Murder at the Whitlock Grand
Summary: Bella works at an architecture firm, and is slightly annoyed that her job isn't as exciting as she thought it would be, but when her Uncle hands her the contract to her dream job she's ecstatic. But when her bosses find out, the intimidating Emmett Cullen and the annoyingly condescending and work-obsessed Edward Cullen want to be in on it too, and try to steal it away. In a strange turn of events, Bella's Uncle decides that everyone must get together and go spend one week at the old hotel, having it run like it did when it first opened, but soon weird things start happening. Uncle Will disappears and the events surrounding his disappearance are highly suspicious and a very frightening.
Everyone is a suspect, everyone had a motive and everyone is afraid they'll be next.
I am making no money off of this and the characters don't belong to me. Only the plot is mine.
"I'm so sorry I'm late!" My sister said as she burst through the door of the apartment in a flurry, throwing down her black Armani briefcase, kicking off her shoes and flinging her keys on the small table by the front door.
I rolled my eyes, "Yea, yea, just get in here already, I want to hear Jasper's news." I curled my feet up on the squashy red armchair in our living room and waited for Rosalie to sit down. Jasper, our cousin, reclined on the couch fiddling with the remote control to the TV. We had agreed to meet at mine and Rose's apartment an hour ago so he could tell us some really big news. Rosalie had been, as usual, working late.
"Give me two minutes," Rose ran to her room, probably to change out of her work clothes before she joined us comfortably in the living room. "So what's this about Jasper?" She yelled from her room.
We were used to Jasper's frequent visits; he practically lived here even though his own apartment was only minutes away. The three of us had been very close as children and it continued into adulthood. Rose and I were dumped at Jasper's house every summer and during winter breaks when we were children, which was about three hours away from where we grew up. Our parents, having been much too young when they began having children, didn't seem to know what to do with us, never having gotten the hang of the whole parenting thing. We didn't really mind though, since we would spend every waking minute playing in the old unused hotel Jasper's family owned.
"I'm not about to shout it across the apartment, Rose. Hurry up and get in here." He replied loudly enough so she could hear.
I guess this is the part where I'm supposed to explain what the Whitlock Grand Hotel is. Well, first of all, let me start by saying that our dear cousin Jasper is rich. Filthy rich. His family owns a string of hotels scattered across the planet. There is a Whitlock Hotel or a Whitlock Luxury Resort in every state and at least two in most other countries. The Whitlock Grand Hotel was the first one ever in existence, built back in 1904. It sits on the most beautiful mountain, in front of the many ski slopes also owned by the family. It greatly resembles a miniature Russian Palace; majestic and enchanting. Every detail was striking from the great marble hallways to the views of the mountain it sat on and the town it overlooked were grand. In fact, I don't think I can adequately describe how amazing it is, so I'll just say this: it's magical. Marvelously, mysteriously and unremarkably magical.
Needless to say, it is my favorite place in the world.
Our parents would drop us off at Jasper's house near the hotel on school breaks, ever since I can remember, but by then it had been closed, mostly because it only had about twenty guest suites, which soon became too small an amount, no matter how lavish, luxurious and beautiful each suite was.
Jasper smirked at Rose as she made her way to the couch, "Make any guys cry today?"
I snorted. That Rosalie is a ball buster wasn't a secret. At merely 26 years of age she had managed to rise to a senior level position at a major German automobile company, heading up their luxury car design department here in Seattle. The mixture of tenacity, drive, talent got her the position … and of course, the fact that she's drop dead gorgeous and can make anyone surrender to her will didn't hurt her either. She was promoted to the position 6 months ago, right around the time I'd finished graduate school.
She scrunched her nose at him in an insincere attempt at annoyance, "No, it was a slow day. And I don't see why you guys keep bringing that up. It was months ago and I apologized to him.
"No, you didn't," I reminded her.
Rose frowned slightly, "Oh, that's right. Oh well," she shrugged, "so what's the big news, Jazz?"
Jasper turned off the TV and turned to face us. "The Whitlock grand is going under construction. My dad has finally set about reopening it."
