Life of the Deceived
Image of London Thames Embankment, courtesy of Old UK Photos, image of Puerto Rico courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
As predicted, on the third day my ankle was completely healed and I was able to finally get out of bed. After a proper bath, I dressed and made my way to Gabriela’s room, but when I opened the door to look in, I saw that her bed was empty. Opening the door completely, I walked in and made her bed before heading downstairs to begin my other chores. I felt as if I was walking on air while I descended the stairs. It almost seemed like nothing could ruin this happy moment for me. Sadly, I was mistaken. Out of nowhere, I was backhanded across the face, from whom, I was not made aware.
“How dare you!” I heard Margaret lash out when I looked up at her. In her eyes there was nothing but a blaze of fire.
“Forgive me, but what have I done?” I inquired as I did my best to hold back the fresh sting of tears.
“I know you hurt yourself on purpose,” she accused. “As if being lectured by Lord Cumberbatch wasn’t enough when he knows that I had the right to talk down to you like I did; you have been nothing but trouble since you came to be here. No wonder you were passed around.” As she continued her rant, I began to fear the worst as I felt myself being cornered and her anger becoming far worse. “If it were me, I wouldn’t have taken you in; I would have left you out on the street for dead. That is where you truly belong you filthy little-!”
“What in God’s name, what is all the shouting about?” Andrew exclaimed in annoyance. “Margaret, what the hell are you doing? Back away from her this instant, or I shall have Lord Cumberbatch deal with you.”
Walking up to her, Andrew yanked her away which caused her to almost lose her footing. I was shaken, terrified by Margaret’s sudden outburst. Never in my five years of being here has she lashed out at me in such a way. This made me wonder if she had finally lost all sanity she had left.
“I said back away, now!” he commanded once more before she straightened herself up and stomped out of the room. After a slight second of silence, the sound of a door slamming echoed throughout the mansion.
Tears streamed down my face as I couldn’t look away from the direction Margaret went. I knew this wouldn’t be the end of it. She and I would be alone again, and what else she had in mind to say or do would occur. Letting out another painful sob, I gazed up at Andrew who seemed emotionless as he too glanced down at me. My heart sank when he let of a sigh, shaking his head in what seemed like disappointment and walked away, leaving me in the state I was in.
“Please…,” I called out to him before he exited the room.
“Just…keep your distance, child. I do not know what you have done to for her to act the way she did, but more than likely you deserved it.”
“W-what?” I was shocked to hear him say such a thing. “But, sir, I have done nothing wrong-”
“I have worked with Margaret for years, and never have I seen her behave in such a way for no reason at all,” he told me, his tone a bit harsh than before. “Go back to your room and stay there. I will have Harriet bring out some bread and water for you.”
“But, sir please, you must believe that I am innocent. She has accused me for something I did not do purposely.”
“Paula,” he shouted, his anger rising, “if you wish to remain in good graces with me, I suggest you do not make any more pathetic excuses and do as you are told. I shall have Lady Cumberbatch-”
“Oh, God, no please-”
“One more interruption from you and I will have you thrown out of this house and onto the streets!” I was silenced by his outburst, which actually seemed to calm him slightly. “Now, I will inform Lady Cumberbatch of this incident and allow her to handle it. In the meantime, return to your room and do not come out for the rest of the evening. Do I make myself clear?”
“Y-yes, sir,” I responded, intimidated by one of the few I thought I could trust.
“Good, now be off with you.” Turning his back to me, he left me where I was, not even bothering to help me up.
I sat there for what seemed like hours before I gained some strength to lift myself from the ground and up to the second floor. Instead of going straight to my room, I found myself going into Lord Cumberbatch’s office. Making sure no one was coming I closed the door as quietly as I could before slowly walking over to his desk. Taking a seat, I looked back towards the door once more. As I looked back towards the desk, I carefully slide open the middle drawer and right there in front of me, it was revealed.
No else but me knew where he kept his revolver since he has asked me several times before to look for something he needed whether it was for business or personal use. As I looked down at it, I could feel my heart pounding against my chest. Never have I handled a firearm before, but as I reached for it, this strange instinct took over to where the weapon did not seem so foreign to me. When I opened the barrel, I saw that there were four bullets in their separate chambers. But when I thought about it, I only needed one. Just one bullet to do the deed I was about to commit.
After closing the drawer, I locked it and covered the revolver with my apron before hastily making my way out of the room and into my own. Locking the door behind me, I took a deep breath before pushing myself away from against the wooden panel and took a seat on my bed. Once more my body began to shake while I glanced down at the covered revolver in my hands.
Just one shot, I said inwardly. Just one shot and I’ll be free from this hell.
I took a ragged breath as my nerves grew. Slowly, I began to unwrap the gun from my apron, revealing the thing that would end it all for me. I could feel my mouth dry and my heart seem as if it was pounding in my head. There were several ways for me to do this, all creating the same solution. While two would cause it to be instantaneous, only one would create less of a mess. Lifting the weapon to my head, I closed my eyes. Time almost seemed to slow down when my finger touched the trigger. I could feel hot tears stream down my face as I began to squeeze it gently. So close, but yet so far I thought to myself.
Almost like fate, terrible fate, a loud knock pulled me out of my darkest moment. Panicking, I rummaged around the room, trying to figure out where to hide the gun from whomever was on the other side of that door. Hiding it in my wardrobe, I rushed over towards the impatient knocking.
