I took the liberty of "borrowing" my latest WIP's heroine and her setting for a flash fiction exercise Sunday night. This is first draft status so bear with me on any typos, repeated words, etc. The prompt was "Long Time Coming". The WIP is still untitled. Sorry.
Everyone knew the Middleton ball was the highlight of the season.
Drusilla Nancington, certainly was not ignorant of that fact, but she
simply had more important events on her mind that night.
“Dru, would you please stop fussing!” Her mother squawked about her,
tucking lace, tightening stays and applying a coating of saliva to tame
Dru’s wayward curls.
She had tried for months to wheedle her way out of attending, but her
mother had insisted, claiming it to be the only place a young girl could
make her coming out debut.
For her part, Dru had no interest in coming out or going in to
anyplace that smacked of husband hunting. At seventeen, she’d barely
grown into her breasts and hips enough to feel comfortable parading them
in front of a group of gawky boys and old lechers. The treatment as no
better than a brood mare was beyond galling and Dru had decided she had
no interest in a husband.
Her interests lay in much darker venues.
“Ow!!” She slapped away the hand that plucked the apples of her cheeks.
Dru glanced down at her own gown of peach taffeta, its empire waist
adorned with hand crocheted lace of ecru and tiny beads that dangled
down far enough from her sleeve caps to tickle the skin of her arm like
midge flies. Her feet she’d stuffed into her brown riding boots. It
would certainly not do to have to fly off at a second’s notice and be
hindered by an inadequate pair of ballroom slippers.
“Can’t I delay one more season, Mama? I really don’t think I’m ready
for all this…stuff and nonsense.” Her paltry hopes of convincing her
mother she suppressed as best she could.
“No. Absolutely not. The Bellefleurs debuted at sixteen. They’ve
already got a year’s jump on you for the best bachelors in the 'ton.
Dru rolled her mouth into a downward arch. “They can have the old sodders—“
“Drusilla Nancington! I will not tolerate such language.” Mrs.
Vivienne Nancington took her sullen daughter’s chin in hand and enslaved
Dru’s gaze with her own. “You will go to the Middleton Ball and you
will dance every dance save…well, I’ll grant you every fourth dance you
may sit out if you like.” She released Dru’s chin and wagged a finger
under nose. “But absolutely no talk whatsoever of politics or the
latest lurid crime you read about in the newspaper you pilfered from
Dru sighed and rolled her eyes. In truth, her mother had hit on all
of her favorite topics of conversation, topics she’d been advised on
more than one occasion were not proper for young ladies to be
“Hannah! Hannah!” Her mother called for her lady’s maid to assist with her hair that she had declared ‘hopeless’.
The young woman tossed a broad smile at Dru before presenting herself to Dru’s mother. “Yes, M’am.”
“See what you can do with this. I swear you are the only one able to
tame the beast disguised as my daughter’s hair.” And with that she
clicked her tongue and sashayed from the room in a cloud of lavender.
Dru flung herself on her bed and flung her arm across her eyes. “I’d
rather listen to the Vicar wax on about biblical geneology than go to
this ball tonight, Hannah.”
“Maybe you’ll meet the man of your dreams.” Hannah pulled Dru to a
sitting position and gave her hair a firm tug, prompting an exclamation
from the reluctant debutante.
“Impossible. I don’t dream of men. I dream of adventure!” Dru
turned to face Hannah. “You ever wonder how differently your life would
be if you’d been born a boy instead of a girl?”
Hannah pinched her face into thoughtful contemplation. “Can’t says I
have, Miss. I think I’m pretty happy the way I am, with maybe a few
niggles here and yon.”
Dru sprang from the bed to pace the floor. “Well, I have more than a
few niggles that bother me! For starters, I hate these corsets and
dresses and all these layers of fabric. I hate riding side-saddle. I
hate that I can’t walk alone after dark, or practically any where for
that matter. I can’t vote, never will be able to do that unless hell
Hannah giggled behind her hand, but nodded. “Miss Drusilla. You are
so naughty.” Despite her scolding, Hannah snickered as she darted to
Dru’s side to finished what she’d started before her charge had begun
“Perhaps, Hannah, but sometimes it’s not to be borne." Dru added in a
low mutter too garbled for her maid to hear, "Nevertheless, I'd hoped
it wouldn't come to this, but alas I've been left no alternative."
As expected, the ball offered no promise of any diversions likely to
suit Dru. She circumnavigated the dance floor thrice and when she had
made her presence known to all who might wag their tongues with her
mother, she slipped out the side door.
Her carriage waited at the far side of the property, its driver, Will,
her confederate in more ways than one. With the curtains drawn, she
wrestled her way out of the dress and into the breeches and other
clothes Will had loaned her. When the external vestiges of the girl
named Drusilla lay in a heap of lace and crinoline, the boy named Drew
took her place. The pair set out to game with the other coachmen in the
"Tonight I shall win the last of the money I need to escape this place,
Will," she said, lowering her voice an octave. "I daresay it's been a
long time coming."
The pair made their way to the outer circle of the drivers and coachmen.
Dru pushed her way into the interior and gasped. There, the unexpected
addition of Kyle Nickerson, the youngest son of Inspector Nickerson,
sat, his huge stack of winnings making him fortune's favored son that
eve. He lifted his head and upon meeting Drew's eyes he smiled.
"Well, well...You must be the infamous Drew, is that right? I've heard
much of your luck...sir. Come. Take the seat next to me that I've
saved for you in hopes you'd be here tonight."
Dru gulped. Loudly. Kyle Nickerson was the only boy she'd ever met who
could see through her many disguises and pick up on her tells. Her
"long time coming" appeared to have made an abrupt U-turn back to long