Soft, harmonic music flowed through the golden ballroom as ladies in lavish dresses, and men with well-tailored suits swayed and twirled to the notes with their faces covered with masks of different colors.
Peter stood at the top of the staircase that led down to the dancing with his hands clutched behind his back. His sharp green eyes stared through the eye-slits of a black and golden mask, scanning for any sign of the target.
"Peter," the young man was ripped from his thoughts, and he turned to the source of the voice.
At his side was Isabel; his long-time friend and partner. She was wearing a sleeveless dress of maroon and black that went stunningly with her dark brown hair that was pulled up into a bun. She also sported a white mask with silver gemstones on her face, her dark, brown eyes peering out through the eye slits.
"Are you ready?" Isabel asked, just as she finished tying the mask on.
Peter could feel his face warm up as he took in her beautiful look, so he snapped his eyes back to the dancing people below and cleared his throat. "As long as you are."
Isabel gave him a closed-eye smile and intertwined her arm around Peter's, and together they slowly descended the stairs.
"What do we know about the target?" the young woman muttered, keeping her eyes directed straight ahead.
"Not much, he's a mysterious man. The only thing we have to identify him is a birthmark underneath his right eye," Peter answered, not averting his gaze either.
Isabel glanced over at Peter breaking her formal composure, and whispered, "Wait, really? That's it? With everyone's masks, how are we-"
"I know, I know, but we have to make do. Just tread carefully, and keep your guard up. Do you have it?"
Isabel nodded and gestured to the pin going through her hair bun, which was actually a knife for protection.
Peter nodded in approval as they reached the bottom of the stairs. They were immediately swarmed by dancing couples, who spun and waltzed around them.
Peter turned to Isabel, smiled, and held out his hand, "May I have this dance, m'lady?" he asked, bowing slightly.
"Of course," Isabel giggled, extending her hand and placing it into his before she was swept away into the mass of dancers.
As the pair danced, their movements flowing smoothly with music, their eyes darted around for anyone that could be their target. However, due to the little knowledge, they had of the man, any well-dressed man could have been who they were looking for.
After the song ended, Isabel and Peter stopped to catch their breath; both of them were a bit frustrated.
"If we don't change strategy he'll figure out who we are and then leave." Isabel pointed out, lowering her voice.
"I know, give me a second." Peter sighed, combing his auburn hair with his fingers.
However, before the pair could make further action, Isabel felt a gentle tap on her shoulder and turned her head. She was greeted by a handsome man, who appeared a couple of years older, with sea breeze eyes that looked like they could glow in the dark, and combed-over, jet-black hair.
His suit was black with a navy blue undershirt, and the top part of his face was hidden behind a crimson and black mask.
"Excuse me, I do not mean to interrupt, but the next song will be starting in a moment. Would you like to dance, my dear?" he asked; his voice was laced with a charming English accent that could charm any girl.
Peter formed an uneasy feeling about the man and his eyes darted from him to his friend. Unfortunately, Isabel said, "Yes I would like to dance Monsieur." as she curtsied.
Peter pulled Isabel toward him, and whispered, "What are you doing? We're supposed to stay together."
"Listen, if I go we'll be able to cover more ground, and it will help us keep a low profile," Isabela explained, keeping her voice low so the man behind her wouldn't overhear. "It will only be for a little bit."
With that, she took the Monsieur's arm, and they walked off into the crowd; however, before completely disappearing, the man glanced over his shoulder back towards Peter, and for a small second his bright eyes seemed to glow before dimming, and the new pair vanished into the mob.
"What the?" Peter's green eyes went wide; he didn't know if what he saw was real or just his rising jealousy getting the best of him. Yes, he was jealous of the man stealing his partner away, but it wasn't just that; there was something off about him, but it was too late to warn Isabel.
The next song played, and the man took one of Isabel's hands in one of his while placing the other gloved hand on her waist. It was a soft song, so the two just swayed, and the man would occasionally spin the girl.
"Pardon me, but I never got your name,” Isabel asked after about a minute.
“Oh, where are my manners? My name is Edric Bowett,” he responded. He then spun her and pulled her a little close for Isabel’s comfort.
“And who might you be?” he asked, his face inches away from hers, and their masks almost touching.
Despite her uncomfortableness, she kept her small smile on her face, and said, “Maud Harte,” giving the stranger the fake name she was given.
Edric chuckled, and said, “A too bland name for a gorgeous girl like you.”
Isabel blushed under the mask, but continued to keep her composure. “I guess my parents didn’t think I would grow up to be beautiful.” she bounced back, keeping up with his style of talking.
Again, a chuckle escaped Mr. Bowett’s mouth, amused by her response. The song ended a second later, and Isabel started to walk back to Peter, but was then grabbed by the wrist and forced back around by Edric.
He wrapped his hands around her waist, and his sea breeze eyes stared deeply into her brown orbs.
Isabel’s unease started to rise, and she started to think she should have listened to her partner. “Mr. Bowett, I…I’m sorry, but I really think I should go find-” she was silenced, by Edric’s lips pressing onto hers, and no matter how much she tried she couldn’t push him away.
She frantically scanned the crowd for Peter, and she finally spotted him on the upper floor overlooking the main room.
Peter leaned against the stone railing, and watched the crowd of dancers move about. His green eyes finally landed on Edric and Isabel, and they went wide when he saw that the man was forcing a kiss on her.
He became immediately alert when he saw the desperate look in his friend's eyes, and rushed to the marble staircase to intervene. However, he never made it down a single stair.
The party was in full swing, so Peter was the only one on the upper balcony, so it was easy for the three figures to sneak up behind him, knock him out by a hit to the head, and drag him away. His mask fell off, and dropped to the marble floor, becoming the only sign of the attack ever happening.
Edric finally released Isabel from his hold, and the young woman stumbled back dazed and panting for air.
She looked at him with horror, while Edric only smiled innocently, before she turned on her heel and raced away, navigating her way through the crowd.
Once she made it up the marble stairs, Isabel looked around for Peter, but only found his mask, cracked on the ground. She picked it up, and continued to look around, but her partner was nowhere in sight.
It was her turn to be alert now, and she raced out of the ballroom, and into the dark, maze-like corridors.
After hopeless wandering, Isabel found herself on an outside balcony, longing for the cool, summer night air to relieve her stress.
She hadn’t been there for more than 5 minutes before a voice from behind said, “Isabel,”
The young woman perked up and whipped around expecting to find Peter, but to her horror, it was Edric Boyett who stepped from the shadows into full moon rays that shone down on the mansion.
She tensed realizing he had called her by her real name, but that wasn’t the only thing that scared her. Edric’s mask was now in his hand, and his true face was revealed.
Two sharp fangs were bared as he smiled, and there was a dark star plastered underneath his eye; the mark of a vampire.