Mind Games

Mind Games

by Cecilia Tan

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Product Details

BN ID: 2940155556183
Publisher: Cecilia Tan
Publication date: 07/10/2018
Sold by: Draft2Digital
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 638 KB

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Chapter One

"Come on, Wren, I know you're in there!"

Wren Delacourt hugged the pillow over her ears, but there was no chance Lawrence was going to go away. Just last night, she'd told him to come by at noon today, and he'd seen her go into her unit in the condo, and if she didn't get up soon, he was going to start to worry that something terrible had happened to her...

No. Best not to think about that sort of thing. "I'm coming," she called, but weakly. No way he'd hear that through her bedroom door and across the kitchen. She had to sit up, then stand up, then open the door. She felt on the floor for her bathrobe.

Halfway to the door, she had to stop and put her hands to her eyes. The world seemed too hot today. Not the actual temperature, which was pleasant enough, but it was as if something electrical were pricking at her, about to overheat like a transformer.

Or maybe it was just a hangover. She pulled open the door and saw Lawrence's expression fall.

"Oh my God, are you all right?" he blurted.

She must have looked a fright; Lawrence was never tactless. She leaned on the door frame. "Do I have raccoon eyes?" she asked, examining her palms for mascara smudges.

"You do," he said, pushing her gently into the apartment, "if a raccoon were run over by a school bus three or four times." He was carrying a paper bag and a wonderful smell came from it. "Go on now, why don't you get washed up and I'll squeeze some oranges?"

Wren did as she was told. Lawrence was a good neighbor and a good friend and she was glad she wasn't alone just now, even if he didn't know why she was such a wreck. She went into the bathroom and washed her face,finally giving in and using some cold cream to help remove the eyeliner and mascara. The waterproof kind was more trouble than it was worth, she decided, since it practically refused to come off even with goop. She ran a comb through her hair, still not used to how short it was. The cut was what her hairdresser had called "boyishly chic" and Wren thought it made her look a little like Winona Ryder. At the very least it made her eyes look huge, now that they weren't hidden under black bangs.

She slipped back into the bedroom to pull on some sweatpants and a clean shirt, then emerged to find that Lawrence, as promised, had squeezed juice for them both and had set out a few fresh-baked pastries. She sat down at the counter and bit into a chocolate croissant, still warm. "Decadence," she said.

He chuckled. "The fresh fruit is the decadent part for me. In Europe, croissants and chocolate grow on trees."

She poked him. Lawrence had only a trace of a British accent but liked to act like he was fresh off the Mayflower. "I've been to England. They had oranges and orange juice there."

"At exorbitant prices. Maybe the conversion to the pound made it not so obvious to you." He took a cheese Danish and ate in silence for a bit before venturing to ask, "Bad date?"

"You could say that," she said in a quiet voice, while she decided what to tell him. "Not that kind, though." She'd told him plenty of disaster stories about men before, but this wasn't one of those times, and she decided Lawrence could handle the truth without turning into a blithering idiot. "It's the anniversary of when my parents died. I went to visit their gravesite yesterday." She gave a little shrug, as if to say it was no big deal.

Lawrence took a sip of his juice. "I didn't know your parents were dead," he said, without undue emotion.

"Yeah, when I was a teenager." Wren shrugged again. "Car accident. My sister was only ten. She took it harder than I did."

Of course, that was all a massive oversimplification, but she really didn't want to get into it. Lawrence nodded and continued eating without pushing her to say anything more.

Which was probably why she did. "I usually see her there. At their grave, I mean. We don't talk much, but she hasn't returned my calls for like four months. Her e-mail bounces, but you know people change addresses. But--" She looked up from her juice to see Lawrence looking at her with a thoughtful expression on his face.

"You think something might have happened to her?"

"Yeah, I'm starting to worry. I mean, I wasn't really that worried, but ... she wouldn't have forgotten this." Wren looked out the small kitchen window. From here, all she could see was a little bit of the Japanese maple tree across the street, and a red minivan almost the same color as the maple's leaves. "I suppose I could file a missing persons report with the police, at least."

Lawrence finished his Danish and licked his fingertips like a cat washing its paws. "It couldn't hurt. Even if it does turn out she's just ... making a change or something. From what you've told me, she's not exactly the most constant person?"

"I know." It was one of the reasons they didn't talk much or see each other much. Abby was prone to new fads, new hobbies, new schemes to make money, new boyfriends ... so much so that Wren wasn't even sure she'd recognize her sister from visit to visit. They tended to see each other at Aunt Brenda's for Christmas, have lunch around their birthdays in April, and now it was September, when they either went together to the burial site, or would meet there. Wren never knew if Abby would be blonde, brunette, bisexual, or born-again. "It's like every few months she tries to become some new person, as if this time she grows up, it'll bring our parents back or something."

Lawrence shrugged. "Maybe she decided to give up."

Wren shrugged back. "I'll call the police later. The more I think about it now, the more I think she's probably just joined a tree-hugging cult or something and doesn't know what day it is."

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