Lirya’s eyes fluttered open. Someone was knocking at the door. “Come in.”
The door swung open. It was a petite redhead—not Malyenne. She stood in the doorway, one hand still on the door handle. “I’m sorry, ma’am; Lady Malyenne told me to prepare your breakfast. I didn’t know you were still asleep—”
“That’s all right.” Lirya smiled. “I’m hungry.”
Her visitor stepped into the room, and set a loaded tray down on the table. “I’ll be right back with a bed tray—”
“No, don’t; on the table is fine.” She stretched and flipped the quilt aside. “Thanks... ah, what’s your name?” she asked as she sat up on the side of the bed.
“Jaeni, ma’am.” As Jaeni turned toward her, Lirya suddenly realized that she had gotten out of bed completely naked.
Last night, she and Malyenne had arrived at the villa sometime after midnight. They had been too tired for real lovemaking, but they’d taken off their clothes and lay together for a while, kissing and cuddling and whispering. The last thing she remembered was the feel of fingers gently stroking her cheek.
“Ma’am?” Lirya’s attention returned to the here and now. “Is there anything else I can do for you, ma’am?”
Lirya couldn’t help but grin as an answer to that question came to mind. She took in the sight of the red-haired girl, and imagined her undressed... a bit on the slender side, but with firm perky tits and a nicely curved bottom and well-toned legs. It was tempting to find out how the reality compared with her fantasy.
Well, Mistress Malyenne had said that her servant girls were now Lirya’s servant girls as well....
A whiff of bacon interrupted her reverie, and reminded her that right now she was hungry for food.
“Ah... no, thanks.”
“Very well; if you’ll excuse me, ma’am?”
“Wait; there is one thing. Stop calling me ‘ma’am’ all the time.”
“As you wish, milady.”
Lirya shook her head. “Just talk to me without ‘ma’am’ or ‘milady’ or any of that.”
Jaeni looked a bit taken aback. Lirya was a bit taken aback herself; she didn’t want her to think she was offended.
“I just don’t like being so formal. I’m twenty-four; not some old crone.” She paused, looking for a way to sound a bit more friendly. “How old are you, Jaeni?”
“Nineteen, ma—, er, nineteen.”
“Well, then, you’re old enough to talk to me like a girlfriend.” Lirya smiled again. “Just call me Lirya.”
“Yes, Lirya. Now, if you’ll excuse me; I should go look in on the horses.”
The servant turned and walked across the room and out the door. Lirya watched, wondering if that hint of come-hither shimmy was real of just wishful thinking. Finally, she sighed and sat down to breakfast.
Alongside the plate of eggs and bacon and the mug of ale she found a folded slip of parchment with her name neatly written on the outside. Inside was a note in the same hand:
“My dear Lirya,
“Unfortunately, a messenger arrived this morning with urgent business that requires me to return to court. I could not bear to disturb you from your sleep. I hope to return soon.
“By the time you read this note, you will have met Jaeni. She was one of the stable girls, now promoted to the household staff proper. I have instructed her to see to your comfort; I expect you will find her helpful and eager to please.
“Your Mistress, Malyenne”
Lirya sighed. She had been looking forward to spending the day exploring the villa and riding alongside her lady. Oh, well, she thought Jaeni can show me around, and she ought to know the horses and the countryside pretty well. She began eating, and mused about just how “eager to please” the pretty redhead would be today... and tonight.