Chapter no 18

Never Lie

After breakfast, we regroup at the kitchen table and come up with a plan to get out of here.

Neither of us has cell service and there are no land lines to be found in the house. Moreover, the storm last night dumped what looks like about ten feet of snow on the area surrounding the house. We can just barely see Ethan’s BMW from the window, and it looks like it’s just a big mound of snow. He’s got a shovel in the trunk, but it won’t be enough. Not enough to get out of here, anyway.

“I’m hoping a plow will come at some point,” Ethan says. “I assume Judy would have called one.”

“Yeah.” He looks more optimistic than I feel. “Maybe.” “Look, worst comes to worst, we may be stuck here for

the day. We’ve got food and water and electricity. It’s not that bad.”


He places his palms on the kitchen table and pushes himself to his feet. “I’m going to head over to the car and get my laptop so I can do some work. Do you want me to get anything for you?”

My stomach sinks. “You’re leaving me here?” “Just for like fifteen minutes.”

It won’t be fifteen minutes. It took us almost fifteen minutes to walk from the car to the house last night in all that snow. “I want to go with you.”

“Absolutely not. Tricia, you’re pregnant. And you have wholly inadequate footwear.”

I suppose he’s got a point. It wouldn’t be right to make him carry me piggyback to the car and back. Of course, I

could borrow a pair of Dr. Hale’s boots. We do seem to be the same size…

No. I’m not doing that.

“Fine,” I grumble. “But you promise you’ll hurry back?” “I’ll be back before you can say ‘dream house.’”

I am not saying “dream house.”

I clear our plates away, while Ethan goes over to the front door, where he left his coat and boots. I watch him shove his feet into his black boots, suppressing the urge to cling to his leg and beg him not to leave me here. Then again, in the light of day, the house isn’t nearly as frightening. And when I see the portrait on the floor, facing away from me, it seemed impossible that it was up on the wall last night. It seems more like some sort of crazy dream. Ethan blows me a kiss from the front door, then he stuffs his beanie onto his blond hair, and then he’s gone.

And I’m all alone.

I take a few slow, deep breaths, trying not to panic. I wish there were a television in this house so I could zone out in front of a screen, but I haven’t been able to find one in all my travels. I guess Dr. Hale didn’t have a television. What sort of psychopath doesn’t own a television in this century?

It only makes me want to learn more about her. And of course, my thoughts immediately go back to the cassette tapes.

Ethan won’t make it back from the car for at least half an hour. That will give me time to listen to at least part of a couple more tapes. I’m dying to know what happened in the session after the one I just listened to. Why did she agree to take that man back? Dr. Adrienne Hale does not strike me as a pushover.

Before I can second-guess myself, I hurry to the bookcase in the back. I don’t even hesitate before I locate The Shining and tug on the spine. I hear that now familiar click and I slip inside the room, grabbing the cord to turn on the light.

This time I decide to swipe a bunch of the tapes. I can stash them in one of the drawers in the office. I take all the EJ ones recorded after the tape marked in red. Then I take a selection of other tapes from around the same date. It must’ve been right before Dr. Hale disappeared, because there’s nothing recorded later than that.

I’m going to hear the information that the police missed. I’ll listen to everything that happened to Dr. Hale in the months leading to her disappearance. The mystery that the entire country was talking about for almost a year.

I scan the shelves one more time. That’s when the one tape labeled differently catches my eye once again. LUKE. The boyfriend. The one the police thought killed her. Why does she have a recording of him? Was he her patient? But if he was, why is his tape labeled differently than all the others?

My mother always said I’m too curious for my own good.

I grab the LUKE tape and add it to the pile. I’ll have time to listen to at least one of these tapes before Ethan gets back.

I close the door to the hidden room and carry my stack of tapes to Dr. Hale’s office. I stash them in the bottom drawer of her desk, where I found the scissors last night. I select one of them at random and pop it into the tape recorder.

My finger hesitates over the Play button on the tape recorder. I desperately want to listen to these tapes, but there’s one thing I need to do first.

I get up and close the door to the office. Okay, now I can listen.

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