James Newberry - Unorthodox Behavior

I scanned the room, gazing at all the young men and women. Some of the women were laughing at well rehersed one liners from young men who seemed so nervous if you knew what to look for. Other women were dancing with young men who looked a little more composed in their poise. I smiled at the thought. These men didn't have to say much; they just had to worry about stepping on her toes, which would be hard enough because of the extravgent dresses filling the room.

The women really had to worry about the soldiers, especially the older ones. They did not employ one liners; their speech had long since been refined. Of course, what they talked about was as mundane as any household chore - namely, themselves. To tell the truth, though, would have been one thing, but boasting about things they had not done was another thing all together. I was not interested in that sort of interchange either.

I greeted a few as they walked passed me, nodding my head slightly as was customary. I returned my gaze to the rest of the room. There was a young lady here and there that I could have approached, but I had no one liners rehersed, did not feel like dancing, and my war stories the most boring anyone had ever heard.

I didn't really want to be at this event in the first place, but if I failed to show, my mother would soon hear about it, which meant I would soon hear about it. I'd had enough conversations with my mother about my unwedded state. I didn't plan on having any more. Oh, don't get me wrong; the women of the royal court were gorgeous, but a pretty face was only one aspect I was interested in and not the most important by any means.

I had just about resolved to give up and pick some young lady at random to approach when I saw her. Olivia was her name, I believe. A dance was near its end, and she and her partner were at the edge of the crowd. I realized - maybe for the first time - that there was something about Olivia, something so different from all the other ladies in the room that my feet automatically headed in her direction.

The dance ended. Olivia turned, her expression determined. I was right there smiling at her, but it seemed I startled her.

"Oh," she said, her expression softening some, "I didn't see you there."

"I was not there a moment ago." I paused to gauge her facial response. I wanted to give her the opportunity to say something, but it seemed she was waiting on me, so I switched to one of the customaries. "Would you care for the next dance?"

She said, "But of course," but her face said something else altogether. To tell the truth was as near taboo as a young lady showing some ankle, but I decided to do it anyway.

"You don't really want to dance, do you?" My question changed her expression again. This time a smile appeared, barely detectable - just in the corners of her lips. Her words denied her again.

"I would never refuse such a kind offer, my lord," she stated with a small courtsey. When she raised herself up, I put my hands on her shoulders, a move a little more provocative than she anticipated, her eyes going wide in surprise.

"Olivia, isn't it?" I asked. Her nod was hesitant as though she had to ask herself that same question, to verify in her own mind what her name was, but I shrugged that thought off. I had probably just pushed her into a mental fog. My behavior was definitely unorthodox for a gentleman of the court.

"You don't have to call me lord," I stated as I removed my hands from her shoulders. "I don't even like it when the servants call me that. Please, call me James." She muttered an agreement, and I continued, "Now, tell the truth. You don't really want to dance, do you?"

"I suppose not ... James." It took considerable effort for her to say my name, a thought that made me smile.

"Well, to tell you the truth," I replied, "I don't really want to dance either." I looked in the direction of the west facing windows. "The sun is going to set soon. Would you like to watch the sunset from the garden terrace?"

The End

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