The Lady Awdur's Romantic Snippet Thricenight




The Pen of Awdur is hosting a 'Romantic Snippet Thricenight'. Three weeks of different bloggers writing romantic snippets as a response. Here is my first. 

….I can do this. I’ve been preparing for eighteen years. I’m going to be fine. What if he is here? Chelsea, calm down. He won’t come; he’s been gone for two years and he isn’t going to come all the way back just to be at your coming out party. You can do this, trust me.
“Chelsea! What in the world is taking you so long; the guests will start arriving in less than twenty minutes. Oh! Good heavens, you’re not even dressed!”
It was true, I should’ve been dressed by now, and all I had on was my chemise.
“Sorry,” I mumbled. Ellen didn’t seem to hear me; she was already on her way to the door.
“Anna! Marie! Kate! Come in here at once and help your mistress get dressed. Chelsea, come over here so I can unbutton that. We haven’t got any time to lose.”
I sighed, but allowed her to undress me. Almost before she had got the chemise over my head, my three maids were pulling on my under-dress and lacing my corset. I watched in amazement as they piled on more and more petticoats; I hadn’t known I even had this many.
Finally it was time for the dress itself. My mother had bought the dress in Paris for this exact moment; my debut. It a beautiful dress of blue silk, with a tight fitting bodice and the fullest skirt I had ever seen. I had seen it in a shop window and touched the fabric, but now the thought of actually wearing something so beautiful stunned me.
My maids really were amazing; with the help of my governess (Ellen) they got me dressed in less than ten minutes. My hair took longer, but my hairdresser worked fast and by the time the clock chimed six, I was ready.
I could hear sounds of laughter as the guests were received by my mother and father. I forgot all my doubts; I could do this, it would be easy. Ellen confirmed my thoughts.
“Oh! You look so beautiful,” she breathed. I blushed happily, the dress made me feel like a queen.
“You are going to do just fine. You won’t have any trouble down there,” Ellen said gently.
“Why should you have any trouble? Why, it’s as easy as walking down a staircase,” Anna added. We all laughed, at least, the others did. My corset was so tight I could barely breathe, but I laughed inside.
Ellen came up to me and put her hands on my hips.
“Heaven on earth! Why, Chelsea, I can almost span your waist with my hands. Will you even be able to speak down there?”
I smiled, the corset was rather tight, but without it I wouldn’t fit into the dress, so I didn’t care.
“You shouldn’t mind, you are always telling me to keep my voice down. Well, now I have no choice, I couldn’t yell even if I did want to.” Ellen chuckled quietly, then her face grew serious.
“Chelsea, I may have been a bit hard on you all these years, but you know I only did it because I love you, right?”
I nodded, Ellen had seemed unkind at times, but she was just trying to make sure I never embarrassed myself. I hoped that I would prove worthy of all her hard work.

Marie slipped the dainty shoes on my feet, and I was ready. Father, Mother, Moira came up to me to make sure I was ready.
“Oh, Chelsea, your beautiful,” Moira breathed. I blushed, glancing at my father, he nodded ever so slightly.
Mother came up to looked at me closely.
“Why, I do declare! Chelsea, you are simply perfect. I am sure you will have the attention of everyman in the ballroom. Now remember, don’t favor anyone…make sure you dance with all the young gentlemen. Let’s see, hair…shoes…dress…makeup, oh a little more lipstick I think, Kate. Oh! Chelsea, where are your gloves?”
“Right here, miss,” Anna said, bringing my long white evening gloves; the first pair I had ever owned.
Mother nodded with satisfaction, then began giving my father and myself instructions.
“I must go back to the guests now, I don’t know how long Maryanne can hold up. Remember, don’t come in too early or it will look like you haven’t been busy. Don’t come in right on time, or it will seem as if you were waiting outside the door. Best be a little late, but not too late or you will seem rushed. Jacob, walk slowly but not too slowly. Chelsea, keep pace with your father, don’t trip on your dress. Ellen, make sure she doesn’t mess up her gloves before time to go down. Oh, and Jacob, make sure you take your gloves off to dance with the ladies, but wear them when you go in. And, Chelsea, this is your first ball, so you must make a good impression. And for heaven’s sake,  don’t ever take you gloves off, unless you are partaking of a bit of food during the dance; and then only one. But take both of them off for dinner and put them in your lap, and don’t drop anything or step on anyone’s feet.”
After this rush of commands, Mother flitted out the door with the maids trailing after her, leaving me alone with Father and Ellen.
The latter came up to me and kissed my forehead before leaving. Father stepped forward and took my hands.
“Chelsea, you will be perfect no matter what you do. I don’t think you will do anything wrong, your mother is just rather hurried at the moment; no doubt she was telling herself the same things before she went down a few minutes ago.”
I nodded, then put my arms around my father’s neck. He tenderly stroked my head, then gently pushed me away.
“Time to go down; you ready?”
I took a deep breath, I could do this.
“Yes,” I said.
Father offered me his arm and I took it. When we reached the top of the main staircase, we stopped. I looked down at all the guests in the ballroom. I could see Mother and Maryanne flitting about in the midst of it all. I remembered Maryanne’s coming out party. I had been allowed to sit at the top of this staircase with Colin, watching the party. Now it was my turn, and Moira would sit up here with Anna, Marie, and Kate; watching.
“How are you doing?” Father asked.
“Fine,” I said.
We got down the first flight unnoticed, then my mother saw me and rang the bell. It was time.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” my father said, projecting his voice throughout the room. “May I present my daughter, Chelsea Elizabeth Amory. The crowd applauded, I blushed and we began to walk down the stairs. Everything was going fine, I didn’t feel daunted; I knew I could do this.
Then I saw him. He was standing near the back of the ballroom, aloof and alone. My foot slipped on the stairs, but Father steadied me without even looking my way. No one noticed, except William. I could feel his eyes on me, I gripped my father’s arm tighter, and walked on; I could not fail. I knew Mother and Maryanne were depending on my self-control. Moira and Ellen were watching, I could not fail Ellen. Father was very proud of me, I could not disappoint him.

