Simple Servant

By Dragon_Dame All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Other

Chapter 12 - A Step Closer

Chapter 12 - A Step Closer

Never in his life had Noah thought he’d speak to the Twins the way that he had. It was reckless and could have ended a lot worse that it had. He was lucky that they hadn’t recognized him.

Still, despite the risk he couldn’t find a reason to regret his actions.

His mind replayed the moment that he had returned from the Grand Dinning Room. He had scanned the ballroom, his eyes instinctively looked for her only to notice that two Lords had her all but pinned against the wall.

He hadn’t taken the time to think about his actions. An unknown urge to protect her over took his sanity. He had even used his own hand to forcibly stop one of his masters. As a servant he had no rational explanation for his actions, but as a man he couldn’t stopped himself.

Lady Jade placed a hand delicately on his shoulder and for the first time Noah noticed that they had made their way to the dance floor where a slow and rather intimate song was playing. His eyes glanced at the hand that rested on his shoulder and he followed it back to its owner.

He noticed her smile the moment he looked at her. She didn’t say anything, but she didn’t have to. She held out her right hand, like an open invitation, and waited for his next move.

Noah gave no thought to his next actions. He allowed his body to take over his sensibility, as he placed his left hand in hers and wrapped his right quiet possessively about her waist.

She let out and audible sigh he looked down at her in concern. Perhaps he was being too rough after her recent ordeal.

The look in her eyes told him something quiet different.

The song was nearly halfway over and still neither one of them had said a word. Noah couldn’t speak for Annabell, but he had become lost in the moment.

His thoughts were locked on her, he looked at nothing but her, his mind filled to the brim with her scent, while his hands ached to touch more of her.

Why?

He had never had such over whelming thoughts before.

“You’re a pretty good dancer.” Her words were quiet, and he wasn’t quiet sure that he had heard her correctly.

“I never noticed before.” It was true. He had done some strange things while his mother was Johnathon and Ronald’s governess. If it hadn’t been for her Noah would have spent his life only knowing the female parts of the dances. Until the day she passed Nanna Jenkins insisted on a nightly dance with him.

“Surely your other partners mentioned how well you dance.” Her voice had a strange sound to it. A small amount of spite, but she couldn’t have been jealous. There was no reason for her to be.

“They might have mentioned it.” He said nonchalantly.

She eyed him cautiously; “I never pictured you as the modest type.”

“What did you picture me as?” It was the boldest question that Noah had ever asked. But his boldness was rewarded when a most becoming blush appeared on her cheeks.

“Perhaps pictured would be the wrong word.” She stammered nervously. “I believe that you are someone that knows exactly who he is.”

Her blush deepened and she quickly looked away, not noticing the grimace that had found its way to his face. He once knew who he was, where he belonged, but the line between their classes had been blurred by her very presence.

Why?

How?

How could a lifetime of servitude, of following the rules of social conduct and of knowing his place, be so easily dismissed by one Lady?

Noah hadn’t realized that he was staring at her until her eyes found his. It was ridiculous how quickly those hazel eyes outlined in green could replace his concerns with yearning.

“You look stunning.” He whispered, hoping that no one else had heard him.

Her eyes widened and the slight blush on her cheeks deepened.

“Thank you.” She stammered apparently surprised by his statement. “That’s kind of you to say”

“Surely others have told you so?” He could feel himself grinning at his words.

“They might have mentioned it.” She shot back nonchalantly. Her words echoed his, and his grin only grew.

Suddenly feeling bold, Noah allowed his arms to pull her closer to him, “On the inside and out, Annabell,” he said keeping his voice low, and “you are a stunning person, don’t forget that.”

He kept his grip about her waist light, and although she stilled under his presence, she didn’t move away. She seemed to be debating something, but the frown lines on the top of her forehead disappeared and she offered him a smile that quickened his pulse drastically.

Noah suddenly became aware of the multiple glances others shot in their direction. He hadn’t noticed the attention before, but it was apparent now.

He was about to move away when she surprised him by placing her head lightly on his chest. “So you’ve noticed it?” He heard her say softly as the music ended.

“I have.” He managed to answer, while his thoughts focused on exactly how close she was to him, “I wonder what they believe is so interesting.”

“We are dressed to match.” She answered.

