Split Self

It seemed as though my self had split into two parts, and they vied with each other now for supremacy.

He kissed me! Oh, but that kiss was marvelous!

He kissed you all right, but then he apologized for it immediately after. He obviously didn’t think the kiss was marvelous if he was begging you to forgive him for it.

I tried ignoring both voices, but I could only get them to fade into the background and not fully disappear.

“Would you like some punch, Miss Delacourt?” Lord Windham asked as he led me to a seat next to my guardian.

I smiled up at him, “Yes, that would be lovely.”

My guardian waited until his back was turned and then murmured, “Lord Windham is certainly very attentive tonight, dear.”

I bent my head down to study the ornate beading on my fan. “Oh, no more attentive than usual, Louisa.”

“Hmm.”

I felt compelled to keep arguing my point, no doubt some residual frustration from my confrontation with Lord Windham.

“We have a lot in common. We – we can talk together very easily. So he’s become sort of like a friend.”

“If you say so, dear, but I’ve seen the way he looks at you. I’m no fool, you know.”

I looked up at her and saw the wisdom mingled with humor in her warm gray eyes. I realized then I could hide my feelings from everyone else here, maybe even from Lord Windham himself, but not my guardian. She knew me too well.

Just then Lord Windham returned with two glasses of punch, one of which he offered to Louisa. “Lady Huxtable, you look like a diamond of the first water this evening” he said with a smile tugging the corner of his mouth.

Louisa rapped his wrist with her closed fan. “Save your flirting for the younger generation.”

“Alas, I am not worthy of Miss Delacourt’s attention.”

I gaped at Lord Windham. Whatever was he about now? He winked at me. I frowned at him.

“Yes, it’s quite tragic for men of my ilk, but truly Miss Delacourt is more deserving of a duke, or, at the very least, a viscount.”

Some of the matrons seated near us trilled with laughter. “What a sense of humor! And quite handsome, too,” one of them said in an overly loud whisper. I could feel my hands shaking.

“Stop this nonsense right now. Have you been in the cups?” I hissed at him through my teeth.

He smiled beatifically down at me, “I’ll stop if you let me have your dance card.”

I fumbled through my reticule, nearly tipping the entire contents of my glass of punch into my lap. After much work, I was able to extricate the dance card.

“Fine, here it is.”

Lord Windham bent over the card and scratched something on it, then handed it back to me.

I stared at what he’d written. He’d put his name down for nine o’clock and ten o’clock.

I looked back up, a question already forming on my lips. But he was gone.

The End

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