Elizabeth had just moved to Boston a couple of months before to give this new teaching job a shot, and to be closer to her boyfriend Felix. Unfortunately, that didn't turn out well and just 5 weeks after her move, they split. Having Ann for a roommate wasn't a problem since she'd known her since college. She is a good roommate and a nice person but she needs to learn a few life lessons. Pete, Ann's not so savvy new boyfriend, would hang out at the house on a daily basis and raid the fridge every hour. All he brought in was beer and condoms. Pete comes across as a quiet guy but once you get to know him he's ... let's just say that he's not wrapped too tight. Ann was into him because there was one area in which he didn't lack any talent, by her account. However, that's another story.
It all started on a rainy and very windy Thursday night in October. Ann and her less than mediocre boyfriend Pete were out watching a movie at the local cinema. Elizabeth had just made some popcorn and sat down to watch a movie. She was grateful for the quiet alone time. It wasn't everyday she had the living room all to herself, free of Pete and his empty beer can collection. She took a nice hot shower, put on some warm pajamas and her pink terry cloth slippers and found her favorite spot on the couch.
Half way through her movie, she heard the keys in the door.
"Oh God. Already? I can't take another night of ridiculously loud laughing and even louder sex." She thought.
"Hey Liz. What are you watching?" Ann greeted her between giggles.
"I'm watching 'What Women Want'."
"Good movie. Mel Gibson is old but still so hot." She said to Pete. "Not as hot as you though, babe." She kissed him.
Elizabeth rolled her eyes and made a puke face at the comment.
"What happened? I thought you guys were gonna go watch a movie."
"We were going to but there was nothing good playing."
"Oh ok. Well, I'm kinda tired. I'm gonna go to bed." Elizabeth decided if she fell asleep early she would get in a little sleep before their little bedroom symphony woke her up from again.
Pete whispered something to Ann.
"Oh right. What are you doing on Saturday, Liz?"
"Nothing I can think of. What's on Saturday?"
"Oh, right. Well I was gonna go to a party with Felix but ... it would be awkward if I showed up so, I think I'll stay home and hand out candy."
"Oh well Pete and his friends are having a party and his friend David's house. You're more than welcome to come along."
David was a 43 year old biker that still lived with his mother and for some strange reason always had sweaty hands and smelled of eggs ... or was it cheese.
"Oh ... thanks. I'll think about it."
With that she made her way to her room and lay down in hopes of falling asleep quickly.
She heard him whisper by her ear followed by a soft warm hand across her cheek.
I've waited so long for you, my love. I've hungered for your soft skin all these years.
She felt his hand leave her face and move down her neck.
Finally you've back to me. I've been lost without you.
A faint smell of roses lingered in the air.
Let us be how we once were ... long ago.
His hand traveled down between her breasts and over her stomach. She felt the pressure of his lips on her neck and the touch of his hand just below her belly button. She tried to open her eyes but found it difficult. He gently pulled at the string on her pants till they came loose. Her breathing seemed louder. He kissed along her collar bone and his hand moved into her pants. As he kissed his way back up her neck to her ear, his fingers found her sensitive spot...
She jumped up in a start at the sound of falling objects and a banging headboard. Was that just a dream? It felt so real to her. Even if it was, who was that man? She realized she was still breathing a bit hard. She felt hot and her pulse was a bit elevated. Looking over to her night stand, the alarm clock read 3:04am. She got up to get some water and hoped Ann and Pete were almost done. As she passed Ann's room she could have sworn she heard growling ... followed by meowing?? She rolled her eyes and made her way to the kitchen. Turning the light on, she opened the fridge and as she grabbed a bottle of water she noticed that the string at her pants was undone. She smiled at the funny coincidence. Taking a sip of water she heard something coming from the other end of the room. Looking over to the front door, she saw something on the floor. As she picked it up she wondered who could have left it so late. She opened the door but there was no one out there. Her name was skillfully written in beautiful script across the front. Closing the door, she turned it over, untied the lace bow holding it shut and looked inside:
You are cordially invited to attend a masquerade ball
This Saturday, October the 31st
300 Turner Street, Salem
It will be a night to remember.
