Location: Columbia University → The Cross Hotel Manhattan
Harvey Rayner took one more look in the mirror before leaving his dorm. He was about to pick up his date for the evening, an Ophelia Bergman. They had only known each other since the beginning of the semester, but they seemed to hit it off pretty well. Seeing that his suit was in good order, along with his face and hair, Harvey grabbed his wallet and car keys and exited the room. Once he left the building, he clicked the “unlock” button on his car key remote, and the lights on a midnight blue Nissan 370-Z flashed. Harvey strolled across the parking lot, entered his car and pulled out of his dorm’s parking space. The drive to Ophelia’s sorority, Delta Gamma, was short and Harvey quickly pulled into a spot close by. After leaving the car and locking the door, Harvey walked to the front door of the sorority, admiring the architecture and landscaping along the way. The grass and bushes were freshly cut and trimmed and the Greek architecture was pleasing to the eye. Harvey ascended the steps and tugged at his jacket before rasping on the door with three, solid blows. A couple of seconds went by before the door slowly began to open inward. A short brunette with light blue eyes and glasses wearing night pants and a tank top answered the door. The girl took one good look at Harvey before smiling and asking,“Hi there, you looking for someone?”“Yes, actually,”
Harvey began replying, “I was looking for Ophelia. She said this was her dorm. She actually may still be-”
Before Harvey could finish, the girl was turning her head and shouting up the stairs, “Hey Ophelia, this guy-”
the girl turned her head back to Harvey. “What’s your name?”“Harvey.”“Harvey’s here to take you somewhere. Probably that party you were talking about!”
Ophelia had just managed to fix her hair as she heard the calling of a familiar voice. ”Give me a minute!”
She called back, quickly grabbing her phone before coming eye to eye with her date for the evening. She gave him a cursory glance from top to bottom before locking eyes. ”Looks good on you.”
She told him with a confident smile. She knew Harvey as a gentleman, and this proved he could also look the part.Her sleeveless black dress fluttered slightly as she walked up closer. Both arms were adorned with thin, golden bracelets that shimmered slightly against the strong light in the hallway. She gave the girl that had let Harvey in a grateful look, then she walked off.
It was very noticeable that the normally tiny girl was quite a bit taller than usual. Luckily this was far from the first party she had attended, so walking on heels was basically second nature to her. Her father had made her go to many parties the moment she came of age. He loved showing off his daughters, and her older sisters had long left the nest by that time. That said, she hoped Harvey would provide better entertainment than her father did.
She closed the distance and latched onto his arm, wrapping hers around his almost nonchalantly. ”Well then, are you ready?”
She laughed softly, expecting Harvey to take the lead now. That was what gentlemen did, right?“Now that you’re here, I am,”
Harvey replied with a grin. Harvey led Ophelia back to his car where he opened the passenger door and allowed her to slide in before shutting it behind her and winding around the car to his own seat. Harvey shut his door, turned on the car, and drove off. The rolling street lights of the Upper East Side started cascading through the windshield soon after exiting the college grounds.
Ophelia looked around the car a bit, noting a very apparent cleanliness. Ophelia wasn’t sure if he was the type to keep it clean, or had made sure to clean it for the occasion. Anyhow, it was always nice to see that someone knew how to make a good impression. ”So, tell me… Have you ever gone to parties like these?”
She asked him, knowing fully well she was the one that invited him. ”These parties can be pretty grandiose… so I don’t want to throw you too much into the deep here.
Harvey took a glance at his date, making a quick note of how lovely she looked in that dress before answering her question, “Actually no. I’ve attended some parties, sure but none like this. I figured if I just kept my head low and did more listening rather than talking this first time, I’d be ok.”
The light they were coming up on started changing to red and Harvey made the car come to a stop before turning to look at Ophelia. “You look amazing, by the way. I especially like that dress.”
She chuckled a little. ”Well, sure. You’d be fine… but at the same time that means you’re missing a great opportunity.”
She explained. ”Every person there is someone. So find the right someone, and you could be set up for life.”
She smirked. ”I know my father employed several people he found at these kinds of parties, says the bright ones know who to seek out and how. You know? So do try to chat up someone if you ever get the chance.”
She smiled sweetly at his compliments. Though she didn’t blush, she was more composed than that. ”That’s so nice of you. Thank you. You look really good as well.”
She glanced at her reflection in the side mirror, quickly checking if everything was still as it should be. This was probably the last chance she got before the party. ’Is the suit new? It looks good on you.”
The light turned green and Harvey’s car was rolling once again. He took a moment to ponder her statement before replying, “I suppose you’ve got a point. If anything does come about from this evening, I’ll have to figure out some way to thank you. Maybe another date,”
Harvey replied with a smirk, “And thank you for the compliment. The suit isn’t quite new, but it’s only a few months old. I try to keep all of my suits looking as good as they can for as long as possible.” Harvey flipped his turn signal on to get on the road that led to their destination.
