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Lost and Found (Part 13)
The meal only consisted of salad and gratin, but the three girls found it to be plenty. They continued their conversation as they ate, mostly with Hannah asking many questions to Jasmine about her life with the Singhs,’ and with the servant girl asking Hannah about her life growing up on the homestead with Lydia’s aunt.
Lydia didn’t talk much, as she didn’t know what to say. She always let her cousin do the talking whenever they had guests over, as Hannah was a natural at entertaining. She put people at-ease with her bright smile and bubbly personality, traits which Lydia greatly admired about her. Only did she wish that she could be as comfortable around people as Hannah.
Following dinner, the girls enjoyed an apple tart that Lydia had made a few days prior. Soon enough, they finished dinner and set about clearing the table.
“Let me take care of the dishes tonight,” Hannah offered as she gathered up the plates, placing them on the casserole dish to carry to the kitchen. Lydia raised an eyebrow in surprise—rarely did her cousin ever offered to wash dishes after meals. She usually left the dish-washing to Lydia, as she would often continue to entertain her guests in the common room.
“Why this sudden change of heart?” Lydia asked jokingly, putting a hand on her hip. “You never volunteer to do dishes.”
Hannah smiled mischievously, leaning in and lowering her voice.
“Consider this a favor,” she responded quietly. “More time to do her.” Hannah’s chin pointed towards Jasmine, who was collecting the dirty silverware they’d used.
Lydia shot her an annoyed look.
“It’s not like that, Hannah…”
“…but it might be,” her cousin retorted playfully, having too much fun teasing her. Lydia sighed exasperatedly, but took the opportunity to let her clean up this time.
She headed over to Jasmine, who was about to bring the silverware to the kitchen.
“Hannah said she’ll wash up, so we don’t have to,” Lydia informed her.
“Is she sure?” Jasmine asked, slightly surprised. “I don’t mind helping out.”
“No, it’s okay!” Hannah called out from the kitchen. Lydia heard her turn on the faucet, to begin washing. “Just bring the silverware over, and you’re good!”
Jasmine thanked her cousin, bringing them to the kitchen as Lydia headed out to the patio outside, taking a seat on the bench. The servant girl returned, and took a seat next to her. Lydia looked down at her own hands, clasped together, unsure what to say or do.
“What do you and Hannah tend to do after dinner?” Jasmine asked. Lydia felt her large brown eyes look at her intently, although she couldn’t bring herself to look at them.
“Uh, well, we usually go out to the front porch. Drink gin and watch the sunset.”
Jasmine looked up at the window. The last of the sun had just gone down, the skies fading into a dark-navy night.
“I guess we were too late,” she remarked. She looked at the nearly-empty gin bottle, most of which Hannah had consumed. “…as well as the gin.”
“Seems that way,” Lydia smiled. She stretched out her legs, slightly sore from work, welcoming the burn in the process.
There was a moment of silence, as the two girls watched the town gradually light up for the night.
“Must be nice to see this each evening,” Jasmine remarked.
“It is,” Lydia nodded in response. “Been seeing this since I moved here.”
“You didn’t see this at your old place?”
“No, not really. It was across the river, further away from town. Don’t remember much, really. House was sold off quickly before I turned ten–,” Lydia stopped abruptly, remembering her parents.
Jasmine slid closer to her, gently placing a hand on her leg. Lydia flinched at the contact, but didn’t move away.
“It’s okay, Lydia. You don’t have to say anymore.”
She nodded again, letting the silence take over again. The girls watched the skies get darker, along with the town lights getting brighter. Jasmine rested her head against her shoulder; although Lydia felt nervous with the intimacy, she also embraced it.
“Shall we go inside?” Lydia asked a few moments later. The night was starting to get chilly. Jasmine nodded, and they made their way back into the house. Before entering, the servant girl reached out to take her hand. Again, she was startled, but allowed her to grasp it; she felt the small, but warm hand comfort her as they headed into the kitchen to check on her cousin.
Hannah was just finishing drying the last plate when they entered. She saw the two girls standing next to each other hand-in-hand. Lydia detected a mild surprise from her before she smiled acceptingly.
“Any plans for tonight?” her cousin asked Jasmine.
The servant girl shook her head.
