This is a very old story of mine I decided to pull out and revise! I hope you like it...I wrote it several years ago so if it's a bit different from my other stories...that's why :). It's one of my very first stories! Please enjoy :D!
Thick torrents of snow drifted down from the gray skies and coated the still countryside in a icy sheet. Miles around no sounds were heard. All the animals were burrowed deep in their warm habitats, hibernating while all the people were snugly tucked away into their warm cabins.
A few cabins were scattered all throughout the countryside in this steep valley. One in particular that was located very near the small village of Northcott was not enjoying the gentle stillness of the winter storm.
No, unfortunately for the two occupants of the cabin, one was panicking while the other lay in her small bed in agonizing pain. As the thick pressure swept over her once again in her lower abdomen she sat up with a heave of her hands and gripped the side of her straw stuffed mattress and shrieked in pain.
"Please Mrs. James, you must push with all your might! The child is nearly here!" the midwife ordered hastily as she dabbed at Lucille's head with a cold cloth to sooth her sweaty brow.
Clenching her teeth together tightly and letting out a horrible groan she heaved once more with what little strength she had left. As the young mother collapsed back onto her bed the high pitched crying of a newborn infant filled the tiny cabin.
"Is...is the baby alright Mildred?" Lucille whispered weakly.
The midwife did not answer immediately as she was busy cleaning the baby off with warm rags and quickly wrapping her in a thick woolen shawl.
"Yes ma'am, she seems to be in good healthy," Mildred smiled as she gently laid the swaddled baby into it's mothers arms.
"She? I've got a little girl?" Lucille James' eyes were pricked with tiny tears as she clutched the whimpering infant close to her chest.
"Do you have a name already chosen?" Mildred calmly asked as she was cleaning up the mess of rags and such that lay discarded around Lucille's exhausted frame.
"Yes. Just looking into her beautiful teal eyes I already know what her name shall be," she touched a finger to her daughter's plump cheek.
"And what name is that?" Mildred asked.
"I'm going to name her Summer. That was her father's favorite season before he passed away...and it was the season we were married in as well. Her eyes are the color of the ocean on the clearest of days. It just seems perfect for her," Lucille slowly leaned back into her pillows.
"That's right my lady, you rest and I will look after little Summer," Mildred smiled as she took the tiny baby into her arms.
Unfortunately for little Summer, her mother would never wake up again.
Ten years had passed since the night that young Summer James had entered the world that stormy January night.
Ever since her infancy she had been in the care of Madame Chousel, the local baker's wife. Mildred was Madame Chousel's first cousin and that was how Summer had ended up here.
She had been raised with the other children of her madame but never thought of her as a mother figure. Instead she had just come to respect Madame Chousel like a distant aunt, one who fed her, clothed her, and gave her shelter.
As soon as Summer had turned seven, Madame Chousel had explained to the young child that she would now be apprenticed in the arts of baking. Summer would work for her madame for ten years, until the ripe age of seventeen. Once she had come of age, Summer would be free to either stay or go on her way.
This was not Summer's third year as an apprentice at the Chousel bakery in the village of Northcott.
It was very early in the morning and the young girl was taking inventory of how many barrels of wheat flour they had, and how many they would need. As she moved on to count the sacks of brown sugar, the cellar door was wrenched open.
"Sue! How long does it take to do inventory? The sun is nearly at the peak of the mountain and we haven't even begun baking this morning's bread!" Madame Chousel's voice screeched down the stairs.
"Sorry ma'am!" her sweet little voice recountered.
"You better be! Now you lazy girl, grab that last bag of white flour and get up here!" the cellar door slammed with a loud bang, causing her to flinch.
Quickly she walked barefoot across the cold stoned floor of the cellar towards the last fifty pound bag of white flour. She always hated carrying these bags up those ten steps, it was quite a haul for her tiny ten year old frame.
Gripping both sides of the bag she began to drag it towards the steps. One step at a time she hoisted it up and by the time she had reached the top, sweat was trickling down her rosy cheeks.
Pushing the door open she began to drag it into the kitchens. "Took you long enough," Monsieur Chousel gruffly said.
"Open up that bag and go help my wife begin the bread," he ordered Summer.
"Yes sir," she heeded his command. Crouching down she reached into a pocket of her dress and pulled out a small knife she always carried with her for opening bags of flour and sugar.
