The dry cleaner (a lovely woman from Belarus, I believe) had my order hanging near the cash register, waiting for me. She tried to brush away my tip, but as always, she eventually conceded with a smile and daintily shoved the few extra dollars (as daintily as someone can shove something) into her vast brassiere.
Usually, by 8:30, which my pocket watch told me it had just struck, I’d be making coffee, but since my employer was “with guest” and the various grinding of beans and screaming of espresso-making apparati would, I’m sure, be a less than ideal wake up call, I was out running the errands which I usually saved for later in the day.
The mornings when my employer had an overnight guest (or guests, as sometimes happens) were some of the most challenging in my professional life, I assure you. Still, in their own way, they were some of the most rewarding.
Most mornings, my employer, Mr. Leinhardt, and I would share some light banter on topics both political and scandalous while I gave him a shave, dressed him, and attend to his breakfast. On mornings where Mr. Leinhardt was entertaining, I instead had to focus on the detailed movements and well-thought-out strategies of readying food, newspapers, clothing, and other essentials while not disturbing him nor his scantily clad (if that) visitor. I assure you this is no small feat, and it takes all of my not inconsiderable skills.
After procuring the provisions for the day, I made my way through the servant’s entrance and through the house, cleaning up a spilled cocktail and a pair of stockings in the hallway. I then entered the master bedroom silently and attempted to take the least amount of time possible, picking up the scattered clothes and various detritus of my employer’s nocturnal activities, which by the look of things were both violent and sordid. It’s hard, I admit, not to steal glances at his guests. That morning specifically, it was impossible not to notice the shapely legs of my employer’s acquaintance. The curve of her bottom, which seemed to my keen eyes to have earned a bruise or two, though one never knows if those bruises were collected in the scuffle and decadence of the evening before or, like so many objet d’art one picks up in one’s travels, she simply came that way.
There was a single breast exposed by the tangled limbs and wrinkled sheets of their morning tableau. It was pert, economical even, not the full hand heavy bosom I am fond of, but a perfect example of a flavor that is not my favorite, yet so lovely it gave me cause to question my preference.
I only paused a moment to take in the sight, feeling a bit foolish standing there holding a handful of her silk underthings and a feather duster.
It was half-past nine, and by my employer’s orders, he was to be up by ten even in the most extreme of cases. I started some bacon, I washed fruit. I did it all quietly, but banged and bumped around just enough to let them know someone was in the kitchen.
I had already steamed the young lady’s fetching silk dress (last season’s Givenchy?) and laid out her shoes (thankfully not Louboutin) and undergarments when I heard the shower start. Mr. Leinhardt did not like to dine until he was clean and fresh. As well, when having company, he often enjoyed entertaining his guest in his large, almost cavernous, shower. That, I’m sure, was a sight.
Since they were up, I could grind the coffee beans, prep steamed milk, and warm the cups. I had soy milk on hand in case his guest was vegan. One never knows these days. The table was laid out with plates and silverware, cloth napkins quickly twisted and folded into the shapes of roses, croissants, fruit, a variety of jams, all of the various accouterments.
Oranges and grapefruits were squeezed, and the table looked opulent, laden with food and shining settings. This was all at Mr. Leinhardt’s request. Most of it would not be eaten. In fact, Mr. Leinhardt usually only had a latte, an egg-white omelet, a small shot of grapefruit juice, and was off to work. His female acquaintances usually had a half a croissant, a non-fat latte, and picked at grapes. At eleven, when the two maids arrived, I usually made a long brunch of the leftovers with the small staff.
As I brought a crystal pitcher of juice to the table, I saw my employer’s lady friend at the door of his boudoir. She was dressed in a pair of his fine high gray dress socks, which came almost to the knees of her skinny legs, and one of his dress shirts. It was one of the custom shirts from his London tailor. Split collar, a cool white, sadly she had buttoned three unmerciful buttons. I hardly looked though, just a millisecond, but my eyes were greedy, and my memory is photographic.
She was curious, as they often were. She padded around the large apartment, marveling at the paintings, the grand piano, the statues. When she made her way over to the kitchen, she leaned on the marble island and smiled at me.
“A tuxedo?” she asked. Her voice was high, feminine, girlish.
“Mr. Leinhardt enjoys a traditional look for his staff, but to answer your question, no, this is not a tuxedo,” I say, trying not to make her feel foolish for thinking that my suit was a tuxedo, but all the same correcting her.
“So you’re an actual butler?” she asked with a wide and beautiful smile.
She was one of those women who exuded a warm, exhilaratingly sensual energy. Her face, which I had not seen during my brief foray into the bedroom, was gorgeous. Her skin was flawless, eyes bright and curious, hair, though mussed, was thick and chocolate brown.
“Really more of a valet, this apartment isn’t large enough to need a butler, per se. As well, at the moment, I am also an ersatz fry cook. Is there anything, in particular, I can get for you this morning?”
She turned, looked at the food on the table, then around at the apartment and laughed.
“And I thought his car was something. Amazing. Hm, I suppose when in Rome. I want, Eggs Benedict!” she said with gusto, adding “and a waffle, and a cappuccino and Champaign!”
