"I am a monster, Miss Hart. You wouldn't want nor wish to see me..." He is mysterious and brilliant, wealthy and prominent, but no single soul has seen him in person. Well, no one should see him—that's one of his many rules. No one can touch him either; that's another rule. Except for me because I have broken every rule. Now I'm extremely drawn to him. His peculiarity is out of this world, and his beauty is beyond physical. But the Master has demons of his own and is being chased by his brutal past. Suddenly, we've become the reflection of each other's nightmares. I realize that the Master and I are not so different. Is this newly found bond just another uncertain fate that could deepen our wounds, or is it finally going to be our redemption?
“You must never enter Master Brandon’s bedroom or his study. He’s not a very patient man. He allows no one in his room. You can do whatever you want in the house but never go inside his private space unless you are permitted to do so. Do you understand?” Ms. Lennie warns. It is clear in her pale cerulean eyes how serious she is.
The head housemaid's hair is ash-colored and seems as if it has been tied in a bun forever. She has a strong countenance and is about five-foot-five. If I had to guess, I’d say she is in her late fifties.
“I understand.” I gulp and nod.
I always do research before job interviews, so I know a little about the ‘Master.’ He’s twenty-eight, a self-made billionaire, and the sole owner and chairman of Grethe and Elga Enterprises, a telecommunications and electronic consumer company headquartered in Manhattan.
But his family background, where he graduated, and his face are all a mystery. No single soul has seen him in person. He never shows up anywhere public and never attends any important events. I can’t help but wonder why.
Does he have a disease? Is he allergic to sunrise? A vampire? I want to know.
“Um, Ms. Lennie? I just want to ask...”
“Yes, Miss Hart?” she turns, acknowledging the hesitation in my voice. We stop in the middle of a long stairway.
“Does he really not come out?”
She meets my gaze. “One more thing: this is the last time you will ask me that.”
Is that a yes? I swallow again.
As we continue to the curve of the staircase, I can’t help but admire the mansion’s grandeur. I didn’t know mansions still existed in New York City, but that’s not so surprising if you walk to the posh end of the Upper East Side.
The house’s neoclassical architecture enchants me. Although it’s undeniably old, modernity is still present. The enormous chandeliers brighten the hall, and the floors are so clean it seems as though no single speck of dirt has ever touched them. Yet I can’t miss the dark gray draperies covering the tall windows, as if they’re there to prevent the light from coming in. And the silence of the surroundings is deafening—making the place seem lonely and empty.
However, the walls display expensive art pieces and oil canvases. I lean close to one—a beautiful scene of a majestic pine tree covered in snow. But what captures my attention the most is the portrait of a handsome young man hanging in the center of the space. He has dark hair, chiseled jaws, piercing gray eyes, a perfectly aligned nose, a mouth made for kissing, and an utterly stoic expression.
“Ms. Lennie, who’s he?” I mumble.
She spins and throws me a warning look but doesn’t answer. After a long walk, we stop in front of a hand-carved wooden door on the second floor. Ms. Lennie draws out a bunch of keys from her pocket and chooses one.
“The Master wants you to use this room. You’re fortunate. The rooms in this passage are for the guests,” she says as she unlocks the door and hands me a key. “Here’s your duplicate,” she explains. Her expression is still blank.
Does she even know how to smile?
“Thanks. I’ll just settle my things inside.” I smile, wondering if she would smile back. Predictably, she didn’t.
“Your job starts tomorrow, but I’ll meet you in the living room in one hour. I’ll give you a house tour.”
“Of course. Thank you.” I smile, then open the door.