The knife had barely pierced through the brown sack when she felt a firm grip on her shoulder.
"Stand up Sue. We need to talk," Madame Chousel commanded.
Standing up quickly she left the knife laying on top of the sack as she turned to face her madame.
"Yes ma'am?" Summer politely yet obediently recited.
"As you know, times have become hard lately. I can barely afford to feed my husband, let alone my four children and you. So...some sacrifices have come into my attention," she crossed her arms across her bosom.
"Sacrifices?" Summer was confused.
"Yes. I'm sorry it has to end this way Sue, but...I just can't afford to let you live in my home anymore. As of today, your apprenticeship here at the bakery is done. I've taken it upon myself to see that you're taken care of though," she gazed at the puzzled child.
"Where are you sending me?" Summer's voice shook.
"I've sold you to the estate of Lord Dugark. You now are in his ownership and shall be employed to work in his kitchens. Since you already have the skills of baking, it seemed appropriate since his manor needed more kitchen help," Madame Chousel explained.
"You've sold me? What?! You can't do that! I've done everything you ever asked of me! Always respected you! Never disobeyed! And this is how you thank me?" Summer was now terrified.
Shaking her head, her madame just simply snapped her fingers as a tall man appeared in front part of the bakery.
"You can take her to your master now. She's yours," Madame Chousel smirked as the manservant of Lord Dugark stepped forward and took the bewildered child into his embrace and practically carried her out the front door.
Kicking and screaming did Summer no good as her fate was now sealed. She was heading off to the estate of Lord Dugark and never again would she work at the Chousel bakery.
The snow drifting down certainly looked beautiful on this particular morning. Summer smiled as she watched it lazily fall down and land on the cold ledge of her small window.
Turning back towards her small mirror she adjusted her blonde hair carefully back into a snug bun. A few pieces fell around her face, but they didn't bother her.
Summer didn't realize how late in the morning it was getting. She didn't know she had overslept, something which was extremely rare for her.
Suddenly the heavy grandfather clock that just a few doors down from her bedroom began to chime the hour away.
After the seventh dong her eyes widened in horror. Breakfast was served at seven thirty every morning at Lord Dugark's estate! The bread took at least forty minutes to prepare and then bake.
Wrenching her bedroom door open she ran towards the kitchens, a few floors below her. Throwing open the thick wooden door she saw many servants hurrying about, setting prepared food onto pretty silver platters or bowls.
"There you are," the head of the kitchen glared at Summer with her intense brown eyes. "Breakfast is about to be carried up and the master has no bread! You best hurry it along!"
"Yes ma'am!" Summer squeaked as she set about immediately mixing up the dough as fast as she could.
As she struggled to prepare the dough quicker than ever before, knead it into shape, and then place it in the oven to bake the other servant's began to carry the platters up the servant's stairwell towards the dining hall.
Summer was momentarily left alone in the large kitchen as the other kitchen staff had cleaned up their cooking stations and were busy doing other chores.
Her heart couldn't help but pound in her chest as she waited impatiently for the bread to rise and finish baking.
The sudden sound of angry shouting and shattering glass came into her field of hearing. The rustling of someone hurrying down the steps was next as a flustered looking servant appeared in the doorway.
"You!" he pointed an accusing finger at Summer. "The bread was supposed to done over twenty minutes ago! The master is furious! Screaming about how he's never had a breakfast without bread! I suggest you bring it up to him now!"
As the servant yelled at her, Summer opened the oven with trembling hands and pulled out the finished loaf of fresh bread.
Grabbing the usual bread platter, she set the hot loaf on the pretty silver dish. Setting a few dishes of jelly and butter around it, she finished it off with a few bread knives.
"Here," she grasped the platter's handles in her hands and held it towards the servant.
"You take it up to him! And explain to him why his bread is late," the servant shook his head.
"But..." Summer pleaded, "look at me...I can't go in front of the master looking this way! I am filthy."
"Not my problem. Now go!" the servant yelled.
Flinching she obeyed the senior servant and headed towards the stairway. Summer never carried the bread up in the morning. Well dressed servants from the main floor always did that.
She grasped the tray tightly in her sweating hands as she began the long walk up the servant's narrow staircase towards the dining hall.
As she walked, she had time to silently go over in her head the few times she had ever seen her master.
