Dominique had been waiting nearly an hour in the parlor. She arrived a few moments before nine
o’clock as Joel had instructed. He’d undoubtedly forgotten their appointment, and just as Dominique
was on the verge of leaving, Joel ran about the corner, nearly stumbling into her. His eyes were
bloodshot, his hair comically mussed. Dominique’s look of surprise was not lost on Joel and he glanced
in a mirror across the room, cringing at the sight. His shirt was untucked and hopelessly wrinkled.
“Dominique, I am so sorry,” Joel gushed. “I don’t know what possessed me to invite you at such an
ungodly hour. Perhaps I assumed my father would be here. I did leave him a note about you, but he is
apparently already out on business.”
“It’s quite all right,” she replied. “Are you feeling well?”
“I’m not quite my usual self as yet. Perhaps in another two or three hours I shall be more
presentable.” Joel told Dominique she could spend the morning with the head maid. Yelling out
unceremoniously for Elsbeth, the plump, older woman rounded the corner within seconds. Joel
introduced the women and asked Elsbeth to take over. He left Dominique with a warm smile and told
her he would see her later. “Let me know if you need anything at all, promise?”
Dominique nodded her head and smiled. “Thank you for everything.”
“Oh, and one more thing,” he added, “don’t dare tell anyone how horrible I look this morning or I’ll
have to fire you immediately.” Dominique laughed awkwardly, and Joel proceeded upstairs for more
sleep while Dominique went in the opposite direction with Elsbeth.
The maid shook her head at the quickly departing Joel, chuckling at the sight. “The nobles do love
to stay out all hours of the night, then half the next day in bed recovering from their vices.”
“Do they?” Dominique asked in genuine interest. She wasn’t at all familiar with the lifestyle of the
wealthy, and her ears tickled from the tales Elsbeth began telling Dominique of the nobles she’d worked
for in the past. She was quick to defend Joel and his family though, declaring that they were the
exception to the rule.
“But for the most part, rich folk do nothing but play and gossip. Makes me glad I’m among the
“Really?” Dominique asked.
“No, I just keep telling myself that.” The women laughed and continued to chat. Talk was
comfortable between them and Dominique was very much at ease with her new job by the time she left
The following days went by quickly and it seemed Dominique had been working at the Hampton’s
home forever. Her past at the Taylor household seemed a lifetime ago. Dominique often wondered how
her foster brothers and sisters were faring, but dared not return to see firsthand for fear Mr. Taylor
would take up where he’d left off. In truth, she was pleased to see the end of that chapter in her life.
She looked forward to seeing what the future might bring.