“What are you doing?” A voice behind her made her jump. Lia spun around, facing her mom.
“I was just dusting the banister- ow!” Lia was cut off from her thought due to her mom’s tight grip on her arm. Lia’s mom looked down into the dining room the balcony overlooked.
“You’re spying on mister Kieran again, aren’t you?”
“No,” Lia said, though her eyes dropped to the floor. Lia’s mother, a sturdy woman even at the age of sixty, pulled her into the nearest bathroom.
“Amelia! You are going to get us fired! Why can’t you be like normal girls your age?”
“Yes. Normal twenty years old girls that move out of their parents’ house and get married?” Lia rolled her eyes at her mother’s lecture.
“I am attending school, mom. I want to be a teacher. Don’t act like I have no direction in my life,” Lia retorted.
“If you don’t stop watching mister Kieran all the time, you are going to get us both fired, and you will never be able to pay off your tuition!”
/> Lia blushed. She always tried to be stealthy, but she couldn’t seem to stop staring at him. Her mother saw her daughter blush. She rolled her eyes, threw up her hands in typical fashion and left Lia standing alone in the bathroom.
She wasn’t alone for long though, before a middle aged woman, Bernice, came into the bathroom.
“ Lia,” Bernice scolded. “You have kitchen duty tonight! You know the deal when mister Kieran has guests. Get your butt down stairs and start clearing their dishes!”
Lia panicked for a second, grabbing the sides of her face.
“I totally forgot!” she cried, running out of the bathroom. Bernice was close behind. Lia heard her mutter something about her head being “in the clouds.”
Kieran always had important-looking people over for dinner. As Lia watched him from a corner of the room, she thought about how serious and bleak he had become since she first began working for his family. He wore black now mostly, either black or dark colors. It suited his personality- or the person he wasnow,at least. His hair was black too, and always meticulously groomed. He was extremely handsome. isHisHis Irish descent did not allow him to get very tan in the summer. And his bright blue eyes he had inherited from his mother. They were piercing, and now almost always devoid of laughter. Tonight he was wearing black dress pants, black dress shoes, and a deep purple dress shirt, the sleeves unbuttoned and folded at his elbows. He also was wearing gloves, with the fingers cut out to help with his mobility. Lia guessed his outfit probably cost more money than she would ever make in her life.
Kieran was listening to conversation around the table of men probably twice his age, yet he seemed to hold more power and more danger than any of them. Lia didn’t know much about business or their affairs, but she could sense his demeanor and his influence from the way the other men treated him.
He was dangerous. They could see it in his eyes. His work staff always wondered how he could love and yet be so dangerous. And he couldn’t even walk. Lia pondered this man more than anyone. She began to work for him when she was twelve, along with her mother and her older sister. Her mom had begun working for him when they moved out west, before she was old enough to work too. He wasn’t much older than she was either. When Lia was twelve, he was eighteen. She felt like she knew him better than anyone.
He was a god in her eyes at the time- an eighteen year old boy. Lia used to spy on him with girls, the way he would smile at them, and sometimes push their hair behind their ear. He was such a charmer. He could even charm his own parents. Rumors around the mansion were that their family was involved with the Irish Mafia, but nothing could ever be confirmed, of course. Despite that, their family was a loving unit, and it was obvious to Lia that Kieran loved his parents very much. So Lia got to watch Kieran live out two years of his perfect, charmed life, until the accident.
The men had been talking for an hour now, still picking at the food in front of them. Lia was leaning against the wall lazily, half-watching and waiting to clear any dishes. It was the lack of focus that made her kick herself. A very young girl, only five years old, ran into the room through the legs of other workers. Lia was supposed to be the last line of defense, but the little girl was halfway across the room before Lia sprang into action and ran after her.
“What do you think Kieran?” A man with a salt and pepper beard asked, turning to Kieran. The young man he was addressing, however; was not paying any attention. He was now looking at the little blond girl running to him. When she reached him, she climbed up his wheelchair and sat on his lap, throwing her arms around his abdomen. Lia was mortified. She was about to pick up the girl when Kieran raised his hand at her. She stopped. The young man smiled down at the girl. His smile was so brilliant, and so rare, the whole room got utterly quiet.
“What are you doing, Lilly?” His voice was deep and rich.
“I missed you, Kieran,” she responded, her little voice quavering.
“I told you to stay with Miss Ginger.”
“I know,” Lilly pouted.
“Don’t worry, I’ll come play with you soon.” He pinched her cheek playfully. He never ceased to amaze. Lia almost forgot she was standing in front of him, until those eyes, those brilliant eyes, fell on her. The playfulness evaporated, and he nodded to Lia. It was her cue. Lia lifted the child from his lap.
“Apologies, sir,” she said softly, and nodded to the guests before walking briskly from the room.
Lia got a good scolding for that little display. But not from Kieran- never from Kieran. She got an earful from almost everyone elsebutKieran. She cleared the dishes as she was bid. Then she waited for her shift to end. At this point, Lia just wanted to go home… but since she had classes during the day, her shift started later, and ended later than most of the other workers. So she waited in the dining room until the guests went into the cozy sitting room attached to the dining room. Lia remembered Kieran’s parents doing this as well after their dinner parties. Kieran followed his parent’s example very well. They all got up and went into the sitting room. Kieran was now used to pushing himself around in his chair, which the gloves helped; although, he sometimes still accepted help. Lia followed them and offered coffee or tea. The chef who ran the kitchen, a happy man named Tom, filled her orders and finished shutting down the kitchen. The staff was now trickling out and Lia noticed her mom and sister were already gone.
After the coffee and tea, the men wrapped up their conversation for the night. Lia was standing against a wall, once again, daydreaming. She was forced back into reality by the unison exit of the dinner guests. Lia sprang into action, showing them the door and retrieving their coats for them. She also watched jealously as they drove away in their sports cars and Porsches. She imagined being the daughter of a wealthy business owner as she walked back to the sitting room to clear the coffee and tea cups.
Lia tried to mask her surprise when she saw Kieran still there, leaning to one side of the chair, rubbing the bridge of his nose wearily. She quickly put the dishes in the sink and went back to the room.
“Sir?” she asked. He looked up at her. Lia’s interaction with Kieran was always limited, and she found herself getting nervous whenever they were alone or whenever he addressed her personally. So his direct gaze increased her heartbeat instantaneously. “Would you like some assistance?” she finished her thought.