Nora Bellwood had considered just pocketing the money and failing to show up at the airport, really she had. Maybe if she was smarter, she would have actually gone through with it too. But above all, Nora was curious. Curious about who would leave someone a suitcase with those files and an envelope of cash. Curious about how they found her and why they hadn’t just blackmailed her. Curious about what exactly the Wolfe’s had in store for this select few.
So, Nora made her flight, with multiple bags and an itch looking to be scratched. She hadn’t told anyone where she was actually headed; that would have driven too many unanswerable questions. Instead, she had told the Santos family she needed some time off for her mental health and would unable to continue nannying for Eric. They had been more than understanding considering what she had just been through.
By the time her plane jostled across the Montana tarmac, screeching to a halt, Nora began to have doubts. Outside of Big Sky, Montana was not the place the rich and famous ended up. At least, not the type of rich and famous individuals Nora considered laudable. No, Montana was filled with hicks, mountain men, and C-list celebrities like John Mayer. However, she might have to reconsider her preconceived notions if the personalized chauffeur was any kind of hint at what was in store for her. Nora would have quickly replaced all fears of the most dangerous game
if it weren’t for the note she had been handed on her way to her ride. Somehow, someone somewhere knew exactly who she was and what she was doing in bumsfuck nowhere. The eerie feeling of being watched that would cause the hairs on the back of her neck to raise and goosebumps to cover her flesh returned with a vengeance.
Nora had wondered what exactly was to be gained by the Wolfe’s inviting her to this estate. If they wanted her dead, it was obvious they had the means to have had it done quickly and quietly. And money was obviously not a motive, given the house towering ahead that Nora would have killed to own. As much as she wanted to just ignore the nagging feeling telling her to run, Nora knew she’d have to keep her eyes open for the time being until she could figure out why she was dragged into this Agatha Christie wet dream.
She couldn’t risk those files being out in the world like this. Not without knowing how they found out first. The Wolfe’s knew her secret, but that didn’t mean anyone else needed to. If Nora had to guess, all of the guests joining her would each be there for similar reasons, meaning they had secrets Nora could use to ensure her own being kept if the Wolfe’s had the intentions of releasing it.
Nora bid Heather Vandertulip goodbye as she made her way into the great room. Smoothing out her caramel-brown corduroy mini-skirt, and tightening her slick-blacked high ponytail, she steeled herself. Head high, shoulders back, consistent eye contact.
She’d be damned if she didn’t ooze confidence; she wasn’t going to be victim here. Nora was not to be fucked with. Her black heels clicked against the tiled floor as she offered an easy, welcoming smile on her way to the refreshments. She gave a slight nod to the pair of individuals talking, a younger woman who obviously looked out of place and a bit uncomfortable in all of the luxurious accommodations and a man who was either fashionably disheveled or just in the desperate need of a haircut. She started to busy herself by mixing herself a drink.
Gin and Tonic in hand, Nora examined the room, her eyes moving slowly over the leather seating and high vaulted ceilings. It wasn’t exactly her tastes, but it did speak to the extreme wealth the Wolfe’s had. The woman’s eyes landed on the newest guest, a pretty blonde looking like she’d be more at home in some stuffy office than here on “vacation”. Nora met her gaze and offered her a warm smile that wasn’t exactly well-received. Might as well try and do some digging, and figure out why she was already making enemies. “Well now, that’s not the face of somebody about to enjoy a month of relaxation. Don’t tell me you’re already tired of the view already,”
Nora said with a smirk, gesturing to the gorgeous view outside as she walked up to the blonde.
The blonde, for her part, put on a smile after a moment, still looking over the room. She bit her top lip, which was already looking raw enough as it was, before nodding and allowing herself a shrug. "Not a view anyone could get tired of, I don't think. I guess I was just expecting... something else."
She chuckled sheepishly, finally allowing herself to seem at least somewhat approachable. "Something... smaller, maybe."
Nora politely chuckled and nodded in agreement. “Yes, I don’t know what I really had in mind either I suppose. To be completely honest,”
she said leaning in and lowering her voice as if she was telling her a secret, “I’m not sure I even know who the Wolfe’s are.”
