on January 22nd 2018
Far be it for a lady to desire, hatch and execute a daring seduction of a notorious duke at a masquerade ball. But Miss Emmaline Fitzgerald, a wallflower with no decent prospect, was on such a path, and her quarry was her brother's best friend, Elliot Winthrop, the Duke of Hartford.
One moment of sin, stolen pleasure and irresistible passion, that was all it was supposed to be….
Little did Emma realized everything about her was imprinted in Elliot’s heart and mind, and her scandalous ruse was about to change and challenge everything she thought she knew about herself and the devilish duke.
Emma was on the verge of doing something truly wicked.
She thought such an acknowledgement would fill her with dread. Instead, fevered anticipation sifted through her body as she slipped dark-apple-red dancing slippers onto her feet. She ran a fingertip over the straps crisscrossing her ankle, enjoying the supple feel of the delicate material.
“Are you quite certain?”
The soft question from Maryann, had nerves erupting inside Emma. “I am more certain than I have ever been. I need to do this, so I do not spend the rest of my years filled with abject regret. I already have more than I can bear. I promise you Elliot will not know it is me, and it will be only for tonight,” she reassured Maryann with a smile, though nervousness knotted Emma’s stomach.
“You must perceive the advantages of an eligible marriage. A union with Lord Coventry would render you a countess. You’d have a far greater allowance than I do, surely a carriage of your own, and you will be the mistress of your own home. Tonight…tonight if you do all I am thinking, you will render yourself unmarriageable.”
“I do not wish to marry the earl. Everything else I can acquire with my inheritance from my grandmother.” She cleared her throat. “And you forget I may not be able to bear issue.”
“The doctors also said you would never walk again, Emma, and here you are.”
Here you are. How simple it made the painful years of screaming and struggling to walk, the agony when her legs would fold beneath her, and the horror that would ice through her stomach as her leg muscles knotted and cramped. How she had fought and cried against her parents’ orders to not walk but to stay in bed and use a Bath chair. They had even taken her stick, hating that she hurt herself with every effort it took to try and stand.
And it was for that very reason she would be directed only by her own desires, for if she had not clawed, prayed and pleaded with God, fought her parents and even Anthony, she would still be imprisoned by her infirmities. Life offered no certainties, and for once she was prepared to live on the dangerous edge she had admired others for living on.
Elliot would soon be married, and she would soon be on another continent. They might never meet again, and she would forever dream of him. Unless she took a memory of him when she left, and not just any memory would do, something sweet, and passionate, and something wonderful. That stark, blinding truth had been whipping through her mind for almost a week now, and she had done everything possible to prepare for tonight. She would have one chance to experience something…anything with Elliot, before she walked away from everything she had ever wanted and known she would never have.
The thrill of something positively improper, unexpected and wicked had tingled along her spine. She needed this, not just to taste passion with her duke, but to step from the cage her family had designed and kept her in for years. I am five and twenty. By all accounts a spinster, and unmarriageable, even without her scars and limitations. There were only a few options available to women in her position. She could wait…wait to die, wait to live…or she could act.
Emma had decided to act.
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Question: Emma has been in love with the duke for years, and she only got the courage to be wicked and scandalous at a masquerade ball. If you got the chance to attend a Masked ball in the Regency era, what would you dress up as?