Robert Randall, nicknamed Red because of his fiery hair, walked down the sidewalk with determination and excitement. He was heading towards a stately mansion not far from Hollywood, California where his new employer lived. He was going to get to be a pilot for one of the wealthiest men in America! Sure, it wasn't exactly what Red had in mind at first, but the more he thought about it, the more he liked it. His employer would probably be a little more lenient in allowing vacations, pay raises, and world travel.
Red's musings came to a halt as he stopped in front of a large, iron-wrought gate. The house on the other side of it seemed to command attention and respect, but it was beautiful. He let out a breath as he pushed the button to request entry. He became perplexed when no one answered. He pushed the button again, longer this time. A voice finally answered it after a minute.
"What do you want?"
"Um, I'm Robert Randall, Mr. Hughes's new pilot?"
"Oh, yes, very well, come in." The gate opened up and Red walked in, pulling his rolling luggage behind him. The driveway was a little longer than what he had originally thought it would be. But he was really surprised when an Indian came rushing out the door to meet him halfway. There was a slight pause as the two stared at each other for a moment, blinking in surprise.
"You, ah, um, work for Mr. Hughes?" said the guy in English haltingly and with a rather strong Indian accent.
Red blinked. Was it his imagination, or did that accent seem fake? "Um, yes. Would you like to see my papers?"
"Please." Red pulled out the documents that he and Mr. Hughes had signed before Mr. Hughes returned home and handed them to the Indian. He glanced over the paperwork and gave a slight nod. "Very good." He handed the papers back to Red.
Red let out a huff. "Good, now is that really your accent or are you putting on a show?"
The Indian blinked and said in perfect English with a Californian accent, "Is that your natural hair color, or did you dye it?"
Red grinned. "It's natural. Yes, there are such people as red-headed Asians. It's mainly found in a mostly secluded Mongolian tribe though."
"Mostly secluded? So how come you're from Hawaii?"
"Uh, I don't want to sound rude or anything, but I did tell Mr. Hughes I would report to him at three sharp."
"Oh right! Sorry man, and here I am being rude staring at you." He held out his hand. "I'm Aadav Swarna, but everyone calls me Sunny."
Red shook his hand. "Robert Randall, but everyone calls me Red, and I think you can see why."
Sunny chuckled. "Yeah, so I can. Come on, let me take you to your room." Sunny grabbed a couple of suitcases and led Red into the house. "So, it's a little ways to your room. Can you tell me how a red-headed Mongolian with an American name ended up in Hawaii?"
Red smiled as the two walked through a long hall towards a grand staircase. "Of course! My great-grandfather was a pilot in World War Two. One day he got caught in a storm and went way off course. He flew for a while and crashed in Mongolia. A red-headed tribe found him and nursed him back to health. That's where he met my great-grandmother. He left the tribe to continue fighting in the war, but once it was over, he went back and settled down with them. A few years later, inspired by stories of America and Hawaii in particular, my grandparents moved to Hawaii after getting married. My family's been there since."
"Wow," said Sunny, his eyes and mouth wide. "Man, what a story! And now you're on the mainland working for Mr. Hughes!"
Red chuckled. "Yup. So what's your story?"
Sunny shrugged. "You mean besides my grandparents moving here back in the 60's to try and get into the movie business, and my family's been in America ever since? Not quite as intriguing as your story."
Red chuckled. "Maybe, but I really want to know why you were pretending to be an immigrant?"
Sunny grinned. "Oh, I like pranking people. A few people have asked over the years what part of India I'm from and why I don't speak with an accent. I guess some people can't wrap their heads around the fact that there are Indians who have been here for a while." He gave Red a deadpan face. "And not Native Americans."
Red chuckled. "What can you say? Some people just get stuck in their own world and don't ever want to come out."
"Ain't that the truth." Sunny paused in front of a door and opened it. "Well, here's our apartment, if you will." Red gasped when he entered. There was a little living room adjacent to a kitchenette and two doors at the far end of the room with one on the left and another on the right. Sunny pointed to the door on the left. "That's our bathroom." He turned his finger to point at the next door, one at the back of the room. "That's Sterling's room." He pointed to the door next to it. "And that's your room." Red walked towards the door on the far right. It opened to a comfortable-sized bedroom with clouds covering the back wall and airplanes sitting atop the dresser.
"Wow," said Red softly, "does everyone who works for Mr. Hughes have this?"
Sunny chuckled. "Well yeah, kinda."
Red eyed him. "Kinda."
"Well yeah, kinda, the twins share one, and then Lloyd and I share that room," said Sunny as he pointed to the fourth door.
