He stood up. No one else moved. The room was silent.
Looking about at the faces of those he barely knew, expectant faces, faces filled with trepidation and curiosity, he wondered, not for the first time, what he was doing here. She had made promises, vague promises, but promises none the less, they would do this together. Now here he was alone, in a room of familiar, but nonetheless alien faces.
Discomfort, hiding in plain sight, in clothes that were not his. At least two people suspected him, he knew, he could read it on their faces. His shy demeanour and hatred of confrontation left him impotent and unable to confront them. But they had seen him, just before it all went wrong, he was arguing with her. Did they see him grab her arm? Did they sense his urgency? If they didn’t then how could they possibly suspect him, it’s not like she was around to tell them. But how did the old adage go? “ It’s always the quiet ones…”.
He thought back to happier times, before this fateful evening. Days spent in quiet, unadulterated bliss. Her long gold hair draped over his chest as they lay arm in arm by the waters edge. Happier, he was so much happier then, comfortable, isolated, perfect, until the letter came and shattered the peace and simplicity he held so dear. It was never supposed to be like this. She had promised.
Could they see the guilt on his face? How much he would love to be anywhere, but in this room, with all the whispers and accusatory glances in his direction. He closed his eyes in an effort to compose himself, but her pale, motionless body lying on the hardwood floor was all he could see.
Opening his eyes looked down at the card he held in his hand, his instructions, they weighed heavily on him. And now here he was without an ally, about to proclaim his guilt. Where was she now? He had no idea.
He was suddenly aware that whilst he had been lost in thought, almost catatonic, the guests were all staring at him. He knew most of them by name, and some by reputation, little gossipy titbits and nasty secrets that she had told him. Knowing so little, and yet knowing so much meant he was unable to look any of them in the eye.
He couldn’t delay this any longer, he cleared his throat and started to read through the much loathed text. Stumbling over the last of his speech he sat down embarrassed and angry. He was so crap at this.
“This is the last time,” he thought bitterly, “I let her drag me to a murder mystery night”