Call me Invisible Woman. By no means am I dazzling, radiant, or entrancing. I am plain and have never felt the need to be beautiful. I hide behind drab cloth over hoop skirts, forever in mourning. Never invited to the fancy balls because no one knows my name. Until tonight, when I forced was entry into the most gallant ball of all, Madame DeLacey's. She, being my dance instructor, begged for me to come and when I hesitated at the door was rushed in by her. So this is where I am now, invisible, with my hands folded neatly in front of me next to a large white pillar that reached past the second floor. I watched the couples gaily dancing about the room where the band was playing. Women swirled by in reds and pinks and blues with men in dashing clothing, no doubt their Sunday best. Of all the men only three stood by themselves, deep in conversation, not in fact dancing with women who were gossiping and glancing their way. They hardly seemed to notice. I couldn't look away, not because they were handsome, thought they were, but instead because they were oblivious to their surroundings.
That is until Madame DeLacey called upon them but when they didn't even look up, she touched their arms and they dropped everything completely to smile at their host. DeLacey was anything but ordinary, her gown was emerald with black tassels, her hair done up with feathers and pearls. Her aging face did little to offset the vibrancy of her smile and her mood. She frowned looking around the marble room, then she saw me and smiled before pointing toward me. Instantly I was mortified and looked down to inspect my lace gloves. They were worn out and grayish like my dress which was obviously a day dress, nothing as magical as DeLacey or any other girls. I not lie to you, I am plain with basic features and look serious about everything, no matter the topic. DeLacey called my name over the sound of trumpets and violins and I heard her but decided to play it off as if I couldn't hear a thing. With one last look over the crowd of joyous men and women, I exited the room to powder my nose.
I stared at my reflection, sat down on a firm couch in between two large vases of flowers. DeLacey was a crazy old women, that's for sure. I checked my breath, took care of the curls that had begun to limp and slipped my shoes off, they were as horrible to wear as they looked. A knock on the door and before I could answer, in came a gentleman.
"Oh! Sir, I think you have the wrong room." I said, a hand at my beating breast.
He smiled coyly, "No, Madame DeLacey sent me to receive you. She told me to request a dance with you."'
"No thank you." I waved him away.
"I didn't say that I would ask you, though she said you were her best student as far as waltzing goes." He shut the door behind him.
"How nice," I blushed at the floor, "What is your name, if you plan on staying."
"I don't." and with that he kissed my hand and left.
After pondering and pacing back and forth, I called it quits on trying to find him again to demand his name and went to say goodbye. Madame was still gleefully watching her dancers when I entered the grand room again. I excused myself through the lingering people on the sides, before coming to a halt in front of the table. There stood the three gentlemen again, pleasing DeLacey with kisses and promises to come again and visit soon. Once they had left the room, I went up to tell her I was leaving as well.
"Good heavens, you can't leave now! Not after my boys have left, and certainly without your chaperone!" Madame had insisted.
"Very well, I'll wait for my chaperone in the front room. Thank you for inviting me, Madame DeLacey."
"Any time my dear, next time you'll dance." she winked and went to go chat with others.
I gathered my coat from the doorman and was putting on when I heard that voice again.
"Leaving so soon?" it boomed over the stair case.
"Yes, I'm afraid that it's past resting time." I refused to meet his eye.
He was smoking, "Where is your chaperone, my dear?"
No use in lying, "I don't have one."
"Well we can't have that, a woman alone on the streets, and walking no less. Down right shameful.I'll be your chaperone!"
"Sir, I thank you for your help, but I don't know your name so you are just as frightening as any person on the street to be honest." I walked to the door.
He beat me there, "Ma'am, I am Lord Freedford DeLacey the second, at your service."
I put my hand to my gaping mouth; awkwardly I bowed before the lord. Then remembering that women are supposed to curtsey, I did that as well. He chuckled and opened the door for me.
"Lord DeLacey, my name is Anastasia Layne." again I curtsied.
"The Layne family is short lived, is it not? I believe only one male of this generation and he is married to a barren women?" he recited.
"Of course," I couldn't stop gawking at him.
"Let me walk you home, my lady."
I nodded numbly.
"You know, my mother didn't ask me to receive you..." he offered her his arm.
"No?" she put her hand on his arm.
"She asked me to charm you." Lord Freedford said, "And I think that's exactly what I'll do."