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Chapter two

"I'm letting you work here because of the history with your family and mine. Your parents are good servants, I have never had a problem with them and I will not like it if I happen to have with you. The rules here will be explained to you by Gina, but most importantly, I will not like to hear a compliant that you aren't doing your job well. I won't be paying you for no reason. Is that clear?"

"Yes ma'am" Lillian curtsied.

"Good. One more thing, you will be living in, only the older servants are allowed to leave at night except the head of staff, Paulina, she is the head cook as well. She will keep an eye on you as you are new. Whatever report she gives me about you, I will not hesitate to take action, so whatever you do, make sure it's something you are allowed to do, am I clear?"

"Yes ma'am."

"Your mother will guide you, I don't like things not be done my way, so whatever you are told to do, you are to carry on with it with no complain. I don't tolerate abuse, or fighting or clustering together to gossip instead of working, I will not hesitate in deducting your salary when I see that. You understand me don't you?"

"Yes ma'am."

"Good. Gina, take her to you girls' room. Abigail get me a cup of coffee."

"Yes ma'am" they both answered before curtsying and leaving the room, Abigail closing the door gently behind her. 

"Lillian, you will be good right?" Abigail grabbed her daughter's hand affectionately.

"Don't worry mama, with you here, nothing can go wrong. Besides, I cannot forget the reason I came here in the first place" she smiled to her.

Abigail nodded and softly tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear, "everything will be alright."

"I know mama."

"Gina, please look after her for me okay?"

"You don't have any problem Abigail, I will take care of her" Gina, a black haired girl with sapphire blue eyes and round face said. She was average in height and a little plump, she looks a little older than her age but she was only older than Lilly by a year.

"Thank you" Abigail smiled.

Gina returned the smile, "come Lilly, I will show you our room and introduce you to the others."

"Okay. Bye mama, please take care of yourself" she hugged her while Abigail patted her back with a soft smile.

"I will" she then left to get Mrs. Lockwood her cup of coffee.

Gina led Lillian through the hallway to the maid's room, as they go, Lilly didn't fail to notice that not much difference has been made in the house from the one she remembers. Apart from richly colored drapes that hung on the windows straight to the giant doors, the rich tiled floor that makes no sound when she walks. The ten steps chandelier that hung on the living room that looks like her house times hundred. And very nice work of arts that were used to design the hallway, everything looks just like she imagined, only improved.

When she had finally passed through the gate while coming with her mother this morning, she couldn't stop the memories from rushing into her and watering her eyes when she saw the building, the lawn, the fountains and the animals' shaped flowers, she still remembers how she plays hide and seek with daddy Eric there.

This house hold a much happier childhood memories for her, the days when she lived like a princess before facing the hard days in life. A part of her wished she could return back to those days but it has been so long that it almost looks like it never happened. She also wish she could see daddy Eric but he had divorced Mrs. Lockwood a long time ago. He had left the country and no one has heard from him since then. Even Shane left immediately after him, he had a difficult time dealing with his parents divorce and so left for his grandmother's home in Georgia to finish his studies. According to her mother, he has not returned since then too and no one has seen him.

Although Mrs. Lockwood often travels to see her mother so only her had seen him couple of times and it's been ten years now since he left. No one knows if he will ever return to his family's home and take over their business but he has shown no interest in it.

Lilly's thought was disrupted when Gina pushed open a door, she followed her inside to see rows of bed. It was almost like in orphanage homes. Her eyes widened and she heard Gina chuckle, "there are so many beds."

"Yes. Everybody has their own only that we share the same room. Here, this will be yours, I already placed your belongings next to it. Over here is the bathroom, we all share it too and we take turns washing it. This is head staff Paulina's bed, no matter how tired you are, when it's your turn to arrange her bed, always make sure you leave a jug of water on the table for her. If not, tut tut tut" she shook her head, "you understand what I mean?" When Lilly nodded, she continued, "the other hallway is the boy's room, no matter what you do, don't let Mrs. Paulina see you go there, she hates it."

