“He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.” – Bob Marley
I stared at his captivating brown eyes, then his thin firm lips… inviting to be kissed. I wondered how it would feel kissing those lips. Would it be deliciously warm and moist just like what I’d read in romance novels?
I ran my fingertips from his dark brown, unruly hair to his ruggedly handsome face… the sensation I felt made me shiver. Then I touched his lips… feeling him… and very slowly I brought the picture frame close to my face and kissed his sensual lips.
I jolted, hearing Mrs. Diaz’ voice behind me and accidentally, the picture frame escaped from my grasp and went crashing down onto the tiled floor. The loud sound of broken glass make me squirm.
Darn! I broke the picture frame.
I cupped my face with both hands in disbelief. My eyes widened in shock. Oh… I’m in trouble now. I hope this is not a rare piece.
“Oh dear…” Mrs. Diaz shook her head and looked at me disappointedly. She was in her fifties and the head among us housekeepers in the Niarchos mansion. Yep, she was strict when it came to our work but overall she was nice and motherly.
“I… I’m sorry, Mrs. Diaz. I… I’ll replace this.” I stuttered and my fingers played with the lace at the edge of the apron of my black and white maid uniform.
“You can’t afford it, dear. This is an antique frame. But don’t worry, I’ll explain it to Mr. Niarchos, I’m sure he’ll understand. He always does anyway.”
I felt bad about myself. It was my second day at work in the mansion and I had already broken a picture frame. That wouldn’t give my employer a good impression. I just hoped Dad wouldn’t find out about this. He would surely get mad at me.
“Just clean this mess, dear. I’ll go upstairs to look for an empty picture frame.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Diaz. I promise, I’ll be very careful next time.”
“You should because we’re surrounded with priceless rare pieces here.”
I nodded sheepishly and watched Mrs. Diaz go upstairs.
I worked as a housekeeper at the Niarchos mansion while waiting to hear about the jobs I’d applied for in Manhattan – mostly clerical and cashier jobs.
Dad helped me get the job at the mansion. He also worked here as a gardener and oftentimes fixed minor problems like leaking roofs, clogged sinks, loose wiring and so on. During weekends when some of the guards were off duty, he helped secure the mansion.
I recently graduated from a public high school here in New York. Since Dad couldn’t afford to enrol me in a university, I had no choice but to work – to save money for my tuition fees. I dreamed of becoming a pediatrician, but I knew it would be impossible because medical courses were quite expensive. I guess I’ll have to settle for an affordable degree course like being a prep school teacher, because I love children.
After a few minutes, Mrs. Diaz came back holding a brass picture frame. I was also done getting rid of the broken pieces of glass on the floor and put aside the ceramic frame that was now in two pieces.
“I think this will do. I found it in the Rose room.”
The Rose room. It was one of the guest rooms in the mansion overlooking the gazebo, the pond and the rose garden. The furnishings were so feminine and elegant, with touches of red and gold everywhere. I cleaned the room the day before and instantly fell in love with it.
I took the picture of a young man, which I had put on top of the classic console table a while back, and gave it to Mrs. Diaz. I watched her put the picture inside the frame and set it on top of the table together with the other picture frames.
I was waiting for the right timing to ask her something. When she was done, I finally got the courage to ask her.
“Mrs. Diaz… Can I ask you a favor?”
Her eyebrows rose a little. “What is it, dear?”
“Can we… um… keep this a secret from Dad. I don’t want him to get mad. He’ll have me grounded for a month.” Actually, I was also thinking of my best friend’s birthday party that I was excited about attending in a few weeks.
“Of course. It will be our little secret.” Mrs. Diaz gave me a reassuring smile.
“Thank you. That means a lot to me.” I didn’t know what came over me, but I hugged her. I probably missed my mom.
She hugged me back then patted my shoulder. “I saw you kissing Sir Ares’ picture.”
I stiffened and moved out of her arms. The blood began to pound in my temples. I was embarrassed.
“No. It wasn’t like that. I just… um… blew the dirt off the glass.”
“Really?” She raised one eyebrow. “Oh dear, I saw you. I think you have a crush on him. Well, I can’t blame you. Sir Ares is a very handsome young man and the heir to the Niarchos fortune. Crushes are fine, its normal for a young girl like you, BUT, just don’t get your hopes up or you’ll end up hurting yourself. Men like Ares Niarchos don’t marry low-class girls, so stay away from him.”
Ouch! What Mrs. Diaz said was the truth.
The truth hurts. I’m a low-class girl so… back to work.
??? Close your eyes give me your hand, darling
Do you feel my heart beating?
Do you understand, do you feel the same?
Am I only dreaming, is this burning an eternal flame?
Close your eyes, give me your hand, darling ???
I was surprised when someone clapped behind me. I turned around and saw my employer for the first time, Mr. John Niarchos, a Greek billionaire and shipping magnate, now in his seventies.
“Wow, you have a beautiful voice.”
I felt my cheeks warm with embarrassment, having been caught singing inside the library room by my employer. I was cleaning the room and everything was so quiet, so I sang to ease the boredom.
“Thank you sir, um… I didn’t know that you had already arrived. Excuse me sir.” I grabbed the rags and the furniture spray cleaner in a hurry. It was in the house rules that housemaids should keep away from our employer’s sight. And now, I had violated it.
“Don’t go. Just finish what you’re doing,” he said and sat down on a classic armchair. “Are you Gregory’s daughter?”
“I didn’t know that he had a beautiful and talented daughter. You should audition for American Idol. You really have a nice voice.” He leaned back on the chair and focused his attention on me.
“Thank you sir but I’m not really that confident… I only sing in private.”
