“Sometimes your light shines so bright that it blinds people from seeing who you really are.”- Shannon L. Alder
Jealousy gives birth to anger and fear, inevitably branching out to other things both wonderful and horrible. Anger makes way for madness and hurt. Fear opens the door to resentment. They say jealousy is the green-eyed monster and no doubt that it is true. No one should ever succumb to that kind of monster. It’s the ruthless, soul-thirsty kind. Unfortunately, this story is about monsters. First came jealousy and the rest, as we all know, is history.
“I’m not stupid enough or naive enough to expect everyone to sympathize with me,” She was saying, her slender hands curled around the dainty teacup. There was a thin portion in her middle finger that was a shade slightly lighter than all the others. It was the tell-tale sign of a ring that was no longer there. It was something that made Perrine feel better.
A family of five has just stepped in the restaurant, talking among themselves and obviously in a good mood. A waiter wheeled his cart near Perrine’s table and somewhere at Mr. Umbry’s, someone let out a high-pitched laughter. It was past ten in the morning, the perfect time for brunch in Maroon City.
“I have other things in mind that no one could even begin to understand,” the girl kept on talking.
Perrine struggled to hear what she could amidst the din of the ridiculously overpriced restaurant. She was just one table away from that annoying little bitch and that should guarantee her a hundred percent chance on eavesdropping. She just didn’t count on her to be talking in a hushed tone in the middle of a busy brunch crowd, for heaven’s sake.
“Is something amiss, ma’am?” A host table, petite and pretty in spite of her drab black and white uniform, suddenly appeared at her elbow.
“Huh?” Perrine looked up, jolted and distracted.
The host table, whose brass nameplate read “Martha”, smiled at her in a pleasant, it’s-my-job-to-be-nice way. “I just want to know if everything is all right with the food and service.”
“Oh,” Perrine sat up straighter, suddenly feeling self-conscious. Did she do something here that was deemed out of the ordinary? Did tapping the polished spoon on her bowl of pumpkin & vanilla velouté construed a new request? Should she have ordered a cocktail instead of juice? Was there something on her face? “No, no, no, NO. Everything is FINE.” Her eyes darted back to the dark-haired girl sitting a few feet from her. She gestured at this pesky Martha to go away.
“If Jason has been a pain in the ass again, I can talk to him for you. It may not look it, but he and I are pretty close,” a willowy brunette said. She grinned. “I have lots to blackmail him for. Lots.”
The other dark-haired girl laughed. (God, she — Perrine — hated that laugh. That laugh belonged to a five year-old, not some twenty-six year-old who arranged travels and filed documents for a living.) “As tempting as that offer is, I’m afraid I’ll have to pass. But thanks, Clarisse,” She paused and then said, “That was very generous and kind of you.” Both girls laughed this time. Perrine clutched her spoon, clenched her jaw and saw red for a second. Keeping her eyes and ears on both girls, she forced herself to eat her food.
Alex leaned toward Clarisse and said in a stage whisper, “If you promise not to tell Jason, you can come to this party Lorcan is having.”
“Ooh,” Clarisse’s violet-blue eyes glimmered with mischief. “What kind of party is it and where?”
“We rented the penthouse at Amber Lodge. Be there tonight at eight and make sure to bring your best mask. That’s all he told me. Said he doesn’t want to ruin the surprise,” Alex said with a chuckle.
Clarisse rolled her eyes. “As childish as he is, he actually has pretty good taste. So I’m sure it’s going to be a good party.”
“He said it’s going to be a small one. Strictly invite only so we can’t ask anyone else to go with us,” Alex said.
Clarisse laughed. “A hush-hush party, then. What trick is he planning up his sleeve? A séance? Or maybe one of us will be summoning Bloody Mary? Perhaps play the Layers of Insanity game?”
This time, mischief was written all over Alex’s smile. “Maybe. I mean, who knows, right? It is Halloween, after all.” At the corner of her eye, she saw the woman with the long ash blond wig and nondescript green floral blouse fidget with her spoon. Alex tried to bite back her grin. Two can play this game, Perrine. If anything, I underestimated you. But props for changing the way you look in order to spy on me.