No More Tears (unedited) *Prologue to chapter 3*

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Scarlett Mcbride was a model and country singer from Tennessee. After her death, her sister Averia sets about finding out who's responsible for it. Along the way people end up dead. No one can think of any suspects and there are not many witnesses. Will the killer find Averia before she finds them?

I know this story definitely needs editing... so forgive me for typos or grammar mistakes, I'm getting around to editing soon!

*****
Prologue:

        When Averia Was 9:

 
        Scarlett McBride worked in a small diner in town. Her mama was a drunk and her father had never been around. It just seemed that her and Averia, her younger step-sister, were suffering the consequences for their mama's wreckless behaviour.

Even though they were only stepsisters, Scarlett always called Averia her real sister.

Sitting in the front yard of her small home in a small town, Averia could feel the heat of the blazing sun, burning her neck and back.

She spent some time trying to find a patch of shade to sit in, while she waited for Scarlett to get home from work.

She didn't want to go into the house, at least not while her mama was still awake. She was drunk again.

She wanted to wait for Scarlett to come home because she was the only person Averia had ever felt safe around. Scarlett had planned to move away as soon as she had enough money to.

She wanted, desperately, to get out of this dump she had to call home.... It didn't feel much like a home at all.

'Listen Avie,' Scarlett would say, 'When you are old enough to fully understand what exactly is going on, you're gonna thank me. I know it's hard to hear that I plan to take you away to a whole new place, without mama, but it is for the best. You'll see.'

Scarlett was the one who had brought Averia up from being a baby. Scarlett was 19, and Averia was just 9 at this point.

From the front porch, Averia could hear her mama having a drunken argument with her latest man.

Harsh times... A 9 year old shouldn't be hearing these things. Averia turned around and walked away from the house

She decided to take a seat on a bench her sister Scarlett always sat and smoked a cigarette at for a few minutes before going home.

Averia was waiting for ages but Scarlett never turned up.

What had happened?
Was she OK?

Averia had got hungry and knew she needed to go inside. She'd surely starve soon. Her stomach was growling so loudly. She looked around at the door, listening to find out where her mama was.

Averia heard shouting upstairs and decided to quickly go make beans on toast for herself. She heard the shouting getting louder and more and more harsh words were being spat at her mama.

So Averia decided to take her food upstairs into her tiny bedroom and eat there.

She wished that Scarlett would be home soon. She figured she must have had to work overtime today. ..

With it being summer the other waitresses probably rang in ill so they could spend the day in the sun, wearing as little as possible.

Scarlett had names for these girls that Averia was told she wasn't allowed to say.

When Averia had finished her beans on toast she didn't dare leave her room to take the plate downstairs.

So instead, what she did was, open her bedroom window and climb out onto the tree and climb down the trunk and walk over the garden.

The sun had gone down slightly, it was cooler now so Averia decided to stay outside until the shouting inside had stopped.

When it had stopped and she thought it was safe, she went inside. She peeked into her mama's room and saw that she was asleep.

So where was Tony?

Tony was her mama's new boyfriend. He'll probably last about two months at the most... Just like the others.

Averia turned around and saw that Tony was standing behind her. 'Sorry about the shouting, kidda. Your mama can be such a bitch sometimes. Always on drugs. I'm outta here.' He said, with two huge gym bags in his hands looking angry and upset.

She must have hit him in the face too. Averia could see a red mark beginning to appear on Tony's right cheek.

I know what Scarlett would say right now, 'He's not wrong, she is a bitch.'

That was so typically Scarlett. She always said horrible things about Mama. She keeps telling me I'll understand why someday.  I hope I do, I'm so confused right now. 
About everything.


        Scarlett had been working overtime, when she got to the bench where Averia was waiting for her, she explained why.

'Almost every waitress called in complaining they had bad hay-fever, and couldn't work, so I had to work longer. I'm sorry darling.' She said.

'Mama's boyfriend left earlier.' Averia said.

'I knew it wouldn't be long.' Scarlett sighed.

'They were drinking and shouting, now mama's asleep in her room.' Averia explained. 'Tony called mama the B-word. And walked away.'

'Well that's because mama is a B-word Avie.' She sighed again as she stood up and held her hand out to Averia to hold as they walked home.

'Come on, we're gonna go pack.' She said.

'Pack?' Averia asked.

As Scarlett and Averia let themselves into the house, they heard Mama walking around upstairs.

Scarlett swore under her breath and said, 'Go wait back at the bench. I'll grab your things and we'll go.'

So Averia did as she was told.

She waited at that bench for 30 minutes, and when Scarlett came back, this time with lots of heavy looking bags that she was struggling with, she saw that she was crying.

'What's wrong Scarlett?'  Averia asked.

'Mama said some horrible things to me while I was there. That's all. I'll be fine once we've left.' She said, forcing herself to smile.

They walked to the nearest bus stop into town.

Then from there they got on a bus to the airport.

'How are you paying for all of this?' Asked Averia.

'I saved my paychecks. That's the reason there's been so little food Avie, I'm sorry but like I said, it's for the best. Once we get somewhere where there's nice food, we'll get a nice big dinner...each!' Scarlett said.

Once at the airport, Scarlett did what she said and got them both a dinner.

Then they went to see if any flights to New York were leaving soon that they could catch.

There was nothing for two hours, but that gave Scarlett plenty of time to buy Averia some nice new clothes and something to do on the plane.

Because Averia was only 9 it wasn't too hard to keep her occupied.

Scarlett got her a few colouring books and crayons for the plane. Scarlett slept through most of the journey. She'd been working so much recently she was absolutely shattered.

Averia was occupied enough with the colouring books and several packets of crisps.

Once they landed they found themselves a cheap, run-down hotel to stay in for a few nights until they could get a small apartment somewhere.

Scarlett was definitely in charge of sorting that out. Averia wouldn't have a clue.

All she could do was stay out of the way, and maybe actually go to school.

She's always wanted to go to school but her Mama kept pulling her out.

For no reason other than to ruin her life, Scarlett would say.

Scarlett was getting everything sorted with the receptionist at the hotel.

She looked awful, like she wasn't even bothered about her job and she didn't speak very politely to Averia and Scarlett.

And Scarlett was not happy about it, but because they needed somewhere to crash for a couple nights, she couldn't say or do anything about it.

Unless she complained to the manager.

If this place even has a manager... That's how bad it looked. But it'll do for a couple of nights. Scarlett managed to get an apartment a few days later.

Four days after landing in New York, they moved into the new apartment. It was much nicer than that hotel but it still wasn't great.

'Listen, I'll get me a job and you a place in a school, and obviously I'll get benefits for looking after you so we'll be OK for money after a while.' Scarlett explained.

Averia didn't understand what Scarlett meant by benefits and stuff, she just agreed and let her sister get on with it.

She'd rang lots of people and in the end said, 'Sorted, I'm gonna nip to a bank tomorrow and open an account for the benefit money. Might even get you a savings account.' She smiled.

Soon Scarlett was working in a small restaurant as a waitress during the day and sometimes through the afternoon.

Averia was in school until 3.30pm.

Sometimes Averia would have to stay in the apartment alone while Scarlett worked.

It was OK though. She was used to having to look after herself, her Mama never used to do it. Averia had taught herself well enough, she could cook basic stuff and make tea and coffee.

She was told to always leave the door locked while she was home alone. Scarlett didn't want anything to happen to Averia.

Scarlett had spent much of her life watching Averia be abused. That's if her Mama wasn't to busy abusing her.

Glad she'd finally got away, they relaxed on Scarlett's first Saturday off.She sat in with her little sister and watched some TV.

Averia was getting more and more friends in school too, which made her a much happier child.

Finally things were going right for the girls and on Averia's 10th birthday, she had plenty of friends come round to spend it with her. 

                                                            *****

When Averia was 13:

        At age 13, Averia had moved schools. She'd left Junior school now and was moving on to 'Big School', as she'd call it.

Now, with beautiful long brown hair and sparkling eyes to match, Averia was becoming much more of a person. Her own person.

She had a bit more confidence now, and friends. They helped a lot through school when she first moved over with Scarlett.

To Scarlett, Averia used to be quiet all the time, but the Averia that her school friends would talk about, wasn't the Averia that Scarlett was so scared for back home with Mama.

Averia was always quiet and in the corner, Averia always kept to herself otherwise she'd be beaten or screamed at.

Now, though, Averia had freedom. Freedom to speak and be happy.

That's all thanks to Scarlett!

