James The Butlerbymadam_noe©
This work is long, 38,000 words, a complete novella. It contains multiple scenes of hardcore explicit sex between men and women, men and men, women and women, and groups dealing primary in a MFM arrangement. Themes throughout center on domination. Comments / votes are welcomed by the author.
A house divided cannot stand, or so someone once said. I myself was finding that it worked quite well. I kept my life in nice neat compartments, and there was no room for error. It made for a pretty prison.
On my own I had once lived comfortably in suburban Chicago, with a man who loved me, a career I struggled for and was proud of, but now I was trapped in much more complicated digs.
Since my lover left me, my father and brother had both decided to attach to my underbelly like sycophantic weevils, and live with me. So I scraped together all my savings and bought a house on Lake Shore Drive in the city.
Like my life the four stories and basement were fiercely divided; Bobby lived as he pleased in the front of the basement, my father and I occupied the floors above the public rooms.
Everyone separate, everyone happy.
Oh, I drank too much, Bobby left drugs in his rooms, and father, well, he’d been depressed since he lost his girlfriend and he wasn't doing too well making his own decisions.
His belligerence had always been bad but he'd gotten worse in the last year, ever since we’d moved in together. We’d been bound together as a family once more by a twist of fate, one that haunted us every minute of every hour.
We lived together without speaking, and the staff paid us no heed used to our strange ways. One cook, two maids, and a butler who was actually father’s babysitter. Each of us toed a line set down by my grandfather, a man of indomitable will who selected our jailers with great care and precision.
Bobby had failed every drug treatment program in America or Europe. Dad had amassed insurmountable gambling debts, all paid neatly with a note from my grandfather. Peter Hyde was driven by a deep need to possess everything to a degree that was unseemly, a desire that went mere possession.
Peter Hyde had lost his only daughter, his grandson was a drug addict, I was his last hope. He paid off my finance, he made me change my name, and when I moved his spies came along to work for me.
I made a decent living writing, more journalism than books, but enough of those to keep me going. Still, no matter what I did to earn my freedom, grandfather was always waiting in the wings, cruelly watching, waiting, my grandmother at his side taking note. He’d purchased the publisher of my three books, and if I angered him I was ruined.
That became my prison; be a good granddaughter and my father’s debts would be forgiven, my brother sheltered and protected from the public eye. Leave and my brother and father were cast out, I was ruined, and there was no way to support them.
“Miss?” A deep voice asked behind me.
“James,” I said without looking up from my laptop.
“Miss, Bobby has requested the use of your car.”
That made me turn. James, the butler, was young and quiet. He came from a long lie of men who knew how to fade into the woodwork and he was excellent at his job, very thorough. “Tell Bobby I’d neuter him first. He can take the damn Jag Hyde bought him for Christmas.”
He blinked, nodded, and left me. I sat back at stared out the window at lake Michigan. Not for the first time did I wonder what the staff thought of us.
The full time maid, Consuela, worked divided between my father and me. He occupied the third floor, I the fourth. Also on staff were James, a part time maid who cleaned up after my brother 3 times a week, and a cook.
My father had been a marine, a carpenter, a line worker at an auto plant. My brother was a high school drop- out with at least seven active addictions at any given time. I was too thin, tired looking, and miserably alone. I wondered again what they must have thought of us.
“Keelie, why the hell can’t I borrow the Mustang?” Bobby demanded.
I stood, knowing that in my heels I was six one to his six-two. “Because you love pretty things, and you love to kill them. Wrap the Jag around a pole.”
He looked dark and menacing in my office. To reflect the city and lake outside the colors were soft sueded grays and blue-greens. Bobby had long dark hair, bloodshot dark eyes, and wore all black. He worked out and was rail thin with ropy muscles and when he was high he was known to get violent. I heard James lingering outside.
“You’re not my fucking mother!” Bobby shouted and rolled up his sleeves revealing a row of fresh track marks.
It killed me to see him destroy himself and so I stalked to my bar and poured three fingers of Scotch, neat. “I know that more than anyone, big brother. And yet you live by my goodwill, you eat by my goodwill, you exist by my goodwill. Don’t test it.”
“Bitch!” He snarled and stalked off.