Father and I led the first dance, then I was left to my own devices. I was introduced to numerous people, fortunately no one actually acted as if I could remember their name. The band gave me some time to get used to the feel of it all. I had specifically asked not to have a dance book, so I had carefully steered away from people I knew to be bad dancers. The one thing I was really good at was dancing, I am not being vain when I say that I am a very good dancer, it is true.
However, despite my efforts to avoid him, my cousin Peter got to me first and sequestered the dance.
It was not as bad as I had expected, Peter had gotten a lot better since last I saw him.
The second dance was with a tall young man. He was very handsome, and I’m sure I could have enjoyed that dance, had he not been so aware of the fact.
I don’t really remember who I danced with for the next five dances, but I waited out the eighth dance (a rather boring thing, the name of which I cannot recall).
Everyone was dancing except for a few older ladies and gentlemen; and William.
I knew that the next dance was a very complicated and fast paced one, and I was particularly desirous of a very good partner.
As much as I didn’t want to be confused by William, I was rather glad when he asked me for the dance.  William had always been a good dancer. When Ellen had been teaching me, he had sometimes come in to help by being my partner while she watched.
He swept me out onto the floor, and led me through the weaving (and often stumbling) couples with catlike grace and perfection. I am happy to say that I never stumbled once, nor did I even find it particularly difficult to keep perfect time.
“It’s been awhile,” said William, leading my through an arch made by another couple.
“Two years,” I stepped towards him.
“Have you seen anything of Colin lately?” I winced at the mention of the name, William and Colin had been very good friends, but Colin had taken to gambling and had left home a year ago.
“No, he hasn’t even attempted to make contact with us.”
“I am sorry,” William took my hand and turned me about.
“So am I, for you too, William. I know you and he were very close. I loved him very much, he was a good brother until—,” I stopped, unable to continue.
The dance had placed us right by the open French windows. William took advantage of the next move, whirling me onto the veranda. I was a little surprised, but I didn’t mind. I had begun to want to talk to William alone.
“Where have you been these past two years?” I asked.
“Wandering around Europe. I just needed to spend some time away from—,”he stopped.
“Away from what?” I asked. Instead of answering, William turned to look at me.
“Chelsea, do you remember the last time we were sitting together like this?”
“Yes,” I whispered softly, not even daring to hope.
“We don’t have to let…to let that come between us. You know I did it for his good. I couldn’t lend him more money, it would have ruined him; surely you can see that?”
I closed my eyes; I didn’t want to think about it. But I had to.
“It did ruin him! If you had given him what he needed he would have come home and everything would have been fine.”
“Chelsea, do you really think that is what would have happened?”
“No,” I whispered softly, “I don’t think that would have happened. I’m sorry, William, I shouldn’t have gotten so angry.”
“I didn’t think you could be foolish enough to believe that. You are a sensible girl, Chels, you can’t really believe something so wrong.”
I didn’t say anything, the sounds of dancing could be heard from inside. Everyone sounded so carefree and happy. I suppose I seemed that way when I was in there, but William could always see through the best mask I could conjure.
“Think back, Chels. Remember, I was sitting right here, and you were there; no, you were a little closer.”
I edged closer to him, remembering that night, two years ago.
“I held your hand like this,” William picked up my hand and held over his heart.
“And then—,”
“And then someone called me from inside,” I interrupted him.
William smiled softly. “Yes,” he said, “someone called you. Lets go back to where we were, no one will call you away tonight.”
“They might, they will want me to come and dance. The guest of honor can hardly disappear for so long without notice.”
“Of course not,” he said, “now, where was I? Ahh, yes, I had your hand like this; then I bring something out of my pocket and tell you to close your eyes. Close your eyes, Chelsea.”
I closed my eyes and heard a little ‘click’. My heart skipped a beat as I felt something cool and hard slip onto my left hand.
“There,” William said, “open up.”
I opened my eyes and looked at my hand, on my ring finger there was a sliver ring, with sapphires and diamonds wound in it’s intricate patterns.
“Oh, Will; it’s beautiful,” I breathed.
“Will you keep it?” He asked.
I smiled happily.
“Of course,” I said, “I will always wear it.”
“At least you have an excuse not to dance with everyone tonight.”
“I suppose we must go back in now, or people will start calling me, and Mother will put up an awful row.”
William stood up.
“Would the future Mrs. Mount do me the honor of this dance?”
I giggled, reaching out my hand to him.
“She will dance with you for the rest of her life if you wish.” I said, standing up and taking his proffered arm.
We walked back into the ballroom together. I was happily aware of the unaccustomed weight of the ring on my finger.


Mother will have a fit, I thought to myself as William proudly led me toward Father.  


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5 comments:

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