Meldrew and Marigold exchanged bemused looks.
‘This must be number 33,’ Meldrew couldn’t hide the defensive note creeping in. ‘That last house was definitely number 31 and it’s odd numbers this side.’
Marigold peered at the rectangle of expensive white card. ‘It says 33. Do you think it’s a misprint?’
‘He said we couldn’t miss it.’
‘Yes well that’s true.’ She let her gaze drift to her left and the unprepossessing terraced houses, most in need of some work, and then to her right and a similar terrace which if anything was even more rundown.
Meldrew’s tone had begun to grow uncertain. ‘He said they’d had some work done recently.’
‘Well, building a four story gothic castle with extensive grounds and boundary walls to match and sticking it in the middle of a terrace in Preston possibly stretches the concept of “some work”, but we’ll not know unless we ask.’ She checked her face in the mirror and opened the door.
Meldrew hesitated. ‘Should I leave the car here, do you think?’
Marigold sighed. ‘It’s hardly blocking anything.’
‘No, but… you don’t think it’s a bit shabby?’
‘Oh for pity’s sake Meldrew. It’s only dinner with the Johnsons. It’s not like they’re royalty.’
‘No but… you said they’d changed. Got above themselves.’
Marigold peered through the ornate gate and sniffed. ‘Yes well I meant them ordering gold top milk and her getting her hair done weekly… not this. What did Presley say when he called?’
‘They’d joined this new dining club and it was their turn to host and they wondered if we’d like to be part of it.’ Meldrew pushed at the gate; it creaked open. ‘He said just to come in.’
‘Shouldn’t we knock, let them know we’re here?’
‘He said they’d know.’ Meldrew stepped though the gate and hallooed into the gloom. Torches burst into light and showed a shaking path towards a large ornate wooden front door. Somewhere in the distance a booming voice intoned ‘come’.
Meldrew smiled. ‘See. This is it. That’s Presley. He said they’d organised a light bite first, then we could all neck a few pints – he always liked a pint, did Presley – and then the evening would be underway.’
Marigold ran her finger along a gilded balustrade. ‘His building company must be doing well, if they can afford this lot.’
‘Oh yes. He’s expanded all over Europe. You know, only last year he refurbished a Romanian castle for this Count. Money no object he said though he was kept in the dark for most of the time. Oh…’
‘Nothing. I thought I saw a bat…’
This was written in response to Sue Vincent’s lastest #writephoto prompt, here