Chapter 20: The Masquerade

Magsimula sa umpisa

"Bakit hindi tayo sa entrance tumigil?" Tanong ko sa kanya as I glanced to the awesome cars being left to the valet by its bigtime owners.

"The easier escape would be far from the entrance," sagot niya. Oh hell, yeah. We were not here to enjoy the party. We were here to lure the giants. To feed ourselves to the monsters. How sweet.

I walked on my heels with as much confidence as I can. Naka-alalay naman sa akin si Detective Penber. Then we finally entered the Masquerade Party. Saying that it's grand would be an understatement. The Masquerade Party is so magical, enticing, bewitching. I couldn't even grasp the exact term to define it. It must be out of this world. Meron siyang taste of modern and touch of vintage. Marami na ring tao on their best gown and tuxedo outfit. And why not? The ball was held for the opening of a perfume company: "Stones and Masks." It's quite earthy. Halos lahat ng prominenteng tao at possible investors ay narito. And of course, the Frenieres and whoever they are dealing with would also be present here. Hindi ko alam kung ano'ng mga strings ang kinailangang i-pull out ni Detective Penber upang magkaroon kami ng invitation for this party.

Isang tao kaagad ang hinanap ng aking paningin. Paano ko nga ba siya makikita on this sea of masked faces? But when you hate a person, you'll be hating him even if you are not seeing his face. So what more if he's just within the proximity? I trusted my guts na makikita ko siya. He's our only visible lead. At isa pa, Tres is not just part of a sea of faces. He must be easy to recognized.

"Sikapin mong huwag mawala sa tabi ko. Masyadong delikado," bulong ng Detective.

"We must separate kung gusto nating maging madali ang lahat. I'll be looking for Tres, and you'll check the room on 7th floor. You said that a meeting will be set in there, right?" Mahina kong sagot.

Sandaling nag-isip ang detective at saka bumuntong-hininga. "Okay, I'll check things sa itaas. Don't make any unplanned moves while you're here. Pag nakita mo si Tres, send me a message. Pupuntahan kaagad kita."

"Pag nakita mong may meeting sa taas at naroon ang mga pakay natin, kailangan mo akong sabihan. Stick with the plan," wika ko. Nararamdaman ko kasing medyo nag-aalinlangan pa rin si Detective Penber sa partisipasyon ko sa misyong ito.

"If something happened... tumawag ka sa headquarters." That would be the last resort. At gagawin lang namin yun kung wala nang ibang pagpipilian. Ibig sabihin, isa sa amin ang maaaring mapahamak kaya hihingi na kami ng tulong sa otoridad.

Tumango ako. Hinawakan niya muna ako sa balikat at saka siya umalis. Now, here goes all or nothing. Isang waiter ang dumaan na may dalang glasses of wine and champagne. He offered me one and I gladly received it. I have to play the role of a guest enjoying the party. I took a sip and eyed my surroundings carefully. This was like being in a fairytale with a Mission Impossible situation. I searched for the faintest hint of that person.

Napako ang atensyon ko sa taong papasok ng entrance. Naka-suot siya ng itim na American coat with a red, silk tie. He looked as if he came here for business and not for the party. Suot niya rin ang isang kulay itim na maskara na tila may mga opal designs. His long, shoulder-length hair looked soft despite being brushed fashionably. Kung bakit nakuha niya ang atensyon ko ay dahil iyon sa matalim na tinging naglalaro sa mga mata niya bagama't mukha naman iyong nakangiti. Ang perfect structure ng matangos niyang ilong at ang tila nakamamatay na aura. And crap! Agad na uminit ang ulo ko.

Montello High: School of Gangsters (Published under Cloak Pop Fiction)Basahin ang storyang ito ng LIBRE!