The door opened and a girl in similar age with them entered, she stopped when she saw them and her big dewy eyes scanned Lilly's face, "I heard there is a new person."

"This is Martha, Martha this is Lilly, she will be joining us from today" Gina introduced.

Lilly smiled, "nice to meet you."

"Same here. I like your eyes" Martha smiled while Lilly blushed.

"Thank you."

"Gina, hurry up with your touring, Mrs. Paulina wants to see you" Martha said and left the room.

"That's all for the room, come, let me show you outside" they left the room too and walked in what Lilly believed to be an endless hallway before they approached a door. Gina opened it and the sun's light fell on them. Lilly wowed when she saw the garden she knows all to well, daddy Eric played a lot with her here, as well as Shane.

"This here is the garden, Mrs. Lockwood loves lilies in her room, so don't forget to place freshly plucked ones for her every morning. It's the duty of every new person to serve her so that she can see how she works or so they told me" Gina shrugged before continuing on, "red roses goes to her study every morning while you place white in the living room upstairs. We take turns doing that one too. The duty roster is being placed in our room every week by Mrs. Paulina, so you check it every Monday to know your duties for the week."

They left the garden and farther down the compound was a little house, Gina pointed at it, "Mrs. Paulina said that used to be Mr. Eric's drawing room, but since I came here, I have never been inside."

"Why?" Lily asked, she could remember she had been there once, Shane had taken her there to meet his father, she still remembers the beautiful bird he was painting when they entered.

"Mrs. Lockwood keeps it locked up, no one is allowed there I think."

"Oh." They continued walking and Gina kept telling her the do's and dont's of the house while showing her around. They finally ended up in the kitchen which was bustling with activities with a lot of girls doing this and that.

"Gina, come here immediately and you Lillian join Diane in cutting the vegetables, no time for dilly dallying" a very fat woman with mixed up gray and black hairs said. She was short and her face was round, wrinkles were visible on her face but one can still see that she must have been a beauty doing her young days.

Lilly looked around and seeing a blonde girl cutting vegetables, she believed her to be Diane so she walked up to her, "hi."

The girl looked at her but said nothing, continuing with her work, "I'm Lillian, it's nice to meet you" Lilly persisted.

"I hope I can say the same about you. Now stop talking and start cutting. I wouldn't want Mrs. Paulina shouting at me" Diane snapped.

"Oh" Lilly said nothing anymore and picked up a knife then joined her with slicing the vegetables.

No one said anything except for Mrs. Paulina who was throwing orders around and sizzling sounds of the boiling pots.

In time, some male servants joined in the kitchen to do one or two things. Everybody was busy, minding their own business and doing their jobs. Lilly did a mental count of the maids in the kitchen and they were five, three she already know their names and two she doesn't. She can't find her mom so she believed she must be somewhere else in the house.

The breakfast was finally ready and Gina took out Mrs. Lockwood's food while Martha shared for others. In time, the kitchen was compiled as everyone entered to eat their foods. Abigail entered then with two older women like her, they were the first to be served food along with Paulina before the rest.

As everyone settled to eat, Lilly finally have the chance to count the whole servants. They were all fifteen in total along with her. Five males and ten females. The older ones were her mother, Mrs. Paulina and the two women that entered with her mother, while the younger ones were Gina, Martha, Diane, her and the two she doesn't know their names. No wonder the house is sparkling clean, there are enough servants to do the work.

"Patience, hurry up and take food to Greg and Gabe" Paulina's voice rang out.

"Yes Mrs. Paulina" a brown haired girl answered.

Oh so that's her name, one down and one to go, Lilly thought.

After the breakfast, they all started to arrange the kitchen. When they were done, they dispersed, each leaving to do one or two things. Lilly entered the living room to memorize every thing better, Mrs. Lockwood already left for work so she doesn't have to be afraid of bumping into her.

She looked up at the staircase, her mind played a vision for her, a boy carrying a younger version of her as they watched his parents having a heated argument. The pain in his eyes when her mother was carrying her away, she sighed, she really wish she could see him again. That's if he can remember her for she is sure she can remember him, she has never forgotten his face after all. His gray eyes that looks upon her with all the gentleness in the world, his black hair just like his father's, his smile that always dazzle her even at such a tender age. Unknowingly, a smile graced her lips.

