Alibi in High Heels
ordered a bowl of chicken soup from room service. There. That oughtta shut my stomach up.
    I then chucked the crutches and settled down on the chaise by the window to check my messages.
    The first one was from Mom, saying she and Mrs. R had printed out a ream of papers on Gisella and to call her as soon as I got in.
    The second message was from Ramirez. I felt that clenching sensation in my gut fade as his deep voice filled my ear.
    "Hey, it's me," he said. "I'm at the airport. I booked a seat on the red-eye. I'll be there by morning."
    Okay, so I know I'd put up a fuss about him coming over, but in all honesty, it made my little heart go pitter patter that he was racing across an ocean to be by my side.
    That is until he added, "Don't do anything stupid until I get there."
    I stuck my tongue out at the phone as it clicked over. "End of new messages." I deleted both of them, hung up and tried Mom's cell. It went to voicemail, so I left a message of my own saying I was in the room.
    Since room service still hadn't made it up with my soup, I grabbed the remote and flipped on the TV to wait. Unfortunately, the first thing that hit the screen was a picture of my own face staring back at me. I sat straight up, stabbing a finger at the volume control. The sound filled the room, but I couldn't understand a word they were saying. Damn. I strained, trying to pick out any phrases from the French for the Traveler book I'd picked up in the airport. Unfortunately they clearly weren't asking where the bathroom was or what time the train arrived, so I was out of luck.
    The only thing I did understand was the headline that shot across the bottom of the screen in English as the picture switched back to the anchor at the news desk:
    The Couture Killer Strikes Paris

    * * *

    I was in the Le Croix tent. Flashbulbs going off, music pumping through the speakers, models in various states of undress running back and forth behind the stage. The show was in full swing. Jean Luc barked orders from one end of the room, a long line of models standing at the head of the runway, waiting for their cues to strut its length for all the world to see.
    Suddenly, Ann grabbed me. She said something in French to me, which I didn't understand in the least. I shook my head, tried to tell her I couldn't understand her. But she just kept talking, getting more and more upset. Finally some English came through.
    "You're next!" she told me.
    I looked down. I was wearing one of Jean Luc's creations - the bright blue ruffle skirt that I'd seen him fitting Gisella for earlier.
    Ann shoved me ahead of her, toward the runway, to the front of the line of waiting models.
    "Wait!" I cried. "I'm not a model, I don't know how to do this!"
    But it was too late. She pushed me through the white flap and onto the runway.
    The lights were blinding, I couldn't see a thing except the white flashes of cameras going off. I couldn't make out faces, but I knew the tent was packed. I heard a chorus of voices oo-ing and aw-ing. I took a tentative step forward. Then anther, feeling my way down the runway through the blinding spotlights. I finally felt like I was getting the hang of it. People started clapping and I started strutting in earnest.
    Until my toe hit something.
    I tripped, falling forward, my arms splayed out in front of me to break my fall. Which seemed to go on forever. The ground was suddenly miles away from me. And as I looked down to see what I'd tripped over, I heard myself scream.
    There, lying beneath me was Auntie Charlene in a pool of blood. With a stiletto heel sticking out of her neck.

    * * *

    I sat straight up in bed, my heart pounding, my ducky jammies sticking to my sweaty body.
    I was not on a runway. I was not falling. I was not looking down at a pool of blood. I was in my hotel room, surrounded by ruffles and very civilized French decor. I closed my eyes, letting my head fall back on the pillows and I took great big gulps of air, trying to reign in my heart rate

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