“Welcome to Stately Manor”, boomed Mr Statelys’ voice from the top of the banister, “congratulations on being the chosen few to join us for quite the opportunity.”
The guests all glanced at each other, none of them recognised each other but all of them were there for the same reason.
“My wife, Mrs. Stately and I have put together this little” Mr Stately waived his hands in a circular motion, “soirée in order to find a worthy successor to the Stately fortune”
Mr and Mrs Stately floated down the stairs to meet their guests who were huddled together at the entrance of their grand lobby. They looked at each guest and gestured for them to speak, each in turn.
“Um, hey. I’m Annalise and I’m an alcoholic” Annalise nervously chuckled and muttered under her breath “that’ll teach me to try and be funny.” She felt 5 pairs of eyes bore into her skull. “Sorry, its Annalise Gleason. I’m, I mean, I was, a forensic scientist for the Willow Creek PD. You’ll have recently heard about the move of the Special Victims Unit to Simville Metro?” she looked eagerly at the group, hoping one of them would nod in acknowledgement. “Yeah, well I’m now a waitress at the Coffee Bean”
Before she could continue the man to her left butt in; “Hey, haven’t I seen you at the juice bar at Movers & Shakers?”
Annalise sighed, “yeah, that would be me! As well as being the number one coffee barista, I’m also the lucky girl who gets to keep all the gym bunnies hydrated. My career is really on the ups. Next, please” she rolled her eyes and then stared hard at the floor.
“Wonderful sweetheart. Thank you for starting us off” Mr Stately over exaggerated his arm movements once more.
“I may as well go next, eh” the man winked at Annalise, she cringed. “The name’s Godat, Marco Godat. I’m the man you come to see for all your pre-loved motor needs. It’s like I always say, why go new when you can go you?”
“Oh, please” the woman in the corner muttered louder than she meant to, Annalise stifled a chuckle.
Marco threw her a dirty look and continued. “Look, I might be a bit older than what you’re looking for Mr Stately but I can assure you I have a good head on my shoulders, especially for numbers and as you can see I’ve definitely got the gift of the gab and undeniable charm and charisma. Here, you should all take my card” Marco fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a jumble of cards, spilling crumbled up tissues in his wake.
“Thank you for the card, sir. Who’s next” Mr Statelys’ voice rang out, putting an end to the tittering of Annalise and the woman who sassed Marco.
“How about you, young man?” it was the first time the group heard Mrs Statelys’ voice. She was much more softer spoken than her husband.
“Me? Oh, hello. It’s Kristopher” he muttered quietly.
“Speak up boy, I’m an old man!” Mr Stately responded, giving the group an inkling on why he spoke so loudly.
“Kristopher,” repeated the young man slightly louder than he intended, as his voice carried through the large entrance hall Annalise noticed the tips of his ears turn bright red. “I prefer Kris though,” you could see him cursing himself for not just saying his name was Kris in the first place, “I’m not from here.”
“No kidding,” the unintroduced woman nudged Annalise and motioned her heard over to Kris with a wry smile on her face.
Kris continued, “I moved here 2 weeks ago, my parents, well” Annalise could see the pain in his eyes and offered a kind smile. “They’re dead. They died. Both of them.”
“Oh, you poor boy,” Mrs Stately reached out and touched Kris’ arm, he looked up at her and smiled.
“That’ll be enough of that Maria,” Mr Stately responded curtly, “can’t have you being accused of playing favourites here”
Kristopher opened his mouth to continue talking but Mr Stately got in there first, “What about you then?” he motioned for everyone to look over at the last guest to introduce themselves.
“Lena Myrick. Look, Mr Stately,” she started, “I don’t have any sob stories or funny anecdotes to share with you. You put an ad in the paper looking for volunteers to come and spend the week in your massive house, with the offer of one of us becoming the new head of your company. That’s a big chunk of change that I couldn’t pass up for my kids so can we please, just get on with this?”
A grin grew on Mr Statelys’ face, “as you wish Ms. Myrick, straight to the point”
Mrs Stately turned and Mr Stately ushered the group to follow her. She entered the living room of their home. Annalise looked around in wonder, she looked at the group and could see the same looks wash across all their faces.
“Jesus, this room is bigger than my whole damn house” Lana exclaimed, “I take it it’s just you two here?”
“Yes, dear” it was Mrs Stately who answered, “James and I don’t have children…” she tailed off.
“The help,” Mr Stately was facing their large fireplace as he responded, “Its myself, Mrs Stately and the help. That’s all we need really”
The group all exchanged nervous looks and there was an uncomfortable silence that stretched on a lot longer than anyone wanted it to.
Mr Stately turned on his heel and headed back the way they had just come, “please follow me and I’ll show you all to your rooms” with that, he disappeared into the entrance hall and the group quickly followed suit. Annalise turned to see Mrs Stately looking wistfully into the flames of the fireplace before quickening her pace to catch up with the rest of the group.
Next: Chapter Two