The Hevrey's house, was far grander than Coral could ever imagined it to be. It had been made entirely from white marble and reminded her much of one of the old plantation houses from thousands of years ago, the window pains were a blackened metal, which contrasted with the white of the building and seemed to enhance the wealthy look of the house. The driveway which lead up to the house felt as if it were several miles long, surrounded by green grass - rare so close to the city, which continuously poured out black fumes from the industrial areas, killing anything that tried to grow or thrive in that part of town. Coral had remained quiet for the whole of the journey, now, however, she could not hold her peace.
"Its beautiful Father" She cried, completely besotted by the scene laying before her, how had she never seen these buildings in the books her Father had strewn about the house? How had the thought of something so wonderful never crept into her skull? She had to live somewhere like this once she had grown, it had to be done and she would not rest until she had bought one of her own.
Once at the front doors to the house, the door to their carriage was opened by one of the many servants present at tonight's ball, her Father - Sir Charles Forrest - exited the carriage first, before offering his hand to Coral, who took it, careful not to grip too tightly before carefully lowering herself onto the gravelled driveway. Trying to quickly regain her balance in the pair of black heels she was now wearing, unsure of how to proceed she kept her mouth shut and simply followed her Father into the house, where their names were checked on the guest list, of course, their aliases were not on there.
"What do you mean? How are we not on the guest list? I demand to speak with the host." Her Father said, putting on his best aristocratic voice and carrying it well. The servant; looking very embarrassed shrunk off into the crowd to find one of the Hevrey's. Returning several moments later with a fairly old and uptight looking woman
"Hello, my name is Elyn Hevrey, what seems to be the problem?" She asked, looking from Coral to her Father and back again, taking in their appearances
"Good Evening" Her Father said, bowing low, before taking Lady Hevrey's hand and gently pressing his lips to it, Coral follow suit and curtsied graciously "My name is Sir Charles Forrest, and this is my Niece, Lady Estella Forrest, one of the richest woman under twenty." He paused briefly, allowing Lady Hevrey to take in this vital piece of information
"And we travel from place to place, attending the largest balls on New Earth, we have heard about your sons birthday and the auction that is to be held tonight and we felt that we simply could not allow such an event to slip our grasp." Lady Hevrey's smile had grown wider with every word of Sir Charles' tale and it was clear, that they were to be allowed entry
"Why of course, Lady Estella, how I have heard such stories of you, however I was never one for believing them. You must talk to me more of your travels throughout the evening, but please do come in and enjoy yourselves."
Coral followed her Father and Lady Hevrey into the ballroom and stood frozen for a moment upon entering, the ceiling was so high it felt as if she were outside again, on the ceiling was a mural depicting a sunrise sky, the stars still shining brightly, with the leaves of trees creeping in around the edges, suggesting they were in a forest staring up. Coral remained there for a moment, trying to take in every detail possible, before she was dragged out of her thoughts back into the real world.
"Lady Estella, you just have to meet my son." Lady Hevrey said, Coral looked at her and smiled politely
"I'd be delighted to." She smiled, was she supposed to call her Lady Hevrey or Lady Elyn? Confusion swam in her head, this was all too much, was it too late to attempt to leave? Neither her nor her Father had prepared appropriately for this role in society and Coral did not feel that their thorough reading of upper-class literature had helped prepare her for this moment in the slightest. Was she to talk with an accent, or erase it altogether? Was she allowed to speak or was she to only speak when spoken to? She had learnt the basics of how to walk, act and even how to smile, yet nothing could have prepared her for this.
Lady Hevrey lead the pair across the ballroom to the far corner, there stood a tall young man
"Lady Estella, this is my son Flint Hevrey." Lady Hevrey said, dragging her son awkwardly by the arm and presenting him to Coral and her Father
"Please to meet you" Sir Charles said, offering his hand to the young lad who took it awkwardly and shook it, Coral curtsied low and upon standing upright told him it was a pleasure to meet him, a smile was his response. Coral looked up at him, he was a good head-and-shoulders above her height, although he had a small build and appeared almost unsure of how to stand, keeping his head and eyes lowered. "He's shy" Coral thought, something in her sparked, making her feel guilty for what she was supposed to do, she was supposed to hold this young, awkward, scared stranger at gun point and demand he give her all the money he could. His grey-blue eyes drifted up to hers before he looked away again. Could she really do this to him? Yes. She decided. She could.
