His face was blank, but shock and anger was evident in his eyes, I couldn’t move, I no longer felt the desire that burned inside of me, instead I felt nothing; William no longer had an effect on my body anymore. 

“Charlotte, what’s wrong?” William asked, obviously concerned about my silence, my tongue could not form words, an overwhelming sense of dread coursed through me as the pianist left the doorway. I could hear his quiet footsteps climbing up the stairs and into the party. 

“Charlotte?” William asked again, his voice invaded my train of thought and I finally looked in his eyes, I could see the concern and frustration in them as the silence in the room was accompanied with the noise from upstairs. William let me down gently and quickly I pulled on my clothes, as did William. He tightened my corset has he threaded the lace through each hole and I could feel my ribs and lungs tightening again. 

“Will you please tell me what is wrong?” He asked in a strained voice as he pulled on his navy blue coat and straightened his grey wig. I looked at myself in the mirror, pinning my hair back where some had fallen and cleaning up the rouge that had smudged on my lips. I had to keep the image of the perfect gentlewoman, even if that image was to be dissolved by a nosy musician. 

“The pianist saw us.” I stated I was surprised that I sounded so calm and collected; however, I knew that the strict teachings of etiquette were now second nature to me. Williams face fell as I stared at him through the mirror, his jaw dropped and I could see the terror in his eyes. If the pianist ever uttered a word about us to Amelia or David then the both of us would surely be in a deadly situation.

To cheat on one’s wife is to be publicly humiliated. To be the mistress is to be branded a whore. 

Without another word William walked out of the room, I could hear his loud footsteps carry him up the stairs and into the upper room. Grabbing my crimson-feathered fan from the floor I slowly made my way to the upper room, my heart was beating loudly against my chest, nerves shook my hands slightly and I tried to cover the pain that was now throbbing painfully in my head with a small smile on my lips. 

I looked around the room, no one seemed to be angry or sad, and instead I could hear the polite conversations that surrounded Amelia, William and the pianist. Embarrassed that I had actually allowed William Harlette to advance on me I walked to the table of fruit and appetizers, I plucked a red cherry from the silver platter and gently placed it in my mouth. 

“I have not spoken a word to Amelia, Miss. Dubois.” I nearly choked on the cherry as I stepped back in surprise, the French accent laced the voice and the words rolled off the tongue gracefully. I looked at the pianist; a careful smile played on his lips, no sign of judgment in his eyes and instead his light brown eyes sparkled with charm and playfulness.

“Thank you…. Mr.-” 

“Alexander Roux.” 

“Charlotte.” I replied, bowing slightly as Alexander took my hand and placed a gentle kiss, a tingling sensation spread throughout my body at the simple gesture, no man, not even William had an effect on me quite like that.

“Your reputation around England is extremely accurate.” Alexander spoke softly, standing straight again, his lips still curved in a playful smile. 

“What reputation might that be Mr. Roux?” I asked my stomach churned uncomfortably, yet my smile never left. 

“That your beauty surpasses that of Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette and Queen Anne herself. I humbly beg for your forgiveness for ever doubting you and my fellow man, I should no longer doubt the words of men when it comes to beauty’s such as yourself.” 

His voice purred as he spoke every word quietly and intimately, heat rose from my chest to my cheeks, Alexander chuckled quietly as my face became a deep shade of red. For the first time I became ashamed of my actions, sleeping with men who have wives, morals, families and religion should be punishable.

“I am afraid that the reputation is grossly false. I deserve a reputation that depicts what I am. I am nothing but a whore Mr. Roux.” I felt like crying, I despised William Harlette yet I let him have me as if he were mine. As if, I was his wife.

“William Harlette has the devils charm. If it were anyone to be called a whore it would be him, you, along with all the women in this room are victims of his charm.” I could hear the anger in Alexander’s voice, he looked back at William and Amelia, before turning his attention back to me, all signs of anger disappeared. 

“Did you like my music Miss. Dubois?” Alexander said, smiling, I could hear the nervousness in his voice and on his face. He was very easy to read, somewhat like a book with large printed words. 

“You deserve more than a standing ovation.” I stated matter-of-factly, it was then that I remembered each note that he played, combining together to create a harmonious sound. I wanted to hear it again. 

Alexander’s smile grew exceptionally wide at this remark, his face radiating beauty and happiness. It was as if he was born a cherub. He looked back at Amelia and William, David was beckoning him to the conversation, Alexanders face fell and he nodded to David. 

“Come by my home tomorrow at noon in Clearwater, it is the home that has large hedge surrounding it. I want you to listen to some of my other works.” He spoke quickly and quietly, bowing down and kissing my hand lightly again. I nodded and watched him go to David, Amelia and William.

The End

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