Persephone made it a couple poems in before she fell asleep. I closed the book and watched her with a slight frown. Over the week, I had started to become more and more attracted to her. We were around each other a lot and she was very kind. Ever since I started the journal, I was able to get my frustrations in a more constructive way.
I put the book on the nightstand where I saw her journal. I bit my lip. I wanted to know what was in there but I also didn’t want to invade her privacy. Maybe someday she’d show me….
I sighed quietly and leaned back a little, watching her sleeping face. I had done some digging and found out that the name was associated with Greek mythology. She was married to the god of the underworld, Hades, and was best known for the harvest. To me, I would think Persephone would mean angel for that’s certainly what she was to me.
After I got sick, I didn’t think that I’d find a woman that would bring me happiness like Persephone did. I looked forward to seeing her every morning, carrying my breakfast or helping me down to the dining room table. I enjoyed walking along the manor with her and the moments she would force my father to let her open the windows in my room for fresh air.
There was no denying it: It was quite possible my feelings for Persephone were going beyond friendship.
The door opened and my father walked in. I put my finger to my lips and he nodded, closing it quietly behind him.
“How is she?” he whispered.
I shrugged. “Asleep.” I sighed. “She’s been sleeping a lot.”
“Don’t worry, son. She’ll be fine. It’s not your fault she got sick.”
I ran a hand through my hair. It had grown down to my shoulder blades but I didn’t mind. Several times, when she thought I was asleep, I’d feel Persephone combing it as if she liked it.
“You’re falling in love with her,” my father said suddenly and I looked at him with wide eyes.
“Shh!” I hissed.
Persephone shifted in her sleep, turning on her side. I tucked her in and let my father help me into my room. I sat down on my bed and passed him my journal. I was hiding it under my pillow in case Persephone’s curiosity took over.
I looked away as he read the last few entries, too embarrassed to tell him about them myself. When he got to the last entry, he sighed.
“It’s okay to have those thoughts,” he said as I stuffed it back under my pillow.
“No it’s not,” I shook my head. “I’m disrespecting her.”
“How?” he asked.
I blushed, pulling uncomfortably on my collar and praying she was still asleep.
“I’m having lustful thoughts,” I whispered. “She’s too wonderful for me to have them.”
“You’re a man,” he said. “It is normal. Didn’t you feel like this with Diane?”
“No,” I admitted. “Frankly, Diane and I mostly just talked. She wouldn’t even hold my hand; especially when I first got sick.”
“I believe she was more interested in your title,” he said. “But with Percy, it’s different.”
“What do you mean?”
“She’s helping you get better,” he said. “She’s helping you be happy again. She’s showing you what love really is.”
“You think she loves me?”
“I don’t know but I can tell you that she’s in the library when she’s not with you doing research.”
“No,” he smiled. “On men.”
I blinked. “She doesn’t speak to you?”
He laughed. “I’m her duke! Of course not! She’s been getting many letters from her sister, too.”
“Why are you so interested in she and I?” I asked, getting back into bed.
He sighed. “Because I think you both have a shot at happiness here, Luc. Keep that in mind.” He pointed at my pillow. “And stop feeling guilty. It’s okay to have them. I had them a lot before I married your mother.”
I looked up. “You did?”
“Yes,” he smiled. “Like I said: It’s perfectly normal for a man.”
I nodded slowly. “If you’re certain.”
“I am,” he promised. “Get some sleep.”
I leaned my head back and closed my eyes, dreaming once more about Persephone.
“A birthday party?” Persephone asked at dinner the next day.
She was back to health and I was having a good day so she agreed to let me eat in the dining room.
“I found out from your sister that your birthday is in two days,” my father said.
“You didn’t tell me it was so soon!” I said accusingly.
She shrugged. “It’s just a birthday. I’m turning 25. I’m getting old.”
My father laughed. “So what does that say about me? But I was thinking we could invite your sister and some of your closest friends for a special dinner.”
“I know Marie would love to come,” she nodded, pushing at her vegetables. “I don’t have many friends, though.”
“Why not?” I asked, struggling with the cup.
I gave it up as a bad job, though, and accepted the straw. I couldn’t grip cups in the morning or the evenings.
“I didn’t get out much,” she said. “After my father started getting worse with his depression, he forced my sister and I to stay in the house. It became second nature by the time he passed. The only time I socialized was to drop off people’s clothing they wanted mended.”
“So you’d rather have something small?” my father asked.
She smiled. “We don’t have to do anything at all, Master Moreau.”
“But we want to,” he pressed. “Come on. What’s your favorite food?”
While she argued with my father about having a special celebration, I thought about what to get her. I wanted it to be something special. Something that would make her remember me whenever she left. Something that would make her smile every time she looked at it.
I was deep in thought when Persephone started shouting. I broke out of my trance and laughed.
“Get it off!” she whimpered, her eyes shut tight.
A tarantula was slowly crawling up her arm. The tarantula belonged to one of the servant’s sons and had a habit of getting loose.
“It’s just a spider,” I said calmly, reaching over so that it could crawl onto my hand.
“Oh, I’m going to have a heart attack,” she breathed, scooching her chair away from mine.
“You’re afraid of spiders?” I asked. “Don’t you use spiders in your medicine?”
“Gross,” she shuddered. “No, that would be weird witch doctors that do that. I can’t stand spiders! They’re tiny, have too many legs, and way too many eyes!”
“Even big guys like these?” I asked innocently, holding it out.
She screamed and fell out of her chair trying to get away. I laughed loudly. The mother of the son, Edith, ran in.
“Oh I’m so sorry!” she gasped. “I keep telling him to make sure the cage is locked!”
“It’s all right,” I said, still laughing as my father helped Persephone to her feet, also laughing.
Edith ran back out, her face red, and I knew her son was about to get a stern talking to.
“Are you all right?” I asked, smirking.
She narrowed her eyes then smacked the back of my head. She laughed, though, and finished her meal. I smiled, enjoying the small moments where life is sunny.