|Waltzing with Disaster
Author: Dragonett6 PM
Regency England Kate and Thomas haven't seen each other in years, but once they meet again the sparks and the barbed comments begin to fly. Arguments, accidents, jealousy, and love ensue! COMPLETE!Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Chapters: 17 - Words: 60,332 - Reviews: 221 - Favs: 117 - Follows: 14 - Updated: 06-12-05 - Published: 05-02-05 - Status: Complete - id: 1902644
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Hey, well this is my first chapter. I hope you all like it. If not that's ok. Please read and review so I know if I'm going in the right direction. The story is complete, but it needs revision so any feedback is good!
The large hall was crowded with bodies, each dressed in vibrantly colored silks and satins. Gaslight shone down on the gowns, creating a beautiful multicolored glow that lit the faces of the wearers. Men and women of all ages were scattered around the room, some talking happily to one another, others taking advantage of the melodic music filling the room and dancing gracefully with a well matched partner. All around people were having a wonderful time, savoring the excitement of a night well spent at Almack's.
Thomas was extremely bored. A night at Almack's was never well spent, tonight especially. He had absolutely no reprieve from the hordes of debutantes and overeager mamas that were after him. After his own mother had come up with and let slip the hair brained notion that he was searching for a wife, he had not been able to escape them. It was driving him crazy, to the point of exhaustion.
What could have possibly possessed you to come here, he asked himself. He had realized the moment he told Albert that he would come, that it was a bad idea, but he could not break his promise to his brother, who needed him for moral support. Albert was also having woman trouble, but of an entirely different nature. He had found the woman he wanted to be his wife, but she had yet to accept him.
Sending best wishes his brother's way, Thomas stealthily scooted into a corner behind two elderly matrons. They did not see him and he was thankful to find a few moments peace in the darkened alcove. Being so close to them however, he could not help but listen to their conversation.
"…I know, I just heard," the taller woman cackled.
"I just can't believe she came back after all these years," the shorter one replied.
"Well, she only came back to present her sister. Otherwise I think she would have stayed in the country forever," the tall one said confidently.
"Her sister, which one is she?"
"The pretty one dancing with Lord Marxby," the tall one pointed.
"She is rather pretty. It's amazing how well she looks compared to her sister," the short one said with a mean giggle.
"Oh, you haven't seen her yet. When she came out ten years ago she was so plain, but I swear she looks completely different now. I rather think she's grown into her looks. She's not beautiful, but there is something special about her," the tall one said solemnly.
"Really? Well then I'll just have to go look at her myself."
"She's wearing a navy dress, rather out of style, but what can one expect after not being in town for ten years," she laughed.
"You know I can't seem to recall the reason she left."
"I think it was because her father died. Her mother had also died some years before and there was no one else to take care of her sister and brother. So she left town. She only returned two weeks ago," the tall one informed her friend.
"Did she ever marry?"
"No, but if she had stayed I think she would be by now. She really is pretty, although a little quaint. What sacrifices the girl has made…"
"Yes, I feel so sorry for her, the poor chit. I don't know if I could have made the same decision," the shot one admitted.
"You're right; Miss Evertson rightly deserves our admiration."
Thomas' heart skipped a beat. It couldn't be, it had to be a coincidence. There had to be lots of people with the name Evertson. It couldn't be her. The two ladies moved away, still chatting, as Thomas continued to deny the possibility.
Then again, not many people with the name Evertson had been in the country ten years because their father had died, leaving her with two younger siblings. Could it possibly be Kate, the little plain faced pig-tailed hoyden of his childhood? He had to find out; he had to see her for himself. What color did they say she was wearing? Navy, that was it. All he had to do was find the out of style navy dress and see if Kate Evertson was in it.
I stood amongst a small circle of women, which consisted of two girls that I had known when I was a deb. Anne was off dancing yet again. I was amazed by how popular she had become already. She looked very pretty and graceful as she danced with one of her many swains. She caught me watching her, grinned, and continued to dance.