Everyone at his estate knew Lord Dugark was a very private man. He was only seen when he wanted to be seen. And that was usually only at house staff meetings twice a year. All the servants would gather in the main hall and stand beneath him as he talked to them.
Summer's face had never stood out, as she was always covered in flour and wore tattered clothing of a kitchen servant.
The master was also mightily feared because rumors flew around the manor about the horrible punishments that would await anyone who dared to disobey or disrespect him.
Summer had always been out of the way and done her chores correctly, so she'd never been sent to the dungeons.
Her thoughts were interrupted when suddenly light flooded in around her and she entered the massive dining hall. As Summer walked forward she saw the back of her master's head. She gasped silently to herself when she heard his deep and seductive chuckle " I never thought my bread would get here , slave.. do I need to punish you to get you to keep to your daily chores list..?"
Tears filled Summer's beautiful teal eyes as she stepped forward and slowly approached the table where her regal looking master sat alone. He had jet black hair and dark blue eyes. He wore very sophisticated and dark clothing and smirked slightly at the sight of Summer, looking so dirty and tattered as she sat the bread before him. She curtsied deeply and whispered " I am so sorry my lord.. it will never happen agai..."
Summer gasped in horror as he grabbed her forearms and wrenched her forward, "I know it will never happen again slave. And do you know why? Because I demand consistency with my staff, I will not have a servant who makes mistakes! Do you understand?"
Nodding in fear, Summer was terrified, having never been so close to her master. She could practically feel the icy aura that emanated from him.
Lord Dugark's POV
I was so angry when the servant's didn't carry my bread up this particular morning. One of the last ones to set a platter down onto my table told me the girl who baked the bread had entered the kitchen very late that morning but was preparing the bread as we spoke.
I ordered him to go and fetch the bread immediately and was surprised to see a young girl covered in flour and donned in tattered rags carrying the bread to me. Normally I would have been revolted to be in the presence of one of my lowly kitchen staff.
But this particular girl intrigued me. Her scent was wondrous, I wondered why I'd never noticed her before.
Timidly she apologized for her mistakes that morning and to show her my annoyance I wrenched her closer to me and warned her about never making mistakes again.
As I held her close to my face I could make out the faint flush of her cheeks hidden beneath filth and flour.
Glorious teal orbs stared at me, filled with fear, as her silky blonde hair was pulled back from her face and a few loose tendrils hung around her lovely face.
" So child.. how long have you been working for me.. I do not remember seeing your face before.." Lord Dugark asked.
Summer gulped softly and said in a quivering voice " I ... I ... I have been hh..hh..here for ..see..ve..n ye..ars.. and I always obey so I have never really had to face you like.. this.. b..before.."
She looked away and trembled as he kept his firm grasp on her. For some odd reason his hands felt ice cold and even though it was morning no sunlight shone into the dining hall. All the heavy drapery had been pulled across the windows. The master smirked softly as he looked over her beautiful figure, her nice shaped and thin arms, her beautiful and nice sized chest heaving beneath her tight stays as her heart raced a mile a minute
"You know you are very pleasant to behold," her master suddenly said off topic.
"Excuse me?" Summer gasped out in confusion.
"I said you are a very lovely girl. It's a surprise to me that I've never taken notice of you before. You would be a true gem if polished just the right way," he mused to himself.
Silence was all that followed his declaration, "Then it's decided. I want for you to go and prepare yourself for the day."
Lord Dugark let go of Summer as she was terribly puzzled, "Pre...prepare for the day?"
"Yes, yes," he waved his hand in annoyance, "Go get cleaned up and put on some fresh clothes. Today is the day I will claim you as my newest little pet. Your smell is absolutely intoxicating."
Summer was revolted at how he thought she was so...easy. As if she would belittle herself to becoming so cheap just to please her master.
Before she realized what she was doing she raised her hand up in the air and it slapped her master across his icy cheek.
"That was an awful mistake pet," his voice dangerously whispered. Clapping his hands once his strong manservant appeared in the doorway of the dining hall.
"You summoned for me master?" he obediently asked.
"Yes, I want you to take this girl and get her prepared for me. Once she's ready take her to cell four. She needs a proper punishment and introduction of how her life is going to be from now on," he smirked darkly.
Summer screamed in fright as she was dragged from the dining hall, having no idea what awaited her in cell number four.