Chapter Sixteen

698 87 22
                                          

Unsteady

Evelyn Cartwright is an heiress to a small family fortune in Cleveland. At the moment, she's a senior at Woodcreek College and majors in Mathematics – this is where she supposedly met Archie.

Against her parents' wishes, the two had been together for nearly three years and kept mostly to themselves. Except, when Archie died, Evelyn didn't have any friends to fall back on because, well, Archie was her only friend.

This is all according to Amy, anyway, who whispers this to Eden and me over the pulsing music. Despite myself, I lean in with Eden, eager to hear more.

'She's been gone for the whole week.' Amy looks at us through her lashes. The way her eyes shine makes me think she's enjoying this. 'His funeral was yesterday, so I suppose she's back for good now.'

I watch the girl who appears younger than her twenty-one years. She stands out in the crowd and, as she hesitantly walks forward, everyone parts away as if she's contagious.

Her eyes are wild and black, darting from one corner of the room to another like a drug addict looking for their next pick-me-up. I don't know what it is about her, but something twists in my chest as I watch her struggle through the crowd.

Her arms are folded, fingers clutching her forearms in an iron tight grip and I'm sure that, when she lets go, her pale skin will be stained with red.

I bite my lip, sympathy rushing through my veins. I know what it's like to have someone you love ripped away in an instant, to be in a room filled with people and still feel like you're alone. When Daisy died, I had my family, but the world around me became muted.

Things that used to make me happy didn't anymore, and I no longer knew where I fitted without her in the world. Maybe it's this that makes me stand up from the sofa we perched ourselves on and walk towards Evelyn.

It's like I'm in a trance. I don't even think. The music stops and all I see is her. I take a step forwards, seconds turning into hours, but before I move another step, something jerks my wrist back. It's a hand. Amy's hand. The first thing I notice is that her skin is cold as ice.

'What are you doing?' she asks, eyes narrowed in a way that makes me think she was a mean girl back in her day.

Next to her, Eden's face is neutral, and I can't tell if that means she thinks this is a bad idea or not. Either way, I know it's the right thing to do. I feel it in my bones. When I don't reply, Amy tries to tug me back again.

'Haley,' she hisses, 'what are you doing?'

'I'm going to see if she's okay,' I reply.

Amy guffaws. 'Why wouldn't she be?'

I look at her, incredulous. 'Why do you think?'

'Haley,' Amy says this slowly, as if I'm not able to comprehend her words, 'I don't think you heard me. Evelyn was Archie's girlfriend. Archie who broke into your room and killed himself the next day. Believe me, I'm not being nasty. I know you're trying to be a good person – and thank God for people like you – but think about it. It's tragic and all, but you're probably the last person she wants to see.'

I hesitate. Putting it that way, there might be some weight in her words.

'Why do you think she's here, then?'

Amy lets go of my hand and leans back into the sofa. She looks up at me, rising a drink to her lips. 'Not to see you,' she says.

I roll my eyes. 'Well, obviously. But look at her.'

Dead If You DoWhere stories live. Discover now