Chapter Twenty-Nine

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Dead If You Don't

One Year Ago...

'What the hell is your problem?'

I slide Daisy a glare, blood pounding in my ears as I deliberately press the button to open the window of Mum's car. Maybe that'll make her shut up.

An icy breeze whirls through the gap, coupled with the odd snowflake, but I ignore how the cold bites my skin and focus instead on the road ahead. I sigh, hoping to God that Mum hasn't woken up yet.

I stole her car only thirty minutes ago, bundled in odd clothes that I piled on as soon as I got Daisy's call. The keys were where they always are, piled on a plate in the entranceway, so the only thing I needed to do was make sure the rumbling of the ignition didn't wake anyone.

But I know my Mum. I may have escaped successfully, but her motherly instinct is bound to disturb her eventually. All I need is get back to the Lake House as quickly as possible, but the black ice hidden within the crevices of the road is certainly making it difficult.

I squint through the darkness, zeroing out my focus into my delicate steering.

'What, so you're just going to ignore me now?'

Daisy's voice is slurred, her cheeks flushed. I can smell the alcohol on her breath even from here, the taste bitter and sweet. Apparently, cheap wine is the perfect poison for the broken hearted – the case and point sits right next to me. Daisy slumps in her seat, the side of her face leaning against the headrest as she gazes up at me.

'If I'm such a nuisance to you,' she says, 'then just leave me here and I'll find my own way back.'

I roll my eyes. 'Don't be stupid.'

'Oh, look!' Her voice is mocking. 'She speaks. I'm blessed by thee holy grace.'

I try not to snap back, but in the face of my drunk cousin and another sleepless night, the task is feetless.

'If you didn't act so stupid in the first place, then we wouldn't be here right now. So how about instead of wondering what my problem is, you think about what the hell yours is.'

Silence fills the car for only seconds before she talks.

'Shut the window.'

'No.'

I feel her gaze on my skin. 'Haley. Shut the window, please.'

'I said no.'

'Haley, for god's sake, shut the damn window!'

In a second, she is on me.

Daisy reaches across my body and panic races through me as try to maintain control of the car. We begin to swerve as I elbow her in the ribs, breaks squeaking against the ice.

Daisy grunts, body surprisingly heavy and fingers adamant as they reach for the button. When the window begins to slide up, she moves away. Her smile is smug.

'You're a psycho,' I say, breathing away the panic. 'An actual psycho.'

Daisy laughs. 'You haven't seen psycho even if it bites you in the ass.'

When I slam on the break, her smile disappears just as quickly as it came. Her head moves forward and then back against the seat with a speed even I couldn't have predicted, but I try not to feel bad as I turn to face her.

For a second, I just stare.

Daisy's changed so much in the last few months that I scarcely recognise her. Sure, she looks the same, but there's a darkness that now clouds her eyes.

My cousin's smile is no longer sincere, but instead tainted by a bitter smirk or grin. More often than not, she's drunk, wasted as she calls me to save her ass for the hundredth time.

At first, it made me sad. But now I'm just angry.

'What happened to you?' I ask. 'Please tell me, because no matter how many lists I make, I can't the life of me figure it out. You went away for the summer and now, every time I see you, you've had a drink. It's going to kill you, Dais. One day, this will kill you.'

For a second, I think that I get through to her. But then she just laughs. The emotionlessness of it frightens me.

'Sweet Haley,' she says, 'when will you learn? You're dead if you do, dead if you don't. There's no point in even trying.'

I frown. 'What's that supposed to mean?'

'Think about it.' She looks at me. 'Think about it real hard.'

I shake my head and turn the on the ignition. She's drunk. She's making no sense. What the hell did I expect? Maybe I'll try to talk to her tomorrow before she's stolen her first glass, whilst she's still making sense.

I bite my lip, hesitant. Before I drive off, I turn to meet her eyes. Even in the darkness, they're outstandingly green.

'You jump on me like that again and you'll be walking home.' I smile tightly. 'It's not time to die yet, Daisy. Not tonight. Not for a while.'

Of course, I didn't know that we wouldn't make it home. If I did, then I would have said so much more. So, so much more.

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