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Testing

Posted on Thu Jan 30th, 2014 @ 11:58pm by Unawakened Jana Rotherbridge

Date: March 19th, 2010
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Ballroom in downtown Dallas, Texas

Daddy-daughter dates were cute.

They prepared you for dates with real, live, not-related-to-you-men.

So they were great for you… if you were 12 or 13 years old.

If you were 18…. not so much.

The function was happening at a ballroom in downtown Dallas. It was a small ballroom, and no one was going to be dancing. There were tables everywhere, with anyone 12-18 escorted by an adult. Most of them started being trained at home, either by a parent or tutor, at the age of 12, and started going to social functions about the same time. This function was slightly different. It was more to quiz them on their knowledge so far.

The Rotherbridges, in essence, were getting a pop quiz in etiquette.

Jana sat with her Uncle James, who appeared just as, if not more uncomfortable with the situation they were in. Aunt Mariah had decided that Jana and her brothers needed etiquette lessons. The children had talked her out of the actual lessons had by the younger children of the elite. So, they were at a dinner for ‘intimates’ of another family, but they were still at the ‘kid’s table’. Jana was paired with Uncle James. Aunt Mariah with Gabe. And Cole was with their cousin-in-law, Sebastian Hart, married to James’ and Mariah’s eldest, Cynthia.

Cynthia would have helped Cole, but she was currently 5 months along, and showing too much to be seen about in society. Since Clarice was not yet a matron, and middle child Eddy Darling had no interest, Sebastian it was.

He looked as uncomfortable as James to be in the presence of so many pre- and teenage children. Maybe hoping a baby would be easier to deal with.

Jana looked down at the elegantly folded napkin on her plate, a gold ring around it to hold it in a position that looked like one of the tea-length dresses with no girl in it. She wondered why they bothered when its main job was to catch food.

Her main source of entertainment was listening to Gabe get grief from their aunt.

“Gabriel, elbows off the table.”

He sat back, “What am I supposed to lean on?”

“You don’t, you sit up straight.”

“Then how am I supposed to get to the food?”

“One step at a time, young man. Keep your elbows within your space.”

“My space is too small.” he grumbled.

“I understand but we must learn to work within the limits we find ourselves in.”

“I thought we were supposed to eat” he peered.

“Social functions are about being seen and being seen properly. Now, eat your soup. Use the right spoon.”

Gabe pouted. “The spoon’s too small.”

“Don’t slurp.”

Jana was getting similar admonitions, but at least Uncle James was more discrete.

“Keep one arm in your lap at all times.”

“What about the bread?”

Or...

“Be sure to at least eat three quarters of the salad.”

“It’s… fruity.”

Or...

“Remember to tip the bowl away from you, Jana.”

“But there’s hardly any left…”

His reminders were much quieter.

She couldn’t hear what Bast and Cole were saying, but it sounded like they were getting along. Which was good. Cole deserved for some things to go smoothly for him.

Well, it was more than smooth.

“He’s so cute!” one of the younger girls whispered to her friend.

“He’s our age, right?” the friend glanced surreptitiously at Cole.

“What do you think he looks like with his shirt off?”

“How should I know?”

“I know I’d like to find out!”

The girls tittered gleefully.

Cole turned a visible shade of red, almost matching Gabe and Jana’s hair. He slinked down in his seat, but Bast nudged him back up, suddenly very engrossed in his salad, which was a sign he was out of sorts. Cole didn’t normally like salad.

The dinner was actually quite good. The food, anyway. The company… not so much. Every other girl at the table wasn’t even old enough to drive. But they knew the tactics of their older counterparts. They were, of course, careful to comment under their breaths.

“They’re so old.”

“Do you think they got held back?”

“Maybe they’re just slow.”

There was giggling, and Jana restrained a sigh. There wasn’t a whole lot she could do in a formal gathering. Then Uncle James surprised her.

“Very good, Jana.” He patted her hand. “I know we’ve been pushing you, and the deaths of your parents was traumatic, but you are doing marvelously well with the hand you’ve been dealt.”

Since not enough of the brats looked guilty, Jana looked up at him sweetly. “I only aspire to take my place among those of good breeding, Uncle.”

There were a few gasps of outrage that lacked weight that age would eventually give them, but James looked back at Mariah for a quick moment before leaning over to Jana’s ear. “Indeed,” he murmured before going back to his lamb.

Jana smiled and meekly went back to her own dinner. She could play their game, too.

 

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