It looks like you've left me. New York is so boring without your beautiful face froliicking around. So let's play a game. As a young nipper one of my favourite games was playing hide and seek. I would play it with the housemaid, Edna, and we would be at it for hours. She was such a terrible hider, but a marvellous seeker. As I grew up, she became more and more strict on me and anger and hatred boiled up in me. She died shortly after my university graduation. My mother had killed her after finding out about an affair she had with my father. Then I started to miss her and my eyes were finally opened. I realised why she was so hard on me and I felt like a spoiled brat. She saw the potential in me that no one could. So I have a proposal for you since I am feeling rather nostalgic at the moment. One that will bring us closer than before. Let us play hide and seek. I will hide my next victim while you seek out who she is. You have twenty four hours otherwise…
From your biggest admirer."
I lean back on my swivelling chair with a sigh. Jenny stands behind me, the papers in her hands falling to the floor.
"Jenny! What did I tell you about reading my private things!" I hiss.
She stands up straight and stammers.
"I…I thought that it was a case!" She squeals as she dips down to collect the papers.
I rub my face and heave heavily.
"Just what I need," I utter, "my aunt grounds me and this corny maniac comes back for Valentine's Day to make my life even worse."
Jenny sits beside me.
"But…who wrote you this letter?" She asks.
"I don't know," I groan, "it's the one thing I could never find out and it's annoying. He does this every few months and everytime I solve the case but he manages to get away. He thinks playing with people's minds is a game and he always wants me specifically to solve them."
"Oh…like a secret admirer or…a nemesis. That is kind of fun if there wasn't a victim involved. And if you were over eighteen."
"It's not fun now because I'm supposed to be in Pinewood Beech for safety. If he knows that I am here then I'm compromised! My aunt and I would be in trouble."
Jenny hums and taps a pen on the letter.
"Then we solve it," she concludes, "obviously as quick as we can so that your aunt doesn’t find out. So…what do we start with? You're the teen detective."
I sigh as I read the letter.
"The victim is always somehow related to the scenario in the letter," I hum tiredly, "like last year he was talking about summers he spent at the lake and he would always go fishing with some old fisherman. The victim ended up being some fish that resembled the first one he ever caught."
"Wait, what?" Jenny laughs.
"A funny idea for an April Fool's Day joke. I was laughed at for weeks. But his victims are always well thought out. He is always serious when it comes to annoying me. He says he's feeling nostalgic. Maybe it's someone that reminds him of the past. But who in Pinewood Beech would it be?"
I think for a moment, all the Pinewood Beech residents flickering in my mind. They were all rich, snobbish, pampered and…okay, so it could be anyone in Pinewood Beech.
"What about this Edna character?" Jenny points out, "the housemaid?"
"Okay, let's make a list of all the female domestic workers in families with children," I say.
Jenny creates a list, scribbling down all the names she knew. Jenny is the head of the school newspaper. It is her duty to know everyone and everything. It put me at ease that it was her I bumped into this morning.
She places the list in front of me and we filter through them.
"From what I've learnt against my will from his past letters," I huff, "his parents are divorced. Clearly, now I know why. There was the affair. He was the youngest out of three brothers, four step-siblings, three dogs, two cats, and a parakeet."
Jenny looks up and laughs.
"Wow…that takes me back…" she smiles as she thinks back to the past.
"What?" I ask.
"Don't you see? This describes Mrs Bonnet's son, Cedric. Your first case in Pinewood Beech! Solving Mrs Bonnet's murder. Cedric was the murderer. I remember writing an article about it. That was the first time I met you in person! On your way out of the police station after you were arrested for tresspassing."
I sit back and sigh.
"Oh yeah," I chuckle, "that was just last year too. It feels like a lifetime ago. Then any maid that worked with her would have left a long time ago…"
Jenny hums and sits up.
"Maybe…maybe he isn’t trying to be a jerk to you today…" she utters, "maybe…maybe he just wants you to reminisce. Think of your victories instead."
"Him?" I laugh, "Never. I can't let my guard down just in case there is a victim."
"Well, he does sound like a romantic with great ideals and morals. Has he ever intended to hurt his victims?"
I think to myself and frown.
"Well…I…I always figure it out before he does anything…" I stammer.
I slam my hand on the table in disbelief.
"But my greatest nemesis can't be someone who isn't even a criminal!" I groan, "That's just…stupid. Cedric has to be the victim."
"Why?" Jenny asks, "I highly doubt that he will be kidnapped while in prison."
I scratch my thighs, unsure of what to even think. My head was telling me that it had to be Cedric but my heart was telling me that this is all a metaphorical joke. I turn to Jenny with a sigh.
"Let's just go," I say, "just to ease my mind. Please?"
Jenny nods understandingly and smiles.
"Of course," she says.
We soon find ourselves at the prison during visitation hours, waiting for the Cedric Bonnet, the son of the richest spinster in Pinewood Beech. He had a goofy grin on his face as he is escorted to his seat.
"Well, look at that," he speaks, "it must be my birthday. To have such pretty ladies in front of me. And one of them is the brat that put me here. Are you here to beg for forgiveness?"
Jenny wretches as I groan.
"I regret coming here," I mutter.
Cedric takes a seat and smiles as if he knew a secret. Jenny turns to me, waiting for me to do something.
"What, you came just to look at my face?" He says.
I immediately stand up, preparing to leave.
"Okay, Jenny," I sigh, "I hate to admit it but you were right. If there is a margin that you weren't then I wouldn't mind him being taken."
"Hey! So you don't want the letter that I've got for you?" Cedric asks.
I whip my head around in confusion.
"What letter?" I question.
Cedric whips out a letter from his pocket.
"Some random prison guard came yesterday and said to give it to you if you ever visit," he huffs, "I said that would only happen when pigs fly but…I guess anything is possible."
He slides the envelope across the table and I immediately rip it open. Jenny leans in as we read it together.
"My dear sweet cherub-"
I groan in disgust.
"He's so corny!" I cry but I carry on reading.
"If you are reading this then that means that you have followed your mind rather than your heart. Which is quite admirable. It just shows how much you know about me and I about you. You've paid attention to my past, how I function, every little detail about me and for that I regard you as someone I respect-"
I tear it up and throw the paper in the nearest bin and start walking away.
"But…but!" Jenny looks at me in shock.
"It was nothing interesting," I lie, "just him confessing his love for me. If I wanted that I would watch a Disney movie."
Jenny looks at Cedric who is just as confused as she is. But I knew the whole content of the letter. I had always been a quick reader. I guess he is someone I respected, almost knowing when I needed some encouragement when I was in a rut. He respected me enough to reveal some intel about my father's murder and I knew that it was time to get back to work whether I'm grounded or not.
Because I am Aimeeka Marlowe. New York’s Finest Teen Detective. I don’t run away from my problems. I'm here to protect and to serve. I guess I forgot that for a while.
Merci pour la lecture!
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