She was excited and nervous about moving schools, but her big sister told her, 'It's OK, you'll make loads of friends. But there will be bullies too and all you have to do is act like whatever they say doesn't bother you. They'll get bored.'

Scarlett turned and looked sympathetically at Averia. Noticing that even though she had just said that, Averia was still scared and nervous.

'Remember, I've been there...Many times. If your ever upset, you can come and talk to me. I guarantee I got the same treatment in school. They just like to bully the new kid.' Scarlett said.

Scarlett was always good at making Averia feel better. In Averia's eyes, she was the best sister ever.

Scarlett, now 23, with her long wavy red hair, had been doing a few gigs in a little bar down town. She was getting a bit of extra money through that.

She was a singer, and next week she had a interview with a modelling agency.

'It's ok, you'll be coming with me.' Scarlett told Averia. 'It's next Friday afternoon. I'll come get you from school if you like, and we'll go from there.'

Scarlett was incredibly happy. All week she was trying beauty tips from Magazines and from the TV to make herself look "better", as she would say.

But Averia just said, 'You don't need to look better. You already look fantastic!' She smiled so widely.

Now she'd gotten away from Mama and got a better life for herself and Averia, everything was going to plan.

Scarlett had even got herself a boyfriend who she'd been with since Averia was 10.

        A young single father, Tom, had brought his son round for Averia's 10th birthday party. He was 22 at the time, she was 19, nearly 20.

He is now 26 and his ex girlfriend had managed to get full custody of their son Alex, which totally destroyed him. Tom was great with Averia and Scarlett could trust him with her, alone. While Scarlett was at work, Tom would look after Averia when she got home from school.

He would make her dinner, and put her school clothes in the wash. He also made sure she understood her homework, if Scarlett wasn't back early enough to help her. Scarlett was excited about her interview on Friday.

Tom wouldn't be able to go with her because his ex girlfriend was finally letting him take Alex out for the day.

He had to stay with her though.

Thursday came and Scarlett was figuring out what the plan was for tomorrow.

She'd done all her beauty tips and her skin was looking bright and fresh. Her hair soft and smooth, and somehow her body looked different. More curvy. Maybe she'd been working out a little. Averia didn't know why Scarlett went to all that trouble.

She looked great all the time without any make up or beauty tips from crappy TV adverts and Magazines.

She was just a natural beauty.

Eventually Scarlett had made her plan.

Get up early, get everything ready and go to the interview looking fresh and bright.

                                                           *****

The Day Of Scarlett's Interview:

        Scarlett woke up early that day, to make sure she had enough time to get everything she needed ready.

She made Averia breakfast before school and explained they'd be getting food in town after her interview, and gave Averia some money for food at school.

Averia's friends were impressed that her sister was going to become a model.

'She is beautiful,' They were saying.

'Gorgeous.' They'd say.

A lot of Averia's male friends thought the same.

They were right. Scarlett had long brown wavy hair, down to her hips nearly, bright green eyes and soft pink lips.

Her pale skin always smooth and clear.

No wonder Tom fell for her so quickly.

When Scarlett was waiting for Averia in her little car, outside the school, she saw one of Averia's friends who told her that Averia was on her way out now.

They also told her good luck with the interview.

Averia ran over to the car and jumped in. 'Lets go!' She said in a happy voice.

'Good mood?' Asked Scarlett.

'I'm excited. Your gonna be a model.' Said Averia.

'How's the new school anyway. After a week of being there what do you think of it?'

'Its a dump.' said Averia flatly. 'And the teachers are weird, the other students are like you said, bullies. But at least I've got friends here.'

'Yeah? That's great!' Said Scarlett as she came to the end of the school's drive.

She looked for traffic coming down the road. 'As long as you don't bother those bullies in any way, you should be fine.'

'I don't.' Averia said.

They headed into town to the modelling agency place where her interview was.

Averia sat in the corridor waiting for Scarlett to finish up.

They had to take some photo's of her and would call her back once they had made their decision.

When Scarlett came out she looked happy.

'They said I had great bone structure?!' She sounded like she wasn't sure what to think about that comment.

Her cheek-bones were high and defined, and her jawline was soft and feminine.

'They seemed happy enough with me, I guess.' Scarlett was saying as they were walking back to the car.

' Well, they didn't kick me out so that's a good start.'

'Well, good.' Averia said, 'That's a good start.'

'You're damn right it is!'

Scarlett was definitely happy with the way the interview went. She got straight onto the phone to Tom.

'Hey, they seemed happy with me babe.' She said, smiling down the phone.

'They said I should get a call back by next Wednesday.' She beamed.

When Scarlett was done on the phone, she turned to Averia.

'I don't know if you remember but when you were younger I said everything would be OK, that I'd make it work somehow. I was scared you know, Avie. I didn't know how we'd manage, but we're getting there!' She said.

'I never doubted you Scarlett.' Averia said.

She smiled at her older sister.

'Now let's go get some dinner.' Scarlett said happily.

They drove to a nearby Indian restaurant.

'This will do.' Scarlett said.

She parked the car and got out.

Averia followed Scarlett inside. They were taken to a table and handed a menu each.

'Choose whatever you want.' Said Scarlett.

                                                           ******

3 Years Later:

        Averia was now 16 and now there was no need to be looked after by Scarlett, who was now 26. But she still chose to live with her.

Until the day Scarlett broke this news to Averia:
'Me and Tom are getting married!!' She beamed, as she bounded through the door. 

'Oh my God! That's amazing!! Congratulations!' Averia beamed back.

 'It just means you'll have this apartment to yourself... because I'm moving in with him!' Scarlett told her.

Averia was scared about losing her sister and living alone. She'd learned things from watching her sister as she grew up. She had a basic understanding of things.

'Don't worry your not losing me, you can call me anytime. I'll still come over.' Scarlett smiled. 'You'll still be my sister.And if you need help, with the apartment, or anything, anytime, I'll be there.'

So Scarlett moved out and a year later was married.
17 Year old Averia was waiting in the airport for Scarlett.

She had been away on tour. Her singing career and the modelling was going well. When Scarlett arrived Averia noticed she'd lost weight. 'Scarlett, have you been eating properly? You look a little thin.' Averia was worried.

Scarlett was looking drained, tired, and dull. She looked miserable. 'Scarlett?' Averia asked. She was blatantly being ignored by Scarlett.

'Shut up, Averia.' She snapped. Averia stayed quiet.

What was going on? Why is she being like this? Averia thought nothing of it.

She must just be tired from travelling all over the world. Playing gigs almost every night. Modelling too. Must be tiring.

A few days passed and Scarlett was looking no better. If Averia asked any questions, Scarlett would snap at her.
This wasn't like Scarlett. 'Where's Tom anyway?' Averia asked.

'As his Mama's.' Scarlett said.

''Why isn't he here? Have you two had an argument?' Asked Averia, expecting to be snapped at. Instead Scarlett got up from the sofa and walked into her room.
Scarlett's house was huge but Averia managed to still hear her door slam.

They must have been arguing. Poor Scarlett, everything had been going so right. Up until now.

        It turned out Scarlett had been on drugs. All kinds of things. Everything was going from bad to worse. One night for Scarlett's 28th birthday, Averia, Tom and some of Scarlett's model friends decided to take her out.

But while having dinner Scarlett decided to have a little too much to drink. She started shouting, slurring insults at everyone. She even took off her wedding ring and screamed at Tom about how he didn't love her.

What was happening to her? Was it Tom's fault she was like this now?

Averia and Katy, one of Scarlett's friends, got Scarlett in a taxi and sent her back home. The guests started to leave the restaurant and Scarlett's party was over. Tom stayed with Averia to take care of the bill. 

'Should I go see her?' Asked Averia.

'I think its wise you leave her to sober up and talk to her tomorrow.' Tom said.

'Yeah you're right. Well I'll give you a call in the morning to see if it's OK to come round.' Averia said.

'OK Avie. See you tomorrow.' Tom said.

'See you.'

        The next morning Averia rang Tom to talk to Scarlett. Except, Averia couldn't speak to Scarlett. Because Scarlett was dead.

                                                            *****

        So Averia, still only 18 had to plan her sister's funeral. When she was found, it looked like she'd either jumped, or fallen, (or pushed) from her balcony of her home. The Police spoke to everyone who was at her birthday dinner that night. But everyone seemed to have a flawless alibi. Soon enough, Tom was arrested for murder.

Probably because they couldn't figure it out so thought, Yeah, let's just arrest the husband... The police investigation went on for months and Averia was getting pretty sick of it. She just wished it would all end. Constantly, on a day to day basis, she was being reminded of Scarlett.

