The day of the dance came and Sarah was definitely dragging her feet. She woke in the morning, packing her things to make her way to Katie’s house before heading down for breakfast.
“Good morning all!” She said, smiling sweetly.
“Good morning honey pie” her mother replied, pushing the plate of eggs toward Sarah. “Make sure you eat well today before the dance. Do you have everything you need?”
Sarah took a bite and nodded. “Yes ma’am. I have everything ready.”
“Good girl. Now, remember to behave yourself tonight. Only one glass of brandy or champagne. And make sure you try to speak with some of the nice young men there.”
Sarah rolled her eyes with a sigh. “Yes, Mama.”
When Sarah arrived at Katie’s home she was greeted by Katie at the door. “Yay! You’re here! Come out to the garden with me, let the boys take your things up.” Katie hooked her arm in Sarah’s and walked to the back of the house.
As they walked arm in arm around the large backyard Katie seemed hesitant. “What’s going on in your mind Kate?” Sarah asked, eying her hesitation.
“Well... you have to promise not to get upset. But I overheard daddy talking on the telephone.”
“Turns out your daddy is using this party as an excuse sweet talk some big cattle man in town from Texas into doing some collaboration with his company. This whole party is just business, and I heard he has a son...”
Sarah’s face turned a shade of green. “Are you serious?” If she hadn’t wanted to go to the ball before, she definitely didn’t want to go now. Sarah scoffed. “I should just stay home.”
“Oh gosh please don’t. I’ll be bored out of my mind without you there.” Katie said, tilting her head up to the sky.
Sarah sighed, she knew there was no way out of this. “Okay, lets go in, you can show me what you’re wearing tonight.”
Katie smiled and took her friend’s hand as they walked back to the house. Upstairs in Katie’s room Sarah was lying on the bed skimming through a book when Katie spoke. “I heard the cattle man’s son is handsome.” She knew Katie was just prodding to see if she had seen him yet, or was even interested.
“Ha! He could be the handsomest man on earth and I still wouldn’t care. I have no desire to get sucked into a marriage just to please my father. When I get married, I’ll marry the man I want.”
Katie laughed, “From your mouth to God’s ears, sis.”
As the ball drew nearer the girls did each other’s hair. Sarah opted for an elegant updo with some braiding and some pearls pinned in. After they finished they laced themselves into their gowns. Sarah had chosen her favorite dress for the night. It was a light green color that made her dark green eyes pop. The sleeves sat off the shoulder revealing a bit of her collarbone. The bodice had lace and the full skirt had delicate embroidery down at the bottom. It looked fabulous on her and she knew looking good would help her feel better about the evening.
After helping Katie into her pink gown and adding finishing touches to their hair the girls slid on their shoes and gloves and headed down the stairs.
“Please don’t be too late!” Katie’s mother cried out as they left.
“Does that mean we can just use that as an excuse to leave early?” Sarah teased, making Katie giggle.
The Hansen’s were a wealthy family in town, owning one of the larger houses in the neighborhood. It was a beautiful house and as they rode up it was already bustling with guests. The girls climbed down from the buggy and linked arms as they walked inside. They were greeted in the entry by the Hansen’s before making their way into the ballroom.
There was already a dance going and the girls stood to the side, talking as they waited for the song to finish. “Hello, Miss Katie,” a young man walked up and bowed his head a bit, “ Can I have the next dance?”
“Of course, John,” she smiled sweetly and after he walked away she turned back to Sarah. “Okay, which one do you think is the cattle man?”
“I have no idea. What do people from Texas even look like?” Sarah replied
“Big hats and big cigars.” Katie shrugged making Sarah laugh. They were interrupted by another dance request, this time for Sarah.
“Miss Sarah you’re looking lovely this evening,” Nathanael started, ”save the next dance for me?”
“Thank you, Nathanael,” she replied sweetly. “Of course you can have the next dance.”
The girls were found by their partners a few minutes later when the song ended. Taking their places they waltzed around the dance floor, making small talk with the boys that had asked them to dance.
The girls returned to their spot when they heard a booming voice from the entry. “George, old friend! Well old boy, how have you been?” Sarah could see her father talking to a large man she had never seen before.
Sarah and Katie danced a few more times before making their way to the other room to find themselves a drink. As they took their glasses Sarah turned to see her mother walking toward them.
“Sarah! Sarah! Dear come with me, your father has some friends he’d like to introduce to all of us.”
Sarah turned to Katie with a look for help, only to find Sarah with a tight smile and a shrug. Traitor. She turned back to her mother, “Yes, ma’am.” Her mother took her hand and led her to another room. Her father turned to her, giving her his best business smile.
“Ah! Here you are my girl. Brick Evans, this is my daughter Sarah. Sarah, this is Brick.”
The large man took her hand in his “Well Sarah you are just the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in this room. Must take after your mother,” he offered with a wink.
Sarah smiled warmly, “Thank you Mr. Evans, it’s very nice to meet you. Are you here on business?”
“Yes I am, I just brought some cattle in for private sale and I’m about to head home. Say, you should really meet my son, he’s here somewhere.” He began to look around the room. “Ah! Sterling! Come!”
Sarah turned to see the most handsome man she had ever laid eyes on. He was tall, with dark hair and bright blue eyes. His face was tanned and chiseled from working in the sun. He was dressed well but she could tell by the size of his arms that he worked hard. She stood there wide eyed for a moment before catching herself.
“Sarah Doyle, this is my son Sterling.”
“Pleased to meet you Mr. Evans.” She held out her hand to greet him. He took it lightly but without any emotion, he replied, “Lovely to meet you Miss Doyle.” He turned to walk away before his father caught him. “Sterling, ask the girl to dance.” Mr. Evans motioned to Sarah. Before she could protest Sterling had walked over to her. “Would you like to dance?”
Sarah hardly realized what she said until she found herself being led to the dance floor.
“Well George, lets find a quiet corner and talk some business,” she heard Mr. Evans say, patting her father on the back.
“What do you do for work Mr. Evans?” Sarah asked, trying to make small talk.
“I work for my father, training to take over the business.” He spoke flatly, barely making eye contact.
“Do you enjoy that?” she asked
“I don’t have much choice, just like I didn’t have much choice tonight,” he replied.
“I didn’t want to come either, but I guess we have to make the best of it,” Sarah sighed.
Sterling scoffed, “I guess. The only reason we are here is to do some business.”
“Yes, I caught that.”
They danced in silence for another minute until the song was over. When it ended he led her off the floor and then disappeared.
“Who. Was. That?” She heard Katie say from behind her.
“Cattle man junior,” she said with a roll of her eyes.
“Sarah, he’s so handsome!” Katie laughed, ”what did you say about never?”
Sarah smirked. “And I meant it! He might be handsome but he was unfriendly and rude. Not the least bit of a gentleman.”
“That’s too bad,” Katie replied with a shrug.
When the dance was over they rode home, Katie dropped Sarah off at her house with a hug and a "goodnight." Sarah stalked up the front walk ready to take off her shoes and fall into bed, already deciding she was sleeping in tomorrow.