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Sabotage, Wedding Drama, Secret Photographer
"what did you just do?" Cary asked. They were making their way back towards the center of town. Erin was scanning for a place where to develop photos.
"What are you tallking about? Cary we need to focus." She replied not even looking at him.
"No!" He grabbed her arm, "'We' don't need to do anything. We are not taking this case."
"First of it's not a case. I was drafted into a wedding and we were assigned to find the photographer who is blackmailing this family. But since you referred to it as a case it shows you're interested, so now were both curious and we have to solve it." Erin said all in one breath.
"You're not that fast of talker." Cary called as Erin started to walk away. "Aren't you worried ww might get into some serious trouble, namely with dad?"
"Cary, I have spent my entire life worrying if I'll get in trouble and usually did because of it. Besides aren't tired of always being in someone else's shadow. Don;t you wanna do someting for yourself once and awhile."
"Look where we live everybody knows are dad, everybody loves are dad, and so we have become nothing more than a tagline to dad's name. 'Oh look! There's Caleb Darcy and his children.' You heard Michelle, even she views as just an extension on the family tree. I wanna do somehting worthwhile something I sink my teeth into."
"So you gotta something to prove?" Cary summed it up, "Because Mom and Dad were both successful and well known?"
"YOu're telling me you don't feel any pressure?" Erin countered, "You're not that good of liar." The stared at each other in silence for a moment.
"How about," Erin kicked at a pebble on the sidewalk, "if I claim full responsiblity for all our actions and events for this case." Erin vouched.
"Deal." Cary said quickly.
"How are we going to find this photgrapher?" Erin asked. They had skated the entire city. He usually proved to relatively sensible with this sort of thing.
"We should think of this stragically." He began."There's only one place to develop photgraphs. The CVS downtown on the corner."
"Right, so let's first start there." Erin agreed. For the amount of people in the town, (for the amount of rich people in the town) it still seemed to have the county feel. Surprisingly there weren't that many people shopping or out and about. Those that were, were either natives or the assistants of the rich folks. In short, there wasn't a line in the CVS. The lady behind the counter, a middle aged, heavy-set room looked appropriately bored. She acknowleged her custmoers with a glare.
Cary walked straight the counter, "Excuse me ma'am." He said cheerfully. "We were wondering if anyone had developed any photos lately?"
"Of course, but there ain't much to pho-to-graph way out here." The lady said in a thick Southern drawl. "'Cept that ridiculous wedding. I think it's a bunch of moldy baloney, they call it symbolic of a..."
"Yes, ma'am." Cary interrupted, before she launched into her full monologue. "Has anyone developed pictures recently?"
"Yeah, sure." She replied, "Be more specific." She said testily.
"A picture of the groom and the bride's best friend kissing." Erin replied bluntly. she wasn't in the mood for games and already had another theory developing.
"Now," The woman leaned back in her chair, "Well, before all the hoopula took off, there was skinny feller in here developing photos. Didn't say much, he had real nice camera though. developed ten different rolls. Well anyhow," the lady sighed, "As the machine was runnin' I noticed that photo you was describing. When he paid, I asked him about. You know if he was starting anything, maybe trying to make an extra buck."
"Ma'am that's blackmail." Erin interjected, but she was already continuing.
"Anyhow's he got real quiet for a moment like he was confused. Then he got real red and mad. And rushed out of here real fast. Next day's the photo was all over the place. But he hasn't come back since."
"Thank you." Cary said quickly and both left hurriedly.
"Erin, I know who that is." Cary said in hushed tones as they both made their way back toward the mansion, "When we went back there the second time and you were talking to the clerk, I overheard one Renee's people saying that Renee's was complaining of how expensive the photographer is. The lady said, Renee was having him do two albums one dedicated to the wedding the other to the behind the scenes. Renee just didnt' realize the total fee included blackmail." Cary added slyly.
"The lady said he had a 'real nice camera' and developed 'ten rolls' that sounds like a professional to me. Let's see if we can find the wedding photographer."