Reminded of how, someone, somewhere around her killed her, and was getting away with it.

Averia started to have trouble sleeping.
Too much on her mind, it was restless.
She couldn't stop her brain from thinking at night. Many nights she stayed up drinking coffee, singing in her kitchen just to pass the time.

News reports about the murder meant Averia couldn't even catch up on news, she didn't wanna hear about it.

Newspapers with pictures of Scarlett filling the front page, with the title 'MURDERED?' sprawled across the top.
People talking, whispering in cafe's, in the street, in her block of flats. 

Averia had to keep singing over the noises in her head, over her brain that every night, keeps her up with its useless babble.
It was only depressing Averia.  Weeks went by, with investigators asking question after question.

Averia soon decided she had to do something with her time, to help her move on. Help keep her mind off it. That's it, after the funeral, everything's gonna change...
It has to...


*********************

Chapter 1


        Averia stepped out of the taxi. She looked up at the block of apartments where she lived.  Memories came flooding back to her. This was the first place she shared with Scarlett, when she was just 9 years old.

She knew damn well she'd have to move out soon. Leave it all behind. Scarlett's funeral was 6 months ago.

Averia followed in her older sister's footsteps and is working on becoming a singer. She had a few Gigs in her local area recently and people were beginning to recognize her more. Still, she missed Scarlett.

The police investigation is still ongoing.

They can't decide whether Tom killed her or not, it seems. Averia knew. She'd happily say Tom did it. He was the only one with her after she walked out of her own birthday dinner.

No one else saw her that night.  
Only Tom. So what was he hiding? It must have been something....

Averia would soon have to make a statement about what she remembers of that night. Who might have been there, who had a grudge against her?
Tom. That's the only person. She threw her wedding ring away...

He must have hated her for that. He must have felt angry? Humiliated?
And he lives with her and apparently "found" her the next morning on their back yard.

 Averia went up to her apartment and went inside. She locked the door and picked up the pile of mail that had been delivered. She had to make a phone call soon, to arrange to make a statement, about what she knew of that night.

She thought she'd arrange it straight away to get it over and done with. After she'd made the appointment for in two days time, she relaxed in a nice hot bath.

Not that she could relax.

She kept thinking about all the questions she's going to be asked, having to re-live that night. As soon as it was over she was taking a holiday.

Her friend Harley had invited her to go away on holiday with him and his band, Black Absence, who she had also known for years.

They were taking her to a 5-Star Hotel where there was a Spa, 3 Pools and a small nightclub inside. Apparently people from Scarlett's record label will be there. Including Tom's friend Craig. She leaves on Thursday. Today was Monday. She had the meeting about her statement on Wednesday, then after she could relax.

Her part in all this would be over soon.

As she stepped out the bath she heard her phone ring. She ran to answer it with only a towel around her and her hair twisted up in anothee towel on her head,

 'Hey Harley!' She beamed, sounding happy to hear from him.

'Hey how are you?' Harley asked.

'Just got out the bath actually. Can I call you back in a bit?' Averia asked.

''Of course, sorry Avie.' Harley said.

'OK, talk to you later.' Averia said.

'OK, bye.' Harley said also sounding happy.


        Averia put her phone down on the table and went back into her bedroom to get dressed and dry her hair. As she unravelled her hair from the towel she picked up her hairdryer and started to dry her hair.

While she did this, she wondered about what to do the following day.

I could just relax here for the day and go over my statement for Wednesday. Or I could go out and treat myself... Nah, I'll stay home.

For the rest of the night, she relaxed in front of the TV, with several coffee's, and a throbbing headache. That's kinda weird, I felt fine earlier...

At half 11PM, she'd finally had enough. She took a few painkillers and headed off to bed.


                                                           *****

        Averia's alarm clock went off at 9.30am. She groaned as she leaned sleepily out of bed to turn it off. She picked up her phone and saw she had 2 text messages. Both from Harley.

HarleyHey, you OK? Thought you was gonna ring me back? xx

HarleyAvie? Please tell me your OK.. X


Averia called him straight away.
A sleepy sounding Harley answered, 'Hey, what happened?'

'Sorry Harley, calling you back completely slipped my mind. I ended up having to go to bed with a awful headache last night.' Averia explained.

'Oh, I'm just glad your OK. Feeling better?' Harley asked.

'Yeah, just woke up so I'm gonna get breakfast and I'll try and remember to call you later.' Averia laughed.

'OK Avie, I'll look forward to it... Can I go back to sleep now?' Harley giggled.

'Oh sorry did I wake you?' Asked Averia.

'Haha, yeah kinda.' 

'Oops, sorry, I'll let you get back to sleep, and I will call you later.' Averia smiled.

'Ok, talk to you later.' Said Harley.

'Bye.' Averia hung up and got out of bed. She made herself coffee and breakfast while watching a bit of morning TV.

When the daily paper was delivered she looked through to see if any better, bigger, apartments were available nearby. Maybe even a small house would do.

Averia was so glad her sister brought her up. If she'd stayed living with her Mama, she wouldn't have a clue what to do.

Scarlett was great with Averia, and she was grateful to have had a sister like Scarlett. Its thanks to Scarlett that Averia had the life she has now.

Since she left home at the age of nine, she hadn't heard from her Mama. Not a word. Proved how much she cared about her daughters...

 Oh, well. Her loss... Averia thought. That's what Scarlett always used to say.

That's what got Averia through her teenage years, because no matter how much she hated her mama, she ended up missing her, in a way. But every time she did, she just thought of Scarletts words, Its her loss... Don't worry about it.

Averia found one place that sounded OK. She rang up about it. A bigger 2 bed-roomed apartment. So much bigger than this place.

She arranged a time to go look around it.  They were available to show her around today, so Averia jumped at the chance.

At 4 pm she'd head out. She grabbed dinner from a diner on her way to look around the apartment. While sat in the diner she overheard someone say her name.

'Excuse me?' A woman was saying.

Averia looked up. 'You Averia Raynor right?' The woman asked.
Averia nodded.

'I've seen you sing in a few bars around here, and I own a small country style pub down town, I'd love it if you'd come sing for us one night? I'll leave you my number if you'd like to think about it.'

The woman smiled.  She looked around 45 years old. Jet black hair pulled up in a bun. A purple blouse and a long black skirt.

Averia took the woman's card with her number on it and said, 'Yeah that would be fantastic! I've been wanting to find somewhere new to expand a bit, you know what I mean.'

'Wanting to become a famous singer?' The woman asked, looking suddenly intrigued. Averia nodded.

The woman then explained to Averia that she's had a few regular singers become famous from gigging in her pub, a lot of producers go there to find talent.

'Really?' Averia said. 'OK I'll give you a call tomorrow.' she smiled.

The woman left and Averia looked at the woman's card.

Her name was Gail Hopkiss, owner of the Red Robbin cafe/bar in town.

Averia had been past that place before, but never went inside. It looked decent enough though. Worth a shot.

Then after her dinner, she set off to see the new apartment. She got there a bit early but so had the lady to show her around.

When she was let inside Averia instantly loved the place. So much brighter than her apartment, more space.

The windows were bigger which let more light in and the bedrooms were much bigger than her bedroom. 

She put an offer to the lady and she said, 'OK thanks Miss Raynor, I'll call you in a few days time.' She smiled. Averia left the apartment feeling hopeful. 

Averia drove home quickly. She just wanted to relax with a coffee now.

Averia let herself into her apartment. After seeing that place, this just looked like a hole to her. She sighed and put her bag down on the table. She checked her phone and had one new message.

 Harley: Hey, give us a call when you get this, got good news! :D x

 Averia pressed the call button. 

'Hello? Answered Harley.

'Hey, what's the good news?' Averia asked, happily.

'Oh right well, the manager of this place has like a gig night kinda thing, and he's asked us to be regular players here!' Harley beamed down the line.

'Oh that's great! So how did that happen?' 

'I'll explain at dinner when you get here.' Harley said bluntly.

'Dinner?' Asked Averia.

'Yeah we're having a celebratory dinner and you're invited!' Harley said.

'Oh thanks.' Averia smiled. 'Anyway, I'll call you tomorrow after I've made my statement with the police then I guess I'll see you on Thursday! I've only just got in from the apartment viewing, It was lovely. I want it!' 

'Ha-ha OK, love. See you Thursday!' Harley said.

Averia said goodbye and hung up.

She decided to make herself a coffee while she went over the statement she would make to the police tomorrow in her head.

