Continued from “Pause…”
“He’s gorgeous,” purred Isabelle to her father, the duke, who stood by her side. She tucked her golden hair behind her ear and drank in the prince, who alone occupied the centre of the dancing floor and the attention of all present. She shivered with excitement.
The prince stood dressed in black and gold, adored by every swooning young woman. He flicked a wrist towards his musicians, and they struck a lively piece. The prince, with graceful sweeps of his ring-laden hands, began to move in concert with the rhythms. He swirled, swayed, spiralled and swished in the traditional dance of the monarch-to-be.
“He’s so handsome,” Isabelle whispered to her father.
“He is a tyrant and a murderer,” whispered the duke in return.
“He understands power, father,” Isabelle hissed, glaring under furrowed brow. “He achieves glories that your restraint denies you.”
As the music ended there was applause, not just in deference but with appreciation of the prince’s art, practised to exquisite perfection. Then the prince walked into the crowd, a snaking path around each appreciative beauty, soaking up the adoration, seeking a partner. Isabelle stepped forward, eagerly… but her advance was checked by the grip of the duke upon her elbow.
Then prince had chosen, kissing the hand of an apparition of fantasy with raven-black hair and a fiery red dress. Isabelle choked with bitter frustration, wrenching her arm free, oblivious to the tears in her father’s eyes as they watched the couple begin the prince’s last dance.