Some mistakes you have to live with . . .
One victim succumbs to an overdose. Another is brutally bludgeoned to death. Each, in turn, will pay. Because you never forget the friends you make in high school—or the enemies . . .
And others . . .
In the wake of her stepbrother Nick’s death, Kerry Monaghan is visiting Edwards Bay. Kerry has just returned to the small town overlooking an arm of Puget Sound that she left before high school, though not before falling hard and fast for Cole Sheffield, now with the local PD. But Nick’s death may be more than an accident. And soon there are others—all former teenage friends, linked by a dark obsession.
You will die for . . .
With Cole’s help, Kerry sets out to learn the truth about what happened to Nick. But within Edwards Bay is a shocking legacy built on envy and lust—and a secret that has unleashed a killer’s unstoppable fury . . .
|Product dimensions:||4.13(w) x 6.76(h) x 1.03(d)|
About the Author
NANCY BUSH is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Jealousy, Dangerous Behavior, The Killing Game, You Don’t Know Me, Nowhere Safe, Nowhere to Hide, Nowhere to Run, Hush, Blind Spot, Unseen, Wicked Ways, Something Wicked, Wicked Game, and Wicked Lies, in the Colony series co-written with her sister, bestselling author Lisa Jackson. She is also the co-author of Sinister and Ominous, written with Lisa Jackson and New York Times bestselling author Rosalind Noonan. Nancy lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. Readers can visit her website at www.nancybush.net.
Read an Excerpt
Diana Conger woke up with a sense of deep dread. Her mouth was a sewer and her head ached. Once again, she'd had too much to drink ... among other things.
It was dark, the middle of the night, the wee hours of the morning. Throwing her legs over the side of the bed, she stumbled into the bathroom. Her stomach quivered as she leaned over the toilet, spitting. After several minutes and some hard breathing, she sensed she wasn't going to throw up after all. Holding on to the counter to balance herself, she carefully searched the jumbled memories of the past few hours: the bar-hopping, the dancing, the flirting, the recreational drug use ... That was her, wasn't it? In the restroom of Forrest and Sean's bar? With those old classmates, taking pills, and yeah, snorting coke or something? She grimaced. She'd really told herself she was going to get it together after the class reunion meeting that was such a mind-numbing clusterfuck. Those people ... the ones she'd gone to high school with ... She'd thought they'd all surpassed her in life, but it turned out they were just as messed up and clueless as she was. At least most of them were. There were a few standouts. The ones she'd always known would do well, although Josie Roker was sure one crazy bitch. The way she went on about Nick, like they were an item? What about that husband of hers? But she wasn't as nuts as Egan Fogherty. There was something seriously wrong with that guy. He'd been weird all through high school. Cute, but weird. But Josie ... she acted all pure, but the way she was around Nick said she wanted to screw his brains out. That last bit was from Killian Keenan, who'd used something a little more explicit than "screw" in his description. But then, Killian always had something kind of mean to say when he wasn't standing by, silently intimidating. What did Miami see in him? Was it just that they'd been together since high school? Well, okay, he'd held up well and still had a hard body, amazing guns. When he stood back and surveyed the room, Diana's eyes invariably traveled to his upper arms, which could really get her juices going. But maybe that was what it was with Miami — Mia Miller, who'd been nicknamed Miami, a combination of her first name and the beginning of her last — maybe it was all about sex. Well, Diana could admit that she'd made some serious mistakes when it came to sex herself. But at least she didn't act like a virgin like Josie.
Diana rinsed out her mouth with water from the tap, then made a face. She was pretty sure she'd made it back to her apartment tonight by the grace of God. She struggled to remember how she'd gotten home and gave it up; it made her head hurt. She'd taken Uber to the first bar where she'd met her friends, so she hadn't driven herself back home.
Her hand touched the doorjamb for a moment as she oriented herself, then she left the bathroom, stepping across the carpet to her bed, smelling the scents of lavender and grapefruit from the incense sticks in the vial on her nightstand. Slipping beneath the covers, she snuggled down with a grateful sigh.
