01 A Huntress
I turned in the candlelight. Knowing the purple and gold of my mask caught the glimmer of orange flames. Reflecting the sparkle as it highlighted over my golden-brown features. My lips so dark that they were considered unfashionable.
My mother often pressed my maid to temper them down with light matte colors to pale them.
So, you don’t look such the siren. My mother would say.
But tonight, I’d dismissed all such trivialities. I rouged my cheeks and large beckoning lips. And darkened my lashes with kohl behind the half-mask. Willing to defy my mother and father and anyone else that crossed my path tonight.
I stalked onto the dance floor in a gold ball gown. My brown eyes intent on finding some bit of prey.
Some man to take out my frustrations on.
Some man to help me foil everyone else’s plans for me.
As I thought it, a gentleman in a specially tailored coat stepped before me. Half his overcoat was white, half was black. Perfectly mimicking the coloring of his mask. Shadowing eyes so dark brown they were nearly black. His square jaw was revealed just below the mask.
“Are you looking for someone?” He queried in a smooth tone.
“Not in the least. Quite the opposite actually.”
“Oh?” A dark brown brow lifted questioningly at me.
“I’m looking for a perfect no one.”
“Well,” He bowed gracefully and offered his hands. “It just so happens I am precisely no one. And perfectly adept at being so.”
I hesitated. So surprised I was unsure what to say as I stared at his awaiting hand.
He wants to dance?
“I guess, in this case, then I shall overlook your rudeness in approaching a lady without a proper introduction.” I stepped forward and forewent his hand to drop a gloved palm over his forearm.
“But I was looking for a lady a trifle different then the most proper kind.”
“An improper kind?” I asked haughtily. Very willing to put him in check if he were making advances.
“Not in the least. Just less then boring.”
“Well, boring is not something I’ve ever been accused of.” I tossed my long red hair. Sending the curls dancing wildly down my back since I’d refused to let my distraught maid put even a single pin in it.
It can be as wild as I intend to be tonight.
As he guided me further onto the Dancefloor, he turned me into his arms and unfolded his fingers to press his palm parallel to mine at shoulder height next to us. His other hand landed lightly along my lower back as he maneuvered the steps gracefully.
I looked up at him and gauged his height and gaze and the musky cologne he wore. Not a man I know.
That rather eased some of my troubles.
An unabashed rogue, no doubt. But in truth that was perhaps just what I was looking for this eve.
The stranger moved me in the dance.
“So since you’ve so rudely commandeered me for this dance despite what my card might’ve said, do you care to introduce yourself?”
“Not in the least.” His brown eyes danced.
It took me a moment to register that he was refusing to give me his name.
I gave him a surprised look.
He leaned a bit too close during the dance and whispered near my ear. “Perhaps I just call you Circe.”
Circe? Enchantress? Seductress. I recognized the word.
I felt my cheeks heat. “Then how about I call you Rogue, in return.”
He shrugged. “One can no more hide their nature then they can their intellect.”
“And you find yourself quite clever.” I guessed. Giving his tall frame an assessing look and noticing how much wider than mine his shoulders were.
I was tall and thin but no match for his thicker stature.
“Should I not?” He turned me. Making the gold gown spin out enough that the purple underskirt was briefly visible.