As Peter was admiring the craftsmanship of the staircase, a woman in a long red gown began to descend. Her dress was long enough that a handmaiden was following behind, keeping the dress from flowing around in front and tripping her on the steps.

Peter was drawn to her hair first. It was long, luxurious, black and silky with hints of brown that showed when it caught the light just so. Draping off her shoulders in waves and reaching her lower back, it was held away from her face by a crescent of delicate white flowers that ran from ear to ear. Peter's vision was then pulled to her eyes, the most unbelievably beautiful set of almond shaped brown eyes he had ever seen. Set the perfect distance apart on her face, and framing an equally perfect nose, they shone with a magical light from the candle-filled chandeliers of the ballroom.

Though her face was painted in the style of the day, it was done in a modest fashion and her pouty lips were shining with a healthy gloss in a medium pink that looked like it was completely natural. She was thin without being skinny, and her dress hugged her curves in a way that made Peter's heart beat faster and his breath come in short bursts. Her breasts were modestly displayed with the cutting of the dress, and positioned just above her cleavage was a green emerald hanging on a fine gold chain. Matching ear rings and an emerald bracelet completed her jewelry, tasteful but clearly of some worth even in this most opulent of settings.

A large opening cut in the back of her dress revealed what Peter had already known — her skin was flawless and perfect. The color was a light brown, slightly darker than his own skin, which added to the exotic nature of this woman. He was literally finding it hard to catch his breath, as she was without a doubt the most beautiful woman Peter had ever seen.

She reached the bottom of the stairs and was met by Nolan, who took her arm and led her around the room to a table just below the orchestra. Here she joined several other Maidens of the Choosing, however none were anywhere even close to her in beauty, poise and sheer magnificence.

Peter had heard of love at first sight, but he had only read about it in books and heard talk around the barracks. Most of that talk was about lust and not love, and now Peter thought he knew the difference. He was, at this moment, completely in love with this woman and would die for her right now if she asked him. Never before had he felt anything even close to this. He knew at that moment he would never again feel this way toward any other woman.

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