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Once Upon A Time...
In fairy tales the stories always started with once upon a time. Did that mean that once upon a time their lives were awful, that they wanted love? That once upon a time they had nothing? Or was it something else? I wish I could start my fairy tale with once upon a time. But life isn’t a fairy tale, and I had everything, a large house with more expensive items than the Queen herself could lay her eyes on. All the suitors in England knocking at my door, and all the money I could ever want. Yet something was missing, something money couldn’t buy, true love. Dozens of suitors had proclaimed their undying love and compassion for me, but I could always see that hint of greed flashing in their eyes. I admit I was a beautiful young lady, but what they really wanted was my fortune. They called me Alyssa the noble bachelorette, since my name meant nobility and I was a bachelorette still.
My poor parents had tried and tried again to set me up with the most suitable young men in the country. All had proclaimed their loves and all were liars. What all the young men didn’t know was that I could see through them and their undeniable greed. I admit I fell in love with one or two of the suitors when I was still young and ripe, but for some reason I was never happy, they had only wanted my inherited fortune. Yet I was determined to find a man in love with me for who I was and not the money that came with. A week from today I would be moving to France, and into my aunt’s mansion, where I had hoped to find a suitable young man to fall in love with. My parents still thinking they were in charge of me set a date for my birthday where they hoped I would bring a wholesome young man to accompany me. Not wanting my dear parents to worry I had agreed, and so off I was going to France to find a young man to desperately fall in love with me. I sighed and shut my diary, no need to keep on my father had said since I was of noble blood everyone would remember me, yet I didn’t quite agree, I was determined to marry for love and not a dukes son. I carefully laid my diary on my desk and smoothed my dress no use getting crinkles if I didn’t want to change. I walked down the hall connecting me bedroom to the library, the study and my dressing room.
Tonight I was holding a ball since I was to leave in a week. My parents had insisted even though I detest balls, I didn’t see the point in dancing and flirting while drinking champagne. But for my parents sake I had agreed. I quickly hurried down the hall to check the preparations and to change into my ball gown. My theme was fantasy theme, and of course being the hostess I felt obligated to be a princess. Since I had long brown hair I chose belle from beauty and the beast. I had curled my hair the night before and had my maid dress me and make me presentable, I didn’t care about this ball, I only cared about leaving to France. Once she was done she left me to make any finishing touches, I looked in the mirror and gasped I hadn’t expected to look like almost exactly like a princess. My hair had been tied back and was hanging in long ringlets. My dress was golden silk that flowed from the hip and a rose was attached to the ribbon. I turned in a circle and gazed in the mirror, it was every little girls dream, and it even had the half way sleeves to perfect the look. I quickly added a touch of powder and fled the room I had a ball to host and I couldn’t be a moment late. I hurried down the stairs, hoping that all he preparations had been completed; I searched the room and gave a slight nod everything was in place. I ordered the butler to open the door so that I could make a grand entrance. I scurried up the stairs, careful not to trip on my silk gown and waited for the big oak doors to open. When I heard the creek of wood I slowly descended the stairs to make it seem as if I was an angel from heaven. The guests handed the butler their invitations and made their way into the lavishly decorated ballroom. Once I had descended the stairs I made my way to the center of the room and tapped my glass. It looked like most of the guests had arrived and I was determined to make a toast.
“Ladies and Gentleman, this ball is hosted for my departure in seven days, where I hope to find the path of my life. Now please enjoy yourself and dance!” They all cheered and applauded a few young men winked which I quickly ignored. I than took in the decorated ballroom, everything was covered in royal blue and dark purple, and all the tables held delicious delicacies like various pies, cakes, champagnes, and other pastries. From the wall hung a dark purple tapestry embroidered with my family crest, which was a golden chair with ivy surrounding it with an eagle sitting on top. I took a step forward and found myself face to face with the “Beast.”
“Pardon me madam,” he said bowing slightly.
“Please don’t bow, I hate it drives me insane.”
“Oh, well than I’m truly sorry “Belle” It won’t happen again,” as he said those words a hint of amusement crept into his beautiful green eyes.
“I’m sure it won’t. Now who do I have the pleasure of bumping into tonight? Maybe a young man desperate for money I presume?” I said raising my eyebrows.
“Madame if I had wanted your money I would have caught you attention earlier, and taken you for a romantic walk or maybe a rendezvous on the terrace, but I don’t care for money, I have enough as it is,” he said it so causally I wondered if maybe he was telling the truth.
“Well might I ask who’s under the mask?”
“Sadly I cannot answer, my name shall remain anonymous,” he said his eyes flickering with laughter, what an invigorating man I thought.
“Well anonymous, nice to meet you,” I said a smile twitching from the side of my mouth.
“The pleasure was all mine, um well belle would you like to dance?” He asked giving me his hand. I took it and we walked to the center of the ballroom. The music started and I took in his appearance. He looked twenty, about my age, he had short cut black hair that was swept to the side, and daring green eyes, it was hard to take your eyes off of him, but I had been used enough and this man was not getting near my heart.
“Well, “Belle” might I ask your real name?” he asked twirling me to the music.
“I’m surprised, it’s my ball yet you don’t know my name?” I said giving him a mischievous smile.
“Oh, so you’re the stuck up bachelorette, who won’t marry for the life of her, your Alyssa if I’m right,” He said amusement flooding his eyes.
“Correct, I’m surprised the anonymous beast knows anything.” I couldn’t help it I broke into a smile.
His eyes hardened, “I know a lot Miss Overton.”
My smile faltered, “I’m sorry if I had offended you.”
“It’s all right Miss Overton.”
“Alyssa, if you will, I’m not officially the noble heir yet, depends on which lucky man I marry, if I do,” I said trying not to roll my eyes.
“Well, Alyssa I’m sure any man would love to marry you.”
I sighed, “Yes most would, but would any man love me for anything but money?”
He stopped me and laughed, “I’m surprised Alyssa, I didn’t know a noble like yourself would care about such things.” The music stopped and I curtsied.
“You’d be surprised about how much I care about, “Beast,” His eyes twinkled.
“It was a pleasure meeting you Alyssa.”
“As for you Mr.….”
“Nice try “Belle” but my name shall remain anonymous,” he said taking my hand and planting a kiss. I laughed and turned away, what an unusual, invigorating young man.
The rest of the ball went smoothly, about twenty eligible young men danced with me, and all had wanted my fortune, but even though my mind should be on the ball it kept wandering to the young man who I had danced with, he was very handsome, humorous, invigorating, and I hadn’t gotten his name, but why? Who was he and why did he want his name to be anonymous? I pondered this for the next few hours, it had seemed he left early, I had asked around but nobody knew who he was or even his name.
Once the ball was over I asked to see the guest list, the butler handed me the list and I went upstairs to get ready for bed, I scrolled down the list and no names caught my eye, he could be any one of these names. I sighed and tossed the list on my desk and slipped into my night gown. Once I was ready for bed, I sat down at my desk and looked through my mail, nothing was of importance except a letter from my aunt, and she didn’t usually write me unless it was important. I slowly opened it and it read,
My dear, Alyssa,
I hope you haven’t forgotten our bet, if you want to keep my fortune; you need to marry in the next two months. I hope that you will write me about your progress in finding your future husband. If you do not find a husband in the next two months my fortune will be given to your sister Liane, and dear you could have almost any eligible suitor, there are a lot of young man that would seek your hand.
You’re Aunt Aveline.