WARNING: This story is not for everyone. Please do not read if you have issues with corporal punishment. This is a tad darker than most of my stories so please hear my fair warning and proceed with understanding that this may not be for you.
When you would look upon the largest manor that graced Haven, New York you would find the grounds perfectly quaffed. Only a scatter of offending leaves from the vast oak trees marred the well-kept grass, caused imperfection. The slate gray stonework on the exterior of the manor was not only formidable but managed to lack charm which a home of that prestige should hold. Even the inspired Roman architecture was not enough to plead a case for beauty. In fact, it seemed that a cloud resided over the manor that had not left since eleven years ago.
The grand foyer was a precursor for what you would find throughout the residence. Wood ran throughout the whole interior. Wood, stained so dark that even light from the windows did little to help it. The furniture was sparse and not because the darkened man who lived inside was unable to afford such luxuries. He managed to keep a very minimal existence while in that house and he expected his two daughters to do the same.
Or course, he would spend and over spend on whatever he deemed necessary but it was rare for any money to be used on any kind of frivolity. Based on this house, one could look at Master Cullen and think he was just a penny pinching miser who lived alone. No one would ever guess that two young children resided within. No one ever knew that the interior of this house was very much like the interior of Master Cullen, his heart as dark as the wooden walls and sparse of decent emotion.
But Master Cullen was not all what he seemed. The weight of past decisions that were not his own were responsible for the man he had become. Bound by generations that had long past he was subject to a curse that plagued not only the Cullens but all of Haven New York.
It wasn't until fall when the leaves on the ground were at their most plentiful that hope would come in another form. The two young girls inside their spacious bedroom had no idea that their saving grace was walking up the long cobblestone path as they went about their last assignment for the week.
"Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene…"
Rosalie's lips mimicked her twin sister's as she watched her struggle through.
Even though they were twins, they were not identical. Rosalie, one inch taller, had hair just like her mother, long and light. In some ways she seemed the most out of place in that house. Whereas Alice was the opposite, she had more of her father's coloring. Copper brown hair that was always a mess, no matter how hard Rosalie tried to tame it. Rosalie, born just two minutes before Alice, took on the role of caring for the two. She took on the majority of the responsibilities and ensured their schedules were always kept.
"Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene. From…ancient grudge breaks…"
"Break." Rosalie corrected. "You know this. Alice, you know this. You were reciting it word perfect just yesterday."
Rosalie sighed knowing it wasn't her sister's fault. Alice was always like this the day of assessment. Alice would memorize the given Shakespearean monologue for the week and yet come the day when they were to present themselves for assessment, all the words would jumble about leaving Alice hopeless.
Rosalie smacked her hands together hoping to wake her sister up out of her miseries. She took a hold of Alice's shoulders and looked directly into her eyes.
"Come on. Once more. Block him from your mind and just recite what I know is in that head." Her soft gaze down toward her sister's hands was met with a sigh. "I don't want to see those hands turn red from his ruler again."
She placed a kind hand upon her sister's cheek and gave it a small rub. But deep down, she already knew that Alice was fated for the ruler. Whether it be on her hands or on her backside, there was no coming back from the dismal mark she had received from her most recent math examination. Even if Alice managed to get through the monologue, word perfect and with proper diction, it would do little to impress their father.
Once again Alice began and managed to get to the fifth line before another blunder. The grand clock on the top of the stairs began to toll and it was nearly time when the two sisters would walk side by side down the long staircase to search out their father's study.
Rosalie laid out their twin black dresses that were to always be worn at Saturday dinners. The closet off to the left of their room held only the essentials and the room which they shared, even though it was large held only a modest wooden table with two chairs and two twin sized beds on opposite sides with a pure white satin spread. The windows were the most ornate and only decorative piece in that place. The view overlooked the grounds to the back of the house which held the only form of amusement for the girls, a vast maze that had resided on the grounds since before the girls were born. If the daughters of Master Cullen did well on their weekly assessment, then they would be granted Sunday's to rest and explore the grounds.
