A Sinking Sensation (Beast)
Looking back, it was not one of my more intelligent moments.
The entire fiasco was not, however, entirely my fault. Iliana looked at first glance exactly like every other predatory young thing that always crowded balls like this, giggling and fluttering her eyelashes at each and every available lordling in the immediate vicinity. If that weren’t enough of a cheat, her ice-blond hair had been piled on her head in a complicated style that all-too-conveniently hid the pointed tips of her ears from the unsuspecting.
I, naturally, had retreated to the library, drink in hand and a large chair blocking the only entrance. Just because Waverly insisted that it was part of my duty to hold a ball once a year didn’t mean that I actually had to attend the thing – as long as I let them use the space and paid for the hors devours, I considered my part in the festivities amply fulfilled.
Also, I was hiding. The fairy godmothers had published a list the year before rating the eligible noble males in the kingdom, and to my horror I had several gold wands beside my name – a title slightly more impressive than most of the young men within reach, a respectable amount of money to back that title and, thanks to a nasty curtain accident several years previous, no annoying father to stand in my way. Together, they added up to a picture that was irresistibly and unfortunately attractive to several members of the opposite sex, and they along with their mothers declared me the top target on their list of suitable prey
Sadly, the additional point that I was also a moody, sarcastic little snot did little to significantly change my standing, no matter how often I tried to advertise this particular aspect of my personality. Though I had managed to scare off one or two women, most didn’t have enough idea of what I was talking about to be offended. Hence the library, and the thick, heavy wooden doors ready to stand guard between me and massed femininity outside.
Unfortunately, my butler refused to see the genius of my plan. When the door creaked open, I set down my glass and picked up the heaviest book within reach, but it was only Waverly ready with another drink and a disapproving expression. “Can I get you anything, sir?” he asked in a faintly pained voice. “Perhaps some hermit rags and a long white beard?”
“Go show the guests how hilarious you are,” I hissed, taking the drink out of his hand and making shooing motions with the other. “And leave me alone until the uninvited guests are gone. Who knows who could have followed you?”
Waverly rolled his eyes. “Heaven forbid you should actually have to speak to someone, sir. Who knows what tragedy could strike.” Still, he closed the door, and with a deep sense of satisfaction I locked it behind him.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to stop it from opening again a few minutes later. “Waverly, I told you ….”
“You could tell me more.” I swore at the distinctly feminine voice, and cringed at the pale, delicate looking creature that swept into the room and shut the door behind her. “I have been looking for you the entire evening, my lord. I’ve heard so many lovely things about you.”
My eyes narrowed at her. “That door was locked. How in Grimm’s name did you get in here?”
She lifted an elegant shoulder. “Magic, my lord. What else?”
Okay, maybe that should have been a clue. Still, as warning signs went it was unfortunately small – anyone could bribe a fairy godmother and get the same effect. “Fine” I growled, returning to my book. “Now use it to leave again.”
She frowned at me for a long moment, then smiled the smile of a person who has just completely dismissed the last few minutes of conversation because there’s no way they could have conceivably happened. “What a sense of humor you have.” She swept forward, hunting for a seat close to mine. “If you could only dress a little more appropriately I’m sure we could work wonderfully together ….”
I stood up, stopping to grab a dictionary as I approached her. “Let me be more specific,” I cut her off, glaring at her. “I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t want to look at you.” As her eyes began to widen, I lifted the book in a menacing manner. “And the mere thought of ‘working wonderfully’ with you makes me want to break out in hives. Leave now, before something unfortunate has to happen.”
”But …” Her breath hitched, and she splayed a delicate hand across heaving bosoms. “You don’t want to hear about my ….”
“The only thing I want to hear from you,” I snapped. “Is the sound of the door smacking you as you leave.”
I could see the tears start to glisten at the corner of her huge violet eyes, usually the sign that they were about to scurry away in defeat. I set the book down, but barely had time to take a step back before a wand was suddenly pointed at me. Then everything went black.
And, as I realized when I could open my eyes again, furry.