"Do you see anything?" Erin asked. They were poking around the workers. It was impressive to say the least when it came to extensiveness it came to the wedding.
"Ronnie we need that wine shipped from Spain tonight." A lady bustled around. Her tone matched the glare she shot Erin and Cary. The blueTooth in her ear blinked rapidly.
"Jenna, I want no excuses that seashell dust needs to delivered tonight." Renee was calling from the patio stairs. Though patio wasn't the right word. It was outdoor living area the size of their house attached to the side of their conservatory.
"Kari and Aaron!" She called, "I need you!" She pointed the wrong twins with each name. Being used to the constant mix up, they silently followed. Renee was walking unbeleively fast and smooth on stiletto heels. But she nearly tripped the poor man struggling to carry the replacement wedding gown. The bag was catching the breeze, he was desparetly trying to keep it spotless while people brushed past. Cary scanned the racks of gowns and tuxedos. 6 of each.
"Kari, you'll be filling for that witch named Shelby. She was to be my maid-of-honor. But it seems that we have a slight complication, as my mother refers to it. So you will have to fill in." She picked up a green dress that was hanging on the door.
"This was her's. The fitting is in ten mintues, so be there!" She held out the dress to Erin.
"Actually I don't think green in really my color." Cary spoke up as he examined the dress. "Of course it look smashing on Erin here." He put his arm around his sister. Renee looked confused,
"Look, I don't care. Just put the dress on, walk down the isle when I tell you to." Renee replied. Not usually what you say to your maid-of-honor.
"Renee you mother uh....she, well she hired us to look into the security of the wedding. I understand there's been some issues." Erin started.
"Erin here was the one who noticed the chandelier before it fell." Cary added. Renee had sunk onto a armchair. She waved her hand and silence them.
"I know, Mom already told me everything. It was her idea to have you fill in." She sounded pretty drained and a little sad.
"Renee, we're specifically trying to locate the photographer who took that picture." Cary paused at a loss. Renee started to look upset, "Um, I'm so sorry. It must be very upseting for you."
"Renee, is there anything you can tell us that might help." Erin added.
"Yeah," Renee nodded, she looked up, "That picture shows my worst nightmare."
"I was referring more towards the photographer." Erin stammered. BUt she stopped as Renee stood up.
"You think I want this." She didn' specify what 'this' meant. She walked over to the tray sitting on her desk, and poured herslf a glass of champagne, "Ever knows this is a publicity to cover the embarrrasment that our company is being bought by Peter's. They're all a bunch of hypocrites anyway." SHe took a sip, "At least I'm not pretending." She added almost in a whisper.
"Renee why are you telling us this?" Cary asked.
"Why?" She looked up from her glass, "Because I-"
"Renee!" Her mother shrieked as she burst into the room, "Good gracious girl, put that down. We have work to do." She noticed Cary and Erin.
"Erin put that dress and go downstairs for rehearsal. Cary get back to your assignment." They obeyed. Though they both heard Renee and Mrs. Hillary viciously snapping at each other.
Erin squeezed into what felt like a size -2 dress.
"This is ridiculous." She muttered as she staggered from behind the curtain. The tailor looked from his notes and stared puzzled at Erin.
"Oh, that won't work." He said, he looked down his pointy nose and over his thin glasses at her.
"And where are your heels every women needs to wear heels in that type of dress."
"You mean a dress that doesn't fit?" Eirn snapped, "How much did this girl weigh?"
"That," The tailor mused, "Is confidential information." He moved closer, and felt how the dress fitted Erin.
"Do you mind." She snapped, "It's obvious it doesn't fit."
"What size are you?" He sounded puzzled as if they don't make a size to fit her.
"That," She replied slyly, "Is confidential information." She smirked in the mirror, "The truth is I have no idea." She added, talking to her image, "I can't remember the last time I wore a dress." The tailor looked appalled.
