She is one of the country cousins of the rather extensive Moscastle family, brought into the city of London to live under the care of her married elder cousin who had, some several seasons back, managed rather skillfully to catch herself a well-to-do Earl for a husband. It is a source of grand excitement to finally be included in the thick of the social world, particularly as the ton
enters the spring and summer season of countless balls and parties for innumerable reasons (though, truly, most of them are at their heart parties for the sake of parties). This year, there is a particular fashion for holding masques. And so, with her family's not-insignificant money and her cousin's connections at her disposal, she prepares to attend her first such masked ball, dressed to be noticed.
And noticed she is. While somewhat of a shy girl, sweetly demure as one would expect, she finds there is something freeing about being masked among many other masked folk, nearly all of whom are strangers. The wine flows, the dancers spin, and while she certainly does not court any particular scandal, she indulges in what feels like harmless flirtation with one of the gentlemen - and he flirts back. While they dance with others, they keep returning to one another, drawn to the slowly building rapport between them. Is it that they notice the silliness of others? Is it that they are enjoying silliness of their own in the face of staid traditionalism in spite of the masks? Is it something else entirely, perhaps? One way or another, when he suggests a walk in the gardens to cool, despite her chaperone being nowhere in sight, she agrees. While the air is cool upon her skin, something in his smile, the brush of his hand, the glint of moonlight off the eyes within the mask... something has her heated. And when his body moves closer, so does her own, indulging in the sweet wickedness of a kiss, in which her own heat is met with equal fervour. They part - discovered by her cousin? Disrupted by another pair of lovers seeking a secret bower? - and all too soon the night is ended, and she must part without his name. But something about him she feels certain she will remember. For several days, sitting through the calling hours and parlour visits that mark time between the greater to-dos, her mind returns to him often - and her hand perhaps to a flower, or some other small favour handed her before they lost one another.
Because of her locks, he called her something - his golden rose, perhaps? or swan of the sun? - and so come the next masque before the week's end, she sees to it that the tailor has constructed a gown to suit her accordingly, of yellow silk and cloth-of-gold, or whatever else required to cause her to look all the more like the affectionate name he bestowed upon her. Therefore, when hands are laid upon her in the crowd and she is escorted familiarly from the bright heat of the dancing to the cool, quiet dimness of a room elsewhere in the big house, it does not occur to her to protest. Who could it be but he, having recognized her and wishing to take up their delightful connection where it had been broken off. Now, too, she knows how much she wants to kiss and be kissed... and perhaps even more. Yet as he is kissing her, something is not right - he is too tall? His hair the wrong color? His eyes? This is not the man she thought him to be!
And then - OH, then! - and then... what, my prospective partner? Does this stranger ravish her? Does she find that she likes it? Are they discovered, and forced into a quick betrothal due to the scandal? Who is he really, and who did he think she was? What of her first paramour - will he press his suit in spite of the circumstances? Perhaps even because of them? How will she act and react - will she bow to the pressure of the rules of Society and wed to avoid scandal? Will she refuse her accidental betrothed, daringly seeking out her first flirtation? Or might she take the most daring road of all, refusing to choose either and seeking a way to, somehow, have them both?
Who will they all become, when they are unmasked?