I stared at myself in the mirror, liking what I saw.
I had always been confident in my appearance. I knew I was beautiful, but right then I felt like a diamond. Onyx coloured hair tumbled past my shoulders, parts clipped up in emerald sparkling gem clips, the rest curled to perfection. Wide hazel eyes gazed back at me, hidden behind thick black lashes. My skin, olive toned and smooth, shone radiantly in the flickering candlelight placed on the grand white dresser I was sat at now.
'Are you ready Miss Beaufort?' Mary knocked at the door.
'I am ready Mary,' I told her, standing up. I was wearing a beautiful dress that matched the colour of my hair clips. The bodice was made of silk, with intricate designs of gold entwined in fancy patterns lacing up the side. The skirt fell in tiers, falling around my feet.
'How is Madeline?'
'She has finished dressing. Did you wish to see her?'
I nodded, turning back to the mirror, giving my own appearance a once over. Seconds later, my sister appeared in the room, looking stunningly beautiful in a dark blue dress that complemented her figure perfectly. My eyes lingered over her form, narrowing slightly at her natural beauty. I loved my sister, but there had always been some quiet rivalry between us both. Madeline always tried to outshine me, and oh had I fought back. We had grown up competing for the attention, it was just how we were.
'You're looking lovely,' she smiled at me.
'Thank you, as are you. Are you ready?' I stepped forward towards the door where Mary was still stood. 'You may leave now Mary, thank you.' After a short nod, Mary left us.
* * *
I watched the people before me, dancing and twirling elegantly on the floor with half a smirk playing on my lips. They all seemed so oblivious to the outside world, caught up in their own bubble of pretentiousness and self-importance. They cared for no one but themselves and anyone else they considered to be acceptable to their high standards. I had always watched them, as a little girl, secretly wondering if I could ever be like them. It had always seemed such a chore, keeping up these appearances, but now I was here I realized that it was the easiest thing in the world. All I had to be, was cold, distant and not prepared to give anyone outside our circle the time of day.
Madeline was caught up in a dance with some fancy, handsome stranger. This was not unheard of, she was forever gaining male admirers. This was unfortunate however if our father ever found out. She had an arranged marriage planned, which was meant to unite two opposing houses and bring them together. I knew she didn't like it and she resented our father for it. It certainly didn't stop her from having a good time though.
'Would you care for a dance?' someone appeared in front of me, extending his hand slightly. I glanced up at him casually, calculating if he was going to be good enough for my presence. He was attractive, you'd have to be blind not to notice that, and the devilish smile playing on his lips right now ignited something within me. It brought out my wilder side and I felt a sudden impulse to be incredibly reckless.
'No. But we could go outside together.' I didn't wait for his reply as I led the way; I knew he'd be following me. No man had resisted me yet.
The breeze was fresh, the stars were bright and the crisp, invigorating scent of the night time enticed all of my senses. I glided over to the balcony, surveying the quiet town below us. I felt cool fingers brush the side of my throat, gently pulling my hair away.
'You look beautiful Miss Beaufort.'
'Thank you,' I murmured, turning to face him. Studying him closely, I became aware that he wasn't a stranger, but in fact Harry Gatsby, the Earl's son. He was rich, full of charm but incredibly deadly. He could put on a perfect facade for everyone else to see, but beneath that lay something much more sinister. But maybe I was okay with that. Maybe I needed danger.
'More beautiful than my sister?' I arched my eyebrow.
'Of course you are,' he never hesitated. My fingers snaked up his arm, his back, became tangled in his hair as I brought him closer. He pulled my body towards his and kissed me heavily, his hot breath mingling with my own. A moan of ecstasy escaped his lips as the passion intensified and things started to heat up. I had to remember where we were as I eventually pulled away slightly. Lucky for me, no one was around.
'You really are something,' he murmured against my lips, his arm still wrapped firmly around my waist. I laughed, slipping my hand into his.
'Come on,' I led the way off the balcony, back into the main ballroom.
'I have a better idea,' his eyes flickered to the stairs.
'I am a lady of class Mr Gatsby,' I pretended to be shocked.
'We both know that's not true,' he laughed, his eyes flashing hungrily.
'What's that supposed to mean?'
'Look at you. You're dressed in tightly fitting dresses, you have your hair done up all fancy and you look stunning. You're so incredibly tempting and you know that. You do it to tease me. To taunt me.'
'You? What makes you think it was you I chose tonight?' I rose an eyebrow.
He had no reply for that and I laughed. 'Exactly. Now if you'll excuse me, I must go mingle.'
I started to pull my hand out of his, but his grip on my fingers didn't loosen. I turned to face him and sighed.
'Harry what are you doing?'
'You can't do all that out on the balcony and then leave me. It's cruel.'
'What if my sister sees us hmm? Or worse, my father.'
'Nobody's going to see us,' he smiled, taking a step closer to me, placing his hands on either side of my face. He kissed me again, lightly this time though. 'Come on.'
I let him lead me up the stairs.