She knew that having to re-live the night of her sister's death would be hard but she'd have to do it to get Tom sent down...  Finally.

        Why was it taking them so long? I hope after all this, everything will change. With Tom out of the picture and no more police and interviews, I can get on with my life.


                                                           ***** 

The Day Of Averia's Statement~


        Averia woke up dreading today. This day would be the day she'd have to explain and re-live the last time she saw her beloved sister.

She had to be there soon so she dressed after a shower and had breakfast while she waited in traffic.

A few slices of toast will do. I'll get something after the meeting. Averia had thought that morning.

She was invited to sit down by a very smiley woman who was clearly just trying to lighten the mood. All it did was annoy Averia. 

Why be so happy around someone in my position? Bit harsh I reckon. You should be offering me coffee! Averia thought to herself.

'So Averia, the last time you saw Averia was when?'

'After the whole scene in the restaurant...I can't remember the exact time, I've already told you that...But I remember me and Tom realizing I shouldn't bother her that night and just leave her to cool down.' Averia  told her.

'Then what did you do?' The lady asked.

'So I went home planning to see her the next day. And the next day I got up to go see her. But then I found out she was dead.'

'And when you left her, who was she with?' The smiling lady asked.

'She left alone in a taxi, then Tom went home to her. The only person I knew she was with was Tom.' I said bluntly.

'So your saying there was no one else present at her death, other than her husband Tom?'

'Yes. That's exactly what I'm saying. He claims to have found her in the morning, though right?' Averia told her. The lady nodded.

 'Exactly...He was the only one there and the one who found her? Something's not right.'

'I think you should leave us to the investigating Miss Raynor.' The lady said flatly.

Well fuck you then, Averia thought. You're asking for my input, I'm giving you it.

After Averia had done, she left and sadly ate dinner in a cafe on the road home. It had gotten to her the way she thought it would.

Why must they make you go through everything, when they can tell your still grieving?! It's heartless!  How would she like it? 

She got up from her seat and went to the toilets, to wipe her eyes.

She could feel the tears beginning to creep over the edge of her eyes, making her mascara run and her eyeliner smudge.

She stood in the mirror for several minutes. Until her tears had gone and her make up was re-done.

She then left the cafe after paying.

        When she arrived home she checked her phone. She'd had a missed call from a withheld number. She couldn't ring back, so she figured if it was important, they'd ring back.

She sat down on her sofa and switched on the T.V.

She watched an hour or so of soaps, then started to finish off packing for her week away.

She'd got all her casual, day-clothes to wear all packed up, but she still needed shoes and a few dresses for the evenings out. She couldn't wait to go to dinner with Harley and the rest of Black Absence.

She hadn't seen those guys in so long! Lucky for them, everything was going so well. 

They were on the verge on getting a recording contract and their lives seemed so simple and happy right now.

That's OK, they might cheer me up too. Averia thought. After finishing packing, she left her bags by the front door.

Then went off to bed.


                                                            *****

        In the morning she'd shower, have breakfast and head to the bus station.

This time Saturday night she'd be having dinner with Harley in Florida. In her dreams that night, she saw Scarlett as she was falling violently towards her own back yard.
She could hear her scream.

Averia shot awake at half past 3. Dripping with sweat, due to her dream.

Breathing quite heavily too, she got up to fetch herself a glass of water. As she was walking back to bed she noticed the water kept dripping onto her bare feet.

Then she realized how much she was still shaking.  She sat down and took a sip of water, turned off the light to lie down and close her eyes to sleep.

Half past nine, Averia was woken up by her alarm. She crawled lazily out of bed and gathered the days outfit from a chair in the corner of her room.

After checking it was all there, Averia went into the bathroom and turned on the shower. While showering, Averia went over everything in her head.

Had she said enough yesterday to get Tom sent down?

        I can't believe they're still letting him walk the streets! They should at least have him in custody or something, somewhere.  Not in public.
 Not near me!


*********************

Chapter 2:

         Thursday Afternoon — 4.50PM:



        Averia got off the bus in Florida to then get a taxi to the Spa Hotel. Harley had arranged to meet Averia outside the main doors, to help with her bags and get her checked in. While in the taxi, she noticed the driver keep glancing back at her.

They stopped at some lights, 'Something wrong?' She asked, getting pretty sick of it.

'No, sorry. I just recognize you.' He paused. He then continued, 'You're that models sister aren't you?' He asked.

'Yeah...I am.' Averia said.

'Ah, thought I knew you from somewhere.'
He turned back around and carried on driving her to the spa.

This place looked pretty posh from what she's seen of it. When Harley had invited her here she'd looked up the place on the internet.

'River Valley Spa & Hotel.' Very nice, what's he trying to do? Seduce me?! Averia joked to herself.

The taxi driver eventually pulled up at some big black gates with a white wall all around.  This must be the place. Finally...

The gates opened and the driver dropped her off at the doors. While Harley got her bags out of the taxi, Averia payed the fare. She then turned around and, as the taxi was speeding off , throwing up dust, she ran over to Harley who scooped her up in a massive hug.

'Hey.' He smiled. 'Stupid question but, how are you?'

'I guess I'm OK.' Averia smiled. 

'Sure?'

'Yeah. It's just that having that statement meeting yesterday kinda bummed me out but other than that, I'm all good.' Averia smiled, reassuring Harley there was no need to worry about her.

'Well as long as your OK and healthy?' He looked at Averia.

'Yep.' Averia smiled

'Pregnant?' He raised his eyebrows at her.

'Nope.' She laughed.

'Good, that's what I like to hear.' He then picked up some of Averia's bags and helped her inside with them.

'Let's get you checked in.'  Harley had always been good at making Averia smile. She almost saw him as a brother.

He'd looked after her for a few years, when she was in school, when she met him. He was 1 year above her, one of the eldest in his year. 

        They met through Averia's friend Rosie, who dated Harley's best friend, Jake, who is now Harley's guitarist. Then through those two Averia met drummer Alex, Bass player Naomi and occasional Pianist or Keyboardist Kyle Marrow.

This was her first time meeting the others, and she couldn't wait to get to dinner with them tomorrow night to get to know them.

After Averia had checked in, Harley walked her over to his band-mates, 'Hey guys, this is my friend Averia, or Avie as I call her.' Averia smiled and waved.

'Hi guys.' she said. 'Nice to meet you.'

'Hey, I'm Alex, this is Naomi...' Alex said gesturing towards a pretty, dark haired girl, 'And this is Kyle.' Kyle then waved.

'Hi.' He said.

'Hey.' Smiled Averia.

        Naomi, who hadn't said hello yet due to being deep in conversation with a blonde girl, was around 5'7, with long black hair. She had several facial piercings, including her eyebrow, nose and lip, and several gold rings in her ears.

She was wearing knee high black boots with around 4 inch heels. A purple and black top and black skinny jeans.

She's gorgeous... Averia thought to herself. 'I'm gonna go show Avie to her room, shall I meet you guys later? Out front?' Harley said.

        The other guys agreed to meet up later and Harley grabbed Averia's bags and led her to the elevator. They went up to the fourth floor and got out. Reaching room 456, Harley got out a key and let them both in.

'Here we are, this is your room.' He said, handing Averia the key.

'This is lovely.' Averia said, wide eyed.

The room was beautiful. Two leather 3 seat sofa's, plasma TV, a fully furnished living room and kitchen. The bedroom was also spectacular...A king sized four-poster bed, with thin black curtains around it.

Over from the bed was a beautiful wooden dressing table with a wardrobe next to it.  The wardrobe was huge, and looked to be made of Oak.

Next to the bed there was a little white bedside table with two drawers in it.

The bathroom was well lit, the tiles were a ocean blue colour, the bath, looked more like a Jacuzzi, it had a separate shower and all the towels had been neatly folded. The living room had everything you needed.

On the glass table in-between the sofa and the TV, were tissues, today's newspaper, the hotel's magazine (promoting the Spa and other facilities and activities) and the TV guide.  

There was a bowl of fresh fruit on the round, wooden kitchen table, and sticky notes on the fridge in case you need them.

This place is great. 'I love it.' Averia said.

'Haha, I knew you would.' Said Harley. 'Glad I invited you out here?'

'Definitely.' Averia smiled. Harley was putting Averia's bags on the bed as she walked around the place, looking in amazement how lovely it was.

Harley looked over at her and saw a look in her eye that said she was unhappy. He stopped what he was doing and walked over to her and took her by the hands.