She took a long sip of her wine, looking back out at the sparkling lake peeking through the grounds before returning her gaze towards the blonde. “I’m sorry, how terribly rude of me. I’m Nora Bellwood,”
she said, her hand outstretched. “Yeah…”
The tall blonde followed Nora’s gaze at first before her eyes fell on Nora’s outstretched hand. A thin blonde eyebrow raised, but she took the hand and shook it. “Haley Black. Uh… nice to meet you. You’re a guest here too, then?”
She once again glanced around, eyes stopping on every other guest, obviously putting things together in her head. Did everyone else have files to be revealed too?“I figured we all were. Although, now that I think of it, how awful would it have been if I had just tried to introduce myself to the host. I guess I should probably be more careful then,”
Nora said with a chuckle. She had quickly picked up on the fact that Haley did not know who she was either, and had waited to introduce herself. It was probably a safe bet then she didn’t know the Wolfes either. Nora had been right then to assume she wasn’t the only one here under curious pretenses, especially considering how guarded the other girl was. “So, Haley, what is it you do?”
Haley rolled her eyes at the crazy idea of ever being a host in a place like this, but smiled anyway. “Careful would probably be good. A bunch of rich people offering free travel to a mansion in Montana to… however many guests? I thought it was a scam for sure.”
She tugged at her black suit, dressed the part of a… “I’m a lawyer. I’m still not entirely sure if we’re about to be offered stocks in some pyramid scheme…”
She narrowed her eyes, then shrugged. “What about you?”
A lawyer… that would make sense if she also had a suitcase filled with secrets delivered with her invitation. She’d have to be careful around this one. “Oh wow, that’s so impressive! Especially for someone so young!”
Nora gushed. “I’m just a nanny. I love children so I guess until I have some of my own, I love my work!”
She wanted to correct Haley on her guess. What kind of person handed out cash if they were looking for some kind of investment? Either she wasn’t going to be as big of a threat as Nora had originally anticipated, or she was playing dumb. “Although, if this is some kind of timeshare or pyramid scheme trap, I’m more than happy to sit through any kind of presentation if it means getting to spend a whole month here!”“A… nanny, huh?”
Haley furrowed her brow in confusion. Maybe she wasn’t playing
dumb whatsoever. “Just a nanny? Are you, like… the daughter of some rich parents? Did you get some crazy inheritance?”
She looked up at the huge room again, in thought, before shaking her head and glancing at the drinks. “Maybe it’s not some scam then. With all the outfits they wanted me to bring I thought only the rich were getting invited. How did you… y’know, afford everything?”
Nora’s jaw clenched a bit, but she kept her smile plastered on her face. What a bitch.
Although, she was obviously digging to see if Nora had gotten the same envelope of cash as she had, without admitting it of course. Well two could play that game. Nora gave another polite chuckle, trying to seem completely unaffected by Haley’s remarks. “I do actually come from a privileged home. You know, both parents in finance and all that. I couldn’t imagine having to take off from work without having some kind of savings built up, but this seems like too much of an adventure to pass up on! You must be self-made though, otherwise you’d know how unsavory it is to talk about one’s financial situation, especially when first meeting someone. Plus, we like to call it upper-middle class, not rich,”
Nora said with a wink and a smirk. “I wouldn’t worry about it though, there’s a lot of obvious tells for new-money families. We all have to start somewhere though!”
Nora cursed at herself mentally. That might have been too harsh, even if she deserved it. “Oh you don’t have a drink! Can I get you something?”
Haley blinked owlishly, a darkness coming to her cheeks as she seemed to slowly realize her mistake. She smiled sheepishly yet again, reaching up and scratching an itch on her neck. “Wow. Sorry, I uh… didn’t realize how that came across! I am self-made, I was more…”
She paused, biting her lip raw and looking at the drinks. “I’m good, thanks. I was curious about this being a scam. Rich people bringing the rich, or… upper-middle class into a fantastic environment, convincing them to pay out far more than necessary, then pulling them into a multi-level marketing scheme. Like… like this had seemed, until you had mentioned you were a nanny.”
She cleared her throat, now a bit uncomfortable, and started to scoot back. “Maybe… a drink would be okay. What do they have out?”