Chapter 1 : The man, The tango and I
“Miss Valerie Blanc, this way please. The limousine will take you to your hotel” the steward ushered me out the jet that flew me from France to London ” also your personal maidservant will attend to your luggage.”
I found this brochure sitting next to me as the limousine moved on through the streets of London. I started reading it out loud. “The Ritz : The world’s greatest hotel, as conceived by the world’s greatest hotelier. For over a century The Ritz has been the benchmark by which other hotels are measured. A London landmark at 150 Piccadilly, The Ritz has been home to the great and the good, the intelligentsia, the glitterati and thousands of discerning guests since 1906. So I guess it is a treat for me to stay here for my vacation.” I sighed as I closed my eyes and dreaming of my beloved France. “I should have not agreed with father, this is not a vacation, this is a nightmare. I want to celebrate my upcoming 18th birthday, my début with all the cousins. I know my father have assigned a very busy schedule for me this month and I won’t have enough time to sulk. As the heiress of his economic empire I’m bound to be doomed, I’m sure after this birthday gift vacation I am to choose a husband to run the business with. My youth and my life is now over.” My ranting was instantly ended as the door opened and I was then ushered inside the Ritz. It was like stepping into the grandeur of its lobby. The drama of everything is just like at home, my father really thought I love these things. As I entered my royal suite my maidservant greeted me with her usual cordial smile, she took care of the tip for me as the bellhop left. I inspected the rooms, first the sitting room , then the dining room and my bedroom. Like in a drill, my maidservant dutifully prepared my bath and clothes. After a wonderful bath I crawled into the bed and took a nap.
Woken up by the familiar voice of Claudette, my maidservant and my confidante. “Mademoiselle Valerie, it’s time!” she said teasingly. Holding up a Valentina 1949-50s Sapphire-blue silk velvet evening gown. “This will look great on you Valerie, it will give you the sophisticated look and you will mesmerize your father’s friends.” I took a pillow and covered my face and shouted ” I don’t want to dine with those old aristocrats and their arrogant wives not to mention their idiotic snobbish sons.” But Claudette knows how to perk me up. She took the pillow and blanket where i took refuge and whispered in my ear, “I know a place where we can dance all night long and I have the clothes ready too. So why don’t you be a big girl and put on a sweet face as you delight your guests.” We both smile widely and started preparing for my dinner engagement.
Luckily dinner was held at the Ritz restaurant not at my royal suite dining room, where I know I can gracefully excuse myself later on. As I walked towards our table I was dumbstruck by the gallantry of the person who held the chair for me. As I sit and turned around looking for the old rascals that my father used to have over at dinner back in France. He smiled so sweetly and said, “You looked surprised? It is only the two of us dining tonight. The old folks are not feeling well and could not welcome you Mademoiselle Blanc. I guess I have to introduce myself now, my name is Christian Alexander Mowatt, I believe we are at the same age, I am the son of Marina Ogilvy Mowatt. It is my grandmother that you are familiar with, The Honorable Lady Alexandra.” as i extend my hand he kissed it so gently “Pleased to meet you Mademoiselle Blanc.” “Please call me Valerie, kind sir.” I said trying to hide my blushing face. “Please call me Alec. Now that introductions are over I guess we can now skip the formalities and have a very delightful dinner.” My heart is beating fast now, this should not be the case. I need to think of an excuse to leave this table as soon as desert arrives. My trail of thought was suddenly interrupted by his deep husky voice as he said “I hope you don’t mind but I ordered us their finest menu on French cuisine and champagne.” To my surprise time flew by fast and for all I know we were at my doorstep bidding each other good night. He took my hand and placed a sweet kiss and departed with a devilish smile that caught my breath.
