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Genevieve shifted her weight, standing uncomfortably at the Admiral's right-hand side while he slowly ate his dinner. In the grand dining room, it was absolutely ludicrous how much space was allotted to a man dining by himself. The Admiral sat at the head of the long, polished table; all of the other chairs lined down the table were empty. A full place setting, as well as floral arrangement and candelabra were on the table in front of the Admiral. He had already plowed his way through six courses of the meal- Genevieve couldn't begin to guess how many courses could be left.
After leaving his office that morning- but without any explicit orders or chores to complete- Genevieve had made her way around the manor, familiarizing herself with the layout of the house and the staff. In her opinion, the amount of staff the Admiral had was ridiculous. Though such a large house obviously needed more upkeep then a regular townhouse, a single man living on his own could not possibly use the services of so many slaves! Many of the members of the staff blatantly ignored her when she introduced herself, or replied with a hurried introduction before rushing away on some vital chore. She managed to make friends with one of the cooks- a scruffy man in his early thirties by the name of Franck Peit- who generously gave her a hearty lunch and listened to her worries about her new position. Though he could not offer much advice to her, he half-heartedly tried to assure her that the Admiral was a fair man; however, the tone of his voice suggested he really did not believe the words coming out of his mouth.
Genevieve helped wash dishes and store food in the kitchen with Franck and the rest of the staff. The kitchen staff by itself was quite extensive; poultry chefs, salad chefs, pasta chefs, pastry chefs and more all worked in perfect harmony under the direction of the Head Chef in the large, pristine kitchen. The cooks worked on the side, cutting vegetables, slicing potatoes, and preparing all of the ingredients the hurried chefs needed to prepare their dishes. Genevieve stood at the broad sink by the pantry door and rinsed dishes while she chatted with Franck, until a thin, mousy woman told her that the Admiral had requested her company.
The woman guided her through the butler's pantry into the main dining hall, where the Admiral was waiting. He had waved her over, so she approached, pausing a few steps back from the right hand side of his chair. After a moment, the Admiral turned in his seat and began eating.
Genevieve wasn't sure how much time had passed when suddenly the Admiral's sharp voice rang out, "You sound bored, Genevieve Scholl."
Caught off guard, Genevieve snapped back to reality, stifling a surprised noise in her throat. She looked around, and all of the other maids and butlers were staring at her in shock. Panicking, Genevieve wandered what she could have possibly done; sure, she had been zoning out a bit out of boredom, but she didn't remember making any sound. Could she have possibly muttered some horrific swear word in her trance-like state? When the Admiral turned in his seat, she realized that he was waiting for some sort of reply.
"I-I don't know what you mean….sir." she stuttered lamely.
He gave her a sardonic grin, then looked down at the glass in his hand, where he swirled his wine around and around as if in deep thought.
"You sighed so heavily I was certain you had given your last breath. I was expecting to hear a thud as your lifeless body collapsed on the floor."
You bastard! Genevieve thought, livid, What sort of tone is that? As if I had disappointed you by not dying!
"Forgive me for sighing, Admiral." Genevieve said through grit teeth, "I was simply moved by the sight of you eating food I helped prepare."
The entire crowd of servants couldn't help but gasp openly as the Admiral unceremoniously sprayed his entire mouthful of food out over the table. Glaring at Genevieve over his shoulder, the Admiral wiped his mouth with his napkin and pushed his chair away from the table.
"Witch!" he sputtered, "What have you done to it?!"
"N-Nothing!" Genevieve insisted, clenching her jaw and fighting her lips to keep from busting out laughing. "Nothing at all!"
To see the Admiral lose his stoicism over a simple sarcastic remark was something that unexpectedly made Genevieve's night a good deal brighter. She hadn't meant to imply she had meddled with his food, but obviously the thought caused the Admiral serious distress.
