Fire and Flames

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XXIV. Masquerade

Athena

I did not have anything to wear. I thought it’s going to be a normal business trip and now I have to attend a freaking ball. I really hate those stuff! It’s so annoying and people are so fake, they’re only motive is to flaunt their money and rub it on others face.

Dumb snobbish people!

I hate this kind of society. I rarely attend balls and my parents never forced me to, which I’m grateful for.

What will I wear? There’s more four hours to the ball. I could go out and buy a new dress but Zephyr asked me not to leave this place.

I paced around the room thinking of different ways to escape this ball. Paparazzi’s are going to be there, that means they’ll take pictures, my face will appear on tabloids. Then my parents will get to know where I am. Noooooo! This can’t be happening.

I stopped when I heard a knock on the door, who will it be?

I went to the door and opened it enough for me to see who it was. There stood a young lady, carrying two huge bags. She looked at me with a smile. She looked beautiful with long red hair and clear skin. And those beautiful pair of blue eyes.

“Are you Miss. Walker?” She asked

I nodded , how does she know my name?

“I’m Lucy, Mr.King sent me to get you ready for tonight” she cleared my doubts

He really did that? Whoa the mean and selfish Zephyr King sent someone to get me glam up?

I blinked my eyes few times thinking this is an illusion. But it isn’t.

I opened the door wide for her to enter. I closed the door and sat on the bed. She kept the bags on the table and unpacked it. She took a black dress from one of the cover. It looked gorgeous.

Wow!

I gaped at the dress in her hand. It was black, and had small sequins all around it giving it a night sky illusion. It was backless and had a long slit at the side. I’ve never worn backless or anything such revealing.

“This is your dress Miss Walker” she placed the dress on the bed.

“Wow, it’s pretty” I ran my hand across the smooth fabric. It might be expensive. I made a note to pay him later.

“It’s Mr.King’s selection”

I looked at her through wide eyes, why would he do that?

“He selected this dress?” He’s got good fashion sense but how did he know my size?

“Yes, now let’s get your make up done” she smiled and guided me to the dressing chair.

After an hour....

“You can open your eyes!” I slowly opened my eyes only to be stunned by my reflection. I only have one word to describe my look

magnificent!

This woman did wonders to my appearance. My hair was tied into a bun with few strands out. My eyes were done in a smoky look, lips painted in deep red. I think it’s too much but the out come is so good that I can’t refuse it.

I smiled at my reflection, doing a small twirl. The dress hugged my body perfectly. I’m never a fan off tight dresses as it reveals my unnecessarily excess curves which I’m uncomfortable to flaunt.

However now I find myself happy in this outfit. I should accept my body.

Can’t believe Mr.King had to make me realise that fact.

I turned towards Lucy “Your awesome Lucy! I can’t believe you did this within an hour. Are you a magician by any chance?”

“Thank you and I’m not a magician! All though I want to be” she chuckled “My job is done, hope you have a good time.”

“Once again Thank you Lucy” I smiled as I walked her out of my room. We bid goodbyes and I went back inside.

I took the silver clutch and stuffed my phone, some money, lip stick, few hair pins and other necessary things that a woman needs and slipped into a pair of silver strapped high heels. Now I’m ready.

I wore the black Venetian lace mask and made my way towards the ball that is held in the hotel I am staying. After few minutes of walking, I reached the room where the masquerade ball is being held. I closed my eyes and took deep breath to calm my racing heart.

I can do this!

I opened my eyes and gestured the door man to open the door. The huge oak double opened revealing a humongous hall filled with people all wearing expensive clothes and accessories each one wearing a unique mask matching with their partners.

Wait! That means Mr.King will be my partner?

I felt butterflies in my stomach at the thought of meeting him. How would he look?

Of course drop dead gorgeous! But I want to see him in a mask.

I stepped into the hall, clutching my purse tightly. I hate crowds! I felt many eyes on me as I made my way inside. Where should I go?

I looked around the place, how does he expect me to find him?