“You mean in the shower.” He was laughing now. “What’s your name?”
“Rachel.” I wiped the shelf and put the books into it.
“Hmm… Rachel. That’s a nice name. How old are you?”
“I just turned eighteen, sir.”
It was becoming so awkward, talking to my employer – and all the more so when he asked me to sit on the couch across from him. He was asking me a lot of questions, mostly personal – where I studied, my plan on going to university, about my parents and other things. I felt like I was being interviewed for a job.
“What songs do you usually sing?”
I was caught off guard when he shifted the topic about songs again. “I sing different kind of songs. Usually modern songs, but I also like old songs, um… mostly by Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey. ”
“That’s nice. Can you sing for me, Rachel?”
The following day, I was at the breakfast table with Mr. Niarchos. I was reading the morning paper to him while he was having breakfast. Suddenly we were interrupted by a cheerful tune. Bothered by the interruption, Mr. Niarchos grabbed his phone from his pants pocket.
“Ares.” Mr. Niarchos answered his phone.
My heart jolted hearing Ares’ name. I felt excited all of a sudden; a jolt of energy ran through me.
“When is that? Okay, I’ll be there. What about your dad? That’s great.” Mr. Niarchos continued talking to his grandson and I was there, listening. I wished I could hear Ares’ voice. I wanted to know if his voice was deep, cool and soothing to the ears or strong but velvet-edged.
“That was Ares, my grandson.” Mr. Niarchos said when he put down the phone. “I’m going to attend his graduation this Saturday. He’s taking up engineering at Yale University. I’m very happy that finally, he’ll be coming home to run the family business.”
“Oh… I’m sure you’re so proud of him.” I replied.
“Yeah, I am. He’s a brilliant kid but sometimes hardheaded and opinionated. He loves to break the rules.” He laughed. “Ares is good at boxing and martial arts… The only thing I’m not happy with about my boy is his love for motor racing. It’s too risky.”
I enjoyed listening to Mr. Niarchos talking about Ares. The more he talked about him, the more fascinated I became.
Yep, I found Ares very good-looking in the picture and I reacted strongly to him. He looked so hot and yet mysterious.
What will happen when I see him in person? How will I react?
Crush. Infatuation. Like. Love.
I didn’t know the difference.
All I knew was that everything about Ares Niarchos fascinated me. Any information about him was like music to my ears. I tried to stalk his social media accounts… unfortunately I couldn’t find even one, though.
Through Google, I found out the story about Ares’ parents. They got divorced after eight years of marriage. His father, Owen Niarchos was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. John Niarchos, and now residing in Hong Kong, managing his chain of hotels and casinos. He was not interested in running their multi-billion dollar shipping business because it was not his passion and it bored him to death. Ares’ mother Caitlyn Niarchos was once a famous model. She enjoyed an easy life and loved to travel on different continents with her photographer boyfriend. Mr. John Niarchos and his late wife took care of Ares after the divorce.
I was exhausted after four days of waking up at four in the morning. I had to be at the mansion before six to read the newspaper to Mr. Niarchos.
Mr. Niarchos noticed my tiredness. He told me to stay at the mansion while I was working with him. I accepted the offer because I thought I would be staying in the servants’ quarter. I was surprised when he said that he would tell Mrs. Diaz to prepare the Rose room for me.
“You’re staying in a guest room in the mansion?” My dad, Gregory White, said when I told him about Mr. Niarchos offer.
“That’s what Mr. Niarchos said.”
“Why?” Dad looked very suspicious. “When you can stay at the servant’s quarter.”
“But he offered me the Rose room. It will be an insult if I reject his offer.”
“You’re not going to stay in that room. I’ll tell Mrs. Diaz that you’ll be in the servant’s quarter.”
“What? Oh no, Dad. Please don’t do that.”
Dad scolded me. Since Mom left us six years ago, he had become bitter and miserable. He got mad at me easily and sometimes I didn’t understand why. I knew he hadn’t been able to move on yet.
Brrring! Brrring! Brrring! (Phone ringing)
I groaned out loud and looked at the wall clock. It was still four in the morning. Who could be ringing so early? Mr. Niarchos was not even home. He was in Connecticut to attend his grandson’s graduation.
I reached for the antique phone on the bedside table, but it stopped ringing.
I rolled my body sleepily on the very elegant queen bed that I had started sleeping five days before. It was so hard not to fall in love with the room. Everything was so luxurious and beautiful. The bed was so comfortable, not like my bed at home that had a sagging mattress and coil springs I could feel on my back. The curtains were long and layered, and made of satin and lace; the Persian carpet was so soft on my feet and the wooden bedposts had pretty carvings of roses and each end had solid brass ball finials. I felt like a princess in a fairy tale movie staying here. Thanks to Mrs. Diaz, she talked to Dad and told him that it was Mr. Niarchos’ order that I should stay in the Rose room.
Brrring! Brrring! Brrring!
The phone was ringing again. I took the receiver with my sleepy hands. “He…lloooo?”
“Rachel! Wake up.”
It was Mrs. Diaz.
“Mr. Niarchos is at the airport.”
“It’s still four am. I read the morning papers at six.” I said with a sleepy voice.
“Wake up dear, Sir Ares is with him. I already changed the linen in Sir Ares’ room. You need to wipe the tables and the drawers.”
He’s here! Ares Niarchos is here!
I was wide-awake in an instant, like I’d been splashed with iced water. Something intense flared deep inside me, a feeling that I could not explain. I was so excited that I would finally be seeing him in person.
“I’ll be there in a sec, Mrs. Diaz.”
I ran to the bathroom and took a two-minute bath, then changed into my black and white maid’s uniform.
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