'Hey, listen, I know I've asked but, are you sure you're OK? I see a look on your face that says otherwise...I don't expect you to feel fantastic, what I mean is, you can talk to me you know.' Harley said.

'I know. I just don't wanna bother you with my life. You're here having a good time, I dont wanna bring you down.' Averia smiled.

Might have been a fake smile, or it might not. Even Averia didn't know.

'Really dude, I'm OK. I just need time to adjust and take my mind off things. I'm sure with everything they have here I'll find something to do.' Averia said.

'Besides, I know you and your friends are crazy enough to do some stupid shit to make me laugh..You always do.'

'Haha, yeah we can get a little...merry, sometimes...' Harley admitted.

'Merry?! You're like a bunch of five year old's hyped up on sugar and candy! It's hard to handle sometimes!' 

Averia reminisced  the times she hung out with Harley and their old bunch of friends a couple of years ago. 'Fun times right?' Harley said.

'Definitely.' Averia agreed. 'Might get you drunk enough to do it all again soon.' Averia winked jokingly at Harley.

'Alex already beat you to that. He said he's gonna get me wasted this week whether I like it or not.' Harley laughed. 'You're right... My friends are crazy.'

'No, it's you...You're a bad influence.' Averia joked with Harley.

'Hey! No I'm not!' He said. 'Come on, we'll unpack later, let's go get you some food. I bet you're hungry. You've had a long trip.'

'I'm not that hungry..'

'I don't care, I wanna make sure you're well and looked after...I'm buying you some food.' Harley insisted.

'Fine.' Averia gave in.

'When are you meeting your friends?' Averia asked.

'I dunno, Later. I'll just ring one of them and be like "yo bitch! Where you at"?' Harley said. 

Averia and Harley looked at each other and giggled. Averia said, 'Alrighty then.'

'How's this singing thing coming along anyway?' Harley asked.

'Actually, not too bad. A lady came to me in a cafe the other day and asked me to be a regular singer in her Country style Cafe/Bar...What was it called...' Averia thought for a moment.

'I don't know...' Harley said.

'The Robbin!' Averia remembered.

'Oh I've been in there! It's not too bad actually. Drinks are pretty cheap.' 

'I don't care about the drinks Harley! What are the other singers there like?' Asked Averia.

'Alright I guess. There was this one blonde chick once...She was stunning!' Harley said.

Averia sighed. 'Talent wise...'

'Oh, well...Some were good, some weren't so good. And some were just downright awful. Don't worry, I'm sure you'll do fine.' Harley turned and looked at Averia, he smiled.

Averia smiled back and said, 'Thanks Harley. You've always been a good friend.'

'Well, I did say I'd always be here for you. Didn't I?'

'You did.' Averia admitted.

'So tomorrow night...You got your outfit ready? I know what you women are like, have to get it ready three days before he event.' Harley teased.

'Haha, no actually, I haven't decided what to wear yet. I brought a selection with me.' Averia said.

'Hey, maybe you and Naomi could have a bonding sesh and she could help you decide and get ready together?' Harley suggested.

'Yeah that might be cool. Why not suggest it?'

'I will do later. When you're more acquainted.' Harley said.

So Harley led Averia through the hotel, until they got to the groud floor.

'Right from here, that way, ' He pointed left, 'Is the indoor pool, and to the right is the outdoor pool. If you go through there,' He pointed to a doorway leading to a corridor, 'They are the rooms for like, massages and all that kinda stuff, acupuncture and all that, and behind here is the spa...'

He paused for a minute, looked around, then looked back at Averia and clapped his hands together.

'So...What do you wanna do?' He asked.

'I actually don't know...' Averia was lost. So much to choose from.  It was getting late in the evening, maybe a spot of dinner wasn't such a bad idea.

'Where's the cafeteria?' She asked.

'This way.' Harley turned around on his heel and led Averia to the cafeteria. There she selected her food and went to sit with Harley who had been joined by Jake.

'Hey.' she said as she sat down.

'Hey.' He said back. 'How's it goin'?' He asked.

She could remember now he told her he'd used to live in Texas, now she'd heard him talk more, she remembered.

'Um, it's going fine.' She smiled. 

'Good.' He said back. Averia began to eat while Jake and Harley had a chat about band stuff, and the gig on Saturday night.

Jake was so excited, 'It's been ages since we've done a gig dude!' 

'I know, but calm down man...You're like a child.' Harley said.

Averia laughed.

'What was that for?'

'I'm sorry. You say he's like a child...He probably got that from you!' She laughed. That natural smile, that Harley loved so much popped out to say Hi again.

This was really what she'd been needing. To get away and see her old friends, take her mind off things and relax. And here, with Harley she was doing just that.

'We're all big kids really.' Admitted Jake. 'Naomi can be the worst for it though.'

'Really?' Averia said. 'She didn't look the type. She looks like the type to take no shit!' 

'Oh, yeah she's like that too. But most of the time she's a big kid, but don't cross her path!' Jake said.

'Yeah, you could soon find yourself descending into your own private hell...' Said Harley widening his eyes at Averia.

'Yeah that can sometimes happen...' Said Jake.

'Yeah you'd know that!'

'What did you do?' Averia asked.

'That...doesn't matter, the point is...'

'No, no dude, tell her...What exactly was it you did?' Harley teased his friend.

'I might have accidentally...call her cat ugly...But that was her own fault!.'

'How was it her fault?' Averia laughed.

'She called my lizards 'grizzly'...Who says that about lizards?!' Jake ranted.

'You don't diss Naomi's cat...' Harley told Averia.

'No you really don't.' Said Jake. 'It hurts.' He stuck out his bottom lip.

'He had bruises for weeks.' Harley smiled.

He then teased Jake some more. 'Haha you got beat up by a girl!'

'Shut it, Harley!' So sat round the table having a laugh, Averia suddenly realized something...

She was done with her food so she stood up and said, 'Guys I gotta go make a phone call, then I'm thinking about going to bed, I've been travelling all day.' She explained. 'I'll meet you tomorrow?'

'Yeah OK, see you tomorrow.' Harley smiled.

Jake said goodbye too and Averia went back up to her room. Once there, she locked the door and sat down. 


                                                           *****

        I forgot he would be here... Tom's friend Craig... What if I see him? What would I say? 

I wouldn't know where to begin! I guess I could just ignore him, but that would be pretty rude, after all, he's never done anything wrong to me... 

I just don't want to risk having him bring up Scarlett or Tom... Or what he did to her.

Obviously Craig's been sticking up for Tom the whole time... 'He's innocent! He hasn't got the heart to kill someone! He'd never hurt a fly!'.... 

But was that true though? I mean, did Craig secretly know what happened to Scarlett?

Does he know the truth? I'll bet there's something he knows. Maybe him being here isn't such a bad thing after all... I could end up getting the truth here.

 And that's what I want
. Averia thought while she sat with a coffee at that beautiful kitchen table.

She'd had a missed call so she checked the number. As she was doing so, her phone began to ring. It was the same number. 'Hello?' Averia answered.

Turns out it was the woman Averia gave her statement to.

'I'm just calling to tell you that's all we need from you now. You can go back to your life without having to deal with this anymore. I hope you get the answers you need from this Miss Raynor. Thanks for your time, you helped us a lot.' She had said.

Averia didn't feel like she'd been much use.

Tom was still wandering the streets. If she'd done any good, he'd be behind bars... Anyway she thanked the woman and hung up. She went back to drinking her coffee then thought about making her way to bed.

        Tomorrow she'd start the day with a healthy breakfast from the cafeteria and maybe a dip in the pool. In the afternoon she planned to go to the spa and chill in the Jacuzzi before getting ready for dinner with Harley.

Averia put her cup on the side, switched off the lights and headed into her bedroom.

She closed the curtains and picked up her nightdress. She went into the bathroom to get herself ready for bed. She brushed her teeth and her hair, changed into her nightdress and went to bed.

She slept easily that night, not like the others. These beds were so comfy, Averia couldn't believe how quickly she drifted off.


                                                           *****

        The next day started at 10AM for Averia. She let herself wake up naturally. She got up and changed. She headed down to the cafeteria for breakfast.

Along her way down, she picked up a flyer about what the Hotel and Spa had on offer that day. While she was eating her breakfast she had a look through the flyer:


                Full Body Massages — 1 Hour, masseuse with over 15 years experience!

                Tai Chi - Taking place from 4pm on-wards in the China Gardens.

                Acupuncture — Specialist available all day. 

                                                     (Make appointments with Spa receptionist, Amie.)

