Masquerade (Masquerade #1)

Masquerade

 

 

By: S.N. Williams

Copyright © 2012 Author Name

All rights reserved.

ISBN:
1499511094

ISBN-13:
978-1499511093 

 

 

DEDICATION

 

 

I would like to thank my family for always supporting me in everything I do.

 

CONTENTS

 

 

Acknowledgments

 

 

Prologue

Chapter One

 

Chapter Two

 

Chapter Three

 

Chapter Four

 

Chapter Five

 

Chapter Six

 

Chapter Seven

 

Chapter Eight

 

Chapter Nine

 

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

 

Thanks to everyone who has supported me in this journey of writing. My family, friends, and other authors are great inspiration for which I am truly grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

Here I am on the last day in the city of my dreams surrounded by exclusive art. I’m in Venice, Italy at a masquerade ball standing in my beautiful new, emerald green, off the shoulder ball gown with an embroidered mask. My long blonde hair is left down in curls covering my fair skin. It’s fabulous. I am standing mesmerized in this elegant ballroom, still in shock of where I am.

The main chandelier on the lower floor is dripping with stunning crystals, making the light shimmer in all different directions. Black sheer silk drapes from the chandelier and extends to the back walls.

It is lining the ceiling with waves of silk. In the middle of the room is a dance floor. Along the sides are tables with white tablecloths and chairs covered with black cloth with a white tie back. The table has white lilies as the centerpiece.

I feel like a princess amongst all the elegance surrounding me. It also helps that my parents have made me feel this way the whole trip. They surprised me with this trip for my fifteenth birthday. It has been a fairytale ever since.

I often get made fun of because of my love for the arts, which started at a young age. My mother works at an art museum where I spend most of my summers. I have always been fascinated how art is a looking glass into the documentation of history. It’s an odd thing for a child, but it made me use my imagination to understand why art was done a certain way. I liked to come up with my own stories to accompany the pieces.

The first time I saw the painting “Ill Ridotto”—also called “The Ridotoo”—by Venice Pietro Longhi, I was intrigued by his paint strokes and the meaning behind the painting. The paining was special because it was in the museum on borrow to discuss the time period in which Venice, Italy became a wealthy country.

It is painted with men and women at a ball with masks covering their eyes and noses. I was enchanted about why these people would want to cover their faces. What were they hiding? Now you have to understand how my brain works. I have always been a curious girl, and when I became curious, I researched.

When I got home that day after seeing this painting for the first time, I searched for the meaning and time period. I found out that is was painted in 1725 and was a depiction of how Venice was making its way in the year of 1162. That is when Venice won the Serenissima Republica against the Patriarch of Aquileia, Ulrico of Treven.

Basically because of this win, the citizens of Venice began dancing and celebrating. Venice became filled with very rich and prominent people. For the wealthy to be able to socialize with people of a lower class, people would wear these masks to hide themselves.

Of course history has a reputation of repeating itself, so the prominent times died out, although the masquerade balls didn’t succumb to the fall of the economy. Thus started the carnivals of Venice, which normally lasted two weeks and are still going strong to this day.

This carnival has been coordinated with all different kinds of events to celebrate. When you are here experiencing this all first hand, you feel as though you are thrown back into the time when it all began. I watch as men ask women they normally wouldn’t have the guts to ask to dance, and it still makes me wonder from what people are actually hiding. I mean, yes, from social status, but I feel it goes much deeper than that. Wearing a mask makes you feel that you can hide from anything you want.

Wearing a mask gives people the ability to pretend to be whom they’ve always wanted to be but have never had the nerve to pursue. During this time, you forget from where you come and live in a world of fantasy. It’s a life filled with lavish clothes, food, and music. You are in a world you choose to be in with a moment of living outside that box you normally wouldn’t step out of.

This one guy captures my attention for most of the night. I notice his movements between different women. He seems so sure of himself. I wonder if he is really as appealing as he seems or is just that way because he wears a mask. He is very flirtatious, making the women swoon over him. He is putting on quite a show.

He has to be in his twenties and looks well built. He catches me staring at him and winks at me as he starts walking my way.

“Would you care to dance?”

“I guess so.”

He captures my hand, pulling me towards him. I wrap my arm around his waist and follow his lead. He whips me all around the floor, making me feel like I am floating on air. The song ends, and he kisses my cheek, thanks me, and leaves.

