Xana cursed herself for failing to notice his approach. Looking through the arch she saw that the pool of colour had stilled.
A man stood barely a foot away from the two young women. His silver eyes glinted like diamonds in the cool light. Not a strand of his own raven hair was out of place. If you were to observe him from afar his chiselled looks and confident demeanour may draw you in. Yet, upon closer inspection, his cold eyes and arrogant stature, along with his apathetic presence would yield the opposite reaction.
Without a word, he offered his arm, which Xana, in equal silence, took. The sea parted as the pair waltzed towards the elevated floor, leaving the young farm girl behind.
"The purpose of this odious ball is to celebrate your coming of age. At least pretend to enjoy yourself."
"I assure you, I am quite content." She carefully looked ahead as she spoke, appearing to observe the refined dancing that had started up again.
"Your lies are as poor as your reasons will be for allowing that farm girl to enter our home." Nervous as Xana was, she could only hear the anger that she was looking for in her brother's voice, unconsciously she missed the undertone.
"Ansgar please, I care little for her farming status, I love her."
Before she could plead her case further, Ansgar had pulled her through a door, hidden behind the extravagant drapes. They quickly journeyed through a small passage that curved round the grand hall, and emerged back in the entrance hall. The cool air of the open doors caressing Xana's face.
"Your love will make you an outcast in this world," Ansgar spat at her. "This snake you 'love' has tempted you and you have proven yourself weak enough to follow."
In rage, Xana raised her hand to strike.