DISCLAIMER: Boardwalk Empire belongs to the brilliant Terence Winter; I am just a fan with love for the show and the characters.
A/N: I started writing this before I even saw Season 2,so there is some reference to events that happen back in Season 1.
Kate was cheerfully whistling a tune as she made her cleaning rounds at Mrs. Schroeder's. She had only been working there for a few days. Her friend Beth had gotten ill, and while she was recovering someone needed to take her place. Beth had recommended her as a replacement maid, since she knew that Kate had just been let go from her old job due to the family losing their business and having to cut down on the hired help.
Making her way into a smaller guest bedroom she was shocked to find the room was occupied. If she had known she would have knocked first before entry. A dark haired man was sitting on the bed with a book in his hand, facing the window. He looked towards her and that was when she noticed his face, which was shocking to see, since he had a missing eye and deep scarring that spread over one side of his face. Kate gasped in shock and her hands flew up to her face. In doing so she dropped her cleaning bucket and the contents spilled out onto the floor.
"I-I-I...I'm so sorry, sir..."Kate finally managed to say, barely controlling a nervous stutter.
The man remained silent as he stood up from the bed and walked over to her, after hurriedly fixing a mask onto his face. This made Kate's anxiety grow. Had she offended him? Was he so angry with her he did not want to talk to her?
Kate knelt to pick up the items she had dropped and hurriedly stuffed them back into the bucket with trembling hands. "It's just that this room has been empty for the past three days, and Mrs. Schroeder didn't say she was having a guest to stay. Oh, not that she needed to tell me, and I'm not blaming her for my mistake sir, I just..." Kate bit her lip, on the verge of tears. She did not know why she was getting so upset. It was not like she really had anything to cry about.
"Don't worry about it" The tone of his voice was warm as he reached out to her. She did not hesitate to place her hand on his, and he helped her to stand. She felt a sense of loss when he released her hand. His grip had been firm, but gentle.
"Sir, you won't mention this to Mrs. Schroeder, will you?" Kate asked.
He shook his head and Kate audibly sighed in relief. "Oh, thank you so much sir. I won't disturb you again, I promise"
He chuckled, a low musical sound that was quite pleasant. Kate had the fleeting thought that she would not mind hearing that laugh again. "You didn't disturb me"
They looked at each other for a long moment and he gave her a crooked smile. Kate returned the smile with a shy smile of her own.
"Well, I should be going now, sir" Kate wanted to find out more about this mysterious man, but she could not forget her duties.
"What's your name?"
"Fairfield, sir. Kate Fairfield"
"It's nice to meet you Miss Fairfield"
Kate laughed a little. "Oh, there's no need to be formal with me. I'm just the maid. Call me Kate, please sir"
There was a pause before he nodded. "Ok .I'll call you Kate if you call me Richard?"
So that was his name. Kate had been dying to know it, but she felt uneasy when she heard his suggestion. "I don't think that's a good idea, sir."
"If I can't change your mind yet, what if we compromise? I'll be Mr. Harrow to you and you will be Miss Fairfield to me. Don't call me sir anymore, ok?"
"Oh, but there really is no need to call me Miss Fairfield. I guess, at least when we are alone I can call you...Richard" Kate looked around at this point as if checking to see of anyone had overheard what she said. "Although really this is unusual for me, sir, ah I mean Richard"
"Well I must get back to work now" Kate turned to leave but was stopped by his hand resting on her shoulder.
"Aren't you forgetting something?" Kate turned back to see he was holding her cleaning bucket.
"Oh, of course. Silly me" Kate grabbed hold of the bucket, her breath hitching as their fingers touched briefly and they seemed frozen for a split second, her icy blue eyes locking with his hazel green. It was Kate who broke eye contact first. She left, almost in a daze.
When she returned to his room later to clean it, she was disappointed to find that he was not there. Although perhaps it was a good thing since she would have no distractions. As she was about to strip the covers and sheet from the bed, she saw the book Richard had left there earlier. Curiosity overtook her and she picked it up. The book was bound in leather dyed a rich red, and the title was embossed in gold letters. It was a book of poetry and as she opened it a photo slipped out onto the bed. Kate picked it up and saw it was a photo of Richard. He looked a little younger, and was wearing a soldier's uniform. There was a playful smile on his face. In a way it was strange for Kate seeing him without the mask but mask or no mask he was a handsome man.
Turning the photo over, she saw a few words were scrawled across the back.
- To my darling Evie. With love, Richard
Evie? Was she Richard's sweetheart? Was he married? No, he had no ring. She was relieved upon realizing that and she placed the photo back in the book, slamming it shut. What was she thinking? It was none of her business whether he was taken or single, but already she disliked Evie, a woman she didn't even know. Kate sighed, placing the book onto the bedside table and then stripped the mattress bare. After remaking the bed she turned her attention to the rest of the room. Richard was a neat man, perhaps because of his military days but nonetheless it made her job easier and she was soon finished.