"…whose misadventures piteous overthows…"
"Misadventured." Rosalie corrected once more.
It looked as if Alice would be spending another Sunday in her room.
Weekly assessments always took place on Saturday at six-thirty in the evening. At that time, Master Cullen would look over the submitted work for the week and require explanation for any low grade and take no notice of any acceptable grade. Not even a word of encouragement was given for a high grade, as he felt any encouragement may make his daughters arrogant or complacent in their studies.
After each mark had been scrutinized, Master Cullen would then ask for the weekly recitation. Each week, he would choose a sonnet or monologue to be memorized and recited. He also required an essay on the meaning of the words which was to be turned in upon entering the study.
Even though Rosalie was two minutes older than Alice, Master Cullen went alphabetically. Alice stood on her mark in front of the sturdy broad desk while her father stood behind the desk with his hands on his hips, towering over the two girls.
Alice's hands were wet with perspiration as she focused on her breathing. Her focus was definitely off but that wasn't because her father was peering down at her as he always did on Saturday evenings. It wasn't because she had just been reprimanded for her unsuccessful effort in Math that surly she would pay for. Alice was unfocused because there was a young woman standing in the study, toward the back of the room.
She must be the new governess but she was far different than previous governesses. In the past, the governesses usually were one foot from the grave and held themselves very straight. In the past, the governesses usually held the same proclivity for the ruler that their father had. They would set exceptionally high standards and find it personally offensive if the girls did not do well at assessment.
The young woman in the back didn't look anything like her previous governess. However, the glimpse Alice was able to make of the young woman was very quick so maybe she was mistaken in her first estimation.
Isabella Swan had traveled very far from her home to apply for this position. Since the ad was vague she had absolutely no idea what was going to be asked of her. Upon arriving, she felt a chill climb up her spine as her heels made a clicking noise on the cobblestone walkway. She looked up at the immense house and blew out a breath as she already felt quite unimportant standing below its vastness.
She may have felt unimportant but she was to be this house's saving grace and the one to break the curse that had plagued the town for over a century.
Isabella was straight out of college and in need of this position. Her student debts were piling up and with the passing of her father; she had no choice but to throw all her hopes into this trip to acquire this position. She was truly on her own. After she pounded on the door with the knocker, she waited precisely one minute before being greeted by the house butler, an older gentleman who appraised her before giving his name, "Mr. Whitlock."
Walking into the dark house, Mr. Whitlock told her to leave her cases at the base of the stairs before showing her to Master Cullen's study. Her eyes darted every which way as she took in the dark house. She began to feel uneasy since there was not one welcoming factor to this home. The walls were bare of any family photos or paintings. She felt as if she was walking in a sterile dungeon rather than a home. The chandeliers which held modest light were daunting rather than comforting. There were no sign that children even lived at this home. Maybe this was all a ruse; a plot to lure young women in for deceptive purposes. She began to think back to the article that appeared online asking for a governess for two children, ages eleven. It didn't say much more than room and board included with salary. The salary seemed exorbitant, which is the reason why she was excited when she received the call to come and interview. However, now she wondered if this was a good idea at all.
She followed Mr. Whitlock into the study and found this room uninviting like the others she had seen. A man who couldn't be much older than thirty-five, sat behind a large wooden desk, focused on marking up a paper with a scarlet pen.
"Master Cullen. Isabella Swan has arrived." Mr. Whitlock announced.
Mr. Whitlock turned on his heel after finishing his duty and shut the door closed behind him, leaving Isabella to stand awkwardly in front of the desk while she waited to be noticed. Her eyes searched around the room for anything interesting to look at but found nothing for her efforts. She moistened her lips a few time so they would be ready the moment this Master Cullen addressed her. After two long minutes Isabella was about to leave with a scolding shake of the head but just as she was about to say something, Master Cullen finally looked up.
For a quick moment, Master Cullen could not find his wits. He knew that the girl coming was young but he had no idea how beautiful she would be. No woman in the course of eleven years had caused Master Cullen to pause and lose his thoughts.
