Inside the door was a slender man, not much taller than myself. He wore a suit as black as the night sky, brown, curly hair was matted on his head, and polished, ivory teeth filled his smile. "Good evening to you both. You must be Jacob Garthrow, I presume?" Jacob nodded in confirmation as he shook the man's strong hand. Then the man turned to me and asked, "And you are?"
"Madison Rison," I responded, offering my hand to him.
"It's my pleasure, Madison. My name is Harlan and I serve the master who lives within these aging walls," he said as he gently shook my hand. Even though he was trying to mask his accent, it was blatantly obvious that he hailed from Britain. After he released my hand, he motioned Jacob and I through the door. A blanket of warmth awaited us. We entered a ballroom with a polished marble floor, walls of firm stone, and a ceiling which rose as tall as the second floor. From the ceiling hung a dazzling chandelier, glistening in the flickering light of a wooden fireplace. Old portraits of men and women hung on both of the walls, presumably family members of the mansion's owner.
"Shall we join the other guests?" Harlan asked after he allowed us to observe the ballroom for a few moments.
"We'd love to," Jacob responded before I could open my mouth. Harlan led us through the middle door along the right wall. The large slab of oak creaked as he pushed it open. We walked into a room with the same marble flooring, but instead of walls there were bookshelves that reached to the ceiling. In the center of the room stood a strong table made of red oak with four other guests, three men and a woman standing around it. All three of the men wore sharp suits of differing colors and had freshly groomed hair. The woman was nearly identical to me. Her shiny brown hair was straightened and flowed down past her slender shoulders, her skin was crisply tan, and she wore a dress radiantly displaying stripes of all the colors of the rainbow and rose slightly above her knees. My dress was the same style as hers, but was entirely sapphire in color.
"Our final guests, Jacob and Madison, have arrived," Harlan announced to the others. They all smiled at us. Jacob mingled with the three other men, so I decided to approach the woman, who didn't appear to be much older than I was. We stood eye to eye with each other, despite the fact that she was wearing tall heels and I wasn't.
"Hello, I'm Madison," I said as I shook her hand, it was tiny and cold.
"Scarlett," she responded. "My date is the man in the blue suit, Zach."
"Where are the dates for the other two men?" I asked as I observed them.
"James and Timothy? Actually, they came here together. I was under the impression that we were all supposed to bring a significant other, but apparently they didn't receive that memo."
"I see," I replied as I turned my attention back toward Scarlett. "Do you know why this party is being thrown?"
"I haven't the slightest clue. Zach and I hadn't talked for a couple years, but he needed to find to date at the last minute. Naturally, I could hardly resist making an appearance," Scarlett said with a wry smile.
Three tings rang through the library from behind me. I turned around to see Harlan standing by the door with an empty wine glass and silver spoon in his hands. "If you all would be so kind, let's make way for the dining room so that you can enjoy some delicious appetizers before our host arrives."
"Speaking of which," Timothy said as he approached the butler. "Who is our host and why were we invited to this get together with strangers?"
"I'm nothing more than a servant to my master. He has wished that his identity and intentions for this evening remain confidential until he arrives."