A Snake In The Roses

Dinner is never a simple affair when it comes to the table of Etienne. The lord spares no expense and even down to the most minute arrangements of flowers and candles and tableware, everything must match. There are three seats tonight at his table, chairs of plush cream velvet to matching with his selection of white roses and ivory plates. [Etienne]

A place for himself, the mademoiselle and one more person. One would wonder whom would have such honor to join the dinner, the attendant thinks silently as the silver forks are given one final polish. The doors to the cozy dining chamber are already opened, allowing the guests for the eve to casually stroll in from the theatre's hall. [Etienne]

Dressed in a form fitting red gown that spills to her feet, the train of it dragging the floor behind her, she surveys the room spread out before her, taking in the place settings and the elegance of the table. Her strawberry hair is piled high, several long tendrils hanging down to frame her face, her lips painted as red as her dress. Long white gloves cover her arms to just above the elbows and her neck and ears are adorned with a necklace of shimmering red rubies. As usual, the young woman is stunning. Passing the doorman, she enters the room fully, grey eyes searching for her host. [Rasha]

What arrives first is not Etienne, but a young man bearing a thin frame, not slender, but stick-thin; with a creamy brown complexion and curious grey eyes. He is finely dressed in flamboyant black, but his hair appears to be in an eternal mess, unable to be tamed by any comb or brush; the locks of curling ebony falling about his sharp face. [Lucien]

He has entered from another door, the other one from one of the many hallways the theatre has. And stepped into the dining room the moment Rasha Moncreiffe has entered. His eyes catches the bright, flame-like aura she seems to emanate tonight, and a breath is caught short of him; and the young man takes a step back, not realizing that he did that. [Lucien]

"Bon..bon soir, mademoiselle." Comes the choked, rather meek voice of the brown-skinned youth. [Lucien]

Rasha smiles, a simple smile but her face still lights up. She offers a slight curtsey and replies, "Bonsoir, monsieur." and then again, she scans the room. "I am too early?" she asks, wondering if perhaps, she had gotten the time incorrect. [Rasha]

She doesn't fidget or seemed distressed by the thought, merely curious. She gives her attention back to the thin man after her scan of the rooms shows her no other diners. [Rasha]

"No..no. No. This is the right room, I think." The brown-skinned youth gulps down a lump in his throat, his eyes drooping to the ground as if fearing to look upon Rasha. In a split second, those eyes slip to give the butler at the table who is giving the roses a final spray of water to plump them up, a helpless request for affirmation. But the latter leaves the boy in the lurch, his heavy coat shoulders shrugging. [Lucien]

A gust of desperation utters from the young man's lips, in a confused sigh. "I was not told there's another guest. Merely that Lord Etienne wanted to have a wel..welcome dinner for me." He still looks at the ground, at the rich hem of Rasha's gown, refusing to lift his head. [Lucien]

Rasha smiles, his distress rather amusing to her. "I'm certain all be explained." she says, moving closer, the beading on the red gown sparkling in the light from the candles. "It was kind of Etienne to have this dinner in your honor, but like you, I was not aware of other diners this evening. What is your name?" she asks, stopping a few scant feet from him. Tonight she wore low heeled shoes beaded like the dress and a perfect match in color. She stands 5'10" in the shoes, tall for a woman and that height makes her a bit more imposing. [Rasha]

Before the brown-skinned youth could reply, and still yet refusing to lift his head, a deep dulcet voice chimes in from the door behind Rasha; followed by a soft, euphonius array of footsteps heralding the arrival of Etienne. "I see you two are getting to know each other already." The Lord comments in between smiles given to the droop-headed boy and Rasha herself. [Etienne]

"Enchanting choice of wearables tonight, Mademoiselle Rasha. You never fail to astound me with your sense of style. It is." The Lord pauses as he steps forth, standing just next, just one step behind the actress. "No wonder that all the others pale right next to you." [Etienne]

The last compliment is aptly whispered; Etienne just barely tilting his face downwards to Rasha's ear and then he stands straight, eyeing the boy with his face cast down, the expression flickering over the Lord's features ambiguous until it breaks into a brilliant smile.[Etienne]

"And that is our new playwright, Monsieur Lucien Fontaine. He is very shy, isn't he?" Etienne pushes a pale finger to his temple, shaking his head. "Shy but such a genius. You will come to like him, Mademoiselle." [Etienne]

Rasha glances over her shoulder at Etienne as he enters, turning her face away to watch the young man as Etienne compliments her choice of dress. She continues to smile but he stops too close to allow her to turn around and offer him a curtsey in greeting. "You flatter me, I thank you." she offers, shivering slightly as he whispers in near her ear. Focused on the young man, she is surprised to learn he is the new playwright. "I am certain that your choice, like this table, is exquisite, m'lord Etienne. And I am sure, he and I will be fast friends." [Rasha]

"Then we shall sit and have of the delectable dinner I have selected just for tonight, Mademoiselle. And Lucien, he shall sit next to you, oui?" Etienne's eyes crinkle into another smile, a smile which does indicate that Rasha should not deny him. "That he may learn to appreciate the talented Rasha Moncrieffe whom he will be writing plays for. It is only right for him to do so." [Etienne]

"Oui.. oui. Oui, Sir." The boy's reply is submissively rendered and in the usual culture of practice, he moves like an ordered puppy to pull out the chair meant for Rasha, inviting her in that lisping, stuttering voice to take her seat. [Lucien]

Etienne saunters to his own place, at the round table; that he may have the brown-skinned boy to his right, and Rasha to his left. The butler, taking cue that the guests are now seated vanishes like any good attendant would to have the wine flowing, and the dishes served. [Etienne]