“We are also standing rather close together.” He countered. He had expected his words would make her back away.

They didn’t.

“In the middle of the dance floor.” She added, playfully.

“Alone.” He realized, noticing that everyone else had left.

“I suppose that they believe we came here together.” She hypothesized, her voice still in its quiet playful tone.

“It would appear that way.” He teased back.

“Is that a problem?” She asked, courage tinting her voice.

“I,” He paused knowing full well that he should be avoiding attention. Sky forbid what might happen if his Master’s recognized him. “Are you in a position to care about what others think of you?” He decided to ask.

She looked up, apparently shocked at his question. As her eyes found his, he realized that he didn’t care if he was caught. He could take the fall for her. He could be the fool. After all, what was the man behind the mask worth compared to her?

“As Lady Jade, they don’t know who I am.” She stepped away from him and offered a smile when he instinctively offered her his arm. “Until midnight,” She continued grasping a hold of his elbow, “we can be whomever we want, or act however we want.”

“What is it that you want Lady Jade?” He asked while escorting her off of the dance floor. He glanced at her cautiously as all eyes continued to watch them carefully.

For a small moment it seemed like she wouldn’t answer, like she was suddenly alarmed by his question. He wished that he hadn’t asked it. She was clearly used to others opinions mattering, but there was something else, another reasons that she didn’t wish to answer.

They were both keeping secrets he concluded, remembering how high on the social ladder she actually was. It seemed only fair that she had her own walls built up. The fact that she seemed reluctant to answer strangely didn’t bother Noah in the least. He understood the struggle.

“Truthfully?” She asked a short time later when the number of eyes on them began to fade.

“Truthfully.” He echoed as he led her to the back of the room, where the prying eyes would be less frequent.

“I want to know more about you, Noah.” He smiled slightly at the way she said his name, but then noticeably froze.

He couldn’t lie to her for the rest of the night, and heaven forbid he actually tell her the truth. That would be a sure fire way to get a rope around the neck. He thought quickly for a way out of her request, but was stopped by an idea. He had accepted his resolve to take the punishment if need be, but perhaps there was an easier way to settle things between them.

“I guess that’s reasonable.” He responded. Her face laterally lit up, but he held up a finger as if teasing her. “On one condition.”

She frowned, but her curiosity got the better of her. “What’s the condition?”

“You ask me whatever questions you like. I will answer them as truthfully as I feel comfortable.”

“That seems fair.” She nodded in agreement.

“And in return-”

“In return?” She shot back quickly.

He smiled at her shock, “Yes, in return, I would like to be granted the same opportunity.”

“Excuse me?” She asked startled.

