Tyson sat next to Oliver near the pantry, the boys playing with their mini dump trucks that they were running over cookies with while I helped do the dishes with one of the other servants. Clarice had bitched me out real good for being down here. Eventually gave in, and I had been down here for a few hours helping prepare food for the guards and royals while also preparing the servants’ dinner.
I also found something soothing about cleaning or cooking. It was a task that occupied the mind, one that had an end result that could be seen. It was better than the thoughts that usually occupied my mind or, more like haunted it. Ghost of fragmented and distorted memories, twisted and wicked as they forced me to relive the past repeatedly.
I supposed to the other servants here I looked like a madwoman wanting to be a servant, but it was better than being me. Better than being Abbie. Nobody wanted to her, you, as Mrs. Daley would say.
Yet here, being a servant was like being invisible. We were the ghosts that cleaned and moved about the castle, sneaking into rooms before quickly leaving. Servants are the shadows of our master. We lived with routine and repetition, no thinking, just working, my mind separated from my body as it handled the task it was told to do. Muscle memory takes over, and I no longer exist. I just float within myself as I move from task to task.
Apparently, Gannon had told Clarice he doesn’t want me working now that I have Tyson. Yet he made it perfectly clear that Tyson was no longer welcome. Therefore, I was not. What he also didn’t realize was working was the only peace I have known. I needed to work, wanted to work
Clarice grabs the roster down from off the wall, looking for a spot to place me on it. Drying my hands on a tea towel, I moved toward her and peered down to see where she was putting me and which floor I would be working on. I hoped for my usual floor since it was our quarters, and I could have Tyson with me. Or maybe with Azalea.
“I can go back to my old post. I live up there anyway.” I laugh, and Clarice sighs, chewing on the end of her pen. She sets it down and looks up at me
“Abbie, Gannon will lose his head if I put you on this roster,” she says, tapping it with her index finger.
“Which is why you won’t be!” Gannon snarls, making me jump. Turning around, I spot him at the entryway. Gannon storms through the kitchen and passes me while looking for Tyson. Tyson instantly jumps to his feet across the room at the sound of his voice.
Gannon glares at me as he passes me, moves across the room, and scoops him up. The room falls quiet, and I glance around nervously as he turns to face me before stalking toward me. He was furious. Did the servant wake him? I told her to just set it on the table so she didn’t wake him. I knew I should have taken it up. I know how to move around that floor silently.
“Why are you down here?” he snaps at me, and the tone of his voice was one I had never had directed at me before. And it shook me to the core.
My eyes widen when he snarls and reaches for me. All I saw was his hand coming toward me, hyper-focused on it for mere seconds, and it was all I could see besides the fury on his face. I squeeze my eyes shut, and my body tenses, a noise I wasn’t sure I made or someone else did sounds around me. My heart was pounding so hard in my chest that I could hear it in my ears.
I recoil, waiting for his blow, my skin prickling and itching as I wait for the familiar feel of my hair being ripped out. Waiting for my head to bounce off the floor as he dragged me. Or the tearing of my flesh as Kade mauled me. Waiting for the pain.
Instead, he curses, and the voice isn’t Kade’s but Gannon’s, “F*ck, Abbie?” he whispers, his hand falling heavily on my shoulder. I flinch at the contact, expecting claws, but instead. I got fingertips.
My eyes flew open to find I was on the ground. I don’t know when I dropped to the floor or when I lifted my hands to cover my head. I don’t even remember doing it.
I just remembered his hands, the furious look on his face, how my stomach sank, sending my body into a cold sweat, and the itchiness of anticipation as I waited for the pain to start.
“Abbie.” his voice whispers, sounding almost like a plea, and I find him kneeling next to me, guilt all over his face as I blink up at him. I could see Gannon, see him right in front of me, but my body expected was not registering that this man was not Kade. Glancing past him when i see movement, I also find everyone staring at me. My face burns with humiliation as I sit cowering on the floor.
“Out everyone.” Clarice bellows at the servants, clapping her hands at them to hurry, and they take off. Tyson was sucking his thumb. watching me with a strange look on his face. My hands reach for him, shaking like a leaf during a storm. Gannon doesn’t stop me when I
snatch Tyson from him, clutching him to me before I get to my feet and run for the door.
My legs burned from running upstairs and through the corridors by the time I got back to Tyson’s room. I set him on the bed, trying to will my beating heart that slammed against my ribcage painfully, each thud harder than the last before I started struggling to breathe. My vision
tunneled, and I glanced at Tyson, suddenly feeling faint as panic seized me.
His l!ps were moving, and tears flooded his eyes and streaked down his cheeks, his little face turning red as his hands grasped air and reached out for me. Yet I was deaf to my surroundings. The only noise I could hear was the beating of my own heart. It felt like I was having a heart attack. I could feel my blood pumping harder through my veins, the erratic palpitations in my chest.
I felt the moment my eyes rolled into the back of my head as I tried to suck in much-needed air. I was falling, yet I felt nothing as I hit the ground. There was no pain. I heard nothing despite knowing Tyson was screaming his head off, and as my vision darkened even more as my head hit the ground and jolted my eyes forward, the last thing I saw was the door opening and boots. Then everything went black.