I clearly remember the day I saw Christian Fraser for the first time. Everything about him radiated high self-esteem and something as promising as safety. As the daydreamer I was, old sayings such as ‘love at first sight’ came to mind, and I imagined love as a disorder, which aren’t possible to cure. Either it will grow or stop growing – maybe disappear – but it will always leave invisible scars. And it sure did.
I guess I fell for his look. Christian was, and still is, a very beautiful and handsome man, indeed.
I turned eighteen yesterday and already the day after, today, I was supposed to go into service as a maid. It was the recognized Dr. Fraser who had employed me.
There was a lot of talking going on about the young twenty-nine year old Christian Fraser. I bet all unmarried and young women in town knew who he was, as well as all the important men of high status. He was clever and talented; a man who always could put in a good word for himself and get a word edgeways.
Women swooned at the sight of him and men were left vacantly behind.
It was with a shivering hand I knocked on the door. The huge and unique building towered above me and I felt so small. I did not bring a lot of stuff with me. The only things I found necessary to bring was a worn little leather bound book, a set of extra clothes and two pairs of socks.
Another maid opened the door. I examined her to be about two and a half times my age, so around forty-five. The woman gave me a warm and welcoming smile and at that moment she tuck me under her wing. At that time I didn’t know she was going to be my greatest support and friend.
- Oh, hello sweetie. You must be the new maid! El … Edith, isn’t it? Welcome, welcome! Come in, it must be freezing standing out there!
I gave the old woman the heartiest smile I could possible give and stuttered a “thank you very much.”
When she put her arms around my shoulders I froze, and in my imagination I was thrown back in time; back to the train station; back to when everything was good, but about go wrong and awful. The soft arms of this stranger made me comfortable and safe. For a short time I got the feeling of belonging.
She led me to the kitchen, where she introduced herself as Margot. While fumbling around for a mug and a dusty blanket, she told me she had served here since she was eighteen too.
- I have been here for twenty-seven, my dear. Watched Mr. Fraser grow up, since he was two years old!
She fumbled around a bit more, until she finally found the blanket, which she put around me. Afterwards, she went over to the fireplace where a kettle hung on a hook above the fire. When she took of the cover the kitchen was filled with the loveliest aromas. I tried to guess what it was, but to be honest I have never smelled anything like that before.
My stomach suddenly started churning loudly and I was reminded of how hungry I actually was. She handed the mug to me and I inhaled the lovely smell. My teeth started watering.
- Goon, eat! You look like you are starving … the recipe has been in the family for ages.
She said, and then placed herself on a chair just across me. She looked down at her hands, folding them, and smiled a little.
- He is a sweet boy, Christian.
The soup was amazing, but she caught my attention when she mentioned Christian. I don’t know why, but I started to become a bit curious, even though I had never had anything to do with him before. I hadn’t even seen him yet.
- He might seem … a bit …
She was searching for the words.
- … A bit controlling sometimes. But remember he is a very stressful man. He is very busy.
I nodded. I didn’t know what to say, since what she just said was what I already expected.
I finished the cup of soup, and once again I mumbled a “thank you.” Out of nowhere I suddenly found myself asking:
- Do you like working here?
Our eyes met and she smiled to me.
- I wouldn’t want to be anywhere I else.
I send her a smile back as a reply, and thought that was a very promising answer. There were so many things I wanted to say, and so many questions I wanted to ask, but a little bell attached to the wall, next to the fireplace, distracted me as it started ringing. Margot now stood up and looked from me to the bell.
- You better get changed.
- The lord is expecting his dinner to be served for him in twenty minutes in the dining room. I guess you want to meet him and, I am sorry to say this, but at least look a little appropriate.
Her eyes examined my worn-out clothes and then she showed me a door in the back of the kitchen.
- I have to prepare the rest of his dinner. I am sorry, dear, but you have to figure the house out yourself for now. Go through this door, down the hall and then to the left and you will find your room. There’s a new and clean set of clothes on your bed. Just across your room is a bathroom. We will meet here in fifteen minutes.
I left the kitchen. It was easy to find my room, even though here were a lot of doors. The walls were decorated with white tiles. They were all clean and simple.
When I entered my room the first thing that came to mind was, that I actually had my own room. I looked around. It wasn’t very big, but it was better than what I have been used to. Next to the door was a little chest of drawers, next to that a wooden chair and in the opposite corner a bed. Right above the bed and under the ceiling was a little window. I tried to take a look out of the window, but wasn’t able to see much. Everything I could see was snow, which also made me make the conclusion that the kitchen and the servant’s rooms were somewhere in the basement.
Remembering that I had to see Dr. Fraser soon, I hurried to the bathroom, clean myself – oh, what a nice feeling; to feel clean! - And afterwards I put on the clothes. It was a bit scratchy, but once again it was better than anything I’ve owned before. I tied my hair in a low bun and then made my way back to the hall and then stopped. Where to go from here? I started to panic a little. Was it left or right? I chose to go to the right, but ended up in another hall I never had been in before. I had just turned around, when a calm and soft voice send chills down my spine and stopped me from going back.
I turned back and that was when I saw Christian Fraser for the first time. I was stunned and couldn’t find any words, even though I was searching for them in eager.
- No, I was just making my way back to the kitchen, sir. I mean Dr.
I could have sunk through the floor, but I was way too busy staring at him; contemplate him: His hair was slightly curly and a dark chocolate brown. His eyes, I made eye contact with him and I drowned in his deep blue ocean eyes for a moment. I looked away, but couldn’t get the picture of his face out of my head: His jaw was squared and decorated with stubbles. He forgot to shave this morning. His nose was slightly crooked. He looked handsome. I blushed a little, but then found my way back to reality. He talked to me.
- Edith, I suppose?
I nodded. I didn’t know what to say or do.
- Your servant, sir.
I said a bit to loud, smiled and bowed awkwardly before my new employer.
He walked towards me and took my hand. I thought he was going to shake it, but then he placed his lips on my hand and kissed it. All the muscles in my body tensed.
- My pleasure.
- You look beautiful, Edith.
And then he let go of my hand, smiled and turned around.
- Dinner in fife?
Once again I came back to reality. Dinner in fife? Yes, of course. I found my way back to the door and this time I found my way back to the kitchen. Margot was waiting for me. Everything was lined up in the finest manner and ready to be served.
- What took you so long? Did you get lost?
Margot asked. I could see she was busy with making sure that everything was perfect, so she wasn’t paying attention to me at all. She couldn’t see I blushed.
- Yes, I got lost. I am sorry.
- Never mind, lets serve the dinner. He is probably starving up there.
And then we took the trays and carried them all upstairs. We walked through beautiful and unique rooms with chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The fireplaces kept the rooms warm and cozy. In the corners and in the middle of the rooms upholstered furniture was placed, and on the walls paintings decorated the walls. All this might have seen greater to me, than it actually was.
- Here we go. Are you ready?
We stood on in front of a closed wooden door. I took a deep breath and nodded. We walked in. This was when I saw Christian Fraser for the second time. He was placed behind a large table without anyone to keep him company. When he heard our footsteps he looked up from a book he was reading and smiled.
- Good evening, sir.
Margot said, and we placed the trays in front of him.
- I don’t think you have met Edith yet. She’s the new maid.
Christian sends Margot a warm smile, and then looked at me.
- No, no I haven’t.
He ignored the confused grimace I made, and just send me a smile. I decided to play along. This time I bowed more elegantly before him.
- Your servant, sir.
- My pleasure.
He was a quite mysterious man, this Christian Fraser, I thought, when I went to bed that night. But one thing was sure: He woke something in me.