Keeping Up Appearances [30 Days of Summer] WR101 Prompt Series

30 Days of June ImageOkay, so I can’t let Mark have all the fun! Here is my contribution to the daily-prompt for the 6 June 2014.

You are at a party and, as a joke, you introduce yourself as a clairvoyant. You field questions from other guests, plucking information from your head, which is surprisingly accurate. What starts off as a little fun, turns into a deadly game.

Prompt: Write a story based on the above theme.

Keeping Up Appearances

Joe despised his monkey-suit, almost as much as the obligatory social functions. He was bored out of his mind and he hadn’t even made it through the door.

At least this little soiree was being held at the hotel – his hotel to be exact. It meant plenty of room for escape.

As he stepped into the plush foyer, he surveyed the scene appraisingly. The contrasting colours of red and blue were a flag to his success. Everything from the thick carpeted entrance, to the uniformed staff and imposing check-in desk, spoke of wealth and comfort.

He’d been born into this life, but it wasn’t really who he was. Joe Montgomery had a secret, one he protected at all costs. So if putting on a suit and deflecting attention meant it got people off his back, he was more than willing to do the dance.

“Joe, thank god you’re here. I think I’m having a nervous break-down,” Silvia said, appearing at his side like an apparition.

He raised a brow at his assistant’s tone. “Problem?”

“You could say that. I’m not sure how else to say it, but the fact is, we’re double-booked.”

“Double-booked?” He wanted to laugh, but managed to hold it in check.

“It’s ridiculous, I know, but the president of the Actors Guild has a hundred guests expecting to use the ballroom, despite the fact you blocked out the entire floor for the Cooper Foundation.”

He considered that, and the possibility his staff had made the error. It didn’t seem likely, which meant something else was going on.

“Give them the Maguire Suite,” he said, thinking of the custom made facility on the grounds of the hotel.

“The cleaning crew are still working after the success of the last party. It won’t be ready for thirty minutes,” she said, tapping the button on her two-way to cut off the background noise.

“Then you have some entertaining to do,” he said and grinned. “Put the actors in the reception room until the suite is ready, and I’ll make sure the streams don’t cross.”

“Okay, you head off one crowd and I’ll head off the other,” she said, and just like that she was gone again.

An hour later he found himself contemplating his own disappearing act. He’d made it through the speeches, listened to the same stories over and over again and dodged a dozen hopefuls who were hell bent on getting him onto the dance floor.

It was the mystery, he knew, that drew people in. Nobody could pin him down, not even the press and it made him all the more attractive.

He thought of the party in the Maguire Suite and decided to pay them a visit. He knew everything that went on in one of his hotels and their presence pricked at his conscience.

He didn’t use the terrace, he cut across the gardens and was outside the suite in a matter of minutes.

Nobody saw him slip in, which meant he could observe for a while. It didn’t last long.

“You’re new,” a voice purred beside him.

He turned towards the leggy blonde who looked like a contestant from a Reality TV show.

“Are you a member of the Guild?” she asked.

The question threw him, because she clearly had a more administrative role. It didn’t explain what came out of his mouth next.

“I’m the entertainment!” He stuck out a hand. “Max Delaney, clairvoyant to the stars.”

He hadn’t meant to say the last part, but now that he had, he found the prospect of being someone else shockingly tempting. The name wasn’t half bad.

“How delightful, and typical of John,” she said, curling her arm through his. “Let me introduce you to the headliners this evening.”

There was something odd about her but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Not yet.

He allowed himself to be guided through the throng of people, listening with amusement as she introduced him.

“I must warn you,” a small, bird-like woman commented when he took her hand. “I don’t believe in this sort of thing.”

He smiled and closed his eyes, because it felt like something he should do. Besides, his senses were sharper without distraction. “You weren’t going to come tonight,” he said and heard the hush spread across the group. “But then you got a phone-call. The one you’ve been waiting for.

Joe opened his eyes and looked into hers. “Who can blame you for wanting to gloat a little? It’s the part of a lifetime.”

She gasped and removed her hand from his. “How do you know that?” she asked. “I haven’t told anyone yet.”

“Do me next,” another member of the group demanded, stepping between them.

Joe was about to oblige, but Legs stepped in. “That’ll have to wait,” she said, grabbing his arm and pulling him away. “Mr Delaney and I have terms to discuss.”

He followed her to the back of the room, only because he was curious.

“You don’t have to be so obvious about it,” she said, surprising him again.

“That’s what you’re….”

“Oh cut the crap, Joe. I know exactly who you are.”

His eyes took in the two heavy-set men who stepped into place at either side of him.

“You really don’t want to do that,” he said, still curious, but a little angry now too.

“I know exactly who you are,” she repeated and flashed a badge in his face; one he didn’t recognise. “Please, Mr Montgomery. I need you to come with me.”

He inclined his head and stepped forward, but not before putting her lap-dogs in their place.

Legs didn’t even flinch, which only interested him further. There was no doubt she was a dangerous woman. It didn’t take a clairvoyant to work that one out.

Still the night was turning out to be a lot more interesting that he’d given it credit for.

***

Thanks for reading.

Mel

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