Rasha moves to take the chair that is so graciously being held out for her. She sits down as gracefully as she does everything else. It was curious he wouldn't look at her, but then, its not the first time its happened. She smiles across the table at Etienne as she removes the gloves and rests them gently across her lap. "You set a lovely table Etienne, I thank you for the invitation." she says, her grey eyes studying his face even as she remembers the last evening and her meeting with Alexi, still, her face shows nothing but the warm smile. [Rasha]

"Thank.. thank you for the kind invitation as well, Sir." The brown-skinned boy stutters, hands fumbling to grab at his napkin and slowly unfolds it over his lap. His head remains bowed constantly, his eyes refusing even to slip a look to Rasha next to him; and for a moment, his entire being appears to radiate some form of terrified awe at the two beingsat the table.[Lucien]

"How terribly docile, Lucien. Shall I leave the table so you and the mademoiselle can talk freely?" Etienne muses, and he breaks into a jolly, unbecoming laugh as one hand lifts to rest the side of his cheek against curled fingers. "You must be more forthcoming, more attuned, more open with what you feel. Not all cooped up in that box of yours again." [Etienne]

A long, operatic sigh releases from Etienne's blushed lips now his gaze is set upon the lovely Rasha. "I believe he is absolutely taken by your beauty, mademoiselle, that the /snake/ got his tongue. And what a cruel serpent it is, to have strangled it so terribly." Despite the strange analogy he has made, the Lord smiles slightly at Rasha, the smile reaching meaningfully into the depths of his eyes. [Etienne]

She smiles, bowing her head to Etienne then looking at Lucien, then back at Etienne. "Are you sure he has the fortitude for the position, Etienne, actors and actresses are such…high strung creatures, are you sure he will not be…eaten alive." she says, her play on words could be taken several ways and she doesn't offer any clarity to her true meaning. [Rasha]

The fingers of her left hand rest on the edge of the table while her right rests on her lap, idly stroking the gloves resting there as she contemplates things. Snakes indeed…many were in the city just now. But which to trust? That was the question. [Rasha]

"But do you not find such meekness attractive, mademoiselle." Etienne leans a little forth, bringing his hands to fold on the surface of the linen-laid table, his arms clad in royal blue velvet a contrast with the whiteness of the tablecloth. "And I doubt he would get eaten alive, ma cherie Rasha. Lucien has a will that works in strange ways; is he not brave enough to sit here in between the both of us and yet be able to sit straight?"[Etienne]

Lucien himself offers no comment though his ebony-haired head appears to droop even further downwards, as if there is a hole in which he could desperately hide in. Yet there is no tremble, no obvious shudder at the comments Etienne is putting forth. At the mention of 'sitting straight', the boy's back moves, following the very order committed by Etienne, the former's thin, handsome features frozen in some sort of compliant awe.[Lucien]

The first course itself is served, a small appetizer of poached shrimp and salad. Of course the food lies cold upon Etienne's plate as he continues to talk; only his arms now unfold to take up a glass of white wine that the butler has poured for him, and is now serving the brown-skinned boy and the actress. [Etienne]

"This wine, mademoiselle." The Lord lifts up his glass, swirling it slowly; letting the light from candles and candlebra hint at the sparkling, gleaming contents within. "They serve it in the Singing Rose too, do they not? A fine local product, I have not tasted such daring notes attempted in a traditional wine before. I believe you enjoyed it as well previously, oui?" [Etienne]

Rasha watches the wine fill the glass and listens to Etienne speak, no longer sparing a glance at Lucien. She never did like weakness, especially not in men. It was…unappealing. She was just reaching for the glass when he speaks and other than a slight pause in her reach, there is no other reaction from the actress. "That is correct. Last evening to be exact." she comments, lifting the glass and smelling the wine within. Yes, it was definately the same. "I'm sure you will find it enchanting." she comments, her cool grey gaze meetings his. [Rasha]

Truth be told, she wasn't really surprised, she rather expected it. But his subtlety on the matter was unexpected. She had expected a more direct approach. [Rasha]

Glass still lifted, Etienne's eyes bely a smile too, and his lips curve, magnified by the rim of his glass. "I am enchanted. Very enchanted." He mouths leisurely, and his glass tilts, letting the liquids within sway dangerously to the edge, enough to let it spill onto the weak flame of the small candle set in a china-holder below it. [Etienne]

The gesture he made is directed to Rasha, obviously, and in a flick of his wrist, the glass is righted back up, the sparkling contents staying still now, held only by the force of his will. "Then we should toast to our dedication to the theatre, shall we? Come, Lucien, lift your glass too." [Etienne]

Much stoically, the lad does as he is told, his brown fingers curling around the stem of his own receptacle and it is lifted automatically in a toast. "To.. to the theatre, and Lord Etienne, and Mademoiselle Rasha." He lisps, the returning fear coming to contract his small throat. [Lucien]

The glass was still clasped in her hand but lowered from her nose as she watches Etienne. His meaning is not lost on her. She always did hate being put on the spot on her grasp on the glass is perilously close to shattering the crystal. "The theatre." she says, though the words are forced and softly spoken. What more could she do? She has a lot to lose and from what she could see, little to gain by refusing. She would not, like Lucien, become this man's puppet however. [Rasha]

Rasha presses the glass to her lips and surprisingly, takes a small sip. She rarely imbided, it did no good, had no effect…but the taste…even that, tonight, was bland.

Etienne's features show no notion of the underlying warnings he has placed upon Rasha's plate tonight; perhaps less tempting than the shrimp and salad that rests in front of her right now. The toasts are made and the Lord settles into the plush cushions of his own chair, languidly resting the crook of his elbow on the chair's arm. The evening will pass as it always have, and if Rasha Moncrieffe dares even to play the game against his wishes, it would not be very delightful.

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