A/N: Hello and welcome! Thank you for checking this story out. I only hope I don't disappoint you.
This is a JW/OC story and it might be AU, I am not sure yet. We shall see.
If you read then please review. No flames please. If you don't enjoy it then please don't read it!
Now on with the story!
Disclaimer: I do not own The Libertine. I only own the plot and my OC.
Dedicated to AqoCJeyBee for her wonderful support and drawings! You're a doll! :D
Oh, and Happy Birthday, love! ;o)
Time is too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice,
But for those who love, time is eternity
~ Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933)
The carriage shook heavily as it slid with difficulty over the bumpy road. The woman inside woke up and placed a hand on her head, feeling it pound as she tried to open her eyes.
Groggily she managed to open them and looked outside the small slit that served as a window for the coach. The scenery had completely changed and instead of the greenery of Oxfordshire she was met with the darkness and dirt of London. She squinted, trying to see better but the carriage shook again and she gave up. She rubbed her eyes and pulled her shawl tighter around her body as she rested her back against the carriage seat. She gazed at the small bag that included her belongings and sighed. With a quick look at her poorly tailored, and probably inadequate, clothes she was certain that she would not be welcomed in the city; especially not by the Earl and his nobles. She winced at the thought of what awaited her.
When the Countess had sent her after her son, it had taken her a great deal of power to not complain like a petulant child. Being the laundry maid of Adderbury Manor had the great advantage of not meddling with the masters and their whims. She was not seen often and if she was seen she would mostly be ignored. That was a blessing when your lord and master was the Earl of Rochester. Being married to Lady Elizabeth, one of the most beautiful women of the county, and being the father of three children, did not stop him from acquiring an infamous reputation. Close friend of the King and a war hero, John Wilmot was nothing like one would expect from a man of his status. Easily ruffled, terribly honest and a womanizer, he was a pain to his wife and his mother, Lady Anne.
The Countess had chosen her to accompany the Earl after a lot of consideration but his estate in London needed a housekeeper and she was the least desired servant in the household since they had long added more maids to their service. Perhaps the fact that she was also headstrong helped to her appointment to the earl's house in the city.
What she feared was not the heavy load of work that awaited her but the man himself.
Suddenly the carriage came to a stop and her eyes widened as she was broken out of her thoughts. She wiped her sweaty palms on her skirt and it was then that she heard the driver's voice call out to her.
"We have arrived, Alexandra!" the hoarse voice of the driver yelled and she slowly got out of the carriage. She pulled out her belongings and turned to face the estate.
It was not as large as the one in Oxfordshire but it was definitely lavish.
"Good luck." The driver, Thomas, told her as he patted her sympathetically on the back, "I fear you will need it because he might send you back to the country on foot." He said and Alexandra turned to glare at him, he blue eyes flashing with anger.
"Thank you for the encouragement, Tom." She told him as she smoothed her plain blue skirt, "Always great help you are." She muttered as she ignored his chuckles and stepped forward.
She raised her hand and knocked onto the door before she stepped back and waited.
It took minutes for someone to finally open the gate.
"Alcock." Alexandra greeted and the man paused, seemingly confused.
"Oh…You…What are you doing here?" he looked beyond her, checking to see if she was alone.
"The Countess sent me. She said there is no one to help around the house." She replied and she corked an eyebrow when the other servant started laughing.
"They sent you? What's your name again?" he asked as he opened the door wide to let her pass.
"Alexandra." She muttered with exasperation as she brushed by him.
"Oh, right. The laundry maid. You got quite a promotion." Alcock shut the door and came to stand next to her.
"Does he know?" Alcock asked in a hushed voice and she quickly shook her head.
"Then it's better if you do your work without showing your face much. Come on. The kitchen surely needs a little help…Along with the master chamber…the washroom and the back garden." He added and Alexandra frowned as she followed him.
"Anything else?" she muttered sarcastically and he turned to her.
"Aye! The liquor cabinet needs to be restocked but that's my chore." He announced as they passed through a corridor and arrived at the kitchen area.
