From the book
Eve Clark looked around at all the goings-on in the large backyard of the home where she'd grown up. She smiled as she took in the legion of Detroit relatives that had gathered at her aunt and uncle's place that Saturday to celebrate her Aunt Rina's fifty-seventh birthday. Spread out across the yard were teenage cousins and their friends, little cousins playing with hula hoops and video games, while the uncles swapped lies and slapped dominoes. Some of the women, mostly Eve's aunts, were seated in lawn chairs underneath the big maple tree laughing and no doubt gossiping, while alternately yelling at grandkids and making sure the food on the picnic tables didn't run low. It was a typical Clark gathering, one of the few Eve had been able to attend because of the demands of her job as an ATF agent based in Chicago. In a few days she'd be back at work, but right now she was on vacation and enjoying just being a member of the family.
The birthday party, which was the day before Halloween, was originally supposed to be held indoors. But because the weather was so beautiful for late October in Michigan, everything was moved outside to take advantage of the glorious day.
When seven-year-old Eve had lost her parents in a fire, Uncle Walt and Aunt Rina had stepped in to raise her. Even though they already had a daughter, Shelly, they still loved and nurtured Eve as if she was their own. Eve would be the first to admit that while growing up, her cousin Shelly had been the adventurous one and had gotten them into more scrapes than Aunt Rina could shake a finger at. But Eve's line of work had given her the edge in the adventure department now, even if a good portion of her days involved sitting at her desk doing paperwork.
Eve sighed as she saw her cousin Shelly making her way over to where she was sitting. She and Shelly were more like sisters than cousins. And for the past month Shelly had been calling and sending endless e-mails, trying to convince her to attend a big Halloween masquerade ball in Detroit. Eve had no desire to attend, but Shelly being Shelly, she'd refused to take no for an answer.
"Hey cuz," Shelly said, taking a seat in one of the empty lawn chairs. She put her plate of food on the table between them. "I've finished your costume and you are going to love it." Shelly was an award-winning Hollywood costume designer.
"But I'm not going, remember?"
Shelly shook her head, using her plastic fork to cut the edge of her ham. "How can a kick-ass woman like you be afraid of a Halloween party?"
"I'm not scared. I'm just not interested."
"It's going to be fun."
"Being hooked up with a stranger doesn't sound like fun to me, just strange."
"Where's your sense of adventure?"
"Back in my office in Chicago."
Eve rolled her eyes.
Shelly took a sip of her Kool-Aid. "You need to put that ATF badge down for a night and get your freak on. Nobody will know it's you. That's the beauty of it."
"Suppose you get hooked up with a man who could make you forget all about saving the world."
"The people who are invited are all quality, grown-folks, Eve. They've been vetted."
"I got that part, but I'm still passing."
"Because ATF agents don't get their freak on. I'm on the national task force, which means I'm on call 24/7. Suppose I catch a case in the middle of this? What am I supposed to do, grab my stuff and run out of the ball like Cinderella?"
"Suppose you don't get a call? I think you're just looking for excuses, Wonder Woman."
Eve smiled and looked away.
Shelly asked, "When was the last time you were with a man who wasn't in handcuffs in the backseat of a squad car?"
"None of your business," Eve tossed...