Red laughed. "Oh, I see. Who are the twins and what do they do?"
"Why don't we set your luggage down and I'll introduce you to everyone on our way to report to Mr. Hughes?"
Red smiled. "That would be great!"
Sunny led Red out of the room and the two walked more briskly down the hall. The first person they met was an older gentleman in a suit. He looked to be in his late thirties or early forties, reddish-brown hair that had a few strands of grey here and there, and light brown eyes. "Hiya Rusty! This here is . . ."
"Robert Randall, also known as Red," said Rusty drolly as he held out his hand.
Red shook it. "And you're the security guard who let me in."
Rusty raised an eyebrow, impressed. "Well, I'm actually the butler, I'm in charge of the gate as well as the door. But I will say you are the first to recognize me from the loudspeaker."
Red blinked. "Really? But it's so obvious!"
Rusty smirked. "Apparently not, it would seem. But allow me to introduce myself properly. I am Rusty Northrope, and I am in charge of the household along with Miss Stephanie Moss, the head chef. If you do not see Mr. Hughes, you come to see me."
"Well, I was on my way to see him," began Red.
"I know, he is expecting you. But he's still in his fencing practice, so I shall get you acquainted with the house until he's finished. He informed me that he shall be a bit late."
"But that was what I was doing," said Sunny.
"You can help," said Rusty with finality. Sunny shot Red a sheepish grin and shrugged before the two followed Rusty down the stairs. Rusty led them to the dining room. Red's mouth dropped at how long the two tables were. He counted the chairs. There were twenty-eight total! "The dining room can be used by all, but we must be ready to serve Mr. Hughes and his guests, if he has any, by six-thirty sharp. You might have to help some nights if he has a large crowd."
"Yeah," said Red in awe. Red finally tore his gaze from the tables and followed Rusty to a door that led outside. He gasped when he saw stairs going down into a little garden area where a grill and three tables with chairs were set up.
"Sometimes Mr. Hughes will host a garden party, and here is where we will serve them."
"Why, I didn't notice that when I came in!" exclaimed Red, realizing that the garden was in the front lawn, practically hidden under the patio.
Rusty smiled. "Precisely. Mr. Hughes values his privacy." He turned and went back into the house, Red following quickly behind. Rusty closed the door and led them to the doorway on the other side of the dining room. "And here is the kitchen." There were three women working in the kitchen and two men around Red's age bringing in groceries from a side door. Rusty cleared his throat, which made them pause and look at the newcomers. Red noticed that the two younger women were twins, but one had auburn hair while the other had strawberry blonde. The third woman looked to be in her late thirties with light brown hair, hazel-green eyes, and a freckled face. The first young man was blond with grey eyes and a nice tan to his skin while the other young man had brown hair, green eyes, and seemed to be sizing up Red. "Everyone, this is Robert Randall, Mr. Hughes's new pilot. Robert, may I introduce Miss Stephanie Moss, the head of household and head chef, Sienna and Saffron Richards, Sterling Zielinski, the head gardener, and . . ."
The second young man cleared his throat and bowed. "Lord McGorman, at your service," he said in a thick British accent.
Sunny and the twins groaned. "Really?" mumbled Sunny.
Red glanced between them and thought a moment before he started chuckling. "Oh, oh I see . . . you mean that's Lloyd?"
Sunny nodded as he rolled his eyes. "Yup."
Lloyd straightened up and gasped. "No fair, you already told him!" He spoke with a New York accent which did sound much more natural than his attempt at a British accent, even though he was pretty good.
Sunny scoffed and waved his hand. "I didn't have to. He already figured out I was putting on a show with my Indian accent. I just had to make sure he knew your first name was Lloyd and he figured out the rest."
Red smirked. "Besides, it's not every day you see a lord helping the kitchen staff or wearing overalls."
Lloyd's mouth dropped for a second before he burst out laughing. "Alright, alright, I guess you got me there. But I will prank you one day."
The twins laughed as they walked towards Lloyd and stood on either side of him. "Lloyd, when will you ever learn? The majority of those pranks backfire on you," said the lighter-haired twin.
"He looks too smart for some of your pranks anyway," said the darker-haired twin.
"Um, which one is Saffron and which one is Sienna?" Red whispered to Sunny.
Sunny chuckled as he whispered back. "Think about the colors, and therein lies your answer." Red's eyebrow went up. Really? That would mean Sienna was the auburn-haired twin while Saffron was the strawberry-blonde.
"Nice hair, though, that color looks good on you," said Saffron with a slight flirtatious smile.
Red smiled back. "Thanks, it's natural." At that, everyone's mouths dropped before they surrounded Red.
