posted by Aunty Cindy aka Loucinda McGary
Armand hauled Tricia out onto the dance floor and away from the smoldering gaze of the dark man, but she could still feel his eyes following her. Pieter glided past, a short woman in a feathered mask with garishly tinted red hair in his arms.
“Damn!” Armand whispered hoarsely near Tricia’s ear. “That’s Anita Fitzhugh. I’ve been trying to get close to her all evening.”
The dark man momentarily forgotten, Tricia craned her neck to get another look at one of the grand dames of Broadway.
“She’d be a perfect customer,” Armand continued. The music stopped and Anita moved away from Pieter toward the exit. “She’s going to the powder room. Follow her!”
Tricia blinked at him. “Me?”
“Well I can’t very well go into the ladies’ room,” Armand replied, and gave her a not too gentle shove. “Go on! Don’t lose her.”
Tricia stumbled for the door, the strap of her sandal coming loose as she moved, but she had no time to stop and fix it. She hurried into the hallway but Anita Fitzhugh was nowhere to be seen. Scooting along so that her shoe didn’t come completely off, she rounded the corner toward the bank of elevators, but the woman wasn’t there either.
Armand was going to be furious!
Where was that dratted bathroom?
Tricia rounded another corner and literally ran into the dark man, her nose bumping abruptly against the lapel of his tux. She jerked backward, swaying, and he steadied her with a hand on her bare arm.
“I’m so sorry!” she blurted, and yanked self-consciously at her bodice to make sure nothing had fallen out.
“No need to apologize.” His gaze dropped to her cleavage and she couldn’t stop herself from giving her gown one more tug. “That’s quite a lovely necklace.”
His dark eyes moved slowly from her breasts up to her face, while Armand’s warning echoed inside her head… ‘Whatever you do, don’t let that man get you alone, even for a second…’
“Th-thank you.” Tricia glanced frantically around the dimly lit corridor, panic clawing up her spine. Then her gaze snagged on a door built right into the dark paneling.
The bathroom at last!
“Excuse me, please, but I have to go in here.”
Wrenching her arm from his grasp, she darted through the door, pressing the lock in as it closed behind her. Panting, she turned around and leaned back to rest against the solid panel, her shoulders slumping with relief.
“Pardon, madame,” said a soft masculine voice. “Are you lost?”
Tricia gasped and looked toward the sound. To her dismay, she saw she was not in the ladies room at all, but an area behind the ballroom stage. The speaker was a young man in a white jacket, holding a trumpet.
“Have you lost your way?” he asked again, white teeth gleaming in his olive-skinned face. "Or are you hiding from an over-eager dance partner?”
“Oh, no!” Tricia quickly denied. She stared at the oval name-tag on his jacket which said ‘Mustafa’ and below that ‘Turkey.’ “I… I just needed someplace to fix my shoe.”
“Maybe I can help you.” He set his trumpet on a storage box and motioned for her to come closer.
Intrigued in spite of herself, Tricia obeyed. She lifted her foot and rested it on top of the crate opposite the shiny instrument.
“I’m Tricia,” she said. “Tricia Ivy, and I’ve never met a trumpet playing Turk before.”