“I would like to know more about you, Lady Jade.”

~~~ Same Scene, Change Character Focus

“What is it you want Lady Jade?” He asked while escorting her off of the dance floor, all eyes still watching them carefully. He glanced at her cautiously. For a small moment she contemplated not answering. She was alarmed by his question.

Had she actually just joked about them appearing to be a couple while in the middle of the dance floor?

Others opinions did matter to her, they always had, she was a Princess. Her life was nothing but the opinions of others.

What is it you want?

She wanted to know why Noah would risk his relationship with his family to protect someone who didn’t actually exist. She wanted to know how anger and fear had found its way into his seemingly carefree eyes. She wanted to know what his family was like. Why he would caution her against them? She wanted to know if he had someone special. And if he did...?

Well she would deal with that when, or if, it ever became an issue.

“Truthfully?” Her mind made up and her resolve unbroken. Would the young Lord give her the answers that she knew she didn’t deserve?

“Truthfully.” He repeated as the reached the outskirts of the ballroom.

“I want to know more about you, Noah.” He smiled slightly her but then noticeably froze once he understood what she had asked.

Alexandria had gone too far this time. There were obviously things in his life that he didn’t want to talk about, not that she blamed him she had her own secrets.

“I guess that’s reasonable.” She could feel the heat on her cheeks and pictured herself lit up, like young Kimmie, with excitement. But before she could express her thanks, he held up a finger as if teasing her. “On one condition.”

She frowned, but her curiosity got the better of her. “What’s the condition?”

“You ask me whatever questions you like. I will answer them as truthfully as I feel comfortable.”

“That seems fair.” She agreed understandably.

His next words caught her off guard. “And in return-”

“In return?” She interrupted.

“Yes,” He continued almost laughing, “in return I would like to be granted the same opportunity.”

“Excuse me?” She asked startled.

“I would like to know more about you, Lady Jade.” Alexandria paled. She couldn’t lie to him for the rest of the night, and Sky forbid what might happen if she actually told him the truth.

She would have to drop the request, but when she looked up at him something struck her as odd. He wasn’t sitting there with a smug expression on his face. No, this was something completely different. Something held his gaze and he looked like he was on the verge of a panic attack.

Turning around she noticed an elder noble, clearly of high class, staring intently at the pair of them. Tearing her eyes away from the dark-green-eyed man, Alexandria looked at Noah who had gone utterly white.

His face was pale, his eyes were almost invisible inside their sockets, and even his hair looked a few shades lighter.

Who was this man?

Before Alexandria could ask ‘Lord Coal’ about it, he presented her his arm, and all but dragged her to the balcony just as the next dance was starting. She had promised that dance to Sir Brown, but something told her that whatever was going on with Noah was more important.

“What’s wrong?” She stammered when he finally stopped at the bottom of the staircase. “Who was that?”

“I don’t know.” He responded as he sat on the last step and ran his hands through his hair.

His actions stunned Alexandria only slightly more so than his answer. She had been expecting some sort of denial based off of his reaction, but instead he claim to not know. “Fine,” She said with an exasperated sigh, “if you didn’t want to tell me you could have just said so.” She tried to hide the hurt in her voice, but was unsuccessful.

Noah stood up to his full height and looked at her sternly, “I, Noah Jenkins, promise you, Lady Annabell Tompson, that I do not know who that was.”

Again Alexandria found herself being stunned. Even though his left out his title, his outburst sounded almost regal. This realization didn’t stop a question from entering the back of her mind.

“Why did you run if you didn’t know him?” She wondered.

“Something told me to.” He confessed turning away from her and continuing across the palace lawn to the garden, “Call it instinct if you want.”

“But,” She called out, “why take me with you?”

~~~ Change Character Focus

“But, why take me with you?”

Noah stopped walking and turned slowly so that he wouldn’t give himself away. He couldn’t explain what just happened in the ballroom, he couldn’t even wrap his head around it, but something had made itself clear. Annabell’s safety had instantly become his top priory.

She had asked her first real question, and though Noah knew that she hadn’t verbally agreed to his answer any of his questions, he wanted to try anyway.

“I took you with me because...” He took a deep breath steadying himself first, “...because, some unknown thing inside of me keeps saying that you’re important.”

“Oh.” It was the only response that he got.

“My turn.” He stated as he continued walking down the garden path.

“What?!” She called out as she rushed after him.

Noah quickly hid the smile that had somehow broken out on his face at the thought that she had followed him. “You asked your question,” he concluded, “now it’s my turn.”

She was clearly stunned. “I never agreed to your-.”

“True.” Noah interrupted. He didn’t want to push her. She was after all a noble, part of Society and he...wasn’t. He had no right to be doing what he was doing, but he had no will to stop. It was as if all reason had disappeared.

“What did you want to ask?” Her words were so deliberate, that Noah thought he heard fear in her usually strong voice.

Although overjoyed in her trust for him, Noah worried at the prospect of breaking that trust. It would be inevitable; nothing would stop the truth from hurting her in someway.

With that dark shadowy cloud hanging over his head, Noah resulted to a light question, to help her feel more comfortable. “What’s your favorite color?”

“Excuse me?” She asked confused.

“What?” He asked as innocently as possible.

She blinked a few times before speaking, “Is that what you want to ask me?”

He nodded. “Yes.”

“Why?” She asked suspicious.

“You haven’t answer yet.” He reminded “You have to answer as truthfully as possible, before you can ask a question.”

She laughed light-heartily at his response, before looking at him and blushing. “It’s kind of personal.”

“It is just your favorite color.” He reminded, intrigued. She had a beautiful shade of dark pink painted across her cheeks. She was clearly embarrassed about her answer, but he had no idea why.

“It doesn’t have a name.” She clarified.

That intrigued him even more. Careful not to laugh at her discomfort he explained, “Well if you don’t know the name then tell me something that is roughly the same color.”

