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Authors: Elisabeth Crabtree

Murder Games (3 page)

BOOK: Murder Games
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“You’ll play dead for a while
, and then be escorted back to the hotel where you will receive a nice relaxing massage at our spa.”

Jerry looked back and forth between the others and Becky. “Are we all
who we say we are? I mean, among the guests. I heard that there may be actors pretending to be a guest.”

“Actors?” Rupert asked
with feigned shock. “I assure you, good sir, there are no actors here.”

“You can say that again,”
Laura said under her breath before adding a bit louder, “How do we catch the killer?”

Becky briefly glanced at her watch before looking back up and addressing their group.
“The only way to catch the killer successfully is to guess their identity and their motive correctly. You’ll have an opportunity tomorrow night to make your case to the rest of the players. If you are correct, you win. Now this game takes place in the 1950s, so I recommend leaving your phones…”

Caroline, tapping away at her phone,
rolled her eyes, and mouthed,
no way

…and any other electronic devices that weren’t in existence in the fifties, at the hotel, or, at the very least, in your room at the manor. It will make the game much more fun if everyone plays along and isn’t unnecessarily distracted. Now, we realize that we have several couples playing with us. Please keep in mind that this is not a team event. Do not share your character bios with anyone else. Remember, this is supposed to be fun. Now, we’ll meet back here at three o’clock this afternoon. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me”

Rupert gestured to the banquet table.
“Your invitations await you. Miss Ivy has a ‘come as you are’ laissez faire attitude about her guests’ appearance,” he said with a sniff, “but I highly recommend dressing for the occasion.”

Becky nodded enthusiastically. “
The hotel shops have several outfits available that you can rent or buy. There’s also a prize for best costume that will be awarded at breakfast the day after tomorrow.”

Grimacing slightly,
Molly gripped her purse tightly with one hand, before hesitantly bringing up her other. “Is it really necessary to dress up?”

sighed. “It is, of course, up to you. Now when I call your name out, please come up to the table for your invitation.” She looked down at her clipboard. “Sabrina Sawyer.”

“This is so exciting,” Molly
whispered as Becky proceeded to call everyone’s name, one by one. “I hope I get to be someone different. Someone glamorous.”

“Not me.
” Grace smiled. “I don’t think I have the wardrobe for it.”

Oh, I don’t know,” Kyle said, “I thought you looked pretty glamorous last night.”

Grace smiled up at him. “Well, thank you very much
, but I don’t think I have to worry. With my luck, I’ll end up playing the maid.”

Molly suddenly gasped
, drawing Grace and Kyle’s attention back to her. She was staring at Becky intently. “Whose name did you call?”

Becky consulted her clipboard.
“Austin Waverly. Has anyone seen Austin Waverly?” When no one responded, she made a notation on her clipboard and resumed her roll call.

“Friend of yours?” Kyle asked.

Molly shook her head. “No, it must have just been a mistake.”









“You’ve got to
be kidding me
” Sabrina said with a small shake of her head. She passed her invitation to her sister and crossed her arms over her ample chest. “There has to be some mistake.”

Laura opened
the envelope and pulled out the invitation. A broad smile crossed her face as she read. “Oh, it’s not that bad.”

d, then you’re willing to trade.” Sabrina reached for the envelope in Laura’s other hand.

Laura quickly moved away from her sister. “No way.”

“Oh, I’m sure it isn’t that bad,” Jerry said with a smile.

Sabrina didn’t answer.
With a wicked gleam in her eye, she tossed her hair over her shoulder before turning and making her way back to the hotel.

Undaunted by Sabrina’s rudeness, Jerry continued on, “So, shall we start now?”

“No, not yet. We have to dress up first,” Laura said.

But Becky said that wasn’t necessary,” Molly said quickly.

turned around and walked over to a stone bench next to the maze. Using a gloved hand, she swept a few feet of snow off of the bench before sitting down. “Good,” she said as she primly removed her gloves before pulling her smart phone out of her pocket, “because I’m not dressing up.”

Looking like a kid
who had just been told Santa didn’t exist, Jerry looked at her in bewilderment. “Of course, we have to dress up, honey.” He shook his head in annoyance before sitting down next to his wife.

Standing next to Kyle, Grace leaned over and peered down at
the invitation he held in his hands. “A lawyer?”

Kyle puffed out his chest. “Will Cheatum, the third. Miss Ivy needs a will drawn up tonight.” Reaching for her invitation, he smiled down at her. “Who are you
supposed to be?”

Grace moved her invitation away from his fingers. “Rose Murdock, if you must know. Apparently, I’m Ivy’s daughter.” She looked over at Molly,
who was standing on her tiptoes, looking around. “What about you, Molly?”

“Hmm?” she asked distractedly.

“Who do you play?”

