Chapter 5-The Grand Ballroom
The crowd parts way for the mayor as he makes his way up to the stage and I stand up. Will is going to miss the speech! I feel kind of weird standing by myself when everyone else here either is standing with their significant other or a group of acquaintances.
The mayor finally makes it up onto the small stage in the back of the ballroom. The mass of people ahead of me turn their heads in his direction. The mayor taps his microphone a couple times to get our attention and soon enough, the room is quiet.
“Thank you...thank you all for coming out here tonight. As you know I’m getting a little old for my job. I have such high hopes for Wixton. Under this roof we’re all just people trying to find our way. We may have had some issues in the past, but I ask you all to move forward hand in hand,” the mayor’s voice echos and a few witches beside me scoff and whisper to each other.
It’s annoying how full of themselves they are and honestly, why are they even here if they don’t want to listen?
I can’t even concentrate on what the mayor is saying anymore, their whispers are too loud. Everyone else looks pleased by what he says though.
“Jeez, there’s way too many people here,” Will grumbles, walking up to me.
Finally, he’s here and I don’t have to stand alone worried he’ll never find me. He offers me a glass of champagne after taking a glass off a server’s drink tray.
“Oh, thanks,” I grin, holding the thin glass casually.
We stand side by side, having walked together near the center of the ballroom. Several witches have already been openly glaring at me, but none of them make a move to approach me directly.
Instead, one by one, they come to Will and introduce themselves and ask him if he’s enjoying the ball and so on. Rarely do any of them spare me a glance until Will introduces me to them.
We talk to a couple weres, but no vampires. Most of the vampires look really, really rich. I don’t see any coven members on that side of the ballroom.
The music changes into a slower song and I try to be less tense. An older couple starts dancing next to us and Will elbows me lightly with a dramatic wink.
“Oh no, I can’t dance...not here,” I chirp quickly, sipping my drink and looking around the room to find other people slow dancing now too.
“Oh come on!” he laughs.
I set my drink down on a nearby table. Might as well dance I guess, better than standing around and pretending to be happy to be here. I can’t help it. I just don’t feel safe, with so many witches and with everything that’s happened.
“This party sucks, I know,” Will whispers to me as we dance in a small circle.
I rest my head on his chest and watching the couple beside us. They look our age and I relax a little feeling more at ease.
“Yeah, but this house is pretty neat. Besides, the purpose behind this is what matters most,” I say quietly, enjoying the feeling of his arms around me.
A tall pretty witch with long braided brown hair walks by us and dumps her half full champagne glass on me.
“Hey!” Will retorts, but the witch is already lost in the crowd.
It was only a small splash of champagne. Since I’m wearing black the stain is hidden. A couple people stop dancing and look at us, my face turns red and I clench my phone and clutch so tight my knuckles turn white.
“It’s okay, just forget about it. R-really, I’m fine,” I say weakly.
However, Will refuses and storms after the witch. Maybe I should have followed him. It’s too late now though, at least everyone has resumed dancing. The last thing we want is to create a huge scene and ruin the party.
In search of a napkin to dry off the water mark, I walk over to one of the tables with food. I find a pile of fancy folded purple napkins and pick one up. Then I go over to an empty chair in a small secluded area back by the side of the stage.
I sit down on one of the many empty black chairs and unwrap my shawl from around me, laying it across the back of the chair. Then I put my phone and clutch under my chair for the meantime. I try to dab at the champagne splash trying my best to get it dry. I could choose to let that little charade ruin my night, but I’m not.
I didn’t think so before, but I think it’s pretty cool to see everyone dressed up so nicely. Besides the coven, everyone is wearing mostly pastel colors and with the warm lighting in here it would make quite a good picture. I’m sure they will be taking many, hopefully not with me in them. Another slow song comes on, but more people are dancing now. Envious, I stare at them all and feel my magic waver.
I keep searching the crowd hoping to find Will’s face. A few minutes go by, and then, I hear his voice coming my way.
“She is not what you say she is! You are a lunatic!” I hear him yell, still following the same witch around the entire ballroom.
He walks right passed me without even noticing me sitting right here.
Disappointed, I fold the soiled napkin on my lap and set it down on the chair next to me. He’s too far gone in the crowd again for me to try and find him. I should have spoken up, so why did I keep quiet? Thoughts whirl around my head as I glance down at my brooch and look at it closely, the champagne turned my brooch white!
Stupid coven, won’t even listen to reason or their own leader. The moment I step out of here I’ll be killed. I bet they’re plotting something right now on just how to do it. I unpin my brooch and look down at it solemnly.
“Sorry...” I whisper to Mom and Dad, knowing how upset they’d be knowing I got our heirloom permanently stained in such a silly way.
The crowd of people standing and chatting in front of me becomes white noise as my family’s faces cross my mind.
I can just sit around here, I’m going to have to go find him. Not bothering to pick up my shawl or my belongings, I bounce up off my seat in search of Will. I slowly progress through the massive crowd of people as the song changes again. Its melody is much more somber than the other songs as if to mock my hopeless search for Will in this crowd.
“Excuse me,” I apologize, passing an elderly couple.
Feeling lost, I stop in the middle of the ballroom giving up. A banquet server offers me a glass of champagne and I happily chug it down in one go. Effortlessly, I chug down another two glasses.
“Th-thank you,” I say feeling my cheeks redden from the alcohol. I clumsily make my way around the sea of other guests and settle down at the round table in the corner of the ballroom and read the banner above the stand.
Seating arrangements? I check the nameplates and table numbers to find where Will and I will be sitting. I find his name first and look for the table number, but when I read the other five people sitting at the table I don’t find my name.
“Um, is Valerie Parway on the list?” I ask the lady behind the stand, feeling embarrassed.
She gives me a sad smile then raises her glasses to the bridge of her nose and scans over a packet of papers. Her brows furrow and she reads through the packet a second time and narrows her eyes looking up at me.
“No...may I ask what you are doing here?”
“I came with William McCaster,” I answer.
Where is Will? I need him.
The woman ignores my comment and jots something down. I can already tell where this is headed and I really am starting to regret abandoning my phone on the other side of the room back where I was sitting.
“I’ll give you two options honey. You can walk out those doors alone or I can ask two nice gentlemen to escort you. Now I don’t know how you got in here, but I’m going to have to ask you to leave. Now,” she finishes curtly.
I inhale sharply, turning on my heels to obey and not cause a scene.
As if being chased, I make a beeline to the ballroom entrance and make it out into the empty big hallway.
Everything going on in there looks so different from out here. It’s like everyone in the ballroom is in their own little high society world, hidden away from everyone else outside. Pretending everything can be perfect if the mayor says so.
What a joke.
Yet, for the most part, they all seem to buy into it.
I continue staring into the ballroom, wishfully thinking Will might pass by the entrance and see me waiting out here. Minutes pass and multiple songs go by, the people dancing away their worries and doubts while I stand out here envious. Wishing I could be naive and not have to worry.
“Ms. Parway,” I hear a familiar voice greet me. So softly, I think I imagined it.