She spent the majority of her evening with Flint Hevrey, who had insisted they call one another by their first names as he was not one for formality, despite also insisting he show her around the house as it was the social expectancy of him to do so. This allowed Coral a glimpse at how she had dreamed of living, with coloured wallpaper and even carpets, rooms with chandeliers and candles to keep the room bright, despite the darkness which had now descended upon the evening.
"I could live in here forever" Coral gasped as they entered a large room, mainly empty in the centre only sporting a couple of armchairs and tables with gas lamps rested on them, however all around the room, ceiling to floor was bookcase on bookcase filled with books. Coral had always loved reading, however was rarely allowed to do so as her Father felt it would give her ideas that she could rise above who she really was. Although all Coral ever saw in books was a chance to briefly escape this desolate reality to which she was stuck.
"I wish I could too, however Mother prohibits me from entering any further than the threshold without her and my Fathers permission." Flint told her, his voice considerably lower than it had been, as if he were scared they would be caught in here
"Shall we retreat back to the ballroom?" Coral asked him "The auction shall be soon and I dare say the guests will be missing your presence"
"Of course" Flint said and he lead the way back through the many corridors that almost created a maze back to the ballroom.
The ballroom was alive with people, the final dance of the evening was about to commence and as of yet both Coral and Flint had avoided so much as stepping a foot in a dance, however it was insisted that Flint was to dance as the ball had been thrown in his honour and should dance even just the once. And when selecting a partner, of course he was to chose Coral, as if he were to suffer, who better to select than his new companion?
Coral was not fully sure on how to dance, although she was aware that Flint was to lead, it was a waltz, she had yet to grasp the steps, and she trembled from head to toe, what if she did something wrong? Everyone would be sure to see through her disguise as the commoner she truly was, this could jeopardise the entire plan and it would all be her fault. Coral kept her head up, attempting to sneak peaks at other couples as they danced to watch how the proceeded, and after a while, she began to feel as if she were getting the hang of it.
Once the dance had ended, she stepped away from Flint, laughing as she clapped and curtsied once again, now the real work started, Lord Hevrey stepped onto the stage and began his speech; this would provide Coral and her Father the time they needed to ready into their positions and begin the heist.
"Would you mind terribly getting closer, my hearing is not the best." Coral whispered to Flint, who nodded and headed off into the crowd, closer to the stage. As they reached the stage Coral looked to the other end of the room where her Father stood, he nodded his approval, and Coral sped into action. Kicking Flint's leg out from beneathe him, so he fell to her height, before she grabbed him round the neck and pressed her flintlock pistol to his temple; he cried out in shock and the entire room turned to stare.
Coral's heart thudded feverishly in her chest, keeping her eyes locked on the crowd, she had to be careful, there were a lot of them to keep an eye on.
"Hello everybody, now, do as I say and you will all walk away untouched" A voice said from the back of the room, her Father walked slowly around the audience, circling them as a lion would his prey "Now, I must ask you to come to me;one at a time and give me all your money and jewels - in fact, give me anything that may have some form of a worth to it." He said, grinning as he spoke, Coral looked at the crowd, they all looked terrified and so they should, she thought, she could pull the trigger at any moment, killing anyone she felt like. She glanced down at Flint whom she still held tight, the barrel of the gun beginning to imprint on his skin, his eyes were closed and he looked almost at peace. Odd, he should have been shaking, begging for his very life, yet he remained calm, almost ready for death.
It only took several moments for her Father to bag their riches
"Thankyou all, you have been most kind, now I shall ask of you to remain standing perfectly still, it would be unfortunate for my companions finger to slip and pull the trigger" He said with a laugh "Come now Lady Estella, we must make haste." Coral dragged poor young Flint to the door, keeping the gun steady and her breath light; preparing in case anyone attempted to save him, once she had reached the front door she threw the boy to the ground and ran to catch up with her Father, who had already seated the horse which he had prepared for the getaway while Coral had danced. Jumping on the back of the horse she clung to her Father and the satchel of gold as they began to speed off of the Hevrey's land.
Just as they were halfway down the drive, Coral felt a splitting, white hot pain in her back and into her chest, hearing the sound of the gun being fired back at the house
"oh" She breathed and the last thing she saw was her Father glance his head back at her before the world went black.