The party bored Jay to tears. Everyone who was anyone had shown up and people absolutely swarmed the mansion. Nobles were everywhere, though Jay would have used the term very lightly with this crowd. He knew most of them, and noble wasn't the first on his list of words for the lot of them. Stifling a yawn, he simply hung back, more content to simply observe.
Not too far away, Mary Price, a well-known socialite, attempted to woo Jay's nephew—a handsome young man of eighteen. Jay chuckled to himself, quite happy to watch the older woman seduce a man who would make horrendous faces behind her back while Jay watched.
If he had to choose the life of the party, it would be William. Jay's nephew was a brilliant, strapping young man with his head in politics—precisely the reason, among others, that Jay was simply holding the lands and titles for him. For himself, Jay just wanted a normal life.
As he scanned the room once more, Jay spotted one lone, young man hovering near the open balcony doors. From the indecisive look on the man's face, it was clear he might be attempting an escape. He also seemed to be the only one in the entire room wearing jeans. Short, curly blond hair caught the light from the chandeliers above, and silver flicks of light danced in his hair with the movement of his head.
To say that Jay was intrigued would have been an understatement. He wasn't sure if it was the look of sheer boredom on the man's face, or the almost sinfully tight jeans. Whatever it was, he moved toward the man before he'd even realized it.
"Good evening," he said, offering his hand.
For a brief moment, the stranger appeared startled, as though caught doing something he shouldn't. The look faded as a bit of a smile took its place. Taking hold of Jay's hand, he shook it firmly before releasing it. "Hello.Would it be rude to ask who you are?"
Jay smiled in earnest for the first time all day. "Jay Alistair. And you?"
"Devon Brooks. I can't remember any of the names I heard today. But my mother thinks these people are important enough for me to exert myself."
Cocking his head to the side, Jay asked, "Do you drink?"
"Well, where I come from, I'm not of legal drinking age, but I guess I am here."
"How old are you?" Jay asked pointedly.
"Nineteen. Why?" Giving him a quizzical look, Devon shrugged slightly.
"Excellent." Setting his wine glass on a nearby table, Jay turned back to Devon and leaned close, whispering conspiratorially in his ear. "There's a pub just outside of town. Join me? I'll buy you a pint or two. You look about as out of place here as I feel."
Dev glanced quickly over his shoulder. He nodded, looking a great deal relieved. "You're the only one to approach me without my mother having to drag you. Yeah, I'm really out of place and could use a drink or two."
Taking a quick look around, Jay spotted his mother. She was thoroughly engrossed in a five-way conversation. Smirking, he looked back at Devon. "Follow me. We'll use the cook's entrance; otherwise, we're likely to be spotted."
He headed for a door off to the side, almost hidden by an ornate, white marble column. With a quick glance around, he opened the door and held it for Dev.
Following silently behind this new but far more interesting gentleman, Dev slipped through the doorway. The whole time his eyes had been on his mother, hoping she wouldn't notice him taking off. Closing the door, Jay let out what sounded like a sigh of relief.
"We'll go through the kitchen. The cooks won't say anything."
He led the way down the short hall to the kitchen, which was bustling and hectic. People were everywhere, scrambling to get the food and drinks out to the guests in the main ballroom. Sneaking silently into the kitchen, Jay stayed near the far right wall, nodding here and there before tugging open a heavy wooden door.
"After you," he said with a grin.
"I'll probably pay for this later, you know?" Dev headed outside. A part of him felt a bit guilty about it, but he was having fun.
"So will I," Jay said as he closed the door behind them, "especially if my mum finds out."