"What are you smiling at?" She heard and turned to face Diane who was staring at her with a frown. Lillian checked in her memory to know if they have met before but no, she got nothing. So why is she hostile towards her? She can't say, therefore she made a mental note to avoid her in the coming future.

"Just some fun memories" she shrugged.

"Which are?" Diane crossed her arms on her chest and asked.

"I don't recall ever being told I have to tell you about my memories."

"Humph" Diane harrumphed and walked passed her out of the door.

Wow, some people can be something else, Lilly thought, she looked away from the door to see a girl smiling to her. She is the last maid she doesn't know the name.

"Don't mind her, she has been like that since I remember, whenever there is a new maid, she makes it her habit to be rude during the first few weeks."

"I see, was she rude to you too?"

"I was here before her. I have been here since I was fourteen."

"How old are you now?"

"Nineteen. And you?"

"Eighteen."

The girl smiled and approached her, "I'm Nora."

"Lilly."

"I know. So Lilly, why are you here? I have known your mother for a long time and she never spoke of you coming here to join us."

"Actually" Lilly paused, not knowing if she should tell her her reason after just meeting her for the first time.

Nora smiled, "it's okay, you don't have to tell me now but I hope we can be friends. I have wanted to be your friend for a long time now. I use to see you sometimes when you will come to pick your mom."

"Oh. I hope we can be friends too."

Nora smiled, "come, let me show you around."

Lilly wanted to tell her that Gina has done that but hey, there is nothing wrong with another tour, besides it can give them some bonding time. "Okay."

They left the living room through the front door, chatting like long lost friends who finally meet again.

Later in the night, Lilly said good bye to her mom as she walked her to the gate, "you sure you will be fine without me mama?"

Abigail chuckled, "Lilly, I'm not a baby you know. I will be fine."

Lilly pouted, "I thought I would be leaving with you every night."

"It's alright dear. I remember when I started newly here, I use to live in too. It was after your father told Mr. and Mrs. Lockwood that we want to get married were we allowed to leave every night. I think it's because they wanted us to start up our family in our own home. It wasn't just us, my friend Nancy also moved out when she got married but she couldn't continue the work because her husband got transferred and they had to leave the country."

"I see. But I will love to be leaving with you to take care of you."

"Don't worry, each maid takes days off every weekend, when it gets to your turn, we will leave together. Besides, you will get to stay at home, Saturday and Sunday to return Monday morning. And it's just the six of you, so it will be getting to your turn soon."

Lilly sigh, "this will be the first night I'm spending without you mama and outside home too."

"It's alright dear, you will be fine" Abigail caressed her face.

Lilly smiled then hugged her, "I can't wait to see you again tomorrow."

"Me too."

"Mama?"

"Yes dear?"

"Promise me you will buy your medicine."

Abigail released her from her hug immediately, "what are you saying?"

"I was awake last night mama, and I heard you in pain. So please, go buy it when you have the chance, I won't be with you every night again to look after you. Please."

Abigail nodded, trying not to let the tears fall from her eyes, "I will go. I promise."

"I love you mama."

"I love you too dear, good night."

"Good night mama" she hugged her again before waving as she walked away. Lilly turned and went back into the house, everywhere was already quiet as everyone prepared to sleep.

When she got to the maids room, she saw Paulina getting ready for bed who looked up at the sound of her entering, "Lillian, you will be the one in charge with Mrs. Lockwood's room tomorrow, I believe Gina has told all you need to know."

"Yes Mrs. Paulina."

"Good. Sleep, we will be waking very early in the morning."

"Yes Mrs. Paulina."

She went straight to her side and got out her nightwear before entering the bathroom for a quick shower.

***

Two months later, Lilly has finally adapted to her work and is now accustomed to her new identity as the Lockwood maid. Everything was okay except for her mother's health which seemed to be getting worse by the day. Every night she wakes up with unbearable pain on her breast, although she never told Lillian but she knows already, for how can she not see the pain in her eyes and the paleness of her face every morning? Besides, she use to hear her cry every night she spends at home.

