Episode Four - Gone in a Flash
This is it, peeps. The fourth installment of my reader-solve mystery, Gone in a Flash. You’ll have until midnight Eastern on Tuesday, March 11 to read these first four episodes and email me at email@example.com with your guess as to whodunnit. Because on Wednesday, March 12, I’ll publish the fifth and final episode in which I solve the mystery. Heather and Norah will pick a winner from among the correct answers and award the coveted $100 Amazon gift card. Got it? Good. Let’s get to the story…
Episode 4 – Gone in a Flash
Alyssa’s cell phone rang. She set her glass down, stood and moved away from the group before she even looked at the call display.
I couldn’t help but notice that for a gal who clearly didn’t want to be here, she’d certainly taken care with her appearance. Her dress wasn’t as short as Elizabeth’s or as shiny as Rhianna’s, but it was a bona fide party dress—black, short, high neck on the front and completely backless. She’d put her blond hair up to better showcase her amazing back, which was almost completely barren of back fat. A back which she now turned to us as she answered the phone with a happy, “Hey, you.”
Nosy much? Who me? Damned right.
“I told him,” Alyssa said. Then, moving further away, “Kenny never listens to me! He thinks—dammit, Slash, I told you I was trying to get out of it.” Alyssa pivoted, saw me looking, then turned her back to us again. She lowered her voice.
“Can he play guitar and sing?”
I looked over at Shelby. She was busy twisting the rings on her left hand, stone forward, again. “Who?”
”No!” Rochelle shouted almost as loudly as I had. “For the love of all things holy, never ask that man to sing.”
Totally a gut reaction—completely out of fear. Dylan Foreman still didn’t know he was the most horrific singer ever. I mean, think screeching cat.
Elizabeth grinned. “So Dyl—I mean West—still has no clue how bad he is, Dix?”
I smiled. “You said my name.”
Her smile was back as she refilled her champagne flute. But it was a cunning smile, slight and tight and from the eyes.
Whatever the case, one thing for certain—Elizabeth Bee was in control of things. If I knew Elizabeth Bee like I thought I did, nothing would come between her and that altar and her mega-rich husband.
Alyssa ended the call. She tucked the phone away in her tiny purse, and walked to the suite’s large window, which afforded a beautiful view of Marport City at night. She studied it quietly.
Which was the only quiet in the room.
“Does he have any cowboy friends?” Shelby asked me. “Oh, oh, or cowboy brothers with shining belt buckles?” She leaned toward Dix and said, confidingly, “I just love shiny things. The more sparkly, the better.”
“Amen,” Rhianna said. The sisters clinked their glasses together.
All drinks went down when there was a hard—definitely manly—rap-rap-rap on the door.
“It’s the stripper!” Shelby said. “Finally!”
Yes! That was another reason I’d told Dylan to give me an hour. I was anxious to see this guy.
Before I could jump up and open the door, Rochelle did. Oh yeah, that champagne was hitting the spot with her too.
“Gals,” Rochelle said. “Get ready to get your freak–”
Oops. Again no stripper at the door. Rochelle opened the door to her boyfriend, Detective Richard Head. AKA: Dick Head. My nemesis. Pseudo-nemesis … we were at least civil to each other now that he and Rochelle were seeing each other. Well, mostly civil.
Alyssa rejoined the party.
“Oh yummy,” Rhianna cooed. “This one’s just as hot as the last.”
What the hell?
“Ha, in your face, Dix Dodd!” Clearly, Rochelle was happy with Rhianna’s misguided vote.
Okay, he was good looking, had a nice body if you went in for that bulky muscle thing, but as hot as my cowboy?
The look on Detective Richard Head’s face was a mixture of confused and flattered. “Hey, there’s been a mistake here,” he said, smiling. “I’m not a stripper. I’m a detective.”
“That’s right,” I shouted. “I told them to send Cop stripper.”
This time it was me who snapped the iPod to life, and in a flash, we were all up dancing—shimming and shaking. Then we started clapping our hands (even Rochelle). Someone took up chanting, “Take it off, take it off!”
Okay, that was me.
“Shut off that music now,” Dickhead said.
“Look, ladies, I really am a detective with the Marport City Police.”
No one looked completely convinced. Dickhead looked to Rochelle in a silent plea for help.
“Show them your badge,” she suggested.
“Right.” Head pulled out the shiny shield.
I gasped. “Why, it looks almost like the real thing!” I turned the music back on. We were dancing again. Rhianna and Shelby had taken up twerking. I felt like placing a bet on who’d fall right over—drunken Rhianna, or bling-heavy Shelby—as they bent and ground and wiggled against Detective Richard Head.
“Twenty on Shelby,” Rochelle mouthed. Clearly she’d been thinking the same thing I had been.
I nodded. “I got Rhianna.”
Two seconds later, Rhianna hit the floor.
“Yes!” I shouted.
Shelby was down right after her, and the girls were consumed in laughter.
Elizabeth killed the music. “Guys,” she said. “I hate to kill the fun, but the guy really is a cop.”
“Show me your big gun then!” Rhianna said.
Well that would definitely perk up the night…
Head sighed his exasperation. “Can we please just go, Rochelle?”
She was all smiles as she gave him a quick kiss on that chiseled face of his.
Damn, he would make a nice stripper cop.
“I’ll get my bag,” Rochelle said. “Ladies, it’s been a blast. Elizabeth, big congratulations.”
Elizabeth looked pleased with Rochelle’s genuine remark.
Rochelle grabbed her purse from the end of the couch, then scooted into the bedroom for her coat. She pulled a twenty from her pocket and handed it over—a damp twenty.
What the hell?
The tingle that went through me then was head to toe. Okay, there was something I was supposed to notice here—something I was supposed to be putting together.
“My ring is still missing,” Elizabeth said.
“And I hope you find it,” Rochelle said, smiling, as she slid into her coat. “But I’m leaving.”
Elizabeth did not look pleased.
“You can’t really expect us all to stay until it’s found,” Alyssa said. “And you said yourself that the insurance would cover things if it goes missing.”
“Missing or stolen,” Elizabeth said accusingly.
Detective Head had been in the process of opening the door. He closed it again. “What’s this about stolen?”
Oh great, now go into real cop mode. What? Stripper cop too good for him?
Someone had some explaining to do.
Well, luckily (for everyone), that someone was me.
“I know exactly what happened to that diamond engagement ring,” I said.
The room went completely silent as everyone turned toward me. No one looked more surprised by my proclamation than Elizabeth Bee herself.
That’s all you get! Email me with your final guess by Tuesday, March 11, 2014, and you could win the big prize. Or possibly you might have to settle just for the glory of being right. Look for the answer in the final post on Mach 12.
My email address again is firstname.lastname@example.org.