Tatania is tired of living in her sister's shadow but doesn't know about Princess Anna's dark secret. Bound by a sacred oath, Anna's struggles to live a double life that can never be her own.
Described as "Sense and Sensibility meets Ever After with ninjas," Arabesque is full of action, romance, intrigue, and betrayal.
Since I've always been super paranoid, Arabesque was officially copyrighted in 2009. Duplication or use of this work in any other form is prohibited by law.
Why I must be the main focus of so much attention? I have neither the dark beauty nor wit of Tatania to be worthy of such adoration. How fortunate that she can escape as she does, although, she has not yet managed to do so tonight. It seems unlikely that she will, either, with Sir Alec sneaking glances at her.
I observed that Sir Alec had something of a talent as an actor. He cheerfully engaged many dance partners, and gave very little sign of distraction. So struck by his charm, these ladies failed to perceive his true focus was Tatania. Indeed, he took great notice of her every action. Each weary sigh drew his immediate gaze and, quite often, a subtle smirk.
The surrounding company was tedious to him, yet he took no great pleasure in watching Tatania either. It puzzled me. What could his interest be? He enjoys quarreling with her. In fact, he is quite an effective the foil to her sarcasm. Something in all this disturbs him. Perhaps she plagues him as much as he is loathed by her, but what is the meaning of his torment? While I know him to be of a kind heart, surely nothing of a tender amity can exist in it for Tatania.
With a flick of her fingers, Tatania signaled to me her intention to disappear, and evaporated into the throng of waltzing couples. To my alarm, and to that of his companions, Sir Alec excused himself and began to follow her. It would be most unpleasant if they were alone together.
I begged our guests to pardon my leave, but they were persistent in determining my reasons. Assuring them of my good health proved to be an impossible task. The gentlemen peppered me with questions and offers to retrieve anything that could improve my comfort.
"Has your headache returned, your highness?" an angelic voice intoned. Dear Henry, always nearby to come to my rescue. He adopted a slight reprimand in his tone, "Princess, you must not ignore such ailments on our behalf. If anything untoward should befall you, the king and your subjects would be most grievous."
"I thank you, Sir Henry, for your consideration. Indeed, my headache has returned. Perhaps I shall rest a while." I nodded to my guests. "Please excuse me."
Arm in arm, he escorted me through the abandoned halls, and into the courtyard. Ever faithful, not once did he question my reasons for leaving. The light of the full moon cast a glow across the handsome features of his stoic face. I longed to put my hand upon it, to elicit the smile that ever warmed my heart, but I dared not. Although he had misunderstood the meaning of my objection to our relationship, broaching the subject would be cruel, given his request of silence.
Being so near to him was excruciatingly sweet. I could do naught but be still and look upon him. His soft brown eyes met mine. A spark of pain leapt across his face, and his eyes grew cold. He removed his arm from mine, stepped slightly away. He bowed and muttered an apology.
My eyes dropped to the floor. "Sir Alec has followed Tatania out of the ball," I said distantly. "I must retrieve him before he upsets her. Please await me here, I shall not be long. I believe I know where she would choose to conceal herself on a night such as this." I hastened in search of the fugitives.
Since Tatania and I routinely gave each other a full account of our experiences after each ball, finding her did not take long. I had searched only minutes when I beheld the catastrophe. Alec had determined Tatania's location. There she was, basking in the radiance of the bright moon.
How enchanting was her dance! I had always known she kept certain talents to herself. She retained a gruff exterior and rarely showed others her true self. I assume she thought if no one knew who she truly was, they would be unable to hurt her.
A full minute passed before I was able to withdraw my gaze. This rare glimpse into Tatania's soul was breathtaking. She appeared as I had always pictured Seleine. Only when I realized that Alec's life would be in peril if Tat saw him there was I able to break away. I pulled him gently aside, behind the garden wall. He was quite startled when I did so, but saw the prudence in hiding and remained silent.
We both were at a loss for words. Together we stood, well concealed, and took in the scene. Tatania no longer appeared to be a part of this world. She belonged to a time long forgotten, shrouded in mist that shadowed each lithe movement. I began to expect she would soon be surrounded by wood nymphs summoned from that same lost world.
Mesmerized, he whispered, "How could someone so beautiful contain such malevolence?"
I pursed my lips, taken aback. Sir Alec and Tatania had displayed enmity toward one another, but I had not realized he truly thought ill of her.
"Malevolence? Surely you cannot believe so."
His eyes remained locked on her unearthly figure in the distance. "What trick is it that a wicked spirit should reside in such a creature?"
"Tatania is not wicked," I rose to her defense. "She has as kind and a gentle heart, as yourself, but she is much altered when you are near-how greatly you vex her!" I scolded. "At all other times she is gentle as a lamb with the kindness of an angel." Silently I added, It is strange to see the changes wrought by the electricity of your contention. You are both so completely changed!
"How can you think so? How can it be that you, who are closer to her than any other, cannot see what she bares plain. I have seen her true character revealed. I have personally witnessed your sister heartlessly torment several ladies far below her status-including her own cousin."
The furious red shade of his face was softened in confusion as I nearly burst out laughing. Ah, this is from whence your prejudice stems. Would not Genevieve be proud of her mischief!
I continued to smile as I explained, "Tatania and Genevieve have been at war since childhood, Sir Alec. Genevieve has always taken great pleasure in tormenting my sister because of her status. While Tatania is content with her situation, but Genevieve has strived to make her ashamed of it.
"Long has she endeavored for to be Tatania as miserable as she, herself. Genevieve has never been content being simply the cousin of the princess. In her eyes, my younger sister, who will never inherit the throne, should feel lower than herself. She tries desperately to make her feel it.
"I find no pleasure in relating these circumstances to you. Indeed, I loathe speaking ill of any creature, but my sister must be defended. I feel I must acquaint you with their true characters. Genevieve is relentless in her attempts to elevate her own status through the detriment of others. Tatania has been a vigilant defender of these victims, often falling prey to Genevieve herself. Yet, she always rises above the opposition. Genevieve's hatred of her increases with each that she rescues."
His eyes drifted back to Tatania, still lost in her dance. I quietly wondered at his thoughts. Is this misunderstanding the only source of his discrimination?How will his behavior reflect with this knowledge?
"Sir Alec," I implored. He reluctantly turned toward me. "My sister will soon discover our intrusion. We must leave before she does." He nodded and followed me wordlessly.
We walked under trellises dripping luxuriously with wisteria blossoms, and left the gardens far behind us. We crossed into the courtyard adjacent to the castle. The sounds of the party swelled as we drew near.
Tatania must not know of our trespass. I turned to convey that though to him, but saw only my own faint shadow in the moonlight. Sir Alec was gone.
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