He was awake. I cursed my luck as I scanned the hallway looking for a way out of this situation. The poison should have worked! It was perfectly crafted to mimic opiates yet be ten times as lethal but my blasted bad luck got in the way again. Fudge!! Fudge to my constant loosing streak, fudge to that self-centered berry not drinking as much nectar as normal and double fudge to that Parfait girl. If she hadn't spotted he was alive I wouldn't be stuck here trying to figure out another way to rid the world of Flax. A flash of blue caught my eye and I lifted my gaze to focus on it. Only to find the woman who was the cause of so many of my curses making her way down the hall in my general direction. She might have spoiled months of planning but Berry was she pretty. Maybe, just maybe, I could have my cake and eat it too. I smiled as I turned my face away. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I was so excited I nearly bounced down the hall towards the two familiar figures.
Not watching my feet I stumbled and nearly fell as I got closer and spied the retreating figure of the one person I did not want to run into. What was he doing here? And why was he hurrying off so quickly? I tucked that little tidbit away for further investigation. I may not have wanted to run into him but that didn't mean I didn't want to know what he was up to. "Is it true?" I gasped when I had got close enough so that it wouldn't be considered shouting by the overly attentive nurse. "Is he finally awake?"
"Very much so, sitting up and everything." Maize's voice was full of excitement and energy but it wasn't the one I wanted to hear. I looked expectantly to Malt eagerly waiting to hear the news from his perfect lips, as if somehow it wasn't true until he uttered it. His answering smile nearly dazzled me with it's brilliance and the gentle touch of his hand on my arm sent my heart into hyper-drive. "He woke up not long ago and the doctors are extremely positive." He squeezed my waist gently almost, but not quite, pulling me closer to him. "Go on in, you know you want to."
Again with that smile. How I longed to lean in close to him right then, to feel the warmth of his face, to kiss those lips. Focus Mint, focus! Shaking my head to clear the delightful visions swimming before my eyes I reluctantly made to move towards Flax's room. As I passed by Malt's shoulder a single word, whispered ever so softly sent shivers down my spine. "Tonight."
"Hey you...." I trailed off staring at the empty bed. Taking a step back I double checked the room number, then looked at the freshly made and clearly vacant room before me. "Mint? Is that really you?" "Flax!"
It was perhaps a bit overboard but when I saw him standing there I was so overjoyed that I launched myself into his arms. "Woah, careful Mint. I only just got out of that bed, if you don't take it easy you'll have me back in it." He smiled and put on a mock seductive tone, "Unless of course that is your intention." Bursting with laughter I let him go. "You wish," I teased in return. It wasn't like it used to be, back then a sentence like that would have sent a flurry of emotions through me melting me were I stood. But it was easy still and I could see the boy I knew through the man before me.
"It's been a long time Mint." His voice held just a tiny hint of what it once had.
Memories I had not thought of in years flashed through my head and although the feelings weren't there I flushed just the same. You never forget your first love, well first everything. "I guess it has." We settled on a sofa and after a few pleasantries about what we had been up to since I left Sunset Valley to tour with dad I got down to business.
"Flax?" "Hmmmm?" "I know I can't say I know you as well as I did five years ago but, well," I bit my lip. How did you ask someone if they were a drug addict? "You wanna know if I really did OD don't you?" I nodded unable to meet his eyes. He sighed. "Would have thought you of all people wouldn't be interested in celebrity gossip."
"I'm not! Look this came out all wrong. Maize told me what the doctors think and I believed him. Someone did this to you Flax and I can't just let it go at the doctor's say so." His face wary he turned back to me. For a long moment he just sat there evaluating me before he gave a curt nod. "Look what I have to say can't leave this room. I don't take drugs, of any kind. For Berry sake I won't even take aspirin for a headache. And no before you ask I have no idea how it could have got into my nectar. There was an open bottle backstage when I got there with a note saying it was for me."
