Lizzy always made sure not to be alone in the same room with him. She cleaned the bedrooms while he was engaged with daily outings. She dusted with her maid-in-arms, Old Jenny. Ironing was done en masse in the laundry, but she made certain to put it all away during dinner. Lizzy had completely organised her schedule to oppose his.
But still, she knew it couldn’t last.
Sure enough, one day Old Jenny was trapped in bed, drained from fever. Lizzy had been unlucky enough not to succumb to the same illness, which left her dusting alone. She smelt him before she saw him. The vile cologne from some far off land riled up her nose like a foreign invader. She quickly replaced the grimace on her face with that of a different repulsion – cold stone.
She turned and met him. He was standing far too close.
“Lizzy,” he said as he reached for her skirts.
“Up here,” she answered, her voice deliberately loud. She thought she could hear it echo from somewhere, and turned to see that the door down the far end remained open.
Unfortunately, he was so enraptured as to not notice. He almost grabbed her before she slapped his hands away, and if he hadn’t noticed the loudness of her voice he definitely noticed the sharp smacking noise.
“Quiet,” he snapped angrily before noticing Lizzy’s face. “Do not give me any trouble, now. Else you shall be out and without a reference.”
She had already nicked three silver forks and a large gilded serving spoon, so she had no cause to be intimidated. After all, she had always made her own luck.
“I’ll leave now then,” Lizzy sharply replied as she manoeuvred out of reach.
“Leave?!” That had rattled him. “No! I forbid you to leave!”
She stopped, if only to wonder at where the panic in his voice had arisen from. Then she remembered how no one had dared speak of the girl she had come to replace. Lizzy smiled as she turned back to him.
“My, have you already a reputation for such things?” And she couldn’t keep the humour out of her voice.
The old pervert blushed from his neck to his ears. ”You will not talk to me like that!”
“And how are you going to ensure such talk doesn’t get around in this new age?” Lizzy asked, careful to emphasise the last couple of words. Two words that this lord of the old era clearly found uncomfortable.
She watched, amused at the panic racing across his face. Clearly, he was not fit to dictate terms here. So she turned away again and, not even looking at him now, said, “You keep your hands to yourself now. And while you’re at it, keep out of my way.”