Carlotta . . .

This is a further entry in our back-story comp from Nikalee Livingstone of Western Australia.  She has entered right into the spirit of creating her character as you will see when you read on . . .

When I saw the sleek black flank of Phantom, his satin hide dappled by the shade of the potted trees in the courtyard, a rush of excitement shivered through me. Ricardo was here! His beautiful black horse stood calmly in the shade, not the least startled by my approach. How apt that such a handsome man should ride this beast. They were a perfect match. I ran a hand down Phantom’s nose; he knew me and that made me feel special. It was true; I had a terrible crush on my sister’s admirer. Just the fact that his horse knew me was enough to make my day.

Feeling young and foolish, I crept up to the portico and strained my ears to catch the low rumble of Ricardo’s voice. Without him knowing I was there, I could bask in his presence and not feel self conscious. Lucky Nicoletta! She didn’t appreciate him. She couldn’t feel his aura the way I could. She thought he was too serious, too old for her. At seventeen, I am five years her junior and Ricardo is thirty years old, but I feel he isn’t too old for me! Perhaps I am more mature than Nicoletta, but she is extremely beautiful and that is what attracts her admirers. They don’t seem to need more than that, but it surprises me with Ricardo. I couldn’t believe he would be so blinded by beauty – yet here he was, visiting her again. I could hear him in the front parlour. Just the sound of his deep voice made my cheeks feel warm. So much for maturity! Who else but a silly child would flush so easily?

“Will you not accept my invitation to the ball, Nicoletta? I did think you would receive other offers, but you know my high standing with the board of Governors; it would be advantageous for you to be seen there with me.”

“Is it not a Masked Ball, Ricardo? Just how will anyone recognise me? Anyway, Desmond is more likely to introduce me around; he has many friends and I know some of them have equal high standing. You are more the quiet type I think; likely to find your dour old acquaintances and converse with them while everyone else is dancing. You know I will find that dull…” Nicoletta harped on at length with this theme of boredom; I could think of nothing more wonderful than being at a ball with Ricardo. My heart gave a thud even as I pictured it.

There was a pause, and then Ricardo’s voice grew louder as he approached the hall. “Think on it, Nicoletta. I’m sure you know it would give me great pleasure to escort you. Desmond may have high standing with the board, but you’ll find his father is the real reason for that; you should think about it before you attach yourself to him.”

He moved too quickly for me to conceal myself; the front door opened and instead of the maid, Ricardo himself strode forth. I thought blood would burst from my face when he glanced at me; his piercing blue eyes shot their gaze right to my heart. I didn’t expect him to speak to me or even acknowledge my presence, but as he swung onto Phantom’s back he said over his shoulder “Carlotta, speak to your sister; perhaps you can convince her I’m not as dull as she thinks.”

He rode away before I had the chance to respond, which was just as well since my heart was hammering too hard to make speech possible. He remembered my name!

I entered the house on feet clad in clouds. Nicoletta was reclining on the sofa, a small frown on her perfect face. She shot me an irritable look. “Why are you looking so dreamy? I suppose you saw him on his way out?”

“Why don’t you want to go to the ball with him? He’s so handsome!”

“He is dull, old, and for your information, I have reason to believe he is Other. You know my feelings on that.”

I sat on the edge of the sofa. “Really? He is Other? What makes you think so? Who told you?”

“It doesn’t matter who told me. But that is only one reason why I won’t go accompany him. Desmond is far better looking, and more fun. Going with Ricardo would be so stifling!”

“How could it be stifling if he is Other?” This was a new and exciting possibility for me. I didn’t know much about the Others; their exact nature was never discussed by my overprotective parents, so of course it was enticing to think I might have seen one of them.

“Carlie, you are so naïve. There is nothing exciting about Others. It’s best to avoid them; you never know what their motives are. For all I know, Ricardo’s plans are to use me for some diabolical power trip. Keep away from him and don’t goad him.” She looked away as if she no longer cared for my company.

“It’s not my fault no one tells me anything. Why are Others so terrible? I’m sure they’re just different. I think it’s wrong to judge them all the same.”

“I don’t wish to discuss it further.” Nicoletta picked up a book from the sofa and pretended to be absorbed in it. I left the room in disgust.