Reliving Fate, page 1
BOOKS BY NATASHA PRESTON
THE SILENCE SERIES
Players, Bumps and Cocktail Sausages
THE CHANCE SERIES
With the Band
YOUNG ADULT THRILLERS
Copyright (c) 2017 by Natasha Preston
All rights reserved.
Visit my website at www.natashapreston.com
Cover Designer: Sofie Hartley, Hart and Bailey, www.hartandbailey.com
Editor and Interior Designer: Jovana Shirley, Unforeseen Editing, www.unforeseenediting.com
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Zoe, Rocco is yours.
* * *
* * *
Twelve years on, Celia's death still hangs around the house like a bad smell. Her room has remained untouched to this day. Twelve years, and not a thing has changed in there. No one but me goes inside, and I'm sure as hell not moving her shit.
Her worn clothes still litter the floor, and a gross empty glass is on the bedside table, collecting a thick layer of dust. I occasionally clean her room because it's clear that Mum and Dad won't, but for the most part, I leave it alone.
Nervously biting my lip, I tiptoe inside. I'm home alone, but I'm not sure how Mum or Dad would react if they caught me in here. They must know. Olivia, my twin, would tell our parents in a heartbeat if she found me here.
Celia's room is always cool. She died during a particularly hot spring, so her radiator was turned off. When I'm in here during the winter months, I still don't dare turn it on. Isn't there...something about not messing with the dead's possessions? Like Karma? Well, I don't know, but I'm so not up for being haunted by my own sister--not in the Casper sense anyway. I'm haunted by what happened to her every second of every day.
We all are. It follows us around, like having a dark, stormy cloud constantly above you.
There have been a lot of seconds in those twelve years. I'm shit at math, so I have no clue how many, but it's loads.
Most of my early memories of her have faded--I was six when she was killed--but I remember the last few months before she died as clear as the day she was murdered. She had been going out more, argued with our parents all the time, and stopped caring about school.
In that time, she wasn't the same girl. I didn't understand why my big sister no longer wanted to play Barbies with me anymore. Of course, I get it now. What sixteen-year-old wants to play dolls? It was more than that though. Celia was cold and withdrawn and had changed beyond recognition.
What happened to you?
I look over my shoulder, up the long hallway before I turn back and pad deeper into her room. When we moved to this house, Celia was twelve, and Olivia and I were two. It was decided that Celia's room would be the last one, so Livvy and I would be closer to Mum and Dad.
It was as if my parents knew Celia wouldn't be here now. Her room is tucked away at the end of the dark corridor where it can be forgotten.
Only nothing about her or the way she died will ever be forgotten.
The sickening girlie walls have faded to a much duller pink now. While she was going through her change, she decided to paint her room a pale blue. But she didn't have time. Two years ago, I mentioned painting it for her, and Mum freaked out, like I'd suggested we exhume her fucking body.
So, it's staying pink.
I cross the floor and sit on her bed. Her perfume is long gone, but I can still smell her in here. I like it. It makes me feel close to her. I lie down on her bed--I've not done that before; I've only sat here--and my head hits a hard object in the pillow.
What is that?
I sit up, my butt sinking into her soft mattress, and twist around. Cautiously, in case it's something I really don't want to see, I reach into the end of the pillowcase.
Please don't have a dildo in there.
It's a book.
Thank you for not having a sex toy stuffed in there, Celia.
Taking it out, I see it's not just a book.
"You kept a diary," I whisper.
How could no one have known about it?
I'm not sure if I should look--it's private after all--but I know I have to. There might be things in here I need to know. Probably things I really don't, too.
I'm not sure when I became so obsessed with finding him--her killer--but all I know is that I'm not going to university this September, my relationship with my parents has plummeted, Livvy is more like a stranger than a twin, and I don't really care about any of it right now.
This has to be done.
As I flip the diary open, I'm filled with a sense of familiarity. Celia's writing is exactly how I remember her speaking. She was like me. Or I'm like her.
Today, I snuck out with Steph and Nancy, and we met up with Hugo, Davis, and Jack again. Nancy thinks I should move on and forget Hugo, but I can tell he likes me, too. He's just scared because he's older, and I'm still stupid 16! I can't wait for my birthday. 11 days and counting!
As soon as I'm 17, everything WILL be fine. I'll be able to get a car, have more freedom. Dad will freak though. Technically, Hugo is an adult, but I'm not apparently! I don't care. I'm falling in love, and there's nothing anyone can do to keep me away from him.
I stop breathing and it causes my lungs to burn. She never mentioned a Hugo; neither did any of her friends after she died.
So, who the bloody hell is he? Steph and Nancy know who he is. But, if Hugo had anything to do with her death, wouldn't they have told the police about him? Unless they believe the bullshit story of how she died.