                Group Nature Walk - 12:00Pm — 3PM, see Activities Manager Tarja Swan for details.


        The list went on. Averia decided to just relax in the Jacuzzi, as she'd planned, before getting ready for dinner.

        Hold on a minute... Tarja Swan?! I know that name. I went to school with her! We were best friends when I was 15!

How old would she be now? Not much older than me actually. I'd say she's around 20... 21 at the oldest. I should go see her.


Out of nowhere popped Alex. 'Hey.'He said. 

'Hi, how are you?' Asked Averia.

'I'm good, i'm good. You?' He asked, taking a seat with Averia

'I'm fine, just looking through what to do today,' She said, still holding the flyer in her hand.

'Oh, anything good?' Alex asked.

'Nothing that interests me much. There's Acupuncture? If your interested?' Averia joked.

'No thanks.' Said Alex pulling a face.

Averia and Alex laughed together, 'Anyway, i'm gonna go change into my swimsuit, I'm going for a swim.' She told Alex.

'Oh OK, well I'll let Harley know so he doesn't try bothering you.' Alex said. 'He'll probably be looking for you later.'

'OK, see you tonight.' Averia smiled at Alex. 

 Averia walked back up to her room and got changed into a black swimsuit. She put on a black skirt and a shirt, then went back down to the pool.

She decided to do some swimming in the indoor pool. As she walked into the pool room, she could instantly smell the chlorine. It made her nose twitch.

'That was kinda cute.' She heard someone say beside her. She looked to her left and there stood Tarja.

'Hey!' Averia exclaimed.

'Hey! Long time no see! Sorry to hear about you know...Everything. Hope your doing well.'

'Yeah I'm fine...ish.' Averia smiled. 'I didn't know you worked here! No one ever told me, I guess everyone just lost touch after school finished.'

'Yeah I guess so. Anyway, you're going to be at Harley's bands dinner thingy tonight right?' Tarja asked.

'Yeah, why?'

'Me too! I am Activities Manager, the gig classes as kind of an activity so I gotta help set up and stuff and get everything ready. I'll come over and say hey to you guys. I got to go though Avie.'

'OK sounds great! See you later!' And off Averia went into the pool.

She kept her things in a locker and did 10 lengths of the pool.

She had always been a good swimmer. In school, she was the best in her class. Always was.

After the swimming she decided to go to the Activities Manager's office to have a catch up with Tarja.

Luckily she was there.

'Hey.' Averia said at the door.

'Oh hey, come in, sit down.' Tarja smiled.

Averia sat down and they talked for about an hour. 'So you think it was Tom?' 

'I was trying to avoid talking about this, this week. I just wanted to get away from it all, for a few days at east but, yeah. I do believe he did it. I highly doubt she'd jump. She wasn't that kinda person.' Averia said.

'Yeah I know.' Tarja agreed. 'But if she was on drugs, she might not have been thinking straight. You never know.'

'Are you trying to say she committed suicide?' Averia asked, a little offended.

'No I'm just saying it's a possibility. Tom could be innocent....I doubt it, but he could be.'

That had made Averia think. Tarja was right. She had a great point. She could have jumped and he could be getting the blame. But this is just too much of a coincidence... Averia still believes Tom had something to do with it.

'Sorry, for bringing it up, Avie.' Tarja apologized.

'It's OK, a lot of people have questions about it.' Averia said.

'Does it bother you?' Asked Tarja.

'Depends on the question, or the comment. Some people can say some things that come across as harsh but...I guess that's something I'll have to deal with.' Averia said.

'You shouldn't have to deal with any kind of grief Avie.' Tarja sighed.  'Why do bad things happen to good people eh?' She said, shaking her head.

 'I don't know...' Averia said.

'Just the way shit goes down sometimes...' Tarja said. 'Anyway, have good stay will you? It's about time you relaxed.'

'Yeah, that's what I aim to do.' Averia said, then remembering Craig was here this week.

I'll try, anyway. Averia thought.

         After she'd left Tarja's office, she went towards the elevator but was stopped in her tracks by an older friend of her's. This lady had helped Scarlett when she first started modelling.

Getting shoots for her and interviews. She actually got the details for the record label Scarlett was with.

Her name to Averia was Mrs Bee, because when Averia was younger, she couldn't say her real name, which was Mrs Boreallis. Pippa Boreallis.

She was around 74 years old now. Brownish/Red hair that was starting to fade to grey. She was slim and petite framed.

She'd always been a small woman, never grew to over 5'3. Unless, like now, she was wearing heels. 'Averia?! Oh my, it's been a while! I wasn't sure if it was you t first, but it is!...Right?'

'Yeah it's me, Mrs Bee, how are you?' Averia smiled at the older lady.

'I'm fine sweetheart, thank you. Still can't say Boreallis then?' She laughed.

'Haven't tried in a while. Anyway, you're Mrs Bee to me. You always have been.' Averia said.

'What are doing out here anyway?' Mrs Bee asked.

'My friend Harley invited me out here for the week. He's here with his band and they're having a celebratory dinner for getting a Gig and they asked me to come.' Averia explained.

'Oh, very nice! How's the singing career going?' Mrs Bee asked politely.

'Alright. I've been getting around, singing in a few places. A woman asked me to be a regular singer in The Robbin the other day!'

'Oh Miss Hopkiss. I know her. She's lovely! You'll get on well with her.' Mrs Bee said. 'Anyway, must dash but it was nice to see you, Averia. Glad to hear you're OK.' She beamed.

'Bye, Mrs Bee!' Averia continued towards the elevator. She pressed the button, and waited the elevator to come. She waited for a minute, then it arrived.

She went up to her room and instead of heading for the Jacuzzi for the afternoon, she went for a jog around all the gardens.

This place was massive, but beautiful.

Everything almost seemed exotic, almost like a rain-forest. Whoever designed this place designed it well, it's utterly gorgeous! Averia thought.

        While out for a jog, she found Harley, Alex and Jake sat on some rocks in the far end of the gardens. Harley and Jake were both sat with their acoustic guitars, playing something that made Averia want to stop and listen, but when they saw her, they stopped playing.

'Don't stop on my arrival.' She said.

'It's OK, what you doing?' Said Harley.

'Just having a jog, before getting ready for dinner tonight. Can't wait guys.' Averia smiled.

 'Us too.' Said Alex.

'Anyway, i'll leave you to it, I wanna get a shower before dinner.' Averia said.

'Ok, see you later.' Said Harley.

'See ya.' Averia said, turning and starting to jog away.

        On her way back she went round the garden to the side entrance. It was all stunning, every inch of it. Birds were singing in the trees and you could hear the sound of the river flowing by.  I'd definitely use this place as a place to come relax, it's so calming.

She got to the side entrance and just coming out was Mrs Boreallis. 'Hello again Averia.' She said.

'Hi, how are you?' Asked Averia.

'Not too bad, just taking this to the manager, so I cant stop.' She said.

'Oh alright then, I'll let you get off.' Averia smiled.

'OK, oh by the way, I saw your Scarlett's friend earlier, that Craig lad.' She said and walked away. Craig? Fantastic... Glad I'm heading back to my room.

        Averia wasn't quite ready to deal with him yet. She was a bit cautious when it came to a murderer's friend. As anyone would be. She walked through the hotel until getting to the elevator. She got in and went back to her room to get herself ready for dinner.

It was only 4.30pm so she had plenty of time to shower and find an outfit. Dinner wasn't till 8PM. So Averia made a coffee, then showered. After, she had to choose between 3 outfits.

        A Black and blue checkered corset top with skinny jeans and heels, a black evening dress and a white and black party dress. 5.20PM came and she tried all the outfits on to see what she wanted to wear.

She chose the black evening dress in the end.

She had her hair wavy and her make up was light. Thin eyeliner and shadow black colour on her eyelids. Her cheeks were a rosy pink and her lips slightly red.

She wore a purple rose necklace with matching earrings, and a silver and gold charm bracelet Scarlett had got her for her 16th Birthday. Averia was showered and dressed by half 7pm. And she was ready.

She gave Harley a call. 'Hey, I'm all good, where am I meeting you?' She asked.

'Uhh, meet you by the bar? At 7.45pm?' Suggested Harley.

'OK, see you then.' Smiled Averia.

'Bye.' Harley said. Averia put on her black shawl, and set off.

*********************

Chapter 3:



        The Dinner Party:


        Averia went down to the bar in the elevator and waited for Harley. At 7.45pm on the dot, Harley arrived with his band mates behind him. 'You look amazing!' Harley complimented Averia.

