I had always endeavored to be an honorable man and butler, one beyond reproach.
How could I have made such a grave mistake–and let my baser instincts overpower my butler’s honor?
It all began when Master Straud was away on business, and I took it upon myself to keep an eye on the manse…
All was quiet, as it should be. I was grateful for a reprieve from Miss Strider’s disastrous messes in the kitchen, and a lack of Lady Dru’s errands to perform in her stead.
Ah, sweet ignorance…
How could I have ever expected to be greeted by such a sight…?
Never in my immortal existence had I seen such an outrageous brassiere… Only a pair of flowers concealed her most ladylike secrets.
Why couldn’t I look away?
In truth, my experience with lady’s undergarments was limited–aside from the ones Ophelia had constantly left lying about–as I’d never let any of my relationships pass the point of impropriety, at Mother’s behest.
“Oh, Leo! Are you supposed to help me house-sit? …Leo?”
I was uncertain as to where to permit my gaze to rest…
A wave of intense dizziness washed over me. Why had all the strength gone out of my vampiric knees?
I fell forward, using Miss Strider’s delicate, womanly body to break my fall…
I fear my hands–although gloved–touched a great deal more than I intended…
I attempted to recover the strength to rise, however…
I was repeatedly struck by waves of dizziness, my vision blurring–as though it were some sort of divine punishment for resting my eyes where a gentleman should never dare…
I could barely stand, and yet stand I did…
Did my hands graze against her skin in an unacceptable manner…?
I could only beg for Mother’s forgiveness as I unintentionally manhandled this innocent maiden…
“Um, should I get you something to eat, maybe…?” she asked, as I covered my eyes in shame. But to avoid examining her body…or my own misdeeds?
No, I was a Lyons. I couldn’t look away from my mistakes, no matter how unforgivable.
“I promise to take responsibility,” I told her, my head spinning. “I will restore your honor and do everything in my power to keep your virtue intact…”
And then I committed the most unforgivable act of all and drew her into a kiss…
Or did it progress further…? My memory was so hazy, likely brought on by the shock and the sheer impropriety. Regardless, I had conducted myself most shamefully, and it was a poor, innocent young lady who was paying the price.
Somehow, I awoke in my own bed in my butler quarters.
Mother and Father hadn’t so much as held hands until the day they wed, and yet I…I had very nearly taken Miss Strider there on Master Straud’s fainting couch. I had never suspected that such an irrational, uncontrollable beast dwelled within me.
Father would be so very disappointed in me. I aspired to be like him in all things, and yet… I’d stained the Lyons name.
Father… Yes, he would know precisely what to do.
“Father,” I began, after answering the series of questions Mother always insisted he ask if any of us called. “If I were to ever have made a terrible mistake…perhaps involving soiling a lady’s virtue…” I swallowed. “I haven’t conducted myself as a proper butler should.”
Father was silent a moment. “Leopold… You’re my son–and a Lyons. I have faith in you to make things right, just as I did with your mother.”
“You behaved improperly toward Mother?”
I simply couldn’t imagine such a scenario, especially when Mother had always insisted that I never lay a hand on any of the girls I brought home. Was it because of past experiences with Father…? Had she been living with the shame for all these years?
He cleared his throat. “I, ah, perhaps took certain liberties with her that a man shouldn’t, not without the promise of marriage…but I set everything aright by asking for her hand with all due haste.”
My unbeating heart sank. I’d known all along what I should do, but he confirmed it. “Thank you, Father. I won’t be a blight upon the Lyons name.”
I hadn’t expected to reach this point in my unlife so quickly; I’d planned to wait until I was far more established in my career, and after an acceptably lengthy courtship.
It was all happening entirely too fast…
Despite Master Straud’s continued absence, I found Miss Strider preparing food in the kitchen. Today, I would avoid clearing my throat or giving pointed glances in her general vicinity in order to reprimand her for her untidy habits… I had no right to, after my shameful behavior.
Was I hallucinating, or would I forever be reminded of my misdeeds…?
I blinked away the image of Miss Strider in her undergarments, her untamed hair flowing all around her slim shoulders.
“You have nothing to fear, Miss Strider,” I promised her. “I’ll…I’ll do everything in my power to ease your burden… I won’t let you down…”
“Oh, Leo, you’re soooo sweet. I’m so glad we’re getting closer! I thought you hated me.”
Hated her…because of the way I disrespected her, pawing her with white gloves that would never be clean again? After that, how could she offer me such a sweet, lovely smile?
I excused myself–I had something very important to take care of.
Fortunately, there was no shortage of jewelry shops in Starlight Shores…
Though I doubted I would be able to afford much in this place on my meager salary…still, I would make amends to Miss Strider. She deserved more than a pitiful rock.
But was I prepared to be a husband…?
I would soon find out. But I was a Lyons, and I would do well to remember that.