I fell in love with masks after seeing Labyrinth for the first time. If you haven’t seen the movie there’s a ballroom scene with David Bowie, where all the guests are wearing masks. As a young girl, I found this scene fascinating (and a bit romantic). However, it was the idea behind the mask that intrigued me. Masks carry a sense of magic with them, as if there is mystery built into their very essence.
Used for protection, disguise, entertainment and rituals, masks have been intertwined in our history for centuries. Although I love the brilliant colors of the New Orleans masquerade masks, the ones I found most interesting were the ones used for medical purposes. These so-called “beak masks” were stuffed with dried flowers, herbs, and spices in order to cleanse the disease from the bad air. If you pay attention, these masks also appear in Labyrinth.
In An Imperfect Engagement, Samantha and her family attend the masque in the hopes of cornering the killer, Franklin Morris, and his unknown accomplice. Each character has their own personal reason for donning a mask that evening, including Samantha, whose desire to hide the injuries she suffered at the hands of Franklin is surpassed only by Franklin’s desire to attack her a second time. Franklin’s use of the headpiece to hide his identity allows him to sneak into the gathering and corner Samantha in the center of the maze.
A clap echoed in the night—once… twice… thrice. From the reverse side of the fountain, hidden behind a large statue, a masked man appeared, shuffling slowly toward Sam. He bared his teeth, gnashing them slightly and flashed a pistol which glinted threateningly in the moonlight.
“Miss Hastings,” he purred, “I am delighted to see you again and so quickly after our last meeting. I feared it would be some time before we would be able to rekindle our acquaintance.”
“Franklin,” gasped Sam, stumbling backward. Edward underestimated Franklin’s desperation.
He approached slowly, favoring his right side, holding the weapon in his left hand. Sam wondered about the marksmanship of his less-dominant appendage. She kept her eyes focused on the barrel of the gun, suspecting the pistol was the same one employed in the demise of Mr. Walton.
Inclining his head in a tiny bow, Franklin removed the black mask, an audible groan accompanying the movement of his right arm. His greedy eyes swept over Sam’s delicate throat and the necklace which decorated it. “I see you have found my inheritance.”
AN IMPERFECT ENGAGEMENT is available on all platforms and on sale this week for $1.99.
About the Author
USA Today Bestselling Author Alyssa Drake has been creating stories since she could hold a crayon, preferring to construct her own bedtime tales instead of reading the titles in her bookshelves. A multi-genre author, Alyssa currently writes Historical romance, Paranormal romance, Contemporary romance, and Cozy mystery. She thoroughly enjoys strong heroines and often laughs aloud when imagining conversations between her characters. When she’s not writing, she’s in the kitchen making dessert, because that’s the only course she ever cared to learn how to cook.