Story Snippet: Daphne’s Last Dance

A Regency-themed short story, originally written for the weekly flash fiction challenge on my group blog, Eight Ladies Writing

Lady Mayfair’s masquerade was the last significant party of the Season, and Daphne’s papa had been distressingly clear about the family’s finances, or lack thereof. Unfortunately she had failed to Take her Opportunity, and so this soiree would be her last hurrah in the Beau Monde.

A long night in the library with a bottle of papa’s best port had done wonders for her resolution. The alternatives were clear. Get herself thoroughly compromised, or go home and marry the vicar. And since he was approaching sixty, had lost most of his teeth, and believed personal cleanliness was injurious to health, there wasn’t really a decision to make.

Viscount Wandering-Hands, irreverently known as Lord Pianoforte, was a terrible rake, but he was a stylish one. The matched bays harnessed to his curricle smelled sweeter than Reverend Whiffy, and his way with a freshly-starched cravat was a thing of beauty. No wonder he was all the crack, despite his propensity to take outrageous liberties.

Fortunately the orchestra had been playing an unexceptionable suite of classical dances when they arrived. Daphne had migrated to her usual wallflower position behind the potted palms and despatched her chaperone to play whist with the other tabbies. Aunt Evelina knew the end was in sight, and the opportunity to invest papa’s miserly allowance in an evening’s gambling was too great to resist.

A judicious dousing of water in the Ladies’ Retiring Room had rendered Daphne’s gown practically diaphanous. Exactly on cue, the band struck up a waltz. She pulled her bodice down until her décolletage was the epitome of scandalous, tripped strategically on an outstretched satin slipper, and landed, as she had intended, in the arms of Lord Pianoforte.

He looked down at her magnificent, barely covered bosom and took a firmer grasp around her hand-span waist.

“My dance, I believe?”

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