Chapter no 11

Never Lie

I get about forty minutes into the tape when I realize that I’ve been down here for too long. Like me, Ethan is notoriously slow in the bathroom, but even he has got to be done showering and dressing by now. Any minute, he’s going to come down here looking for me.

I lost track of time. There was something about Dr. Adrienne Hale’s voice that was simultaneously hypnotic and powerful, as she advised the young patient featured in The Anatomy of Fear, whose friends and fiancé were murdered by a maniac in a cabin in the woods. When she says, You will get better, it’s like the voice of God himself saying it. No wonder she was such a respected psychiatrist. No wonder so many people struggling with major trauma came to her for help.

Sure enough, footsteps grow louder on the stairs. I quickly eject the tape and pop it back in the case. I shove the cassette into one of her desk drawers seconds before Ethan pops his head into the office.

“There you are!”

I force a smile. “Here I am.”

He cocks his head to the side. “You weren’t nosing through her desk drawers, were you, Tricia?”

“No, I wasn’t,” I answer truthfully.

I hurry out of the office before he can try to figure out what I was doing. He is standing right outside, his hair still

damp from the shower. I notice immediately that he isn’t wearing the dress shirt and slacks that he had on when we left the apartment. He’s wearing a pair of blue jeans bunched up at the ankles and a Yankees T-shirt.

“Where did those clothes come from?” I ask.

“Oh.” Ethan tugs at the collar of the Yankee shirt. “I found them in one of the drawers in the bedroom. I hung up my shirt and pants, and I’ll put them back on in the morning.”

The T-shirt and jeans didn’t belong to Adrienne Hale. They’re too big for Ethan even, and therefore, far too big for the psychiatrist’s petite frame. But they were in her drawer, so I’m guessing they belonged to her boyfriend. Luke.

“You might want to change before you go to bed too,” he suggests. “There are tons of sleep clothes in the other drawers.”

What’s worse—wearing the clothing of a dead woman or wearing the clothing of the man who killed her?

“That’s fine. I’ll just sleep in my bra and underwear.” “Suit yourself. Do you want to come upstairs now?”

I look down at my watch. It’s getting late, and with the snow still coming down hard, we have little choice but to spend the night here. The idea of it creeps me out more than I thought it would. But we have to do this.

I can do this.

“Fine,” I say. “Let’s go upstairs.”

I cling to the banister as I follow Ethan up to the second floor like he’s leading me to my execution. It’s so dark outside the window that even with the lights on, the stairwell and hallways are still dark. Probably if someone changed all the bulbs, that would be a comfortable level of brightness. But we’re not going to do that now. We’re lucky there’s any light here at all.

I continue following Ethan down the hall, but I stop short when he leads me to the master bedroom. “What are you doing?”

He turns and frowns at me. “What? What’s wrong?” “I’m not sleeping in that bedroom.”

“Why not?

“Because that dead psychiatrist slept there!”

His shoulders sag. “Tricia, stop being silly. The master bedroom is by far the biggest room. This is where we’re going to sleep when we’re living here.”

Yeah, over my dead body.

“Also,” he adds, “it’s the only bed that’s made up. I don’t even know where she keeps all the sheets and stuff, but I don’t feel like searching for it. I’m tired, and I just want to go to sleep. Aren’t you tired?”

A wave of exhaustion comes over me out of nowhere. That’s been happening to me more and more lately. In the evening, I’ll suddenly feel almost overwhelmed by fatigue. I suppose it’s because my body is making an entire other person.

In any case, I agree—I don’t feel like searching for a linen closet and making up a bed.

“Fine,” I say. “We can sleep in the master bedroom.”

When we get inside the master bedroom, the first thing I do is try to lock the door. After that mysterious light I saw aglow on the second floor, I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep without the door locked. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple.

“What are you doing?” Ethan asks from over in the bed. He has stripped off the blue jeans, but he is still wearing the Yankees T-shirt.

“I want to lock the door.” “I don’t think it locks.”

I whip my head around to glare at him. “What kind of bedroom doesn’t have a lock on the door?”

“I don’t know, Tricia.” There is an exasperated note in his voice. “We’re in the middle of nowhere, and she lives alone. Why would she need a lock on her bedroom door when there’s already a lock on the front door?”

Because there might be somebody in her house and she needed to keep them out while she called for help? Speaking of calling for help, I haven’t seen one landline phone in this whole house. These days most people use cell phones, but given how terrible the reception is out here, it seems reasonable she might have a landline just for safety reasons. But I haven’t seen one.

I back away from the bedroom door, too nervous to take my eyes off it. “How are we going to get out of here tomorrow?”

Ethan adjusts himself in the bed. “I’m hoping after the storm passes our cell phone reception will come back.”

“What if it doesn’t?”

“Someone will find us soon.” I wish I had the confidence in his voice. “Judy knows we’re here. She might be trying to contact us right now. And of course, your mother will come looking for us if she doesn’t hear from you in any twenty-four-hour period.”

“That’s not true.”

“Oh, come on. You know it is, Tricia.” He pats the empty side of the bed. “Your family loves you. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Thankfully, Ethan has not been jealous of my relationship with my parents and sister. We’re fairly close, and I do talk to my mother practically every day. Ethan’s mother and father both died before we were even dating. It was an accident of some sort, but he doesn’t like to talk about it—he clams up at any mention of it. At our tiny wedding, out of the thirty guests who showed up, only five of them were Ethan’s—all friends, no family. I had to struggle to pare down my guest list, whereas it seemed like he was struggling to come up with five people.

But there’s nothing shameful about wanting only five people at your wedding. Frankly, I would have been happier if my mother didn’t have to invite her bitter cousin Debbie or my father’s perpetually drunk brother-in-law Bob.

I flick off the light switch and plop down on the right side of the bed. It’s the same side I sleep on in our bed at home. It’s weird how we have each picked a side of the bed to sleep on, and neither of us can sleep on the opposite side. We’ve only been together a little longer than a year, but these habits have already become ingrained.

As Ethan wraps his body around mine, his breaths immediately grow deeper. I don’t know how he can seem so relaxed here. Usually, I feel safe and warm wrapped in his arms, but I don’t right now. I don’t feel safe at all.

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