Vera has a new assignment. She has been hired to pose as a friend of a guest at a murder mystery party. She got a weird vibe from one of the party guests and readers voted that it was Celeste, Marta’s sister who seemed to have a permanent scowl on her face.
Something about the sister—Celeste—rubbed Vera the wrong way. She seemed to eye Vera in a very peculiar manner, almost as if she were sizing her up.
“Hello,” said Vera. “I’m Amy. Nice to meet you all.”
“How do you know Marta?” asked Celeste, with a sip of her champagne.
Luckily, Marta chimed in with their agreed-upon “relationship”.
“Amy and I met at a cooking class. Remember that class I went to, Lil?” Marta gestured to her tennis partner Lillian, who was secretly trying to check her Facebook on her phone.
“Oh, yeah. Right.” Lillian looked up for a second, nodded, and then went back to her smartphone screen.
“Well, I’m glad you got something out of that class,” said Heron, with a roll of his eyes. He put a small plate of crab cakes in front of his wife’s face.
“Seriously.” With a wave of her hand, she dismissed her husband’s gesture.
“I thought crabs had shells,” said Cliff, Marta’s ex, who chewed wildly with his mouth open. “Why don’t these have shells?”
The party guests stared at him in astonishment.
“So now that Amy’s here,” said Marta, changing the subject, “let’s get this party started.”
After Marta gave a brief rundown of the game, everyone received nametags and a sheet of paper with details and a description about their character. In this particular “game”, which took place at a masquerade ball, a murder had been committed. The man throwing the ball had been killed.
Vera’s nametag read: “Eloise Cader.” In her description, her character was a high-society vixen having an affair with the deceased—Virgil Grove.
“Now that we know our characters, it’s time to mingle,” said Marta.
“We’re mingling after a murder?” asked Celeste.
“Just go with it.”
With such a small group of seven, it was awkward to “mingle”. But the party circulated anyway, each guest asking each other the assigned questions from their worksheets.
Vera looked down at her paper.
“Why are you here at the ball?”
When she looked up, she spotted the top of Fern’s head—Fern being Marta’s middle-aged neighbor.
“I’m her neighbor,” said Fern.
“No,” said Vera, closing her eyes in slight frustration. “In the game,” she whispered.
“Oh.” He peered down at his sheet. “I. Live. Next. Door.” He looked up from his sheet with a chuckle. “How funny is that?”
That actually was kind of funny. Vera had never known balls held at mansions to have “next door neighbors”. She envisioned people in outrageous cotillion clothes, going door to door to borrow eggs.
“Would you look at the shelves in this apartment?” asked Fern. “The Beanie Babes I could house there!” He went off on his own, getting close to the shelves so he could examine them in great detail.
Just then, Vera felt a hand at her elbow. She turned to see Marta.
“Can I see you in the kitchen for a second?”
After following her into the kitchen, Marta exploded with information.
“First, thank you for doing this. Thank you for signing the agreement. You’re doing great so far. The reason why I hired you is because these friends of mine don’t believe I can have friends other than them. They don’t think I’m capable.”
Vera didn’t understand why she couldn’t make friends. This woman was attractive, friendly, and honest. Plus, a good cook (her crab cakes were really good). The only thing she didn’t have going for her were these people.
“Even Fern?” Vera said.
“Fern was a last resort.”
They both looked into the living room where the party was and discovered Fern staring up at the ceiling into his own outer space.
“This party is just a reason to prove them all wrong. I even know who the murderer is.” Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.