Remy LeBeau surveyed the festive scene before him with boredom. He felt as if he was submerged in a sea filled to the brim with colorful fish. Flashes of bright silk and the twinkling of of brilliant jewels swirled in front of him. He never liked these forays into polite society, but as the heir to his father's shipping empire, he had to keep the family business running. His brother, Henri, had settled across the Channel to London some years before and due to his connections, Remy was obligated to make the trip to London several times a year to glad hand with the English customers.

"Are y' not diverted, mon frere?" a jovial voice spoke at his elbow.

Remy turned and regarded his brother. "I hate being dragged t' dese dances," he gritted. "Not'ing more than de bourgeoisie marrying off de femmes t' de highest bidder."

"Ah Remy, but dat's de fun of it, non?" Henri grinned. "Y' have created le coeur brise ev'ry time y' decline all de introductions dat I've been petitioned to make. Y' should meet at least une femme."

"What's de point?" Remy muttered. "Dese people only want t' secure their fortunes. It's barbaric."

"Not'ing barbaric in enjoying a smile an' standing up wit' une belle femme," Henri countered.

"The Lady Anna Marie Raven, Countess of Darkholme!"

With the announcement, all heads in the ballroom swiveled towards the grand staircase, and the crowd rippled with awestruck whispers. Remy's reply to his brother lodged in his throat as he took in the vision regally descending the staircase. She was dressed in a deep green silk gown, which brought out her flashing green eyes brilliantly. Her brown hair was piled into a mass of glossy curls at the top of her head, which was held high, coolly surveying the scene before her. A pair of full, ruby lips were set in a pale, heart shaped face framed with distractingly white curls.

"Mon Dieu," Henri breathed.

Remy felt his throat go dry. "Henri," he said, "y' must introduce me t' her."

Henri laughed and shook his head. "I'm afraid I cannot help y', homme. Lady Anna Marie is several rungs above us in polite society. An introduction from me is impossible. We can't touch her."

Remy grinned at his brother. "Social class has never stopped me before."

"Dere's somet'ing else, mon frere," Henri grinned back.

Remy quirked an eyebrow quizzically. "Do tell."

"She and her family hate de French."