Kate had finished her work for the day and was on her way out of the apartment when she heard her name being called by Mrs. Schroeder who was standing by the telephone in the hallway.
Mrs. Schroeder looked the picture of elegance in a lovely blue silk ballgown and her dark hair swept up with a few tendrils framing her face. She seemed worried.
"Oh, Kate. It's good that I caught you before you left. My babysitter just cancelled on me, and I'm meant to be going out with Mr. Thompson. I was supposed to be making a speech, and he will be so disappointed if I tell him I can't go..."
"Do you want me to stay and look after the children?" Kate asked.
Mrs. Schroeder nodded, clasping her hands together in front of her almost as if she were praying. "Could you, Kate? I know it's a bit sudden and you must be tired after working but the children like you, and I know I can trust you. I'll pay for the extra time, I promise"
Kate shook her head and smiled. "You don't have to pay me extra, Mrs. Schroeder. Honestly, it'll be my pleasure to look after the children"
"You're a sweetheart. Thank you. I already said goodbye to the children, and I will be back around nine o'clock...Ten o'clock at the latest" Mrs. Schroeder walked over to Kate and hugged her, enveloping Kate with the scent of her flowery perfume before hurrying over to the door and leaving. Kate waved as she closed the door and locked it.
She searched for the children and found them in the front room. Teddy was playing with a set of brightly colored tin soldiers. His sister Emily was cuddling a French porcelain doll she had fondly named Cécile. Kate sat on the couch and watched them play for a while. Then Teddy knocked over his soldiers with a scowl on his face. "I want a story. Read us the story about the mean old' witch" He demanded, his gaze turning to Kate.
"Well, I think you forgot the magic word," Kate replied.
Teddy seemed puzzled for a moment then his face cleared. "Please?"
"Good. Okay, let's see now..." Kate glanced around, smiling when she saw a hardback copy of The Wizard of Oz lying on the coffee table. She picked it up and held the book so the cover was facing Teddy. "Is this the story you want?"
Teddy nodded enthusiastically and jumped up onto the couch sitting next to Kate. Emily followed him but sat to Kate's right so Kate was in the middle of the children.
Kate opened up the book then cleared her throat and started to read, but she paused when Emily giggled.
"Mommy already told us that part"
"Oh, silly me. I wonder, is there a marker?" Kate looked at the book and saw she had failed to notice that one of the pages had the corner folded back. "Ah, here it is..."
Kate read to the children until she noticed Emily had fallen asleep and Teddy was nodding off also although he was trying to fight it. Kate glanced at the clock and saw it was almost eight o'clock. Since eight o'clock was meant to the children's bedtime Kate hurriedly set about the task of helping the children bathe and getting changed into their nightclothes. After she tucked Emily in with her doll Cécile and gave them both a kiss on the forehead she led Teddy to his room and tucked him in too. Emily had fallen asleep again soon after Kate had said goodnight, but with Teddy it took a glass of warm milk before he drifted off to sleep.
Not long after that Kate settled herself in the living room again, waiting for Mrs. Schroeder to return. When she heard the front door being unlocked she stepped out into the hall.
"You're back early, Mrs..."Kate's words trailed off as she saw it was Richard entering the apartment.
"So we meet again" Richard smiled.
Kate gasped when she saw there was a large cut on Richard's forehead. "What happened?"
"Nothing. I just had a disagreement with someone" The tone of Richard's voice was brusque, and it was clear he did not want to talk about it. Kate decided not to ask any more questions although she was curious.
"Well you just wait here while I get some things to clean it..." Kate turned to walk away but was stopped by a hand on her arm. She turned back.
"I can do it"
"It's okay, I can just..."
His grip on her arm tightened and he glared at her. "I said no, I'll do it"
"Oh, alright. Um, Richard?"
"What?" He snapped, and she flinched.
"You're hurting my arm..."
He let go, his face turning blank after an odd look that Kate thought might be remorse. "I'm sorry. Please excuse me" He brushed past her and disappeared down the hall into his room, the door shutting behind him with a soft snap.
Kate sighed heavily. Why did she have to pry? Now he was probably mad at her.
She was relieved when Mrs. Schroeder returned to the apartment, red faced and laughing with Mr. Thompson by her side.
"Kate, is everything alright?" Mrs. Schroeder asked.
"Yes. The children are sleeping soundly"
"Oh, that's good to hear"
Mr. Thompson stepped forward, his hand disappearing into the inner pocket of his suit jacket then coming out with a neatly folded stack of bills which he offered to Kate. "Here. For your trouble"
"No, no sir. I already told Mrs. Schroeder, I enjoyed watching the children, it's no bother"
"Kate, I would have paid the babysitter the same. Please, take it" Mrs. Schroeder gently coaxed.
