Twelfth Night Masquerade: Neglected Masque

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (Please link if used)
Neglected Masque
Blake didn’t mean to stare, but many years away out on the battle front meant he’d not seen any frivolity, let alone so many beautiful women in quite some time. Silken dresses, yards of them, coiled around his legs as he passed through the whirling dance, intoxicated by mystery and opportunity. Never had so many hands brushed his and masked faces caught his eye with tantalising promise. 
He watched through his simple, leather bandit mask and scoured the low-lit ballroom; searching for only one face.
And when he saw her, clothed in olive-green velvet, he moved swiftly to her side. 
Alicia was alone within the writhing mass, like a pale-rose amongst a meadow of gaudy blooms, and his fingers urgently sought hers. She turned, startled, and her plum-coloured lips opened in surprise.  His mind reeled as his memory raced rewinding to the moment, years ago, when he first kissed her beneath the orchard blossom, those same lips now quivered as she interlaced her fingers with his. 
“Where is he?” asked Blake and she shook her head.  “Your husband…” bitterness bit deep, “the life and soul…”
Then he saw him, his brother, and his finger loosened his bronze cravat as scarlet rage rose. The buffoon held court amongst businessmen and loose women, and Blake watched as the man’s hand trailed across the breast of the woman in his arms. The lewd whisper in her ear, her wanton giggle, and the suggestive way his hand stroked down her spine and across her much-padded behind, was too much. Blake grabbed his brother’s wife and swirled her onto the dance floor. They danced until he could bear being so close to her no more, and he danced her out of the ballroom and across the lawns to the old willow.
“Come away with me,” he begged as his hand cupped her face and moved a spiralled strand of hair, away from her slender neck where it masked an angry flourish of purple. 
Her eyes glistened behind her emerald mask and she shook her head. He tenderly kissed her temple and fingered the green heart tied at her neck with brown ribbons. He released the ribbons and growled as the honey-green jewel dropped. The choker hid pale bruising and his eyes smarted as he took her wrists in his hands. He concentrated on the Murano glass beads around her delicate wrist. “Does this bracelet hide bruises too?” he asked softly. A tear rolled from behind her mask and he released her as she pulled away. She drew out a chain, concealed behind her corset within her bosom, and pressed the locket into his hands. Blake’s trembling fingers opened the familiar treasure and stared at the old, browned, but cherished photographs. His and her teenage eyes stared back; he closed the locket and held her close. Time was running out.
* * *
Blake stood opposite his brother on the morning’s fresh, dewy grass and chose his pistol. 
Today he would reclaim his beloved family jewel.
(498 Words) 
There be more to read from other fantastic writers…go and enjoy them!
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21 thoughts on “Twelfth Night Masquerade: Neglected Masque

  1. Meg McNulty

    Simmering with emotion – I would expect no less from the mistress of the heart strings. What a heartrending tale – and captured so sumptuously. I love your multilayered take on the theme of masks… they are all wearing them and not just on their faces.

    Reply
  2. Cameron Lawton

    Oooooh – delicious, wonderful soldier hero, suffering heroine, utter cad baddie ….you did it again. I so hope the soldier won. Of course he did – please tell me he did or I'll cry.

    Reply
  3. sjp

    Wonderful!! I love these emotions so much, the raw heartache that drives every move, the silent plea that reveals more than words. Also masquerades are divine 🙂

    Reply
  4. Diane J. Reed

    "Come away with me"—my favorite invitation that sent my heart aflutter! I love the lush romance of this piece—a wonderful escape and yet such a tragic story, too! All in 498 words? Amazing.

    Reply
  5. lizzie loodles

    Oh I really feel for these two. Blake just sounds the cutest; brave, heroic, kind, generous, handsome. . . Why oh why is she with his nasty, fat cat, bully brother???? He better win that dual. Beautifully written Lisa. xx

    Reply
  6. Emilia Quill

    I went through a range of emotion from curiosity in the beginnig to disgust at the brother to hoping Blake and Alicia will find a way to be together… thank you for the journey and for stating that he'll win easily. Otherwise I'd have stayed up wondering if Blake somehow lost 😛

    Reply
  7. Bullish

    Oh, this is so lovely and evocative! I felt his anger with every revelation – a bruise, a betrayal and a battered heart! I'm rooting for Blake and Alicia to overcome everything and find happiness! ❤

    Reply
  8. Afsaneh

    Beautiful. All the colours, emotions, wounded hearts you somehow managed to weave together till they were one in the same. You're a jewel, through and through, Lisa.

    Reply
  9. Kern Windwraith

    His brother's going to get a rude surprise in the morning. Not only a stinker of a hangover but a bullet to the heart! Great story, Lisa, You get us hooked and then just spin us along with your tale to its lovely, romantic conclusion.

    Reply

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