“Oh!” Molly
dropped down to her feet. She reached into the envelope and brought out her invitation. “I’m not sure.” She carefully read her invitation before answering. “I’m Daisy Murdock, Ivy’s youngest daughter. Adopted daughter.” Biting her lip, she read a bit more. “Oh, apparently, I’m an alcoholic floozy, too.”

“That sounds like fun.
” Grace laid her hand on Kyle’s forearm. “I’m going to go ask Becky about what I saw last night.”

“If it was part of the show, she’s not going to admit to anything,” Kyle pointed out.

“I know. I just want to see what she says.”

“What are you two talking about?” Molly asked looking back and forth.

Grace quickly described what she saw the night before. “There was just something strange about the whole thing.”

Molly’s eyebrows drew together. She glanced at the hotel and then back to Grace. “Are you sure
you saw someone at the manor? The hotel’s pretty far away.”

True, but I just want to see what she says about it. Maybe I can get a clue.” Spotting Becky and Rupert standing at the far end of the banquet table with their backs toward the others, Grace started in their direction.

“Cheater,” Kyle called out
behind her.

As she approached, she noticed Becky
pressing her fingers against her headset. “Well, where is she?” Becky whispered harshly. Whatever the other person said caused Becky to groan in irritation. She turned to Rupert. “Look, you’re just going to have to work around her. One of the bathroom toilets in the haunted theater is overflowing, the lights have shorted out, and two of the actors are threatening to walk out. I’ve got to go deal with that mess.” She let out a series of small sneezes. “I knew I should have called in sick this morning.”

Rupert dropped his British accent and plaintively asked, “What are we supposed to do?
We’re missing two characters now. Integral characters.”

“Just improvise.”

“Improvise? You must be kidding.”

“Just switch to the Poison Ivy game. The husband’s not even in that one.”

“I hate that one. Why don’t we just go to the wait list?”

“Because it’s easier just
to switch the game scenario.”

Rupert propped his hands on top of the banquet table and leaned toward the game coordinator.
“Easier for whom?” Becky gave him a withering look, prompting him to hold his hands up in surrender. “Fine, but what are we going to do about Erica?”

“Oh, you know Erica. She’ll show. It’s not like she’s
never threatened to quit before.”

“What if she doesn’t show? How am—” Catching Grace standing nearby, he turned and smiled. “Ah M
iss Rose Murdock,” he said, back in character, “What can I do for you?”

Grace smiled. “I was just wondering about
something I saw last night. I noticed you all rehearsing—”

ing?” Becky asked with a slight frown. She glanced back at Rupert who simply shrugged. Becky shook her head impatiently. “There’s nothing to worry about. Just remember to have fun.”

“Excuse me,” Caroline called out
, “what do we do about our luggage?”

“Oh yes,” Becky said, “thank you. I almost forgot.” She turned and addressed the group. “Everyone! A bellhop will come by your room at two o’clock to pick up whatever you would like to have with you
while on your adventure.” She glanced down at her watch and scowled. “It will be at the manor waiting for you when you arrive,” she said in a rush. “If you have any questions, Rupert will be happy to assist you. Now, I’ll see all of you the day after tomorrow at our Mystery Brunch, where we will hand out trophies and prizes to our intrepid sleuths. Until then, have a good time,” she said as she quickly strode away from the maze and toward the hotel.

Turning back to Rupert,
Jerry asked, “So, what do we do now?”

“All you have t
o do is meet back here at three o’clock. Ready to play or die,” Rupert said, “as the case may be.”


*  *  *


“What do you think he meant by
?” Molly asked nervously as the little group huddled around the gate, waiting for Rupert to show and lead them to the manor house. It was now a quarter past three and everyone was anxiously awaiting the butler’s appearance.

“Oh, he was just trying to be dramatic,” Grace explained
, patiently trying to alleviate the young woman’s fears.

and Molly had spent the better part of the afternoon shopping at the little village shops next to the hotel, trying to find the perfect outfit for their characters, and while Molly was a great shopping buddy, Grace couldn’t help but notice that the young woman seemed to be growing more and more anxious as the day wore on. She briefly wondered if the woman they found in the pond might have had anything to do with Molly’s nervousness, but when asked, Molly seemed reluctant to discuss the matter, instead, insisting that everything was fine.

“I don’t want to be killed off,” Molly said with a grimace
, “I came here to play.”

, well, I’ll tell you right now that I’m not going to be the first one to be killed off.” Smiling, Jerry wagged his finger in front of their face. “Just so you all know, I have no intention of being alone with any of you.” He turned to his wife and eyed her suspiciously. “Especially you. I’ve seen the way you’ve been looking at me. Just waiting to pounce.”

“You should be so lucky,” Caroline said with a smirk.
“You know it doesn’t seem fair. We paid quite a lot for the whole experience. I would hate to cut it short.”

