Victoria dipped her fingers into the pot. The substance was a viscous golden liquid that was gritty when she transferred some of it to the fingers of the other hand and rubbed her hands together.
She watched her own dark midnight-blue eyes in the mirror as she applied the honey to her skin. The sharp white crystals melted under the heat and pressure of her fingers and face, and her pale skin gleamed golden under the delicate mask. She could smell the sweet scent, so much more appealing than the expensive creams her mother used, and when a bit of the honey slipped toward her mouth she caught it on the tip of her pink tongue, the flavor lingering in her mouth and soothing her jangling nerves.
She washed her hands slowly and carefully, keeping her face still so as not to upset the mask. Victoria checked her watch, analog with a simple gold band, noted the time, and took out the bag that held her nail polish and remover. After sitting at her small, feminine vanity she took a cotton ball, dipped it in the nail polish remover, and began working on her nails.
The scent was a sharp assault on her nose after the gentle scent of the honey, but there was no natural method for removing the paint from her nails that she knew of. She was thorough, and soon her nails were naked of any dressing. A brief examination proved that there were no ragged edges to be filed down, no inconsistencies in length that required trimming. They were near perfect in their quiet elegance.
The blue polish she selected was the same shade as her eyes; the clear varnish would give her nails a shine that nature could not.
The clear coat went on, right hand first, then left. A check of her watch assured her that there was plenty of time left before she should wash her face, so she went into the adjoining room and--with care not to smudge her nails--turned the hot plate on under the tea kettle. It was an old habit, to see to such things herself, but one she was not interested in breaking.
With the first coat dry, Victoria returned to her vanity and removed the lid on the blue nail polish. She took a toothpick, and with all the care of a master artist she applied a neat blue circle of paint--slightly larger than the tip of a pen--to each of her nails. The color stood out against the plain background, and Victoria regarded it carefully before deciding that it was the look she wanted. Dazzling color over plain nails. What could be more appropriate?
A shrill noise came from the kitchen, broken at first, then consistent: a small, high-pitched train warning the bus to get off the tracks. The water was hot, and Victoria hurried to remove the kettle from the heat and pour some of the water into the mug she had waiting. She followed the water with a tea bag, then looked down at her nails again.
Not quite dry, she decided. A few minutes more, another clear coat. Then more time waiting for that to dry before she could rinse the honey off. Her face would be clean, glowing with health, moisturized without any oil to make it shiny. A face her mother would approve of.
Victoria's stomach clenched, and she forced herself to inhale deeply and expel the nerves with a slow exhalation. Her mother. The countess. She would have to face the woman tonight. What would she think of the suggestion of blue gems on her nails, the simple gown--elegant, yes, but not one of the splashy gowns currently in fashion--she had chosen to wear? Would she be forced to watch the painted lips of her mother grow thinner, the patrician nose tilt up as though it had smelled something unsavory? Would--
Hands came to rest on her shoulders. Large, strong hands that kneaded into the muscles with a skill that nearly had Victoria dissolving into a puddle on the floor. "Don't worry," a husky voice whispered in her ear, sending chills racing down her neck and spine. "You will not be facing the countess alone tonight." He grabbed her left handed, lifted it, and kissed the ring she still forgot she wore. "Tonight, it is the countess who must face you. The Duchess of Westfell."
Sensory Saturday is a recurring blog post that I do as a weekly exercise to help me improve my descriptive writing. That said, I welcome anyone who would like to give me suggestions on scenes that I should write descriptively. Being trapped in a cave? Hiking in the Appalachians? Searching through the trash at MacDonald's for your teenage daughter's retainer? What should be the focus of next week's Sensory Saturday?