Without turning I downed the Scoth in one fiery smooth gulp. “James?”
“If he goes for the Mustang, shoot him.”
“Very good, miss.”
When they left I locked the doors to the stairwell, ensconcing myself on the top floor. I had two guest suites, an office, and my own suite up here, and my privacy mattered. I was a terrible insomniac so the floor was soundproofed, the doors too, and everything locked up tightly.
The third floor housed my father’s three-room suite along with 2 larger servant’s quarters, one empty, one housing James, and three smaller suites, two of them used by the maid and the cook.
The second floor held two large general rooms for the servant’s use as lounges, and three lounges for family. One was a library, another a meeting room we used as an informal dining room, and the third a game room.
The first floor held the living room, two studies, the kitchen, formal dining room and an entertainment room with TVs and electronic toys in the back. There was a grand marble staircase and the opulence of it was befitting a Hyde. The entire townhouse was worthy of Peter Hyde.
Only the fourth floor truly reflected me. My suite entry was narrow, between closets, leading to a sitting room with a few chairs. To the left were my dressing room and grand bath, to the right my bedroom with the window seat and massive bed. My office connected to my dressing room and the hall directly, and that door I shut tightly.
These were all decorated to suit me; silks, satins, only the best for Keelin Hyde, the heir to Peter Hyde and Hyde Corp, a multibillion empire she had no desire to inherit. Oh, on my own I was mildly successful, Keelin Connaught was a name known to many. That was all I wanted, none of this, never any of this.
I stared out at the lake at sailboats drifting by, the sun sliding down behind the house, the sky purple and blue over the water. It was gorgeous, breathtaking, and more than anything it was a gentle reminder I had nowhere to run, trapped between Peter Hyde’s city and the water.
My pretty prison.
I had no lovers, hadn’t since Grandfather drove off my fiancée. Now he would only let me see men he approved of and those he did bored me. I was required to appear at three social functions per month and choose one of those men to accompany, usually Tom Goddard, Peter’s second-in- command, a man extremely gay and secretive about it. In exchange my gowns were paid for, tailored to fit my awkward frame of five feet, ten inches of bones and breasts. Such a pretty, pretty prison.
By day I wrote, by night I drank and did my best to forget a lost love and a life wasted. Father, Bobby, and I led separate lives and that was how I preferred it. A house divided kept me sane.
Suddenly the urge to flee gripped me and I called to James, selected an invitation, and called Tom Goddard to escort me.
I went out some nights but not like I used to. Since I'd found out I was a Hyde and the money came I could no longer sit in dark bars and drink myself to death, so I did it in brightly lit ball rooms like a civilized person.
That night I came home slightly inebriated and very unstable in my high heels. I wore a sparkling white Valentino for the black and white ball I’d picked. The men were boring, the women snappish, the food bland, and the photographers awful.
All through it I’d drunk. I drank because I'd lost the one thing that meant something in my life. I drank to dull the pain that was now, even years later, still sharp and swift. He was married, had kids, was beyond me then. And how I mourned the life stolen from me.
I had a bottle of bubbly and I was weaving as I walked. No one was awake, no one to see the sad sight of me. An artist I was once friends with called me tragically beautiful. A pretty girl made beautiful by her pain. I was too thin, too tall, my eyes were haunted and when I smiled even I knew it was bitter saccharine.
So I ignored the woman in the mirror as I passed. The floor tilted beneath me from liquor and the loud death metal Bobby played below. I knew the stairs would betray me and so I summoned the little elevator.
Up I went to my little palace with the view of the lake. I had a window seat that could hold twelve and during the day I sat on it and watched the sailboats and motorboats beyond. At night I watched the blinking green pier and thought of Fitzgerald.
The bell dinged and the small doors opened, spilling me into the foyer. The pale green marble with the lapis trim always calmed me and I smiled once more, thinking of Tom Goddard. He was tall, slim, broad shouldered, dark- haired, devastatingly handsome, and queer as a three dollar bill, as Peter would say.
I stopped short noticing something was different. My suite door was slightly ajar and the lights burned beyond. Cautiously I opened it, moving slowly.
