I didn’t realize there’d be this much blood.
Yeah, he’d said there was blood all over the room. But I thought of how my mother would always huff and say things like “Oh, Jade, you got ice cream all over yourself.” I’d glance down, expecting to be covered in chocolate goo, and there’d be this one lone dribble trailing down my shirt. Everyone always exaggerated these kinds of things.
Not this time.
This time, there was literally blood all over the room
A sea breeze rustled the curtains hanging from the wide--open French balcony doors, and even though I’d just been out on the top deck, I shivered, goose bumps coating my arms like a rash. I took another step into the suite to get a closer look, still gripping the cabin doorframe as though it could anchor me to a reality in which my best friend was still alive.
Well, ex–-best friend.
That ship had sailed months ago.
Red slashed the ruffled white sheets, most of the blood pooled on the left side of the bed, like that’s where it started. Like that’s where she’d been stabbed. Smears of it angled off to the right, toward the balcony—-had she been dragged?—-and there were even some maroon flecks on the ornate opaque room divider at the foot of the bed, separating the bedroom from a small living room area. One of the beige armchairs—-the one closest to the balcony—-hadn’t escaped the splatter.
Smudges streaked the balcony’s stark white doorframe, too, the door open, ominous, like a gaping void before the endless sea.
The buzzing in my ears drowned out the voices behind me in the hall—-yelling voices, frantic voices—-and I thought of the blood staining my own shirt’s hem. I tugged my jacket closed, hiding it . . . praying they wouldn’t think I did this.
After all, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell she’d survived.
There was so much blood, too much blood, and the way the balcony rail was coated in it . . .
But then a thought crossed my mind, a thought that made me falter back a step, that made bile rise in my throat and shame burn my cheeks.
Yet I couldn’t help but think it. That spoiled, selfish brat got exactly what she deserved.
Copyright © 2023 by Diana Urban. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.