This is just a sample of Chapter One. I'm testing out this story idea and I would love feedback of what you think! Thank you,

Chloe


Chapter One

Lucrezia had not meant to find herself alone with a man at her first ball. She had not intended for him to be attacked by a long, silver hatpin, wielded by the unlikeliest of saviors. But it had happened, and all Lucrezia could hope for was that it would not end up in the Times that she, Lucrezia Beaumont, was associated with the hatpin menace. It would stone cold kill her mother to have the family name ruined so soon after she was out in society.

The whirling dancers moved seamlessly together in a sea of color, deftly stepping to an ancient pattern known as the most genteel - the waltz. The sound of beaded skirts rustling in circles was muffled by the love music filling the opulent ballroom of one of the 400 - an elite New York society led by no one other than Mrs. Astor. A woman so elegant that only she could lead this group of elite, dictating how many people could ever be invited to the creme of the creme events. And Lucrezia had been lucky enough to receive a gilded invitation for her debutante season.

Lucrezia stood by an open window, overheated by the dancing. She was floating on gauze, Venetian glass, and champagne, in a gown designed by Lucile, known is polite company as Lady Duff-Gordon. The gown was dusky rose and cream, with green glass beads sewn in a leaf pattern on the ephemeral over skirt and bodice. The gown paired perfectly with her fresh peaches and cream complection, flushed from the excitement of the evening. This was Lucrezia's first ball and she had never seen so many beautiful people before.

As she contemplated the decadent ballroom, intoxicated by the finery, the preening peacocks prancing around the gilded ladies of society, Lucrezia soon found herself growing drowsy. It was new for her to be up so late and be so active, being only seventeen. She was young in comparison to the most hardened of society girls who were still ferreting around for a husband. That was what the season was for and why it started in November and ended by Lent. Young girls with decent doweries vetted suitors while donning luxurious gowns and gilded jewelry. And now Lucrezia had joined the hunt.

The music had changed from a waltz to a polka and Lucrezia knew she was too tired and her corset was too tight to attempt a polka, otherwise known in some circles as a drunken version of the waltz - depending on who was dancing it of course. So, instead of filling her dance card, Lucrezia disappeared into the shadows and began exploring the Upper East Side mansion. The grand staircase spilled into the foyer as a luscious crystal chandelier created little dancing rays of light upon the white walls and marble. A door to the left, on the far side of the foyer, was slightly ajar. A perfect hiding place while the polka jotted on.

Upon opening the door and slipping in, Lucrezia was pleased to find she had discovered the library, a dark and comfortable place with large, leather armchairs and dusty old books. She was fond of reading, though she had to admit she was more fond of Dickens and romantic literature than the works that improved one's mind. The books felt familiar to her touch as she walked past the stacks, her fingers grazing the spines. That's when she heard him. Heavy footsteps on carpeted floor slightly muffled, but determined.

"Good evening, miss . . ." a young and smooth voice trailed. Lucrezia spun around, nearly tripping on her beaded train. What a disaster that would have been!

"Oh, excuse me, sir!" Lucrezia quickly placed a tome back on the shelf. The Woman in White, it read. How fitting as her face had just turned completely white as she spun to assess the intruder. Now it was flushing prettily, roses blooming on her soft cheeks. Many a lady spent ample time in front of their vanities trying to achieve such a natural and flattering flush.

"Why isn't a pretty young lday such as yourself not in the ballroom dancing your slippers to dust?" the man asked, stepping closer. Lucrezia had never been in a room alone with a man before who was not her doctor or her father, so she was unaware of what was not entirely appropriate.

"I do not like the polka," she responded, her pink lips parting in a childlike smile.

"Oh, why not?"

"In truth, I am not very good." Lucrezia flushed a little deeper and the man broke out into an amused smile. That's when Lucrezia noticed how handsome he was. An Adonis in black, all golden and blue eyed. She had not known that a man could be this beautiful in real life, and not only in paintings.

"Here, let me show you a little trick I have learned." The man held out his hand and lucrezia took it delicately, her gloved hand tiny in his large ungloved one. The music echoed faintly in the background as they began to dance.

It was pleasant twirling around the library, the rug muffling their steps. But as they continued, Lucrezia began to feel uncomfortable. The mans arm began to slip further down as he pulled her closer and she yelped as his hand found his way to the bottom of her corset. She tried to push him away, but he only leaned closer. She thought he would engulf her when suddenly she fell backwards onto a green velvet chair, a dark, feral yell filled the hollow room.

"Ow, what the . . ." The man began to rub his bottom most unceremoniously as he turned to face what had attacked him.

Behind him stood a tall woman dressed in scarlet, her hair piled high on top of her head with ostrich feathers and pearls. In her hand, one long, silver hatpin, a drop of blood rolling off of the minuscule point.

"Where did you come from?" the man asked, eyeing the hatpin warily. He dared not move any closer while it was unsheathed.

"I've been watching you, Mr. DeWitt." The man gulped as the woman's tenor tones surrounded him like prison bonds. "You are no gentleman, Mr. DeWitt. No, you are a first-rate masher and I have come as your reckoning."

Lucrezia had heard of this term "masher" before in the paper, but she had yet to meet one. She thought they only existed on the trolleys and in dark alleyways. But this man had looked so normal!