Liese walked out of her bedroom and paused just outside the sitting room door, wondering if Frey was on the other side waiting for her. She tugged on her gown and pulled at the bodice. How were her breasts going to remain hidden in the gown? For the tenth time, she cursed Frey for ordering the silk concoction.
He’d left the house. Her mind had been plunged in doubt, wondering if he would come back. Overwhelmed by both her revelation and exhausted from the effects of her medication, she’d slumped back on the bed hoping to keep an ear open for his return. Three hours later, she had woken up to find the box on top of the duvet at her feet. He had scribbled on the note that none of her ball gowns fit her anymore because of her ‘skeletal’ figure. Apparently, Frey had gone ahead and bought her a gown for the ball. It didn’t surprise her that Frey had done so. No. Growing up, they’d always gone shopping together for these affairs, or leased gowns and tuxedos for the ball season. What surprised her, and made her squirm, was the indecently low-cut bodice of the gown he had chosen for her. The silk, blood-red in colour, and the low neckline, combined to make indecent thoughts flash through her mind. What made it worse were the layers of petticoat beneath the gown. She had already tripped on them numerous times and she wondered how she was going to last the night. What kind of game was he playing at?
There was shuffling of feet from the other side of the door, and then it flew open to reveal Frey. He stood before her in black, long-tailed tuxedo, complemented by a white, single-breasted waistcoat, white shirt, and a sky-blue tie.
Had he always looked the way he now did?
“You clean up well, I must say.” Frey interrupted her curious studying.
She jerked her head up and locked gazes with him, just in time to see his eyes sweep over her head down to her toes. They lingered on her décolletage, and she saw the bobbing movement of his throat.
She cleared her throat noisily, and waited until he focused on her face. She swept a hand across her cleavage. “This? Really, Frey.”
He blinked innocently at her. She swept past him, almost tripping on the petticoats tangling at her legs.
“You don’t like the dress, Li?”
She whirled around and lifted the skirts, displaying an impressive array of crinolines. “How am I supposed to last the night? Unless I draw everyone else to my upper body, I think I’ll make a mess of it all. Why so Goth-Renaissance, anyway?”
Frey strolled to stand in front of her. “Turn around.”
“Unless you’d like to display what a beautiful back you have, turn around.” When she didn’t, he exhaled dramatically. “Apparently the Military Ball is dress-up night. We are going Renaissance Goth.” He placed his hands on her shoulders and turned her around.
A shiver danced along her spine as his fingers brushed the exposed skin of her lower back. Goosebumps prickled beneath his touch. She was aware of his fingers as they lingered a heartbeat longer. Frowning, she glanced over her shoulder and caught Frey’s eyes, glued to her as if entranced. He snapped out of it, and fixed his eyes to hers. Then, those midnight blue eyes dropped to her lips.
He raised his eyes in a lazy sweep, and met her gaze. Her heart missed a beat, and then picked up at a fast trot as he continued staring at her. Her cheeks heated as she swivelled around, unable to hold his gaze much longer. He chuckled in a deep, low voice, which only added to her confusion, both for her reaction and over Frey’s sudden interest.
“Where were we? Oh, yes. What’s wrong with the front? There was a time you used to be daring.”
Finally, trusting herself to talk, she said, “That was then.” And I was carefree, no worries, no sadness clouding my head, she added to herself. She closed her eyes, aware of Frey’s fingers working. For a moment after she was sure the laces were tied, his touch seemed to linger on her exposed skin, longer than was his usual style.
“You’re still you. Besides, it’s only for fun.” He turned her around and she stared up at him. Again, she noticed his fingers trailing along her shoulders.
Would it hurt to be free of guilt and pain for only one night? It had been a while since she’d attended a ball. Come to think of it, most balls she’d attended had been with Frey. She smiled at him. “Fun? So you want fun?”
Meet the Author
Cecilia Robert lives in Vienna with her two children, has an incurable obsession with books, anything romantic, and medieval architecture. When not working in her full time job, catching up with her two children, writing or reading, she can be found, daydreaming about her next hero in a story who'll make her swoon with just a look (or a word). She loves to knit, crochet, and take photos of old buildings.
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