After Cary made his timely exit, abandoning his sister to fitting, he started scouting out the possible suspects. Just about everybody minded their own business. He kept his eyes peeled for expensive cameras or there cases. He walked the entire of the property, and hadn't spotted anybody snapping pciture let alone the actual wedding photographer. He decided to move toward the back of the massive mansion and head over the hill around the side of the house.
"Wow!" He stopped and stared at the area where the ceremony was to take place. He scratched his head and ran his hand through his hair. It was hot. The area was sectioned off with caution tape. The isle was marked off and the places of chair had been marked and sectioned out. A platform was erected for where the bride and groom would exchange vows. Even in it's early stages the wedding ceremony looked impressive.
That's when he noticed a figuring speeding walking away from the set. Cary realized it was Shelby, the ex-maid-of-honor. He decided to follow her. She walking quite fast but there was enough distance between them for Cary to be able to run undetected. She moved around the side of the house and off the property. He took a short cut around through the shrubs. Cut across the front lawn and ended up right next to Shelby.
"Hey!" He said casually.
"who are you again?" SHe asked, cautiously.
"You came running out of Renee's bedroom screaming for help." He replied, not really answering her question. She just looked confused. "Well, most people would remember something like that." He rambled, "Anyway, I'm investigating your side of the story." At that she stopped.
"My side?" She snapped, "My side of what?" she didn't sound sacastic, she sounded shocked.
"Well," Cary started without skipping a beat, "I thought maybe you'd feel better that somebody was willing to listen after all the..." Cary searched for the right word. "Fights?" "Screaming?" "Sabotage?"
"Tension." Cary chose. Shelby smiled, thankful for his tackful choice.
"There's nothing to talk about." She declared, and walked purposefully away. Though it was clear to Cary she had no where to go.
"Well, that's fine but you do realize that with whole love triangle thing going on, the only prime suspect to the sabotage is you." Shelby slowed her pace, but Cary plowed onward, "It doesn't help that two or more people witnessed you running out of the room where one of the first acts of sabatoge was committed." Shelby smiled to herself, she liked Cary and his mannerisms.
"Alright," She spun around suddenly, "You wanna play detective and reporter at the same time, be my guest. But in my opinion this wedding was really the first act of sabotage."
"Okay, maybe the premise of an motive." Cary started.
But she tried interrupted him,Cary ignored her.
"Everything your saying is leading back to all standing theory you are the bad guy." He shrugged casually, "I'm just trying to help you out here."
"You think to much." She countered, and tried to walk past. But Cary was faster.
"Yes, and you thank my father for that. But," He jumped in front of her, "Unfortunately for you I'm just getting started. Besides running on emotion could eventually lead to a crime of passion." He paused, "Or kissing your best friends fiancee." She looked down for a moment, her eyes had changed,
"I didn't mean," She started, her voice was softer, "Renee hates Peter she's made that pretty obvious, and Peter is all that crazy about Renee. Can't say I blame this whole is a rigged publcity stunt that nothing to do with them. Anyway, I've always had a thing for Peter, and he was starting to feel depressed. And I felt bad for him and one thing lead to another, and I kissed him. That was it." Maybe it was because he wanted, to because he didn't have Erin standing right there for gravity. Or maybe it was because his father has groomed him for reading people since he could walk. Cary just maybe wanted to believe her. Maybe...
Erin huffed out of the massive upstairs sitting area sectioned off as the 'fitting room.' She held her new shoes in her hand. She rushed down the stairs and headed for the front door. Intent on getting the out of there as fast as she could and finding Cary.
"Hey!" Cary called ans he sprinted aross the lawn. The lanscaper straigtening from his work and yelling at him. Cary waved his apologies and hopped into the walkway.
"How did it go?" He asked falling into to place with his sister.
"Horrible," Eirn said, quickening her step slightly, "The tailor said I need to lose three inches on my thighs." Cary nodded rapidly, though his mind was already elsewhere.
"Well, did you learn anything?" He asked.
