Mona had spent a frantic night sewing a handful of simple dresses for herself. It has been days since she’d felt she’d been of any use, and once she had started the work a fever of sorts took over. It wasn’t till she sensed the room get lighter that she finally felt tired, drained in fact. As if she’d spent every last ounce of energy.
When she looked up from the machine, she noticed a breakfast table already present in the room. Why hadn’t she noticed it’s arrival? Not that she was hungry. Instead of attacking the food like a starved animal, Mona strode over to the bed and fell asleep, glad that she didn’t have to wander the lonely halls.
It was late in the afternoon when she sensed something and woke up with a fright, only to find Lucifer standing over her, watching, waiting. She let out a shrill scream.
‘My servants tell me you didn’t eat your breakfast this morning, and that you were up all night.’ He glared at her as if she were a puzzle to solve. ‘Are you not well?’
Mona was gobsmacked. She was glad her curtains were drawn and there was no fire lit in the room because…and she stopped herself before the thought completed. ‘You have servants?’ she asked shakily.
Lucifer ignored the question. ‘Are you not happy with my hospitality?’
Mona sat up in bed. She hadn’t really thought of the whole situation as a guest-host thing. She hadn’t really cared to think how thoughtfully she’d been served so far. ‘I was too tired this morning to be hungry,’ she finally managed.
Mona could only look to her messy sewing corner. ‘I got carried away…’
‘Do you wish for anything else?’ He asked pointedly. ‘Mr Broom advises me that you are perhaps unhappy being here. Is that true?’
Mr Broom? Mona wasn’t aware that there were other people in the house with her and that they had been looking after her as per Lucifer’s order. Yes, she had heard whispers every now and then, but every time she’d look, all she would find were everyday items like broom, lights, dishes etc. ‘How can I be happy when I do not know the reason why I’m being held here against my will.’
To Mona’s surprise, Lucifer looked rather stunned. ‘Held against your will? You are free to go home anytime you wish, dear Mona.’
If that were true, why did Mona sense a but there. Lucifer smiled a pained smile. ‘Because, with me, there is always a but dear.’
‘I can leave anytime I want, but?’
‘But, your dear old papa will have to replace your presence here in my palace.’
Mona felt a sudden stab of pain where her heart was. Her papa, here, in that lonely place? He’d die within a month.
‘And so said he.’
‘Your father,’ the beast began, ‘he said that very thing. He stumbled upon my palace one dark night, lost, hungry, tired, and looking for a way back home, to you I suppose.’ Mona’s mouth flew open. ‘He took liberty in entering my home, eating my food, warming by my fire, and resting in my bed, yet asked not my permission.’ Mona knew where this was going. Her father’s habit of assuming everything and everyone was there to serve him had landed him in hot waters before, but this was an entirely different thing. ‘You see, such arrogance should cost, don’t you think, Mona?’
Mona simply nodded. She was somewhat mesmerized by Lucifer in that moment, almost questioning her eyes for a brief interlude when she swore she saw an image of a young, handsome man in his place. The briefest of a second.
‘Then why did you let him return home?’ she asked with dread.
Lucifer stared at her a while. The moment felt like an age. ‘How did you find your week in this palace?’
Boring, Mona thought. Absolutely maddening.
‘Yes,’ he read her thoughts again. ‘Now imagine living that life here for over a decade…’ he didn’t finish his sentence. Instead, he turned away towards the fireplace, and with a turn of a hand, there whooshed a fire in its hold. ‘I offered to spare his life under one condition.’
‘To keep you company till the end of his days…’ Mona whispered in a trance to herself, unsure whether he’d heard, or whether the words had even escaped her lips.
‘Yes.’ Lucifer suddenly turned back to her, fierce. ‘I admire your father, Mona. He worried not for himself, but for…’
Lucifer smiled, sending a shiver down her spine as his canines peeked out. ‘He indeed thought of you and your siblings. He knew, without him his family would fall apart, but I was awful lonely, and I refused to let him go. In the end, he offered me something I could hardly refuse.’
Lucifer shook his head. ‘No, not you so much, but your company. He said you were the only one of his children he relied on the most, and you were the only one who worked the hardest. It was time your siblings learnt to fend for themselves whereas you get to live your life for yourself.’
Lucifer didn’t counter the question. He stood up like a gentlemen and slowly started backing away towards the door. ‘If only you wish. Your father promised me that you’d gladly take his place and give me companionship, but I do understand you are your own person and as such, your father’s words become void.’
Lucifer reached for the door handle. ‘He did ask me one thing in return for you.’
‘And what was that?’ Mona breathed.
‘That you will not have to work a single day of your life.’ Lucifer bowed his head and as he closed the door behind him, ‘Do eat something, however. I do have a promise to keep.’ The words echoed through the walls sending chills down Mona’s skin. In front of her was another gold satin covered trolley.