Hen’s party horror
It was 1am and raindrops were pelting down like bullets as Detective Sergeant Abby Sweet dashed into the nightclub foyer.
“Better make this a quick solve,” she grumbled to herself, shaking out her umbrella. It was way past her bedtime.
Dance music thudded dimly in her ears as a security guard led her to a private VIP room at the back of the club. Closed off from the rest of the nightclub, it was up a flight of steps, one level above the main dance floor.
Inside, empty champagne flutes littered the table, pink streamers covered the sticky carpet, and balloons drifted languidly through the air.
“What a mess,” Abby said to her senior constable Scotty, when she sidled up beside him.
But she wasn’t talking about the hens’ party debris. On the floor was the body of a dead man, a bloody wound on the side of his head.
“Butler in the buff, hired to serve drinks,” Scotty explained. “He was smashed over the head with a champagne bottle.”
Abby watched as large shards of green glass were bagged up by forensics. Must’ve been a hard blow, she thought.
“The room was hired for the hens’ party by the maid of honour, Lana Dean, on behalf of the bride-to-be, Cherry Maclane,” Scotty said. “The group was supposed to clear out at midnight but they didn’t, so at 12.15am, the manager came to tell them their time was up and they had to head down to the nightclub. He said there were just three girls left at that time – plus our butler here, Miguel.”
“So Cherry, Lana, and…” Abby queried.
“A third guest, Maggie Branson,” Scotty said, consulting his notes. “Apparently, they all promised to leave so the manager went back to his office. Then, two minutes later, when he heard glass smashing, he came back and found the scene like this.”
Scotty went on.
“All three girls say they left the room at 12.15am, as soon as the manager told them to,” Scotty said. “They say Miguel hung back to get dressed.”
“Well, I reckon one of them is lying,” Abby said. “Let’s have a chat, shall we, Scotty?”
In the manager’s office, the three women were waiting.
Cherry was trembling as she fiddled nervously with the pink bride-to-be sash she wore over her white dress. Lana, in her skin-tight leopard print catsuit was staring at the floor, while Maggie sobbed quietly in the corner.
“Won’t keep you long, ladies,” Abby said. “I just need to know where each of you went at 12.15am.”
“When we were told to leave, I thought I’d go outside to help the rest of the guests into their taxis. Some of them were pretty plastered,” Cherry said, her voice shaking. “But I hadn’t realised it was raining. I started to get wet so came back inside and headed to the dance floor.
“Lana saw me there… Practically collided with me when she ran onto the dance floor after I got there.”
Abby noticed the blush creep up Scotty’s neck as he spotted that Cherry’s skimpy dress was clinging to her skin; very wet and rather see-through.
“And where did you go, Lana?” Abby asked.
“Like Cherry said, to the dance floor,” she replied with a shrug.
“Didn’t hang around to have a chat with the butler then?” Abby asked.
Lana wrinkled her nose. “I might’ve done if the bloke could string a sentence together,” she said. “He wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the toolbox.”
Next, Abby offered Maggie a tissue. She wiped her eyes and began to speak.
“In one of the hens’ party games I’d been given a dare to collect as many phone numbers as possible,” she sniffed. “So when we got kicked out of the room, I went to do that.”
She flushed a little as she pulled out three business cards from inside the neckline of the dress that barely covered her cleavage. “I’d got as far as this when security came over to tell me what had happened,” she said. “I just can’t believe someone killed him.”
Abby yawned. She’d heard enough and her bed was calling her.
One of the women hadn’t left the room at 12.15am. One of them had hung back for a chat with Miguel that didn’t go to plan; she was the one who’d ended up killing him.
And Abby knew just who that woman was.
Who killed Miguel?