She had visited a hospital during her weekend off to ask about patients with breast cancer. She came to know that what her mother needs now is a surgery to avoid the cancer affecting her other breast. The worst of all is that her mother is lacking in medication and according to the doctor she met, he said that if Abigail doesn't have a surgery soon, it will affect her other breast and not just that, the pain she endures can lead to her death.

Lilly has already lost her father, she can't lose her mother too. Unfortunately, the price for the surgery is not something she can afford at the moment so she can only pray that she can be able to raise the money before it's too late. She never told her mom about her enquiries for her sickness for she knows her mother, she will do everything she can to stop her from asking her to undergo the surgery.

Waking up to the shrilling scream of someone, Lilly fell out from the bed, she sat up and glared daggers at the person responsible for her fall.

"What the hell is wrong with you Martha?" Patience asked in annoyance.

Martha's scream has woken every single one of them, as Paulina hasn't called them, they all wanted to steal a little more sleep before she does and now, Martha has ruined it for all of them. 

"Have you lost it?" Diane asked in a murderous tone.

"Guys, if you know what I just heard, you won't be angry at me, really" Martha said, unfazed by their angry expressions.

"Why should we care?" Gina asked, "whatever it is, it's not enough reason for you to scream us out of bed."

"Why are you all complaining, shouldn't you be out of bed by now in the first place?"

"Mrs. Paulina hasn't called us" Lilly added and the rest nodded.

"Exactly" they supported.

"Well, no need biting my head off, she will soon be here so consider it me helping you by waking you up. Anyway, what I wanted to say is that, I just overheard Mrs. Lockwood telling Mrs. Paulina that her son will be coming back today. According to her, he only told her last night so there is no time to plan a big party for him."

"It's a lie" Diane was the first to speak.

"Why will I lie?"

"My God, he hasn't been back home for like ten years now!" Nora exclaimed.

"Everybody knows that but the thing is, why is he suddenly coming back?" Asked Patience.

"Who knows, maybe to take over the family business. It's been due to him for a long time now" Gina said.

Diane exclaimed, "this is an incredible news."

"See, I told you" Martha bragged, "Mrs. Paulina will be here soon, there will be work for us cause according to Mrs. Lockwood, they will be a small welcoming party for him."

"He deserves it. He has been away for ten years. She should throw a ball for him too" Nora commented and the rest laughed.

The door opened and in walked Paulina, "good you are up girls. There is good news, young master Shane will be joining us today and Mrs. Lockwood wants to throw a little party for him. So get your asses off the bed, let's get this done. Up you go, chop chop" she clapped her hands as the girls scurried to get up and dragged who should use the bathroom first, "you all should fit in there, I need every one of you in that kitchen in twenty minutes" with that said, she left the room.

All through this time, Lilly has been in shock, Shane is coming back! The sweet boy who treated her like a sister is coming back. He is really coming back and she is going to see him again after thirteen years. How will he look now? The last time she saw him, he was fifteen and she was just five. Now after the years, he will be twenty eight, will he still recognize her? Will he still treat her like his sister?

Hell no, she is not a young girl who only play around while her parents are busy, she is now a grown girl and a maid in his house. She is to serve him now not play with him.

Without her knowing, her heart was thumping loudly in her chest, Shane is coming back. Why is she reacting like this?

"Lilly what are you waiting for? There is no time" Nora's voice dragged her out of her thought into the present and she hurriedly stood up from the floor to join them in the bathroom. But deep inside her heart, she knew today will be really different from the rest of the days she had spent there as a maid.

The household was busy as everyone rushed to get one or two things done. Margaret didn't want to go to the office but a very important meeting had to call her out. But she made a mental note to be back right before her son would.

The house was arranged and many meals were prepared, mostly Shane's favourite food. As the oldest staff, Paulina knows all that he loves for she has been around from when he was just three years old.

Abigail didn't have the time to discuss with her daughter as they all rushed to get everything ready before Margaret would be back. They all knew how angry she would be if they couldn't get the house ready.