Her fine porcelain skin with a hint of rose upon her cheeks. The small pout in her lip and questioning deep brown eyes as she waited for him to address her. Her stature was lean and curvy and her height was maybe a tad too short compared to him but there was no denying the instant pull Master Cullen felt. He would have clutched his chest if common sense hadn't come back to him.
She wasn't special. No different than any other past servant. She was no different or better than, so she should be treated as such.
"Miss Swan. I see you have finally arrived. For future notice, I do not tolerate tardiness. There is a list of guidelines that I expect all of my servants to abide by."
The word servant caught Isabella off and she had to strangle her own tongue to not retort.
"My daughters are now eleven and in their time, they have gone through three different governesses. I expect a great deal from my children as I also expect a great deal from the governesses. Normally, I would never think to hire a person with no experience…"
"Oh, well…I've babysat a lot in the past so I do have experience with children and I've also…"
"Babysat?" He raised his eyebrows a smidge at the offending word. "I do not require a babysitter. I require a governess. I would hope someone who graduated top of their class would know the difference."
Isabella felt her cheeks warm at his reprimand. How could she have been so stupid? Babbling on about her babysitting days, of course there was a vast difference. Feeling thoroughly rebuked she swallowed her finishing statement and stood down.
"As I was saying before I was interrupted. Normally I wouldn't hire a person with no experience however; you came very highly recommended by a former classmate of mine. Professor Molina assured me that you were more than capable of handling a diverse array of subjects and were able to maintain a competent and firm work environment."
Isabella could hardly halt her confused and surprised expression. He spoke of his children as if they were no more than employees and she was there to play manager. She knew when she arrived to this house that there was certainly something off and now it was confirmed. She wanted to laugh at her first impression of this man as she fell into the trap of finding him attractive. It was always the attractive ones that were fucked up and she fell for his charm only to find out that he hadn't any.
"…someone who is intelligent, resourceful….someone who pays attention when I am speaking to them!" Master Cullen's voice raised in indignation.
Isabella snapped out of her thoughts and instantly berated herself for the way this interview was going. Surly, she wouldn't receive the position now. In the course of a few minutes she had managed to get on this man's bad side more than once. Although, maybe that would be a good thing, she couldn't image having to work for this intolerant man.
"You're right. I am obviously not a right fit for this position. I apologize for wasting your time." She bowed a little and backed up toward the door but before she could spin around on her heel, Master Cullen interrupted her flight.
"Come back here." He ordered. "I have not dismissed you."
Isabella turned slowly back around to face him. There were a great many things she wanted to say to him but she was in shock for how he spoke to her. She was not his employee so how dare he command her.
"As my valet explained to you, the position grants twelve hundred a week. You will work Monday through Friday and be available for my children on Saturday's, if they should need you. You have Sunday's to yourself but I will expect you to be at every meal the other six days. The children will eat with you Monday through Friday for breakfast and lunch and I will attend dinners only."
"Mr. Cullen…I don't think I can take this job. Sorry." She spoke as soon as she found a break in his speech.
"Miss Swan, that is the last time you will interrupt me. From what I understand of your current financial situation, you can't afford to not take this position. Honestly, where did you learn your manners from?"
Master Cullen had no intention of ever letting her go. He knew he had no choice but to take on her case. However, once again Isabella was at a loss for words. She had never been spoken to like this before and was completely thrown by it. Her bravery being fueled by anger, she managed to find a rebuttal.
"Good day, Mr. Cullen. I am not so desperate for a job that I will put up with your verbal abuse."
She felt quite proud of herself and wanted to pat her own back but the dark look looming in Master Cullen's eyes caused her to stand down once more.
"Isabella Marie Swan." Master Cullen said slowly and calculated. He began walking away from her and back towards his desk. He pulled out a full file from his drawer and proceeded to list many things off.
