If you haven't noticed by now, but I'm in the middle of a Flash Fiction challenge. The rules: respond to the daily prompt, less than 1000 words, and no edits…I follow those rules loosely… So today's Flash installment is here!my-flash-fiction-challenge

That Magic Spark

Edward Montague did not retire to the smoking lounge with the rest of the men. His infatuation with the ladies surpassed their admiration of him. He flitted among the gaily adorned socialites, taking smiles and flutters of lashes like a thief at the till. Every now and again, a bold hopeful would find a way to sweep her fingertips across the deep burgundy of his waistcoat. Some let their inner harlot out, daring to let that gentle touch brush against his skin.

Charlotte’s eyes narrowed every time one of the little birds touched him so intimately. He carried on, as if the touch hadn’t happened, but somehow his gaze seemed to latch on his hopeful admirer for that fraction of a second bordering on lewd. Not that the heir to the Montague name would ever be seen in a social situation as being other than the gentleman he pretended to be.

She knew better. Unable to escape the suffocating room with its cream chaises and puffy silk pillows, she gagged against the stench of too much perfume. The men sipped brandy and smoked their cigars, while she suffered through tea and lady finger pastries. The cloying aromas gathered at the back of her throat, making her gag. Not that anything other than a smile graced her lips. No, as the hostess of this grand summer soirée, her presence was required. The one time she’d tried to skirt her duties, her brother Jacques scolded her through the night.

Appearances were everything, and the climb to social prominence mattered the most. Unfortunately, Edward Montague offered exactly what the Holbrook shipping empire needed. They had money, more money than was decent, but what Charlotte and her brother lacked, the Montague name would provide. Jacques insisted she make an alliance with the cretin, the pompous flirt was not a man she would ever be able to ignore.

As she surveyed the room, sipping on the hot honeyed tea, her gaze skipped over the ball gowns, a gentle smile fixed to her face. She avoided the gaggle in the corner, the lilting laughter of the women, fawning over the deep susurrations of a deep baritone. Her assessment lingered too long, and he caught her in that slice of a moment before her gaze meandered on to admired the portrait of her beloved father, God rest his soul.

Dark, mesmerizing eyes bored into her, causing her carefully constructed expression of boredom to slip. Her lids flared before she could control the reaction. Maybe he hadn’t noticed. Not likely. Their eyes locked, and a depth of power radiated from the intensity of those coal dark eyes.

What a shame about those eyes. Jacque’s eyes were a brilliant blue, and hers a deep mossy green. Would Edward’s eyes muddy those of her children? A horrific thought to lose the Holbrook signature, but Jacques demanded this union. The need to cement their upward climb had been on their father’s dying breath.

But to lie with a Montague had her spine tingling with threads of revulsion. And to become a mockery of her new world was not on her list of things to do.

She returned Edward’s heated glared with disinterest, and continued to sip at her tea. Her smile lit the faces of her guests. Each one of her circle aimed to benefit from calling her friend, but she was close to none of these eager hopefuls. Favors traded within the smoke filled room may cement a few of them manageable husbands. It depended on how heavy Jacques allowed the brandy to flow.

Bored, she took a seat at the piano. If she played for a bit, the others would leave her alone and she could avoid the inane prattle for a stretch of time. Eyes on the ivory, she steadied her breathing. Music was a force of nature, and when played with one’s heart it flowed with a potent power. She loosened her posture, then lifted her hands, placing them on the keys. Her head bowed and the concerto flowed from that space inside, out into the world, breathing life into the force of her wishes.

Her fingers started slow, roping in the ears of her listeners before wrapping the chords around their hearts and reeling them in. The concerto she created was one of her most complex, challenging with high tempo and too many notes folding into the complexity of emotive sound. Her fingers flew over the keyboard, her wrists whipped up and over, travelling through the octaves. Rhythm filled the room with the measures flowing out of her soul. The tempo rose and voices stilled to listen, while she created magic.

The music swelled and encased the room in its spell, her right hand hopping over the right while her fingers beat her desires over the keys. And then, with the last measure, the last phrasing of music, a presence settled beside her, too close for polite company, too close for anything proper.

Edward lay his hand over her trembling fingers and the spark of magic flowed into him. His eyes Rounded deep with a need only she could answer now that he was bound to her will.

“Miss Holbrook, your playing…it was so inspiring.”

The heat of his fingers brushed over the back of her hand, the force of her music channeling deep into his body.

“Why, Mr. Montague, if you liked that piece, allow me to play you another.”

His eyes weren’t that horrible, there were flecks of gold lining the rims. Maybe her children wouldn't be complete trolls. And he had a strong jaw. The nobility of his blood mixing with hers might strengthen the Holbrook line, and just maybe it wouldn't be that bad to lay with Edward Montague.

He shifted closer, his shoulders, hips and thigh pressing against the fabric of her skirts, an intimate position, but acceptable and unavoidable now that her music flowed in his veins.

Movement in her periphery caught her eye, Jacques leaning against the doorjamb, cigar in one hand and sniffer of brandy in the other. She gave him a nod and turned to play for her future husband.

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