James was sitting on the plush wingback chair with something dark in a snifter. His uniform was in disarray, the coat unbuttoned and loose, the shirt beneath open to the base of his throat revealing a hint of golden hair, and his tie loose. He looked tired as he glanced up at me, coming to his feet.
In my state it occurred to me how young he was. The few other butlers on Lake Shore Drive were all in their fifties, but James was on my side of thirty. He was British born, American raised and a fifth generation butler, absolutely wonderful on paper and in practice. And, unlike the last seven I'd hired, he tolerated father.
"James, what's wrong?"
He bowed but kept those dark blue eyes on me in a curious stare. I glanced at the clock and saw it was almost three. "Have you been waiting? I'm sorry, didn't know it was so late."
He looked me up and down and I saw the spark of something. A mixture of, strangely enough, approval and disapproval. The latter was for the bottle in my hands. I set it down on a chest and tried to maintain a steady stance.
"Miss Hyde, your grandfather was here."
I sighed and relaxed. I breezed past him on tired feet and set a foot on the marble topped coffee table, undoing the ankle strap of a shoe. He watched my movements carefully and I was too tired to be bothered. "To complain about what?"
He debated for a moment as I took off my other shoe and moaned, curling my toes into the soft green carpet that reminded me of grass.
"I’m tired James, so spit it out." I was too tired and drunk to be polite, and most servants would have taken it with silent grace, but his eyes tightened along with his mouth.
His gaze followed my hands as I unclipped my earrings and set them down next to the shoes for Consuela to pick up in the morning. He swallowed. "Your grandmother is dead."
That stopped me from letting down my hair. Freedom, I was so close! Since the day had come that the Hydes had discovered I was their granddaughter all had changed. Once they were gone I could leave it all.
"When did it happen?" I was barely whispering, so afraid it was a lie. They were both seventy eight and robust.
"A stroke tonight. The funeral will be tomorrow, you'll be expected to give the eulogy."
I laughed then and his mouth dropped open, puzzled. James had been with us such a short time, and the maids were nervous around him and so they didn't gossip openly with him like they had the other butlers. He had no idea how much the real Hydes and I despised one another, our grand secret.
"Oh, how ironic. After all this time Eleanora recognizes my writing ability. I bet she counted on me being so grateful I wouldn't tell the world what a bitch she is. Oh, if only I could."
My elation ended when I realized even in death her cold claws were around my neck. “Hell,” I finally said and slumped to a chair with unladylike grace.
He cleared his throat, obviously uncomfortable.
"Does my father know?" I asked quietly.
"He was already abed. I did notify your brother."
"All right. Thank you. Please do your best to make sure they're ready to go- when is it?"
"The service is at nine."
"All right, I want them ready by seven thirty. Thank you for waiting up, James. Take tomorrow off after the morning, you deserve it."
"Thank you, Miss. Good eve."
I reflexively opened and closed my fist. Freedom was close at hand. Close enough to taste. I was up and reaching for the champagne when I felt the draft and looked up. The door made a soft sound and I had to wonder, had James been watching me?
It didn’t matter. Tonight was the first joy I’d felt in…years. # The day was grey and promised rain, but didn't deliver. It was as if Eleanora Hyde had ordered it herself. I delivered a tasteful but detached eulogy and my family sat bored in the front for the photographers. My grandfather watched me closely with his beady hawk eyes and I did my best to look beautiful and sad.
Afterwards we stood in a receiving line, me next to Peter Hyde, the tallest ones with light hair. I'd always wondered where my height came from. My brother's biological father was tall, but both my parents were short just like all my known grandparents.
That’s what I’d thought until the Hydes had come forward after tracking my mother down to her grave. They'd come into my life, both tall, powerful, cultured, and rich. My grandmother was stately, my grandfather imposing. Together they’d been terrifying.
Even now as an old man of almost eighty years Peter was healthy and robust and scary. He wanted the name to live on, and even as we grieved he was quizzing me about settling down. I'd had to change my last name from Markham to Hyde and promise all male heirs were to be named Hyde. Grandfather was relentless.
He made the announcement that there was to be no public wake but as a family we wished to grieve privately. And so we went to the Drake with his protégé Tom Goddard agreeing to pick him up. Tom bussed my cheek, tall, dark, and gorgeous. A flaming faggot (his own term) but Grandfather had no idea and was hoping we’d marry.
