Chapter 9 - Lick It Up
Sir Crane and Madam Jane were the first to leave the dining room after finishing their meals. Dylan moved to follow them, but stopped to point at Anna and address her. “You,” he said, “bring some herbal tea up to my room.”
“Yes, Young Master,” Anna answered with a smile. Although she was smiling on the outside, however, she felt extremely nervous on the inside, anxious at the thought that Dylan might be cooking up another scheme to punish her.
She put a pot, teacup, and some herbal tea leaves she had ground herself onto a tray.
Casey, a girl around the same age as Anna, walked up to her, smirking in derision. “All you need to do is make sure you don’t mess up. What are you trembling so fearfully for?” she taunted. She was one of the people in the mansion who disliked Anna for having a sponsor backing her up. “You know, you’ve been worry-free all this time thanks to Master David. Now it feels like you’re finally being treated on the same level as we are.”
“So it was you?” Anna asked. She smiled, her eyes curving up as she lifted her tray.
Casey’s eyes twitched in annoyance. ‘Why is she smirking at me like that?’
“You were the terrible person who’d scuttle up to Master Dylan and snitch on me every time I made a mistake.”
As if she felt she had nothing to hide, Casey nodded her head brazenly. “Yep, that was me,” she said. “So what? It’s not like I’m the one who had to fix the mistakes I was telling him about.”
“Would you be happy if I get kicked out of the mansion, too?”
“Yes. You have no idea just how much of a thorn in my side you are, and most of the other people working here think the same. Hey, let me ask you something since you’re probably going to get kicked out soon anyway. What did you do to Master David? Did you sell him your body? Sleep with him?”
Anna’s hands—still holding the tray—shivered faintly.
“I haven’t committed any of the dirty acts you all imagine I have, but direct all your curses and your hatred toward me and no one else,” Anna said, glaring at Casey with her teeth bared. “I can’t stand having Master David insulted like that.”
“Wh-Who said I was? I was just asking,” Casey replied before she quickly left the dining room.
Dylan sat on a chair and calmly watched Anna steep herbal tea leaves in a pot of hot water. Considering how she still had yet to confess the fact that she was injured, he assumed that not only was she stubborn, but she had a strong sense of pride as well. If that was the case, he just needed to push her far enough that her pride could no longer save her.
Meanwhile, Anna had no idea such thoughts were running through Dylan’s head. Her mind was still a mess from her confrontation with Casey. What Casey had said to her was so ridiculous, so utterly absurd, that Anna had temporarily forgotten she was currently in the presence of an enemy.
‘Since it’s not the truth, I’ll just stop thinking about it,’ Anna resolved to herself.
Anna poured the tea from the pot into a small teacup engraved with a geometric pattern. Dylan held the teacup with his left hand. Anna had been standing on his left side, so when she stepped back, she bumped into his elbow just as he had planned. The tea, which had been lifted to reach Dylan’s mouth, spilled over his lower lip and continued all the way down to his pants.
He immediately stood up from his seat. “Darn!” he exclaimed. Because Anna backed away faster than he predicted she would, he had timed his movement incorrectly.
“Oh no! What should I do? I’m sorry,” Anna said. “Are you alright? Should I bring some cold water?”
She saw that the tea was still steaming and had immediately begun fussing over it. Dylan wiped away most of the tea on his lips with his sleeve, seething in fury.
“Do you even have a brain in that head of yours?” he asked.
“I really apologize. I didn’t think to check where your arm was, Young Master.”
“Every day you say you’re sorry. I’m sick and tired of it.”
Anna lowered her head, heart heavy with blame. “I’m sorry,” she repeated once more. It was all she could say, after all.
Dylan looked down at the top of Anna’s bowed head. He knew what he could do to completely destroy her pride.
“If you’re really that sorry… Lick it up.”