Another couple made it into the party. Only one more to go. The majordomo was checking invitations quite carefully. She hoped Hannibal’s forgery stood up to the scrutiny. Scipio turned to her again.
“Miss, I couldn’t help but notice you don’t have an escort to the party.”
Dido gave his disguise a more careful examination. She told herself she was being thorough as her eyes lingered a little on how well his upper body filled out his tight shirt. The watchman shifted from foot to foot again under her gaze.
“You’re my bodyguard,” she said.
“I was just hoping I could walk in with you,” Scipio said.
“No one will believe you’re my date dressed like that.”
“Is it that bad?” Scipio grinned as he looked down.
“It’s a bit worse than that,” she said. “But you’re believable as a bodyguard.”
“Aren’t you going to ask what I’m doing here?”
“Are you saying I can’t put my trust in you?” she asked.
“No. Of course you can,” Scipio said. “I just don’t want you to worry. I have an invitation.”
Dido wondered what kind of favors Scipio had to call in to get an invite to a fancy party like this one. She couldn’t have managed it, hence the forgery.
“Don’t tell me anything more. Leave me guessing. These parties are so frightfully dull, maybe a little intrigue will add some spice.”
Dido did her best bored rich girl impression. She didn’t want the officer to think there were any dangerous thoughts bouncing around her pretty little head. The last couple in front of them made it through the gauntlet and they took a long step in unison to the majordomo.
The majordomo was dressed in an impossibly white shirt that had more ruffles than Dido’s dress and long, puffy sleeves. A wide, forest green sash crossed his chest. The size of his clothes contrasted the pencil thin moustache that hovered over his top lip. He was about the same height as Dido, which meant he was dwarfed by Officer Scipio, but he still managed to look down his nose at the both of them. Scipio for the state of his costume, and Dido for daring to associate with one so poorly dressed.
He spent an extra minute pouring over their invitations, but as soon as he started, Dido knew Hannibal’s forgery would pass. The majordomo was putting on a show more than anything. It was obvious he didn’t know what to look for to spot a fake. It was probably a ploy to make the guests think the party was more exclusive.
When the couple behind them started to make impatient snorts, the majordomo had no choice but to let them into the party. To his credit, Scipio held out his arm just like a real gentlemen as they reached the steps. Dido took the arm and walked into the grand entrance hall. Normally beautiful, the huge space had been transformed for the party. A magical ballroom of crystal chandeliers and multicolored candles filled her eyes.
Even more wonderful were the costumes. Silk, velvet, and satin flashed in all the colors of the rainbow as dancers shot across the floor in whatever dance was currently in fashion. Even many of the men had left behind their traditional black and grey suits. Powder blue, red, white, and even a frightfully bright green were all visible.