My eyes scanned the crowd looking for his brown hair, but almost everyone had brown hair in this room including me!

Arghh! This is frustrating!

Feeling disappointed, I turned around to leave but halted when I saw a man far away dressed in black tux walk over to me. My breath got caught in my throat when I noticed his piercing green eyes, those stunning pair of emeralds only my boss has. It’s Mr.King!

I felt heat rushing to my cheeks as my eyes raked his form shamelessly. He looked more handsome, if that was even possible. Within seconds he stood in front of me, a few inches gap between us. His eyes staring at mine, my cheeks heated up, thank goodness I’m wearing a mask!

His eyes roamed my body before meeting my eyes. His pink lips slightly parted, what does he think about my look? Is he happy? Or disappointed?

My heart sink at that thought!

He cleared his throat, averting his eyes “You look fine Miss Walker!” he stated lowly.

I felt something shatter inside me at those words, just fine? nothing like you look beautiful or at least good? But at least it’s a compliment!

I nodded shyly, muttering a small thank you.

He extended his hand, and I found myself placing mine without any hesitation. I was surprised to find his hand warm, although it was rough I was comfortable holding his hand. I was marveled at the fact how perfectly our hands fit almost like a puzzle.

I flinched when I felt his hand in my bare lower back, as he guided me through the crowd. Fireworks were going off all around me! Damn his touch, it’s giving me weird feelings in the pits of my stomach.

“Calm down miss walker no one’s gonna hurt you”. I heard his calm husky voice against my ear.

“I...I have fear of crowds.” I shyly confesses my fear. He stopped on his tracks I looked up to find him staring at me with an unknown emotion “You should’ve told me earlier I wouldn’t have forced you.” my heart clenched at his soft words. It wasn’t everyday you get to see Mr.King speaking so softly as If he cares about me.

I stared into his eyes a lot bit longer, before averting my gaze towards the people around us. “It’s alright! Now I’m here!”

I heard him let out a breath “Don’t leave my side at any cost! ”

“Yes Mr.King!”

He tightened his hand around mine! I looked down at our intertwined hand! An odd feeling swelled within me! Why am I feeling like this? The butterflies in my stomach, these sparks all of this sensations are new to me.

It was nice to see his soft side, what else is he hiding under his tough facade? One thing for sure, I I know he isn’t a monster that I used to call him. He’s a book full of mysteries and I intend to unravel it.

We met few of his associates and client, he was doing the talks while I listened to him, nodding and smiling here and there. One thing I’ve noticed all this while being around him is that he loves his work and company, the passion for it is clearly scene in his eyes. The same passion I have when I bake.

Now it’s time for the dance.The part I hate the most.

Why?

I freaking don’t know how to dance! I’m going to embarrass myself and him. Oh God! I have to find some excuse to escape this.

I pulled his blazer and he looked at me with confusion ” I don’t know how to dance” I whispered ashamedly.

His eyes softened, I swear I saw a small smile on his lips. “Don’t worry, just follow my lead”

With that he lead me to the dance floor, we faced each other, my hand rested on his shoulder. His hand wrapped around my waist while out other hand was intertwined with mine.

We were standing so close, his warm minty breath fanning my cheeks. The intoxicating smell of his cologne was making me lightheaded. The fact that I have a crush on him wasn’t helping either.

“Relax!” I shivered feeling his warm breath against my ear

I nodded, gripping his shoulder and I looked up instantly melting as I saw his forest eyes. “Just follow my lead” he whispered, his voice subtle and soft.

“O..okay!” I stammered, Dancing with him wasn’t something I never imagined. What else are we going to experience?

He started moving, I stepped on his feet few times and I muttered sorry each time I stepped. He didn’t seem to mind any of it and continued to teach me. Soon I got the hang of it. And found myself enjoying it “See it’s that simple”

“Thank you” I smiled at him, all of a sudden his grip on my wait tightens pulling me closer, our faces mere inches apart, my breathing quickening by each second.