“Not much. Although I should get back to town…”
“…at this hour?!” Hannah interrupted, surprised. “It’s too dark to head back; it’s miles away!”
“Well, I ought to meet with the other servant girls in town. We had planned to meet up for a drink, so I don’t think I should miss it…”
“I’m sure that they won’t mind you missing out,” Hannah replied, waving a dismissive hand. “Way too cold to go out, and it’s going to get even darker in the next hour. You said you’re off for the weekend? Just stay with us. My mom’s not here, and you got Lyddie to keep you company…” Hannah flashed her cousin a sly look, which she returned warningly.
“Would it not be a problem?” she asked, turning to Lydia. She looked into the servant girl’s soulful eyes, her heart beating quickly once more.
“Uh, no. Not at all,” she responded, clearing her throat. “You can take my bed; I’ll take the couch.”
Jasmine smiled. Lydia noticed the slight dimple on her left cheek, which she hadn’t noticed before. Probably because she rarely looked at her when she spoke. Because she was too shy and nervous around her. She gave her a small smile in return.
“All right,” Hannah clapped her hands. “I’m spent. I’ll give you girls your space. If you need anything, Jasmine, I’ll be in my room. Or maybe you could ask Lyddie; I’m sure it’ll be faster…”
“Thank you, Hannah, for your hospitality. As well as with you, Lydia,” the servant girl responded, looking at Lydia tenderly. She felt her face heat up, and she hoped neither Jasmine nor Hannah recognized it.
“Great, nighty night!” Hannah grinned cheerfully. She skipped off to her room, leaving the two girls alone in the kitchen.
“Uh, well…” Lydia stammered after a second’s pause. “Let’s go to my room, and we can set up the bed for you.”
Jasmine agreed, and they took the stairs to the second floor.
“Pardon the mess. I usually don’t leave my room this messy…” Lydia said as they entered her bedroom. She swiped off a bundle of shirts and socks from the dresser and bunched them together before throwing them into a hamper behind the door.
“No worries,” the servant girl responded as Lydia hastily grabbed a jacket from the floor and tossed it into the hamper. “I like it; it’s cozy.”
The room had originally been for guests, before she came to stay. She hadn’t brought a lot with her during the move, as she’d given away most of her old clothes and toys to her friends in the neighborhood, whom she’d lost contact with years ago. Aside from a couple of books and a photo of her parents, there wasn’t much she’d accumulated over the years. Plus, the room wasn’t exactly big, as it was just enough to put a dresser, a small desk, and a twin-sized bed.
Jasmine sat gingerly on the edge of the bed as Lydia gathered up the last of her dirty clothes scattered in the room.
“Um, I’m going to shower quickly, and I’ll be right back to set up the bed for you. Is that okay?” Lydia asked while grabbing a pair of clean clothes.
“Yes, no problem,” Jasmine replied. “I’ll be here.”
Lydia headed out, shutting the bedroom door behind her before heading into the bathroom just across the hall. Sighing deeply, she stripped from her dirty work clothes and slid into the shower. She turned on the hot water, waiting a minute or two for it to heat up before placing her body into the water, welcoming and warm.
She let the water slide down her shoulders, making its way down to the curve of her back. She undid her taut single braid, letting out her usually coarse, brown hair. Lydia loved how the water dampened her hair, making it straight and smooth, as well as easier to control. By the time it dried, though, it was back to its wild, uncontrollable self, which is when she would tie it back up again.
Lydia did the usual routine of shampooing her hair and applying soap to the rest of her body before rinsing and drying off. She threw on a loose T-shirt and pajamas before heading back to her bedroom.
Jasmine was still sitting on the edge of her bed when she entered. She looked up, her large brown eyes regarding Lydia in a way she saw was how she’d regarded her that afternoon, as well as at the Singhs’. It was a mixture of curiosity and tenderness, and she couldn’t help but be drawn to her.
“You all right?” Lydia asked tentatively. Jasmine blinked, snapping back to attention.
“Um, yes,” Jasmine shook her head. “Pardon me, but I must be a bit tired.”
“Yes, it’s been a long day,” Lydia remarked. She realized that she was standing rather awkwardly next to her dresser, still holding her dirty clothes in her hands. She tossed them into the hamper by the door.