She buried her face into the pillow as her head began to ache again. She stretched her arms out ... and encountered another body in the bed.
Diana froze. Heart racing, she lifted her head, her eyes searching through the dimness. There was a sliver of bluish illumination glimmering through the gap in the curtain over the sliding glass door that led to her bedroom deck, the closest exterior streetlight shining in. Leaning forward, she saw the back of a man's head. A man. She slid back carefully, one hand reaching for the light switch. She hesitated before she flicked it on, her galloping fear beginning to slow. This wasn't the first time she'd brought a guy home and then forgotten about him. That kid she'd brought home last summer, a couple of years below her in high school, Jimmy.
She leaned over her bedmate. Noticed the way his dark hair waved around his ear. Oh, Christ! Holy Mother of God. It was Nick Radnor. Josie's Nick. Well, not really hers. She was married. But the object of her desire and, well, Diana's, too! He was the one classmate of theirs who'd made it big. Something in the tech field. Lots and lots of money. Diana nearly forgot her jumping stomach and aching head. A smile spread across her face. Well, well, well ... Things were looking up. She recalled dimly that she'd run into him somewhere earlier in the night ... Had he been with Miami? Or ... Forrest or Sean, at their bar? Josie had been there ... but they weren't together. ... Nick stayed away from her because she was married ... although everyone kind of thought they were having a secret affair ... but he was here now. In her bed. How had that happened?
Diana had remained with the high school gang. None of them had ever really separated, those who had stayed in Edwards Bay. They hung out at the same bars with the same friends. God. It didn't bear thinking about. She'd met up with Nick at the third bar ... wasn't it? They'd all gone to The Whistle Stop first, and the Thai place. Kerry had been there, too. Nick's sister ... stepsister ... really. She didn't know Kerry all that well because she wasn't a classmate, hadn't gone to high school with them, but she'd been around tonight, hadn't she? Jesus. It was tough to remember. Felt like a dream.
Oh, Lord, she'd scored big tonight. He was the guy from high school. And he was divorced from Marcia now, too, though honestly, even if he was still married, Diana wouldn't have much minded. Josie could play her virgin games all she wanted. Diana could admit her morals were fluid when it came to sex. But Nick and Marcia were divorced. Miami had told Diana that Nick and Marcia barely spoke to each other anymore. Marcia had moved back to Edwards Bay, and when Nick visited from Palo Alto, he didn't come anywhere near her. Of course, Miami wasn't exactly trustworthy when it came to rumors, but who cared anyway? Good times were few and far between these days, and Diana was ready to make the most of this opportunity. She was eager to climb atop him and make love like rabbits. Oh, man. What a notch on her belt. She couldn't wait to tell Miami and Josie all about tonight!
She leaned over him and whispered in Nick's ear, "Fancy meeting you in a place like this."
Slipping a leg over him, she turned him on his back, climbed astride his naked body.
His eyes were open.
And his tongue lolled out of his mouth.
And his skin was ... cool ... cold.
For half a beat, she didn't breathe.
"Nick ... ?" she whispered, terror running through her veins.
Oh, no ... no ... no ... no!
Diana scrambled away from him, her mouth open on a silent scream. Her insides shriveled. He was dead. A corpse. A cold, naked body in her bed.
She staggered backward, slamming into the wall. A thin, keening wail rose from her soul, an almost inhuman sound. She stumbled back into the bathroom, slamming her shoulder against the jamb in her haste. The jolt of pain stopped the wailing.
Leaning over the toilet, she puked her guts out.
Then she lay on the cool floor tiles and shook all over. There was a pounding on her door. Bang, bang, bang. Alan, her neighbor, shaking the doorknob.
"Diana! You in there? You okay?"
He'd heard her shrieking through the paper-thin walls.
She continued to shiver. Didn't answer. Stared with horror through the bathroom door to the side of the bed and the dead man she knew lay on top of it.
She wanted to call to Alan, tell him she was fine. She didn't want him here. She was freaked out and sick and needed to think ... to remember ... to consider.
Did you cause this somehow?
