The 25th high school reunion is about to start. It’s time for each of us to play our part.
Catch up with friends with laughter and tears. Discuss what’s happened over the years.
A mystery is afoot, read on if you dare. Ugly truths may be revealed, so proceed with care.
“Evie Saint Clair. The devil incarnate herself,” Tyler said wryly. “I haven’t heard from you in almost twenty-five years. Why are you calling me?”
“We made a pact senior year and it’s time to honor it,” Evie replied coldly. She waited for Tyler to say something but there was nothing but silence. “Tyler? There’s no backing out. After what we did, you know I’d only play the pact card as my last resort.”
“Come on, Evie. You can’t hold me to some stupid pact we made in high school when we were scared shitless because of that awful … terrible … just leave it in the past.” Tyler didn’t want to admit how much her call was unnerving him. “What in the hell could be so bad that you’ve tracked me down after all these years? You’re rich and famous … do you have a hang nail or something?”
Evie exhaled loudly. “You’re the same old idiotic Tyler Clarkson. Let’s get together and I’ll explain everything. I’ll be in town on Friday. Can you meet me at the site of the … oh, let’s just call it … the incident?”
“Are you crazy? Not there. Anywhere else.” Tyler’s voice cracked. “How about our spot in the football stands at the high school? Say 6:30pm?” He was relieved when she agreed.
Evie wasn’t really surprised when Tyler showed up wearing his varsity football jacket. It wouldn’t close over his paunch and he was relying on a bad combover to hide the bald spot on top of his head. How could he have been the one all the girls drooled over back in high school? How could she have dated him for two years?
Tyler couldn’t believe how great Evie looked. Not only was she rich and famous, she was aging well. Really, really, well. Damn! Her body was still smoking hot and she’d let her now perm-free dark hair grow long. He tried to suck in his belly as she approached him.
“Give it a rest Tyler!” Evie sighed in exasperation as she watched him eyeing her up. “I’m not here for a romantic reunion. You made me a promise and I expect you to follow through with it.”
“Come on Evie. We were kids. You can’t honestly expect me to carry out the pact! That’s beyond twisted!” Tyler plopped down on the bleachers. “We were trying to deal with what we’d done. It was just a way for us to feel like we were protecting ourselves. A crutch to help us get through it.”
“Damn it Tyler! Don’t you think I know that! I was as much to blame for what happened, for what we did, as you were. But something’s happened. Something so bad I can’t think of another way to handle it. Do you think I wanted to play the pact card? To contact you? To come back to this lousy, little town?” She grabbed his arm. “I’m so desperate the pact is my only way out!”
Evie watched him warily. She knew he’d continue trying to get out of it. It was time to cut to the chase. “Tyler you know the evidence I have. If you don’t help me, I will use it and it will ruin both of our lives.”
Tyler was shocked. He’d never seen Evie like this. He took a deep breath and asked her to explain what was going on.
And then he knew. He knew without a doubt, she meant every word she said.
She’d apparently kept killing people who got in the way of her rise to stardom over the years. He’d always tried to convince himself … the incident … was a tragic accident, but maybe Evie really was the devil incarnate. Her husband had found evidence of everything she’d done, including the high school fiasco, and he was now blackmailing her.
She would ruin Tyler’s life, and her own, if he refused to help her. Playing the ‘we were kids and it was a terrible accident’ angle and admitting to that one death was the best option she’d have if he didn’t help her.
What choice did he have? He couldn’t let her reveal what they’d done all those years ago. From what she said, it was about to be revealed anyway. Unless they took matters into their own hands and stopped it. If he’d been in her position, he’d have played the pact card too.
Tyler decided if he was going to uphold his end of the deal, she had to do the same. It was no secret he hadn’t amounted to much after high school. His dad, the rich doctor, hadn’t helped him at all financially and Tyler resented the hell out of him for it.
She’d kill his father and he’d kill her husband. Hell, it wasn’t like they hadn’t killed before, but he knew Evie was right. There had to be someone else behind it. Someone local who’d contacted her husband and convinced him to start digging into Evie’s past. Someone who had a vested interest in dredging up the past and making them pay. Someone they’d have to find and silence forever.
