The Snowflake

The Snowflake by Jamie Carie

Book: The Snowflake by Jamie Carie Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jamie Carie
for the first time.
    I groaned. “It’s a bribe, Stella. She thinks I’m going to make her a pot load of money and knows I had reservations about taking this job.”
    “She’s right, you know. You are the prettiest of all the girls by far, and you have an air about you that will attract men like bees to honey.”
    I looked at her with my brows raised. “That’s silly, Stella. You don’t know what you’re saying.”
    “Oh yes, I do. I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but I know men, and they will want to figure out your mystery.” She flashed a grin at me. “Just wait and see. You’re going to be wonderful! Now let’s see the other dress.”
    I couldn’t believe I had hoped the packages were from Buck. He probably hadn’t even thought of me, not like I was thinking about him anyway—daily, hourly. I took a deep breath and complied.
    Stella gulped and then oohed and aahed as I pulled forth a pile of pink froth. The gown was complete with ruffles and rich black ribbons. It had long ballooning sleeves, and I couldn’t help but think it was pretty.
    “Oh, Ellen. Try them on! Which one will you wear tonight?”
    I supposed I should wear the first one since it was Kate’s gift. “I guess, I should try them on.”
    It was strange sharing a room with another woman. All my life I’d had my own bedroom and the privacy that lent me. Stella thought nothing about stripping naked in front of me—she’d had sisters, lots of them—but I was mortified by the idea of anyone seeing me in my undergarments and turned away from her gleeful eyes. She rushed over to work the buttons up the back of the silver-blue gown and helped me tie the velvet silver ribbon at the back. It was a perfect fit.
    I turned around, my fingers fluttering around the skirt. I looked down at the rows of gathered folds on the skirt, the sound of the material swishing as a turned. I’d never had a dress like this.
    “It’s perfect.” Stella smiled, her dimples flashing in her round cheeks, blonde hair bobbing. “Well, don’t just stand there! Go look in the glass!”
    A long mirror on a swiveled hinge that could be adjusted to see all sides stood in the corner of our room. I walked over toward it and stared at the figure in the glass.
    “It’s no wonder they call Kate Queen of Dawson,” Stella murmured with awe. “She’s a genius. It couldn’t be more perfect for you.”
    I hated to admit it, but Stella was right. Kate couldn’t have found a better way to introduce her newest dancing girl to the miners of Dawson City.
    And that girl was me.

    The steps that took me to the ground floor of the Monte Carlo were narrow, the tips of my pointy slippers hanging over their edge, as the steps creaked in protest, like my heart. My silver blue gown whispered around my legs as I descended down, down, down into a world I had never seen or imagined.
    Jonah had always kept us alone. Quiet. My life was silent with bursts of fright or anger. Red outbursts against the haze of gray. Now, as I walked down those steps, Kate’s beautiful, glorious face beckoned me with her eyes toward this new life.
    The piano was in full swing. I’d met Ragtime Kid once before . . . ran into him in a hall in the morning hours while we were both passing with breakfast on our plates. He usually played at the Dominion Saloon and was well known there, but Kate had handed him a heavy purse for my debut. I had learned that and other ripe gossip after trying on my gowns. The girls of the house had flooded in to see what the fuss was about, envy riding high in their arched brows and pursed lips. Everyone, it seemed, knew how much trouble Kate had put into me . . . my coming out.
    I clutched the railing that slid beneath my elbow-length, white-gloved hand and pressed back the knot in my stomach. I reached the bottom step and paused; Kate grasped my upper arm in a tender-tight hold. I looked up at her as the music ground to a crushing, weighty halt. All eyes turned. All those

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