“Paula, what on earth happened?” Lord Cumberbatch questioned worriedly when he saw the state I was in, pushing me backward so he could close the door behind him, out lips instantly met in a heated kiss. Not caring, I gave into the passion, allowing him to take me into his arms, carrying me to my bed; placing me on the mattress, he followed in pursuit once his waistcoat and cravat were both removed and his shirt unbuttoned.
I knew this was wrong and so did he, but at this moment, it seemed that neither one of us cared. As my fingers glided gently across his chest, he let out a deep moan that almost sent me over the edge. I wanted this mouse more than anything else in this cruel world. He was my strength, my comfort, and my protector.
“I love you, Anthony,” I whispered without missing a single beat. However, I was confused when he stopped, looking down at me blankly. “What?” I asked. “Did I say something wrong?”
“No,” he answered, “it’s just… I haven’t heard those four words before. It makes me wonder if Amelia ever truly loved me.”
Shaking my head, I brushed my fingered across his cheek. “I love you, that’s all that matters.”
“Then marry me,” he proposed. Completely shocked by what I had just heard, I sat up in a quick pace.
“Marry me, Paula. I can free you from the torture you live day to day. Andrew told me what Margaret did and said, and I was appalled. She always thought that she ran this place, I have no idea why my wife ever hired her.”
It took me a moment or so to really let what he said sink in before I dared speak again. “You mean…you…”
“Yes, darling,” he answered, kissing me once more. “She will never bother you again. That wretched bitch is forever out of the picture. And soon, so shall Amelia. So what do you say? Will you be my wife?”
As tempting as it was, guilt suddenly hit me. As much as I wanted to be his wife, I didn’t want to ruin the lives of others. Gabriela soon came to mind and as much as she loved me and I her, Lady Cumberbatch was her mother. I couldn’t do this to the poor girl. Sighing deeply, I looked deep into his eyes.
“I…I can’t,” I answered hesitantly. Seeing the fire in his eyes burn out pained me beyond belief, “at least not now.”
“Why on earth not, you said that you loved me.”
“And I do, but I don’t want to be the cause of chaos and hurt, especially not for your daughter. I beg you, for now at least, to accept my decision. When the time is right, I will give you my heart for all eternity.”
For a moment, I watched as he thought it over and with a smile, he pulled me into his arms once more before placing a gentle kiss on my forehead. “All right,” he accepted. “We shall wait.”
Not having to utter another word, he leaned forward, catching my lips with his once more in a tender kiss. That passion I felt for him earlier revived once more as he kept me close. But all good things must come to an end when we pulled away; even still, he never released me from his embrace.
“So, how is your ankle today, my love, better I imagine?” Lord Cumberbatch questioned.
“It’s fine,” I answered simply. “Not as bad as it first was obviously, but it’s tolerable.”
“I’m pleased to that,” he replied, his voice still gentle. Finally releasing me from his embrace, he turned to make his way from my bedroom. Before making his leave, he turned back to me and continued, “Though, I beg you not to work too hard for we don’t want another incident like that again.”
“I promise,” I told him with such care in my tone.
“And please keep that promise,” he requested. “I’ll have a doctor call later and be sure you have not done worse.”
Nodding in response, he smiled once more and closed the door behind him, leaving me alone once more to bask in the moment. I was thrilled, in fact ecstatic that he would want to leave his wife and be with me, but I knew trouble would soon approach because of who he is and what I am. I was always told that love has risks and sacrifices and that’s what seemed to frighten me and keep me from telling him my real answer. Yes, I still feared ruining the trust I have built with Gabriela over these last five years would be ruined, but there was that part of me that would wish to believe that she would accept it if indeed I were to marry her father.
For the time being, I wished not to think about it as I went to lie back down on my bed. However, before doing so, I soon remembered Lord Cumberbatch’s revolver that I still had hidden in the wardrobe. I needed to return it to its proper place before he realized it was missing. Question was how to do so without being caught by either Lord Cumberbatch, his wife, or any of the other staff. It seemed that for now, I was going to have to wait until my window of opportunity presented itself.
Hopefully sooner, rather than later…
I waited for what seemed like hours, pacing back and forth while I tried to come up with some decent plan to return the gun without being caught. When I finally did, I took a deep breath before emerging from my room. The long hallway seemed darker than usual even with my chamber stick in hand. My heart pounded wildly against my chest with each step I made towards the master bedroom. Hearing a creaking noise, I paused quickly; looking every direction I could and realized no one was around.
Knowing that I couldn’t stall any longer, I moved more hastily, opening the door carefully just in case someone was inside. When seeing nobody, I rushed over to the desk, placing the weapon in its rightful place and ran out after shutting the drawer.
“Paula, what are you doing?” A familiar voice asked as I was closing the door to the bedroom, turning around I saw Gabriela standing before me with such confusion. “Mummy and Daddy don’t like it when anyone goes into their room without permission,” she said as sternly as any five year old could be.
“I know, but your father told me to put something very important in his desk earlier and I forgot to do so.” I knew lying was immoral, especially lying to a child, but I could not tell her why I was really in there for she would have went straight to her father and told him.
“Was there something you wanted sweetheart?” I questioned as calmly as I could.
“It’s time for my knitting lesson,” she answered innocently as her eyes quickly lit up. Smiling softly, I held my hand out and as she took it, we headed downstairs to the sitting room.
Thankfully, never once did she tell her father of me being in his room and never once did she speak of it to me. I already had too many secrets up my sleeve and I did not want any of them, especially the thought of Lord Cumberbatch knowing the real reason of me peaking around his desk was because I wished to end my life and the misery I was in. But I knew that this would not be the end of the hell I lived, for soon more chaos would unfurl and I knew who it would be to release it.
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