"Yeah, that I am a size 5 in dresses." She added. He stopped for brief second,
"I didn't think they made a size 5."
"They don't." Erin replied, "Which is why I don't where dresses. Besides how am I going to lose three inches off my thighs?" She fussed. Cary stopped, caught between transitioning subjects.
"Wha- You're not, The tailor is an idiot. YOu're beautiful." He said all in one breath, "Now, I learned...what are you staring at?"
"Nothing," Erin snapped out of her daze, "It was just very sweet of you to say that."
"oh, well, I talked to Renee and I, really don't think she's the guy. She's definetly got a thing for Peter, but Renee isn't exactly the ideal bride either. She bluntly admitted that Renee practically hates Peter."
"Which makes this whole thing very weird," Erin chimed in, "If you hated your fiance, and you found out he kissed or best friend wouldn't that be an easy reasonable excuse to dump him. Instead she kicks out the best friend?" Erin stepped around the workers as Cary headed toward the backyard. "Besides, why are they even getting married, they shoudl just skip it and get divorced!" Eirn quipped.
"Which reminds me," Cary stopped, "I found our photographer." He pointed and Erin's jaw dropped.
"You have got to be kidding me."
"Jeremy, really?" She asked, Jeremy Lawrence was the closest thing Erin and Cary had to a best friend. They grew up across the street from each other. They had sleepovers, built forts, played detective when they were little. They braved high school. Jeremy was the guy that no matter what you needed, Jeremy either had or he'd get it for you. He was a little eccentric which made him stand out and fit right in at the same time. He was gifted with computers, and photography. He owned every gadget known to man-kind with a 17-year-old's price range.
But right now all Erin and Cary saw something they'd have to explain to Mrs. Hillary.
"Well," Erin sighed, "Let's at least go talk to him. They crept down the hill. Half meaning to sneek up on him.
"Jeremy!" Cary called, the hunched figure jumped. Snapping a pic ture in the process.
"Maybe that's how he took the first one." Cary whispered. Erin ignored him.
"Guys!" Jeremy said, straightening, he was a good 6 inches shorter than Cary, "What are doing here?" It was then that Erin realized, to a bystander they looked just as out-of-place and possibly, guilty as Jeremy did.
"Oh you know," Erin spoke up, giving Jeremy a sideways hug, "Dad's girlfriend, get's invited by her sister's neighbor to their daughter's wedding." Jeremy gave them a confused look.
"Don't even ask." Cary shook his head.
"Anyway, we got sort've hired, to check out the sabotage that has been happening lately." Erin finshed, checking Jeremy's reaction. He nodded right along, innocently. As if he has no idea, what was happening and he was thrilled to see his best friends.
"So what about you?" Cary said, before Erin got into a staring contest with Jeremy.
"Oh I was 'hired' too, to take pictures the wedding and the behinds the scenes." Erin and Cary nodded, though not entirely buying it.
"In Georgia?" Cary asked.
"Well, my dad's actually cordinating the event." He added.
"You're related to them somehow aren't you?" Erin asked. Jeremy's family was mind-boggingly extensive. Jeremy blushed slightly.
"Jeremy you are related to everyone and their best friend," Erin declared, "And yet you can't get us in anywhere?" Cary and Jeremy both raised an eyebrow,
"The royal wedding?" Cary asked.
"Well, he's related to one of Queen Elizabeth the First's knights, shouldn't he be on the friends and family list?"
"Guys, I'm sorry, but I got get back to work," He started to walk off, "Renee's mom will chew me out if I don't."
"That's just it," Erin raised her hand for him to stop. She paused about to jump off the deep end, "We know you took that photo." Jeremy stared at them straight faced,
"The one everyone has been talking featuring Renee's best friend and her fiance kissing." Erin answered, Jeremy started to look uncomfortable.
"Look Jeremy," Cary spoke, "I understand you're dad's cordinating this whole...thing." He gestured to their expansive, expensive surroundings. "He got you the job, but blackmail is never a good idea."
