Chapter Forty-Two

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The first thing I notice is the bitter cold. Hair raises on my arms and a breeze plays with the back of my neck as we step away from the warmth of our flat and trail into the twisting paths leading to the lake.

Blades of grass crunch beneath my feet, and the further we go into the fox trail, the more I want to run back. On our way here, we passed several officers – I counted.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven.

Each time, I expected them to stop us in our tracks. Their eyes followed as Eden led the way; I felt their glares like a brush of a knife against my cheek, sharp and steady. Their lips, however, remained still. Will they remember seeing us if I don't return?

I take a deep breath. In front of me, Eden forges a path with her feet as we step into the underbrush. It must have been a while since anyone's been through here, because the trees are growing out of control and branches scratch against our sleeves like dozens of fingernails.

From the back, though, Eden looks perfectly composed. Her head is tilted high and her shoulders are pulled back, radiating a confidence I've only ever seen reflected in one other person – Daisy. I tilt my head. The two do look remarkably similar from the back. Same blonde hair, same olive skin.

How much of that is a coincidence?

As her ponytail bobs up and down, I wish I could know what thoughts are going through her mind. Is she thinking of Ellie? Of Daisy? Is she thinking how different her life would have been if she and Adam had just let things drift off when he went to college?

I look at the shape of her head, recalling her cat-like eyes and how the sharp angles of her jaw are fine enough to cut skin. I think about what's inside her head. A skull. A brain. Thousands of cells, just like mine. Does she feel any guilt?

'Be careful,' she says, pointing to the right and making me jump. 'There's a foxhole there.'

Eden looks at me over her shoulder. I want to look away, force myself to appear busy concentrating on the branches by my feet, but it's obvious I've been staring. My jaw is set and my eyes are narrowed.

Hell, it'd look worse if I looked away at this point rather than just asking the questions that have been circling my mind since we left – what do you know? What have you done? What will we do to each other? I decide to start easy.

'So, you met Daisy at a party?'

She nods and turns back. Over the distance, I see the glimmer of water through branches.

'We met at a few parties. Like I said last night, I kept my distance at first. Daisy was so busy making an impression on everyone else that she barely stopped for a second to take in the moment.'

I frown. 'What do you mean?'

'Well, you knew her more than I did.' We step into an opening and she turns to face me. Her expression is focused, one brow raised as she looks at me. 'What was she like normally?'

I pause. Daisy was – well, she was Daisy. She didn't have to work hard for anything. Her personality was magnetic and people were kind of just drawn to her. She was never outwardly nasty to anyone and always kept her cards close to her chest. Daisy was smart and calculating, but always kind. At least, I thought she was.

But now? I'm not so sure.

All these thoughts rush through my mind, but when I open my mouth to speak, I only come up with – 'Well, she was beautiful.'

Eden scoffs. 'Yeah. A lot of people said that about her, but don't you think beauty isn't just what you look like? If you've got a rotten soul, it doesn't mean much. And not to mention that beauty doesn't last forever.'

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