Adrianna felt even angrier than before as she stormed down the wooden floored hallways along the top floor of their house. Why was no one listening to her? No one seemed to understand that she wasn’t trying to be difficult, she just wanted someone to hear her voice.
She didn’t care that the slamming of her door reverberated around the house, something her father would reprimand her for later, she just needed to vent her frustration somehow and it seemed that her bedroom door was the unlucky subject of Adrianna’s anger. It shut with a bang like a gunshot and Adrianna threw herself onto the bed kicking and punching the pillows like a child throwing a tantrum. Her pillows muffled her screams and she writhed on the covers.
When she finally stopped thrashing around she felt much better, like a lot of the tension she was feeling had been released and she could finally breathe properly.
“Don’t let it get to you,” she told herself firmly. “You are an adult, you should be able to deal with these things. You don’t need Vittoria’s approval,” she said, trying to convince herself what she was saying was true. But she still felt an uneasy knot forming in the pit of her stomach. She didn’t necessarily need the support of her family, but that didn’t mean she didn’t want it.
She stayed in the same fairly relaxed mood for the rest of the day, mainly because she stayed away from her father and Vittoria. She couldn’t escape Luisa, who came and find her after midday in the library where Adrianna was hiding in a dark corner, trying not to be noticed. Luckily Luisa was in a perceptive mood and noticed that her sister wasn’t in the mood for chatting so just curled up at Adrianna’s feet with a book of her own and remained quiet.
Adrianna actually quite liked the company, even though they hardly said a word. It was just nice to know that someone was there.
Neither of the sisters went downstairs for the midday meal and no one came to find them so they stayed hidden until the sun began to descend towards the horizon and it was time for Adrianna to dress for the party.
Her maid came and found her, dragging a reluctant Adrianna to her room to dress in the outfit her father had chosen for her to wear that evening. Unlike the vivid red and black dress she had worn the night before, the one the Duke had picked for Countess Novia’s was decidedly less dramatic. The fabric was a deep purple with lace detailing around the low-cut neckline. The bodice hugged her figure and the skirts billowed out from Adrianna’s waist to the ground.
As her maid was lacing Adrianna into her corset behind the dressing screen, the door opened and Adrianna heard her father’s voice.
“Adrianna, I know you can hear me so listen. I’ve already told you that you need to make a good impression tonight but I don’t think you’ve been listening properly. Both our futures rest on you appearing to be the accomplished young lady you should be. I just wanted to remind you that there will be hell to pay if you mess this up.”
Adrianna remained silent, hoping her father wouldn’t require a response from her. She relaxed a little as she heard footsteps walking away and the door shutting behind the Duke as he exited the room.
Her corset sufficiently tight, her dress was lowered over her head and the laces done up at the back. She sat down in front of the mirror on her dressing table and allowed the maid to run the brush through her dark hair, separating each curl and pinning it exactly in place. The top half of her hair was piled into an elegant bun on the back of her head, while the rest of it was left to hang loose over her shoulders.
“You look beautiful,” the maid remarked in awe once she was finished. Adrianna studied herself in the mirror and was surprised by what she saw. She did look pretty she thought.
And then she saw the purple lace mask staring up at her from the table like an evil omen, watching her with its empty eyes.
Even so, she picked up the mask and put it against her face, passing the ribbons around the back of her head for her maid to tie underneath the bun on the back of her head.
Once this was done she was ready to go, her false face in place. Her father nodded his approval when she descended the grand stairs into the entrance hall, leading her briskly out into the dying light of their drive and helping her up into their carriage.
As Adrianna sat in silence with her father she made up her mind that she was going to try and do what her father wanted her to. When her mask was on she would be the dutiful daughter everyone believed her to be.
But behind it she would still fight for what she wanted; to promote equality for women and abandon the compulsory wearing of masks. It might only be a dream, but Adrianna wanted it to become a reality.