"I didn't do it." Jeremy interrupted.
"But you're the one who developed it?" Erin tested, almost as a question.
"But I didn't snap the picture!" He replied, earnestly. "I was using my digital camera that day. But when I developed the film rolls it was on the film.
"How did you not know what was on your camera?" Erin asked confused, but Cary was already moving on.
"We believe you, Jeremy." Cary asked, "But we still have to turn you in." He added.
"What? Why?" Jeremy asked.
"Well," Cary swallowed, "Mrs. Hillary hired us to find the photographer. Besides if she finds out later, you'll be in a lot of hot water. And so will we..."
"Don't worry will vouch for you 100%." Erin spoke up, "But you got to help us. If you didn't take that picture then I think whoever ruined Renee's dress and wrecked the chandelier, took the picture."
"Jeremy do you have any idea who would want to stop this wedding?" Erin asked.
"Besides the fact this whole thing is the bride and groom hate each other, no."
"I'm very busy right now," Mrs. Hillary stated impatiently, "What do you mean you 'sort've kinda've' found the photographer." Erin swallowed. She felt it would be best if she talked to her first before she laid into Jeremy.
"Ma'am, you hired Jeremy to take photographers of the wedding and it's behind the scenes. And I have reason to believe used that to him frame with the picture."
"Jeremy Lawrence, took that photo!" She exploded, "I'll fire him this instance, and his father."
"Ma'am please. I have known Jeremy for my entire life, and I can confidently say Jeremy would never take the photo and then blackmail you. He's a very honest, responsible young man."
Mrs. Hillary raised an eyebrow,
"Is he your boyfriend?" Erin smiled and blushed sightly.
"No, ma'am. He's my best friend." Mrs. Hillary remained quiet for a moment.
"Really? Well, maybe you can understand this Erin?" She said testily. "Renee and Shelby have known each other since they were five. Renee trusted her implicently. And for the most part Shelby never let her down, much my surprise. Until now. Do you have idea what it's like to be cheated like that? Nothing means more to me than making sure this works out for Renee. It's the last thing I can do for Renee. Shelby didn't want to be a part of that so, she had to leave. I do not want anyone that would do anything to destroy that. Now, how much confidence do you have in your friend?" Erin considered this for a moment. This was her first real case, and quite possibly her last if this conversation didn't end well.
"Ma'am, my father is Professor in Psychology and my mother is, was a Lawyer." Erin paused, "When you're parents profession revolves around human behavior, hidden truth, and words - you tend to know more about your friends then they know about themselves. Needless to say I don't have many." Erin took a deep breath, "But Jeremy is the exception to all that. And I and my brother will personally vouch for him 100% anywhere, anytime." She took a step forward.
"And, if you allow us, Jeremy, my brother and I will find the person who is causing all this chaos." Mrs. Hillary paused for moment and then held out her hand.
"I like you Erin, and for that I'll like you play detective. But if I find out you or any of your friends cause and trouble. I can guarentee you'll hit the pavement outside my house harder than you've ever fallen off your skateboard."
"I can't do that." Jeremy said, bluntly and with no remorse. Erin stared at him stunned.
"Jeremy, I just saved your butt in their with Mrs. Hillary." She replied, indignantly.
"I know," he replied hotly, "And I aim to keep my self on her good side!" Jeremy replied.
"Disregarding friends or justice?" Cary asked irritated.
"Jeremy it is imperitive that you-" Eirn started, but then stopped, "Is that the right word?" she asked Cary, "Whatever, it is very important that we get pictures of everything that is happening around here. Especially the scenes of sabotage." Jeremy's eye grew wide at the last request.
"YOu're crazy? If she catches us, We'll all be done for."
"Well, you had a knack for snapping the first picture." Cary said, slipping on his sunglasses, he patted his friend's arm. "I'm sure you can hamdle this."
"Didn't Ashley say something about this wedding being televised?" Cary asked. Erin nodded, "Wouldn't be pretty risky, trying to sabotage it. Obviously this whole affair is important to somebody."
