Chapter 13 - Under the Handkerchief
Anna stood up and faced Casey directly. “Must be nice,” she said.
“It must be nice to have the choice to leave, since, according to what you’ve just said, you can quit any time you’d like.”
‘What does she mean by that?’ Casey thought as she scowled at Anna, her hands planted firmly upon her hips.
“I don’t have a choice,” Anna continued. “Even though it’s dirty and terrible here, I have to endure it all and keep doing my best.” She intentionally bumped her shoulder into Casey’s shoulder as she walked by. “So, stop harassing me. Even if you pray to God every night, I’ll never quit this job.”
“There’s going to be a party at Sir Tilda’s residence, and they said they don’t have enough hands to set it up properly. So, Samantha, pick some from the workers we have and send them over.”
Madam Jane bit off some chicken meat and munched on it. She didn’t have it in her mouth for very long before she frowned and spat the meat into a napkin in front of her.
“This chicken is undercooked!” she cried. Annoyed, she slapped her silverware down. “Dylan, dear, put your fork down. I’m not sure who it may be, but it seems like someone among our servants harbors an animosity toward us.”
“My apologies. We’ll replace the dish with a freshly cooked one right away,” an attendant replied.
As the servings were ushered back into the kitchen, Madam Jane left her seat, claiming she had lost her appetite. Dylan, however, remained in the dining room, waiting alone for his new meal to arrive. He rested his chin in his hand with his elbow upon the table. Bored, he repeatedly poked the table with his fork.
“I don’t have a choice,” Anna’s voice echoed in his mind. “Even though it’s dirty and terrible here, I have to endure it all and keep doing my best.”
Her words had been haunting him all night long, making him boil with anger. Did their kiss disgust her that terribly?
He frowned, his forehead creasing. If that were the case, what of the faint moan that escaped her after he wrapped his hand around her supple breast? Although he loathed to admit it, her lips were soft and smooth, akin to sweet, sugary candy whose taste only proved more addictive the longer he lingered. The more he kept kissing her, the more he forgot his original intentions, nearly submitting himself to the wild, carnal impulse that had begun to breathe motion into his hands and body.
He thought she had felt the same intoxicating cocktail of emotions he had, that he hadn’t forced himself upon her.
‘Yet she says “dirty” and “terrible”!’
Dylan unleashed the pent-up fury inside of him by stabbing the fork he held into the table. Hard.
Hearing the jarring sound of its impact, Dylan flinched and released his grip on it. The fork stood rooted in place, proudly upright and pointed directly at the ceiling. Samantha observed him fearfully and slowly stepped backwards.
“Y-Young Master is hungry,” she said. “Get the meal ready quickly!”
It was pleasant outdoors, so, with the warm sun shining down upon them, Anna and the other employees put up all the laundry they had to delay doing because of the recent bout of bad weather.
“Anna,” someone called. “Master Dylan is looking for you.”
“Yeah, he said that he got Samantha to get something for him, so he needs you to pick it up and bring it over.”
“It’s not a giant rock heavy enough to crush me with, is it?” Anna asked, genuinely worried. However, the person who came to fetch her just slapped her shoulder lightly and giggled as they walked past, assuming she was just joking.
She craned her head to look up at the window to Dylan’s room. There, she spotted him leaning on the windowsill, watching her. Despite the fact that their gazes met, he didn’t turn away.
Just a look at his face made Anna feel like she had caught on fire, her entire body burning hot beneath her clothes.
Dylan watched the yard from the window for a long time. Amongst all the maids working on the laundry, he chose to focus on Anna alone, observing her closely. At first, he planned to withhold from her even the slightest amount of consideration before immediately kicking her out of the household. However, he knew he needed to be careful doing so, lest he risk damaging the good relationship he had with his brother.
In truth, Dylan respected his older brother more than he did his father. David was always kind, sincere, honest, and polite. Meanwhile, Sir Crane was someone that had devoted his entire life to making as much money as he could before he died. In contrast to Crane’s indifference toward his family, David’s support for them shone in stark relief.
It was because of this that Dylan was able to give up on Carol.
Unfortunately, Dylan’s respect for his older breather had shifted into disappointment, and that was all because of Anna. A singular girl. Just what about her made David turn her way?
Dylan couldn’t take his eyes off her. She was still doing her best to hang up the laundry in the yard. It seemed like that one rumor someone had circulated claiming she always tried to sneak off and rest whenever she could wasn’t true.
“She’s limping?” Dylan murmured. He uncrossed his arms and narrowed his eyes, trying to parse her movements.
Anna looked troubled and her gait was uneven, but whenever Samantha called her name, she put a smile on her face and tried her best to execute the task given to her.
Dylan recalled the day he found some dried blood next to the remnants of a broken pot. ‘Perhaps, it was on that day?’ he wondered.
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