Two weeks later, the local headlines and news stories were all about the untimely death of the town’s most renowned doctor in a car crash. His grieving son Tyler, who would inherit his father’s fortune, was eloquent in his praise of his dearly departed dad.
Around the same time, the national networks were reporting the accidental drowning death of acclaimed actress Evie Saint Clair’s husband. A distraught Saint Clair was hounded endlessly by the paparazzi despite her requests for privacy.
But what of their original crime? Should it be revealed or left unsolved for all time?
Think back to the spring of 1995. Who disappeared and is no longer alive?
The attached clues will help show the way. These horrible people really must pay.
She reread it one last time. She knew both Eva and Tyson would know immediately it was about them and she could only hope the rest of the class would figure it out too.
She grabbed the box of copies she’d made, got in the car, and headed to the high school to stuff them in the gift bags. Tonight, Eva and Tyson would begin to get what they deserved. They needed to be held accountable for what they’d done, for the lives they’d taken.
She thought about all the planning it took to get to this point. All the evidence she’d finally been able to gather after more than 20 years of frustration. Thank God Eva’s husband John had been willing to help her. When he’d found Eva’s lock box and saw the documentation and evidence that she’d kept from all the murders she’d committed, everything changed.
She was still shocked Eva had killed the incredibly famous young actor everyone believed had died of an accidental drug overdose.
And now John was dead because of it. Dead because she’d contacted him and asked for his help. He must have confronted Eva. If only he’d listened to her warnings.
As she drove, she went over the precautions she taken so Eva and Tyson wouldn’t be able to figure out she was the one who knew the truth; that she was responsible for bringing them to justice. Unless … unless John had told Eva about her, but she was sure Eva and Tyson would have tried to kill her before now if that was the case.
She checked the time. Everyone on the decorating, refreshment and welcoming committees should have left the school by now to get ready for the reunion. She’d have plenty of time to put the copies in the gift bags before they returned.
About a mile from the high school, her car was broadsided by a van and she was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
Just after the accident, Tommy Mahoney was riding his bike home from the park. He rode around the smashed-up car on the side of the road, then followed the trail to the pond to feed the ducks crusts of bread he’d saved from his lunchtime sandwich. As he walked to the edge of the water, he saw some papers stuck in the tall grass and cattails along the shoreline. He picked them up and looked at them. When he saw the first line about a reunion, he got excited because his mom was going to her 25th reunion at the high school down the street tonight.
He knew she was both happy and sad about it. She was looking forward to reconnecting with her old classmates, but it was also going to be hard for her because her best friend Joan had disappeared a few months before they graduated.
Tommy gave his mom the papers as soon as he got home.
Alina Mahoney read and reread the papers. So, Eva Clarita and Tyson Karlson had killed Joan.
Her hand shook as she set the papers down and thought back to senior year. Joan had such a big crush on Tyson. She’d been so thrilled when he asked her to tutor him in calculus. Of course, what he’d really wanted was for her to do all his homework, but Joan had been so infatuated with him, she’d readily agreed.
The day before Joan disappeared, she told Alina that Tyson had kissed her. He wanted her to meet him on Friday night and, despite Alina’s efforts to convince her not to go, she knew nothing would stop Joan from meeting him.
She’d been unable to get Joan to tell her exactly where and when the meeting would take place, and even after all these years, she still felt guilty about it. But she’d never expected this.
After a brief deliberation, she went to her husband’s home office and made copies of the papers Tommy had brought home. Alina grabbed her keys and raced to high school with the copies. She banged on the door until Jody Arturo opened it for her. “Alina? What are you doing here? The reunion doesn’t start for another two hours,” Jody hesitated when she saw the look on Alina’s face. “What’s wrong?”
The two women spent the next 25 minutes adding the papers to the gift bags. With a determined look on her face, Jody told Alina to go home and change for the reunion while she took care of everything they’d discussed. As soon as Alina left, she grabbed her cellphone and called her cousin Ted who was a local police officer.
Around the same time, Tyson was frantically calling Eva.
