~ Chapter Two ~
Rosie sat at a table in the corner, silently inspecting the room heaving with men in expensive suits and women in elegant dresses. She noted how the women laughed almost too enthusiastically at the gentlemen's jokes. One man turned to his friend raising his eyebrows and excused himself.
The small orchestra, comprised of around fifteen musical members, played in the background. Rosie tapped her silver shoes to the beat as she watched the people start to couple together to dance. She sighed deeply to herself and stared into her glass. It was going to be yet another convention where she would once again be excluded. It was fate. She was going to be alone forever.
Her thoughts were interrupted as a fairly plump man approached her table. He was short, maybe around five feet and seven inches, Rosie approximated. His jet black hair was streaked with grey and was slicked back. His beard had probably been combed for the evening. His green eyes were filled with secrets of evil.
Rosie knew him- knew him well. The man before her was a friend of her fathers- a wealthy man and almost twice her age. When the men in her area were called to help in the war, her father went and fought whilst the man before her stayed in his grand mansion like a coward. She hated him; despised him, wished longingly that her father was the one who had stayed at home whilst he had taken his place. As much as she hated this man, she had been raised to be polite and to have manners and courtesy. She bit her tongue.
"Mr Solomon" Rosie forced a smile and nodded her head to greet him. She did not stand. "How have you been?"
"Please Rosie, call me Derek." He smiled and kissed her hand. "I have been well, would you like to dance?"
The question caught Rosie off-guard. "Dance?" she repeated, question in her voice. There was nothing she wanted less. She looked at her glass and then back at him, realising that he was still holding her hand. "No, I possibly couldn't! I'm a terrible dancer… I don't know how…" Her voice trailed off.
"Then I shall teach you." Derek replied defiantly, providing her with no reason to decline his invitation. "Come."
Before she could reply, he pulled her to her feet and trailed her to the middle of the room among the other dancing couples. Derek wrapped the other hand around Rosie's waist and she recoiled a little from his touch. He didn't seem to even notice.
"Now, put you other hand on my shoulder." Obediently she did. "Good. Now follow my lead." He ordered as he started to dance to the music.
Rosie struggled to keep up with his clumsy footwork. He would dance slowly, and then suddenly dance quickly like he couldn't decide which speed to dance. Consequently, he had created a random mixture of his own accord. A few times Rosie accidentally stood on his toes and he'd curse under his breath. She'd apologise for her incompetence and lack of dancing expertise but mentally she was applauding herself for his injuries.
He raised his hand holding hers and dropped his hand from her waist. Rosie stared at him and frowned.
He raised an eyebrow at her like the gesture wasn't obvious. "Twirl." He ordered.
Rosie looked at him incredulously. "Twirl?" She hadn't twirled since she was a little girl dancing with her father.
"Yes. Twirl." Mr Solomon instructed firmly and she did what she was told.
Her hands dropped to her sides. She didn't want to dance with him any longer. The thought repulsed her. She curtsied to him as the song finished and turned to walk away.
Derek- Mr Solomon- was not finished with her. He pulled her back by her hand and she gasped at his unruly grip.
"Ow! Derek! You're hurting me!" She exclaimed with surprise.
He pulled her against him. "Just one more dance, my dear." He whispered, grinning. She struggled to break free but he held her firmly until she stopped resisting him. Eventually Rosie sighed and rested her chin on his shoulder. As he snaked his fingers along the ribbon of her corset back, she kept all her effort to prevent herself from crying.
A young man with blond hair and dark blue eyes gazed over his companion's shoulder, frowning to see Rosie's upset expression. "Are you alright?" He mouthed at her.
Rosie shook her head and bit the insides of her cheeks. "Save me" she mouthed back with eyes filled with desperation.
The man pulled away from his dance partner, a pretty brunette in an emerald green gown, and bowed to her as the song finished. Derek also released Rosie to her relief, and they bowed and curtsied to each other.
Derek grabbed onto her wrist. "Rosie-"
"Excuse me, sir? Pardon me." Rosie looked up from her wrist as he dropped her hand. "Excuse me? My lady?" It was the man who had moments ago been miming to her. "May I have this dance?" He said, smiling to reveal a perfect set of white teeth.
"Certainly, I'd be delighted." Rosie smiled, thankful for the distraction. Rosie took the handsome strangers hand and allowed him to guide her away.
He faced her; his dark blue eyes locking onto her pale ones. "Hello" he said with a warm smile.
"Hello" Rosie repeated, unable to help herself from smiling back and blushing. "Thank you… Thank you for saving me."
"You're very welcome. What is the beautiful ladies name, might I ask?"
"Rosie?" He repeated. He kissed her hand softly whilst keeping his eyes fixed on hers. "A beautiful name for a beautiful girl." Rosie giggled. "Will the beautiful girl dance with her saviour?" He enquired with a rich deep voice.
"Does my saviour have a name?"
"Ah, answering a question with another question! Your saviour does indeed have a name."
Rosie laughed. "Well sir, may I be as bold as to ask you what it is?"
The man smiled back at Rosie, his dark night blue eyes bursting with mystery and interest. "Yes, you may." Around them, men and women bowed and curtsied as the song ended and a new one began. "After this dance."
Rosie did not object. They danced together in a lively dance. Spinning, hopping, twirling and skipping. Couples parted as Rosie and the stranger danced through the crowd. The tempo of the song changed and so did their dancing in a flawless transition of movement. Rosie wasn't looking around her. She was looking at him- the stranger whose name she did not know; her anonymous saviour. And he was looking back at her.
The music stopped and they slowly but hesitantly pulled away from each other to bow and curtsy- a gesture of common courtesy to thank the other person for a good dance. Around them, spectators had gathered, providing them with a large circle to dance. They began to applaud them as Rosie blushed with the realisation that they had been the only ones dancing as the others watched.
It didn't apparently seem to bother him. His eyes never left her face.
"She told me she didn't know how to dance…" Mr Solomon said, shaking his head in disbelief at what he had just witnessed; one of the best dances he had ever seen.
"Of course she can dance, Derek. She has had lessons for the past ten years." Eva said whilst applauding.
"Why would she tell me that Eva? Why would she say that to me? Why would she lie?" He asked, his voice rising in frustration and anger.
The stranger gently stroked a strand of hair from Rosie's face and tucked it back behind her ear before gently resting his lips upon hers.
Eva smiled as she watched her daughter share her first kiss as the crowd roared with approval. "That's why" she replied, pointing to her daughter for Mr Solomon to watch the two lovers happily caress each other.
Mr Solomon's face reddened with jealousy. "Who is that?! Who is that stranger?!" Derek demanded angrily.
"You don't know him? Surely you must" replied Eva. "That's Henry. The Duke's son."