My mouth went a little dry… it was a dream come true. This is good. Uncle Will is reopening the Whitlock Grand. You've been bugging him about it long enough. This is good. I repeated the phrases in my head to try and dispel the disappointment making its way through my veins, slowly spreading through me as the news set in. "Well, good." I said after clearing my throat. Doing my best to mask the chagrin with a blank face, I spoke again, "Is Uncle Will… Are they … who's going to…?"
Rosalie took over when I couldn't get the words out and she took over. "Are they starting from scratch? Tearing it down and putting up a new one?" It was clear that the thought disturbed her.
They couldn't tear it down. It was our home. I knew the ins and outs of that place like the back of my hand; the parlors, the grandeur… they can't. The thought of never walking those halls, revisiting the many secrets and mysteries we uncovered as children, was unbearable. I can't even believe Jasper is being so calm about this; he would never be cool about just building a new one. I looked to his face, searching for any hidden turmoil, but I couldn't comprehend his expression. It reminded me of the pleasant serenity of a surgeon when he tells a patient that their tumor has been completely removed and they will live a long happy life. It made no sense at all.
"They aren't tearing it down." He said evenly.
"Oh." Rosalie said. She shot me a worried glance she hoped I wouldn't catch before continuing, "That's good then, right? They'll just add a few rooms or something?"
Jasper nodded, "I think so but, honestly, I don't know what the architect is planning. Apparently this one's had plans for redoing the place for a while. They've visited it enough times in the last few years."
My heart deflated a little. I guess I should also mention that the reason I had become an architect was because of this place… or at least where I got the motivation from. I mean, it is gorgeous and it had completely inspired me. I'd never wanted to do anything else. But let's face it; I just started my job as an architect just a few months ago. And, yes, it was a well respected firm but Uncle Will is a reasonable man and he would want someone more experienced in charge of this.
I know I should be happy, the place was finally going to be used to its full potential. I mean, sure, when we were little we liked having the place to ourselves, but I had always imagined what it would be like when it was up and running again. But… I wanted this job… to have some stranger come in and try to mess with our place seemed… harsh. "So, Uncle Will's had some architect scouting the place for years now?" I asked, feeling a little betrayed by my Uncle.
"Not really," Jasper said, "She's been doing it on her own, for years now."
"What?! She?" Rosalie asked, now fully annoyed. "So some strange chick's been going around snooping in the Whitlock Grand for years and Uncle Will just hands over a renovation contract? I'm not buying it. Who is this bitch?"
Jasper's eyes crinkled slightly and I could tell he was trying not to laugh. "I don't think she's a bitch. Actually, she's really good. And she's not strange. OK, she can be a little weird sometimes but—,"
"You've met her?!"
"Of course I have." He said simply.
"So she's charmed you too then? What'd she do, buy you some Krispy Kremes and tell you you're a great skier? That's it, isn't it? It's about time you came to terms with the fact that you suck. I swear, every time some bimbo flashes her cleavage at you and mentions your damn skis, you turn into such a moron!"
"Hey!" exclaimed Jasper.
Rosalie was turning red, but before she could lash out at Jasper any further, I intervened. "Hold on, this doesn't make sense. What aren't you telling us?"
Jasper was still frowning at Rosalie, "I suck at skiing? May I remind you that I won the last three races when we were home?" By home, he meant the slopes behind the Whitlock Grand.
"Whatever. I'd really like to know what's going on," added Rose. "Tell us the whole story. Who is this person and how do you know her?"
He grinned, seemingly unable of holding it back any longer, "She's my cousin."
Rosalie and I stared at him. As my head wrapped itself around the information and pieced the puzzle together, I felt the tips of my fingers go a little numb. My mouth opened, but no sound came out.
I felt my eyes go wide and my skin get all prickly. In the silence that followed his statement, I looked to Rosalie to see if she had heard the same thing I did. She was looking at me, a smile slowly spreading across her face as she watched my reaction. "Wait… what?!"
Jasper took a deep breath, "Well …" Oh God. But instead of saying 'Just kidding' or 'Gotcha', his eyes turned to me, "Dad wants Bella to be in charge of the project."
"What… I… what?"
"Well, was I lying before? You have been planning it out forever, right, Bells? And you have visited it hundreds of times," he repeated, smiling. Both he and Rosalie were staring at me. Rosalie, who was so taken by the news that she forgot to be angry at Jasper for putting us through grief before delivering the news, was beaming.
"OK, then." He chuckled.