Harvey was thoroughly excited for the party they were going to. He did prefer the idea of simply listening to everything going on, but the what Ophelia said was true, if his name got to the right person, things could get better. Then again, if he heard the right information, things could be just as well. Regardless, Harvey would take her advice and mingle with everyone, though he would still try to keep an ear tuned to everyone else.
She smirked again.”I do hope you know how to mingle and entertain your date at the same time.
She teased. ”Because it would be very unfortunate if you’d have to find another way to thank me, no?”
She shot him a wink, then looked away to absorb the environment. She hadn’t been to this part of New York that often. She was a new arrival to Columbia, but she wasn’t exactly new to the city either. Nevertheless, she was far from well-acquainted. The hotel was already visible in the distance.”Don’t worry too much about it. I’m sure it will be a lovely evening.” “Well that depends on what I would have to do to thank you,”
Harvey shot back with a smirk of his own. The distance to the hotel steadily closed and eventually Harvey brought the car to the front and parked it, allowing the valet to open their doors and take his car to the parking lot. Harvey offered his arm to Ophelia before replying to her earlier comment, “And as long as you stay in it, I’m sure tonight will be lovely.”
Ophelia beamed slightly. ”You practiced that line, didn’t you?”
She replied before taking his arm. ”I hope your dance skills match your wit, mister Rayner. I may not be Chasing Light’s queen Huntsberg, but I’m not second grade either, I assure you.”
She glanced confidently. If she had trust in anything, it were in the many skills her father forced her to learn, as annoying as it was to admit at times.
Harvey stepped off before replying, “Just keep your eyes open, I might surprise you.”
The bright lights lining the hotel’s awning illuminated the path to the entrance. A uniformed doorman stood on the left side who greeted as the couple entered the establishment. They casually strolled to the elevator and patiently waited for it to arrive. With an audible “ding,” the elevator doors parted and the duo stepped in. The doors shut, and after Harvey pressed the appropriate floor key, the elevator lurched upward. Harvey took a quick glance at Ophelia before breaking the silence,“You know, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous. Nervous, but excited as well.””Oh? Where did that confidence of yours go? Don’t forget that customer expectation management is very important in running a business.”
She said on a serious tone. Her expression then shifted to something far more playful. ”I’m messing with you. Everyone is nervous their first time. It’s not everyday you’re around people like these.”
There was something fun about teasing Harvey, and she wasn’t done yet. ”Consider this a light practice session for if you ever meet my family.”
Unfortunately, that wasn’t completely inaccurate.
Soon enough, the muffled sounds of the party could be heard as the elevator drew closer to their destination. The elevator came to a halt and the doors parted, allowing in the cacophony of noise and lights of the extravagant party. Just before stepping through the elevator’s threshold, Harvey quickly took in the sights and sounds of the scene. “Well, we finally made it, and it looks like the party is well on it’s way. ”
Harvey quickly grabbed a couple of champagne glasses off a passing waiter’s tray before offering one to Ophelia, “Would the lady like a drink?”
Ophelia took in the atmosphere. These parties weren’t that different from the ones she had attended. A little more grandiose than usual, definitely. Her father had given similar parties, but usually to entertain a smaller, even more specific audience. It were parties like those when you knew Will bergman had a new business plan in mind, and his pedigree meant being invited to those was that there was money in it for you. This was similar, but different. More social, less business, but definitely still a lot of business. The lady scanned the room and spotted her friends. She then gratefully took the drink from Harvey before making a gesture. ”I want to say hi to my friends. Let’s go.”
She said, obviously expecting him to follow without any second thoughts.
Harvey fell into step behind Ophelia as she weaved through the crowd toward her friends. He recognized a few of the faces he passed from either the news or entertainment. What everyone said seemed to be true; anyone who was somebody was at the event. Harvey just might learn a thing or two tonight. Soon enough, the pair were standing in front of Ophelia’s friends. He recognized Audrey Huntsberg both by name and face. A rising star; not knowing who Audrey was, was next to impossible these days. He faintly recognized Annalise Arnett from around college. Ophelia seemed to be good friends with those in high places; something Harvey would have to keep in mind. ”Hello ladies!”
Ophelia said, adressing Audrey and Anna in a most gleeful tone and warmly embracing them both. She then proceeded to introduce herself to both Delilah and Christian. She then returned her attention to her friends and pulled her date closer. ”And this is Harvey.”
She scanned her friends’ faces for looks of approval, while allowing Harvey to further introduce himself.
Harvey put on a genuine smile before beginning, “good evening, ladies. The Queen of the Dance Floor, Audrey Huntsberg. How could I not know who you are? And . . . Ms. Arnette, is it? I recognize you from Columbia. It’s nice to meet both of you. My name is Harvey Rayner. I’m quite new to the scene here; only being around since the start of this semester. Hopefully I’ll make as good an impression on you as I think I have on Ophelia here.”
Harvey finished his introduction with a smirk at his date.