The Stranger In My Bed
“The chef puts in an order and receives the deliveries himself once a week. If Mr. Weston has a request or there is anything you desire tell the chef so he can place the order. Other than that it is not your concern,” He answered.
“The staff’s pay?”
“Automatic transfer,” he said, shrugging. “If there is a problem at any time you have the authority to contact the bank.”
“That emergency phone-”
“Located in the study on the second floor, just to the left of the staircase” he responded, cutting me off. “There is also a first aid kit and an emergency supply kit there.”
“What if I-”
“Though I am officially retiring, I do understand the difficulty of this job. I will leave you a detailed list of what to do in various scenarios, as well as a way to contact me if you are truly at a loss.”
I was amazed, but more than that I felt bad. Thomas answered my questions with ease. He didn’t even need the full question. Exactly how many times had he gone through this speech with applicants to have his answers at a nearly psychic level?
“Come, Ms. Walton. I will show you several facilities that will be of great use to you,” he said, gesturing down the hall.
He showed me around the kitchen and where various appliances were. I saw the chef preparing breakfast. Thomas cleared his throat. The chef glanced our way.
“Phillip, this is Ms. Walton. She’ll be taking over soon,” Thomas stated.
The chef merely grunted and went back to preparing breakfast. Thomas led me back towards the dining room.
“Please, excuse him if he seemed a bit rude,” Thomas mumbled apologetically. “He’s had these introductions quite a few times by now, and I think he’s begun to find it tiring to learn all these names only to have them disappear in a few days’ time.”
I began to feel bad for all of the staff at Weston Manor. Though not full-time they did work there frequently. Thomas had kept operations running smoothly for over two decades. Would I really be able to fill his place?
Thomas showed me around the many bathrooms of the home. They were the only thing that had really been updated in the house. Modern plumbing, rainfall showers, and a jacuzzi bath in each one. Finally, he showed me the libraries, galleries, and the garden, as Mr. Weston was very fond of these places especially. As we were coming in from the garden I heard the sound of footsteps echoing on the floor.
Thomas suddenly turned to me with a serious look on his face.
“There is one more detail that is very important, Ms. Walton. You must only address him as “Mr. Weston” or “Sir” unless he asks otherwise. I do this not out of professionalism, but because it can cause problems. We have no way to know who Mr. Weston will wake as in the morning. If you disrupt his fantasy by insisting he is someone else, it could throw him into a fit that is nearly impossible to pull him back from. Do you understand?”
Though spoken quietly, the intensity in his voice made me unable to answer back. All I could do was nod.
“Good,” he said simply, “now prepare yourself for anything that might come through the door.”
The way he spoke made it sound as if the devil himself might walk in. I stood straight with my hands held in front of me respectfully. A proper servant, I hoped. As Mr. Weston appeared I held my breath. I had never seen his condition firsthand. I was nervous to meet the man who had run off some of the world’s best caretakers.
He saw us and smiled. “Good morning, Thomas. Ms. Walton. Thomas, what’s for breakfast today?”
“I believe it’s eggs benedict, fruit salad, and oatmeal, sir,” Thomas answered casually.
“Excellent! Ms. Walton, I believe you skipped dinner yesterday. You must be starving. Come, let’s eat,” he said, gesturing towards the dining room.
With that, he exited the room. I stood there, dumbstruck. I had prepared myself for anything, for anyone that might enter, but the one thing I wasn’t expecting Mr. Weston to be, was Mr. Weston. I looked at Thomas, he smiled at the obvious confusion on my face.
“You are quite lucky, Ms. Walton. It is rare for Mr. Weston to be himself two days in a row,” he said, chuckling.
“So, he isn’t always different?” I asked.
Thomas thought for a moment. “I suppose I’d say you would be lucky to see Mr. Weston as himself once a week, and seeing him as himself for two days in a row is very unusual. I’ve only seen it happen a handful of times myself. You must have quite an influence on him. Come, let’s not keep him waiting. ”
I followed Thomas to the dining room. Mr. Weston was already sitting at the head of a long table. It seemed so empty for three people. I decided to sit near the middle of the table. However, it didn’t last long.
“Ms. Walton, why are you so far away?” He asked. “I’m sure old Thomas has been telling you some horror stories about me, but I promise I don’t bite. Come, sit next to me.”
I wanted to keep some distance between us after last night, but I knew I didn’t really have a choice either. This was my role now.
I stood and walked towards where he was at the head of the table. He smiled and patted a chair next to him. I sat down and returned his smile half-heartedly. Thomas took a seat on the other side of Mr. Weston.
“I’m very pleased that you seem to like Ms. Walton so much, sir,” Thomas commented.
Mr. Weston laughed. “Well, I’m very pleased you found her, Thomas. She’s wonderful. I can’t remember the last time I slept so well! Of course, they always say you sleep better with someone beside you. Probably even more so when it’s a beautiful woman, yes?”
I blushed deeply as the memories of last night reappeared. Did he really not know?
Thomas cleared his throat loudly. “Sir, your manners?”
He nodded in my direction. Mr. Weston turned to look at me, he seemed shocked at my blush.
“Oh! Ms. Walton, forgive me. I know you must be uncomfortable with this situation,” he said awkwardly.
I shook my head vigorously. “No, no. It’s okay, really. I just need time to adjust. That’s all.”
“Are you sure?” He asked, unconvinced. “I want you to feel at home here, and I couldn’t forgive myself if I knew my poor manners were the cause of any discomfort.”
I forced a small smile. “I promise. I’m alright, sir.”
I wasn’t sure if he believed me or not, but he did seem comforted at least. The truth was, it wasn’t his manners or way of speaking that bothered me. I was upset by my own actions. Or lack thereof. The resulting memories now filled me with shame each time I was near him. Would I ever feel comfortable around him? And how would I do this job if I couldn’t be?
Suddenly, the doors to the kitchen opened. The chef appeared with a large serving cart filled to the brim with food. He spent several minutes laying the spread of food and drinks in front of us before excusing himself back to the kitchen.
Mr. Weston was right. I hadn’t eaten anything since my lunch on the plane the day before. I was absolutely famished and the food looked far too tempting, but I wasn’t exactly used to “high-society” dining. Was there some etiquette to follow? Should I wait until Mr. Weston started eating? How many servings to take? The questions were swimming around in my head when my stomach betrayed me. A loud growl came from my stomach. Mr. Weston looked at me in shock.
“My god, Ms. Walton! Don’t starve yourself on my account,” he said, pushing a plate towards me. “Eat.”
“Sorry, sir,” I mumbled, embarrassed.