Melina held her head high as she contemplated the Lady’s offer. An escape from poverty; an escape from service… She looked directly into d’Argent’s eyes and saw the sparkle of promise they held in an otherwise neutral face. Melina nodded tersely, tense with expectation and cold from the rising breeze. A Spring storm was on the horizon.
Cecily d’Argent allowed a slight smile to crease her lips as she beckoned Melina closer to the tub where she reclined. She extended a leg and indicated that the girl should begin to bathe her.
“You will learn poise, elocution, the arts of beauty and passion,” d’Argent said, gazing out the window at the gathering clouds. “You will present yourself as a lady in public and brook no argument. Modesty becomes those girls born to wealth, but fire must drive your ambition.”
Melina continued to run the wash cloth over her Lady’s body in silence, anticipating her first lesson. Cecily caught Melina’s chin in the long, supple fingers of her right hand and examined her face critically. In spite of herself, Melina dropped her eyes to the bath water and held her breath, waiting for the results of this critical evaluation; the set of her shoulders conveyed her determination.
“Bring my robe,” Lady d’Argent commanded, “and a mirror and my brushes. We will start with your appearance as a woman of significance.” The Lady stood, steaming water dripping down her body and into the tub as Melina fetched the required items.
First steps along a path
from which there’s no turning back.
Can she brave the storm’s wrath
in a night that’s so black?