I was reading in Luc’s room when the duke summoned me. I excused myself and went to his study. I shut the door and turned. He was smiling at me, his eyes glinting with something.
“How is your back?” he asked and I frowned.
“Stiff but I’m used to it,” I said slowly.
He nodded, leaning back in his chair. “I can imagine sleeping in a chair is uncomfortable.” I felt my face turn pink. “Maybe sleeping with part of yourself on a bed was easier.”
“It was you that moved me closer?” I asked.
“I heard someone talking in Luc’s room,” he answered. “I waited. When I walked in, you were both asleep.”
I cleared my throat. “He couldn’t sleep,” I said. “We spoke for a while, yes. I must have fallen asleep without thinking about it.”
He tilted his head to the side. “How is my son?”
“Doing well,” I answered. “His heartrate was a little fast this morning but that can happen. I’m sure his pain level was just increased so I gave him some of that lotion. He said that helped and he’s been writing in the journal.”
“Has he shared what he writes with you?”
“No and I won’t make him. If he gets it out, that’s all that matters.”
“So you don’t know if he writes about you?”
I shrugged. “Probably about what a pain in the neck I’ve been.”
He laughed. “Or he could be writing other things.”
Now my face was red as I realized where this conversation was going.
“I should go,” I said, backing up for the door. “I’m…. Sleepy. Yes. I didn’t sleep well. Uncomfortable and all that.”
He laughed again, this time standing up. He put his hand on my shoulder. It was an action he did to calm me down and I wondered if he did the same to Luc.
“It’s perfectly all right,” he said. “He’s a man, you’re a woman. You’re the same age, you are both rather attractive. Perhaps something could bloom.”
“You’re embarrassing me,” I mumbled.
“My apologies,” he said. “Just think it over. I’m sure my son would appreciate a female’s company.”
I spluttered. “I will not sleep with him, Monsieur!”
He turned pink, too. “Oh no! That’s not what I meant, Percy. No. But there’s always the potential for friendship to pass to something more intimate.”
I tilted my head to the side, understanding.
“You wish for your son to fall in love again,” I said slowly.
“And to have someone love him, too.”
I smiled kindly, this time being the one comforting.
“Your son is a fine man, Monsieur,” I said. “But you cannot force these things to happen. I can tell he and I are on the brink of friendship. As for romance, I’m not sure if it’s appropriate.”
“I am his caretaker,” I said. “I don’t know if we can see each other like that.”
“Because you don’t want to?”
I narrowed my eyes. “You were eavesdropping.”
He laughed. “Yes, I’m guilty of that. Keep an open mind, Percy. As for this conversation, it never happened.”
I curtsied a little. “I should get back to Master Luc. It’s noon,” I added when I saw he was about to tease me. “The windows are to be opened.”
He bowed his head as I walked out. I frowned as I walked back to Luc’s room. Why had his father spoken so bluntly with me? Was this why I was chosen: to give his son a taste of what romance could be like? But I meant what I said. I doubted Luc and I would go anywhere beyond patient and caretaker.
“Is everything all right?” Luc asked as I walked in.
“Yes,” I said. “Are you ready for the windows to be open?”
He sighed in relief. “Please.”
I laughed and pushed them open. It was a chilly day so I put the thicker blanket on him. He closed his eyes, taking deep breaths. I sat back down and watched him carefully. He was stubborn. The first time we did this, he had gotten so cold he was shivering and didn’t tell us. I wanted to make sure that he wouldn’t do it again.
Master Luc’s mental state is improving. I am very glad he took up journaling like I suggested.
The most peculiar thing happened today. His father wishes me to consider being in a romantic relationship with Luc. I will not lie. It made me uncomfortable. Luc and I have barely become friends. I suspect it came from him eavesdropping on the conversation I had with Luc yesterday evening. From now on, conversations like those will no longer happen.
I have not been faithful with this journal. It’s been nearly a week. There hasn’t been much change aside from the herbal remedy I have made is making some difference. He is not as stiff in the mornings. His fever is gone but now I have gained one. I sit in bed now, doing my best not to get ink on the sheets. I just hope I get better soon. I am supposed to walk through the manor with Luc soon so he can start to exercise his legs.
“Come in,” I said weakly when someone knocked.
Jacques and Luc walked in. Luc was using his cane but limped only a few times. Jacques placed the tray on my knees and I smiled. It was the same soup I had made for Luc. Luc dismissed Jacques and sat on the edge of the bed, frowning.
“I do hope I didn’t get you ill,” he said.
I smiled. “You didn’t,” I promised. “I have not been caring for myself as I should be.”
“Why not?” he asked.
“I’ve been consumed.”
He sighed. “With taking care of me?”
“No,” I lied and he arched a brow. I laughed. “I don’t mind it, Luc.”
“There’s something you’re not telling me,” he said. “What else is bothering you?”
I ate a spoonful of the soup. It tasted wonderful.
“I have been having nightmares,” I admitted.
“About your parents?” he whispered.
“Would you rather I stop asking?”
Over the last week, he asked me about his symptoms and if they were the same my parents exhibited. Having someone who has experienced this was too important, though.
“No, it’s okay,” I said. “The main problem is my father.”
He held my free hand. I had told him about my father’s abusive behavior when he started to sink further into his depression. It was the kick in the rear that Luc needed to start controlling his temper. Though the journal was helping him get his frustrations out more, he still held on to some of them.
“You should probably go,” I sighed. “It’s very likely you’ll catch my cold.”
He shrugged, still holding my hand.
“I don’t care. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had the cold.”
I smiled. “Well, I’ve learned there’re only so many orders I can make you follow.”
“I’m glad you’re seeing things my way.”
“Would you like me to read to you?” he asked. “My mother would read to me when I was ill.”
I smiled, putting the tray on the floor.
“That would be lovely.”
While he left for his room, I got back to lying down. I reflected on our friendship. It really did blossom quickly. I suppose that’s what happens when you’re with a person for nearly 17 hours a day. We haven’t had a conversation like that night, though. We had reached an unspoken agreement. But, as he came back in with a book of poetry, I knew that my heart was beating quickly for a reason that had nothing to do with my cold.
“Don’t laugh at me,” he said. “I’m not very good at reading them out loud.”
“I won’t,” I promised and he smiled, leaning back in the chair he brought from my writing desk.