“Eva? Oh my God! You won’t believe it. Suzanne … my girlfriend … she’s a nurse. Well, they just admitted Joan’s little sister Janet to the ER … car crash or something … anyway, she had these papers with her.” He quickly explained the contents to Eva.
“Shit! Tyson, you know I’m back in New York,” Eva tried to remain calm. “You’re going to have to go to the reunion early to look for those papers and, if you find any copies, destroy them before anyone sees them,” she paused. “How is Janet?” She listened as Tyson explained Janet’s critical status. Eva sighed.
“I’m going to try to think of something that will help … just in case we need it. Tyson? One more thing. How much does that girlfriend of yours love you, especially now that she’s read those papers? If it’s not enough, you may need to a pay a visit to the hospital.” The cold calculation in Eva’s voice completely unsettled Tyson. “Might be necessary to kill two birds with one stone … wouldn’t you say?”
Tyson knew Suzanne had really wanted to date his father. She’d had her eye on his fortune for several years, but his dad had never shown an interest in her and had finally set her up with Tyson. Maybe Eva was right. Maybe he should go to the hospital first and get it over with.
Less than 30 minutes later, Eva called him back. “Listen closely, we don’t have much time.” Tyson listened as she told him exactly what do if things went bad at the reunion.
Just as Eva was about to hang up, Tyson told her he’d taken care of Janet; it had been so easy. He’d also put things in motion for Suzanne to have an accident on her way home from work.
Eva just groaned and wondered again how she’d been stupid enough to get hooked up with Tyson in the first place. God, teenage hormones were a such a bitch! If she hadn’t been so jealous when she found out about his plan to meet Joan, none of this would be happening now.
Tyson called Lisa Ludlow and confirmed her son Beau would be overseeing the music and lights at the reunion. He relayed Eva’s request and could tell by the excitement in Lisa’s voice that she’d make sure Beau set things up just as Eva requested.
When Tyson arrived at the reunion, every head turned his way as people murmured to one another. He nervously waved at groups of his classmates as he made his way to the refreshment table. He helped himself to a cookie decorated in the school colors.
When Jody Arturo and Joan’s high school best friend Alina Mahoney headed straight for him with their husbands in tow, Tyson gripped the edge of the refreshment table and tried to stay calm. As he watched them approach, he quickly caught Beau’s eye and gave him a subtle thumbs up.
Just as Jody began to question Tyson about Joan’s disappearance, Beau stopped the music and dimmed the lights. “Uh … we have a surprise from one of your classmates,” Beau said shyly. “Just need a minute here.”
He turned on the large television in the middle of the stage, opened a laptop computer, tapped on the keyboard, and Eva Clarita popped up on the television screen.
“Hello everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the reunion and I regret that I couldn’t join you, but with everything that’s happened recently …” Eva appeared to choke back a sob and hastily wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. “Sorry.”
She took a deep breath and continued. “My sources tell me you may have a found a, shall we say unique item in the gift bags tonight. As many of you know I’m a best-selling author and I thought it might be fun for all of you, and inspirational for me, to set us all on a quest to flush out the details for my next book.”
“My old friend Tyson agreed to help me with setting up, well sort of a scavenger hunt. That’s what the clues are all about. Sadly, my vision for the story’s main plot is loosely based on the disappearance of our classmate Joan Rausch senior year. Her sister Janet was kind enough to help me too.” Eva smiled sadly. “I’d wanted this to be a way to honor Joan’s memory and bring all of us closer together. I hope I didn’t overstep or cross any lines.”
“My editor has set up a special email account for all of you to submit your ‘who dunnit’ hunches, story ideas and anything else you’d like to send me. I will be dedicating the book to all of you. To all of us, the class of 1995.”
The crowd applauded and just as Tyson finished heaving a sigh of relief, he froze. Several police officers had entered the gym and were headed in his direction. He saw Ted Lerner catch Jody’s eye and give her a grim nod.
As Eva continued to light up the screen, smiling and thanking the group for their help and support with her latest book, Tyson was being handcuffed and read his rights.
Eva thanked her classmates again, shut down her laptop computer, sipped her champagne, reclined her first-class seat, closed her eyes, and tried to relax. The rest of the flight to the Maldives would take another seventeen hours.