110 Shes Our Friend Pt.1

    Mayu looked over her shoulder as she registered the sound of quick steps approaching her direction.

    "Where are those silly maids?" an irritated Madam Zhou asked aloud as her hawk-like eyes scanned the vicinity. Spotting Mayu at the end of the corridor, she addressed her, "Oh, Mayu." A tinge of relief was evident in her voice. "Have you seen Kalyani and a few other maids? I cannot seem to find those silly girls."

    Halting at her step, she replied, "No, Madam Zhou, I haven't."

    An irritable look crossed Madam Zhou's features again as she frowned.

    "Do you need them for something?"

    "Those girls are supposed to be helping the kitchen staff with serving supper" Madam Zhou gritted out in a low voice. "But I cannot find them anywhere!"

    Mayu took a wary step back from the fuming Madam Zhou. Those maids, honestly... she groaned. She couldn't believe her misfortune in having to be within range of Madam Zhou's flaming wrath. Treading cautiously, she took another small step back before suggesting, "I can look for them if it pleases you, Madam Zhou."

    Immediately, the frown on the elder woman's face softened. "Yes, that would be of great help." She smiled fondly at Mayu, clearly reassured to have been offered a helping hand. "Thank you, child. Be sure to send them to the kitchens when you find them." And with that, Madam Zhou scurried off in the other direction.

    A long breath escaped Mayu's lips once the head maid was no longer in sight. These chores are ceaseless... she thought as she trudged towards the maids' quarters where she assumed the others would be. But while she crossed the courtyard from the main house, Mayu couldn't help lamenting how she could have avoided giving herself more work to do.

    Why did I have to offer my help? She internally berated herself. She huffed, if only I was as assertive as Gyuri...

    Mayu's shoulders slumped, allowing strands of hair to escape from where she tucked it behind her ear. Lately, all she ever thought about was how she wished she was more like the energetic lass. As she continued her path towards the maids' quarters, she couldn't help mulling over how a lot of things had changed ever since Gyuri had arrived at the household.

    Before Gyuri came, Mayu's days at the Kim household was filled with tedious routine. Like a mechanical wind-up toy, Mayu would wake up at the break of dawn, eat a measly breakfast and get on with her daily chores and activities. While she did not particularly find her chores enjoyable, she did relish the few moments she spent with Namjoon as she tended to his needs.

    Her plump lips curled into a small smile at the thought of him.

    Kim Namjoon.

    Mayu couldn't avoid the heat rising to her cheeks, tinting them rose. Even the mere thought of his name elicited a strong response from her, stirring the suppressed feelings she had been hiding for so long.

    Calm down, Mayu, she told herself. She glanced around her to make sure no one could see her flushed expression. He is your master. Stop these foolish thoughts!

    But as much as she wished to be rid of her romantic feelings, she couldn't. Like every other young maiden, her heart was already too far invested in him to go back to the neutrality she once had.

    And it was getting harder day by day to hide it.

    She gripped the material of her robe nearest her chest as if to stop her heart from aching. "I'm so foolish" she mumbled. "There's no way Master Namjoon will ever look my way."

    Suddenly, a distant memory of Namjoon and Gyuri sitting close to each other flitted across her mind, their faces jovial as if they were enjoying each other's company.

    He won't look at you, but he will look at Gyuri.

    A squeezing pain stabbed through Mayu's heart.

    "It doesn't mean anything" she tried to reassure herself as she attempted to forget what she remembered. "Gyuri was ill at the time and she couldn't work. Master Namjoon was giving her something to do."

    But he has never done that for any of the other maids before.

    Mayu violently shook her head to dismiss the small voice that was feeding into her doubts. "Gyuri and I are the same" she reminded herself determinedly. "We're both maids." She glanced up at the maids' quarters that she was now in front of. "Master Namjoon is out of our reach..." and as she said this, a brief image of an elegant older woman flashed before her eyes. "And she is still occupying his heart."

    The sound of muffled voices immediately caught Mayu's attention as she approached the hallway leading to the maids' private chambers. Mayu frowned as she recognised one of the voices: it was Kalyani. With soft steps, Mayu approached the room where the wooden door was slightly ajar. Voices spilled down the corridor as she drew nearer.


    "So, what should we do? It's not like we can sabotage her."

    Mayu abruptly stopped midway her utterance as she froze on her tracks. Sabotage?

    "No, you're right" she heard Kalyani reluctantly agree. "The Young Master will definitely act if he notices something amiss with Gyuri."

    Mayu quickly hid behind the wooden door, submerging herself in the comfort of the shadows. She knew it was wrong to eavesdrop on her fellow maids, but she knew better than to intervene in a conspiracy. After all, intervening may do more harm than good, and Mayu wasn't about to compromise her position for anything. Inconspicuously, she peeped through the crack in the door and observed how Kalyani stood in between two others with their backs towards her.

    Why are the other maids plotting against Gyuri?

    "I just think it's annoying how that wench is trying to steal all the Kims' favours," a stout maid remarked. "She's even gone and won Madam Zhou's favour too!"

    The other pair grunted disdainfully.