I turned back to the circle I was in. I found it quite funny that ten years ago no one had cared one whit for me, but now everyone proclaimed to have missed me and did not know what they had done without me. I knew it was all codswallop though; none of the people standing around me actually cared one whit for me.
"Oh Kate, you must tell us what you've been doing for all this time," Lady Easterliegh crooned. In the years we hadn't seen each other Lady Easterliegh, or Ducky as she used to be called, had gotten married to an old, fat Lord. He ignored her as much as possible, a thing for which she was grateful. She spent her time happily using his money and attending balls or soirees. Unfortunately for her, all the money in the world could not cure her of the tendency to waddle along like a duck when she walked.
"Not much," I replied with fake sweetness, "just looking after my family."
"Oh yes, your family," Lady Lynden remarked. "Your sister is quite stunning."
"Thank you, I'll tell her you said so." Lady Lynden was along the same lines as Lady Easterliegh, a fake woman whose life pivoted around gossip and the world of the ton. I gave her a dazzling smile. She quickly turned and started speaking to Lady Easterliegh. I gratefully let my smile fade as I tried to block out their incessant chatter.
I started to look around. Almack's was the same as I remembered; a large, bare, uninteresting room filled with wide-eyed debutantes and gossiping matrons. There were also of course, the young unattached bachelors who acted more like puppies than anything else. The older men weren't there, not wanting to showcase themselves on the marriage mart. Almack's was still incredibly boring; it had not changed a bit since my departure ten years earlier.
As I surveyed the room I came across a pair of eyes staring at me. I recognized those eyes, the color of the sky on a cloudless day. I hadn't seen those eyes for ten years. "Thomas…" I said aloud. As I spoke his eyes widened. Thomas looked the same as he had when I had last seen him. His hair was a rich chocolate brown and still a little longer that fashionably acceptable. Although his nose was slightly large he was still handsome, although in an unconventional way. Even though he looked the same, there was a different air about him. He seemed more mature; in the back of my mind I realized that Thomas had finally grown up. He blinked and I suddenly became aware that I had been staring at him for an unusually long period of time.
It was Kate. At first he hadn't been sure, but no one else had that unusually fiery red hair. He hadn't been sure it was her, because she looked so startlingly different. Her face was no longer mismatched, as it had once been. Her lips, eyes, and nose all fit together perfectly on her face. Lips that had once been too full and eyes that had been too wide now suited each other, like the pieces of a puzzle. It was the eyes that convinced him that it was indeed Kate. Their sea-green depths held a spark of mirth that had been ever present when she was a child. As the woman had said, Kate was not a beauty, but there was something compelling about her, something he couldn't name. Thomas saw her mouth his name and he realized that he had been staring, transfixed by her. He mentally shook himself and forced himself to walk over to her.
I saw him start to walk towards me and I turned away awkwardly, not sure how to react. I had not seen Thomas in ten years, the last time being at my come-out ball. Although it had been so long ago all my old feelings, mostly anger and regret, came rushing back to me. Thomas had embarrassed me in front of everyone by regaling them with the story of how I had been so afraid to ride a horse that I had hid myself in a closet instead of going to my riding lesson. Unfortunately I didn't realize that the closet door was already locked when I closed it behind me and wound up stuck in the closet for an entire day, with the whole household searching for me. Thomas had created a whole slew of horrible nicknames for me, all having to do with closets and horses. I had been so mad at him for telling that story and revealing the nicknames that resulted from it, when I had tried so hard to keep my fear of horses a secret. I confronted him but he merely laughed at me and left the ball, saying that I was a scared little brat in front of all the guests at the ball, causing another round of riotous laughter. I had never been so embarrassed in my entire life, except when I was finally let out of the damned closet in the first place of course. I was so angry that I swore to myself to never speak to Thomas again and I hadn't since, but it seemed as if I was going to have to now.
