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“Welcome to the Midnight Masquerade Ball, Miss.” A gentleman at the door greets me, helping me walk the red carpet that is laid out. Wow. Sam really went all out. As soon as I enter the room, I gasp. Everything is simply exquisite. There is some sort of gothic-like circus performing all over the room. Jesters and women on ropes performing some sort of air acrobatics. The room is decorated in reds and black, with dancing pink flames. Crystals adorn the tables, and some are scattered on the floor.

“Holy moly.” The opulence is unlike anything I have ever seen.

“May I have your coat?” A young lady asks me.

“Oh yes, please.” Looking around, everyone is in some sort of disguise, and I am happy to report I recognize no one. Especially with the dimly lit room and orchestra playing. Making out voices is going to be difficult as well.

Feeling more confident about not being noticed, I move to the bar needing a little more liquid courage. “Champagne, ma’am?”

“Yes, please.” He hands me a glass, and I feel a little giddy. I have never had alcohol before.

“Make that two, Lionel.” A man sits in the seat next to mine and turns towards me. Half of his face is obscured by some sort of Phantom of the Opera mask. But I can see his mouth. His eyes are dark, and with the lighting in here, no luck in gauging their color.

“Good evening, beautiful.” He holds his hand out for mine. I hesitate for a moment but decide what the hell. When his lips touch my skin, I feel ripples of nerves doing a jig on my body.

“Hi.” Really? Hi, Scarlett. That’s all you have to say? Geesh. I mentally scold myself. He chuckles and moves closer to me. I am assuming it is so I can hear.

“Are you enjoying yourself?”

“I just got here. But everything looks beautiful.” I tell him, still looking around in awe. When I turn back to face him, his gaze is still on me, and I can feel my face heating up. “Are you enjoying yourself?” I ask him, trying not to feel the awkwardness I am feeling.

“I am now. Do you like to dance, gorgeous?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t tried yet.” he nods and stands up.

“Dance with me. Please.” remember you are someone else tonight, Scarlett. Just say yes and do it.

“Okay. Sure.” I place my hand in his, put my champagne glass on the counter, and follow him to the dance floor.

“Just follow my lead. I won’t let anything happen to you.” I nod, slowly believing him for some reason.

“Okay.” I don’t recognize the music, and none of the others are in attendance. All I know is right now, at this moment, I feel happier and more alive than I ever have.

For what feels like hours, we dance, looking into each other's eyes, not talking but saying a lot. I lay my head on his chest and inhale his scent of lemon and sandalwood. I think. His hands stay firmly on my waist, but I swear a few times he kissed the top of my head and whispered the word mine. I know I sound crazy, and it could have totally been my imagination, but I want it to be true this time. “Spend the night with me.” He asks, lifting my chin to look at him.

“I don’t… I am only here because I can be hidden. I don’t want to…”

“We can keep our masks on if you want.” I can see the hurt in his eyes at my hesitance, but his willingness to give me this security makes me say yes. “I can’t let you go yet, and I want to ring in the new year with you, worshiping you as you deserve.” Oh my. My eyes begin to water at his sweet words, and I swallow them, letting them sink into me, praying for the strength to either walk away or see this through in the morning. But for right now, I answer him.

“Yes. Yes I want to be with you. Tonight.”

No time wasted; he takes me with him to the bank of elevators. Once on it, he pins me to the side and sweeps his tongue across my lips. I am so stunned I don’t respond until he growls at me. “Open your mouth, Red. Kiss me back.” Oh hell. His growly command does something to my body, and I immediately do what he orders.

I have no idea where we are or where we are going. All I know is I don’t want this moment to be over. Far too soon, the doors open, and we have to stop to walk into the room. Soon, my dress is on the floor, and I’m lying in the middle of the bed, wearing only a face mask. There is something scandalous about kissing a man and not knowing his name or what he looks like. Scandalous but hot as hell. Then he’s naked and between my thighs. When he kisses me, I feel like my whole body is on fire. He moves down my body with a skill that scares me. Before I know it, his face is buried in my pussy. He’s licking, sucking, and biting me in the best way. A feeling of euphoria washes over me, and I come hard.

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