Chapter 19

Screenshot-39He was a demon. Which was ironic, since his behaviour tonight had to be nothing short of angelic.

He made a rather striking demon; his hair, left natural and untamed, blended so seamlessly with the costume that it was a wonder he hadn’t been born for the role.

Screenshot-75Charles stood stoically by him. Standing side by side, the childhood friends looked almost like a mirror image of the other.

One darkness, the other light.

Screenshot-46“Where the hell is she?”

“Procrastinating, if she’s wise.” Charles drawled. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were nervous, Afonsine.”

Vaughn shot him a disparaging glance.

Screenshot-38Smiling, Charles shook his head.

“She’ll be here. You know she will. And then you can bedazzle her until the cows come home.”

Screenshot-78Vaughn ignored the sarcasm.

“I fear the cows have already arrived.”

Screenshot-121Charles followed the line of the Viscount’s gaze. Marielle Harringon had just entered the room, surrounded by a gaggle of gawping, giggling debutantes.

Screenshot-92Sighing, Charles fought the urge to roll his eyes.

“And so it begins.”

Screenshot-51Vaughn smiled wryly, and was preparing to follow his friend to safer pastures when something – someone – suddenly caught his attention.

A flash of deep blue.

A glimpse of delectable, ivory skin.

Screenshot-81A frisson of awareness shook him to his bones.

Before he knew it, Vaughn was rooted to the spot.

Screenshot-50She was masked, but although the elaborate domino concealed her identity, it could not obscure her reticent confidence, nor the striking elegance with which she moved. He could tell in an instant that she was no mere debutante.

Screenshot-59Her skirts were not puffed missishly around her as was the fashion of the season, but instead devilishly moulded to her graceful curves.

Screenshot-94Vaughn swallowed, and realised his mouth had become uncomfortably dry.

Temptress.

Screenshot-54She surveyed the enormous room, unhurriedly, as if she had all the time in the world. As if she did not notice the dozens of eyes fixed upon her, watching, waiting for her to move.

Siren.

Screenshot-53He had to meet her.

Had to speak to her, know her, touch her.

She was everything he dreamed of, everything and more.

Screenshot-128Without wasting another second, he pushed his way through the crush, wondering whether he’d met her before. He doubted it, considering the fact that, if he had met her before, he certainly would have remembered.

Which begged the question: where had she come from?

Screenshot-134The group of debutantes had left her. She was observing the quartet in the adjoining room. Alone.

Just how he wanted her.

Screenshot-65Willing his thudding heart to slow, he approached her. He watched the hairs whisper over her nape, and had to quell the sudden urge to place his lips there. His senses reeled. Unconsciously, he steadied himself with a deep breath.

She heard it.

Screenshot-55And when she turned, her eyes collided with his. They held him from beneath her mask, unmoving, unashamed.

…those eyes.

He’d know those eyes anywhere.

Screenshot-149You…”

Vaughn felt as if he’d been punched in the stomach.

Screenshot-178“Good evening, Lord Afonsine.”

The Viscount simply stared, entranced, enraptured. She was…

Stunning.

Screenshot-162Hastily, he cleared his head. Remember the plan!

“Good evening.”

Inwardly, he cursed his inability to come up with anything more suave.

Screenshot-172The governess regarded him mutely from beneath her mask.

“Did you require something?”

Vaughn blinked at her coldness, but recovered easily. “Only your delightful company.”

Screenshot-167“I fear you must have more pressing engagements, my Lord.”

The only engagement that is pressing me is the one you must consent to.

He smiled, tightly. “Not at all.”

Screenshot-168Her bewitching green eyes fell upon him, calm; cool. She leaned marginally closer, her exotic scent making his pulse race anew.

“If that is the case, Lord Afonsine, then why is every eye in the room fixed upon you so intently?”

Screenshot-160Vaughn didn’t even turn around.

“They’re not looking at me. They are staring at you, Miss Murphy, debating whether you are likely to have a chaperone.”

Screenshot-58Vaughn allowed his gaze to flicker over her bodice, straying to its sinful décolletage. His grin turned wicked.

“Or perhaps a sizeable dowry.”

Screenshot-156She didn’t react, at least outwardly, but Vaughn imagined her frowning.

“How lucky for me then, my Lord, that this is a masquerade, and nobody will discover that I have neither.”

Screenshot-144With that, she raised her chin defiantly and walked straight past him, seamlessly melting into the ever-swaying sea of bodies.

Screenshot-147He merely turned and stared after her, rendered momentarily speechless at her self-assurance.

Screenshot-129Then he blinked once, twice, shook his head, and followed, straightening his cravat with a practiced flare of his fingertips.

