Shadow lurked under the stairwell. She caught sight of herself in the hall mirror, and blushed a deep red at her reflection. She wore a too small pearly green atrocity with ridiculous ruffles sewn in awkward places. Her hair had been left to dangle in silly curls about her face and, worst of all, she felt naked even with all the fabric making up the dress.
The dress left her bare from her shoulders up and draped down around her bosoms. God, she looked like a harlot. She attempted to hike up the dress and cursed the pinching shoes, which happened to be the same shade of appalling green. Shadow willed her face to return to a normal hue before stepping into the dining room.
Lon looked up from the crowding throng of lace and perfume surrounding him to the most beautiful sight he'd seen all night; perhaps all year. She shimmered in the dress his mother-in-law had selected. Her sun-warmed cheeks glowed with a fresh scrub and tendrils of her soft red hair absolutely floated around her face. The sight left him at a loss for words.
Of course, anyone standing a bit closer to Lon might have guessed his feelings, even without words from him, judging solely by the fast forming bulge in his trousers. The reaction to her surprised him and he cleared his throat and shook his head in an effort to rid himself of such thoughts about Shadow.
Lon managed to break free of the gaggle of giggling girls with a few polite excuse-me-ladies, much to their disappointment. He headed straight for Shadow, who stood in a corner looking miserable, trying to cover the top third of her torso with her too small hands gloved in white.
Though he approached her from behind, the instant his rough hands wrapped around her shoulders, she knew his identity by the shivering flood that ran through her veins. Lon took her shiver as nervousness and laughed, then planted a friendly kiss on her cheek, which warmed to burning under his lips. She smacked his hands away from her shoulders.
"Don't touch me. I hate you," she hissed.
"That wasn't very lady like," he said, through a poorly hidden grin.
Shadow shrugged. "Lady like I'm not," she admitted, as she grabbed a flute of champagne from a passing butler's tray, "And the only way I'm going to make it through this evening is drunk."
With that, she swallowed the contents of the glass in one huge gulp, replaced it on the stunned butler's tray, and reached for another.