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The Romantic Strangler II
The Red-Head and the Bufoons
She was lean, and petite, with brown eyes and a somewhat pointed chin. Her white silk chemise gown was thin and pantaloons were evident beneath the ankle length skirt. The short puffed sleeves accented the low, square-cut neckline and from the sleeves streamed long white silk gloves. An ample emerald green shawl was draped over her arms and hung down behind her. She sat with her legs crossed and her dress pulled up exposing one leg. Adorning her feet were small ballet type slippers that laced up her legs, over black net stockings. She wore a wide silk band, in place of a bonnet, from which an ostrich plume elegantly arose and nestled itself a top the woman’s head. Her hair was gathered in back spilling down her shoulders in loose curls with shorter tresses surrounding her face in ringlets. She was not what you would call beautiful but there was something about her that attracted men. François knew what that was. He also knew how to claim her from the center of the horde. He watched awhile longer as she pretended to laugh at the antics of the buffoons sitting around her trying to win her attention. The drunken men splashed their ale carelessly and slurred their words. They spoke jauntily with uneducated, backwoods slang, which would have been hard enough to understand had they been sober. One of the men thought he’d show her how strong he was by lifting her, chair and all, above his head nearly spilling her onto the floor. François was there in a second to catch her before any damage could be done. She was unharmed but some of her hair tumbled out of its neat coif and her feather band slid down covering her eyes. It might have been humorous under other circumstances, but he had to maintain his composure if he wanted his plan to work. Not wanting her to see him before the time was right he settled her back down on her chair and he was gone again leaving her time to compose herself. She caught her breath and then straightened her hair and headband a bit as her heart still pounded from the shock. Once she felt a little more stable she forced a weary smile. Again she pretended to laugh and leaned close to the man who had nearly dropped her. In a whisper she said,
Francois to the Rescue
“Oh my, but you are strong! I could feel so safe in your arms.” He guffawed at her words thinking it to be a genuine compliment. Turning her head away from the stench of his breath, she rolled her eyes.
François knew this was a good time to make his move. After motioning for the barmaid he removed the boutonniere from his lapel. The barmaid gladly came to his side right away ignoring another customer who had hailed her first. She was attracted to this fancy dressed man as any other woman would be. She thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if he took a liking to me and swept me away.’ She swiped at a wisp of her hair that strayed from beneath the muslin cap that was meant to keep it out of her way. This night the color of her hair was what you might call a dish-water-blonde but on bath day it was a beautiful golden blonde. Her gait, oddly enough, was graceful. The men watched her in awe as she flowed between tables, effortlessly balancing drinks on a tray. They felt it was quite a feat, especially for such a big woman. When the plump barmaid arrived François handed her the tiny red flower,
A Drink and a Flower
“Would you be so kind as to present Mademoiselle with le fleur? Also a brandy, on moi.” he gestured toward the redhead. François smiled placing the coins into the barmaid’s hand. She giggled as he squeezed it, revealing a small dimple in her left cheek. When he released her she rewarded him with a prudently delivered view of her cleavage, which was barely recognizable between her overly bound breasts.
The red-haired woman accepted the flower and the drink from the barmaid. She was impressed with the glass as well as the brandy. After all, most of the men purchased ale for her, the same ale, which they swilled from pewter mugs, slopping it all about as they did so. A few times she had received pewter goblets with wine and once a man actually purchased clarets of sherry for her but the slim glass seemed cold and frail compared to this small amount of warm liquid wrapped in the embrace of this large glass encasement. She thought the glass looked as though it was cradling this precious drink. She sniffed the bud and raised her glass in François’ direction. Her performer’s smirk became a genuine smile when she saw him. François smiled his most brilliant of smiles and nodded in response to her obvious gratitude. She hadn’t expected to see such a handsome, well-dressed man in this ‘out-of-the-way’ dump. She mused of how it would feel to be held in his strong arms and protected in such a way as the brandy nestled in the snifter. Before she knew it she was standing next to François’ table. His plan had worked.
“Sir, you are most generous. May I thank you in person?”
“But my lady, there is no need. It is I who should thank you, for your presence is most overwhelming. Please, join me,” he said as he stood and held out a chair for her. She accepted the seat graciously. Taking the seat offered her, she took great care to sit like a proper lady in hopes he might actually, take her for one. The men who had been surrounding her, sat staring, dumbfounded and flabbergasted. Amused chatter melded with gentle chuckles and mingled with lady-like giggles, from across the room, for several minutes before the crowd lost interest and turned back to their own conversations. François took the red-head’s hand to introduce himself and as he did so he gently squeezed then braised the back of her hand with his lips in a ginger kiss before releasing his hold. She blushed at her feelings and the thoughts that went through her mind, but managed to regain control of her senses, quickly enough.
“Vanessa Whitehall, but please , call me Vanessa,” She purred.
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