“Are you certain I should be doing this, Lady Hampton?” Dominique asked nervously, not for the
first time. Joel’s mother stood several feet away, admiring her handiwork as Elsbeth smoothed out the
deep blue gown, the hairdresser adjusting one last curl to complete Dominique’s fancy coiffure.
“Dominique darling, of course! What is not right about going to a ball with my son? Joel did ask you,
did he not?” The young hairstylist glanced up enviously as Elsbeth smiled in happiness for Dominique.
“And did you not accept his invitation? So of course you are going, and you will have the time of your
It still seemed surreal. Only a few nights ago Dominique had been chatting with Lady Hampton but
Joel’s presence had changed everything. His mother had quickly excused herself, and Dominique found
herself alone with Joel for the first time in weeks. Sensing her shyness, Joel had promptly put Dominique
at ease, asking her how things were going. Of a whim Joel asked if she might like to attend an upcoming
ball with him later in the week. She was speechless at first, and Joel teased that he wasn’t used to being
ignored. Either a girl accepted his invitation gladly or she told him where he could stick his offer. At that,
Dominique had laughed and meekly accepted.
Thus three days later, Dominique was feeling like a fairy princess, for Lady Hampton had insisted on
purchasing her a new gown. She had a renowned stylist come do Dominique’s hair. Even pulled up near
the top of her head, Dominique’s hair cascaded halfway down her back. A few tresses were left free
about her face and soft ringlets tumbled daintily. Once they were finished helping Dominique dress, the
women left the room at Lady Hampton’s request. She fairly beamed at the picture before her and was
anxious for Dominique to see herself in the full length mirror.
“I had forgotten what fun it is to play dress up, what with my daughter and her family spending so
much time in the country. Darling, you look absolutely gorgeous!” Gently spinning Dominique about to
face the mirror, Joel’s mother was pleased to note the utter look of wonder on her face.
“Is that really me?” Dominique quietly asked. She hardly recognized herself, she looked so
sophisticated. Not just polished and refined, but...beautiful. Her hair, the gown, it was magical. Even the
hint of a dimple she’d always despised in her chin seemed not to detract from her looks. She had never
been able to dress in such finery, indeed had rarely ever seen her own reflection over the years, for the
Taylors had owned only one small mirror, and vanity was not something tolerated in that household.
The gown was something Dominique could only have dreamed about. Its rich blue color was lovely,
the cut of the dress complimentary to her perfect figure. Dominique wasn’t sure she liked the low cut of
the décolletage. Though aware it was the fashion, Dominique felt almost naked, for there was more
than a fair amount of cleavage on display. She opened her mouth to say something, but the look of
elation on Lady Hampton’s face made Dominique feel she would sound unappreciative and thoughtless
did she criticize the gown in any way.