I averted my eyes as he reached our circle. "Good evening ladies," he said in a deeper voice than I had expected.
Lady Easterliegh turned to him with a warm smile. "Hello Viscount, how nice to see you. May I introduce you to Miss Evertson; she has just recently come back to town."
"We're already acquainted," I said coldly.
"Oh?" she said with barely concealed interest.
"Yes," Thomas answered looking straight at me, "We were childhood friends."
"How wonderful!" she exclaimed.
"I wouldn't call us friends exactly," I retorted.
Lady Easterliegh glanced at both of us, confused. "Well I think I'll leave you two to get reacquainted. She took Lady Lynden's arm. "Come dear, there's someone I want you to meet."
I watched their departure and then turned back to find Thomas giving me an odd look. "That was a little harsh Katherine."
I gave him a menacing stare. "I don't think so. I don't consider us friends, do you?"
"Why shouldn't I?" he asked in irritation.
"Friends do not insult one another, as you are so fond of doing."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"Don't you recall the last time we saw each other Thomas?"
"Vaguely," he replied. "It was at your come out ball."
"Very good," I said mockingly. "Then you should also remember how you embarrassed me in front of everyone by telling that horrendous story. You made me feel like I was six years old again. Then you proceeded to degrade and insult me before leaving without even apologizing."
"I don't recall it happening like that," he said with a laugh.
"Of course you don't. In your world you're right and wonderful and everyone else is wrong," I said with horrendous sarcasm. "Why did I ever assume that you would change after all these years? I thought that maybe you'd grown up a little, but obviously your personality has yet to catch up with your physical state!"
"I beg your pardon. If there's anyone around here who hasn't grown up, it's you. Now I remember. I recall exactly what I said to you and it was as true then as it is now. You are still a scared little brat, except you aren't so little anymore. If anything, you've gotten worse."
I felt my insides boiling as I tried to control my anger. I took two long breaths and plastered a sweet smile on my face. "Fortunately for you my lord, we are no longer neighbors who have to exchange forced pleasantries. If you don't mind I am going to walk away and hope to never again speak to you, you adolescent twit! Good night and goodbye," I finished.
"Nothing would please me better than to never have to listen to your chattering again," he said with his own fake smile.
I dropped the smile and spun around quickly and walked away from him. Midway through my third step I stopped and turned back to him. "And no one calls me Katherine!" I spat out. Thomas looked startled and didn't say anything in return. I turned again and continued on my way. How could he say such things to me, I thought with indignation. How could I ever have thought that he was more mature? He was still the baby he had always been. I slowly calmed down and happily reminded myself that I never had to speak to Thomas Allenwood again. I made my way to the refreshment table and poured myself a glass of lukewarm punch. The refreshments at Almack's were really not all they were cracked up to be. Anne, thank heaven, was finally done dancing and came over to stand with me.
"I saw who you were talking with," she said with a smile.
"Ugh," I responded eloquently.
"I remember Thomas so fondly from when I was young."
"Of course you do. You were too small to understand the idiocy that came out of his mouth. Look I really don't want to talk about him alright Anne?" I said a bit over zealously.
"Geesh, sorry," she replied. "Someone's being a little touchy."
"Just leave it alone."
"Fine." We stood silently for a few moments.
"Sorry Anne, I'm just not in a good mood," I apologized feeling guilty.
She regarded me silently. "It's alright," she finally said. "I'm feeling a little stressed too."
"Would you mind leaving now? I'm a little tired of Almack's and I really just want to go home. I have a lot of paperwork to do tomorrow and I'd like to get a good night's sleep."
"Sure Kate. I'll just get Jon and we can go," she smiled.
"Thanks Anne," I said as she scampered away. I made my way to the door quickly and waited for them; just happy to be escaping from the room in which Thomas was also located. When the three of us finally got into the carriage I said a silent prayer, hoping that the loathsome Viscount and I would not cross paths again.