Her blush only deepened in color, and Noah realized that she was becoming more beautiful by the second. Before he could tell her to forget the whole thing, she blurted out something so quickly that Noah was unable to catch it.

“What did you say?” He asked confused.

She surprised him by making direct eye contact and saying, with an astounding amount of control, “It’s the same color of your eyes.”

Noah felt very warm all of a sudden, but he wasn’t uncomfortable in the least. Not wanting to embarrass her even more he just chuckled softly and said, “That wasn’t so hard.”

“So I get my question now?” She inquired hurriedly.

“Yes, ask away.” He confirmed, able to hide his apprehension by reminding himself how much he hated lying to her.

She pondered momentarily before asking, “How does it feel, to be you?”

Noah silently cursed at her question. It sounded innocent enough, but when you were impersonating a Noble, it was a dangerous question.

“Well,” He answered as he thought carefully about his words, “it sometimes feels like everything has been put on my shoulders. I have to do everything perfectly for fear of angering someone. It can be draining sometimes. I constantly think about abandoning my situation but my Mother taught my to work through life one day at a time.”

“She seems like a smart woman.” Alexandria commented.

Noah looked up momentarily finding comfort in the stars, “She was.” He found himself answering.

~~~ Change Character Focus

Noah’s mother was dead? It was a sad revelation to come to, and it made her wonder more about his past, but she couldn’t. It was his turn to ask a question. “What do you want to know?” She eventually implored, satisfied by his answer.

He looked away from the sky and back at her causing, now familiar and welcomed, shivers to crawl up her back.

“Why are you here?” He asked softly.

At first Alexandria was taken back by his question, and she looked away embarrassed. Had he expected her to leave? Did he want her to? An uncomfortable feeling crawled into her chest and Alexandria nearly rushed back up stairs to the Ballroom, but she looked back at his face and noticed that he didn’t seem to be accusing her of anything.

“I don’t understand the question.” She informed hopefully.

“I can’t comprehend this.” Lord Coal motioned to the space between them, “It confused me. This shouldn’t be happening, but it is. I shouldn’t even be here right now, but I am. It’s like everything that has happened these last few weeks has been leading to this.” He opened his arms and motioned to everything around them. “I’m here,” He concluded “Why are you?”

Alexandria let his words sink in. It took her only a few seconds grasp what he was asking.

He had his back turned towards her again and he stared up at the night sky as his hands raked through his hair. She walked up beside him and caught one of his hands as he went to shove it into his pockets.

She could feel his eyes staring at her as she drew circles on his palm. Neither of them spoke and eventually Alexandria felt him relax next to her. There was a strange but comfortable silence hanging in the air.

“I’m here,” she eventually answered, intertwining his fingers with her own, “because I want to be.”

She felt his eyes on her and glanced up to meet them. He didn’t say anything about her confession but her heart skipped a small beat as he closed his fingers around hers.

A thought that she had a few weeks ago while embroidering her favors reentered her mind. She once again wondered what it would feel like to have his lips pressed against hers. She leaned in closer to him and closed her eyes. She couldn’t help but smile when she felt him move closer still.

The clock struck eleven, and caused both her and Noah to jump back. They had been gone for nearly an hour. Clearly rumors would be spread back to her parents about this.

She only had an hour until her big reveal. Would he despise her for the lies that she had told him, even after what had nearly just happened? True, Alexandria still knew next to nothing about the young Terrafein Lord who had lost his mother, but she knew that there was courage inside of him.

She had seen it,

They both looked at the clock in the distance wondering, how they let time slip away from them.

“Noah...” She began, unable ask to him if she could leave. She felt completely content to stand there and learn more about what made him who he was.

But time was running out for Annabell. They would be announcing her, the Princess, very shortly to reveal the symbols that each single girl used on their favors. Then she remembered, her tenth symbol, the sleeping fox. It didn’t have an owner.

Sure it was a bit cowardly, but she couldn’t think of anything else.

“Lady Jade? Lady Jade...Annabell?!”

Noah’s words cut through her thoughts, goodness she was actually answering by that name now.

“I’m sorry,” She explained poorly, “I was lost in thought?”

“What did you want to ask me?” He inquired.

Alexandria dug into the little bag that had hung on her wrist throughout the night, and pulled out the one favor that differed from the others.

“Would you take this?” She asked before scampering back to the ballroom.

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