Apart from the lace and the parchment it was written on, it was quite a plain invitation. She also noticed that there was no name, number or time listed. Suddenly she felt a touch at her shoulder.
"Ahh!" She jumped and spun.
"Whoa! Sorry. I didn't mean to scare you." Ann stood there in her robe. "What are you doing up?"
"I just came to get some water."
"Yeah me too." Ann looked at her. "Are you ok?"
"Yeah, I'm ok. Hey have you ever heard of a place called Fillmore Mansion in Salem?"
"Fillmore Mansion ... Oh yeah. It's that big old house at the end of Turner Street. Just down the block from Corwin House where the old judge from the witch trials lived. Why do you ask?"
"Umm ... I thought I heard something about a party there for Halloween."
"Oh well, that's weird."
"Why is that weird?" Liz wondered holding the invitation just behind her.
"That house has been boarded up for years."
Well, yeah. I heard some story about the old judge's son and a double suicide and something about a girl. I don't remember exactly. Supposedly it's been boarded up ever since. I think the city bought it and is turning into a retirement home or something like that."
"Oh ok. Well, I'm gonna head back to bed. I have an early meeting before the students come in. Goodnight." She slipped past her.
Lying in bed she wondered about this mysterious invitation. How did they know her name? Why invite her and not Ann? Was this a joke? Was this mansion really boarded up? She had to find out.
After work the following day, Elizabeth got in her car and started for Salem. She couldn't stop thinking of that strange invitation. There was something interesting and almost eerie about the whole thing. She had to at least see it. After a few wrong turns and a nice person with good directions, she turned onto Turner Street. Just down the block she was stopped by a construction roadblock. A man walked up to the drivers' side window as she rolled it down.
"I'm sorry ma'am, this road is being repaved."
"I was looking for 300 Turner Street. Is it down that way?"
"Yes actually it is but, you may want to double check that address. I don't think you could possibly be looking for that house."
"Why do you say that?"
"Hey Billy, gimme a hand over here will ya," yelled another worker in an orange vest and a hard hat.
"I'm coming! Sorry ma'am. Have a nice day." He said walking back.
On the drive home she couldn't help but keep thinking about what this house must look like. Why would she get an invitation to a party at a boarded up house? It looked like a big party by the look of the invitation, elegant as well. It was kind of a short notice thing ... but then again she did have that red 18th century costume dress she was going to wear for Felix to that other Halloween party. Maybe she should go. No ... not maybe. She was definitely going.
The next afternoon, Ann got ready extremely early for her party. Pete picked her up looking like a dirty pirate, fake parrot and all. Ann left looking like a stripper dressed as a cop. She was glad more than ever that she wasn't going with them. When asked once more if she would go, she faked a migraine and said she'd just hand out some candy and watch a scary movie later on. Once they were gone she started to get ready for the mystery party.
No matter what, Elizabeth wanted to try and have a good time at this party. Regardless of the fact that she didn't know anyone. Her costume was a deep red of a soft silky material that sat just off of her shoulders accentuating her bare neck and collarbone. It was tight in the torso with the aide of a black corset. Her breasts seemed weightless as the mounds slightly peaked over the front of her dress. She wore black thigh high stocking held up by black garters and a black thong, which she planned on initially wearing for Felix. He always loved seeing her long slightly muscular legs in stockings and garters. Maybe someone else would see them tonight. With that thought in mind she smiled to herself as she applied her subtle yet effective makeup with a little blush on her already tanned chest. She had pinned her hair back and let most of it fall in big loose bouncing curls behind her. Stepping into her high heels and completing the outfit, she looked in the mirror and smiled. Looking every bit the 18th century heart breaker, she made her way to her car.
Turning onto Turner Street, it seemed somewhat foggier than normal. Finding it very hard to see the road ahead, she saw an open spot on the street and decided to park and walk the one block to Fillmore Mansion. She could barely see her hand in front of her face through the thick fog. Taking small steps down the street she sees a faint red light up ahead. As she nears a very large black gate the fog seems to lift enough to see the plaque on the front of it. It read: Fillmore Mansion. Just before pushing on the gate, it began to slowly creak open.
