The Masked Ball by Barbara G.Tarn

We have had two entries in the Back-story competition of The Masked Ball. And I would encourage all subscribers to Mesmered and those of you who have responded to join us at The Masked Ball on May 1st, to BE BRAVE, BE FEARLESS and get your entry to me via my email address.  THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE ENTRY PER PERSON THOUGH. You will have read Michael Keane’s entry and also Simon James Atkinson Turney’s entry and now we have a third.  Barbara is a cartoonist, screenwriter and the author of and is one of the guests to the Ball and has entered her back-story which is below.  She has also written a Part Two which will be on creativebarbwire in April and I urge all readers to visit and read the next instalment. I have a feeling that Barb is setting up a story here that will continue further than just parts one and two.

Bianca was startled when instead of one, she found two letters from Veniche in her mail. One was from her new friend Lucia Brabante – she recognized the handwriting – but the other? In her years of self-exile she had almost forgotten all about her home country. For a moment she feared it was some sort of bad news from her family, and couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw it was an invitation for a masked ball.

A masked ball! Childhood memories immediately came to mind, starting a sequence of masked balls ending sometime in her youth – when she had started her rebellion and left home to be a writer and an artist. But mostly to live on her own, to be unmarried.

Until, of course, she met The Man who had captured her heard, even if they never really had a wedding ceremony. She had been living with him for nine years, now, and didn’t see the end of the relationship, in spite of the lack of priests’ blessings or pieces of paper.

Bianca quickly opened the other letter and read Lucia’s words about the ball. Her pen-friend sounded as excited as she was at the thought of the event. Bianca mused about herself and Kareem in the Museo, mixing with other masked people and dancing until dawn… it was a warming thought.

Kareem owned a palace in the Raj and Bianca thought he had never seen a masked ball like the ones held every year in Veniche. He was a seasoned traveler as much as she was, but nobody in the world did masked balls like they were done in Veniche.

She snapped out of her reverie and rushed to his studio waving her letters, excited like a young girl at her first invitation. He was reading on his favorite thick carpet covered with cushions, which made it easy for Bianca to plunge in his arms, almost like on a bed.

“Kareem, look! I’ve been invited to a Masked Ball!”

He took the invitation from her waving hand to read it, as she blotted herself against him, trying to calm down and folding Lucia’s letter.

“How did they find you?” he asked with mild curiosity.

“La Signorina Brabante,” she blushed.

“I thought you started that correspondence only to discuss a stumpwork robe.”

“Yes, but you know us… we love masked balls… she thought to do me a favor and gave my name to the Board of Directors.”

He smiled and gave her back the invitation.

“So you want to go back?” he asked, his brown eyes gently teasing.

“Oh, yes, please!” she begged. “You’d love the ball! We can dance all night! And we’ll be masked, nobody will know…”

He laughed at her childish excitement and hugged her.

“Fine, we’ll go,” he said. “What will you wear?”

“I would like to wear the costume you offered me,” she said, thinking about the short bodice and wide gown, the bangles and belly-chain, and how she enjoyed wearing it for their parties-for-two in the marble-laced palace.

“It  was meant for us only,” he chided. “I don’t want everybody to stare at your naked navel!”

“What’s wrong with showing it?” she shrugged. “My face will be hidden. I’m not as good as your dancers, here, but I could make quite an impression…”

“Bianca de’ Gigli, sometimes I wish you’d stick to your name and be white as a lily!” he sighed, but his eyes seemed to laugh at her again.

“I haven’t been as white as a lily for years,” she purred, “also thanks to you…”

They exchanged a long, passionate kiss. She wasn’t “white of the lilies” anymore, not even when she had first met him, but he had certainly increased her passion with his gentle touch. Sometimes she feared he was Other, sometimes she just thanked God for putting him in her path. He was just a strong, passionate man who had fallen for her as hard as she had fallen for him.

“I doubt in Veniche they’ll appreciate the Raj fashion,” he said as she rested her head on his shoulder, imagining herself with her dancing outfit. “From what I hear, ladies should watch their cleavage, imagine some naked skin under the breasts.”

She looked at him, disappointed. He had a point.

“But it’s a masked ball!” she pouted.

“Then I’ll wear my pirate outfit.” The gleam in his eyes should have warned her, but she fell for the trick.

“No way, I don’t want the ladies staring at your hairless torso!”

“Then we’ll have to compromise, my dear,” he grinned. He had won again. Her enthusiasm slowly faded, and she sighed.

“I’ll consult with my wonderful mask-maker,” I said, thoughtful. “I wonder if she’ll tag along!”

“When is it again?” he asked, practical.

They checked the date. Less than a month. They better start preparing the journey to Veniche, they could rent the masks at their destination if they couldn’t come up with something else.