Inspired by Frank Sinatra's Strangers in the Night

 Silently I slipped threw a side door into a dimly lit corridor. My back pressed against the wall I shuffled away from the door as quietly as I could praying no one had seen me disappear. My fingers moved along the wall searching for anything I might run into; the met with something warm, firm and breathing. I snapped my arm back to my side as I gave a small jump of surprise. I turned to find myself face to face with the stranger I had seen in the ballroom.    
Excerpt
            Even in a mask I couldn’t hide from him. His gaze followed me from the moment I entered the glittering whirlwind society calls a masquerade ball, just as it had followed me since my débuted. Florents attentions had greatly flattered me at first. He was undeniably handsome with his aristocratic nose and lips, high cheekbones and slick blond hair. At first I had been just as enamored with him as the other girls of my social circle, but as time passed I began to notice his deceitful ways. Tonight I was determined to avoid him at all cost, but he found me.

            “ Ahh  Bernadine” he said kissing my limp hand

            “Aphrodite herself could not be more lovely” He gestured to my costume

“Thank you” I forced myself to say threw lips pressed together with the effort to not scream in frustration at having my costume mistaken again. I was dressed as Athena, but of course a gentleman would never think a girl could represent wisdom. Florent began to speak again but I heared not a word that passed his despicably lips. My mind was across the room fixed on an unknown  guest. He was dressed in the simple costume of a stable hand or gardener, a brilliant costume, but no clothing could hide his handsome features. He was tall but muscular with hair the color of coal.

            “Bernadine? Bernadine?’” Florents sharp voice brought me tumbling out of my thoughts back into reality.

            “Bernadine have you heard a world I said?” Florient asked impacently

            “Oh I’m sorry. I must have gotten lost in thought.” I tried to simile appologetily

            “ I asked if you would allow me to have a privet word with you.”

I panicked. I had never wanted to be alone with this man and I never would.

            “Perhaps, but not now. I have just seen a friend I must greet. If you’ll excuse me…”

Swiftly I moved across the room my attention fixed on a group of my peers but my gaze keepted being drawn to the stranger. I reached my peers and pulled Corrine Harvey away form the circle of gossip she was standing in. Pulling her to the window I asked her

            “ Who is that man?”

            “Witch man?” Corrine asked

            “ The one dressed as a gardener.” I said taking her arm and pulling her into a leisurely stroll around the room.

“I haven’t the faintest idea” she replied “He’s the only costumed man I haven’t been able to identify.”

            “That’s the point of a masquerade ball I suppose” I mused. The orgestra struck up the first waltz of the night. I was Thomas Cuttingham break away from a group of men and walk towards us his eyes fixed on Corrine. He reached us and bowed.

            “Mysterious lady” he said to Corrine, his wink barley discernable threw his mask

            “ May I have this dance?” Corrine smiled and took his hand. As they whirled into the ever-growing crowd of dancers I saw Florent walking towards me. Fournchanetly before he could reach me he was intercepted by one of his father’s business associates. It was my chance.. Silently I slipped threw a side door into a dimly lit corridor. My back pressed against the wall I shuffled away from the door as quietly as I could praying no one had seen me disappear. My fingers moved along the wall searching for anything I might run into; the met with something warm, firm and breathing. I snapped my arm back to my side as I gave a small jump of surprise. I turned to find myself face to face with the stranger I had seen in the ballroom.

            “Oh! I’m so sorry..” I started to stammer but before I could finish the door down the corridor that led back to the ballroom opened a crack and I heared Florents voice coming from the other side calling for me. The stranger saw the look of panic in my eyes but instead of questioning it he simply put a finger to his lips. He took my elbow and pulled me further down the corridor. Despite the fact that this man was a complete stranger I allowed myself to be drawn deeper into the shadows. Presently the stranger opened a door I had never noticed before. I found myself standing in the Moustiques garden. The stranger closed the door silently behind us and turned to me with a quizzical look peeking out at me from behind his mask.