"Your current debt including all your school loans and credit cards amount to seventy-four thousand dollars. Your current bank account holds a balance of two-hundred and twenty-nine dollars. You have no current address or collateral of any kind which means essentially, you are homeless, as no bank would ever take you on as a client to give you the necessary funds to procure a car or home. Your mother passed away in two-thousand and four, your father just this past month and with no other siblings or close relatives, it tells me that, indeed, you have no choice but to accept this position."
Isabella could feel her blood boiling under the surface of her skin. He had no right to the information he just spouted off and yet, he was right. She didn't even have enough money to take another taxi into town. She was homeless and in insurmountable debt.
"You can't fool me, Miss Swan."
He placed the file down and picked up another file. He walked around the desk once more to stand directly in front of her. He held out the file for her to take.
"These are my guidelines and consequences for this household. I expect you to memorize and follow them. My children will be arriving momentarily for their weekly assessment. During this time I expect you to stand at the back of the room. Normally, you would be here if there were any question on the actions of their inadequate work however since you are not responsible for their shortcomings for this week, you may stand and observe to prepare yourself for next Saturday."
Isabella couldn't understand what was happening to her. She was being strong armed into this position. When she first arrived, she was worried that she wouldn't be accepted but now she wondered how to make herself unacceptable.
There was a knock on the door and Master Cullen pointed her to the corner where she was to stand.
"We will discuss your employment further after dinner."
He walked back to his desk and pulled out a ruler to set it upon the top of the desk with purpose.
"Come in." He granted.
In walked the two twin sisters side by side.
"Good evening, children." Master Cullen said.
"Good evening, father." They both replied in unison.
"I know that you have not had a governess this week but I expect that your marks have not fallen." He picked up the folder on his desk that Isabella had noticed him writing in when she first arrived. He began to go through each subject announcing the percentages awarded. From what Isabella could gather, anything above a ninety percent was not cause for remark. However, the dark hair girl named Alice received a cross look for her mark of eighty-two percent in math. Even though Isabella was a straight A student in school, she didn't understand why it would be such an awful thing to receive a standard "B."
"I trust that you both are better prepared for this week's recitation."
Alice stepped forward and took a breath.
"Begin." Master Cullen said.
Alice taking one more breath began to recite what she had been practicing all week long.
"Two households both alike in dignity…in fair Verona where we lay our scene. From…" She bit her lip and tried again. "From…"
Master Edward sighed and even rolled his eyes disapprovingly. Alice gulped and tried once more to find her place before her father said one word.
"From ancient grudge break to new mutiny. Where blood…civil blood…" She quickly corrected. "…makes civil hands unclean. From…from…"
Master Edward reached over to his desk and picked up the instrument that would cause Alice to instantly flinch.
"Hands out." Master Cullen commanded softly.
Slowly Alice brought her hands out in front of her body and raised them up in place.
Master Cullen never yelled at his daughters. He never needed to. His voice was smooth and velvet. In fact to anyone who would have listened, you would think that an angel was speaking. But his words and face told a completely different story.
"Two…two…" Alice was completely out of sorts as she waited for the first sting to come down across her hands. With the first sentence she was already feeling that sting. She winced as the ruler came down with its sharp slap. She could feel the backs of them burn as she tried to catch her breath and stop herself from crying.
"Again!" He threatened.
"Two household both alike in dignity. In fair Verona where we lay our scene. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood make civil hands unclean."
This time she did not stop as the words came flying out of her mouth at a rapid pace. But it wasn't but a couple lines further when she was tripped up on the word, "piteous" that the ruler came down once more.
"I'm sorry." She apologized fruitlessly. "I've studied all week. I promise."
"Back in line. I will deal with you later." Her father responded.
With a great sigh of relief, she quickly shuffled back to her spot.
"Rosalie." Master Cullen beckoned.
Rosalie stepped up to the mark that Alice had just abandoned and delivered her speech word perfect on the first try. She felt awful for doing so, it was not her intention to make her sister look bad but she had learned that messing up for the sake of her sister did not help Alice in any way. There was no need for both of their backsides to blaze as they sat at dinner later that evening.
"Correct. Step back." Master Cullen said once Rosalie was finished. No good job or any kind word was said.