All of a sudden the DJ makes an announcement for everyone to start making their way to the lavish garden in the back of the ballroom. The garden is filled with lilies, groomed bushes, and tall trees. It’s like it has been taken straight out of a picture from one of those architectural magazines. Everything has a place. It has a walkway winding in a curve pattern to the back of the garden with a fountain as the main centerpiece.

I hear the sound of a shooting rocket, and I look up into the sky to see the tail of a firework flying into the dark night. It erupts with the prettiest baby blue color. It looks like a flower blooming as it bursts open. I stand mesmerized by the rest of the fireworks until they are finished, and my parents find me to let me it’s time to leave.

On the taxi ride back to the hotel, I am still in awe of the events of not just the night but of the two weeks we have been here. The carnival decorations were all so beautiful, especially in the ballroom. I remember the masks while staring down at mine that I have taken off, and I wonder if we all, in some way or form, don’t always wear masks on purpose, or if they are put on us for a reason.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

I have just turned eighteen, and I’m going into my senior year of high school. Now I am back staring at the mask hanging from my wall and dreaming of my time in Italy, hoping to go back one day to revisit. It was the best time I had in my entire life. I sometimes put the mask on and dance around the room, remembering that magical night.

I’m still the art nerd I have always been, and I feel it’s in my blood. I am an only child, and my parents have always pushed me into doing what I love. I will be starting college in the fall to begin my art history degree. I can’t wait.

I put my hair in a messy bun and walk out the front door. I walk out and sit on the front porch to put on my running shoes. Once I am done lacing on my shoes, I get my phone out to bring up my running playlist. I run track at school. My parents think it’s a good idea for me to have some type of sport on my transcript, and it doesn’t hurt that I have always loved to run.

I pop my earbuds into my phone and look up to put one bud into my ear when I notice a guy I have never seen before taking boxes out of his truck. He sets them down, looks up and over at me, and smiles.

Dammit,
I got caught staring. I look the other way and put the other earbud in. I stand up, turn my music up, and start my jog down the driveway. I turn the opposite way of the boy, so maybe I will not embarrass myself any more than I already have.

I start sprinting down the road, getting lost in my thoughts and music. Mrs. Colton lives in the house next door, but I have never seen this boy before. I hope nothing has happened to her. She has always been a sweet lady. I know she has been having a hard time since her husband passed. They were the cutest couple of the neighborhood. They were always hand in hand and looked at each other as they have just fallen in love.

I round the corner coming back towards my house. I hope that guy is gone, so I don’t have to face him after already getting caught staring at him. I continue running, lost in “Counting Stars” by One Republic, letting the cool air wash over my overheated body. When all of a sudden, I am running into what feels like a brick wall.

When I feel my feet come out from underneath me, I fall straight on my ass. I finally get my bearings together and look up to see the same guy from earlier staring down at me in horror.

He leans down to me. “Oh shit, are you okay? I am so sorry. I should have caught you.”

He gives me his hand to help pull me up. As soon as he touches me, I feel like I am going to fall again.
What the hell is wrong with me?

I finally bring myself to stand back up. “It’s my fault. I should have been paying attention to where I was going.” I brush my butt off and realize that it is a little sore.

I finally look up at him, noticing his brown hair is coming out from under his baseball cap. I then look at his face to see his sculpted jaw and gorgeous ocean-blue eyes.
Holy shit, this boy is hot.

He starts smiling at me, and he has dimples on both sides of his cheeks. “Are you sure you are okay?”

I’m standing there staring at him like a dork when I realize he just asked me a question. “Yeah. I am fine. Sorry for almost running you over. I should get going. Thanks again for the help.” I can feel my face turning even redder than it was while I was running.

I start walking away when I hear him say something. I turn around to face him. “Sorry, I didn’t hear you.”

“My name is Jason. Jason Colton.”

I smile. “I am Julia Falls. I live right over there.” I point to my house. “Are you related to Mrs. Colton?”

“Yeah. That is my grandmother. My parents sent me here to help her out since my grandfather has passed away. She isn’t doing so well.”

“Oh, I am so sorry. Well if you need anything, just let me know.”

“I will. Thanks, Julia.”

“Okay. Well I guess I will be seeing you. Bye.”

“I sure hope so.”

I turn and make a beeline for my house. I run in and straight into my room. I close my door and slide down onto the floor. I cannot believe the ass I just made of myself. I am such an idiot. I put my head in my hands, reliving every embarrassing moment. Feeling mortified, I get up to shower since sitting here isn’t solving too much.

