It startled her, a sharp feeling on the back of her hand. She darted a look down and saw a rolled piece of paper pressing against her, held by a masculine hand. She quickly traced the navy blue sleeve from the wrist up to the gold epaulette and found that it was William. She blushed, panicked then conspicuously calmed herself. She looked away, as casually as she could then quickly snatched the paper off him. They briefly made eye contact before he smiled and disappeared into the crowd of Bourgeoisie. Her heart rate tripled. She felt the paper against her palm and wanted nothing more than to read what he had written. She took a step towards the balcony to escape, and she heard her mother's voice, her blood ran cold.
"Where do you think you are going?"
Her grip tightened around the paper.
"I was just going to get some air. Too many people, mother. I'm feeling flustered." She was feeling flustered; however, it was because of the look William had just given her before he disappeared.
"Quickly girl, there are so many eligible men here, you'll miss out if you remove yourself for too long."
"Yes Mother, I’ll be quick." She dashed through the balcony doors and closed them behind her. She did a cursory check to see if she was alone and then, realising she was, opened the note William had given her.
It read "Frances. Leave with me. Tonight. I'll be waiting under the oak where we kissed. I love you. W."
She felt her breath escape her. She looked to her right at the double doors that led back to the ball, her mother pacing on the other side. She turned her head left and saw the staircase that descended to the garden. She drew a decisive breath, hiked her dress up to her ankles and ran towards the stairs.