Sophia's small hand gripped Esteban's arm a bit tighter than usual as they entered the Scarlet Drawing Room. She wasn't just nervous about her performance. Her anxiety extended to the arrangements that had been made to set the scene. Yet everything seemed to be exactly as she had planned it, right down to the roses placed on each chair. Now she wondered if that had been a good idea. What if someone was allergic to the fragrant flowers or simply didn't like their scent?
Everything will be fine, she assured herself Though nobody had yet arrived, the servants she had hired for the occasion were ready to see to their needs and they all looked quite professional in rented livery of green and and gold that contrasted nicely with the room's decor. Releasing Esteban's arm, she turned in a slow circle, her attire glittering in the light of the flickering candles of the chandelier.
The Countess' gown had been made especially for this concert. Made of lavender silk liberally sprinkled with sparkling iridescent crystal beads, the neckline left her creamy shoulders bare and plunged tastefully low. A long ruffle of beaded Venetian lace framed the swell of her impressive bosom. The thrice-puffed sleeves were made of semi-sheer silk, each puff separated by a band of flesh-colored silk trimmed with vertical rows of crystal beads and pearls that made it look as if each puff was attached to the one below with beads alone. In the center of each row of beads was a small opal. The first puff on each sleeve was pale yellow, the second was pink, and the third was mint green. The sleeves were hemmed with ruffles of the same Venetian lace that adorned her bodice.
The fabric of her stomacher, which came to a deep point below her natural waistline, was of multicolored pastel silk shot through with iridescent thread. Small opals and pearls decorated it in a lattice pattern. The bottom of the stomacher was hemmed with a beaded Venetian ruffle that followed its lines … lower in the center and higher on the sides.
The skirt of her gown was attached to the bodice and also made of lavender silk splashed with crystal beads, split into the shape of an inverted 'V' and pulled to the sides with clusters of beads and opals to show the underskirt beneath ... a confection of semi-transparent ruffles in different pastel shades, each dipping to a point at the center. The first and fourth ruffles were pale yellow, the second and fifth pink, and the third and sixth mint green. Peeking from underneath the elevated sides of the bottom ruffle was a layer of ruffled and beaded Venetian lace.
Sophia wore a necklace of three strings of pearls gathered at regular intervals by gleaming opals. In the center hung an opal pendant in the shape of a butterfly that rested against her cleavage. Her earrings were formed by looped strings of pearls attached to opals. Her hair was arranged in its usual Her hair was arranged in its usual tumble of flaxen curls. Even pinned up, the ringlets fell to the middle of her back. Combs accented with opal butterflies and pearls and dangling strings of crystal beads adorned her coiffure.
“I'm glad we arrived before anyone else,” she said to Esteban. “I'll be able to greet everyone personally as soon as they arrive.”