"Bella…" he mocked.
I shrieked, immediately jumping out of my chair, "Are you kidding?!!" I cried out. "Please tell me this isn't a joke, please don't let this be a joke…" the prayers escaped me disguised as excited whispers.
Jasper laughed out loud, "No joke. He's serious."
"Are you sure? Are you sure this isn't one of his tricks?" Our Uncle is the kindest and most brilliant man you'll ever meet and we all love him dearly… but he's nut! He has a brilliant business mind and is the most generous soul on the planet but the man loves having a good laugh, no matter whose butt gets super glued to the toilet seat.
"No scheme, he's serious. He's tired of the land only being used for skiing and snowboarding during the winter, he says it's a waste of a great building."
"I've been telling him that for years." I responded, still stunned as my mind did a walkthrough of the hotel. I hadn't been inside of it in almost three years but every detail was still crystal clear, as though it was only yesterday. It was elaborately decorated and still beautifully preserved since the family has a caretaker tending to it. In my head I envisioned every nook and cranny, the old 50's style lounge, the elegant ballroom; by far my favorite room in the place… its huge, graceful arched windows gave the most spectacular view of the small quaint town just settled at the bottom of the mountain it was on. About 15 years back, it was closed because they wanted to add more guest rooms. The family had meant to reopen it as soon as renovations had been done, except that with business booming so much everywhere else and the fact that no one could agree on how to go about it, not wanting to take away from the splendor of the existing design and the history of the building, they simply forgot about it.
I yelped and jumped up and down around the room. "Oh my… YES!" I've had dreams about doing this, and ever since I started school, I've known exactly how I would go about doing it. I have a mental game plan in my head.
"Bella!" Rose shouted, pulling me down onto the couch next to her and throwing her arms around me, "Congratulations!"
I looked over at Jasper, still riddled with disbelief. "Seriously, though. You better be completely serious."
He crossed his heart, "I solemnly swear that I am not kidding."
"Is he giving me a time frame? How does he want it done? Does he have specific ideas, or is he letting me run wild?" I said all in one breath. "How does he…. Or… Oh my God I can't breathe!" Rose brought me a brown paper bag out of the kitchen. "Thanks." I said, taking the bag and breathing into it.
"This is amazing; you should call Uncle Will and thank him."
"Good idea!" I ran over to get the phone.
I heard Jasper mumble something to Rose, "She hasn't been this excited since that time we told her the North Pole was at the top of the diamond slopes." Rosalie snorted.
"Hello?" Came a jolly male voice.
"Uncle Will?! It's Bella."
I could practically hear him grinning, "Hello darling, what's going on?"
"Jasper just told us the news!" I said happily, "Are you serious?! Do you really want me to do it?"
"Of course! Who else would I trust with it?" I couldn't hold back an enthusiastic squeal, upon hearing it, Uncle Will laughed. "I guess that means you'll do it?"
"YES!" I shouted into the phone, "Oh, sorry, didn't mean to yell."
He laughed again, "You'll have to speak up, dear," he yelled into the phone, "I've gone temporarily deaf in this ear."
I laughed, "Sorry about that. And thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you so much!"
An exasperated sigh came from the other end of the line. "Honestly, sometimes I think that's those are the only words you and your sister know. 'Uncle Will, thank you for the renovation contract', or 'Uncle Will, you shouldn't have bought us the apartment, thank you.'" He mocked, imitating mine and Rosalie's voices about three octaves higher than normal, making me laugh out loud, "When will you both finally learn to stop with the persistent gratitude?"
"Um, probably around the same time you learn to stop spoiling us." I reprimanded him jokingly.
"Well, I guess never then." He said with a laugh. "So how soon can you get on the project?"
"Immediately! How long are you giving me?"
"As long as it takes," he said seriously, "I want it done right, no rushing."
"I couldn't agree more." I said, beaming. At that moment Rosalie came up behind me, asking for the phone, "Uncle Will, Rose wants to say hi. I'll call you tomorrow about the details. Love you." I said before handing the phone to Rose.
I couldn't believe it. I was going to be in charge of the redoing the Whitlock Grand.
Man, I really hope I don't screw this up.
For some reason my stories always start out so cheesy… oh well, I've tried but I can't change it now. I hope you all like this story too :)