My fingers dug into the wooden pole of my bed as Clara tightened the dark red corset, my ribs compacted together restricting air from my lungs and I felt the usual discomfort that comes from the corset tightening around my torso. I lifted myself up as Clara buttoned the crimson waistcoat around my corset; carefully she sewed the matching sleeves on the waistcoat taking extra care not to stab me with the pin and lastly I slipped into the crimson skirt, covering the pannier. I looked at my reflection in the full-length mirror; the crimson dress flattered every part of my body, the pannier made the skirt flow out, the corset hugged at my small waist and the colour of crimson brought out my dark green eyes and cream-colored skin. I smiled at the reflection and brought the red and gold mask to my face, the large red and pink feathers made the outfit prefect, the white diamond and ruby jewelery sparkled as I turned my body in various angles to capture the light. I leaned on Clara as I carefully slipped into the crimson silk shoes, the patterns of blossoming roses etched themselves in the material and a large silver buckle with white and red stones ordained the shoes. 

I gracefully stepped outside, the warm summer air lightly caressed my cheek and bright stars littered the night sky like a million fireflies. I looked at the carriage as it pulled in front of my home, the brown and white horses stamped their hooves on the cobble and the footman jumped from the front seat of carriage and opened the door before me. I nodded my head in a show of gratitude as he took my hand to help my up into the carriage, sitting myself comfortably the carriage jerked forward signaling that it was moving. I leaned my head against the window as the hooves created a rhythmic sound, making my eyelids and body heavy. 

The carriage jerked forward, my eyes snapping open immediately as the footman opened the carriage door, I walked out seeing that my family’s home decorated and lit by oil lamps. Quietly I entered the place where I was born, not much had changed over the years, the furniture still looked brand new, the chandeliers dangled precariously from the ceiling and the paintings on the walls still hung. The only thing that had changed was the color of the wallpaper, which was now a beautiful dark blue and white with humming birds suckling at the nectar of a flower. I could hear the lively chatting and music in the ballroom, the sounds melting together; oil lamps, roses and silk hung from the ceiling of the ballroom, the silk wrapped around the stone pillars and the oil lamps hanging precariously from the ceiling. 

Everyone was dancing joyfully; the music timed each step as gentlemen lifted gentlewomen into the air and carefully catching them in their arms. Their elaborate masks hid their identities as they danced together, eye contact never broken. 

“Your parents have certainly out done themselves this year Charlotte.” Spoke a voice behind me, turning around I saw William in a golden mask, horses rearing in an elaborate scene above the eyes and silver stones embedded themselves around the corners of the mask. He wore no wig today; instead, his blonde hair slicked back, his identity concealed from those who have not met him. 

We bowed slightly as William took hold of my hand and kissed it, letting his lips linger on the skin. A new song played in the background, at the same time William gently laid his arm on my waist, while I slipped my hand over his shoulder and bringing the other to hold his hand. With ease and grace, William whisked me to the dance floor, his feet gracefully skimming over the marble and his arms leading me back and forth. The notes flourished excitedly and William lifted and spun me with ease before placing my feet back on solid ground, I smiled as I looked into his bright blue eyes that held desire and mischievousness. I could tell he was happy that I had arrived; perhaps Amelia is not a graceful dancer. 

The dancing made my heart thud against my chest loudly and I could feel the corset tightening around me as the need for air did not reach my lungs enough. I excused myself from William and steadily took a glass of wine from a servant who had been carrying them on a silver platter, I drank the wine fast, feeling grateful as the liquid quenched my thirst and drenched my lungs. 

“Do you wish to dance Charlotte Dubois?” I spun around on the spot as the voice spoke behind me, Alexander Roux stood before me, a simple black mask covered his eyes and his outfit consisted of mainly crimson and black material. I smiled as he laid his hand gently on my waist, taking my hand and bringing me to the dance floor, my body tingled as he moved his body closer to mine while spinning around on the spot. I giggled as he lifted me, the notes flourishing excitedly. Alexander gracefully moved around the dance floor, his feet seeming to float above the ground, my heart raced from excitement as I felt his arms wrap around me tighter. 

Alexander laughed as I spun out, his hand lightly wrapped around my hand. I nearly screamed as I felt someone tug at my other hand, my feet spinning towards William who had pulled me towards him and out of Alexander’s reach. 

“I thought you were dancing with me?” Questioned William, venom filled his voice, his hand held my waist tightly and I could feel the anger pulsing from his body. My tongue restricted me from speaking, reluctantly I moved with William, the dance becoming fast, angry and unpredictable. 

Suddenly Alexander intercepted between us, his smile not leaving as we danced further away from William, my breathing became hard, my head felt light headed as we moved swiftly across the other side of the dance floor. 

“You should stay away from William. Perhaps you can stay with me.” Alexander chuckled as he lifted me and placed me down again, the exchange between William and Alexander made my memory remember the dream that I had a couple of weeks ago. Like the dream I felt safe with Alexander, I felt special and loved by him, unlike William who made me feel used. 

The End

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