The Newnham ball happened every year with lights strung from the walls and dangling above dancers heads as they spun with their partners. Mrs. Wilson was the organiser of the event this year, and was desperate to make it the best yet. The only man not taking part in the events was new to town. His friend stood beside him as they talked to each other and watched the dancers. “Why won’t you join in Nathan? You’re a part of this town for as long as you’re here. Have some fun.”

“Samuel I just can’t. I don’t belong here, not after what’s happened, and you know that. Trust me I won’t be staying for long.” His mind flicked back to two weeks earlier when he had arrived on Samuel’s doorstep, tired and partly drunk, as he asked a favour of his friend. “Just one dance. It’s not like there aren’t any young woman you might like.” Samuel jabbed his elbow into Nathan’s side as he gestured at a group of woman who had just entered. “The Farbranch sisters have always lived here. They’re very friendly and would love to dance with someone like you,” No answer came from Nathan who was watching the group intently. “Well if you won’t dance than I will. It’s better than staying here all night.” Nathan sighed as he watched his friend enjoy the company of one of the sisters. “You’re new in Newnham, aren’t you?” He turned to look at the young woman talking to him and watched her speak to him. “Sorry I don’t mean to be rude. I was just wandering because I’ve never seen you here before.”

“It’s fine...” Nathan trailed off as he looked at her properly, searching those blue, blue eyes for something he didn’t even know. “You’re Mr. Farbranch’s daughters aren’t you?”

“Yes, I’m Emily Farbranch, it’s nice to meet you.”

“Nathan. Nathan Granger. Would you like to dance?”

“Yes, that would be nice.” She smiled sweetly at him and he took her arm and walked her away. Behind his false smile Nathan’s mind wandered at what he had said. “It’s not a complete lie,” He thought to himself, “I mean, my name really is Nathan, but no one can know who I really am. Of course I’m not a Granger, but it’s a lot less suspicious. What have I done? If someone finds out-“ His train of thoughts was stopped as she started talking to him in her soft, slightly accented voice. “So how are you related to Mr. Granger?”

“I’m his cousin, we went to university together and are good friends.”

“Mr. Grangers a good man, he does a lot for the town, very wealthy as well. What do you do for a living?” This question had him stuck as he tried to think straight, the heat was making him dizzy as they spun round and round with the other dancers. “I’m a lawyer. Although I don’t have my own practice and haven’t worked for a while now.”

“Are you alright? You look a bit flushed. Maybe we should go outside...?” They walked out onto the balcony and watched over the town of Newnham. “I’ve lived here for all of my twenty years. What was your home like, before you came to stay here? It’s just that we rarely go anywhere except for when we stay with relatives.”

“It was a town, like Newnham, although not as friendly. I have to say that it could be nice, however the people living there weren’t very neighbourly.”

“Oh that’s a shame.” They stood in silence for a few minutes, neither of them knowing what to say. “What about you? I’ve gone on about myself and I want to know about you.” Her eyes glinted in the moonlight as she smile at him and threaded her arm through his. “Well, I’ve lived in Newnham all my life but have spent summers living with my aunt. I have four sisters and am the third oldest. I also have an older brother who is studying medicine at university. He’s always wanted to be a doctor. What else would you like to know?” She looked into his eyes then and there was a lot more about her Nathan wanted to know. “What are your dreams in life?”

“Well that’s a limited answer, obviously I’m a woman, so I guess the dream is to get married to a wealthy man, have kids and live in a big house near Newnham.” Sadness crept into her voice as her head sank towards her shoulders. Nathan stopped walking and lifted Emily’s head to look at her. “To me that doesn’t sound like your dream. If you could do anything in the world what would it be?”

“I would go to university and become educated in something other than music, art and sewing. I would do something to help people that was exciting as well. Helping those who are worse off than me.” Passion over took Emily as she confessed her dreams to this mysterious stranger she’d only met an hour earlier. By the time she had finished her cheeks were red with embarrassment, “I’m sorry, it wasn’t right of me to burden you like this. It wasn’t proper talk for a woman, I know that. I should go, my sisters will be looking for me.”

“Wait. Don’t go yet. We never had that proper dance.” A smiled played across his lips as he looked at the humble surprise in her face. He took her hand and twirled her under his arm. They stepped and twirled as she laughed at his clumsy mistakes and the way he dipped her backwards. Nathan held Emily in his arms and enjoyed himself for the first time in weeks. Stars twinkled above them as they spent the next hour laughing with one another and enjoying the time they had to themselves. “Emily! Where are you?” A woman’s voice came from the French doors as a middle aged woman searched for her daughter. “That’s my mother, sorry I have to go. I didn’t know it was so late!” She laughed as she looked at the shadowed figure across the garden. “Will I see you again?” Emily turned back to Nathan who was watching her curiously. “I should think so. Now go before she sends out a search party for you!” She smiled at him and gave a shy wave as they parted for the night. For once Nathan had been left speechless as he watched her leave the garden with her mother. He stood for a few  moments as he thought about the girl he’d met, then returned to the dance to find his friend.

The End

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