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Jacqueline LeBelle looked at herself in the floor length mirror and smiled in that stunning way that caused all the men she knew to fawn and preen, and thought how wonderful it was to feel the rich green satin of her dress against her skin. “Oh I do hope this ball goes well!” she thought, picking up her fan and taking her blowgun down from above the door. It was a relic from the African explorations of Edward, the only man she had ever loved. Well, boy really; they had parted breathlessly one summer night of frantic kisses under the stone bridge over the stream that fed the barley fields of her dear, departed father’s estates; and though they had been but fifteen at the time, the memory still stirred something in her bosom whenever she thought of him. The foolish doctors knew nothing of this - nothing of a woman’s heart! - with their talk of “murmurs” and “angina”, but the little gifts and presents Edward continued to send from whatever part of the world he was marching through now served only to remind her of her aching loneliness and renew her determination to bag herself a lover closer to home. “Tonight’s the night” she whispered to herself as she thrust the goo-tipped, feathered shaft into place and set off for the grand staircase to make her entrance.