I had every reason to be jealous of Isabelle. She was everything I was not – she had the flaxen curls, porcelain skin and blue eyes that were all the rage at the moment. Her waist was tiny and hardly had any need of a corset. Her posture was perfect, her dancing divine.
While my complexion had no fault, it was darker than Isabelle’s, almost approaching olive. My hair was pin-straight and black, refusing to stay in the crown of curls that was the current fashion. Then there were my “feline” eyes, which were a rather pretty color, almost emerald. They might not be fashionable but I quite liked them anyways. Lastly, my posture (not to mention my dancing) needed improvement.
Yes, I had every reason to be jealous of my cousin, this “Fair Rose,” as one of her previous suitors had dubbed her. But I could never be jealous of Isabelle. Because this rose came without thorns, without even one malicious thought in her head.
I watched as she gazed up at de Grave, her blue eyes soft with affection. How ironic, that what I most admired in her – her unflagging ability to see the best in everyone, and not rely on others’ judgment – was what was leading to her downfall.
“Why aren’t you two out dancing? Why are you seated like a pair of hens?” de Grave asked Lord Windham and me, his dark eyes scornful as he surveyed the row of matrons seated against the wall. They bristled as they met his stare. De Grave just laughed that strange, hollow laugh of his before turning back to us.
“Miss Delacourt and I were just figuring out how best to fix her fan,” Lord Windham said, smiling at me in a way that made my stomach hurt.
“Oh, Sam, you broke another fan!” Isabelle cried with dismay. I sighed.
Then Lord Windham did something quite surprising.
“Oh, no, don’t go blaming poor Miss Delacourt for something I did. You see, it broke when I was examining the stitching. Just ask Vincent – I’ve always been a bit clumsy.”
“Yes, he possesses the dubious power of breaking things just by looking at them.”
While the four of us were laughing, I stole a glance at Lord Windham and found him already looking my way. He winked. I smiled at him gratefully.