There’s a Party – 2

Suggested play: Marjaani – Billu Barber

The bigger the event, the more things that could go wrong. And events this big made Soo-bin wish she had kept her old job as a programmer. Deadlines were killers, but at least she didn’t have to wear heels or style her long hair.

She also didn’t have to worry about people she’d hired showing up only to be denied access to the building. “This is Finnegan Murphy, one of the PGs I hired.”

Guard Baker raised an eyebrow. “Professional guest? This guy?”

The affronted expression on Mr Murphy’s face was rather amusing, but not something that she could afford to leave unsoothed. Soo-bin ignored the guards and greeted Mr Murphy with a hostess’s smile.

He was younger than she remembered. All the better, of course. He took her hands and they kissed one another’s cheeks like aristocrats.

“You’ll fit right in,” she whispered, as warmly as was possible at such a low volume.

In that vein, she took his arm and led him into the lobby. The decorators had gone beyond the call of paycheck, with vases borrowed from a royal summer house stuffed to brimming with white and red roses. Similar fake flowers wove round every pillar.

It almost distracted from the camera crews setting up. There were cords everywhere. Soo-bin prayed that they would have it all cleared up before some poor woman in stilettos tripped and broke a bone.

Mr Murphy said nothing as she whisked him through the lobby. A good sign. He had done this before, but she didn’t want to bank on anything. PGs were a minor element of the ball. Yet even a rat could drown a nation.

So she made up for his silence. “This will obviously be a little different from other parties you have previously, er, attended.”

“I read the letter you sent me,” he said. “People will be here hoping for a royal romance–”

“A date with Prince Matteus.”

“Right. So I’ll be sort of junior guard. If someone gets too handsy with his Highness, I intervene politely or inform a real guard if it looks dangerous.”

She pressed her lips together, trying not to smile. “Well put. The rest is much the same as any other soiree. Flaunt your looks, keep your distance, and don’t drink too much.”

They stopped just shy of the east entrance of the main ballroom. Its intimidating wooden doors were shut.

Mr Murphy gave a shallow bow, one hand over his chest. “I’ll do my best.”

“As will we all. At least you can drink.” Before opening the door to allow him in, Soo-bin leaned in and whispered, “Do have a southern comfort for me.”

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