Lydia went downstairs, meeting Hannah in the kitchen. Her cousin was whisking some eggs as she entered.
“You and Jasmine, eh?” she teased, as she poured the eggs into the heated skillet. The pan sizzled upon contact.
Lydia gave her an annoyed look.
“Not even a ‘good morning’ first?” she retorted sarcastically. Jasmine was in the bathroom, showering and freshening up.
“Looks like someone doesn’t want to spill,” Hannah smirked, adding diced bell peppers to the pan.
“Well, should anything have happened between us, it’s our business…”
“Aha! So you two did do something last night?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“But you insinuated.”
Lydia groaned. Her cousin could be so nosy sometimes.
“Yes, I guess you could say that we did get intimate…”
Hannah squealed excitedly, which got a death glare from Lydia.
“Give me the details.”
“Nope, no can do.”
“Oh, come on!”
Lydia glared threateningly, albeit somewhat apprehensively as well. Hannah saw the pained expression on her face and softened her approach.
“Sorry, Lyddie. Shouldn’t have pried too much…”
“Yeah, well…I guess it happened all too fast. And perhaps I’m not ready for, for…”
Lydia cringed at the word, but nodded. She leaned forward against the countertop, placing her hands on her forehead.
Hannah put the spatula down and walked down to her cousin. She placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.
“Seems a bit too much to take in, I suppose?”
“Yeah, really is,” Lydia mumbled, standing upright. She turned to face her cousin, who was almost her height.
“Well, I don’t have an answer for you. On what to do, that is. But I will say that if I were you, I would just let this happen—”
“This…thing! Relationship, love, whatever you want to call it. Jasmine seems to really like you, and she wants to get to know you. Perhaps open up to her more, be more receptive…because I know, and she knows, that you like her, too.”
Lydia grimaced, but nodded.
“Look, you’re shy, Lyddie. And you struggle to express yourself. You didn’t have your parents to give you advice growing up. But you have us: me, my mom, and now Jasmine. Who love you and want you to be your own self. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Lydia nodded again. While she still wasn’t fully convinced of what Hannah was saying, she felt a bit more self-assured. Yes, she knew she liked Jasmine, and that Jasmine liked her. But to keep what had just started for them going, she was afraid of messing it up. But her cousin was right; she had to open up and take a risk, because otherwise she wouldn’t know otherwise what would happen if she didn’t.
She swallowed. Despite being intimidated by Jasmine’s beauty, she knew that she had to trust herself to show the servant girl that she wasn’t nervous to be around her, that she wanted to be with her, too.
The smell of something burning filled the kitchen. Cursing, Hannah raced to the stove to kill the heat and immediately removed the pan from the stovetop. The eggs were burnt.
“Yikes, well…guess I have to make them all over again,” Hannah shook her head, laughing embarrassingly. She went to the refrigerator to get more eggs; she opened the door and, after rummaging around inside, shook her head once more and closed the door.
“Looks like we’re all out!” she announced with a flourish.
“What is it you’re out of?” Lydia heard Jasmine’s soft voice drifting in. She turned around and saw that Jasmine was done showering—she had already put on her dress that’d dried the night before, and her hair was done up in a long ponytail. Her curious eyes followed between the two girls, waiting for an answer.
Hannah looked at Lydia, raising an eyebrow. Lydia cleared her throat.
“Um, Hannah burnt the eggs we were supposed to have for breakfast. And we’re out of eggs in the fridge…”
“…so there’s no eggs for today!” Hannah finished, bursting out in laughter. “My bad, sorry!”
The servant girl laughed.
“Not a problem, Hannah. I’m sure you didn’t mean to.”
“Yeah, well, I still would like to have eggs for breakfast. Say, why don’t we all head out to town? Maybe the tavern’s open for the day; we could get eggs there. And then get eggs at the market afterwards? Beats staying here on our day off. My treat, Jasmine.”
“Yes, that sounds like a good idea,” the servant girl nodded. “Would you be interested, Lydia?” She turned to her. Lydia looked at her large eyes, where she detected a twinkle to them. She reminded herself to be more open and, despite the blush creeping to her face, she nodded affirmatively.
“Great! It’s settled,” Hannah took off the kitchen apron. “Let me just go change into something more presentable and get my purse. Give me a minute, girls.”
“Let me change, too,” Lydia added, as she was still in her pajamas. She raced to her room, quickly changing into her public attire, which was a plain, slightly-faded grey dress she usually wore for selling potatoes at the market or when attending to dinner parties hosted by her aunt. Not the most-flattering piece of clothing she had, but presentable enough for a day out in town.
…to be continued…
— The Finicky Cynic
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