Bonus Chapter – What Would I Do Without You?
“Sarah, is it?” Mrs. Downing muttered with an unreadable expression as she eyed me from head to toe.
I fidgeted with the embroidery of the lilac baby doll dress Louella sent me especially for the occasion. She had just given me one advice regarding Leon’s Mom. Only one.
Smart— an adjective, which could mean any or all of the following—clever, rude, elegant, or glamorous. It didn’t even help knowing this because I am none of the above, which was just down right fantastic.
I half-expected Mrs. Downing to scream “Pop quiz!” as soon as she saw me.
Me and Leon had been planning to see his mother for a while and took advantage of the spring break to do it. Everything about London was wonderful. Well, of course, I fell asleep in the opera house when we watched the Royal Ballet, but the whole other time, I hoped I wasn’t drooling or looking like a gobsmacked moron. The city architecture, the museums (especially Charles Dickens’), the accent… especially the accent — everything was overwhelming.
Sadly, the place wasn’t the only thing that overwhelmed me. It was the actual meeting with Camilla Downing that scared the hell out of me. Nathan said she wasn’t all that bad. But coming from him, I didn’t really know if I should be relieved or terrified.
“Y-yes, glad to finally meet you Mrs. Downing,” I replied mustering my smartest possible façade.
Leon stood beside me protectively but I didn’t turn my head to examine his face. That might be misunderstood as a sign of weakness. Focusing on the conversation, I offered a hand which Mrs. Downing dismissed with something between a smirk and a glare.
Leon pulled one of the carved wooden chairs around a tea table swathed with a silky light pink fabric and gestured for me to sit. Blankly, he seated himself beside me as Mrs. Downing strode in front of us with a sweet unwavering smile.
With one wave of her hand, a servant in black and white frilly uniform scuttled to her side and ceremoniously poured tea onto the porcelain cups in front of us.
“No thanks, I don’t drink tea,” Leon said to the maid who poured tea into his cup anyway.
The smile on Camilla’s face vanished. “Delia, he said he doesn’t drink tea. Your ears do not have any problem, do they?” she muttered calmly though her gentle voice hinted of sarcasm.
The servant dropped her gaze and took the half-filled teacup before scurrying away into the grand corridor.
I noticed how Leon’s jaws tensed as his mother sat in front of us and muttered, “Imbecile. It’s hard to get good help these days, don’t you agree?”
With a dry chuckle, Leon took my cup of tea and drank it all the way to the bottom. He knew how I hated tea ever since that night I threw up on him when Emma invited him and Arthur over for dinner.
His perfect features contorted infinitesimally as he swallowed it with effort. He might as well be swallowing broken glass with the pained expression on his face.
“I wouldn’t know. We don’t have servants,” he retorted with a rather composed façade.
“Pity,” Camilla commented, unease evident on her face when Leon’s eyes narrowed. “I try my very best to change Leonard—“
“Leon,” he corrected dryly.
A pained look painted on Camilla’s regal face, as she pushed a lock of wavy dark hair that fell on her cold blue eyes. It occurred to me how striking the resemblance was between Leon and her.