Cat turned back one last time and caught a glimpse of their cab leaving. There was nowhere else to run.
Shelly took her by the arm and almost dragged her inside.
They were both speechless. They both stood there, looking up at the most beautiful carved wooden staircase Cat had ever seen. In the center of the ceiling up above was a giant crystal chandelier, its light refracting and dancing around on the walls and parquet floor below.
A waiter arrived seconds later, offering them a glass of champagne.
Shelly emptied her glass immediately, but Cat wasn’t much of a drinker. She sipped it slowly, and tried to take in as much as she could of the lush interior. This mansion didn’t belong to some footballer, or other nouveau-riche celebrity. The place screamed old money.
As luxurious as it looked, it was tasteful.
Within minutes of their arrival, Shelly couldn’t resist the pull of the festivities, and Cat found herself alone. She didn’t mind. The champagne was lovely, refreshing with just a hint of citrus, and if Cat was left completely to her own devices, the decor alone would keep her entertained all evening.
Cat gazed at the staircase again. What wonders awaited up there? If she wasn’t polite to a fault, she would have been tempted to check it out. She wouldn’t, though. Not unless he was invited to.
Her eyes settled on a painting of a man on horseback that hung on the left hand wall closer to ground level. She squinted to get a better look; it seemed old, probably expensive just like everything else in here. But that wasn’t what had attracted her gaze. The hunting scene looked just like the standard fare you found in country houses and palaces around the country, except the man was dressed completely in black.
She felt a chill pass down her spine as she focused on his face. His dark eyes gave the impression of being alive as he seemed to stare down at her. How handsome he was. He would have had a striking presence back in the day with his sharp jawline, impossibly flawless skin, and dark medium length hair.
If she found nothing else of interest here—which was unlikely—this one painting could captivate her for hours. That was how lifelike it looked.
Cat had to admit Shelly had been right: she’d never been to a place or a party quite like this one before.
Lorelei Moone is an up-and-coming author of paranormal romance based in London. A lover of all things sweet, and caffeinated, when she’s not writing about sexy bear shifters and their strong-willed curvaceous love interests, Lorelei can be found baking cookies or cakes for her family.