This book (work in progress) has been on my mind lately, as I decide what I really want to do with it. This is the first chapter as originally intended. It’s fantasy/historical. Set in 1880s England, with aliens. I am struggling with what I actually want to happen to the main character, Ella. I find my current thoughts will create a far more interesting story, but that means, probably, a ton of research. I am not opposed to this, but it means the story will not be written for a while. For the moment, enjoy!
“There were…differences that we could not overcome.”
Richard stared hard at the woman in front of him. She was lying, but why? “And the Greens’?”
She looked down. “There were also unfortunate differences that we could not overcome.”
He tapped his fingers on the table. Ella came highly recommended, but she wasn’t telling the truth. “And the Duringhams’? And if you say that phrase one more time, I will kick you out and you will not work for me or any of my friends, ever.”
Her terrified eyes found his, then anger took over, but she held her tongue. There was an irate look in her eye that made him smile. She was hot tempered but kept it in. She could be interesting.
“Tell me the truth.”
Ella clamped her mouth shut and stood a little taller but did not say anything.
He frowned for a moment, then nodded. He should just kick her out, but Reeki liked her. That was saying a lot. His Cree’At butler took a long time to like humans. “All right. Tell me why you try to hide the truth.”
She hung her head. “Because when I’ve told people the truth in the past, they have not believed me. Or perhaps just refused to.”
Ella sighed and allowed her shoulders to sag. She was tired and didn’t want to go through this with a stranger. She took a deep breath and started her tale. “The Chapman’s fired me because I did not come to work for a week. My mother was sick. I asked for some time off to tend to her. Lady Chapman said yes, but a week later, after I buried my mother, I returned to work and she said I had a lot of nerve coming back. I reminded her of our conversation, and she said she expected me to be back after an hour or two. I then stated my mother had died and she didn’t seem to care. She let me go without paying me for my last month of work.”
Richard did not say anything, just stared at the young woman as she continued her story.
“I left the Greens after their son and four of his friends…” she shut her eyes for a moment, took a deep breath and stopped herself from crying. “I left after they raped me.”
“You didn’t think to tell his parents?” His voice was kind, if curious.
She seemed to shrink back into herself. He wanted to go over and comfort her but felt she would not accept it. When her next words tumbled from her mouth, he thought of sending Reeki over to comfort her, but she spoke before he could indicate anything to Reeki.
“Lord Green came upon us before they could do anything. I was…against the wall, my skirt above my waist.” She took a few deep breaths. “The boys were already exposed. They had shown themselves to me moments earlier. Lord Green knew what was going on. All he said was, ‘Don’t get her pregnant.’ He then walked away.” She looked at Richard, tears streaming down her cheeks. “They-”
He held up his hand. “Enough. I don’t need to know any more.”
She closed her eyes in relief and wiped away her tears. Lord Richard looked at her for a moment then realized she didn’t need to be comforted. She was a stronger woman then he had originally thought.
“What did Lord Duringham do?”
“He ordered me into his bed. I said no and left.”
A ghost of a smile threatened on his lips. “You left?”
“That must have made him very angry.”
She shrugged. “I didn’t bother finding out.”
He laughed out loud. Ella blushed and tried not to like the sound of his laughter. Lord Richard smiled as he spoke. “All right. What can you do?”
“I can cook, clean, do laundry and anything else you would like to have your housekeeper teach me.”
“I take it if I ask your previous employers, they won’t give you a good review?”
“The Greens and the Duringhams both have Cree’Ats. They’ll tell you the truth.”
He gave a knowing smile. “Yes, they will. You seem to get along with them well.”
“I like them. They speak the truth.”
“That’s an interesting word to use. They don’t really speak.”
She tried not to laugh. “They do if you know how to listen.”
Lord Richard nodded. “When can you start?”
She gave a curtsy. “As soon as you wish.”
“Tomorrow. Ask Mrs. Davenport when you should be here.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”
He looked her up and down. “Do you have a place to stay?”
She nodded. “Yes, sir. I do.”
Richard nodded. “Good. See you tomorrow.”
Ella smiled, curtsied again, and followed the silver Cree’At to the door. At the door, he reached out and touched her hand. She closed her eyes as emotions and colors invaded her mind. She looked to Reeki as she opened her eyes. From the blue in her mind, she knew he was telling her he was happy that she would be working here and that she was safe.
Reeki nodded, opened the door, and allowed her to leave.
