Chapter 40 : End of the Party

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"Stay here," Raul orders me before running toward the direction the screen came from.

Like hell. No way am I going to just stand here while someone is in trouble. I grab my long skirt with both hands, thankful my clutch is tiny enough to hang on to, and sprint after him. I try to keep up but it's difficult to run over the grass in three-inch heels. I wonder if I'd be of more use if I just called 911. But what if it turns out to not be a real emergency? What if the person just saw a rat or something.

Another scream.

It comes from the side of the building. Raul makes a beeline to the patio where the entrance is. He disappears into the building even before I reach the steps going up to the patio. I nearly trip on the last step but manage to keep my balance.

"Raul?" I call out as I walk through the hallway trying to find where he'd gone to.

Two uniformed staff members, a man and a woman, appear on the other end of the hallway looking as bewildered as I was.

"Ma'am are you all right?" the woman says.

"I'm fine," I say. "We heard a scream." I feel a small sense of relief that the problem-if there is one-seems to be isolated to this wing of the building. But where is Raul? Did he run into any danger?

Heavy clicking of heels echoes on the marble floor, then a Black woman in a suit appears, followed by two tall security guards. Her gaze falls on me and her eyes widen. "Mrs. Marin!" she says, coming closer. "Are you all right?"

"Yes, I'm fine," I say. The way the other club employees seem to be waiting for instructions from her tells me she must be the manager or something. "But Raul-Mr. Marin went to look for whoever we heard screaming. I don't know where he is."

"I'm sure he's fine. Just please go back to the ballroom and we'll sort this out."

Before I can protest that no, I'm not going anywhere until I know Raul is all right, another staff member comes rushing in. "Ms. Johnson," he says breathlessly. "We have a situation in the ladies' bathroom."

Ms. Johnson gestures to the security guards who nod and rush down the hall. "Stay here please, Ms. Marin," she says, her tone as firm as the grip she has on my arm. "Let our security people do their job."

She's right. I know she's right. But it doesn't stop the frustration and anxiety from welling up inside me. "But ... Raul ..." I say, then turn to the staff member who saw what happened in the bathroom. "Is he all right?"

"I don't know, Miss," he says. He looks at Mrs. Johnson helplessly, as though at a loss as to what to say.

"It's all right, Wallace," Ms. Johnson says. Please go back to the main hallway and make sure nobody comes this way. Direct them to the office bathrooms upstairs. If anyone asks, tell them we're cleaning this area."

"Yes, ma'am."

One of the security guards comes back, his expression grim. "Ms. Johnson, you should come see this," he says.

"Raul!" I cry out, breaking away from Ms. Johnson's grasp.

The security guard is too surprised to stop me as I rush past him to the bathroom. "Uh, Miss, you really shouldn't-"

The door to the ladies' room is wide open. There is a muffled, hysterical sobbing and a soft murmur of men's voices when I step inside.

I see Raul first. He's standing with his hands on his hips, talking to the security guard. He stops when he sees me, his eyes going wide. "Kate!" he says, stalking toward me. "What are you doing here? I told you to stay outside."

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