Authors: Paisley Lang
Prism Heart Press
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or, if an actual place, are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Mimi, this is for you. (Just don't read it until you're eighteen).
Just a maid...
That's how they see me--all they'll ever see when they look at me.
But I am more, so much more.
We can't change the past, the hand we've been dealt,
But we can play that hand and win in the end.
And that's what I plan to do--what I've always planned to do.
Then he came into my life.
He's everything I want,
But nothing I'm permitted to have.
He's too good, too perfect,
For someone like me.
After all, I'm just a maid,
They don't know the real me,
My dreams, my fears, my past,
A rich playboy....
That's how they see me--all they'll ever see when they look at me.
They've got it all wrong,
I've been living a lie, a fabrication of what they want,
And I thought it was what I wanted.
Then she came into my life.
She reminded me of what I want,
What I need,
And who I really am.
But nothing I'm supposed to have.
She's not right, not polished enough
For someone like me.
After all, I'm high class society--better than everyone else,
They don't know the real me,
My dreams, my fears, my past,
, I’m about as significant as an ant.
I clutch my backpack, my palms clammy, as I absorb my busy surroundings. My mouth slightly hangs at the speed at which people are flying past, the sound of shouts, laughter, and one-sided cell conversations hitting me from every direction.
This was really happening.
I inhale deeply, wiping my hands on my cotton dress and willing my feet to move.
I can do this.
Navigating my way through the airport proves surprisingly quite easy - all the English books my mamá had made me read to perfect my English are put to good practice. Translating the signs, I weave my way through the terminal, locating the correct baggage carousel.
Soon afterwards, armed with my battered brown suitcase in hand, I dig out the piece of paper that contains my aunt’s information. Standing to the side with the sounds from the busy airport enveloping me while scrutinizing the address I’d carefully written, I don’t hear the voice behind me shouting a heed of warning. The next second I’m flying through the air, winded and blindly throwing out my hands in front of me in a feeble attempt to cushion the impact.
“Argggggh!” I brace myself for landing on the hard floor.
Instead, I find myself pressed against a hard and warm chest, a pair of strong arms wrapped around my waist. Instinctively, I place my arms around the stranger’s neck, my chest flush against his.
“Hey, you ‘kay there?”
My heart is knocking against my rib cage from the shock of the impact, but something about his soothing and deep voice seems to calm me almost instantly.
I look up into the most incredible pair of concerned blue eyes, which lock on mine intently.
Before I can respond, he shouts over his shoulder.
“Go ahead…I’ll be there in just a sec.”
Peering behind him, I see a bunch of college-aged guys along with their female blonde-haired companions making their way to the exit.
I look back at the handsome stranger, who seems to be gripping me almost possessively against him.
“Oh my God. Honey, you okay? I’m so sorry, these rascals ran away...”
We both turn to see a frazzled-looking mom with two kids in tow, who are looking extremely sheepish by her side.
I clear my throat and offer her a small smile of reassurance.
“Yes…I think so…”
The lady looks at both of us compressed against each other. Suddenly she grins and gives me a little nod.
I’d be okay too.”
I feel the heat rise to my cheeks and I look anywhere but at him.
She walks away, her stern voice fading as she is scolding her children.
“You sure you’re fine?”
Time seems to stand still and the sounds of the airport begin to blur into the distance. Looking at him from under my lashes, our eyes magnetically seem to lock once again and my entire body hums with the closeness of our bodies. God, those eyes are sinful. A deep shade of azure, like the ocean, beautifully framed by a thick set of long dark lashes that would make any girl envious. I take a breath and catch a whiff of his cologne, a woody and citrus combination, which have just the right notes to not be overpowering.
“I’m sorry…I wasn’t looking...” I smile, reluctantly disconnecting my arms from around his neck and scanning his handsome face, from the light stubble along his chiseled jaw to the crown at the top of his head. I like how his dark hair is styled a little haphazardly on the top and cut shorter along the sides. I could lose myself staring at this perfect specimen of a man while my mind makes furious notes as if wanting to etch him into my memory forever. His full lips are slightly parted, giving a glimpse of a perfect set of white teeth. My stomach suddenly feels funny, as if butterflies have taken flight, and all along my heart thumps against my chest. The effect is making me slightly lightheaded.
I glance down at his muscular arms still around me, stretching his crisp white polo shirt across his biceps.
