The stars twinkled against the darkness of the night sky as he stepped out upon the balcony. Behind him rang the sounds of a festive party well under way and by no means over anytime soon. He had already done his duty as Earl of Wimberley and host by greeting each and every seventy-eight guests as they had arrived the hour before. The ladies had flocked to him, praising his talents and flirting non-stop in hopes of catching his interest until he felt like he would explode if he didn't escape from their earnest gazes. He had ducked out of the ballroom just as the orchestra had started up. His family could spare him for a few minutes. Taking in a deep breath of the chilly night air made him feel better instantly. He gazed out on the garden that spanned the backyard. It was massive and the pride and joy of his mother's tedious and dedicated plan to make their home more beautiful. He would take more time for himself and stroll the gardens before going back to be the proper host his family had taught him to be.
But first was the task of sneaking out of the ballroom, down the staircase and out the back doors before he would take his stroll. Taking in another deep breath, he turned and briskly walked back into the room. He carefully edged along the perimeter until he had reached the double doors, and then like a jack rabbit on alert, bounded out the doors and down the staircase before anyone could stop him. Still moving at a quick but not quite running pace, he exited the building and dashed out into the garden. He didn't stop moving until he had reached the section of taller trees and hedges that would hide him from roving eyes. He breathed in another breath of night before looking around. His mother had told the gardeners to wrap the hedges in twinkle lights, achieving a fairy-like look. Almost all of the flowers were in full bloom and were gently accented by a small spot light for each bush. His mother would have been proud of the work if she had the time to admire her garden tonight.
He ventured forward after a moment and admired bush after bush of delicate roses, daisies, carnations and many more varieties of flowers that he didn't know. With the effect of the twinkle lights, he felt as if he had been whisked away to another magical land. He eventually came to the center of the garden where a fountain gurgled merrily. Sitting down on the rim of the fountain base, he looked up at the sky.
His life had been peaceful up until now. He had reached the age where his parents had thought it was suitable for him to be out in society, venturing to make a man of himself by his own means. Following that same thought, they had decided to host a party in order to get him into society by means of networking among the guests. He didn't know if their efforts would be wasted or not with his escape tonight but he would deal with them later on. Suddenly, a slight movement caught his eye. He turned his attention to the staircase that led to the gazebo. The wall of the staircase was made up of wall panels that were in rising height as one went up toward the gazebo. He thought… no. It couldn't be. But indeed it was.
Upon the middle section of the wall was a girl in a long blue gown. She had obviously not expected anyone else to be in the garden and had thrown all consideration of formality out the window by sitting with her legs dangling on either side of the wall. Should he simply look away the move on? A dozen scenarios flashed in his mind of the girl tripping over her long gown and falling into the thorny rose bushes below her. He couldn't allow that to happen. Moving carefully as to not alarm the girl, he edged his way over to the rosebushes and up a couple of steps. Should he call out to her? It might surprise her and his efforts would have been for naught. Carefully, he made his way up the staircase until he reached the middle step where he could get a view of who this girl was. He was close enough to see that her skin was fair, slightly tan without any blemishes. By the dim lights from the trees, the girl's face looked almost exotic with mystery. He reached the top of the staircase and stopped. The girl seemed to be lost in thought and hadn't realized that he was there, only a few feet away. He coughed.
With a jerk the girl's head swung in his direction and for an instance he thought he had been caught in the presence of a princess. The girl's eyes were dark and he felt lost looking into them. Realizing what a scandalous posture she was in, the girl quickly scrambled down from the ledge and stood a little awkwardly.
"I-uhh, didn't realize you were here." She said. Her voice was high and a little sharp but not unattractive.
"I saw you up here and worried that you would fall." He explained. She frowned and seemed puzzled.
"Thank you for worrying about me, sir, but I will assure you that I am not so clumsy that I will fall from a ridge like that." She replied a little sharply. He nodded and decided that it was time he head back. The guests, at least some of them, would have noticed if the guest of honor had been missing for an extended period of time. He half bowed and turned to descend the staircase. The girl hesitated. Should she have company or did she want to be alone?
"Wait." She called. The gentleman stopped and looked back at her. "I-uhh…"
The gentleman's eyebrow rose in a questioning expression.
"I would appreciate it if you would stay for a little while." She said softly. He nodded and turned back around to stride back and sit on a small garden bench. She settled on the opposite end of the bench, awkwardly sitting in a slightly tense position.
"Why are you out here?" He asked. She didn't reply right away. Instead, she attempted to relax by sitting back on the bench.
"I didn't want to be in the crowd. Too many people." He nodded in understanding.
"Did you enjoy the party?"
"It is alright, I suppose. The guest of honor must be enjoying himself with all of the attention that is being placed on him tonight."
"What if he is not? What do you suppose then?" He sat forward with his elbows on his knees waiting for a reply.
"I'm afraid that would be a pity then. A party is for entertainment, although this one is for an opening into society. I can't say I personally would enjoy a party but I'm not considered everyone." The two fell silent for a moment before the gentleman stood up and extended his hand to the fairy women.
"Shall we reenter the party together so that we will not be excluded together?" She smiled and rose from the bench. She gently placed her hand into his and together they walked back towards the mansion.
"By the way, I don't believe that we have introduced each other. My name is Katrina Cavazos."
The gentleman smiled.
"I am honored to make your acquaintance, My Lady. My name is Jacob Worthington, Earl of Wimberly."