Chapter no 61

The Coworker

MY PHONE IS BUZZING in my purse. It’s a text message.

I pull it out and realize that I’ve missed several messages. Two from Seth, and five from Caleb, all asking where I am. I text them both that I found Dawn, but not our exact location. I’m not even entirely sure how to describe where we are.

“Hey,” I say to Dawn, “Caleb and Seth are looking for us. We should head back.”

She frowns. “What happens next?”

That’s a great question. The first thing I would like to do is march Dawn right back to the police station so Santoro can see she is still alive—that I’m not a cold-blooded murderer who bullied my coworker and killed her when she discovered I was allegedly stealing money. I want to hear him tell me that all the charges have been dropped.

Unless he plans to pin the murder of that stranger on me. Frankly, I wouldn’t put anything past him.

“Caleb just wants to see that you’re okay,” I tell her. “And then we’ll figure out what to do from there.”

Dawn considers this for a moment. Then she struggles to her feet, wobbling a little bit before she finds her balance. Part of me is scared she might throw herself into the ocean at the last second, but she doesn’t.

“He’s going to be mad at me,” she murmurs.

“He won’t be mad. He’s just going to be relieved you’re okay.”

I turn on the flashlight on my phone so we don’t accidentally walk off the pier before we get back to dry land. I also shoot off a quick text message

to both Caleb and Seth:

We are on the pier right near the Angry Crab restaurant.


Just as we get back to the main road, a pair of twin headlights approaches us. Both Seth and Caleb are here. Caleb pulls over first in his green Ford and leaps out of the driver’s seat while the car is almost still moving. His hair is disheveled and his coat is hanging open as he runs down the street to where we’re standing. Before we can even acknowledge his presence, he throws his arms around Dawn, holding her close to his chest.

“Jesus Christ.” His voice cracks. “I was so worried about you. How could you think of doing something like that? How could you, Dawn? I’d never…”

Dawn doesn’t say anything, but she hugs him back. Her skinny little fingers cling to him so tightly, I can see how white they are even on the dimly lit street. They just stand there like that, holding each other.

It makes me tear up a bit if I’m being honest. “Nat!”

Seth has parked behind Caleb, and he’s getting out of his own car now, at a lot more leisurely pace, but he still sprints the rest of the way over to me. I’m not going to kid myself that Seth loves me the way that Caleb loves Dawn, but he’s gone out on a limb for me today. He bailed me out of jail. He drove me out to Rhode Island. He was going to foot the bill for a lawyer if it came to that. I may have underestimated Seth Hoffman.

“You okay?” he asks when he gets within comfortable earshot.

I nod, although when I wrap my arms around my chest, I realize I’m not as fine as I thought. I was in jail this morning. Dawn was about to clock me on the head with a cinderblock roughly twenty minutes ago. I am far from okay.

But I will be.

“Are you cold?” Seth tugs at the zipper of his coat like he’s going to take it off and give it to me. “You look like you’re freezing.”

“I’m a little cold,” I admit. It’s got to be thirty degrees out here—maybe less when you factor in the breeze from the ocean.

Seth doesn’t take off his coat, but he unwraps the scarf that was around his neck. He gently places it around my own neck—it’s a black fleece scarf that has a hint of Seth’s aftershave. It radiates his warmth.

“Thanks,” I say.

“You’re welcome.”

His eyes linger on mine, and I wonder if it would be inappropriate to ask if he would come home with me tonight. It’s not just that I don’t want to be alone. I want to be with him.

“Oh, hey,” he says. “Guess what? I was listening to the radio on the way over, and apparently they identified the dead body of that woman in Cohasset.”

I nod. “That’s good for her family.”

“Yeah, and I bet Santoro is going to get a lot of shit for arresting you for the murder of somebody who turned out to still be alive. They should’ve waited for the DNA to come back—they really jumped the gun.”

Yes, Santoro should have waited. But he was just too eager to nail me.

All because he got bullied as a kid.

Caleb and Dawn have finally disentangled themselves. He’s got his arm around her shoulders, keeping her warm with his body heat.

“So who was the woman in Cohasset?” I ask Seth.

He lifts a shoulder. “Some woman… uh, Kara something?” He cocks his head thoughtfully. “No… Tara, I think? Nobody we know, anyway.”


No… it couldn’t be…

My hands are shaking slightly as I reach into my purse and pull out my phone. I bring up a search engine and look up news stories about the identity of the body found in Cohasset. It’s breaking news, and the name comes up instantly.

“Tara Wilkes,” I choke out.

Tara Wilkes. My old best friend from high school. The one who sat with me writing fake valentines to Amelia Hodge all those years ago.

Seth snaps his fingers. “Right, Tara Wilkes. That was it.”

My eyes dart over to Caleb’s face. He heard me say the name Tara Wilkes just now, but he didn’t react. There’s not even a flicker of recognition. The name means nothing to him.

But when my eyes reach Dawn’s, I see something completely different. The girl found in the woods was not a coincidence. All those years,

Dawn hated me for being the mastermind, but she hated Tara too for the part she played in Amelia’s suicide. Death was too good for me, but it wasn’t too good for Tara.

Oh God.

“That poor woman,” Seth is saying. “They were saying on the radio that the reason they thought it was Dawn was that her hair was all hacked off, and her face was so badly beaten, she was unrecognizable.”

“Oh geez,” Caleb says, squeezing Dawn tighter in his arms. “That’s awful.”

Dawn’s eyes stay on mine. “Yes,” she says. “Awful.”

A chill goes down my spine that has nothing to do with the sub-freezing temperature. Dawn wanted more than anything to get revenge on the people she felt were responsible for Amelia’s death. She was willing to do anything. She was willing to take her own life. She was willing to kill.

She’s a very dangerous woman. And nobody knows but me.

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