We all lunched at the Drake and he lectured Bobby on his civic duties, me on my behavior. Gramps meant the drinking which also meant he had private detectives following me again. Either that or he paid everyone who sat at my table to report back to him nightly. I wouldn’t and couldn’t put it past him.
He ignored my dad, which was fine for the both of them, and then Grandfather paid the bill and left for another merger meeting. Tom Goddard waved to us as he escorted the old man from the restaurant.
I let Bobby and Dad take the car home, then called up my last remaining friend. He offered refuge at his place and I took public transit over to Southport and Pauline where he lived in an old house he’d redecorated. Jeff led a quiet life with a string of anonymous lovers he met in the more subdued gay bars off Halsted, and during the day he created small cartoons he sold off to Nickelodeon, Spike TV, SNL, and even Disney.
Jeff was straight edge and so we drank coffee and hot chocolate as we chatted. He alone knew my woes with the grandparents and he rubbed my shoulders and back while I complained about the lecture, telling me to hold on. He knew why I couldn't leave, and unlike the others had never judged me for leaving my fiancé.
Jeff’s companionship gave me resolve and so I went home. I could have stayed longer but Jeff had to work and I wanted to be alone. Dad had announced fishing and Bobby would be off with one of his girls, drowning his sorrows. The servants all had the day off so at last the townhouse was for me and me alone.
The cook had left no lunch, just fixings as usual and I made a beeline to the fridge for a snack. At the Drake I had lost my appetite.
I stopped just inside the kitchen when I found James sitting there. His coat was off and his shirtsleeves rolled up revealing well-muscled forearms. He was eating an apple and looking over the Tribune. When I came in he jerked to attention and reached for his jacket.
"Sit down James, don't have a heart attack." He was very tense, something I just realized. Very nervous, but this wasn’t his first job.
"Miss Hyde? I didn't think you were coming home so early."
"Have a seat, relax. I just decided to come home for a little quiet time and a snack."
"I could make something-"
"Take it easy.” He still wasn’t seated and for the first time I realized he was very tall. “I don't need you or Janette to cook every meal for me."
"Just ignore me. Oh, have you had lunch?"
"Then I'll make two PBJs."
He slid back to the stool with a confused look as I rummaged the cabinets and drawers for what I needed. It was the perfect time to clear some things up. "You're probably too circumspect for gossip."
"Meaning you probably know little about me, but much of the Hyde name."
He didn't respond so I pulled out the jelly and bread from the refrigerator and opened them up. "I haven't always been a Hyde." I searched for the silverware and found it on the fourth try.
When I looked at him his chiseled face was quiet and I knew I had his attention. "You've probably guessed, since my father is ‘Mr. Markham’ that I was once a Markham.
"Well, Markhams are born poor. We don't have much on education…among other things. I was told my maternal grandparents died young, and that was all.” I slapped one sandwich together and wiped the knife off before grabbing the peanut butter jar.
“I had my own life. I was writing, I was taking care of my brother and my father just fine and dandy. I never asked to be found but Peter Hyde tracked down my mother to her grave and then us. At first he groomed Bobby to be his heir but anyone with half a brain knows Bobby is a walking disaster.
“So then he turned to me. It’s no one’s business why but we reached an agreement.” I finished the second sandwich and sought out the pantry and chips. “Grandfather has me at his beck and call but here, in this house, I am master. I own every brick by my own money, I pay your salary with it, everything is mine except for three dresses that old bastard sends over every month.”
"This is my home, not his. When I am not home do not let my grandfather in. Is that understood?"
"He is not welcome, has no right to be here, and unless I give my express permission for him to enter he is trespassing. Is that understood?"
"All right, here we go. I hope you like Cheetos." I lost the hard edge to my voice and gave him a smile which he warily watched.
I went off to find the television and relax, hoping that my grandfather’s latest spy would actually follow instructions. # Grandfather was refused entry twice before the summons came. It pissed him off that I had my back up, that I had more control over his spy than he did. Eventually we came to an understanding. A new truce in our cold war. I was to continue my social obligations, even acting as his hostess now that grandmother was dead. And he would leave me the fuck alone.