The servant girl got up. As if time slowed down, she walked up to her, without breaking eye contact. She stopped, and Lydia could feel her body heat just inches away from hers. Her heart began pounding, and she couldn’t control it.
Jasmine’s large eyes fixated on hers before they broke off. She bit her lip demurely, and Lydia felt her insides tingle, spreading all the way to her fingers and toes. This was too much, she thought. At the same time, she didn’t want it to stop.
Lydia saw Jasmine inch closer to her, hesitantly but also determinately. She swallowed nervously, feeling the anxiety slide down her throat to her stomach as she instinctively clenched her jaw.
“Um…” she stuttered. “Would you like to set up the bed now?” Her voice cracked slightly, as she forced herself to remain in control. Distracting herself with an obligation could work.
Jasmine’s eyes locked with hers once more, before lowering to her lips. The servant girl placed her hand on her cheek, rubbing it gently with her thumb. Lydia could feel her tremble slightly, and she could sense that it was a new experience for her, too.
“No, maybe later,” Jasmine replied softly, her voice barely above a whisper. Gingerly, her thumb moved to stroke her lips, which made her heart beat even faster. Any higher, and she didn’t know what would happen to her body.
“May I?” she whispered again, her eyes still fixated on her mouth. Lydia didn’t wait to respond, as she pressed her lips against hers. She couldn’t handle the tension anymore—if she had to kiss her to break it, she would do it.
She felt the servant girl taken by surprise as she took a step back, without breaking the kiss. As if by some incredible force, Jasmine pushed back, causing Lydia to back up against the dresser. She felt the uneven wooden frame hit her back, and she winced at the impact.
“Oh, I’m so sorry…” Jasmine gasped, as Lydia stopped to rub the area of her back where it’d hit the dresser.
“No, it’s okay,” she reassured her. “Just a small bump. I’ll be fine.” Instinctively, she chuckled at Jasmine’s concern—it really was not a big deal.
The servant girl relaxed, even giving a small giggle.
“Guess I’m a force to be reckoned with?” she teased, her eyes dancing in the dimly-lit bedroom. Lydia leaned in, smiling in agreement before giving a peck on the lips.
“Always,” she responded, as Jasmine slowly pressed her against the dresser and kissed her gently. Lydia felt her small hands comb through her semi-damp hair, massaging her scalp in-time to their kisses.
She placed her hands around her narrow waist, drawing her in. Despite Jasmine being a couple of inches shorter than her, Lydia found it to be just right as their bodies drew closer and closer together.
“You smell so good,” Jasmine murmured, her breath hot on her neck. Lydia could feel the heat pool between her legs; she’d never felt such a sensation before, which made her flush, but she allowed it to continue, each second of it growing and growing.
Fingers trembling, Lydia clumsily placed them on Jasmine’s hips, pushing them forward to guide them to the bed. Just before they reached the edge, the servant girl leaned forward suddenly, causing her to fall onto the bed first. Lydia gasped in surprise as her back hit the soft mattress.
“Can confirm that you’re a force, indeed,” Lydia teased as Jasmine laughed and joined her on the bed. They kissed again, before the servant girl slid to her side, snuggling against the crook of her arm.
Jasmine sighed deeply, with contentment. She looked up at her pensively.
“You probably think this is going too fast, but…I want to say that, well, I do like you…”
“No, no. It’s okay. I know you do…”
“Yes, but…I hope that I’m not being too, um, aggressive showing it?”
“Somewhat,” Lydia chuckled. “But I like it.” She turned to face the servant girl, feeling a newfound surge of confidence in herself. Something that she hadn’t felt since she was younger. She smiled, kissing her cheek as Jasmine returned it with a side smooch.
“So, uh…did you want to change the sheets for the bed to sleep on?” Lydia asked, suddenly remembering. She started to get up, but Jasmine gently stopped her.
“Actually,” she started. “Would it be fine if we just lay here like this? May I…could I hold you for the night?”
Lydia was slightly surprised, but nodded as she settled back into bed. She grabbed the blanket, draping it over the two of them.
“Goodnight,” Jasmine mumbled, closing her eyes.
“Goodnight, Jasmine,” Lydia responded, closing her own as well.
…to be continued…
— The Finicky Cynic
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