Trick or Treachery

Trick or Treachery by Jessica Fletcher Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Trick or Treachery by Jessica Fletcher Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jessica Fletcher
play, much to the delight of the audience.
    After the show, I joined friends in the lobby, including flower shop owners Beth and Peter Mullin, the Lerners and Seth Hazlitt.
    “Wasn’t that adorable when the boy announced he had to go to the bathroom?” Joan said, laughing.
    “Cute little fella,” Seth said.
    Ed Lerner looked past me and frowned. I turned to see what had caused his reaction. Lucas Tremaine stood at the other end of the lobby, talking with two women, one of whom I know, Brenda Brody. She works as copy editor at our monthly magazine, the Cabot Cove Insider.
    Joan, too, saw Tremaine and wrapped her arms about herself. “Gives me the creeps,” she said, “having someone like that come to a children’s pageant.”
    “Show’s open to the public,” Seth said.
    “I know, I know,” said Joan, “but there is something unsavory about him.”
    My eyes went to the lobby’s opposite corner, where Matilda Swift, dressed in her black duster and wearing her cat pendant, came from the auditorium, navigating knots of people, and was about to leave the school. Suddenly she stopped and cast a hard look in Tremaine’s direction. I turned to him. He’d seen Matilda and glared back at her. Matilda’s face was an angry mask; if her eyes were weapons, Tremaine would have been shot to death. She left the school, and Tremaine resumed his conversation with Brenda Brody and the other woman.
    The feelings of apprehension I’d been experiencing lately, which I’d expressed to Matt Miller in my letter to him, returned. I suppose my face reflected it because Seth asked if I was feeling well.
    “What?” I said.
    “I asked if you were feeling all right.”
    “Oh, yes, of course. I feel fine.”
    We were joined by others and went out for coffee. I forced myself to take part in the easy banter, but couldn’t shake the vague, free-floating anxiety that had taken over. The group broke up at eleven, and Seth dropped me at my house.
    “Lookin’ forward to tomorrow night?” he asked as I was about to get out of the car.
    “Paul’s party? Sure.”
    “You don’t look like you’re in much of a party mood,” he said.
    “Don’t be silly. Paul’s annual Halloween party is always fun. I can’t wait.”
    His skeptical expression said he didn’t quite believe me, but he didn’t press. I kissed his cheek. “Thanks for the lift, Seth. See you tomorrow in all your military finery.”

Chapter Five
    “Seth, you look wonderful, so . . . so . . . so authentic.”
    He beamed at the compliment on his costume from a party guest.
    “Much obliged,” he said. “I have Jessica to thank for it.”
    “And you, Jessica, are absolutely scary. I can’t believe you chose to come to the party as The Legend. What a great idea.”
    “Thank you,” I said, not adding that I almost decided earlier that evening to abandon the getup and find a last-minute substitute.
    It had taken me almost an hour to create the costume based upon the legend of Hepzibah Cabot. I wore a flowing white floor-length gauzy dress, and had gathered the ends of a long matching stole in front of me. I applied greenish white makeup that gave me the distinct look of a cadaver, and pulled on a long gray wig to which I’d attached strands of green crepe paper to achieve the effect of seaweed. The resulting image was, as my admirer later said, “absolutely scary,” even to me when I looked in the mirror. My blue eyes deepened in intensity when contrasted with my now bleached skin, and the billowy white dress floated around my legs with each step I took, creating the impression of an ethereal figure not subject to gravity.
    As I had studied my reflection, I’d experienced an overwhelming sense of apprehension. I put my hands up to cover the “seaweed.” The woman looking back at me in the mirror bore a strong resemblance, I realized, to Matilda Swift.
    An eerie feeling had again crept over me. I chided myself as I slipped my eyeglasses into one pocket, and patted

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