Josh looked at his reflection in the mirror. He was dressed, he thought, just right for an afternoon of spa, drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Knee-length khaki swim trunks, a simple pale blue cotton shirt over them, and a pair of canvas slip-ons. Everything designer, but nothing overdone. Exactly what he needed.
Dwayne Marshall would be hosting the party at one of the apartments the company owned. And you didn’t say ‘no’ to Dwayne. He was one of the top executives at Coming Age Investments, and Josh wanted to stay on his good side. Or, rather, he wanted Dwayne out of the way. And that meant he had to stay close, at least for the moment. Well, Dwayne wouldn’t be a problem after today.
Josh and Kayla had been planning this for a few weeks, so by now, they had all of the details worked out. And it wouldn’t be long before they were both living a lot better. But first, Josh had to pick Kayla up. He hoped she was ready.
Kayla didn’t let him down. She was wearing the perfect bathing suit – modest, but with all the promise of something skimpier – under an aqua-and-white cover-up dress. Her hair was down, and she’d been working on her tan.
‘You look great,’ Josh said after he kissed her.
‘So do you. Let’s do this.’
Josh agreed. The sooner the better.
There were already a few other people at the apartment by the time Josh and Kayla got there. But Dwayne noticed them right away and came over to greet them.
‘Glad you made it, Josh. Hello, Kayla, nice to see you again.’
The men shook hands, and Dwayne gave Kayla a hug that lasted a little too long. Well, that was all right. It wouldn’t matter for much longer.
The party went on for most of the afternoon. People got in and out of the spa, filled their plates with hors d’oeuvres from the nearby buffet table, and sat on lounge chairs, chatting. The staff kept the table supplied and the spa clean, and poured out champagne. Dwayne played host, urging people to get refills of champagne, and making sure he spoke to all the guests. Eventually, he made his way back to Josh and Kayla, who were sitting in the spa. He climbed in and sat beside Kayla.
‘You two having a good time?’ he asked.
‘It’s a great party,’ Josh said with a smile.
Kayla nodded. ‘It really is. Thanks for inviting us.’
‘Glad you came,’ Dwayne said. ‘Hey, your glasses are empty. Let me go get you some more champagne.’
‘I’ll go,’ Kayla said, standing up.
‘Thanks, Hon,’ Josh took her hand for a moment. She smiled at him and got out of the spa. Dwayne watched her appreciatively. ‘You got yourself a nice girl, there, Josh,’ he said.
‘She’s pretty amazing,’ Josh said.
‘You know,’ Dwayne said, ‘You have a real future with Coming Age. Your work’s good, and people have noticed it. You’ll go far if that’s what you want.’
‘Thanks,’ Josh said. ‘Doing my best, and hoping to move up.’
‘That’s what I thought,’ Dwayne said thoughtfully. Just then, Kayla came back with three glasses of champagne. She handed one to each man, and kept one for herself. The three raised their glasses and touched them together. Josh and Kayla exchanged a look. This was the time. If Kayla had done her job, everything would work out.
By the time he finished his glass, Josh started to feel a little woozy. He must’ve had too much, too quickly. He blinked a few times, but the dizziness didn’t go away. In fact, it got worse. He started to get up, but found he couldn’t. Then, as if from a long way away, he heard Dwayne.
‘Kayla told me everything. You think you’re the only one to watch your own ass? I can’t risk having you around, Josh.’
Josh turned mutely to Kayla. She looked at him almost fondly. ‘I’m sorry, Josh. But Dwayne and I – well, we have other plans. It’s nothing personal, it’s just, well…’ And that was the last thing Josh heard.
It was Félix, one of the staff, who saw the body first. He was walking past the spa on his way to dump some trash when he noticed the dark brown hair. He stopped and stared for a moment, not even sure he’d seen what he thought he’d seen. He was right. He rushed over to one of the women who’d been serving the champagne, and pointed at the spa.
‘Teresa, can I use your ‘phone? We need to call an ambulance or the police or something. There’s a guy in there, and it looks like he’s dead!’
‘I’ll do it,’ Teresa said. ‘You go inside and take a break. That must have scared the hell out of you.’
It had, and Félix was just as well pleased to have Teresa make the call.
Once Félix was out of the way, Teresa pulled her telephone out of her pocket. When she got through, she reported what had happened. Then she listened for a moment to the instructions she got.
‘All right,’ she said. ‘I’ll do that’ She listened again.
‘No, it wasn’t me. It was one of the cleaners who found him.’ More listening.
‘Yeah, I saw the whole thing. It was definitely our guy. And that woman – the one the dead guy came with.’ After a moment more of listening, Teresa said, ‘OK, I’ll meet you later and tell you the whole story. I can’t wait to see that bastard go to jail for murder.’ Then, after another minute, ‘No, he has no clue. Nobody pays any attention to the help. He had no idea I was watching.’
Teresa ended the call and slipped her telephone back into her pocket. That was one of the real advantages she had as an undercover cop. Nobody ever paid much attention to her. It was how she’d been able to watch Marshall for two months after the investigation started into his financial dealings. Well, he wouldn’t be handling any more investments any time soon.