"An Unexpected Invitation"
by Daniel Marshall Wood
It lay on the corner of the foyer table, atop mail stacked neatly by the housekeeper, hidden in friendly shadows cast by two small etched crystal lamps, lovely souvenirs of a long-planned Cooperstown jaunt.
Decisive, unhurried calligraphy. ‘Mr. and Mrs. Craighton Hollingsworth’ never looked more beautiful. Heavy ivory bond, worthy of the monogrammed paper knife, an indulgence from St. James’s silver stalls in London. Craig never understood the allure of other people’s monograms.
The flap offered little resistance. Instinctively, fingers traced tiny embossed letters, braille to the socially knowledgeable: MRS. JOHN L STRONG, NEW YORK. Heaven! Definitely worthy of the entwined S F R on beaded-edge sterling.
An engraved house name – PEMBROKE HALL – stood resolutely at the card’s top, presiding over details of a dinner party three weeks hence, hosts unknown, the street vaguely familiar in a nearby village. A thrilling summons in black tie.
Of course they’d attend. Unfamiliar hosts, but dress-up, so they couldn’t possibly be axe murderers amid dashing guests drinking Champagne and tossing off witty rejoinders in an unforgettable evening.
What to wear? Unquestionably grandmother’s black velvet and her pearls. So simple, à la Audrey Hepburn in the 60s. No one could fault that look. Craighton’s tuxedo long awaited a social opportunity. Yes, heaven!
Craig had been reluctant, unable to risk, even as it beckoned engraved. Shamefully, their regrets had not been sent last fall. Edwina replaced the envelope in her dressing table drawer, still wondering if that had been the right decision.
[Daniel Marshall Wood leads a double life – as proprietor of Edgefield bed and breakfast in Sharon Springs, New York, and as an executive assistant in New York City. He has written umpteen short stories (several published on the Internet magazines Reflection’s Edge, T-Zero, Crime and Suspense and HandHeld Crime, and an upcoming issue of Silver Moon.). Daniel has also written several plays and a manuscript on how to start and run a B&B. He is twin to the five-minutes-older David Michael, a New York interior decorator.]