I awoke to the quiet noise of the grandfather clock in the corner of my room. A giddy feeling sparked inside of me as I sprung out of bed. I grabbed a small box on my dresser before going to my door. I slowly turned the handle and slipped into the hallway. It was dark, and no guards stood around, as they were not allowed on the fourth floor at night, other than during emergencies. I walked across the hall and opened the door to the servants’ private hallway, with their own bedrooms, bathrooms, and closets.
It was almost pitch black, like it usually was, with only a few flickering lights. As I strutted down the hall, I passed a few lingering servants, but other than a quick curtsy or bow, none of them stopped me.
A sense of freedom filled me as I started walking faster, seeing a bright light coming from a large door, which a chef had just entered.
I caught the door just before it closed.
“Angel,” I heard a faint voice call from the kitchen. I smiled as I entered. The kitchen was large, and had pot and pans, and appliances scattered around. The buzz of the machines filled the area. I opened the small door in the corner to the basement.
I crawled into the corner. The basement in the kitchen was more like a crawl space. It was merely six feet tall, and about ten feet deep. A candle was lit in on the floor near the door. I could see a thin figure curled near the back wall, on top of a thin, plaid, blanket.
“Angel!” The voice cooed. I inched my way to the back on the crawl space where he sat. I fell into his arms.
“Lucas! I brought you something!” I sang, not bothering to keep my voice down, popping up from is grasp. I gazed into his dreamy blue eyes. He had dirty blonde hair that he kept short and neat.
Really, if he wasn’t a poor chef, he could’ve been a noble person. He was a chef who moved to the palace three years ago, when he was only sixteen.
“Angel, you know you don’t need to bring me anything.” he whispered huskily, crawling closer to me. I sighed.
I opened my mouth to speak, but he put his finger over my lips.
He embraced me, and I felt so protected in that moment.
It was like he was my protective border, and nothing could get past him.
“I know my Mother and Father don’t give you nearly as much as you deserve. You work so hard, but you’re so ignored.”
He laughed lightly. “Angel, I’m perfectly fine with what I have.”
I frowned at him. “No, you’re not. When was the last time you got new clothes?”
He shook his head, not responding.
“Tried new food, other than testing?”
He stayed silent.
“What do you eat everyday?”
“Angel, don’t worry about me.” His voice went bashful.
“Kitchen scraps. Your family’s *********
“Lucas!” his face went red as he turned away. I put my hand on his cheek and forced him to look at me. “How can I not worry about you? You are eating my leftovers for heaven’s sake!”
“Eva, please don’t worry about me. I am fine. I’ll get by.”
I sighed. “I have something for you.”
He frowned, opening his mouth to say something, but I cut him off.
“It’s from your family.” I added.
That did it for him.
Excitement lighted up his eyes, and I could see him physically restraining his smile.
These were the moments I lived for.
These moments were the reason I paid out of my personal allowance to contact his family, with money that could have easily been used for a new tiara or dress.
They lived on a farm in the countryside. However when his sister got sick, they sold their farm, and are now living off of Lucas’s paychecks. He left almost nothing for himself. He slept in this crawl space, because he couldn’t afford to rent the rooms the other servants had. A small blanket, a candle, and tattered clothes that barely fit him were all he had.
I grinned, overjoyed at his happiness.
“Here you go.” I handed the box to him, and he basically tore the box to shreds as he opened it.
He slowly pulled out a child’s pink tiara, with fake purple jewels lighting up the golden wire.
It wasn’t much of a gift to give to a grown man like Lucas.
But, judging by the way his eyes teared up, I knew he was satisfied with it.
“It’s from… Sophie.” he stated.
It wasn’t a question.
“She said it was the crown you gave her for her fifth birthday, two years ago. Before she got sick, and before you left.” I said by way of explanation
He didn’t need the explanation.
I could tell by the way he looked at the toy. He looked at it as if it was what his life revolved around.
I would know.
It was how he looked at me.
“Angel, how did you get this? Mother and Father live hundreds of miles away!” he exclaimed, finding his voice. It was raspy, and emotional.
“I have my ways.”
“Eva, spill it.”
“Not until you tell me when you last slept in a bed.”
“Evangeline Sage Winchester, tell me right now or else I am going to break you out of this castle and we will run to Mother and Father’s house.” A smile broke across my face.
“I guess I will stay silent.”
“That doesn’t sound half bad.” He smiled at me, his eyes staring right into mine. It was as if I could see the desperation in them. His willingness for something more.
Suddenly, a bell rang, it’s sharp sound cutting the comfortable silence.
I jumped up.
“That’s my cue.”
I raced towards the exit of the crawl space, but thought better of it, and ran back to Lucas.
I hugged him.
“I love you, Lucas.” I muttered into his ear.
He smiled at me as I pulled away. “Love you, Angel. I love you.”
With those parting words, I ran out of the crawl space. I glanced back one more time before leaving to see him.
He had his back turned to me, and I realized he was murmuring something angrily. I thought about racing back in and taking him away, but I turned away, my heart in a mess.
I left the kitchen, confusion overtaking me.
But more than the confusion, I felt caution.
Some part of me realized he was hiding something.
And I didn’t know if I wanted to know what that was.