Avery pretends that this is all perfectly normal. She pretends that it’s perfectly expected. Custom. And as per custom, she looks to the women closest her idol.
To Beatrice’s left sits a thin-lipped woman of Avery’s age. She does not approve of the newcomer’s eloquence. When she offers her seat to Avery, it’s with a nearly imperceptible sneer.
To The Lady’s right sits a naive teen whose personality bubbles up from within and shines through the sincerest of smiles. When this girl offers her seat, she means it. She doesn’t glance at her mistress for approval, and Avery can see that this delights Beatrice.
“I’m sorry,” Avery says to the teen. “May I have the pleasure of your name?”
The rest of the women turn to peer at the girl, the scowls better hidden on some faces than others.
The girl blushes – she actually blushes! – and states simply, “Dara.”
Avery approaches. She only has to elbow a couple of the others out of the way. The rest make room.
“Dara!” Avery exlaims. “A name as lovely as thine face!” She curtsies deeply. “I would be honored to take your place. Are you sure that you do not mind?”
Dara steps away from her seat.
“Oh, please, by all means!” But the girl has a split second of doubt. She glances at Beatrice to confirm the legitimacy of her intuition.
Beatrice beams at her protege – at least, that’s the feeling in the air. It is difficult to tell with the woman’s plastic visage.
“You are a darling,” Beatrice lilts.
The girl’s grin splits her face and she scampers to the back of the pack.
Beatrice nods to Avery.
Avery takes a seat.