While Will continued setting up, a little boy dressed in a nice khaki colored pair of shorts and a white blouse with a big blue ribbon tied around the collar, came over and grabbed onto Will's shirt-tail.
Will looked down and smiled at him. The little boy had sky blue eyes and light blond hair with pink tips, hiding one of his eyes. “Hi, Alexander. Have you finished getting cleaned up for the party tonight?” Will set down the tray he had been polishing onto the table next to him, and patted the child's head.
The little boy smiled brightly at him, too shy to actually speak. He was an adorable little four year-old.
“Well, I can't play right now. I'm getting ready for your daddy's birthday party tonight.” Will tried to let the kid down easily. The boy frowned a bit, but didn't let go of Will's shirt. “Did you get him a present?” The little boy nodded. “That's great! What is it?”
Just as Alexander opened his mouth to answer, an upset woman called to the two of them in a scolding manner. “Alexander!” The two jumped a bit, turning to look at the blond woman as she came walking toward them angrily. She was dressed in a dark red dress with her blond hair curled and waved, pinned into a partial bun. She looked like a gentle, sweet mother, but her green eyes showed she was pretty mad. “There you are! You snuck away just as we were getting you cleaned up for tonight!” She grabbed Alexander's free hand and tugged on him gently. “Come along now, we have to finish getting you cleaned up!”
At that moment when Alexander didn't let go of Will, she glared up to Will. “Uh, Lady, he seems pretty clean already–”
“I know he seems clean to you, Will.” She answered in an annoyed and snooty tone. “But, this is proper etiquette that you clean your hands and face before attending your father's birthday party. Wouldn't you agree?”
Will's mouth opened a bit to say something, but his newly made conditioned reflexes made him clamp his jaw shut before he insulted his step-mom with how bitchy she was being. The only response that could make it out of his throat was calm and gentle. “Yes, ma'am.” He pulled Alexander's hold off of his shirt, and leaned down to talk to him face-to-face. “You should go and get clean for the party, okay?”
Alexander pouted a bit, cutely. He really didn't want to let go of Will.
Will smiled at him, patting his head. “We can play later. I promise.”
Hesitantly, with a few looks to his mother and then to Will, Alexander finally smiled and nodded. And then he let his mother drag him out of the ballroom and back upstairs.
Will straightened up and started to get back to polishing the trays in front of him. He looked over, glancing to a woman with red hair pinned back in an apron, another servant, as she was walking by setting up chairs.
“You shouldn't egg her on like that.” the woman said, not even looking at him.
“I didn't.” Will answered, finishing one tray, picking up and starting to polish another.
“You do know she's going to either poison you or kick you out sooner or later if you keep getting close to Alexander like that, right?” she asked. “I mean, it's not like she likes you particularly or anything.”
Will choked back a laugh. “Like? Irene, I think if she had the chance, she would tie me up in a dank dark dungeon and beat me with the whip herself.”
“I don't think she hates you that much.” Irene giggled, moving more chairs aside.
“Oh yeah, and my getting sick after she's given me some food is just coincidental.” Will rolled his eyes.
“Don't be like that.”
Irene glared over to Will's figure, as he was concentrated on the silver trays and not looking up to her. “Like a big baby. Alexander's the only one defending you from her.” Will glanced to her, not really looking at her. “You know if he didn't like you as much as he did, you wouldn't still be living here, right?”
“Yeah, I'd be shoveling poop in the stables.” Will answered without missing a beat.
Irene sighed. “Why can't you just be happy with what you've got?”
Will stopped, looking to her. “I'm happy.”
“No.” Irene, put down the next chair. “You're bitter.”
Will looked to his hazy reflection in the silver. Turning his eyes to the side to look as a butler came walking in to the room.
“Everyone, the guests'll be arriving in the next twenty minutes.” He pointed to Will, “I'm going to need you to be passing out hors d'oeurves, so just…”
“Got it.” Will nodded, and headed in to the kitchen to get the first tray. On his way he thought to himself, Just get out of the way and don't provoke Lady Mia to poison you tonight.
With a sigh, Will picked up the first tray of cheeses, cakes and berries and he walked back out into the ballroom. He stood next to the wall in his directed spot. This was the spot of the room where he could see everyone. It's also the only spot in the room where he could serve guests, and still have access to a doorway for escape if Mia or the Grand Duke, came looking for Will. It wasn't common at parties. But whenever Mia couldn't find her son, Alexander, she knew he was always within ten feet of Will. The Grand Duke, however, made it a clear obvious point to avoid talking to Will at all.
Will clenched his teeth, clearing all thoughts from his mind. As he heard the guests start to file in, he closed his eyes a moment and took a breath. The band started playing a soft waltz, just for everyone to listen to as they started to get settled in to chatting and nibbling on foods.
Out of the corner of his eye, Will saw Lady Mia enter the ballroom with the Grand Duke, Adell, on her arm and Alexander holding on to her other hand. Adell smiled and waved to the guests, going to greet them. Alexander tugged to get out of her hold, but she just smiled down to him, whispering something in his ear. But Will's eyes followed Adell as he walked around the room, greeting and talking to various guests with that big burly smile on his face.
As his blue eyes followed him, Will could feel his thoughts wandering down the wrong path.
Everyone can see it. Everyone knows it. His blue eyes and his skin tone, it's so obvious. If Alexander's his son, then I'm even more obviously his… Well. I guess it doesn't matter now. But, how can they all laugh at me like I'm stupid? Don't they see it?
In truth. Will knew that while his eyes and skin colors were obviously from his father Adell, his face's shape and his hair came from his mother's side. That's probably why it was harder for people to believe that he was Adell's son.
But I'm sure of it. Will thought again, watching as Adell raised his voice with a loud happy greeting to the king as he came into the room, and they hugged each other. Their laughter echoed around them. Why can't anyone else…?
“Hey there!” came a young man's voice shoving it's way right through the chatter to Will's ears. It was close and obviously directed at him.