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“So, Miss Luciya I hope that you understood what is expected of you as the new housekeeper. Just keep everything clean and do not ever go inside the attic, it is private property. Do your job well… oh and I forgot to mention you must take good care of the flora in the garden, most of them are rare species and can die out if they are not tended to properly.” “Yes, ma’am”, she replied confidently to the beautiful Mrs Sallow, the mistress of the grand, but old Sallow manor. “Good, your room is this way”. She showed Lucy the room she was to stay in while she was there, which was not long, only for 3 months; she had never intended to work in a household, but when the notice said Sallow it all changed; everyone knew that the young couple was the most wealthy in all of the United Kingdom and by the end of the 3 months, provided that she managed to not get fired like the past ladies, she would be a fairly wealthy woman. “Mrs Sallow, I’m sorry, but where is Mr Sallow?” “He is none of your business, you will see him only at mealtimes”, she replied coldly, but Lucy did not let those words deter her, after all, they were paying her what normally would be the earnings of a doctor!

After Yvette (as Lucy found out) Sallow had left her on her own, Luciya started unpacking her suitcases in the grand bedroom which was to be hers; it had looked fit for a king! She changed her clothes to the old fashioned gown which her young mistress had given her; she had insisted that as long as she stayed with them, she was supposed to wear them, which was not that much of a problem as the gown looked lovely, like the ones Lucy had seen princesses wear in movies, but it was nothing compared to the one Mrs Sallow was wearing, no it made the gown look like rags. After she was done putting on the light violet gown, she set to work, starting with the garden. She was quite marvelled by what she saw, the garden in itself was the size of a ballroom and it had a variety of flowers, she even saw ones which glowed in the dark evening sky; she felt like she entered a fairytale. She started watering them, but when she stopped when she reached certain… er… flowers, it looked more like crowns to her; it was a deep shade of red, a lot like dried blood actually. She was fascinated by it and reached out to touch it when “Don’t you dare!”, she was interrupted by a deep voice from behind and she was so startled by this that she dropped the watering can, it made such a long noise that cut through the darkness that she got a double shock. When she turned around to see who spoke all she saw was a long silhouette, one moment and it was gone…

She got such a shock that she ran to her room and locked the doors, lighted all of the candles, eliminating every bit of the darkness, only then she was sure that she was safe. Her mistress was a sweet lady and she had the cook prepare steak to welcome the new housekeeper, but Lucy was too shocked by the encounter in the dark that she did not turn up, disappointing Yvette. Lucy had to force herself to sleep that night as she had a long day in front of her and almost succeeded but was sharply awaken by a gunshot in the woods. She ran to her mistresses’ bedroom to find that she was quite awake and was pouring herself a cup of wine; Mrs Sallow was happy to see Lucy, missing her during dinner and offered her wine which she accepted, she did not normally drink but she was scared enough for one day.

When she asked Yvette about the gunshot, which had not stopped after the first, she thought she saw a frightened look pass her face, “Oh, Ivor, no, Mr Sallow, must have been out hunting with the hounds”, she said simply as if talking about the weather, then she added seeing Lucy’s face turn pale, “Oh dear, do not worry, it is only normal for him to hunt a stag once in a while, you see the Sallows are all legendary hunters”. So that must have been Mr Sallow she came across this evening she thought with relief, she had expected it to be a ghost or something. She spent a good amount of the night talking with Yvette, but at the stroke of midnight in the old grandfather clock, Yvette quickly shooed her away, Ivor was going to be back any second; Lucy noticed that whenever her husband was mentioned Yvette turned into a scared little kitten…

In the morning Lucy was again disturbed in her sleep by continuous rapping on the door and when she opened it she saw a tall and handsome man with piercing grey eyes, “Good morning, may I come in?” the stranger asked; she almost jumped in fright, it was the same voice she heard in the garden yesterday, it was very rough and raspy that she did not expect the speaker to be so… well, prince-like. He came inside and sat on the edge of the four-poster bed, she noticed that his hands were gloved. “So you are Miss Luciya, Ivy…er… Yvette never told me that you would be so careless, well I am so sorry to give you such a fright yesterday, but really you must be more cautious while handling my toys, they can be quite lethal I assure you, and you were going to touch corona! Corona my sweet, is a Queen and you are not to touch a Queen with bare hands, she bites, you see. Oh, I am Ivor Sallow, silly of me to leave that out, well never go around touching my pets with your naked hands, here you go.” He took out gloves similar to the leather ones he was wearing out of his coat pocket, she accepted them. Lucy was quite baffled by what just happened but managed a meek thank you.

She didn’t gather until two years later that she was walking on glass the other evening, not until global panic had been declared due to COVID-19, corona her old friend, the Queen had started her conquest…

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