By Cole Lee
Miss Anita Blake. Who is she? She’s your typical blonde haired bombshell who is always happy and never shows another emotion, but deep down she’s not actually that happy, it’s just a mask she wears. Maybe that’s why she throws these masquerade parties, I mean wearing a mask is her thing. Sorry that’s shallow of me, I know, but let’s face it. Everyone knows I’m right. She really is a kind soul, I just think she should be more authentic. Now you probably think I hate her by the way I’ve introduced her, but I promise it’s quite the opposite, in fact I envy her. She’s one of the most famous novelists of all time. She specializes in romance novels but dabbles in some of the other genres like murder mystery and sci-fi. Even then though she finds a way to tie a romance in there. Okay you get it, she writes and she’s good at it and I like to observe people, make assumptions and well I’m good at it.
These pretty masquerade balls are thrown on the 13th of October every year, and this year it’s a Friday. I’m guessing our hostess Miss Blake has a thing for Halloween. Personally, I love it, the decorations, the weather, it’s all so enjoyable. Anita knows this and insisted I come early to help set up. We’ve chatted quite a lot lately and like I said, she’s a sweet soul so I was happy to help. Besides, it was an honor to even be going, these parties are the exclusive invite only kind. She only ever invites artists and there’s always six people at the party, never more, never less. This year me and my group of friends were invited to attend. Well if you can really even call us that, we really only ever get together for events where our talents matter. Either way, they’re still an interesting group of people that I’m glad to be spending the evening with. The only one I’m close to is Jean. Sweet, shy, and oh so naive it’s painful Jean Masuda. We’ve been friends since grade school when she moved to the states from Japan. She’s a filmmaker and writer, many people know her for her film ‘Where the Lanterns Don’t Shine’. It’s a very emotional story reflecting on the things you don’t see behind closed doors. Most of it is based on her personal experiences growing up, and because of that it feels more authentic. The only problem is she’s never had another big hit and she’s lost most of her inspiration to write. I think that the reason she accepted this invitation was for some inspiration from fellow artists.
Of course, Jean showed up early with her “dreamy” boyfriend Theodore Droski. Sure he’s good looking and can play the drums like you’ve never heard before but he has some serious issues. You can only hide your jealousy behind pretty blue eyes and fluffy blonde hair for so long. We greeted each other with a hug and the two of them headed off to the kitchen for drinks. Next Nicole and Rowan showed up together, typical of them to meet up before an event for some alone time. Nicole Bouten is a pretty redhead with the voice of an angel. I’m pretty sure one of her songs in her recent album was about her on and off fling with Rowan. Her European accent comes as a shock to most but she usually lights up the room with her bubbly personality. Even though that smile is fake and we all know it. Rowan Crann is a mystery to most. He’s quiet, contrary to Nicole’s outgoing self. His features are dark and so is his vibe. Tattoos are placed delicately all over his body and he’s only ever seen driving a motorcycle. He almost always shows up with helmet hair no matter how fancy the event but he doesn’t care. He enjoys painting like me, but his pottery is what he’s known for. Nicole’s face lights up when she sees me, “Raelyn!” She ran to me as she spoke. I’ve never been sure why she likes me so much but I appreciate the love so I don’t question it too much. Rowan nods at me and for a second a small grin appears on his stern face.
Everyone gathers in the dimly lit living room, drinks and snacks in hand. We’re all laughing and talking about what we’ve been up to. The music gets drowned out by our voices. I know this event will be one of the few times we all talk this year so, I try to use it as a catch up time, I cherish it. I get up to refill my drink and when I walk back into the living room, I notice something off. One, two, there, four, I point to myself, five. Five, we’re missing someone. I sit back down in my chair and decide to speak up. “Has anyone seen Anita?” They all look around for a second and shake their heads. She’s probably just in the bathroom or off writing something. From what I’ve heard it’s like her to disappear to go write.
“We should go find her, she’s missing all the fun,” Nicole pitches in. We all nod in agreement and head off in separate directions. I’m already a little tipsy but I manage to check her bedroom and bathroom before heading back to the living room.