"What, really?" said the twins in unison.
"How is that even possible?" asked Stephanie.
"What kind of weird genetics is this?" said Lloyd.
Red laughed. "Just the genetics of a red-headed Mongolian."
"Red-headed Mongolian?" the women exclaimed in unison.
"You're kidding?" exclaimed Saffron.
"Who knew Asians could have red hair?" said Stephanie.
Red shrugged. "One of humanity's greatest secrets, I suppose. This Mongolian tribe has managed to keep itself pretty secret from the rest of the world. I guess you wouldn't know for sure until you actually looked for them."
"Wow," said Sienna, "guess you learn something new every day."
"But Robert Randall isn't a Mongolian name," said another voice. Red was surprised to see that Sterling had snuck up on them quietly.
Sunny grinned and nudged Red. "Tell them about your great-grandpa."
Red sighed and launched into the tale about his great-grandparents meeting which led to his own family ending up in Hawaii. He decided to give the full tale since he had a larger crowd. If Rusty or Stephanie thought he shouldn't be taking up so much time out of their day, they didn't say anything to stop him. They listened with as much rapture as the rest. Lloyd only paused the tale once to give Red a high-five when he heard that Red's great-grandfather was Irish. When he finished the tale, he noticed that two more women had joined them. Rusty introduced him to the final two members of the staff, Hazel Corcoran and Aurelia Peach. Hazel had sandy-blonde hair and hazel eyes while Aurelia had golden blonde hair and brown eyes. Red noticed the looks that Sterling gave Aurelia, it was obvious the guy liked her a lot, but he seemed particularly shy.
"How much of Red's tale did you hear?" Sunny asked Hazel and Aurelia.
"Oh, almost all of it," said Aurelia with a slight Southern twang. She shot Red a warm smile. "Enough to know that red-headed Asians do exist and that Red is from Hawaii."
"And that's he's part Irish," said Hazel before high-fiving Lloyd.
Sunny chuckled. "So, basically all the important parts." He glanced at Red. "Guess you don't have to repeat your story to everyone now."
Red grinned. "What a relief."
Rusty cleared his throat. They glanced at him, he was looking at his watch. "And now that the story is over, we should head to see Mr. Hughes. I wanted to finish the tour of the house, but I'm sure Mr. Hughes would like to partake in showing off his mansion to his new pilot." He glanced at Red. "Shall we be off?"
Red let out a breath. "Yes." The staff parted to let Red and Rusty back through the kitchen to the dining room. With each step, Red became more and more nervous. Sure, he had already met Mr. Hughes when he traveled to Hawaii to meet with Red personally, but now that he was in his house and surrounded by his staff, Red was starting to feel a little out of place. New home, new job, maybe even new friends, sure it was exciting, but nerve-wracking as well. Red let out another breath as Rusty led him to the other side of the house and through a long hallway that doubled as an art display. The first door they passed was closed and seemed wrapped in shadows, the second was a large doorway leading to what looked like a ballroom, and the third door, the one where Rusty paused, was partially opened and sounds of swordplay could be heard faintly. Rusty glanced at his watch with a questioning look on his face.
"He should have been finished by now," he mumbled. He pounded on the door before swinging it open and walking in. Red let out a shaky breath, this was it, this was the moment he fully realized things had changed and that he had taken his first steps into a new chapter in his life. He took a deep breath before following Rusty into the room.
(Author's Note: Welcome to the first chapter in the Red Randall series! There are only going to be six books in this series, but thirteen total technically as the Clue series is a sequel of sorts to this series and three others that have yet to be written, lol. A hint to those other series was in the short story I posted in the Stratemeyer Syndicate, A Secret Meeting, plus technically also a sort of prequel as well. More will be explained as this series goes on. Why six? Well, that's the number for Clue, and I wanted to keep with that theme, except for the actual Clue series. It has seven books as the final book will be based heavily on game play. And since it's still so far out, I have plenty of time to pick the culprit, room, and weapon. ;P Since this is based on a murder mystery, expect some blood. I will keep the gore and violence down, but do keep that in mind as the series continues as there will be plenty of murder attempts and a few murders that they will have to solve. Anyways, that being said, I hope you liked this first chapter! The next two chapters are going to be introducing everyone and the two places where the ultimate murder will take place. Then we'll get into the actual mystery. Again, it's a bit slow going at first, but it's definitely going to pick up. And I'm going to do the same thing with this and The Valley of Diamonds where I'll post two chapters of this story, then two chapters of Valley of Diamonds. Hope you'll like that too! See you next week! And I hope everyone is doing well during this quarantine!)