Flight of the Monarch (Chapter 4, page 1 of 4)

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Chapter 4

From the moment Hayley entered the kitchen, her head was spinning from all the instructions thrown at her.

It seemed she could not move quickly enough to please those in authority over her. She remembered the warning from Mrs. Sommers not to converse with the guests, and picked up a freshly prepared platter of appetizers and carried them to a large room filled with noisy chatter.

Everyone in the room was engaged in conversation.

Some told stories with excitement in their eyes and voices, others appeared bored and tired. They were dressed in grand apparel and each of the women looked as though they were dressed in an attempt to out-shine the others. Hayley held out the platter to a group engaged in dialogue . Their eyes would only focus on the appetizers, or each other. Hayley felt as though she was invisible. She wished it did not matter what others thought of her. She decided to smile at everyone, regardless of whether one was returned.

As Hayley moved away from the first assembly of guests and extended the platter to another, she was shoved forcefully from behind. The small morsels of food catapulted into the chest of a female visitor. Hayley immediately began apologizing for the mishap, as she pulled a cloth from her apron pocket and offered it to the mortified guest. She complained about Hayley's clumsiness and declared her as incompetent. Hayley could feel a threatening sting in her eyes.

She knelt to the floor and began picking up the food, placing it quickly on the tray. Her eyes blurred from tears that filled them. She sensed someone had knelt beside her. 'Who would be so kind?' she thought. As tears rolled down her cheek, she was too embarrassed to look up.

Hayley stood up holding the tray in both hands. Her eyes remained on it as she turned away from the crowd that was beginning to form, and walked away. She could sense someone following her. When Hayley reached the kitchen door, it was opened for her. She turned to show her appreciation for the assistance and looked upon the smiling face of Austin.

"I need a fresh drink." Austin held the door open.

Hayley wished she had not stepped out of the kitchen.

She looked around nervously. "Yes, right away."

"Please have it sent to the garden."

Hayley nodded without looking at Austin. She walked through the open doorway.

_ _

Austin stood looking at a clear blue sky. He leaned against the stone partition of a gazebo, covered with ivy and hanging vine. He was enjoying the peace and tranquility of the surroundings, when he heard a gentle voice from behind him.

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