The party was full of strangers. Each one more beautiful than the next.

Todd brought Linda over to a group of people standing by the tall windows overlooking the garden. She was first introduced to a blond-haired couple, both dressed in white: the man in a white tuxedo and the woman in a long white gown.
“Linda, these are my close friends from England, Duke
Alan Rutherford and his wife, Duchess Amy Rutherford. They came in for Diane’s party—as did everyone else in this room.”
The duke bowed to Linda while the duchess bowed her head in greeting. They held themselves stiff and erect like proper English nobility. The duchess displayed ruby jewelry around her elegant neck and wrists. Linda even noticed sparkling rubies nestled among the blonde strands of her long wavy hair.
“You old fox, you finally found a woman that you could introduce to us,” the duke said as he nudged Todd with his elbow. The duke was tall and handsome with blond hair and dark-green eyes. He kept a watchful eye on all the guests: he was laughing with Todd, but his eyes never left the dance floor.
While Todd grimaced in reply, the duchess walked over to Linda and whispered, “They are very old friends who love to tease each other…. Just ignore them.”
Linda smiled at her in response. The duchess seemed to be very pleasant and cheerful.
Next Todd led her to a dark-haired couple, who were standing off to the side, listening to their conversation.
“Come meet Count Vladimir and Countess Leona Stravinsky. They are from Russia.”
This remark brought a dark scowl to Vladimir’s face. At first Linda had found him scary, but now with the scowl he seemed positively terrifying. Vladimir and his wife had perfectly chiseled features, tall lean bodies, and luscious dark hair; but all their beauty didn’t at all improve upon their icy cold demeanors. Linda nodded hello and then moved back to the duchess.
The last couple walked over to introduce themselves. The tall, broad-shouldered man spoke with a heavy accent. “We are happy to meet you. I am John von Strobe and this is my wife, Caroline. We have come from Romania.”
The woman spoke with the same accent. “We are happy to meet a friend of Todd’s. We have known him for many years and have never before met any of his friends.”
Linda said, “Thank you…I love your accents. Were you both born in Romania?”
The woman smiled. “Yes…however, I was born to a farmer and John was born to nobility.”
Linda was impressed. “Should I be bowing?”
“Oh no!” said Caroline. “We are very down to earth people and expect no special treatment from our friends. No one ever calls us Baron or Baroness.”
Linda hoped that she hadn’t insulted them. But they were still smiling at her. John had such a beautiful face, with blue eyes that sparkled mischievously, while his wife had gorgeous black hair and dark-blue eyes. What a beautiful couple.

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