No bloodstains on the pillows and sheets. No signs of struggle. No ligature marks on the young victim's neck or wrists.
The girl didn't look older than 25.
No surprise there. Darren didn't fancy older women.
The girl was already dead. Perhaps for about an hour now. Her pallid skin wasn't cold to the touch yet.
Jenson got up from the floor and looked away from the corpse on the fairly messy bed. The hotel room looked clean and orderly, but not too clean or suspiciously organized. Hastily, he took off the surgical glove and curbed the strong urge to swear out loud and kick the nightstand.
Darren was watching his every move despite the dimness. Covered up by a dark robe, Darren stood against the wall with his hands on his head, clutching his tousled hair that partly hid his shadowed face and panic-stricken eyes. "What? What should we do?" he muttered while he blankly stared at the stiff on the bed.
"What'd you give her?" Jenson squinted at the guy's reaction, gauging whether this was sheer accident or if Darren purposely gave the girl some drugs to kill her. "Did you step out of the room before I got here?"
"No." Darren shook his head faintly and palmed his stubbled cheeks. He usually wore a thick, dark beard for the show during taping days, but now he appeared to have shaved just recently. "I-It was just coke. I swear."
Just cocaine. Right. Was Darren bullshitting him or what? "How much?" Jenson stepped away from the hotel bed but kept his eyes on the cadaver.
She didn't look like she died a gruesome, violent death. Her hair was straight and long, her breasts still exposed. Partly open blood-red lips now turning somewhat purple. Pretty brown eyes void of life.
"I dunno, man. We were just, tryna have fun and I fell asleep after we..." Darren rubbed his palm onto his tan forehead and sat on the floor now, his legs splayed. Then he started to get teary-eyed, his cheeks now flushed. "I didn't mean to. I didn't know she would..."
Fucking amateur hour.
If only he wasn't Magnus' beloved brother-in-law, Jenson would have punched him in the face the second he got here. Their kind didn't need any more trouble with the law.
Yet here they were...about to cover up another senseless crime. Stuck with another dead body to get rid of.
Shit. Another sleepless night. "That's all you gave her? Some blow?" Jenson gainsaid.
"Yeah. Yeah." Darren covered his mouth and remained sitting on the floor. "I don't know what else she took. Some pills? I dunno. I just woke up and...found her like that."
"Right," Jenson muttered with a scoff.
The reality stayed the same. If someone else were to find out, Darren's career would be over. In a heartbeat. He would be investigated and would end up in jail, charged with involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide, and possession of illegal drugs.
As an immediate result, the show would be compromised. No more season three. No more show. Meaning: they could kiss their careers and seven-figures-a-year incomes goodbye as soon as tomorrow.
Jenson swore inwardly at the thought. He propped his hands on his hips, then checked the curtains another time.
They still fully covered the windows, and only one bedside lamp had been left on. The blankets covered the girl's left leg, but her lacy underwear remained visible. Her light blonde hair covered half of her small, pale face while her slim arm stayed draped over her tiny waist.
Petite build. Not taller than 5'6". They could fit her in a large suitcase. They could get the corpse out of this room easily, but not without being seen by the cameras in the hallway.
As the what-ifs kept him busy, Jenson heaved a sigh. Maybe he should call Magnus now. Maybe some of his connections could help. "Where did you meet her?"
Darren grunted and kept his hands on his face, seeming genuinely bewildered by the situation they were in. "At the party," he replied in a mumble, his breathing fairly louder than normal. "Few hours ago."
"She came alone?" Jenson stood closer to the guy.
Darren nodded slightly. "She was talking to Zach before midnight. And some girl with pink hair."
"Zach? As in Zach, head of makeup?" Jenson pulled a face. "He knows her personally?"
"She said they used to work together. But when I asked Zach, he said he didn't invite her."
"How old is she?" Jenson regarded the wrinkled sheets on the hotel bed.
"Twenty-four." Darren sighed. "Her name's Ramona."
"I don't remember."
"Dude, come on..." Jenson scoffed. "From where?"
"Phoenix. I-I really don't know her last name. She doesn't have any IDs in her purse," Darren muttered with a scowl that creased his thick brows and forehead. His exposed upper chest looked heaving, still. Then he massaged his temples with his eyes shut closed.
"I told you not to touch her stuff." Jenson mumbled another swearword.
"Sorry," Darren replied in a hushed voice. "She told me she just dropped out of college. Moved here a month ago, she said."
"She said Arizona State," Darren mumbled.
A lengthy silence filled the room. Jenson stood still. Then Darren just broke down while his hands tugged at his dark brown hair.
"I didn't know she would..." He swore under his breath and crossed his legs on the floor. "I didn't kill her, man." Darren muffled his sobs with his clenched fist.
Jenson stared at the guy, subtly judging the sincerity of Darren's emotions and explanations. He knew Darren's tells. He knew whenever the guy tried to lie his way out of something.
They'd been working together almost every day for quite a while now. At this point, he knew Darren like the back of his hand. He could also smell the intense fear and utter confusion in Darren's scent.
It was almost pungent. Therefore, this was nothing but an accident. Then again, the cops wouldn't simply rule it out as one without taking Darren to the precinct to get his formal statement. They would surely charge him with possession of illegal narcotics at the very least.
Even with Magnus' high-priced lawyers involved, a news this big and controversial would still get leaked to the press in no time.
Give it a couple hours. Darren's face would be plastered all over tomorrow's six o'clock news before he and Magnus could even try to figure out a way to sweep everything under the rug.
Fuck. What an absolute shitshow.
Jenson ignored his friend's muted sobs and glanced at the dead body on the hotel bed.
Another life gone. Just like that. Such a waste. All because Darren couldn't control his illicit hobbies and proclivity for young call girls.
If the media got their hands on this before Magnus got wind of everything, he would throw a colossal fit. The show would get dragged through the mud because of this.
Jenson sighed. Everything would be over for him and Darren. Career done. Bye-bye, comfortable Hollywood life. "Shit," he muttered.
He oughta teach his friend how to be less of a liability at this point, and how to deal with stupid decisions without getting caught. Among other things. If only Darren could sustain his vices while keeping their clan's dark secrets under the radar...
"Dammit, DJ." Jenson glanced to his friend. "We're about to start shooting next month. The heck were you thinkin', man?"
"Sorry." Darren sniveled and stayed on the floor, his back leaning against the wall, still teary-eyed. "I'm sorry. I-I didn't mark her or anything. I swear."
"Good." You'd better not be lying to my face, was what he really wanted to say.
At least the guy didn't do something that could jeopardize the reputation of their entire clan.
Jenson turned to stare at the lifeless body on the hotel bed, weighing the pros and cons. "Cover up. Put her in the bathtub. Scrub her clean. I'll get the stuff." He threw the plastic bag containing surgical gloves and face masks on the floor beside Darren's leg.
"Okay," was all Darren said.
"Don't open the door for anyone." Jenson checked his phone and headed for the door.