“Oh.” As if realizing that we are so closely joined together, he removes his arms and takes a step back.
I immediately miss the contact.
A smile tugs at the corner of his mouth as he reaches down to retrieve his backpack, not once breaking our eye contact. I can’t look away either.
My face is burning as he lazily sweeps his eyes over me, from my toes to my head, not bothering to be discreet in his appraisal. Dressed in a loose cotton maxi dress, I am suddenly very aware of how I must look – a hot mess. I tuck a strand of hair behind my ear, somehow not wanting this to end - whatever
Moistening my bottom lip, I smile. “Thank you for saving me.”
His eyes lock on my mouth and then back up to my eyes. “No problem, I’m glad I was here.”
The sound of his cell ringing breaks the spell between us and jolts me back to reality.
“I better go – my friends are waiting for me.”
I feel a stab of envy, crazy thoughts running through my mind. What would it feel like to be part of his group? Like those model-esque Barbies he’s with? Perhaps one of them is his girlfriend?
I mentally shake my head.
I step back and give him a little wave. “Sure, of course. Thanks again.” His mouth opens as if to say something and my breath hitches, not daring to interrupt. Frowning lightly, he looks like he changed his mind from whatever he was going to say and instead, he reaches out and runs a knuckle softly down the side of my face.
I swallow, his touch sending goose bumps down the back of my neck. “You too.”
He flings his bag over his shoulder and walks backwards, his eyes still glued to mine. All of a sudden, his face splits into a grin, showing off that perfect set of white teeth and revealing his killer smile.
He shoots me a wink. Then he spins around and gets swallowed up by the crowd.
Oh my God.
What. Just. Happened?
I touch my fingers to my hot cheek, closing my eyes, waiting for my thumping heart to calm down.
That was definitely the most intense and charged reaction I’ve ever experienced with any guy. Ever.
I move out of the way, apologizing to the group of people wanting to get around me. Flustered, I grab the handle of my suitcase.
Clutching the piece of paper with my aunt’s address, I head towards the exit, scanning to see if I can spot the handsome stranger again. The hot sun and busy crowd have all my senses on alert as I make my way to the taxi stand, my heart beating in anticipation.
He’s nowhere to be seen. Slightly disappointed, I approach a bored-looking driver and give him the address. He raises an eyebrow, a low whistle escaping from his lips.
“Impressive part of town, lady. You here for a vacation?”
“Yes. Something like that.” Forcing a smile, I slide into the backseat while he loads my bag into the trunk. He slams it shut once it’s safely inside and I exhale in relief. That bag contains everything of significance that I own, which isn’t much. Some clothes, a few photos, and a selection of my beloved books – my regret being that I couldn’t bring them all.
I take a sip of my bottled water and brush my hair away from my eyes. Sensing my melancholy mood, the driver thankfully ceases to make further conversation and I gaze out the window at my new surroundings.
It feels surreal. If someone told me how my life would change when I hit eighteen, I’d have laughed and told them to stop being loco.
Because that’s what it felt like.
My life had been turned upside down these past few months.
All my hopes and dreams for the future?
ere we are
, Miss.” He pulls up outside the electric gates of literally the biggest and most beautiful mansion I have ever seen in my entire life. My eyes widen and my breath catches in my throat as I take in the magnificent sight in front of me. With the water reflecting off the sun and sparkling silver in the distance, the imposing Mediterranean-style estate looks like it belongs on the front cover of an interior design magazine. I grip the side of the door and my mouth hangs open in surprise.
Realizing I’m gawking, I clear my throat and re-check the piece of paper I’ve scrunched up in my palm.
, are you sure you have the right address?”
He chuckles. “I’m sure, Missy.”
Taking a moment to gather myself, I nod then step out of the car.
The moment of truth.
Locating my suitcase, I fish out some U.S. notes from my backpack and barely acknowledge his departure.
Before I can press the intercom button, the gates swing open and from the distance, the front door flies open and a woman begins to run down the drive towards me.
Picking up my suitcase, I briskly walk towards her outstretched arms.
Moments later, I regard the petite woman standing in front of me, tears running down her face. Hesitating for only a fraction of a moment, she grabs me into her embrace and begins to sob.
…I’m so sorry.”
Slowly, I wrap my arms around her, trying to connect and comfort her at the same time.
“It’s okay, Aunt Gaby...”