"Rosalie, you may spend Sunday as you wish. Alice, you are restriction and will spend the day in your room. Tomorrow evening at dinner, you will recite the monologue for us and if you are unsuccessful, than you will not receive dinner. Do you understand?"
"Yes, father." Alice managed before looking back down to the wooden floor.
"Rosalie you are dismissed. Alice, come behind the desk to receive your punishment."
Isabella noted as the blond girl gave a look of sorrow toward her sister before leaving the room. Rosalie waited on the other side of the door with her ear up against it. She knew what kind of trouble she would be in if her father knew she was listening but she wanted to know how bad Alice's punishment was going to be. She imagined at least ten but her father did look exceptionally crossed that evening when they entered. Rosalie wondered if it had anything to do with the woman standing in the back of the room.
Isabella could not believe what she had just witnessed. But the worse was still to come. Alice walked over toward her father's desk and bent over, placing her hands on the cool hard surface. Master Cullen proceeded to lift up the young girl's dark dress and pull her underwear down.
Isabella felt her jaw drop as she understood what she was about to witness.
"Alice, your marks in math were unacceptable and the reading tonight was very disappointing. You will receive five for the first infraction and five for the second for a total of ten."
"Yes, father." The young girl replied.
Isabella couldn't believe the sound of Master Cullen's voice. He sounded as if he was no more than explaining how to park a car or some other trivial task. For someone who punished so harshly, you would think he would be yelling or spitting his words at her but he was calm and collected.
Isabella wanted to scream the first time she heard the smack of the ruler as it came down across Alice's backside. Alice winced and wanted to cry out herself but she knew it would be worse if she vocalized her pain during punishment. That was a weakness, something her father did not approve of.
The ruler came down once more and heated Alice's tender flesh. She wanted to squirm but she held firm on the desk as she squeezed her eyes tight but as she drew closer to the final swat, she let out a squeak and her tears fell down toward the desk. Isabella could feel herself tearing up at the sight as Master Cullen repeated the smacks over and over again.
Alice gave a sigh of relief, standing back up and waiting for her father to pull up her panties and place her dress back in its spot.
There were no words for what Isabella had just witnessed. Sure she had been corporally punished when she was growing up. Her father was stern but he was also loving. The most she had ever received were a couple of smacks of his hand on her backside and even that ended by the time she was eight.
Alice shuffled out of the office quickly while Master Cullen placed the ruler back into his desk. Isabella wanted to step forward and tell him off before leaving for good but she knew that she really couldn't afford to leave here. She also knew that those girls needed her more than ever.
"Miss Swan, dinner is in ten minutes. I trust that you will want to change before then. Jasper has already seen that your bags are in your room and unpacked. He will take you there now. You are dismissed."
Once again, Isabella's blood began to boil.
"Sir." He corrected. "You haven't read the guidebook yet so I understand your ignorance but I wished to be addressed as sir or Master Cullen."
Isabella nearly wasn't able to stop herself from rolling her eyes.
"Sir." She said rather sarcastically. "You may call me, Lady Isabella from the house of Swan."
She shouldn't have done that but he was making her more and more upset at every word to come out of his mouth.
He narrowed his eyes and his chest puffed up from her insolence.
"I require respect from my servants and do not tolerate rudeness. Now, I will speak to you after dinner as I clarified early. You are dismissed."
She had no choice but to leave because if she hadn't, she would most likely assault her new employer. Isabella knew she mustn't lose her head. The only way to combat a person like Master Cullen was to beat them at their own game. She would read through the entire guidebook and find every argument she could.
Mr. Whitlock was awaiting her outside the study when she arrived but the only thing that interested her at the moment was the file in her hands. She had a feeling she would be late for that evening's required dinner and what is it that Master Cullen said regarding tardiness? He didn't tolerate it? Isabella had a feeling that she was about to hear a great deal on the many things he wouldn't tolerate.
AN: Thank you for taking the time to read. This is the first story I have ever written in the third person. I appreciate any constructive reviews or comments.
Story is mine. Characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.