•F I F T Y - N I N E•

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♪ I look inside myself and see my heart is black                                       I see my red door and it's heading into black ♪{Vanessa Carlton—Paint It Black}

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♪ I look inside myself and see my heart is black
                                       I see my red door and it's heading into black ♪
{Vanessa Carlton—Paint It Black}


A weight on Marguerite's heart had lifted—a tiny one, but it had dropped.

I will present Céleste tonight.

Yet, her soul remained strained, heavy, full of doubts and concerns.

Céleste would be on her own to fend for herself as Sébastien's contender. From now on, there was little she could do to help her.

She had no time to rest or dwell on her insecure sensations; the Ball was approaching fast, and she had a job to do.

Hours later, seated at her vanity, she twirled a strand of hair up over her head, around the other curls already weaved in a large bun. She set intricate ebony pearls and small jewels here and there, decorating her golden mane; and with a sigh, she blinked at her reflection.

Who is this?

Her navy gown was low-cut—even lower than the day dress she wore earlier—and off the shoulder with black lace trimming the bodice. It wasn't her usual attire; her girls would be surprised, perhaps shocked, at her audacious choice. But she had to make an impression. She had to show the Giromians she didn't fear them, and she wasn't one to be trifled with.

If there was anything she had learned from Clémentine, it was to dress to impress.

Checking that her pale powder and bright pink rouge were in place, she applied a touch of pink pomade to her lips before rising and glimpsing her figure in her floor-length mirror.

Though the view scared her, she nodded. The nobles would notice her, but she prayed they still wouldn't recognize her. Mystery was a trait she would use to her advantage, and a helpful tool to discover the true plots underway at court.

She pulled on her black satin gloves and left her room, a slight stride in her steps as she headed down the corridor. Near the stairs, she waited for her girls to arrive.

And one by one, they did; Charlotte first, radiating elegance in light peach with black lace lining the entire length of the gown she wore. She looked regal, Marguerite couldn't deny; but the sneer on her face took away from her glowing beauty.

Julia followed soon after in a pale gray and blue off the shoulder number, long sleeves concealing her white gloves. Marguerite wanted to smile at the girl coming out of her shell, showing herself off without Charlotte; but she instead worried.

The ever-extravagant Esther arrived, her bright pink satin number almost blinding. With her was Harriet, in a peach-pink and white gown revealing her figure—an unusual choice for someone usually so scrutinized at court.

The Golden Girl (#2 in the GOLDEN series) ✔Where stories live. Discover now