An open bottle full of a lethal dose of opiates just happens to be backstage for the lead singer of the biggest band around. Something didn't add up here.
"Hey don't hurt that pretty little head with too much thinking. It was probably just some groupie thinking they would give me a little extra kick. But hey if it keeps you around a little longer...." he waggled his eyebrows suggestively. I punched him playfully not believing a word he said and we got back to talking about his transformation from school bad boy and heartthrob to international super star.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My fist thudded heavily against the solid wooden door.
"I look ridiculous!" I muttered into the bluetooth headset buried beneath my wig. "Hey you wanted to know if Ice was anywhere near Sunset Valley the night Flax was poisoned. I only suggested you pose as a maid you didn't have to do it." Hitching up my stockings I stuck my pilfered key card into the slot. "Just you be quiet and keep an eye out like you promised." Voice quavering just a bit I called out as I pushed the door open. "Maid service." Please let him not be there I whispered softly to myself.
Ok so Per was, technically, right. I didn't have to agree with him and put on this silly outfit but like all of Per's ideas it sounded great, at the time. I was absolutely desperate to find out what Ice was up to and I certainly wasn't going to get it from him. No matter how hard I tired at our little coffee date I could do nothing to chip away his frozen facade. It bugged me more than I let on, I'd never met someone I couldn't get information out of before.
The room was bigger than I expected and everything in it was a pristine white. I shuddered as I stepped through the door. How could any berry live without colour like this? The good news was it was empty. The bad news, the real maids had already been through here. Everything was so immaculate and tidy that I was afraid if I touched anything he would instantly spot it was out of place.
"How's it going Mint?" Per's voice boomed through my headset giving me shock and causing me to drop pillow I was holding in my fright. "I'm working on it ok! This guy just doesn't seem to have anything personal around. I mean it's like he has no personality." I scanned the room as I spoke if it wasn't for the luggage in the corner with his name on it I wouldn't have even known anyone was staying here. "Well hurry up! We don't know how long he will be gone for, he could be walking in that room at any moment." "Well it's your job to make sure that doesn't happen," I hissed back. "I.... hang on what to we have here!"
Jackpot! I swept up the phone and swiped my finger across the screen astonished to see that it wasn't locked. I immediately went to his text messages and one jumped out at me.
Nilla was at the show where Flax was poisoned! But how did Ice know she was there? He wouldn't unless.... "Sugar!!!" Per's voice once again broke my concentration. "Mint you have to get out of there! Nilla's here." I looked around frantically, if Nilla was here then Ice wouldn't be far behind. Throwing the phone and pillow back on the bed I raced for the door.
As I reached it the knob turned and I froze only ducking behind the door a mere second before it swung open. I mentally cursed Per and his ideas that always seemed to land me in trouble. He got me into this situation he bloody well get me out! As if hearing my thoughts I heard him call out. "Hey!" His voiced echoed both down the hall and in my ear causing me to wince with the force of it. "Hey!!" he called again when there was no response from Ice. "I think you dropped this!"
I had no idea what Per had picked up but I didn't care. I heard Ice move towards Per and I saw through the crack in the back of the door that his back was to the room, and to me. I wasn't waiting for another second and bolted before the door could fully shut.
I spent the rest of my day wondering about Ice, Nilla and Flax. How did those pieces all fit together? The more I thought about it the more confused I was. There had to be something connecting them all, there had to be! I just couldn't see it. It wasn't until I reached my destination that my mind let go and snapped to the present.
It was the second time I was in a hotel that day, but this time there was no way I'd be bring Per along.
"Hello?" I called quite sure that this one wouldn't be empty but there was no answer. Confused I wandered a few steps into the room before noticing the note on the table near the door.
Smiling I grabbed the champagne and made my way outside. When I got there I was very pleased I didn't tell Per where I was going.
I set down the drinks, lost my clothes and slide in beside him, luxuriating in the hot water against my bare skin. Now this was a night worth waiting for.