The shock of pure terror morphed to a new kind of fear. The coke ... and other things ... behind the Blarney Stone ... they'd all been there. ... She remembered the toe of her boot getting caught in the gap of the deck floorboard. A small screened back porch for employees only, but Forrest and Sean owned the place and they allowed them to be back there.
His voice was softer now, unsure. She kept quiet, though her heart was beating so loudly in her ears it sounded like thunder.
She heard his footsteps head back to his apartment.
You're going to have to move.
But what to do now?
Gathering up all her courage, she crawled from the bathroom to the chair at the far side of the room. Don't look, she told herself. Don't look. Don't look.
But her head swiveled and she peeked over the top of the bed to see Nick Radnor's dead body. With a squeak of horror, she slipped her purse from the chair, spilling the contents onto the rug. The strip of light through the balcony curtains landed directly on the tiny pill canister attached to her keys.
She grabbed up her cell phone, hugging it tightly. Who could she call? What should she do?
What time was it?
She felt like she was going to throw up again and drew several deep breaths, exhaling slowly. Okay ... okay ... who?
With shaking fingers, she scrolled through her call list. One of the guys? Maybe Randy? He was a good friend to Nick, wasn't he?
But thinking of Randy Starr of Starrwood Homes brought her back to Kerry Monaghan, Nick Radnor's stepsister, who worked for Randy. Or was it a half sister? No ... definitely step ... she was pretty sure.
You should call one of your friends to help you, not Kerry.
What friends? she asked herself hollowly.
She crouched on all fours for ten seconds, listening to her own breathing, then scrolled to Kerry Monaghan's name and pressed the Call button.
* * *
Bzzzz ... bzzzz ... bzzzz ...
Kerry's cell phone nearly vibrated itself off her nightstand. She squinched up her face and tried to block it out. What time was it?
She had on an eye mask. Something she never did, but she'd definitely had a buzz going after her night out with Nick's friends and, determined not to face any kind of residual hangover, she'd downed two aspirin, drunk half a glass of water, and, upon spying the mask in the drawer where she kept the aspirin, grabbed up the black silky scrap of cloth and snapped it over her head ... whereupon she lay in bed thinking over her life instead of immediately falling asleep, worrying that somewhere, somehow, she'd made an unalterable mistake because nothing was turning out quite the way she'd hoped, and it felt like days were passing by quickly, slipping away like melting snowpack, running down a cliffside, falling into oblivion.
It had seemed she'd lain awake most of the night, so the rattle and buzz of her cell phone as it walked itself along the top of her nightstand surprised her awake and kind of pissed her off, too. Who was calling at this time? Nobody she wanted to talk to.
Pulling her pillow over her head, she reached out a hand and blindly searched for her phone, just catching it before it threw itself over the lip of the nightstand, determined to switch it off, her finger hovering over the button.
But ... what if it's important? her good angel asked, an unwanted guest appearing in her head.
It's not, her bad angel assured her. Get some sleep. Tomorrow's a long day.
She was to meet Jerry, her stepdad, here at the motel at ten a.m. to go over what he wanted done. The Sand Drift was his motel, a row of small cottages that had seen better days but were now under renovation. She'd taken on the job as Jerry's temporary manager while holding down her real job at Starrwood Homes, owned by Randy Starr, another of Nick's classmates. Her job had started out in Seattle, but Randy had moved her to Edwards Bay when his longtime manager had retired. She hadn't been thrilled about the idea, but at least Nick came back to his hometown from time to time, so here she was.
Bzzzz ... Bzzzz ...
What if it was Nick? There was no rational reason why it would be, but she threw off the pillow anyway, slid the mask to her forehead, and examined the phone's lit-up screen.
Nope. Not a number she recognized.
A prank call. Just what she needed. The battery icon was only half-full, though it had been charging for hours. Something wrong there.
She set down the phone and snapped the mask back over her eyes.
Well, what if it's Jerry? her good angel worried.
Her finger hesitated over the Off button.
It's not! her bad angel shouted. GO TO SLEEP!
But ... but ...
Bzzzz ... Bzzzz. ...