    "She's a sneaky one that Gyuri" the first maid sneered. "Instead of asking for the most desirable items, she went and asked to establish a soup kitchen. Hah!" She laughed humourlessly. "So sneaky. Not only has she won the Lord's favour for saving the Young Master, but she has also won the favours of both Madam Zhou and Master Namjoon."

    "Which is why we need to do something to teach her a lesson" Kalyani reiterated. "We can't let her get away with this-"


    All of a sudden, the three maids swivelled their heads around to face the open door, where Pho revealed herself next to Mayu. The doe-eyed lass glanced from Mayu to the trio with a baffled expression. "Why are you hiding?" she innocently asked before addressing the trio, "And what are you all doing here? Madam Zhou will be furious if she finds us."

    Kalyani's lips thinned as she exchanged concerned looks with the other two maids. "How long have you two been listening?"

    "I-I just got here" Mayu rushed to say.

    Pho raised her brow doubtfully. "Same here." But then she frowned at Kalyani. "If you're worried about us hearing your secret conversation, you needn't bother..."

    The pair of maids looked relieved.

    "...because I heard all of it" Pho finished.

    A gasp escaped the pair's lips while Kalyani's frown deepened.

    "What are you thinking?" Pho reprimanded. "You're planning to ruin Gyuri's chances here just because she happens to be close to the Kims?"

    Not liking Pho's tone, Kalyani scowled. "Watch your tongue, Pho."

    "I didn't expect much from Tweedledee and Tweedledum" she mentioned while gesturing to the pair behind Kalyani, "but you... I'm disappointed." She shook her head. "This isn't like you, Kalyani. You're better than this."

    "Don't act so high and mighty!" Kalyani scorned, her cheeks turning crimson. "You know as well as I that Gyuri is a threat to all of us."

    "She's our friend-"

    "No," interrupted Kalyani. "She's our foe."

    Pho was taken aback by Kalyani's steely gaze.

    "Everyone's seen how that wench has got the Kims wrapped around her finger. How long do you think it will be before she starts using her hold on them to get what she wants? For now, everything seems okay because she is a maid. But what if that doesn't last for much longer?"

    At this, Mayu spoke up, "What do you mean?"

    Kalyani eyed her steadily. "You know what I mean."

    Another gasp escaped the dumb pair's lips as everyone exchanged anxious stares.

    "Gyuri isn't like that" Pho muttered but her voice lacked conviction. "She won't do something like that. That-that's not like her at all-"

    Kalyani scoffed. "That's what you said about Tzu-lin and look what happened to her."

    "Gyuri is nothing like Tzu-lin."

    Kalyani's face morphed into a smug expression. "Oh, really?" She leered at Pho as if to challenge her. "That's right. You were quite close to Tzu-lin, weren't you?"

    Pho looked down uncomfortably. "That was a long time ago..."

    "Yes, but it must have hurt you the most when she betrayed us." Kalyani lowered her voice as she spoke gravely, "Sweet, kind, goody-goody Tzu-lin. Who would've known that she was the type to try and social climb?"

    Mayu peered at Pho from the side and noticed her fist clench. "That's enough, Kalyani. You don't have to remind us."

    "Don't I?" Kalyani taunted. "It seems Pho has forgotten what kind of wench her close friend was."

    Mayu stared at Pho, whose closed fist was shaking slightly from how tightly she was clenching.

    "Kalyani, that's en-"

    "Tzu-lin was a harlot" Kalyani interrupted with a sneer. "She was a hussy that tried to take advantage of Master Jongin." She marched up to Pho as if sizing her up. "Or did you forget that?"

    Tearing her eyes from the ground, the doe-eyed lass glared up at Kalyani. "No." Her voice was icy. "I haven't."

    "Then, you should already know what should be done to wenches who try to cross the master-servant boundary." Kalyani folded her arms across her chest. "They need to be put in their place before they ruin it for the rest of us."

    Mayu watched as Kalyani sauntered back to where she was standing before breaking the stare down between herself and Pho.

    "But Gyuri's different" Mayu abruptly spoke.

    Kalyani slowly turned to face her.

    "What if you're wrong about her?"

    "Oh, I'm not wrong" Kalyani haughtily replied. "In fact, it should be you who should be the most worried when I'm proven right."

    "What do you mean?"

    Kalyani scoffed in disbelief. "Gyuri may be close to the Young Master but she doesn't spend as much time with him as she does with Master Namjoon."

    Again, an image of Namjoon and Gyuri sitting side by side flashed before Mayu's eyes, awakening the small voice inside her head.

    Gyuri is special to him.

    "That-that doesn't mean anything" Mayu stuttered. "She's just giving him snacks at night and helping out at the sanatorium-"

    "But aren't you his personal maid?"

    Mayu was speechless.

    A triumphant expression graced Kalyani's features. She hmphed. "I thought so. Both of you are naïve to trust Gyuri. If anything, the only good thing that came from Tzu-lin was that she taught us a vital lesson in order to stay in the Kims' good graces."

    "Oh?" one of the maids asked confusedly. "And what's that?"

    Kalyani smirked as she responded with her gaze fixated on both Mayu and Pho. "To never fully trust anyone."

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