“Any luck?” I ask Nicole.
“None,” she replies. That’s when we hear Jean let out a scream. The noise is like something out of a horror movie, and my heart sinks because deep down I know it’s bad. We all rush to the noise on the other side of the house. I’m the last to make it there, and I wobble into the drawing room with everyone else. My eyes widen and suddenly the fuzziness leaves my head. We’re all silent for a minute just staring in disbelief. How could this have happened? I look down to see Jean still sobbing on the floor, she doesn’t do well with blood or anything gore related. Theo picks her up and takes her out of the room. I looked at Nicole and Rowan. “I’ll call someone, go check on Jean.” Nicole runs out of the room to go find Jean and Theo. Rowan stays with me. He puts his hand on my shoulder to try and comfort me. In any other situation, I would’ve loved his hand on me but tonight I couldn’t think of anything besides the fact someone in this house that I have been laughing with for hours is a murderer. I walk closer to Anita trying to get a look at what may have happened. I try to be careful to not touch anything, I don’t want my DNA mixed into the crime scene anymore than it already is. Anita has a letter opener wedged in the side of her neck, the murder weapon. She is slumped over in her chair, hands still on her keyboard. I glance at her computer screen, she was writing what looked to be a murder mystery, how ironic.
Nicole screams to us from the living room, “Rowan, Rae, get in here.” I look back to Rowan and we head into the living room. Nicole is pacing and Jean is sitting in Theo’s arms. I look around the room and my mind starts to race. Who did it? Definitely not Jean, it’d be way out of character for her. Maybe Theo? He sticks by Jean’s side like a puppy though so unless they’re both in on it, that cancels him out. Nicole could be capable, I suppose. I mean she puts up a sweet front but I know better. Deep down there’s a sadness eating sweet Nicole alive. Could she have finally broken? Was this all her bottled up emotions spilling over? I don’t see what her motive would be to go after Anita though. That leaves Rowan, brooding yet handsome Mister Crann. He would make the most sense, no offense. He’s quiet and mysterious and he definitely has some deep dark secret he doesn’t want anyone to know. He’s the only one none of us really know that well, except maybe Nicole. Still even if he is a shady character what would be his motive? Anita isn’t a threat to any of our career’s or relationships as far as I’m aware. So I circle back to the question, who did it and why? Maybe the killer didn’t need a motive, maybe they’re just a sick individual. I hate to think of one of my friends like that though.
We all gather back in the living room trying to make sense of what happened. None of us wanted to blame one another, but no one else was in the house, so it had to be one of the five of us sitting in this room. “Anyone like to fess up?” asked Theo.
“How do we know it isn’t you Theo?” Nicole questioned, but Jean was quick to defend him.
“I’ve been with him all night, besides he’d never do anything like this.” She snapped. Nicole dropped it quickly, I guess she had no reason to suspect Jean either.
“Hey Rae did you ever call? I’d think they’d be here by now,” Nicole asked me. Shoot I forgot, I was so wrapped up in trying to play detective myself I forgot to call the actual detectives.
“I’m sorry this is stressing me out. I totally forgot, let me do that now.” I reach into my pocket but my phone isn’t there. “I must’ve dropped it in the drawing room. I’ll be right back.” Nicole nods and they go back to discussing. When I came back into the room all their eyes turned to look at Rowan, you could see his heart drop. He knows they’re all thinking the same thing, he’s quiet and shut off, of course that makes him suspicious. I almost feel bad for him but they’re just trying to think logically.
“I swear it’s not me, I’d never do anything like this. Why would I?” Rowan pleaded. I’ve never seen him so worked up.
“Rowan it’s okay I know it wasn’t you,” I say trying to calm him. Everyone looks at me and the lights flicker. I grin and let the letter opener slip out of my sleeve, “I know it wasn’t you, because it was me.” I see their eyes widen in disbelief before the lights go out and their screams fill the room. Guess they should’ve been more observant of the people they’re in a room with.
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