| Bonnie was born to be a servant, a mere scullery maid. She had no education and no dowry. She had no ambitions beyond merely surviving. The end of each day found her with her red, chapped hands folded in prayer, as she knelt near her little bed. Her dresses were merely uniforms of cheap, dark muslin, worn with aprons. Everything she owned was old and shabby, but her skin was white and smooth and lustrous as mother of pearl, and her hair was a shining, dark gold that fell in thick, glossy waves, halfway down her back. |
Her eyes were huge and ivy green, and her lips were full and as deep mauve as the heather that grew thick and soft upon the moors.
A servant like her mother and father before her, she lived and worked in a fine castle in the Scottish highlands. She often felt lonely, with nothing but endless toil to look forward to. Her parents were dead, and she spent her days scrubbing pots and pans, lost in memories and grief, until her heart seemed to grow numb.
She worked for the Duke of Argyll, who would occasionally walk through the back kitchen in his fine tartans, inspecting the servants and their work. He was very young, perhaps nineteen, but he stood well over six feet, with smooth black hair and startling pale-blue eyes that missed nothing. He was young, rich, and unmarried, and he carried himself like a young god. He was so very confident and unafraid that Bonnie felt small and insignificant when he spoke to her in the kitchen. But he was kind. “You are wee Bonnie, Gordon’s daughter?” he had asked her, gruff but gentle, as she trembled before him. She had been just twelve years old the first time he really spoke to her. “Yes, Milord” she had muttered, and then she had waited desperately for his attention to stray elsewhere. He seemed to gaze deep into her dark, emerald-green eyes, which always glowed against her porcelain complexion.
“You have his eyes”, he said, wonderingly, and he smiled, showing perfect white teeth in a chiseled, handsome face. His smile seemed to light him up from within, lending rosy high color to his pale skin. She smiled back at him, dazed by his glamour, and then he moved on. She was a mere slip of a girl then, with washerwoman’s hands, and no meat on her bones. From that day forward, she was in awe of the Duke, and she waited eagerly for his rare visits, full of trepidation and also a sort of churning excitement.
When she prayed at night, now a young woman of eighteen, she often fought to keep his image out of her mind. He was a grown man of twenty-five now, and his parents were dead, just as her mother and father were. She tried to be good, and to focus on being a faithful servant, someone he would be proud to have in his employ. But she could not deny that her loyalty was all for the love of him.
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