"Well, you heard Mrs. Schroeder. Look at it this way, you did a fine job, and so now you're getting paid" Mr. Thompson pressed the money into her hands.
Seeing her poised to protest he shook his head, raising a hand to stop her. "I can't take it back now, it's yours" Mr. Thompson smiled.
"Thank you sir" Kate put the money away in her purse, tucking it deep down inside. She hadn't wanted it, but they were kind to give it to her and perhaps she could treat herself to a new dress. After exchanging goodbyes she left, hurrying out of the apartment complex and heading in the direction of the small boarding house she had rented a room at. It was halfway across town, but she was used to the long walk. Still, she did not like to be out walking by herself late at night. It made her uneasy. So when she felt a hand grab her shoulder she jumped and screamed, a shrill sound that she muffled with her hand after turning and seeing Richard standing there.
Kate glared at him briefly but then her eyes softened, she was not really mad. "You scared me. I thought you were a mugger or something..."
Richard took hold of her hand, and began to walk down the street with long strides leaving Kate no choice but to walk alongside him or be pulled along.
"Wait, where are you taking me?" She asked, laughing.
"I'm walking you home"
Kate could not help the smile that crept onto her face. "You don't have to do that"
"I know. I want to…." Richard glanced at her. "Except…I don't know where you live"
"We are going in the right direction, but I can guide you there if you slow down a little"
"Ok. You lead the way"
As they walked they fell into a comfortable silence. Kate was happy enough to just spend some alone time with Richard. She saw an older lady smile at them and realized she probably thought Kate and Richard were a couple taking a late night stroll. Kate wished that it was true, but she had no idea of what Richard thought of her. Besides, they had only known each other for a day. Kate did not believe in love at first sight, but she felt drawn to Richard, as if somehow they had an invisible connection. Which was just insane. She knew it. Besides, she would just end up being crushed. Richard was not interested in her. Why would he be? She was nothing special.
When they reached the house where she lived in a small apartment, Richard led the way up the steps to the main door, where he let go of her hand.
"Well…Thank you again. Goodnight, Richard"
Richard simply nodded, and Kate bit her lip before leaning over and placing a light kiss on Richard's cheek. Her heart sunk when he frowned and stepped back.
"Oh, I didn't mean- I-I just….I'm sorry. I was…That was very inappropriate" Kate's face felt hot as she looked down, her hair falling in front of her eyes.
"Please, can we just pretend it never happened?" Kate's voice was getting quieter with each word that fell from her mouth. Tears were starting to prick at her eyes, threatening to come down.
"Do you like me?" He asked.
Kate sighed miserably. "It doesn't matter now. Not really…"
"I need to know" Richard replied as he brought his hand up to her face, tilting it up so he could look directly into her eyes.
"Yes…" Kate spoke so quietly it was hard to hear.
"Are you sure?" Richard asked.
"I've never felt this way before. And I shouldn't, I know. I'm just a simple maid, and you have a sweetheart. I just-"
"A sweetheart?" Richard interrupted her.
"You see, I saw the photo of you in that book. Signed with love to Evie, short for Evelyn perhaps?"
"You were snooping around in my room?"
"No, no. I was just cleaning, and so I picked up the book from the bed and well, the photo just slipped out" Kate looked panic stricken. "Please, you mustn't think badly of me Mr. Harrow. Oh, I mean Richard…"
Richard rested a hand on her shoulder. "Relax, Kate. Just breathe…I'm not angry. And I don't have a sweetheart. Evelyn is just part of my past, and I don't want to discuss that with you. Not yet"
Kate slowly nodded. "I understand. I shouldn't have said anything anyway"
"I'm glad you did tell me" Richard admitted, bringing his free hand up to her face where he brushed a few stray locks of hair away from her eyes. He leant closer, and Kate froze for a few moments, feeling like her heart had skipped a beat. Was he really going to-? He paused when their noses were almost touching; he was so close she could feel his breath on her face. "Are you sure?" There were so many things implied in that one small question, Kate knew. She did not even need to think about it.
"Yes. Oh yes. Please, Richard. I really want this" Kate looped her arms around his neck and waited, longing for his kiss. Finally, his lips pressed against hers and her eyes drifted shut as she lost herself in the kiss, which brought such sweet relief. She didn't want it to end, even when her lungs were crying out for more air. When he pulled away, Kate leaned against him, as her legs were unsteady and she caught her breath. He did not seem to mind, wrapping his arms around her in a warm embrace and dropping a kiss onto the top of her head.
Thanks for reading, and I would really appreciate a review,a fav,an alert,a follow...Any sign that someone out there likes it,at least enough so that I should continue! :) If not,I might just make this a oneshot instead.