We seemed to be lost in our eyes, neither of us wanting to look away. The music stopped, I heard the applause around us, the other pairs moving away but Mr.King still doesn’t seem to have plans on moving his hands.

“Mr.King! The dance is over” he came out of his daze as I noticed his eyes turn cold again, he clenched his jaw and pushed me away as he left me alone in the dance floor.

What did I do?

I looked at his retreating figure, vanishing into the crowd.

What is happening to me? Why am I feeling sad all of a sudden? My heart ached when he left me like that. This man’s mood swings are unbearable.

I sighed at nothing particular and turned to leave when I felt a hand on my shoulder making me squeal in surprise, I immediately turned around and noticed a tall man dressed in grey suit smiling at me. His blue eyes were so beautiful, his dark brown hair neatly kept. I could tell he’s very handsome even with his silver mask.

“Yes?” I frowned eyeing his hand on my bare skin.

He removed his hand before taking my hand bringing it up to his lips placing a gentle kiss.

“I noticed this beautiful lady standing without a partner so I wanted to know if you need any company?” My heart is at a frenzy listening to his British accent. I have a fetish for anything English.

“Oh, um thank you but I’m fine alone” I answered flustered, partly because I’m in a new place and then a man out of the blue is talking to me.

“If you do not mind I’d love to have a dance with you” his eyes held no malice and i could say that he’s a nice guy.

I pondered over it for a moment, my eyes curiously searched for Mr.King when I didn’t see him I turned towards the man with a smile. He’s the one who left me alone, why should I care whether he’s watching or not!

“Okay, let me warm you I might step on your shoes ” I grinned

“It’s alright” he chuckled giving me a wink, before taking my right hand.

“I’m Gabriel! What’s your name?” He asked

“Athena!”

We talked and laughed as we danced, he was the complete polar opposite of Mr.King. All smiles and laughs.

He gently kissed my cheeks “Take care darling!” He smiled and after exchanging our numbers he walked away.

I’m back to being alone and I wasn’t in a mood to have anything so I went back to my room.

I removed my heels signing in relief as I massaged my sore feet. I untied my hair and was about to go to the bathroom when I heard a knock on the door.

Who might be it?

I walked towards the door, and unlocked it noticing a very tired looking Mr.King.
My lips parted to ask but he forced himself into my room. I shut the door and turned to face him but was slammed into the door “What are you doing?” I squealed, my arms were pinned on either side of my head.

He stared deeply into my eyes, his jaw clenched making it look even sharper, “Why did you f_cking leave the ball?” his harsh voice boomed through the room.

“Huh?” It was him who left me alone in a place where I didn’t know anyone.

“Now are you dumb or what? Answer my question”. His grip tightening around my wrists, I recalled the first day when he hurt me, he almost tried to kill me.

Anger burned within me, who does he think he is? Playing me around like a doll. With all my strength I removed my hands and pushed him away he seemed surprised by my sudden attack.

“How dare you touch me Mr.King? The audacity you have to ask why I left the ball When you are the one who left me alone knowing I have fear of crowds” I yelled, my eyes burned with un-shed tears.

“Mind your tone Miss Walker” he warned but I couldn’t care any less. At this point I don’t care if I loose my job or not. I just wanna shove some sense into his brain.

“I don’t give a damn! Now get out of my room. If you’re going to fire me then be it. At least I’ll be free from the hell hole.” I continued to ramble away, not bothering to look at his expression. One time he’ll be so kind and caring and the next moment he’ll avoid me. What have I ever done to deserve this treatment?

He stood still, watching me with a frown.

“Are you planning to stay here all night or what?” I spat, glaring towards him.

He pushed past me, opening the door before turning towards me “This isn’t over yet!”

With that he banged the door shut leaving me stunned. I fell to the floor on my knees, my eyes bawling out all the pent up emotions I’ve been hiding for so long.

Why do I have to mess up everything?

Why is he treating me like shit?

******


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