Admittedly, it had been a while since I’d made a Hollandaise sauce. Mr. Leinhardt had two regular cooks on staff, but he preferred as few people as possible in the morning, and one of the reasons he hired me was my training as a chef and my work in the kitchen of a four-star restaurant in Switzerland in my youth. Still, the muscle memory was there, and in moments, the sauce was well on its way.
She watched me like a hawk. No, not a hawk, more like a bird of paradise. My back was straight, and my eyes were forward, and I did not look down the draping open collar of the shirt as she leaned across the island to snatch a handful of cherries. Not noticeably, at least.
Her eggs were plated as Mr. Leindhart came into the kitchen in his fine blue robe.
“Eggs Benedict? I warn you, Howards, this one is very picky and quite demanding,” he said to me while his eyes were on her.
I smiled and nodded at his words.
“Give her anything she wants,” he said in a tone that told me undeniably that he was taken with her and that I was to do just that.
He kissed her neck chastely, but she would have none of that. She looked up at him with an almost surprising hunger and then kissed him fully and deeply on the lips.
“You are decidedly bent on making me late,” he chided her half-heartedly, then to me, “give me the good omelet. You know the one.”
Working mornings he had loose egg whites, avocado, goat cheese. The “good omelet” was my mother’s recipe. The eggs were mixed with a dash of cognac, heavy cream, cooked in goose fat, and topped with caramelized onions and black truffles.
I nearly scorched the eggs when I turned and saw her shirt open. Mr. Leinhardt’s hungry hands kneading her breasts. A glimpse of the bare smoothness between her legs, a preference of both my employer and mine, and I almost gasped.
As I plated his omelet, I coughed a bit to give them a moment, but when I turned to serve, I saw that he was not at all through.
“Howards, is this not the most lovely pussy you’ve ever seen?” he said, pushing her legs open and swatting at her hands as she went to cover herself.
I closed that door in my head. I turned off the circuit between body and mind and, standing still, towel over my arm, holding the plate steady, I look briefly down at the pink between her legs.
“I can truly say I’ve never seen its equal, sir,” and though I prefer not to rate works of art against each other, at that moment, it was the complete truth.
Her eyes met mine as her fair white cheeks turned a deep red. Her eyes were glassy with want, and she very obviously enjoyed the little humiliation of being shown off. His fingers toyed and teased her as his other hand pawed at her breasts.
“Shall I put off your breakfast until after you are finished entertaining, sir?” this sentence was edging towards our well-defined line between dry humor and contempt.
Mr. Leinhardt had made it clear that a certain amount of pushing was expected to get him off to work at a reasonable time, even when engaged with particularly interesting diversions.
“No-” he sighed, and I placed his plate down on the table.
“Her name is Alma,” he said, balancing her on his knee, still exposed, as he folded his napkin on his other knee and started on his eggs.
“Alma, isn’t that lovely Howards?” he asked as I poured him his juice and brought him his coffee.
She was drunk with lust, watching him eat, watching me serve. Ruddy cheeked, swollen nippled, and her sex splayed on the naked skin of his thigh. She looked so ready to be fucked I had to exile myself to dishwashing or else expose my desire in the breaking of the well-ironed lines of my trousers.
“Say hello, Alma,” he said, very amused with himself as he continued to play with her body between bites of his breakfast.
“Hello, Alma,” she said flatly, and then her breath caught, and she let out a high perfect moan.
It went on like that, but eventually, Alma was left to eat her Eggs Benedict (which thankfully somehow stayed intact after having sat there for a good ten minutes) and her waffle and her cappuccino (with two dashes of cinnamon) and a glass of ’96 Clos d’Ambonnay Krud, while I shaved and dressed Mr. Leinhardt.
Then he was off, after one long kiss from her. He was off, and I was alone with her. It was a quarter past ten.
She sat at the table watching me clean up. She studied me and studied the apartment.
“Your boss is an interesting guy,” she said. I could see her debating whether she should close her shirt. I watched her decide not to. She leaned forward and bit her lip.
“Indeed, miss,” I said, taking a few plates to the skink.
“Alma,” she corrected.
“Miss,” I corrected.
She looked over the uneaten fruit and pastries and sighed.
“A man like that certainly does leave a lot of leftovers,” she said, a little sadly, pouring herself some more champagne and considered her place.
“No need to worry, miss. Nothing will go to waste,” I said, pouring the orange juice into a plastic jug for later.
She laughed at this. Her charm was visceral.
“He doesn’t mind you taking the leftovers?” she asked, the question lingering in the air whether she meant the food or other things.
“I assure you, he often insists, miss,” I said, gathering her glass and her coffee cup, not close enough to touch, but close enough to feel the heat of her body.
“Does he ever let you finish what he’s started?” she said, her voice lower.
“You’ll have to ask Mr. Leinhardt about that, miss. I’m not really at liberty to talk about the goings-on of the house,” and there was nothing in my voice. I squashed all feeling and simply busied myself with the cleaning up of breakfast and memorizing every blushing inch of her body.
“What if he told you to fuck me, Howard?”