Masquerade Secrets

By: Janelle Daniels

Madame Devereaux was a French modiste that had found great success in the ton. Her shop, located on Bond Street, was usually bustling with business.

“Yes, of course! What a brilliant idea.” Charlotte began to pace the length of Aubrey’s bedroom floor, one of her burnt-gold curls falling lose from her plait. “I must decide what I shall be.”

Aubrey skimmed over the beauty her younger sister was, admiring how traits similar to her own had turned out so differently in her younger sister. They shared the exact same shade of honey-colored hair, the same straight, pert nose, and the same full lips. But that is where the similarities ended. Her sister was reed-thin, the desirable petiteness that society had decided was all the rage. Aubrey, however, had a much different body type. She often joked that it was more suited to a mistress, lush and full in the hips and bust.

She wasn’t as tall as her younger sister either. The smallness of her own stature only emphasized her curves, making them seem more extreme.

While her looks weren’t deemed fashionable, she didn’t ever wish to change them. What would be the point? She was who she was and she was happy with herself. There were girls who were much more plain looking than she, and she was lucky that she had been blessed with what she had.

“I think I shall be a butterfly.” Charlotte nodded at her decision, seemingly pleased with her choice. “What will you be?”

“I haven’t any clue.” Aubrey wanted to laugh at her sister’s shocked face. To her, this masquerade was everything. To Aubrey, who had been in society for three seasons, this was just another ball. “I think I’ll leave it up to Madame Devereaux to decide.”

This suggestion was met with a reverent nod. “I think that is a good choice. She will know the perfect costume for you.” With a final nod, her sister smiled. “This is so wonderful. I am glad you are able to go to all the parties with me. It would be lonely without you. How did you ever manage it by yourself?”

“I had Sera,” Aubrey sighed, thinking of her recently married friend. How would she ever do without her? Sera had been her friend and confidant. But that was before her marriage. Now Aubrey was facing society, after three unsuccessful seasons, with her younger sister.

“I’m sure that was such a comfort to you.” Moving over to Aubrey’s desk, Charlotte gave her sister a hug. “She will return soon.”

Patting Charlotte’s hand, Aubrey nodded. What her sister didn’t understand was that even when Sera returned, it would be different. She was a married woman, and Aubrey was not. They would move in completely different circles until Aubrey married. If she ever married.

“Well, I’m off to bed. Let’s leave early so we can occupy Madam Devereaux as long as we wish.” Charlotte grinned before leaving the room.

Her sister hadn’t been kidding about leaving early. A little after her maid had lit a fire in the grate, Charlotte breezed into the room, opening the curtains along the way. “I’ve sent up Bitsy to help you dress, and I’ve already sent for a breakfast tray.”

“What time is it?” Aubrey looked toward the clock. “Goodness, Charlotte. Her shop might not even be open yet.”

“It will open for us.”

Aubrey saw the determined look in her sister’s face and laughed. “The shop will probably open early after the news of the masquerade.” Tossing the bedclothes aside, Aubrey sat up and slipped her feet into her slippers. “We might as well go early too.”

The grin that split her sister’s face made leaving her soft, warm bed worth it. “Excellent. I shall go change and meet you downstairs in an hour.”

Once Bitsy, her maid, arrived, Aubrey was dressed and finishing breakfast in record time. Locating a pair of gloves, Aubrey made her way down the staircase to meet her waiting sister.

“I am glad you are on time. I was worried I would have to come fetch you.”

Securing the last button on her glove, Aubrey laughed. “You really need to calm down, Charlotte. We will get to the shop on time and we will get the dresses that we want. There is no reason to worry over it, dear.”

“I know.” Charlotte let out a cleansing breath. “I am just excited. I am sorry for acting like a crazy debutant.”

“Darling, you are a crazy debutant.”

They both laughed as they made their way out the door and into the carriage.

Bond Street was already bustling with business when they arrived. While members of the ton had still to make an appearance, it was the working class that dominated the market. Waking up in the early hours of the morning gave them time to do the chores they needed to before their employers woke, and that included shopping.

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