            “ I know this must seem strange, but I was just umm…” I trailed off

            “Hiding?” he filled in for me.

            “Well, yes.” I admitted blushing

            “I don’t blame your.” He assured me. “ I hate to criticize my host but Flurent Moustique is a very annoying man.”

There was an awkward silent. Then I gave a shaky laugh.

            “Well sir, may I inquire as to the name of my rescuer?”

            “ Ahh but is this not a masquerade?” replied the stranger. “Not knowing is the point.”

            “Yes but then what shall I call you?” I asked

            “Hmmm. Well, my lady” he bowed to me with a flourish “until midnight you may call me Caesar Aristaeus Leon Pelagious, gardener exsdrodanar.”

I laughed wholeheartedly.

            “ In that case until midnight I am Pallas Athena, goddess of wisdom, crafts and strategic warfare.

We both laughed but our merriment was interrupted by the sound of loud footsteps from the other side of the door and once again Florents impacent voice calling for me. I grabbed “Caesars” hand and pulling him behind me ran down a stone path, past statues and fountains. We ran until the paved path turned to a path of neatly trimmed grass and the statuary and flowers turned to enormous hedges.

            “Where are we?” Caesar asked me when we finally stopped.

            “ I would guess that we are in a hedge maze.” I replied gasping a bit for breath as my corset made deep breathing nearly impossaboul. “Caesar” looked at me concerned

            “We should not have run sol far. I forgot how restricted ladies are by their corsets.”

            “ Oh I’m all right.” I said trying not to gasp for air. I hate to appear weak. “I an not as weak as you might suppose.”

            “I don’t believe you to be weak, merely slowly suffocating, like all women of your class.” He started pulling me further up the corridor of hedges we had found ourselves in to a bench a few feet away. We sat. I smiled at him wondering how this man, a stranger in the night, seemed to already understand me. We sat and talked while I caught my breath and then we talked for no reason. I should have returned to the ball but there was something about this man that made my heart pound, there was something in his eyes that was so inviting, tempting me to lift his mask and discover the man behind it. Something about his smile was so exciting; it thrilled me to the core of my being. I could have sat with him forever.

The Montisques miniature Big Ben clock tower chimed out loudly to announce midnight.

            “Ah ha! ‘ I exclaimed, “ Now you must tell me your name.”

            “Aaa its Greyson, and you?”

            “ Bernadine, Miss Bernadine Mayer and now your mask.”

            “Pardon?” Greyson said

            “Your mask, it comes off at midnight.” I replied

            “ Oh yes of course, umm well ladies first.”

            I smiled and reached behind my head to untie my mask.

            “Ouch!” I cried when I tried to pull my mask away.

“ Are you all right?” Greyson asked concerned

            “Its my mask” I said patting at my hair “It seems to have become tangled with my hair.”

            “Here, let me look” Greyson leaned closer and examined my hair

            “ah. Here we are, this might hurt a bit.” I felt his fingers moving on my hair then a sharp pull that made me winch, my eyes closing as my mask fell away. I opened my eyes to find myself eye to eye with Greyson and my breath caught in my thought

            “Thank you” I started to say but I was interrupted by his face leaning closer to me, his eyes searching mine , as though asking me a question. For a moment time seemed to halt then my eyes closed as his lips met mine in a gently kiss. It was heavenly.

Abruptly he pulled away and began to speak but I heard nothing, the roaring of pure joy in my head blocking out  everything until I heard him say softly;

            “Goodbye Bernadine”

My eyes snapped open to see him turning to leave.

            “But wait ! I cried “ when will I see you again?” I asked

            Greyson sighed

      “I’ll never forget you Bernadine but you should forget me. It could never have turned out right for us, two strangers in the night.”

            He turned and disappeared into the shadows of the maze, leaving me alone in the moonlight.


 


Comments

Scribbles
09/16/2013 5:31pm

Mysterious and beautiful, well written and eloquent. (But you might wanna use spell check) ;)

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