Miss Maryann Liverbert smiled as she took one more look at herself on the vanity mirror in her bed-chamber and decided she looked presentable and could pass as beautiful according to society's definition, in her blue evening gown which she had worn for lady Kingsley’s annual masquerade ball. Her lady maid had declared her “perfect” in words, as she believed the midnight blue dress had set up her hazel eyes, making her look almost magical. Her blond hair had been packed up in a loose bun, allowing some strands to fall softly on her face.
Ann had been looking forward to this day since she had attended her first ball, this is to say, it was her first season. The reason she has been looking forward to this ball is the fact that she had a fat chance of Mr James Kliner asking her hand in marriage. Ann never fancied him, she fancied no one, although he seemed interested in her. Ann had been told, in the word of Jane (her lady maid), “he has been drooling over you for a fortnight” and well she had felt flattered since he was one of the catches of the season, plus she desperately wished to leave her relatives home it all felt like the perfect escape.
Ann was quite grateful for the fact that her uncle, her father's younger brother who inherited the name, took her in since her father died, she did not have a sibling anymore (her only brother had died at a young age). She knew she was a weight to her family, and her aunt made sure she reminded her at every opportunity she had (she agreed with her, as she had four cousins and one on the way) and since uncle Andrew had been nice enough to be responsible for her season, she didn't want to add more expense by delaying into marriage.
As the Liverbert carriage came to a halt at Kenworthy townhouse, her uncle came down and helped her aunt down followed by her, then Prudence her cousin who is younger than she by a year (prudence was eighteen), they ascended the stairs and as they entered into the great hall, the butler announced their arrival. About thirty minutes later, Ann spotted Mr James coming over, and realized that Jane might be right.
“Good evening Miss Ann” she replied his greeting as he gave her hand a kiss “a pleasant evening to you Mr James" he smiled, as he complimented her gown. They talked about casual topics after which he saved a dance on her card, then he asked that they should go out for fresh air, as the room was already getting noisy and stuffy, with well-dressed aristocrats making acquaintance and greeting one another, she agreed and signalled to Prudence that she was outside.
Outside she felt the cool breeze on her face, as she breathed it in, suddenly realizing how hot it was inside the ballroom
“What? “ He asked looking at her.
“I love the cool evening breeze on my face” she answered
“You look beautiful tonight,” he said. Ann was smiled at the sudden compliment but took it as a good sign.
“Thank you” she looked at his eyes and felt a cold shiver down her spine, she didn't like the way he was staring at her, like a piece of meat that he could steal without anyone noticing. Ann was still wondering if the look on his face could be due to cold. He mumbled something about apricots and lips as he dragged her to a corner, once she felt his lips on her, she didn't like it, so adrenaline had her use every iota of strength in her to push him off. For a slim man, he was quite strong, she could hardly move especially as he already had her pinned to the wall, by the time she heard her aunt's shriek.
“What in Christ's name is going on here?” Mr James jumped off her with a smug smile lining his lips, to see her aunt frowning face and her cousin staring disinterestedly.
The rest that happened was in a blur for Ann, she was accompanied into the carriage, where everyone sat looking tensed, though it was always tensed in the carriage, Prudence would have agreed with her that it was far tenser than the usual dose, except Prudence wasn't sitting close enough to offer an opinion. She later found herself in her uncle's study, with her aunt uttering unladylike curses, her uncle describing how disappointed he was at her behaviour, Mr James stammering how she had forced herself on him, Prudence staring out the window still disinterested, and she wondered how dumb, or blind as the case may be humans could be.
Ann tried giving valid reasons why it was almost impossible for her to force herself on a full-grown, supposed gentleman and still be stuffed under him, but nobody seemed to be paying attention to her or anyone, so she just gave up her chatter as her throat was hurting.
“You will have to get married to Mr James,” her uncle said
“But...” She started and was interrupted by her aunt's glare, although Ann might have initially thought about marrying Mr James a few hours ago, she suddenly realized how pitiful she would feel, spending the rest of her life with such an utterly dishonest man.
“Goddammit, Ann you have been compromised her uncle cursed" Ann could only blink as she had never heard her uncle curse.
“I cannot spend the rest of my life with someone so shameless.......” James started. Ann barely suppressed a chuckle and everyone finally turned to her.
“And whatever the case, she still has her virginity intact, I won't put myself in a tight situation because of her stupid act” James concluded his first audibly completed sentence.
Ann smiled at his complete lack of sense.
“She can't continue to live in this household, I can't have her influence on my Prudence....” Her aunt loud voice boomed in the room as the unspoken ....she's an extra mouth to feed.... hung in the air.
Her uncle just stared uncomfortably wondering what to do with his errant niece.
“Well, she will have to leave...” Her aunt announced.
“And where will I go,” Ann asked trying not to blink the tears out of her eyes as her well-planned world came crumbling down.
“To London” all eyes turned to Prudence whom they had forgotten was still in the room.
“...you can start all over there” she added looking very uncomfortable with the attention she had gained. She had always liked to be unnoticed, she was always slipping in and out of gatherings unnoticed Ann generally liked her, everyone did, she was a nice girl except she was too nice sometimes or even timid and was easily influenced by her mother especially. She had brown eyes and hair and even though she wasn't blinding beautiful, she could still pass as beautiful when done up.
“Prudence is right, Ann you will be moving to London by the end of the season” her uncle finally decided, snapping her out of her thought.
“But the season just began, it will take at least six weeks before it ends.....you should just marry her off to one of your tenants' sons” Her aunt complained.
“Marie if she leaves before then suspicions will be raised, and they won't reflect well on your daughter... Prudence" her uncle replied, getting irritated.
"Very well you must leave after the season, and not a day more" her aunt announced.
And so she left after the season...