Chelsea's Downfall Ch. 01byTheFallen27©
Chelsea was a petite girl with pale skin and glossy black hair that constantly tumbled out of her cap in an unruly mass of curls. Men would consider her beautiful if they ever bothered to look but as was a mere maid of no rank, she rarely drew attention. She passed around the manor unnoticed, carrying out her duties. Chelsea was innocent and sweet and very pleased that she's managed to get a new job at such a nice house so she could earn a wage to send back to her family.
Wrapping a cloth around her hands to prevent burns, Chelsea opened the oven and pulled out a fresh batch of bread. The smell made her stomach growl with discontent, but she ignored it and set the bread down on the table before sitting down to peel a sack of potatoes.
"Get them done and then I need you to go set the table for tonight." Old Cook ordered from the other side of the kitchen, "And then get some food down your neck, you look half starved." Old cook was a strict woman who tolerated no nonsense in her kitchen, but she knew how hard Chelsea worked and felt sorry for the girl with ghostly white skin; she always looked as though she might faint at any moment.
"I haven't had time to eat today, what with preparing everything for the feast and attending to the guest rooms." Chelsea sighed, "I'll be glad of a hot meal later."
Old Cook glanced over her shoulder to make sure nobody was around and then spooned a generous helping of stew into a bowl. She set it down in front of Chelsea. "Here, I can't have you collapsing at the feast. Eat that and then you'll be able to go about your duties."
Chelsea shook her head but her eyes had widened at the sight of food. "I couldn't!" She exclaimed, "That's for the feast tonight!"
Laughing heartily, Old Cook shoved the bowl towards her. "Don't be daft, there's plenty and more for them upstairs."
A pang of hunger made her tummy grumble yet again and she gave into temptation, spooning the stew quickly into her mouth as if terrified someone might come down and catch her.
Manderly Manor was owned by Lord James Manderly and had been passed down through his family for centuries. He cared for his inheritance well, ensuring that it was well staffed and that the help was treated appropriately. He was a sociable gentleman who often held parties and feasts at the Manor and this weekend was no exception. Many gentlemen had made their way here and had gone out hunting with Lord Manderly that afternoon. They returned to the courtyard from their hunt with a clatter of horse hooves and shouts of victory as they threw their game to one of the stable lads and ordered it sent to the kitchen.
"Good hunt, James!" Called a man, slapping Lord Manderly on the back, "I thought that deer was going to get away from you but you shot it right at the last second."
"Quite." Lord Manderly said monotonously. He was in no mood to entertain his younger cousin, Henry Greene. He was under obligation to invite the man to his home once in a while to discuss family business, but James was an honorable gentleman and Henry, by contrast, was loud and obnoxious and it was rumoured that he has a bastard by nearly every girl in the village. "If you will excuse me, I must ensure that the dinner arrangements are going well. I'll have Geoffrey show you to your rooms."
And with that the guests were whisked upstairs by Geoffrey the butler.
Henry glanced about his room. It was big enough for his needs with a king-sized bed and a view of the grounds. Looking out of the window he could see the staff going about their work. Men were tending to the gardens and a boy was leading one of the horses around a field. He looked down and saw a girl in a maid uniform carrying a crate of wine bottles into the house. She stopped for a moment and he got a good look at her. 'Pretty' he thought. Her snow-white skin seemed iridescent in the sunlight and her glossy black hair was beginning to escape from her cap. 'How cute she would look blushed and naked.' He thought to himself.
He observed her for a moment longer as she tried to shift the weight of the crate about in her skinny arms before heading inside, and before Henry knew what he was doing, he was out the door and heading down to the dining room.
He caught her as she was on her way in, still carrying the wine. He watched her for a moment and found it amusing that her little white cap was slipping off her head with every step, revealing more and more of her ebony locks. He could tell from her worried expression that she could feel it but with her arms full, she could do nothing to set it straight. Finally it dropped to the floor and her hair tumbled beautifully down her back and around her face in wonderful shiny curls. She gasped, a tiny frightened sound that made a grin spread across Henry's face, and he stepped forward towards her.
"You seem to have dropped something, Miss." He said, pointing at the scrap of white cloth at her feet. She watched him warily as he bent down and scooped up the cap. He held it out to her and nodded a small bow.
A rosy blush spread across the flawless white skin of her face and she stared down at the wine in her hands, trying not to look at the rich Lord before her. She should apologize for what happened, or thank him for helping her, and yet no words would come to her mouth.
Henry watched as her cheeks flushed and something stirred within him. This fragile little nobody had drew his attention.
'Stop it.' He thought, 'I can have any whore in the village and there are plenty of pretty noble girls attending tonight. I'm supposed to be here to talk business with my cousin, I can't get distracted by some child from the kitchens.'
"What is your name, little girl?" He asked, trying to look at her face which was now hidden behind a curtain of jet black hair since she had ducked her head so far down to hide her blushes.
She swallowed the lump in her throat, trying to find her voice. "Chelsea, m'Lord." She mumbled, bobbing a tiny curtsy as best she could with her arms so full. Her voice was as soft as silk and very lightly lilted with her common northern accent.
"Chelsea, eh? And how old are you Chelsea?" Her cheeks flushed some more and she squirmed a little under his scrutiny.
Eighteen! He would not have guessed anything older than fifteen, judging by her tiny, fragile frame and shy demeanor. By eighteen a girl should be much more comfortable in the company of men.
"Well here's your cap." He said, dropping it onto the crate in her arms, but instead of drawing away from her, he took another step closer. Placing a finger under her chin and lifting her face toward him, he took a good look at her flawless face. Her eyes remained downcast and her long black lashes hid them from his sight. Her lips were plump and soft. Rose buds against her snow white skin. How he wanted to devour them!
"Do more to keep it on your head in future." He said, releasing her chin from his grasp and gesturing to the cap. "We can't have all this hair out on display. It might inspire sinful thoughts." To demonstrate his point, he tucked a lock behind her ear, stroking her cheek as his hand left her face.
She finally lifted her eyes to look at him for a moment and he felt his breath catch in his throat. They were a startling shade of sky blue and as wide as saucers. She looked terrified by his touch, much like a rabbit he had once found trapped in some bramble. He remembered how he was pointed his gun at the the little creature and its eyes had widened just like hers, and it knew it was helpless. It remained hypnotized, staring down the barrel until the moment he shot it.
She looked down again quickly and took a step back.
'This will be by best hunt yet.' he thought.