It was hard work, but no one threatened her. It was a safe place. The male servants treated her well, and none thought to pursue her. She was grateful for that. After her past experiences, Ella just wanted to be left alone. She hardly saw Lord Richard, barely knew if he was even in the house half the time. She didn’t care. Ella didn’t need to see her employer. Mrs. Davenport paid her weekly and told her what to do. At the end of each day, she would walk home. On the way, she would meet with Cree’At servants, also on their way home. It was safer to walk in groups, and if she walked with Cree’Ats, humans left her alone.
Most of the citizens of London and the rest of England, still didn’t know what to think of the creatures, but they knew the aliens were strong. Humans walking with the Cree’Ats were well protected. Ella was not the only young, single woman who knew this, but she seemed to be one of the few that could get along with them and could understand them.
When the Cree’Ats touched a human, they conveyed thoughts in pictures, colors and emotions. Most humans caught the emotions and the pictures, but not the colors. The colors more than the emotions showed what the Cree’Ats were truly feeling. Ella learned this when she was a small child and her mother introduced her to Seethal. They were the same age, or close enough, and spent a lot of time together. The silver creatures fascinated Ella, even more since though they could not speak, they could understand when spoken to.
The two girls would spend a few hours a day alone somewhere quiet. Seethal would place her hands on Ella’s and they would talk to each other. Ella would ask questions and Seethal would answer. If Ella did not understand, she would guess what Seethal was trying to say and Seethal would show her over and over, changing the colors, images and feelings until Ella was able to understand.
Now, as an adult, she could clearly see what the Cree’Ats were trying to convey and liked how they spoke to each other and to her. A few years ago, when offered a place to stay in Silverton, she accepted gratefully. She lived in a rather small apartment with Feena and her parents for a year before Feena left for parts unknown. Now, Ella lived with Feena’s parents and took care of them. It wasn’t an easy life, but now that she had a good job in a safe place, and a safe place to live, Ella felt things were looking up.
“Ella, good morning.”
She nodded to Mrs. Davenport as she slipped out of her coat.
“When you’re ready, I have a new task for you.”
Ella nodded and hurriedly hung her coat out of the way. She then went to Mrs. Davenport, who was readying a breakfast tray. Mrs. Davenport finished getting it ready then turned to Ella.
“Lord Richard has asked that you bring his breakfast tray to him. Knock on the door, but do not wait for an answer. Take the tray into the room and place it on his bedside table. If he is asleep, do not wake him, let Reeki take care of that. If he is awake, he will let you know if there is anything he needs.”
Ella nodded and reached for the tray. Mrs. Davenport placed a hand on Ella’s arm, causing the younger woman to give her an odd look. “What is it?”
“Ella, you have the right to say no. He often has women in his bed and when he does, if they are…doing anything, they will not stop when you enter the room.”
Ella’s eyes grew wide and then she laughed. “Oh?”
“That amuses you?”
Ella stifled her laughter. “It’s always something, Mrs. Davenport. As long as he doesn’t expect me to join him in bed, I can handle it.”
Ella picked up the tray, walked out of the kitchen, up the stairs and to Lord Richard’s room. She knocked on the door and opened it without waiting for an answer. She didn’t look toward the bed but walked around it and placed the tray on the table. Before she could turn away, she felt his hand on her arm. She inhaled sharply and turned to the bed. Lord Richard was rubbing his eyes with his other hand.
“Good morning, Ella. Please bring another tray. I have company this morning.”
Ella nodded and moved away as soon as she could. She went back to the kitchen and put together another breakfast tray. Moments later she was in his bedroom again, trying not to notice what Lord Richard and his lady friend were doing.
It was hard not to look. The woman was making pleasured noises that drew Ella’s attention. She looked to the bed and saw that the woman’s back was to her, long orange red hair flowing down her back, caressing her flawless skin. Ella tore her eyes away and looked to the side table. She went quickly to it, placed the tray on the table, turned away from the bed and left.
When the door closed, Louise looked down at Lord Richard and smiled. “She’s lovely.”
His hands went to cover her breasts, squeezing slightly. “Did you really have much of a chance to see her?”
“It wasn’t that I saw her, it was how she acted. In the past, others would tsk or make some noise of disapproval. She didn’t.” Louise squeezed her inner muscles and made Richard moan. She smiled. “She did everything she could not to look our way. Your new girl is interested. Are you interested in her?”
His hands slipped to her waist, to move her up and down. When Louise did not comply, he pulled her down and rolled her over to lie on top of her. Richard stared moving in and out of her, watching as her eyes closed. Her hands moved to slip around his neck and pull him down for a kiss. She then pulled his head closer, to speak in his ear.
“You want her, admit it. You asked specifically for her to bring you breakfast so that she would be the first one you see in the morning.”
His eyes closed at the soft sound of her voice. “Perhaps.”
She laughed in his ear as he continued to make love to her.