Prince Alexander Alexandrovich Alexandrovsky Petrovich Ivanovsky Orlofsky slowly opened his eyes, staring at the silken canopy of the bed above him. The soft white sheets and many blankets kept him safe from the winter chill, as did the warm body of the young woman curled up against his chest. He glanced down at her. This one was a brunette, half of her long dark hair still done up with silver pins. Try as he might, he couldn’t seem to recall her name, but it didn’t really matter. Tomorrow night it would be a different girl, maybe a blonde, and a different girl the night after that. All because he hated to sleep alone.
He’d always considered bows to be rather silly things. Stiff gentlemen pointing their noses toward the ground, tilting downward as though that indicated respect. He preferred the curtsies of women. At least they told him something: namely, how far the woman in question was willing to go to show him the soft curves of her breasts. When it came to his nightly companions, that view was often all he remembered. After all, the girls who sank into the lowest curtsies often stooped to other things as well with little prompting. In an endless cycle of tedium, those glimpses gave him hope that, at the very least, he would not be bored alone.
She was an interesting one, this chambermaid. Most lower class girls came in two sorts: those so overwhelmed by his wealth and position they were too petrified to speak, and those who craved that same wealth and position so much that they threw themselves at him without regard for modesty or propriety. This girl did neither. She held herself like a queen, her eyes daring anyone to pursue her. Her humble origins made her all the more intriguing, and his gaze remained on her long after she’d moved on to chatter with his other guests. He would have to think hard about the best way to handle Mademoiselle “Olga”.
After a brief period of observation, Orlofsky came to the conclusion that Marquis Renard was an imbecile. Certainly he was no Marquis, and his feeble attempts at French grated upon the ears of anyone unfortunate enough to hear. But the true proof of the Marquis’s stupidity came when his wife arrived. Any man with half a wit could see the way she outshone every other woman in the room. Only a fool would attempt to stray from such a beauty. Orlofsky half considered attempting to seduce her himself, but decided against it at the last moment. A woman like that did not deserve to have her reputation tarnished by the likes of him. Nonetheless, he looked forward to watching her torment her idiot husband, and to joining in when he could. If ever a man deserved to be a cuckold, it was the Marquis Renard.
Jail. Such a ridiculous place to end a party. He could not help but laugh, the situation was so absurd. Even the sycophants guffawing behind him did not bother him nearly as much as usual. Yet amid the hilarity, one forlorn voice rang out. His mysterious chambermaid, no longer proud and aloof, appeared to be on the verge of tears. Without even meaning to, he found himself offering her wealth and prestige the likes of which he’d never bestowed upon any woman before. Moreover, he knew at once that every promise he made was genuine, not some cheap trick to tempt her into his bed. Perhaps she would end up there eventually, but in the meantime he would work to make her a success on the stage. After all, he was always seeking a new diversion, and a chambermaid-turned-actress was anything but ordinary. Perhaps she would be the one to lift his boredom at last. At any rate, he looked forward to finding out.