After my shower, I put on a pair of shorts and a shirt. I start my way to the kitchen and m ready to eat. I sit down at the table when my dad comes up behind me and kisses the top of my head.

“Hey, sweetie. How was your day?”

“It was good, Daddy.”

My dad sits beside me at the head of the table when my mother brings in supper. She has made my favorite: spaghetti. I spoon some onto my plate and start digging in.

“Dear, slow down. You are going to choke. Are you even chewing it?” My mother has a look of horror on her face.

I smile. “Sorry, I guess I was hungrier than I thought.”

“Well slow down.” She looks at my dad. “Did you see Mrs. Colton’s grandson made it in today?”

My dad looks up at my mother. “No. I didn’t, but I am glad he is here with her. She really needs someone else at the house with her.”

“I agree with you. By the way, Julia, when you are done eating, can you run next door and give the Colton’s this cake I baked for them. I thought they might enjoy it.”

I start coughing. I drop my fork and grab my water, chugging it.

“See. I told you to slow down or you were going to choke.”

I finally get all my food down and coughing under control. “Why me?”

“Because I thought it would be nice for you to introduce yourself to him. He is new in town, and he is the same age as you, so maybe you can help him out at school tomorrow.”

I look down, knowing if I say no, I will get in trouble, so I mumble an okay.

Finishing my supper, I take my plate to the kitchen, dreading having to show my face to the hot boy next door. I grab the cake and decide I better just make a go of it and get it over with.

Once I am at the door, I knock softly. I hear somebody walking and before I know it, the door swings open.

“Hey, Julia.”

Feeling like I am going to drop the cake, I hand it to him. “Here you go. My mom made this for you and your grandmother. I hope you enjoy it.”

I start to walk off when I hear Mrs. Colton asking who is at the door. I turn my head to see that she has pushed herself in front of the door. “Hey, Julia. Did your mom make her famous twelve-layer chocolate cake?”

“Yes, ma’am. She did.”

“Please let her know how grateful I am for this. You are such a pretty girl. Have you met my grandson?”

Before I can say anything, Jason says, “Yeah, we ran into each other earlier today.”

I feel the red creeping back up my neck and face. Mrs. Colton turns and looks at me. “I am so happy to hear that. Now, sweetie, if you will excuse me, I need to go lie down. Don’t forget to tell your mama thank you.”

“I won’t, Mrs. Colton. I hope you enjoy the cake.”

She walks off, and I hear her saying, “She is such a sweet girl.”

I smile up at Jason, and he looks at me. “Thanks for the cake.”
“Anytime.”

I start to walk off, and he stops me. “Hey, Julia. I have a favor to ask.”

I turn around, “Okay, what is it?”

“I know earlier you said if I need anything to just ask, so I was wondering, do you want to take a walk with me?”

My stomach starts doing flips with excitement. “Umm, sure why not?”

Damn why is my voice higher than normal.

We begin walking down the sidewalk in our neighborhood. We live in an old town in Georgia called Georgetown. All the houses are still old looking but have been kept up to make it feel like you are still living in the day they were built.

I was born and raised in the same house where I live now. My parents inherited the house from my dad’s parents when they passed, along with their money. My grandparent’s parents are all from this same area. Actually, their ancestors started out in Georgetown and built it into the city it has become.

They were very influential with everything that happened in the city from politics to running several businesses. My parents sold the businesses when they inherited them, so they could do their own thing. My dad is a professor of history at Armstrong Atlantic State University while my mom is a curator at the local museum.

It’s great living where I do. The beach is not far away, and I am there every opportunity I can get. Not to mention we are not far from Savannah, and they have the best art expos there.

I turn to him and smile not knowing what the hell to say. He smiles back and continues to look at me. We are in an awkward silence before he begins to talk again.

“Can I ask you another favor?”

“Sure.”

“Tomorrow is my first day at school, and I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind showing me around.”

Smiling ear to ear, I say, “Yeah. I can. Do you want a ride to school?”

“That would be really nice of you.”

I am ginning when I realize he has stopped walking. I look up and around to see we have made it back to his grandmother’s house already.

“Thanks for taking a walk with me. I will see you tomorrow. Say at 7:00?” he says, eyeing me.

Looking down, I reply, “Yeah, 7:00 would be great.”

He walks slowly towards me, puts is hand on my chin, and lifts it up so that I am looking him in the eyes. He leans down like he is going to kiss me, and he does but on my cheek.
Yep, my face is officially red now.

I turn and walk back to the house with my hand on my cheek, still feeling his lips burning on my skin.

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