'Aw, thanks!' Averia smiled.

'You don't look too bad either!' Averia said to Harley, who had come dressed in a grey suit, white shirt, a black skinny tie and sun shades, the "cool" kind. He took off the shades and hung them over his pocket.

The other lads were wearing grey suits too and Naomi was wearing a pretty, Gothic black and white party dress. Harley walked by Averia's side to the dinner hall where they had a table reserved for eight. Averia, Harley, Alex, Jake, Kyle an Naomi took up six of them.

'Who are the other two places for?' Averia asked.

'The Activities Manager will be joining us later for a drink, our thanks to her for helping set up for the gig tomorrow!' Said Alex, who was clearly still really stoked about this gig.

'Tarja?' Averia said.

'Yeah, why?' Naomi said.

'I know her, we went to school together, remember guys?' Averia turned to Harley, who thought for a minute.

'Oh yeah! I remember her now! I never spoke to her in school really.' They explained to Naomi and Kyle who hadn't been in school with them and wouldn't know about Tarja.

'Oh and her cousin Amira's coming too.' Said Jake. 'She told me earlier.'

'Who did?' Asked Harley.

'Tarja.' The dinner hall was jam packed!

        Waiters and waitresses rushed busily in between everyone, carrying wide silver trays with either glasses of wine or some appetizers.

One poor waitress, a small, skinny, brown haired girl, quite young, around 18 years old, was really struggling. She ended up tripping over a guests foot and dropped the tray. Tarja rushed over to help her clear up the mess before the hotel's manager saw it. She'd blow her top if she saw this mess!

        The manager, 34 year old Mrs Clara Kaku, a Japanese-American, owned this hotel and spa. Her father was a very rich man, and brought this plot of land hoping to build a Sports college. Unfortunately he died and left his fortune to his only daughter, who opened up this beautiful Hotel & Spa.

But in her father's memory, Clara Kaku opened a sports complex on the site. In a separate building behind the Spa, was the sports area. There were 2 outdoor Tennis courts, with Basketball hoops and inside Badminton was played there as well as indoor Basketball and Netball.

        There was Yoga and Aerobics held in here on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The outdoor pool is by that building. There's an indoor gym with all the latest Gym equipment too.

'Thanks.' The girl said shyly to Tarja.

'You're welcome.' Tarja smiled. Averia loved how polite Tarja was naturally.

She'd always been like this, even in school, when she was 15-16. Tarja went away with the rubbish and came back a few minutes later.

'Gotta love the new ones sometimes.'

'Aw, bless. Bet she's dead embarrassed.' Naomi said.

'Yeah.' Averia agreed. 'Anyway, what's on the menu?'

'Haha, trust you...Always thinking about food.' Harley joked.

'I was deprived of it when I was younger, I'm getting all I can now.' Averia managed to make a joke about her difficult past.

'Well it's nice to see you happy, Averia. It really is.' Harley said.

'Hey, no we're not talking about me tonight, this isn't about me...It's about your gig! So, how'd it happen?' Averia asked.

'Well...We were at the rocks, where we were earlier, and the manager heard us and asked us to do an acoustic set for just her and the other staff, who then took a vote on if we should be regular players here.' Harley explained. 

'So didn't they hear your, er...Usual stuff?' Averia asked.

'Nope.' Alex said.

'They might not like it.' Averia pointed out. 'Might be too heavy for a lot of people here.'

'That's exactly what I said but Mrs Kaku said not to worry about it, it'll be fine...so, yeah...' Jake said.

'Oh, OK well fair enough. Well I'm happy for you guys! Congratulations.' Averia said.

Everyone raised a glass and toasted to the band and their upcoming Gig. A waiter came over to their table to take their order.

After they had ordered they waited for their food and passed the time by talking about the day Naomi joined the band...

'We all instantly loved her!' Harley said. 'Such talent, I wasn't expecting it!' Naomi was blushing a sweet pink colour and couldn't stop smiling. Several minutes later, 5 or 10,  their food had arrived and they had begun eating.

        Averia looked around the room and then turned to Harley. 'Do you know Mrs Boreallis? You do, don't you.' She said.

'Yeah.' Harley nodded.

'Do you know if she's coming to the party? I've seen her twice today but I haven't managed to have a proper catch up with her. She's been a little busy.'

'Nah, she can't make it. She's got some paperwork or something to do.' Alex told Averia.

'Oh, that sucks.' Averia said. 'I was hoping to have a catch up.'

'You could catch her tomorrow.' Jake said.

'True...Never mind, I'll get in touch tomorrow.' Averia said. 

Tarja's phone began to ring so she got up and answered it. She came back to the table five minutes later, saying she needed to go back to the office and make a business call.

So Averia hugged her goodbye, as she didn't know if she was coming back, seeing as it was getting late. Tarja left to go back to the office to make a phone call.


                                                           ***** 

        So as it grew later and darker, she was still in the office, making phone calls and doing paperwork. She had to miss the party for this!

Anyway, it meant that she was less busy tomorrow, meaning she could catch up with Averia. 

 Well I hope she's having fun tonight, I think this would be good for her. 

To let her hair down and stop worrying and fretting about Tom. Thinking about Scarlett. It's only making her sad.

 She glanced out of the window to see into the party which had now spread outside onto the huge patio.

She wan't close enough to see Averia, but she felt to check anyway. Out of the corner of her eye, to the left, she saw someone. Or she thought she did.

 I just saw something... A black figure. Who could that be? They went towards the entrance of the building! 

Me and the receptionist are the only people supposed to be in the building tonight...


        Could have been nothing. Or a cleaner or something like that. Groundskeeper? She thought nothing of it and went back to her work. She got up to photo copy some files.

She walked around her desk to the photocopier, which was against the left wall of the office. She photocopied the papers one page by one. She got about halfway through when she dropped a page.

She bent over to pick it up and as she stood up, she came face to face with someone. But she didn't know who. Someone wearing a balaclava, big black padded gloves and black clothing. 

She only saw them for a few seconds.

Then everything went black.


                                                           *****

        'Averia!' Jake called. Averia was off to one side talking to Tarja's cousin Amira. They'd gotten on really well that night and had even arranged to go to a Tai Chi class.

She's probably only going to take the mick... Harley had thought. As if Averia was the kind of person to do Tai Chi?!

'Come on.' Averia said to Amira. They walked together over to Harley, Alex, Jake and Kyle to see what they wanted.

'Where's Naomi?' Averia asked.

'She went to bed...Didn't feel too good.' Kyle said.

'Oh. That's a bit shit isn't it?' Averia said, turning back into her usual 19 year old self.

'She had had a lot of wine...' Jake said.

'Ah...That could be it.' Averia said.

'Course that it! She's always the first one to die!' Harley said. 

'What did you want anyway?' Averia asked.

'To see if you had seen Tarja? She said she might come back but she hasn't so do you think that means she went to bed?' Alex asked.

'Possibly...Or she just ended up busy.' Averia said.

As the time went by and Tarja still hadn't returned, the guys thought it better to go back up to their rooms and call it a night.

As they left the party, everyone told the band good luck with the Gig and that they'd be there to watch. Harley and Jake's floor was first up, so they were first out. Naomi was with Alex on the second floor and Kyle and his girlfriend on the same floor as Averia.

Kyle's girlfriend was the blonde girl Naomi was talking to when Averia first arrived here.

She hadn't come to the party that night, she'd had food poisoning, so her sister had stayed in to look after her while Kyle was busy this evening. 'So you and Amira doing this Tai Chi thing then?' Kyle said.

'Ha-ha, yeah apparently so...I don't even know what it is.' Averia laughed. 'I'm just having fun.'

'Good, glad to hear it.' Kyle said, as they came to Averia's room.

'Anyway,goodnight Averia. Had a great time tonight, it was good to get to know you a little better.'

'Aw, you too. And I had fun tonight too. Tell Harley thanks again for inviting me out here.' Averia smiled at him. 'Night Kyle!'

        She let herself into her room, switched on the light and closed the door. She locked it and went to put on the kettle. She got her cup off the side and put in a spoonful of coffee, 2 spoons of sugar and milk.

She then poured her hot water in and relaxed in bed with a book before bed. 'She changed into her pyjama's and tied her hair up in a messy bun. She went to the bathroom before bed.

        Before returning to her bedroom, she got herself a glass of water to take to bed with her. She knew she'd have a headache in the morning so she got some painkillers too.

She put an alarm on for 10AM this time, and eventually settled down to sleep, at 1.30AM.


