I had probably been in that soft, slimy bath for at least half an hour, or three quarters of an hour…perhaps even a full hour! Oh, the time was hard to tell when my mind was on nothing. I had been lost, away in my mind, up to my head in liquid mud.
But, as I rose out of my unusual bath, almost completely at ease and already forgetting the mystery of the murder, a girl ran in.
She was heavily dressed for a spa: a long black cloak with a hood that was tempted to flop down over her tight, afro-like, black curls. Her makeup was suited to her dark skin-tone, pale cream lipstick emphasising her round lips, and her blusher making her cheeks glow, like bright, white roses. It was hard to tell her age, but she looked no older than twenty-five.
“Bella Howard?” She was out of breath.
“Yes?” I eyed her, suspicious; the ‘cloak-and-dagger’ routine seemed all too familiar.
“You knew Metya, am I right?
“Vaguely… I met her once.” And then it hit me. “She was dressed like you!”
“Yes…” The girl spoke slowly. Yet she had the ability to appear in a great hurry at the same time; her eyes flicked automatically round the room, stopping every so often at one of the three exits. Finally she looked back at me, and continued speaking.
“They’re trying to make you forget the murder case-”
“What?!” Once again, I eyed her, but this time my expression was full of confusion. “That’s absurd!”
“They’re trying to make you relax, and make you fall asleep. Didn’t you notice the sedatives they slipped into your champagne? They wanted you to drown-”
To be honest, I was starting to feel dizzy, but I still had enough sense to concentrate on the person in front of me.
“Don‘t be silly!” I cried, “Why would the staff want to harm me, their valued customer?”
The girl’s answer was blunt.
“Because they’ve been paid. A lot of money.”
She glanced around as the main door opened and a member of the spa staff walked in. He was startled, and, before he had even found the time to recover, he eyed the girl with distrust.
“Can I help you, miss? Are you a paying customer?”
Without waiting for an answer, he leant across to the wall and quickly pushed a big red button marked ‘staff’.
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”