“I don’t know,”
Jerry said with a grin. “I think it makes it more exciting.”

Using the tip of his index finger,
Kyle tipped the brown fedora that Grace insisted he buy, back off his forehead. “We’ll all just have to be on our toes.” He looked over Molly’s head as Laura and Sabrina Sawyer ran towards them. Laura was in front, her hand wrapped around her sister’s wrist, dragging her along.

Breathing heavily, she came to a stop in front of the others. “I was afraid we were going to be late
.” Laura threw her sister an irritated glance before rolling her eyes. “We just had to get the
costume. Then we just had to get our hair done.”

patted her elaborate updo. “It was worth every penny.”

rubbed his hands together enthusiastically as he looked at Sabrina. “Okay, so who are you? The femme fatale? The beautiful heiress with a deep dark secret?”

rolled her eyes. “Maybe she’s the genius detective.”

Solemnly considering
Laura’s words, Jerry shook his head in thought. “No…Not with that hairdo and the fishnet stockings.”

Everyone’s gaze automatically travelled to
Sabrina’s legs, which were covered only by black fishnet stockings and a pair of calf-high black boots.

“My goodness, girl,” Caroline said
, looking Sabrina over, “aren’t you cold?”

Sabrina shook her head. “I have a very high tolerance for cold climates.”

“I know,” Jerry said, snapping his fingers before pointing at Sabrina, “You’re the reckless party girl. Am I right? I am, aren’t I?”

Caroline sighed
. “This isn’t part of the mystery, dear.”

“Come on,
Sabrina,” Jerry said, “show us the costume.”

hugged her blue wool coat tightly against her body. “Uh-uh,” she said with a grin, “no one can see until we get to the manor house.”

“Well, I’m not shy.
” Jerry unbuttoned his coat to reveal a biker’s thin black leather jacket over a plain white tee and pair of blue jeans. “Hello everyone. I’m Cal Thorne, Ivy’s ne’er-do-well younger brother.” Grinning, he placed an arm around his wife’s waist. “And this is my old ball and chain, Clara.”

The said mentioned
‘ball and chain’ shot him a dirty look. “Thank you, sweetheart.”

looked excitedly from one to the other before settling on Kyle. “Let me guess, you’re the detective.”

Adjusting the fedora back down on his head, Kyle said, “Will
Cheatum is the name.” He unbuttoned his coat to reveal a double-breasted pinstriped blue suit. “I’m Ivy’s attorney.”

” Jerry said as he bounced up and down on his toes. “Ivy wouldn’t be changing her will, would she?”

“I’m sorry
, but I am not at liberty to discuss my client’s affairs,” Kyle responded with mock severity.

Laura glanced over at Grace and Molly. “What about you two?”

“Ivy’s our mother. I’m Rose, and this is my little sister, Daisy,” Grace said, indicating Molly with a nod of her head. She caught Kyle looking pointedly at her wool coat. “I’m going to change into my costume when we get to the manor.” She looked over at Laura. “How about you?”

Laura stuck her chin out.
“Bella Nightshade. I’m Ivy’s doctor.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a pair of grey vintage cat eyeglasses. She slipped them on, only to push them back up when they slipped down her nose.

“Wow!” Jerry said. “The victim’s lawyer, doctor, daughters—”

Laura, Sabrina, and Molly, pounced at once. “Victim?” they cried simultaneously. They circled Jerry suspiciously, Laura a bit more aggressively than the other two. “What do you mean by
, Cal?” Laura asked, backing Jerry towards the gate. “How do you know Ivy’s going to be a victim?”

Jerry held up his hand
s and smiled. “Guys, sorry, I just assumed Ivy was going to be the first victim.”

Laura narrowed her eyes. “
First victim? So, you know there will be more?”

Of course there will be more,” Jerry stuttered uncomfortably. “It said so in the instructions. Really guys, that wasn’t a clue.”

Laura continued to glare at him suspiciously while the others broke off into little groups.

Kyle nudged Grace and grinned. “This is going to be fun.”

Grace chuckled. “
No one has died yet, and everyone is already suspicious. I can’t wait to see what we’re all like tomorrow night.”

“Probably huddled in a corner
. Lost in our paranoia.” Kyle nodded his head toward the gate. “Ah, here comes Rupert,” he announced cheerfully.


*  *  *


There was no doubt about it; Grace thought, as she came to another dead end, they were hopelessly lost. Twenty minutes had passed since their little group began their journey through the maze. Most of the time was spent listening to Rupert, as he regaled everyone with stories of Miss Ivy and her love of horticulture, intermixed with dire warnings about the danger of navigating the maze alone. Realizing that Kyle was never one to pass up a challenge, she wasn’t surprised when he began to slow down and back away from the group.

BOOK: Murder Games
12.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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