Alle sighed. It figured, she thought. A weekend away--finally, an actual weekend away--and there’s a murder in the hotel.
She lit another candle, wondering when electricity would be restored, and sighed. It isn’t like she held the person responsible for their own death, she thought. It’s just that... well, it’s just so terribly inconvenient. That the man, what was his name? Being found like that, dead in the hotel library?
It figured, she thought. Can’t even go on a simple trip without the dramatic following along behind me.
The cold wind whistled outside her window. Something tapped on the windowpanes with restless fingers, which Alle pretended not to hear.
She’d heard from one of the other women in the hotel that there was a famous detective investigating the murder. Apparently he’d just happened to be staying in the hotel.
Alle smiled a little. Of course he just happened to be here, like the hotel happened to lose all power tonight and the victim just happened to be murdered in a public room where anyone could have wandered in and been a witness. This was how these things went. Even Nancy Drew knew that.
A note was slipped under her door, spidery writing on thick, creamy paper.
“Detective Svensson requests the pleasure of your company at midnight in the library,” it said. An ancient clock, face bathed in uncertain candlelight, told her that it was 11:30.
What does one even wear to a dramatic denouement, she wondered, casting her eyes over the notes she’d taken at New York Fashion Week. She smiled, remembering Creatures of Comfort’s Autumn/Winter 2014 collection. Mysterious colours, oversized shapes, flannels and turtlenecks--yes, that would do nicely, she thought, as she slipped an oversized coat over her shoulders. A collection with a murder-mystery theme was exactly the right vibe for an ACTUAL murder mystery.
I’ll do my makeup the same way, Alle thought, smiling a little at the thought. Just because a man is dead is no excuse to be unstylish.
There was a buzzing sound, then a faint pop, as the lights came back on in her room. All the better to see my makeup with, she thought, as she went to work.
Though far from the perfect-skinned models of the runway, Alle quite liked the minimalist makeup of the show. The red wine-stained lips were glamourously perfect, and Alle strove for glamourous perfection in all things.
First, she perfected her skin with lightweight foundation and concealer. Then she applied a light brown, shimmery eyeshadow on her mobile eyelid and under her lower lashline to create depth without overpowering the lips.
Per the runway look, she skipped any mascara or eyeliner, smiling at how such a small change made her face look so different.
She darkened her eyebrows with matte dark brown eyeshadow, deliberately drawing them slightly straighter than her natural shape.
Finally, she focused on the lips. OCC Lip Tar in Black Dahlia was applied at the center of the model’s lips with fingers to create a one-too-many-glasses-of-wine look, but since Alle didn’t have any Lip Tar at hand (or wine for that matter), she had to get creative.
First, she applied Revlon Colourburst Lacquer Balm in Demure all over her lips to give a pinkish-nude colour.
Next, she dabbed Lancome Rouge in Love in Midnight Rose (a dark, cool pink) from the center of her lips outward, making sure not to take it to the very outside corners. She blended it with her finger, keeping her Cupid’s bow well-defined.
Finally, she used Revlon Colourburst Matte Balm in Standout (a bright but deep cool red with a soft matte finish) to create the darkest wine-stained center, concentrating it in the very center of her lips and then blending out with her finger.
The final result was a minimalist makeup look that was both subtle and mysterious.
She liked it, even though it wasn’t something she’d have tried on her own.
The models on the runway all had elegantly tousled, fake bangs snipped and cut into custom shapes.
The clock struck the quarter-hour as Alle regarded her fringe in the bathroom mirror. Well, it’s time for a trim anyway, she thought, as she snipped up and in to the blunt curtain of hair framing her face.
As she couldn’t rely on the texture of fake hair to get the piecey, messy look of the runway, she sprayed some firm hold hairspray into her bangs, tousling them with her fingers until they lay the way she wanted them to.