"LEAVE US!" the Admiral shouted, and the rest of the staff immediately fled the room- undoubtedly to spread the news throughout the rest of the house and gossip well into the night about the new Deiner girl who dared disturb their master during his supper. The Admiral continued to glare at her, and Genevieve's feeling of elation subsided into irritation.
"I really didn't do anything to your food." she said softly, hoping the Admiral would lift the heavy silence in the room.
"Then why did you sigh like that?" he insisted, his ice-blue gaze never wavering from her face. Genevieve instantly got the feeling that the Admiral was the kind of man who had a sharp instinct to tell when a person was lying.
"Because watching a man eat course after course by himself isn't the most compelling way to spend one's time." Genevieve answered, silently adding, Especially when the audience has yet had the chance to eat their own dinner, she thought as her stomach rumbled painfully.
However, the Admiral only furrowed his brow- and Genevieve couldn't believe the look on his face. Such a pensive, questioning look- as if he couldn't believe his servants would have anything better to do than to watch him eat. Shocked, Genevieve wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. The words 'thoughtless', 'self-centered', and 'egocentric' blared in her head as she continued to stare blankly at her befuddled master.
Finally he shrugged, grabbed his wine glass from the table and drained it quickly before handing her the empty glass. She looked down at it, then back up at him- only to see his back to her as he walked away.
"W-Wait! Hold on a minute!" she called out, setting the glass back down on the table and striding quickly to catch up to him. However, her new black maid's smock was longer than the skirts she was used to, and she stumbled in her haste.
As the marble flooring rushed up to meet her, Genevieve saw the Admiral lunge forward- arms out as if to catch her- and she instinctively stretched out her own hands to hold onto him. However, at the last possible moment, the Admiral pulled his arms back and stood straight, watching as Genevieve fell helplessly on her face.
"Uh-nnngh…" Genevieve groaned as she picked herself up slowly. She had hit her knees, elbows, and head pretty hard.
The admiral looked down at her, expressionless, but in his head there was a whirlwind of question and conflict. Why had he pulled away? Why had he reached out in the first place?
WHY DID HIS KNEES HURT SO BAD?!?!
Falling to the ground, Aaron clutched his kneecaps and gritted his teeth as the dark-haired slave stood over him, screaming.
"YOU HEARTLESS BASTARD!! You have no respect for your workforce! The very men and women who cater to your every need aren't even given decent mealtimes here!" Genevieve ranted- angry red blotches appearing on her cheeks and the bridge of her nose, "I at least thought for a moment you had some sense of decency when you went to keep me from falling but then you MOVED! You pulled your arms away on PURPOSE and watched me fall!"
"I don't know what you're talking about!" Admiral von Weick hissed under his breath, standing shakily and dusting himself off.
Genevieve's eyes flew open, and she was ready to kick him in the knees a second time.
"LIAR! You threw your arms out to catch me and at the last minute you pulled away and let me fall! Don't try and say you didn't!"
"I'll say whatever I please! In case you didn't notice, I'm the one in charge here!"
"You're certainly bossy enough, but you're not man enough to help a woman in trouble! Even if it's something small like tripping over a ridiculously long smock!"
"It's not ridiculous at all! You're just an idiot who can't walk without tripping over her own feet!"
"WHAT DID YOU CALL ME?!"
"I CALLED YOU AN IDIOT!"
"YOU'RE THE IDIOT, IDIOT!"
They glared at each other and took a moment to catch their breaths. Aaron thought vaguely that he had never had such a trivial argument with anyone like this before, but quickly pushed that to the back of his mind. Arguing with a Deiner was one matter, but after her swift kick to his legs, Aaron was losing more and more of his patience with her. Genevieve stood poised and ready, waiting for whatever the Admiral might throw her way. Finally, she saw him cluck his tongue impatiently and shake his head.
"You're so worthless. Now I can see why Herr Honhurst was so willing to let you go. It's time you earned your keep and pleased me- as a slave should please her master."
With that, he grabbed her wrist and began tugging her to the side door, out of the dining room.
To be continued…