I need to charm her. Charm her, damn it, not infuriate her.

Screenshot-79He spotted her after a few moments, already surrounded by a gaggle of swaggering dandies.

Vaughn smiled, finding himself rather amused.

Screenshot-82“You flatter me, Gentleman.”

He heard her say, as he neared.

“But I must decline your… generous invitations.”

Screenshot-91“Begging your pardon, my Lady,”

His voice carried over the others’ easily.

“Would you do me the honour of joining me for the next waltz?”

Screenshot-85The governess regarded him silently, her expression indifferent. The surrounding gentleman seemed to hold their collective breaths as she came to a decision.

“Very well, my Lord.”

Screenshot-116Vaughn smiled as she laced her fingers with his.

Only then did he realise that he had been holding his breath with the rest of them.

Screenshot-67“Do not think for a moment that I do this out of anything other than desperation. I simply never realised the… trials of eligibility.”

“In that case,” he replied, “it is entirely my pleasure to assist in your escape.”

Screenshot-106“‘Escape’ is hardly the word. What are you supposed to be anyway? A pallbearer?”

Vaughn’s lips twitched. “Not exactly.”

Screenshot-118Wordlessly, he put his hand on her waist, taking her delicate hand in his own before he raised them, conjoined, into position.

“And you’re not simply going to tell me, I suppose.” She muttered.

Screenshot-117He smiled, boyishly.

“Mystery, Miss Murphy, is the heart of La Mascarade.”

Screenshot-113Estelle followed his lead with grace and undeniable expertise; she was a beautiful dancer, and together they twirled skilfully through the throng.

All the while Vaughn tried to ignore the heat of her hand on his arm. How easy it would be to close the distance between them, to stroke her neck, kiss her—

Screenshot-95“Are you enjoying the evening, my Lord?”

His façade of charm, so practiced, was effortless to assume.

“Indeed, how could I not? I’m dancing with one of the most beautiful women in the room.”

Screenshot-96Indeed, she was the most stunning creature he’d ever laid eyes upon, let alone seen in his paltry ballroom. Every time he looked at her, he ached.

Ached to touch, to taste.

Screenshot-72He found himself taken aback at his own passionate reaction to the usually outspoken governess. Yet he could not ignore what sang through his veins, what pulled and pulled at the reins of his control.

Hunger.

Screenshot-98“You desire something, my Lord.” Estelle remarked lightly. “What is it?”

Every muscle in his body tightened, reacting to her damnably innocent words. His head was suddenly overrun with images, noises… positions—

Screenshot-100“What I desire—”

… would make you blush…

“—is to prove to you, somehow, that I am not simply some brainless, witless, skirt-chasing rogue.”

Screenshot-68“I never said you were brainless, my Lord, nor witless. But I regret to inform you that I already know you are a ‘skirt-chasing rogue’, and there is no way in hell you will convince me otherwise.”

Screenshot-101Vaughn smirked. “You seem utterly convinced of my wickedness, Miss Murphy.”

“I am. Utterly.”

The lightness of her tone did not wholly cover the steel rippling beneath her words.

Screenshot-66Silence ensued for the remainder of the waltz, although Vaughn kept his eyes on her every move, her every breath, searching for a clue, a hint as to what she thought of his unprecedented behaviour.

Screenshot-124By the time the music began to slow, they had attracted quite a crowd of spectators, some of whom were practically gushing with jealousy over the mysterious woman in the Viscount’s arms.

Screenshot-110Vaughn slowed their movements as the waltz drew to a close. He felt her try to move away, but before the icy governess could even think of shaking him off with a brusque adieu, he pulled her against him.

Screenshot-74“You don’t know me. Not really. You think you do, but… I’m asking you to give me a second chance.”

“… a second chance to do what exactly?”

He smiled, sensing victory. “To make a first impression.”

Screenshot-175And with that, he released her and retreated into the crush, leaving her to ponder what, exactly, he had meant.

A/N: Sooooooooo, part one of the ball is done! Next, I’m updating my legacy. DEFINITELY.

Thanks for reading, as always x


3 responses to “Chapter 19

  • nuitssombres

    Loved it, especially the masqurade part. I can’t wait for the second part to see how thier relationship grows!

  • Tiff

    I am so hoping he ends up marrying Estelle. Marielle is such a brat, she doesn’t deserve him.

  • LilyShadowWriter

    Such beautiful pictures! As a fellow sim writer, I can’t imagine how much time you must have put into setting all of this up: the poses, all the custom content, the positioning, the recoloring, and so on and so forth! It certainly came out perfectly though ^_^

    This thing between Estelle and Vaughn is beginning to drive me mad, lol. I just can’t predict what’s ultimately going to happen between these two!

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