Next, she pulled her newly darkened hair back into a low ponytail at the nape of her neck, letting her natural waves run wild. She wished that she had some The King’s Road texturiser from Purely Perfect, which was used on the models--a cross between a gritty texturiser and beach spray--but it isn’t coming out until next fall.
If her hair was longer, she’d get a similar look with hairspray spritzed into the palm of her hand and mixed with a teeny bit of leave-in conditioner.
Contemplating the finished look, Alle was most excited about trimming her bangs back to their normal razor-sharp straightness. “I’m just too obsessive to deal with the unevenness,” she sighed, thankful that it wasn’t going to be permanent.
For the show, Nicole Christine of Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics painted the models' nails and fingertips in shades of silver, dark olive and shimmery red, creating a look that took nail art to a slightly mysterious, almost disturbing place.
Alle regarded her nail polishes with care. Even a weekend away required bringing quite a selection along with her. She decided to paint her fingertips red, just for the sensation she felt sure it would cause. Who else would walk around immediately after a murder LITERALLY red-handed?
She painted a straight line around the first knuckle of each of her fingers with OCC nail polish in Lustgarten, then filled it in with the metallic red. She took care to make sure that the face of the nail was even and smooth.
Though her hands didn’t shake while painting--they never shook, never had--if she had a hard time painting straight lines on her non-dominant hand, she would have placed a circlet of tape around her finger to create a sharp border.
She was pleased with the effect in the end. It appealed to her
The clock struck twelve and the lights flickered. Alle stood up, slipping something small into the inner pocket of her voluminous coat. Was there anything left to be done, she thought?
It was comforting to know that there wasn’t. She locked the door behind her and walked down the dark-carpeted hallway into the library.
Of course, she knew what would happen. Detective Svensson raved and ranted at the assembled audience, casting suspicion first on one guest, then another. They shifted in their seats like frightened birds, tremulous, laid bare. Alle simply pushed a nonexistent piece of hair away from her face with one long, red-painted finger, and waited.
It had all been very simple, she reflected. The dead man--though one could hardly call him the victim, not when he had harmed as many people as he had with his money and influence--had been easy to get alone. Men of a certain age are quite receptive to the charms of elegant young women with bright eyes and charming smiles. A simple matter to engineer a meeting at a cocktail party. More simple still to find out where he would be staying over a particular weekend. And getting him to meet her alone in a library during a catastrophic power failure?
They would find the gun and the silencer in her room--what was left of it--eventually, but by then she would be long gone. The famous detective was still peacocking around the room, showing off his incredible skills at solving the case. She was familiar with his methods; was counting on them, even. It was funny, she thought. Surely he believed that all his books and TV appearances would strike fear into the hearts of villains everywhere. But all they really did was provide her with an illustrated guide of his weaknesses.
I mean, really. The speeches? He’d been talking for ten straight minutes. The police were in the lobby drinking coffee, rather than ready to apprehend the criminal. He never liked to share the spotlight with law enforcement.
And it wasn’t like she particularly liked to show off, but if she could score a public victory over this boob, all the better.
The fire alarm went off, just as she knew it would. Nail polish is quite flammable after all, and an old building like this would just go up like a torch if someone was foolish enough to knock over a candle--or several--in their room.
Svensson’s magnetic personality wasn’t enough to convince the guests to stay seated in a burning building. As wisps of dark smoke filled the room, they began to panic, pushing past one another in their rush to gather their belongings and escape.
Alle looked at Svensson, sweating now and red-faced, impotent with rage as his audience vanished. You say you always get your man, she thought, strolling to one of the large French doors that led to the extensive grounds. And yet, here I go.
Walking across the front lawn, she reflected. She would miss being Alle Connell, beauty writer, quite a bit more than she’d miss her other previously assumed identities. But she had a new passport in her pocket, a plane ticket to Geneva and access to a Swiss bank account with well over forty million euros in it.
Yes, she’d miss being Alle, she thought. But who knows? Maybe being Vivian Tennant would be just as good.
The hotel fire burned bright in her rear view mirror as she drove away.