"What are your other tasks?" she curiously asked as she placed her satchel on the kitchen table and looked up at the dark haired man who was smirking down at her.
"That's my only chore." He laughed and she glared when his eyes perused her body.
"Where does the Earl eat?" she asked as she looked around the abandoned kitchen.
"Inn or at Court."
"Hmm. Are there any spare bedrooms?" she asked and he nodded.
"Aye. There are the servant quarters through here. Come, I'll show you." He slipped through a door that was hidden behind a curtain at the far corner of the kitchen and she followed after him quickly.
"The Earl's room is upstairs along with his study. When he's here he spends most of his time in there."
"Yes. I know he prefers to be alone rather than stay in the country." Alexandra murmured as she had seen more than once his wife mourning over the fact of his absence. She had often wondered if he was cruel on purpose or if it was just, well, him.
"Exactly. Here." He opened a door and wiggled his eyebrows, "Next to mine."
Alexandra rolled her eyes and walked in.
"Make yourself comfortable and then I suggest you get to work before my Lord Rochester comes back from Court. Oh and I like broth." He said before he walked out and closed the door behind him.
Alexandra rolled her eyes to the closed door and collapsed on the single bed at the corner.
Two days later…
Alcock placed a bucket of warm, soapy water next to her and Alexandra smiled gratefully.
"Thank you." She murmured as she slipped the mop inside the bubbling concoction and kneeled down. When she noticed that the other servant was staring at her, she pulled a cloth from her apron and threw it at him.
"Well, don't just stand there. Dust the desk and shelves!" she exclaimed and almost laughed as he grimaced.
"Feisty." He muttered as he headed over to the desk and started brushing dust off of it, "So, Alexandra," he started and she sighed as she started mopping the floor, "What's your story?" he asked and she paused.
"I don't actually have one. I needed a job and my mother worked in the Countess' household before she got sick. They took me in and here I am. My mother resides in Epsom now." She shrugged.
"If you plan on making witty conversation with me then perhaps you should tell me your story." She looked up and smirked, "I heard you stole from your last master and the Earl was kind enough to take you in."
Alcock rose his chin up in defiance, "So?"
"Well, just saying…Your story is more interesting than mine." She told him as she scrubbed hard at the floor.
"You should hurry up-…"
"I am trying. Am I supposed to cook dinner?" she asked but they both froze when the front door of the house slammed shut.
"Well, slap me! He's back early." Alcock said as he abandoned the cloth and ran out of the room to greet his master.
Alexandra sat back and watched the door until she heard footsteps.
"I am telling you, Alcock, something smells different in here." Lord Rochester's voice seemed much close and Alexandra quickly scrambled to her feet. Her foot knocked the bucket over in her haste and soapy water soaked her dress and floor.
"Oh hell." She whispered but there was no time to clean it up because the Earl's boots appeared in the doorway.
Everything went silent for a few moments until the Earl spoke up, "What is she doing here?" he asked and Alexandra looked up at him through her eyelashes. He wore a scowl on his otherwise handsome face. His overcoat was carelessly thrown over his shoulders and his vest was unbuttoned and peeking from the opening of the intricate fabric. His brown curls were covering part of his face and he held his cane in his hand, his ink stained fingers tightly curled around the handle.
When neither of them replied he clicked said cane against the floor and only then did Alcock speak up.
"The Countess sent her to help in the house, my Lord." He replied cheerily but the Earl only sneered.
"Of course. She needed to meddle again." He said as he stepped in.
He approached her but stayed well away from the wet spot on the floor, "Tell me, girl. Are you always this careless?" he asked as he gazed at her soaked hem.
Alexandra looked away from his expensive boots and tried not to seem rude, "I am sorry, my Lord. I will clean it immediately." She replied and when she realized that he didn't intend to turn his gaze elsewhere she averted her eyes first.
He huffed and then turned to his desk, "Clean up quickly then. Or better, let Alcock do it." He said as he threw his coat over an armchair and placed his cane on the desk. He headed for the liquor cabinet by the corner and when he opened it and found it empty he turned to her.
