger than Alberta. He’s the one who lives in Ashfall and helped Rox get a job at the manor house he works at. Clarence and I were moderately close. He lives in Baccavale. We talked sometimes. There are five years that separate me and Mathias so we had more of a big sister/little brother relationship. Logan and Luca are twins and they are eight years younger than me. And there is Natalie and Chelsea. They are the lights of my life and sweet girls. I’m close with them but it’s a different relationship.”

The Beautiful Maiden is available to read now on Galatea Reading App!