"Must be one of those automatic things." She thought.
Walking up to the house, she noticed that it wasn't a rundown boarded house at all. It was a very well kept old style mansion. Everyone must have been mistaken. She took a look around as she walked up the path to the enormous front door. There was a layer of mist that lay above the ground all around her. The lights around the property coupled with this mysterious swirling mist added a spooky feel to this old home. Walking up the few steps to the door, it swung open and a woman dressed as a maid greeted her.
"Please come in. We've been expecting you." She said as she closed the door behind her.
"You have?" Elizabeth asked, surprised to hear she'd been expected. She had never responded to the invitation. She couldn't.
Ignoring her questions, the woman guided her just inside to the foyer. The inside of the mansion was beautiful. Two gorgeous staircases rose on either side of her, both leading up to the second floor. Beyond that it was difficult to see. The mansion was lit by candlelight alone. Looking above, there was a chandelier about the size of her car covered with lit candles illuminating the entrance. Beautiful portraits that she could only assume were of the people who lived here or of their family decorated the walls that followed the steps upward. However, they seemed blurred to her from where she stood.
"Please wait here. He will be with you in just a moment."
"He? Who's he?" She questioned, but the woman simply smiled and walked away.
Elizabeth started to think that maybe this wasn't such a good idea. She slowly turned to walk towards the door.
"I hope you're not planning on leaving ... Elizabeth."
That voice ... familiar somehow. She turned to look. There, half way down the right steps stood a man, dressed in what looked like an 18th century period suit of black and white, slightly resembling a modern day tuxedo but much more elegant and without the bowtie. Elizabeth found it difficult to speak at the sight of him. He was of fair skin, golden hair that he wore long. She could see his bright sky blue eyes from where she stood. They seemed to go right through her and hold her still. The mere sight of them and his incredible smile made the heat rise from beneath her dress and added a light touch of pink to her chest and cheeks. She fought the urge to shudder. He walked up to her, stared deep into her eyes, took her hand in his and brought it up to his lips. She hadn't realized she was holding her breath till she felt his soft lips on the back of her hand.
"How did you know my name?" Elizabeth said, finding her voice again.
"I make it a habit to know the name of all my guests."
"You're guests? This is your home?"
"Patrick Fillmore. And the pleasure, I assure you my lady, is all mine."
She smiled at him. She seemed almost hypnotized by him.
He effortlessly put her arm in his and guided her to a smaller adjacent room. Once inside he released her arm.
"This way madam." A woman called her over to a table.
Looking back to Patrick, she noticed that he was gone.
"Come." The lady's voice came again
Elizabeth followed the woman to a table with short black masks that only covered part of the face and feathers of a wide range of colors.
"Please, choose one."
"I'm sorry. This is my first masquerade and I'm afraid I don't know the rules."
"It's quite simple, my dear. You select a mask of the shape of your choice along with a feather of the color of your choice as well. There's two of each, as you can see. The night is spent in conversation among all with each individual's identity a secret. Throughout the course of the night, you are able to seek out the feather that matches yours and hopefully make a friend. From there you are free to reveal your true self if you so choose. We invite you to also walk the grounds and do as you will. However the upstairs rooms are off limits."
"I see. Interesting."
"It adds a little mystery to who you are and also makes everyone comfortable to converse freely. We hope our guests come away with a few friends and a memorable experience at the end of the night."
"I don't see how it could be anything less." She smiled.
Elizabeth chose a black mask and a deep red feather to match her dress. A young man came to her side and walked her through a set of doors that opened up to a large room where there stood several dozen people, men and women all in exquisitely impeccable period attire. The young man bowed slightly and returned through the doors closing them behind him.
Elizabeth spent the next couple of hours speaking with many polite and very friendly men and women. She was even able to enjoy a few drinks. She was grateful that no one spoke of political of current events matters. She didn't want this night to be tied to her everyday life. Tonight almost seemed like a dream she didn't want to wake from. Every woman smiled and all the men laid kisses upon their hands. She blended in and felt strangely at home.