"Make yourself useful and fetch me wine." He said as he slammed the cabinet shut.
When she didn't move he looked up at her and smirked, "Sometime soon, I hope."
His words made her feet move at last and she quickly stepped away from the wet floor and headed for the door.
The last thing she heard before she climbed down the stairs to the cellar was the Earl's irritated words.
"You fool! Why did you let her in?"
She sighed heavily.
A few days later…
The corridor was dark as Alexandra diminished the last candle in the hallway and headed for her room. Her feet thudded gently against the carpeted floor as she walked and as she passed by the Earl's study she picked up the pace.
A loud thud from inside alarmed her and she paused. She slowly turned and bit her lip before she headed for the door. As she peered inside the half open door her eyes widened at what she saw.
A woman was standing in the middle of the room and she was lacing up her bodice while Lord Rochester was sprawled onto the settee. He looked exhausted.
His clothes were disheveled and from what she could see he held the familiar goblet in his hand. His head was thrown back against the pillows and he was staring at the ceiling as the blonde woman picked up her shawl and wrapped it around her shoulders.
"Goodnight, John. Sleep." The woman said softly but the Earl did not respond, as if he hadn't heard her.
With a sigh the woman headed for the door and Alexandra jumped back and away from the doorway.
It was of no use however, because the woman had already seen her.
"Hello." She greeted with a small, guarded smile.
Alexandra turned to face her, "Good evening." She inclined her head.
The woman gazed at her with amusement and from her appearance Alexandra could tell that she was no noblewoman.
"You are the maid?" the woman asked and Alexandra nodded.
"Perhaps you can put him to bed then? He's pissed." The blonde woman looked longingly towards the study, "He won't let me." She shrugged before she turned and walked away, her crimson dress flowing behind her.
Alexandra watched her go with confusion before she thought over the woman's words. She mostly avoided her master but what if he was in need of help?
Stifling a sigh, she smoothed her skirt and walked into the study with determination.
As she walked in, the scent of alcohol and another musky smell hang heavily in the air.
Alexandra was not dimwitted. She knew what Lord Rochester had been doing with the woman but it was not her place to judge or think. She was there to serve.
As she got closer to him, his eyes snapped open and he gazed straight at her. His dark gaze startled her.
"You." He murmured as he let his head fall back against the pillows again, "What do you want?" he muttered as he quickly pulled the flap of his breeches over, trying to button them quite unsuccessfully.
"Shall I help your Lordship to bed?" she asked as she walked over and looked at his poor attempts of making himself presentable again.
He paused and looked up at her before he ceased his attempts to close his breeches and beckoned her over with two fingers.
"Right this and be gone." He muttered as he let his eyes close again, his hand falling limply over the back of the settee again.
Alexandra swallowed hard but approached him nonetheless. She leaned over and quickly, well as quickly as her shaky hands could allow her, righted his breeches and then quickly pulled her hands away. He did not move and she reached over to take the goblet from his hand. His hand jerked under hers and he opened his eyes to glare at her.
"Leave that." He muttered as he sat slightly up and pulled his hand away.
Alexandra recoiled at his tone and pursed her lips, "Shall I-…"
"You shall do nothing." He cut her off sharply as he raised his eyes to her flushed face, "Stop pestering me like Jane did. Get out." He muttered as he leaned over and grabbed the bottle of wine. He poured more of the red liquid into his glass and brought it to his lips. He paused, however, when he saw her lingering. He noticed how her eyes settled on the scattered papers on the floor and he sneered.
"Do you need a written command to do as I say?" he snapped and she startled, "I doubt you can even read." He muttered and she narrowed her eyes.
She had the sudden urge to speak her mind but she repressed it and kept her mouth shut.
"Excuse me. My Lord." She bowed slightly and he looked at her over the rim of his goblet as she made her retreat.
She pulled the door shut and leaned momentarily against it.
"You would be surprised to find that I can indeed read, my Lord." She muttered angrily before she walked away with her head held high.
End of chapter 1
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Xxx Lina :)