"Oh, hell," she growled in frustration, clicking the button. Jerry had suffered a minor heart attack last year, and it had slowed him down in a way that worried her. If this was about Jerry, she would feel really bad if she refused the call.
And she was awake now anyway. "Hello?"
"Kerry?" a quavering female voice asked.
She didn't recognize the caller and her hand sank. She should have listened to her bad angel and refused to answer. "Yes?" she asked with an edge.
"Hi, it's Diana. Diana Conger, and I'm ... I'm ... We were together tonight with the A-Team? And I saw you, and we were ... we were with Nick. ..." Her voice sank to a mewl.
Diana Conger was one of Nick's old classmates. Yes, she'd been with the A-Team tonight, a dumb name, in Kerry's biased opinion, for the group of friends from Nick's high school that still hung out together. Kerry knew them, more like "of them," as they were really just acquaintances of hers because she'd attended high school in Seattle after her mother and Nick's father broke up. She really hadn't even wanted to go out with them tonight, though she liked Josie pretty well, but Nick had been insistent. So, okay, she'd thought. And then she'd realized, somewhere in the evening, that Nick wasn't all that excited about hanging out with them either. Or at least it had appeared that way. Nick had seemed pretty determined to make her his wingman. She could never say no to Nick anyway, and she'd thought, fine. So, she'd gone, and truthfully had had a pretty decent time.
"So, Diana, it's three in the morning," Kerry said, as Diana's voice had petered out on a small gasp, as if she couldn't quite catch her breath.
"Yes?" She was trying not to sound impatient. When Diana didn't immediately respond, a whisper of fear traveled over her skin. "You okay?"
"What's wrong?" Even as she asked, Kerry wondered why she was the one getting this call. Diana could have called Josie, or Miami, or Taryn, or one of the guys, Randy, her boss, or ... well, maybe not that Egan something or other ... Fogherty ... Egan Fogherty, who was a little too friendly, intense, and always invading her personal space, kind of like a stalker. Or the guys who owned the bar, Sean and Forrest, and Killian, who they all called Lady-Killerian, mostly because that's how he pretty much thought of himself ... or maybe even Nick. Anybody but Kerry, who was the outsider. They'd all made sure they had one another's cell numbers tonight. Maybe it had been a mistake to hand hers out to Diana.
Diana started making choking sounds.
"Diana ... you're scaring me ..."
"Oh, God, Kerry. Oh my God ..." she whispered tearfully.
Kerry sat up in bed.
"It's Nick ... it's Nick ..." Diana said something else, but she was burbling, barely making sense.
"What about Nick?" she asked carefully, frozen except for her pounding heart.
"He's here ... in my bed." Her voice grew small. "Kerry, I think he's ... dead!"
Kerry exhaled, alarmed and angry. "That isn't funny! Is Nick really there? If he is, put him on the phone."
"He's dead, Kerry!" she cried hysterically.
"Stop it! Stop crying!"
"I don't know what to do!"
The phone was slick in Kerry's hand. This wasn't real. "If he's hurt ... or something ... call 9-1-1."
"They'll come? Even if he's dead?" Diana asked on a hopeful hiccup.
Jesus. Was there even a chance she was telling the truth? "Diana, don't screw with me."
"I'm not, Kerry, I'm not." Her hiccupping had turned to a constant low and tearful uh-uh-uh-uh.
"Then call 9-1-1."
"Okay ... okay...."
This had to be a sick joke. "How did Nick ... get hurt?" she tried.
"I don't know. I just woke up and he was ... I didn't know he was ... I mean, I thought he was alive, but he's not breathing ... he's not ... anything."
Kerry switched on the light and threw back the covers. "I'm coming over there. What's your address?"
Diana mumbled it, but Kerry managed to hear her, just. She knew enough about Edwards Bay to recognize the general area. "The Bayside Apartments, number two-one-one," she repeated aloud, to burn it into her memory. If this really was the truth, if it really was ...
Kerry was already out of bed. She was terrified. If this was some kind of game at her expense ...
But that would be the best scenario, wouldn't it?
Excerpted from "Bad Things"
Copyright © 2019 Nancy Bush.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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