The Gala

As the guests trickled in, he greeted them with smiles and handshakes. The women were dressed to the hilt in their exquisite gowns and adorned with Opals and onyx while the men sported tuxedos.

Every now and then, his gaze drifted over to where the cars were, expecting to see her alight from one of them. Would she come alone or with someone? He hoped it would be the former.

“What a lovely estate you have here,” a woman said to him with a dazzling smile.

“Thank you.”

“It looks like something out of a Jane Austen book,” another woman remarked. “Have you ever thought of having paid tours or it featured in a film?”

He shook his head. “No, I haven’t.”

Her husband smiled apologetically at Gerhardt before saying to her, “I don’t think Mr. Muller would want people traipsing about his estate, Dear. Shall we go inside?” he added when she would have said something else. He glanced at Gerhardt who gave him a nod of gratitude.

A limo pulled up. He watched as the chauffeur opened both doors and Lilith emerged, looking very smart in a lilac gown. She approached him, smiling broadly. Her hair was swept back in a French knot. “Hello, Gerhardt,” she greeted him. He leaned down and kissed her on both cheeks. “You look very handsome.”

“And you look amazing,” he replied.

“Thank you.”

As he was about to ask her if Alexandra was with her over Lilith’s head, he saw her talking to the chauffeur before she turned and headed towards them. She looked stunning in the white gown.

Lilith followed his gaze and smiled. “I’ll be inside,” she said and walked past him.

He barely acknowledged that she had gone. His attention was riveted on Alexandra as she climbed the steps. When she was standing beside him, he said, “Good evening.” His heart was racing. She took his breath away.

“Good evening.” He looked dashing in the tuxedo. Her heart was pounding.

Unable to resist, he took her hand and raised it to his lips.

Alexandra’s breath quickened when she felt the brush of his lips against her skin. She felt as if she had just been kissed by the prince.

Aware of being watched, he released her hand. “You look absolutely lovely,” he said quietly.

“Thank you. And you look very handsome.”

“Save a dance for me,” he said, his eyes meeting hers in a steady gaze.

“I will,” she promised before another organizer joined them. After Alexandra introduced them, they went inside the manor while he continued to greet the guests until it was time for the gala to begin.

The gala was off to a great start. He was a natural at being the MC and he enjoyed it immensely. Everyone was impressed with the décor, the food, the music, the presentations, the entertainment. They were delighted when the celebrity guests showed and the actress who shared her story about life with heart failure and life after heart surgery received a thunderous applause and standing ovation. The orchestra was a big hit too and many people took to the dance-floor to dance to golden oldies and pop music.

Gerhardt danced with Lilith and several other women but he wanted to dance with Alexandra whom he saw dancing a few times. As she was leaving the dance floor with opera singer who had wowed the crowd with his rousing rendition of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma, he made a bee line for her.

After exchanging pleasantries with the singer, he said to her, “I believe you promised to save me a dance.”

She smiled. “Yes, I did.”

He placed his left hand on the small of her back while he held her left hand with his right. They danced to The Way You Look Tonight. Lilith watched them, smiling. Good for you, Lexie, she thought. And it’s nice to see that you’re moving on, Gerhardt. Helena would want you to.

This was the first time since Helena died that he was dancing. It felt strange but great. He knew that Helena wouldn’t mind. In fact, she would want him to enjoy himself. To live again. He could picture her smiling and saying, “you were always a wonderful dancer, Darling.” He smiled.

Alexandra felt like Cinderella at the ball dancing with the prince. He was an excellent dancer. He moved with such ease that it felt like they were gliding, their feet hardly touching the floor as they moved to the music. It felt wonderful being in his arms and she didn’t want this moment or the evening to end.

The song ended but instead of releasing her, he said, “Let’s dance the night away.”

She nodded and he whirled her around the floor as the orchestra played Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.

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