My eyes fill with tears as she holds me close, and slowly, they began to fall harder until I, too, am wrecked with sobs.
“I can’t believe she’s gone, Ava...”
I sniff and slowly disengage myself, wiping my eyes. I nod back at her and my voice cracks. “I’ve no one...”
“Nonsense, mija. You’ll always have me. You know plans were put into place and I sent for you as soon as I could. I’d have never left you.”
I breathe heavily, trying to get my emotions under control.
Aunt Gaby rubs my arms up and down as she regards me, drying her eyes with a handkerchief.
“I know this is a lot for you to take in, but this is all I have. I’ll do everything in my power to look after you.”
I smile through my watery eyes. “Thank you. I’m not sure how I’d have managed on my own.”
She brushes a damp lock away from my face. “I wish I’d visited more often, gotten to know you better.”
I look into the dark eyes of the closest person I now have. “She talked about you a lot. About your fancy job in America…how happy you are.”
My aunt nods, fiddling with her hands. “I’m very fortunate to be here.” She links arms with me. “Come, let’s go inside and get you something to eat.”
I walk with my aunt up the driveway, my eyes feasting in every direction, surveying the wonderful landscaping in front of me. The birds chirping in the distance and the perfectly pruned trees sway in the slight breeze. A huge circular fountain occupies the middle of the drive, the sound of the trickling water soothing my nerves as we make our way to the huge oak front door framed by two imposing pillars.
“Wow, this is incredible. I thought these kind of houses only existed on TV.” I shake my head, my breath catching, as I step into the grand entrance. Marble flooring covers the vast expanse as I follow her through the house, slowly turning around and looking up into the high ceilings and beautiful hung chandeliers. We pass an open plan family room providing a glimpse of a cathedral-style ceiling, which I assume is a focal point. The mansion screams of decadence and wealth.
Twisting my hair and letting it drop over my right shoulder, I wheel my suitcase behind me until we entered the kitchen. My eyes dart to every part of the beautiful, modern space housing a huge oak table towards the left. Scanning the room, I can only presume that it has every modern gadget one could desire. The bi-folding glass doors framing the back of the kitchen provide a wonderful view of the lake in the distance.
“Wow, Aunt Gaby -”
“Please, Ava, call me Gaby.”
She smiles at me, her eyes slightly wrinkling at the corners, and pulls out a bar stool at the granite counter. She pats the seat. “Make yourself at home.”
I park my suitcase next to me and slide onto the stool, taking a sip of the iced water she places in front of me.
“Tell me, what would you like to eat?”
I shake my head. I rarely had an appetite anymore, food being the last thing on my mind. “I’m not hungry, thank you.”
Her eyebrows slightly knit together. “You’ve had a long morning. How about I fix you a quick sandwich?”
I can tell that she won’t be taking no for an answer, and wanting to appease her, I nod.
“Sure, thank you. Whatever’s easy.”
Gaby sets to work and pulls out various ingredients from the fridge while I watch her prepare the food, asking her questions about her life. We chat amicably.
“So…I know you’ve worked here for a number of years. I guess the family are nice people?”
She slices through the cooked chicken. “
. Just over fifteen years now. The Prescotts, they’re good people.”
“Tell me about them.”
Gaby washes her hands and considers my question as she dries her hands on the dishcloth.
“Well, Michael is a very successful and well-known lawyer on the East Coast. For that, as you can imagine, he’s a very busy man and in high demand for his firm’s services. His wife, Veronica…she is…” She selects a plate from the cupboard and I wait patiently for her to continue. Plating the food, she brings it over to me.
“You’re welcome. Now, where was I? Veronica? She can be…
.” Her lips form into a tight smile. “But if you get to know her ways, it’s not impossible to manage her.”
I take a bite of the sandwich, a sense of trepidation building up in my stomach. “This is delicious, thank you.”
“You’re welcome. And don’t worry about Veronica. You won’t have many dealings with her.”
I relax slightly. “Are you sure they don’t mind me being here?”
“No, I explained everything to them. They’re happy to take you on as a part-time maid. This place is big enough to warrant the work.”
My eyes sting with tears.
Gaby walks around the counter and pats my hand. “Ava Isabella Cortes, there is nothing wrong with being a maid. My employers are good to me and I’m happy here. Look at this house.” She sweeps her arms around her. “Do you really think you’d live in a home like this otherwise?”