Excerpt: As she had done several times this past month in response to her mothers entreaties, Adriana tried on the dress once more, and stood before the free-standing full length oval mirror — another heirloom handed down through the years — a beautiful Florentine mirror framed in rosewood lovingly carved with fleurs-de-lis. The mirror and the matching vanity in her room had been gifted many years ago by an Italian nobleman to his spouse, a daughter of the Dellaportas. Adriana studied her reflection in the mirror. The red emphasized her lightly tanned skin and the warm dark brown waves of her shoulder length hair. The dress had been sized to fit her slender figure and medium height. The skirt fell in vertical waves to just below her knees. Her mother had told her that the dress was priceless. And if the Dellaporta line ever died out, every Dellaportas Last Will and Testament specifically mandated the dress be donated to a local museum who had over the generations repeatedly requested to display it among their most precious acquisitions.Perhaps it was the mood of the present generation, or the reason behind wearing the dress — to entice a suitable husband — or the debutante ball itself, putting her on public display, that made Adriana shudder....Adriana sighed, contemplating the dress and the silk rose clip. The accessory was made of the finest silk, but shed prefer a real flower.. The vase in the corner of her vanity held a bouquet of roses in full bloom - a Valentines Day present from her parents, two days ago. On impulse, she took a small silver scissor from the side drawer of her vanity, and cut a rose to replace the accessory. She slipped off the silk blossom and threaded the stem bit through the gold pin, then clipped the rose to her hair above her left temple. As she did so, some of the petals fell to the ground. Closing the gap between the vanity and the mirror, she bent to pick up the trail of petals. At that very moment, a ray of sunlight cut through the window sash, encircling her body in a halo. The free-standing mirror reflected her image as she picked up the petals.Unaware of her surreal image and the cascade of sunray, Adrianas thoughts were of the suitors who would vie for her hand in marriage. Certainly, the dress made her look beautiful and desirable, and her parents wealth and her inheritance, more so. It was not a publicized fact, but many of the Dellaporta daughters had not been happy in their marriages. Another reason she wished to avoid the whole tradition. She wanted to marry and raise a family of her own. But most importantly, she wanted to love her chosen spouse and be loved in return for all their lifetime. To be loved for herself, for her spirit and her mind, and not for the beauty of the body that was transitory, or for her inheritance.Occupied with her thoughts, she paused in the act of collecting the fallen petals, trying to imagine the man who might fit that description. She did not notice the subtle haze created by the sunray around her. In her minds eye, she imagined that he would not know who she was, or her background and traditions. And it would not be love at first sight. He would fall in love with her slowly, day by day, as he grew to know her. And vice versa. A gentle, good man, with a modicum of common sense. A hard worker who did not aspire to a fortune. She would not find him at a debutante ball. No! she determined. I will not wear this dress or attend any coming out ball!Adriana finished picking up the petals and stood up. The light coming from the window dimmed, the accompanying surreal aura cleared, the haziness dispersed. Adriana slipped out of the dress and replaced it on the hanger and re-hung it all the way back in her walk-in closet.