This is for the word prompt: INTRODUCE
and also the Word Prompt: MIRROR
and also the Word Prompt: DREAM
This story also teams up two characters that I created in a previous collection of stories I wrote called Death of a Notable.
See here for the first one if you want to read more:
Audrey Patterson arrived at the Dorchester and presented her invitation to the military looking gentleman at the door.
As the entered she couldn’t help but stop to check her appearance in the large mirror.
She was wearing one of Dior’s new look gowns, a flowing but suitably demure concoction in dark plum. It was similar to something Princess Margaret had worn a few months ago for the Debutante’s ball but being much younger, hers had been off the shoulder. Audrey was getting too old to kid herself that an off the shoulder gown would suit her tall and willowy frame. She had now passed the mark of sixty and though she wasn’t one to dwell on age, she had to make a few concessions to it.
This was a private function given by the American embassy for people who had helped the war effort. She herself hadn’t been much use, but her husband had been one of the top scientists working for the British government and it was in his honour that she had been invited. He had been knighted in the Kings honours list but both he and the king died the following year. Now she was left with the title of Lady and her memories of her dear, devoted and loving husband. She still would dream of him, quite frequently although it had been three years now since his death.
As she walked into a crowded room, surrounded by a good deal of the elite, the wife of the ambassador glided gracefully over to her. Her name was Martha Van Allen and she was a full-bodied woman wrapped in a very expensive gold trimmed velvet dress. Her grey hair was styled exquisitely above her head that just reached Audrey’s chin. She held out a white-gloved hand.
“Charmed you could make it Lady Patterson. My Husband is here somewhere, but I can’t see him at the moment. Please let me introduce you to someone I think you’d enjoy talking to. He’s English. An ex-chief of police, you know. Ah, there he is.”
Mrs Van Allen firmly guided her over to a man in a dinner suit that didn’t look entirely comfortable in it. His hair and moustache were completely white, but she recognised him none the less. She thought how long it had been since they had last met. Could it be ten years? No, now she thought about it, it had to be nearer twenty.
“Sir Alfred Thorpe, may I introduce you to Lady Audrey Patterson, wife of the late Sir Jeremy Patterson, the scientist. Sir Alfred was the chief of police for London at the end of the war.”
With her introduction carried out and her duties over, Martha Van Allen glided like a ship of war through the sea of dignitaries leaving the two guests smiling at each other.
Audrey was the one to interrupt the silence.
“So, Chief of Police for London, that’s a lofty title. You were only an Inspector when I last saw you. How many years ago was that?”
“Oh far too many to count, my dear. My correct title was actually Commissioner of the Metropolitan police, but you can’t expect the Yanks to understand our peculiar system can you? I was only in the post for two years at the end of the war. So Lady Patterson is it now?”
“Yes, Jeremy was Knighted just a year before he died. It is nice to have the title, but I’d rather have my husband back and no title. I remember the last time we met it was after that young scientist died at that dinner party. I was a suspect then, wasn’t I? You know I was never happy about that. State secrets and everything, but where was the justice?”
“No, I share your displeasure that the whole affair. I’m sorry about the way it ended, but I couldn’t do anything else at the time.”
“I didn’t know there was a spy ring involved. When those two spies, Burgess and Maclean disappeared and the newspapers all said they’d gone to Moscow, I couldn’t help thinking that it had something to do with what happened all those years ago. Then Dolly Winthrop disappeared after her husband died of alcohol poisoning and they said she’d gone off to Moscow too. I should have known, you know. She wore red far too frequently. Should have been a dead give away.” Her voice held a touch of humour and the glimmer in her eye said that she was fully aware that her comment was just a trifle silly.
“It has been a great pleasure to see you again Lady Patterson, after all these years. I think our hostess is keen on us circulating a bit more. She’s looking over here with quite a frown on her face.”
Audrey looked over and indeed saw Martha Van Allen glaring at them from over by the buffet table.
Audrey shook hands with the man she’d always think of as Inspector Thorpe.
“I suppose we should mingle. Please now, don’t be a stranger. My address is 37 Lorrimer Park Crescent, Chelsea. Drop by any time.”
With that, the two figures parted and began speaking to more of the assembled notables.
Audrey wondered to herself why she’d invited him to call. She certainly never expected he would. But he did, and under the most peculiar circumstances too.
But that’s another story.