"Besides, the bride and groom." Erin added.
"Well, who else would stand to benefit from this wedding? We need to find more about the two rival companies and this so-called alliance."
"How about I'll start looking into the network that's going to televise the weddding." Erin added, "And you research the background of these to companies."
"Deal. I'll meet you back here in an hour." Cary replied, "Then we can see what else Jeremy camera has taken pictures of." Cary made his way to the local library where he could research the family on the internet.
Erin wandered around for a few minutes seeing if she could spot any news truck or a any camera guys. As with the photograph - no sucess.
"I don't even see how the photo was taken with such tight security on this whole place." Erin muttered to herslf. The whole affair seemed to be running perfectly smoothly, heading right for disaster.
"Erin!" Renee called, from the her balcony. "I need you." Erin sighed and made her way up to the suite.
"Yes?" She asked as she entered the room.
"Mother has ordered 150 tulips to be delivered tonight and planted tomorrow morning, by our family landscaper Marcus." Renee declared, "I need you to wait to make sure they are delivered on time and arrive safetly."
"But when does he arrive?"
"Sometime between 3-7pm." Renee replied already heading out the door.
"Do I have to sit still that long?" Erin called after her.
Erin settled herself on a small bench that was part of the front yard arrangment. she tried to make herself comfortable while keeping one eye on the street the other on the activity.
"Mind if I join you?" A young man asked. Erin looked up squinted one eye in the sunlight.
"Sure." She said. He wasn't a stunning handsome fellow. But he seemed decent. And he had pencil behind his ear, grpahite on his fingers, and a pad in his hand.
"Are you an artist?" She asked as he plopped down next to her.
"I'm the guy that will escorting you down the isle." He replied, cunningly.
"Excuse me?" Erin said.
"I'm Ashton, you escort in the wedding. I heard your the replacement bridesmaid." He added.
"Yeah," She rolled her eyes, "I'm Erin."
"Hi, Erin. Did you hear about the contest?" He asked.
"Well, Hillary's company and Willougby's company are hosting a competition in honor of the alliance, they want to know what the next great app is`so they're holding a contest of who can up with the best idea. And I've entered - here want to see?" He almost seemed childish with his earnest, excited grin as he shoved the pad of paper Erin's direction. Erin smiled in spite of herself and glanced down. It was a well drawn sketch of car parked in front of rather large mansion. He flipped the page to show the a copy of the exact same picture. Well...almost.
"It's a app that allows you to take pictures a anything then it will convert into a sketch and radnomly makes subtle changes kinda of like the children's game of find the differences. It can actually be quite entertaining." He beamed.
"Yeah," Erin said, already picking out the differences,"License plate missing a number, radio antenna is up not down, window on the house is closed, and the maple tree in the yard has one leaf left on it." She rattled up and looked up. Ashton looked sutnned.
"wow! You're good, like a detective or something - maybe you can help me design the puzzles." He said.
"Maybe," She said, waiting a moment, to pose her question, "So what do you think of this whole scandal surrounding hte wedding?" She asked inncently.
"Nothing new around here." Ashton shrugged, "That family has been front page news every since they moved down here. I Mrs. Hillary was real upset still is about the move. The only thing that made her happy was when the rivaliry escallated when Renee and Peter started 'dating.'" He used air-quotes in addition to rolling his eyes. "She even tried to compare it a the next Romeo and Juliet wedding."
"Do you think they really love each other?" Eirn asked, scanning the road for any signs of delivery.
"I think they could if everyone else would butt out of their lives. Yeah, but until then, five- year marriage max."
"Wow, that sounds pretty harsh," Erin waited moment, trying to play it cool, "Do you think Shelby's trying to break up the wedding, so that she could have Peter all to herself?"
"Maybe out of spite or something." Ashton shrugged while she continued sketching, "But she doesnt' have to, everyone knows Peter is already in love with her."