“Claudette! You wouldn’t believe it, but I enjoyed my dinner for the first time.” I shouted out as I closed the door and ran towards Claudette who was in my bedroom gently putting away my Tango dress and shoes. “He was so funny and full of interesting stories…Hey missy, who told you to keep that? We are still going you know!” I smiled and twirled around the room as Claudette helped me out of my evening dress and ready ourselves for our Tango night. Claudette wore the violet silk velvet dress emphasizing her violet eyes and her strawberry blonde hair while I wore an olive-green satin silk Tango dress with golden-yellow beads all over the backless halter top. I put my hair down and allowed the long silky straight strands to hang enough to cover my back. “The two of us look so bewitching Claudette. Let’s have a wonderful night and tomorrow I’ll tell you my interesting dinner with Monsieur Mowatt.”
The two of us are well fond of Tango Nuevo and are very familiar with this style, here at The Crypt we learned the Argentine Tango in just a few hours. Claudette and I learned new techniques that aroused us to our very core. We danced all night enjoying every dip and turn that our instructors lead us to. We even drank wine till dawn laughing so sweetly savouring this special night. On our way out I caught a glimpse of a familiar face smiling wickedly at me. Chills ran down my spine as a started towards the door. “Claudette, it’s him! Monsieur Mowatt, he was at The Crypt, I caught a glimpse of his smile as we head out.” I gave a worried look as my confidante hushed me. “Don’t worry Valerie, it’s just the wine my sweetie and if he is Monsieur Mowatt I’m sure he won’t tell anyone.”
The next day I was wearing my favorite floral sun-dress drinking coffee with Claudette while recounting my interesting diner with Monsieur Mowatt ending up with the devilish smile I kept seeing even in my sleep. “I just wish I knew what to do if it was really him missy.” I said as I put down my coffee, when suddenly the phone in the sitting room rang and Claudette answered, making occasional nods and a grim smile. As she walked back at my bedroom, she casually let out a sigh and said, “Valerie, I’m afraid it was him last night at The Crypt and he wants to have tea with you this afternoon at The Palm Court by the lobby. And according to him he has a special proposition for you.” Claudette held my hand and gently giving me an assuring pat. “I believe he is a gentleman and will not make a big deal out of it.” She ushered me back to my bed and played Sicilienne by J.Bach. I usually listen to my classical piano collection of Bach to ease up my nerves. Well that did the trick, I am calm and well collected as I walked towards Alec, as usual he is looking as gorgeous as ever with a hint of devilish aura in his casual blue shirt and trousers. He took my gloved hand and kissed it lightly and ushered me to my seat. He was now staring at me, checking me out. Giving a soft chuckle “You look very delicate today Valerie, that floral sun-dress enhances your well-toned physique yet showing some of your bosom like that reminds me of how inviting you and your lady friend were last night.” he must be waiting for a disgusted reaction from me but instead I simple replied, “Thank you for the flattery Monsieur Mowatt.” and smiled politely. “I know you have a proposition kind sir, please state your concern so we could finish this tea immediately.” Alec made that devilish smile again and said, “Well I think you are a bit feisty today Valerie, but then again I called for this tea and I will decided when it is done. But I am a gentleman and will not allow a lady to feel awkward, I only have one proposition for you. I want you to be my partner for next Saturday’s Tango night at The Crypt, it’s a yearly underground contest that most élite and royalty attend here in London.” Giving a subtle groan, “Forgive me Monsieur but as much as I love dancing Tango, I cannot grant your wish, my father detests me dancing the Tango for it is a very physical dance to him, it is a sex-dance quote and unquote.” He took my hand and gently squeezed it, “Don’t worry my dearest Valerie, I will do anything in my power to keep it a secret to your old man. You caught my heart and interest last night, you move with your heart and soul, the instructor was not even up to par.” Shocked yet secretly delighted with the idea and with the warmth of his hands that still holds mine. “I’ll take your silence as a ‘yes’, now we will meet every day after diner at my dance studio, I will have the limousine pick you and your lady friend at exactly 8pm starting tomorrow.” He suddenly released my hand and led me out the lobby to my suite. I will pick you up at 6:30pm we’ll have dinner with your friend and proceed to The Crypt, tonight we will just enjoy each other’s company before we start our rigorous training. You see Valerie, I always win and get what I want.” again with that devilish grin he left me speechless at my doorstep.