the masked ball backstories – Carlotta part 2


Because Nikalee doesn’t have her own blog (yet) and she’s been my pen-pal for so long (since Jan.1997 – geez, how time flies!) AND I missed her writing so much, I’m very proud/honored/glad to have her on my blog.

This is her back-story for the masked ball, part one being on Mesmered’s as usual. You might guess that our back-stories are somewhat intertwined… stay tuned! 🙂

Carlotta and Nicoletta

Some days later I was in another part of town, unaccompanied on my way home from the house of my music teacher. So it was with a thrill of excitement that I noticed Phantom tethered near the gate of a shaded courtyard. Some dim part of me warned that I was taking a stupid risk going any closer, but something even stronger than curiosity was beckoning me. Noting that the courtyard belonged to a restaurant, I boldly entered. Riccardo was sitting at a far table, deeply shaded by old grapevines. He was absorbed in conversation with a cloaked figure, and didn’t notice when I seated myself nearby.

“So it must be that family? There is no other way?” Riccardo’s tone was intense.

The cloaked figure’s face was invisible under the hood. “The auras of the Gigli family are the most potent for this task. It must be they. You were not able to convince the daughter?”

“She is stubborn – I have tired numerous times to entice her without success. She is prejudiced and won’t have anything to do with our kind.”

“And forcing her is not an option. She must willingly agree.” Riccardo’s advisor had a raspy, female voice. My ears felt as if they were on stalks. Nicoletta was right! Riccardo needed her for something suspect!

I dared a sideways glance at him. I could just about make out his profile. The way his black hair curled on the nape of his neck sent delicious shivers down my spine.

“What about her?” I recoiled as Riccardo turned to look at me, following the extended finger of the cloaked figure.

“Carlotta?”  he frowned. “For how long have you been sitting there?”

My traitorous face burned again. “Not long. Does it matter?”

“It does if you’ve been eavesdropping. Did Nicoletta send you to find me?” I tried to meet his icy blue gaze but it was taking the breath out of me. Still, I managed to gasp out, “Of course not! I don’t do my sister’s bidding. In fact, she has no control over me whatsoever.”

Riccardo

“It was a stupid assumption on my part,” Riccardo said, partly to himself, “As if a child like you would be sent out unaccompanied on such a task.” He turned back to his companion. “She is too young. I wouldn’t consider her.”

“I am not too young!” I blurted out before I could stop myself. “I am seventeen years old, hardly a child. I am old enough to do as I please; certainly old enough to attend a ball where I am properly escorted.”

Riccardo looked momentarily startled, then his eyes narrowed. He looked back at his mysterious companion, who inclined her head slightly.

“I apologise; seventeen is certainly mature.” He turned back to me. “You must realise, then, that my reason for wanting your sister’s attendance is something more than her beauty.”

My whole body was in a flush of self consciousness. I would have agreed to anything, riveted as I was in Riccardo’s gaze, but it was also in defiance to my sister that I spoke next.

“I am aware of that – though not your specific reasons of course. I have no escort to the ball, no invitation either. If you are asking, I am accepting.” I couldn’t quite believe my boldness, and as soon as the words were uttered, I felt almost horrified.

A small smile tugged at the corner of Riccardo’s mouth. He turned back to his cloaked companion.

“Druscilla, it seems I have found my escort. Consider us attending the masked ball, and we shall discuss the arrangements closer to the date.” He stood up, immaculate and handsome in his riding attire, and bowed to the immobile Druscilla. “Pray speak to the lovely Carlotta, and assist her in her chosen attire for the ball. I know you will enjoy the diversion.”

With this utterance, he swept out of the courtyard, vanishing within seconds. Stunned, I sat staring at the cloak that enveloped Druscilla. What had I done?

“Don’t worry; no harm will befall you.” As I watched, a slim white arm appeared from the cloak’s folds, and the hood was pushed back. The creature before me could scarcely be called human, though she had human features; they were so delicate, pale and elfin I knew she could be nothing but Other. Large prismatic eyes gazed at me, and her hair was a cream coloured cloud about her heart-shaped face.

Suddenly aware my mouth was agape, I closed it, and looked away.

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