'What are you doing?' I half laughed into Lucas's ear as he led me out onto the dance floor. 'Aren't you meant to be working? What if someone sees us? You know I'm not meant to be with you, my father's planning my marriage to some rich Duke-'
'I've got the evening off. Jonathon is covering for me so we can spend some time together.'
'But what if someone sees you? We could both be killed.'
'Isn't that half the fun of it? And I don't want to have to hide my feelings anymore. If this is the only way we can be together in public, hiding in a crowd, then that's what I want. I want us to be able to dance at a ball like this without people staring and whispering or you worrying that we'll be caught. I want us to be a normal couple.'
'I want that too,' I said, looking up at him, 'but you know we can't have that. I'm the close friend and lady-in-waiting to the Princess and you're the footman. I don't see how we can possibly be accepted as a couple.'
'Alexandria accepts us, so does Courtney, surely no one else matters.'
'My father matters. If I don't marry who he wants me to marry then I won't get my dowry and I will be penniless. Will you still love me then?'
'I will always love you, no matter what happens.'
I could feel the warmth of satisfaction and pure bliss seeping into me as Lucas bent down to kiss me right there in the middle of the dance floor. I knew it was unwise for us to be seen to be so intimate so publicly but I didn't care. The touch of Lucas's lips on mine made me forget the rest of the world, losing myself in his embrace.
But I came back down to earth with terrifying crash as I was pulled roughly away from my lover.
'How dare you assault my daughter like that,' my father shouted, advancing on a shocked Lucas. 'What are you even doing here dressed like that? You're a servant. Get back to the kitchen where you belong.'
'Father don't,' I protested, taking hold of his arm.
'Don't worry darling, I'm taking care of it.'
'But it's not his fault.'
'Oh I see what's happened. He's tricked you into thinking he's the good guy.'
'I swear I have not tricked your daughter,' Lucas said, desperately trying to defend himself.
'I don't want to hear anything from you,' my father hissed, his eyes burning with anger. 'You're just out for her money and status, nothing else.'
'Father stop please. I love him and he loves me too.'
'It's all lies Aislinn. He doesn't love you, he's a servant, he's not worthy of your love.'
'I do love her,' Lucas insisted, gaining confidence as my father insulted him. 'I love her with all my soul no matter how much money or status she has.'
'You disgust me,' my father spat, advancing on Lucas. 'How can you stand there and spew all these lies when we both know they're not true?'
'Because they are true.'
'I am insulted that you continue to lie to me,' my father bellowed. 'I will not stand for such impudence.'
I screamed, clasping my hands over my mouth as my father landed his first blow on Lucas.
'I'm not going to fight you sir,' Lucas said, still reeling from the punch.
'That's a shame,' my father retorted, 'because I'm going to beat you until you learn your place.'