The music, provided by a string quartet, quivered on the air as much an accompaniment to the meal as the fine red wine. Standing at the door as if surveying a conquered city, the last diner arriving embarrassingly late, his hawk-like expression seemingly oblivious to it.
Between the tables, like supply ships visiting islands, waiters moved silently over the plush depths of the carpet. One detached himself from the flotilla to speak to the dark-haired gentleman , with an almost obsequious haste. Lydia decided this must be the mysterious Colonel Jermaine about whom everyone seemed to have so much to say, but apparently only behind their hands not to his face. She watched, curiously as the waiter led him across the dining room, then lost sight of them both as the table next to her was served.
Each table, discreetly placed to appear neither isolated nor too close to its neighbour, glinted and sparkled as the light of the crystal candelabra reflected on the silver service, the exquisite glassware and the plentiful and prominent jewellery worn by the ladies. From her lonely seat in the corner, Lydia noticed the conversation seemed to be sparkling too, causing short barks of manly laughter and softer feminine mirth.
“I see this seat is not taken.” The tone was matter-of-fact and definitely not a question.
Lydia looked up into the tiercel eyes of the dark-haired man and suddenly wished with fervour that she had accepted the offer of the Forsythes’ to attend another of their dreadful dinner parties that evening.