Finally, it was time for the highly awaited young master to be back, Margaret wasn't back from the office and Paulina figured she might have gone to the airport to pick up Shane.

Just as they were starting to get worried, the gate opened and Margaret's car drove in. 

"Outside everyone" Paulina shooed and they all went outside as they watched Margaret's car slowly come to a stop in front of them. Her chauffeur first climbed out and opened the door for her, she stepped out, her gaze scanning the faces of her servants before she turned to the young man, getting out from the other side of the car.

He walked around the car to stand beside her, his hair was darker than the night sky and it was parted at the side, he has a long face like his mother, his eyes, a pale gray like hers too, his nose perfectly pointed and a thin line for his lips. He was tall, his mother who was considered tall was a head shorter beside him. The black blazer he was putting on top a red shirt was as dark as his hair.

His red pants enhanced his strong long legs, a mere looking at him, took the breaths of the young maidens away. His gray orbs fell on their faces one after another until it settles on Lilly's. He let his gaze linger on her small face for a little longer before shifting to Paulina, he smiled, showing perfect set of white teeth, "Paulina" his deep voice resonated around them.

"Master Shane, it's good to have you back" she curtsied.

"I hope it would be good to be back too" he looked at his mother as he said this but she said nothing.

"Paulina, set the table. He is quite famished" Margaret ordered.

"Yes ma'am" she curtsied then turned to her followers, signaling with her eyes to them to greet Shane.

"Welcome home sir" Diane was the first to say with a shy blush, making Margaret frown when she saw that but she said nothing. Her son is quite eye catchy to the ladies so it's understandable if a little blush is seen here and there.

"Welcome home sir" the rest said together.

"Paulina, introduce them" Margaret commanded.

"Yes. Master Shane, this is Diane, Patience, Nora, Gina, Martha and Lillian" she pointed at each of them as she mentioned their names.

Shane's eyes settled on each of them when introduced and once again, his gaze lingered on Lillian's face a little longer than the rest.

Lillian could feel his gaze on her, she was already having a hard time calming her fast beating heart at the sight of him, now with him staring at her like he was trying to remember her, her heart was like a thousand drums were drumming in her chest. She tried her possible best not to look him in the eyes, the eyes she remembers quite well and often think about. He looks so different now than how she remembers, he looks taller, more mature and much more handsome. Even his very face takes her breath away, just what is wrong with her? She has never react in front of a man like this before.

"Welcome home Master Shane" Abigail greeted. She had noticed the longer look he gave her daughter and she wondered why, it can't be that he recognized her, she was only five when he saw her last.

Shane smiled when he saw her, "Abigail. I'm sorry I never had the chance to show my condolences on your loss."

"It's okay, I understand."

Shane had a question at the tip of his tongue but at the end, he didn't ask, they will be plenty of times to ask her later.

"Master Shane" Julia and Rebecca also greeted. They were among the maids who were around when he was still there.

Shane gifted them a smile too and a small greetings.

"Alright, let us go in. I will want him to have a little rest before the guests will start arriving. Paulina, everything is ready right?" Margaret inquired.

"Yes ma'am."

"Good. Let's go in son" with that, they both went into the house while the male servants brought in his luggage's and the maids placed them in his room.

Shane sat in the living room, waiting for them to be done before he finally went upstairs. Like he expected, his mother cleaned up his old room, not like he is complaining, he preferred it to a new room.

He placed his hand on the doorknob and pushed open the door only to freeze when he saw the young girl standing inside and staring into the space.

Lillian wasn't among the maids that cleaned the room in the morning, after such a long time, she finally entered this room once more. Happy memories had come rushing into her mind that she didn't realize that Nora and Martha who came in with her has already left, when she sensed a strong not so familiar presence around, she turned only to stop shut at the tall man standing with the door closed behind him, his gray eyes searching her face for something.

"Sir, the...the room is ready" she forced herself to say without stuttering.

"Lillian?" He titled his head to the right as he asked, his pale gray eyes sparkling in the bright room.

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