                                                           *****

Saturday:

        The Day Of Black Absence's Gig:


        Averia had originally planned to wake at 10AM with her alarm, but at 9.30AM she was woke by phone call after phone call. She'd been ignoring them at first to go back to sleep, but they were persistent!

She eventually got up to get her phone. It was Harley. 'What the hell is up?!' She answered.

'Dude! Something's kicked off! There's cops and everything. Forensics team and stuff...I heard the word murder earlier! Get down here, we're all here...being nosy!' Harley sounded excited. Someone's probably dead and he's happy?...

At least its a bit of excitement. Averia got herself a coffee, then headed down to meet Harley. He and all the band were there standing, staring, with their arms folded over their chests, open mouthed.

'Guys...Really?' Averia said as she walked over to them.

'What?' Harley said.

'So what's happened.' Averia asked, which made Harley chuckle.

'And you were moaning coz we're nosy!...Dunno, someone's been taken out in a body bag thing...someone's definitely dead, we know that.' Harley said. 'Dunno who though.'

'Alright, I didn't have breakfast due to this 'emergency;' I'm gonna go to the dinner hall and have a proper breakfast today. Who's joining me?' Asked Jake.

He also thought it was pointless that Harley had got him up this early for something they knew nothing about. Averia picked up another flyer, to see what specials were on today. 


        Hollywood Nails — Manicures and Pedicures on offer all day — 10AM til 9PM.

        Men's Basketball Game — Indoor Gym 2PM-3.30PM and again from 6PM-7.30PM.

    This evening, special guests Black Absence will be performing in the Main Hall. 8PM —         10PM.

        Black Absence are a rock band from New York, the original line up formed around 1 Year 5 months ago, and have had several Gigs in, and around, New York. The line up now goes as follows:

                           Harley Erricsson (21)-    Lead vocals and Lead Guitar

                           Jake Harmon (20) —        Guitarist

                           Alex Newman (21) —        Drummer

                           Naomi Platts (19) —         Bass

                           Kyle Marrow (22) —         Pianist/Keyboardist


        On the back there was a picture of the band and the name and logo spread across the top, wit the Time and Date of the Gig to the left.

'Look, guys! They've put you in the daily flyer thing!' Averia said.

'Let's see!' Alex beamed. Averia passed him the Flyer and they read through it.

'Glad they spelled my last name right.' Harley said.

'Haha, people tend to get it wrong a lot don't they?' Naomi commented.

'Yeah, getting pretty sick of it too...' 

'I get that...A lot of people assume my last name is McBride.' Averia said.

'Shit! We need to get going and set up!' Kyle busted out.

'Oh yeah. Damn!' Harley said getting up.

'We'll have to catch you later, Averia, sorry! Completely forgot!' Jake said.

'See ya later Avie!' Harley said.

'See you later.' Averia smiled and waved.

Averia finished her breakfast and headed up to Amira's room.

        She knocked on her door, but she didn't answer. She must be out... Averia thought. She turned and went back downstairs.

She went outside to sit in the sun for a while and listen to her music on her iPod.  After sunbathing she went back upstairs to her room.

Because Harley had so rudely waked her and begged her to come straight down, she hadn't had time to shower. So when she got back, she turned on the shower and got a change of clothes. She's just thrown anything on earlier, because of Harley.

She made coffee and sat with her book for a while. Eventually getting bored of the book, she went down to the Main Hall and went in to see how the guys were getting on with set up.

'Hey, how're things going?' She asked.

'Hey! Not bad we're about half done.' Naomi smiled as she helped set up the drums.

'Awesome. Bet you can't wait for tonight.' Averia said.

'Alex and Jake are still like two kids in a sweet shop.' Kyle said.

'This is true...' Naomi said.

'Bless them. Listen, I'm kinda bored and you guys know this place better than me, what is there for me to do?' Averia laughed.

'There's actually a martial arts thing this afternoon. I know you like your martial arts Avie. Why don't you go?' Harley suggested.

'I dunno...I might go watch this one and maybe join if I think it's OK.' Averia said.

'I'll join with you.' Naomi smiled.

'OK, yeah. That would be awesome!' Averia beamed.  At least I'm getting on with people here... Averia thought to herself.

'I won't be coming tonight though but next week for sure.' Naomi told Averia.

'Ok, I'll look forward to it! I'm gonna go find out about this martial arts thingy...I'll see you guys later!' 

Averia went to the reception where all the flyers were and she found one about the Martial Arts Classes.

They only did the basic stuff but it was enough for self defence.

She put a flyer in her bag and went to sit by the river, just by the rocks Harley and the guys were at yesterday. She sat there for a few minutes to relax, listening to the river and the birds until her phone rang.

'Hey it's me, Tarja.' The voice on the other end said.

'Oh hey. What's up?' Averia asked.

'Can you come to my office. I need to talk to you.' Tarja said.

'OK, I'm on my way.' Averia replied.

She hung up and gathered her things. Walking back inside she thought to herself;  this must be about what happened...

        That person who died. I wonder if she's gonna tell me who it was. I wonder if she knew them. Or maybe I did... Seems weird that something like this would happen... 

When I'm trying to get away from all the trouble, it seems to follow me... Great! What am I? A bad luck charm? Seems that way!

She got inside and before she went straight to Tarja's office, she got herself a coffee from the cafe. In there she saw Craig.

        Oh great! Just what I need... And he's already seen me, this is just fantastic! Should I smile and wave?...

I don't know...

        Averia couldn't decide so she just, in the end, went by him to the counter and said, 'Hi,' as she passed. She didn't stop for a conversation. While at the counter she noticed him walking over.

Yay... She thought sarcastically. The lady behind the counter asked, 'What can I get you Chick?'

'A regular coffee please.' Averia said.

'Hi.' Craig said.

Averia turned around. 'Hi.'

'How are you?' He asked.

'I'm OK. you?' Averia asked.

'I'm pretty good. So what's brought you out here?' Craig asked.

'A friend invited me out here for the week.' Averia said bluntly. She wanted to get away from him.

'Oh, that's nice.' Craig smiled.

Then there was a awkwardness until Averia spoke up.

'Anyway, I just had a call I need to go see someone, apparently its important, so I gotta go. Uh, catch up another time?' She said.

'Yeah OK, sure.' Craig said.

Averia left the little cafe and went back into the lobby.

She walked up the corridor, after entering and passing through the lobby, towards Tarja's office. Once there she found Tarja, looking a little upset and Amira comforting her. Standing Averia's side of the desk was the manager Mrs Kaku.

'What's wrong?' Averia asked.

'It's Mrs Boreallis, Averia.' Mrs Kaku said. 'I'm afraid she died last night.' 

'Oh...My...God.' Averia said. 

She was in complete shock. Mrs Bee? Why Mrs Bee? 'Is that what all that is about out there?' Averia asked. Tarja and Mrs Kaku nodded. 'Why are there forensics teams and stuff. You think she was murdered?' Averia asked, shocked.

'Possibly.' Mrs Kaku said.

'Mrs Boreallis was too healthy to have just keeled over and died.' Tarja said sternly.

'Tarja's convinced she was murdered.' Mrs Kaku explained.

        'Forensic experts are in her office, trying to find any clues they can. Also the side entrance is out of bounds as they believe someone was seen by someone at the party entering last night, even though it was supposed to be locked. They want to do finger print test thing's on it...And through the corridor with Mrs Boreallis's office on.' Tarja said.

'I just can't believe it.' Amira said.

It was the first thing she'd said since she'd heard the news. 'I know.' Averia said, taking a seat on a nearby chair. 'I need a glass of water.' She said, about to get back up.

But Mrs Kaku said, 'It's OK, I'll get it.' She walked out and closed the door.

Averia just looked at Tarja and said, 'Who'd want to kill Mrs Boreallis? A sweet lady like her, never harm anyone or anything! What the fuck?!'

'I know...It's just... I dunno.' Tarja stuttered, putting her hand across her forehead and rubbing it.

About 2 minutes later Mrs Kaku was back with the water. 'Thanks.' Averia said. She slowly sipped the water.

'Actually, I need to go back up to my room.' Averia said. 'I need to call someone.'

'OK Hun. See you later.' Tarja said.

        Averia left and went back to her room.  I seem to be constantly up and down this elevator today. Averia got to her room, locked the door behind her and sat down with a coffee and her phone in her hand.

        From there she rang Harley and told him the news. Then for the rest of the day until the gig tonight, she was going to relax.

*********************

        Ginni

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