Surely, they would have mentioned
Celia's death was ruled as a burglary gone wrong because there wasn't a suspect, motive, or anything to suggest otherwise. And there had been three breakins the month previous, so the police thought our house was targeted during the carnival, and Celia must have spooked the burglar.
It all worked perfectly for the bastard who took my sister's life. But there's something wrong with the story.
I know there is.
After Celia's death, the breakins stopped, but I still can't help thinking there is more to what happened that night.
Stuffing the diary under my top to hide it from the empty house, I go back to my room. Facebook is a good place to start. Maybe Steph and Nancy are friends with him. I can stalk online like a pro. Seriously, I would be an asset to MI5.
Flipping the lid of my laptop open, I sit on my bed and cross my legs. Maybe this is the start of answers--real answers. Someone needs to be locked up for what they did to my sister. I have no idea if Celia knew her killer personally, but if it was a thief, he could've run instead of murdering her.
I click on Steph's profile first and scour her Friends list. Anyone I don't know or anyone who looks shady, I click on and search their Friends list, too.
"Isabella?" Mum calls, making me jump out of my skin.
Shit, she's home early!
I leap off my bed and shove Celia's diary under the loose floorboard in my walk-in wardrobe.
A much better hiding place than a pillowcase, FYI, Celia.
"Coming!" I shout. My heart is going a million miles an hour. She could have caught me.
I get downstairs faster than Usain Bolt and follow my parents' voices into the kitchen. They're putting groceries away, both looking at Celia's birthday cake that's taunting them from the counter as they work.
She would have been twenty-eight, but she will forever be stuck on sixteen.
"Nan and Grandad's for dinner tonight, remember? You're not staying there though, Bella," Mum says, raising her perfectly plucked eyebrows.
My mum is flawless. She won't even leave her bedroom without makeup on. She has chocolate-brown eyes and long, dark hair. Dad's hair is a shade darker than Mum's, and his eyes are hazel.
Celia, Olivia, and I all look alike, all carbon copies of our mum--only I inherited Dad's hazel. It was the only way people could tell me and Livvy apart when we were little.
"I'm staying," I reply. "And I already okayed it with Nan."
She sighs, her nostrils flaring the way it does when I piss her off. "Isabella, I am telling you, you're not staying the night there. I'm the parent. I make the rules, and I don't care if you're eighteen or not." She tries to mimic my voice, but she fails miserably.
I roll my eyes. She worries when we're not home, but I feel safer out of this house than in it.
"I stay the night all the time. I'd rather be there tonight."
"Bella, enough," Dad says, stepping in.
Mum doesn't do discipline well, and Dad always steps in eventually. Still, we all know that I'll be staying at my grandparents' tonight. I understand their concern. Celia spent most of her time at Nana and Grandad's in the last year of her life, and they're scared the same thing will happen to me.
"I want to stay at theirs tonight."
I need to.
"You know what tomorrow is, Isabella," Dad says sternly.
His words slam into my chest.
I force tears in my eyes. "You think I could ever forget?" I've tried. It's impossible. "Dad, please. I can't wake up here on her birthday."
Mum's hard expression softens, and I know they won't push it anymore. Tears work every time. Truth is, I can't cry anymore. Celia's been gone for twelve years, and I've missed her every second of them, but crying doesn't provide answers.
Answers are all I want now.
"Oh, Bella," Mum says, tilting her head.
She's crying. Shit. My stomach swims with guilt, but needs must and all that.
"Please. I'll come home in the morning, I promise."
She rounds the worktop and pulls me into her arms. The hug is awkward. I wrap my arms loosely around her. "Of course. We're sorry, love. We didn't realise how hard this has been on you."
"That's okay," I say, breaking the hug and wiping a fake tear from under my eye. "What time are we leaving? I need to pack a bag." And grab Celia's diary.
"At four. Olivia should be home soon," she replies.
"Right. She'll be home at just before four, unable to peel herself away from Mr Personality."
"Isabella," Dad warns.
My parents adore Livvy's boyfriend, Harry, because he's responsible and mature and sensible.
Boring, boring, boring.
Harry and I share a mutual dislike of each other. He thinks I'm childish and that I have a hold over Livvy, and I think he's a sad, jealous prick.
Raising my hands, I say, "Fine, sorry. Anyway, I'm going to get my things ready."
"Do you have a card for Celia yet?" Mum asks as I walk away.
Freezing on the spot, I take a deep, ragged breath. "I have one, yeah."
I want to do the birthday and Christmas thing for her--she's still every bit a part of our family--but it's never easy.
"I'll leave it on the mantelpiece with the others," I say as I rush out of the room and rub the ache in my chest.
I miss you, Celia.
Back upstairs and in my room, I pull out my travel bag and throw some clothes in it. If no one else were home, I'd read more of Celia's diary, but Mum isn't huge on boundaries, and knocking is apparently optional. So, I stuff it between my clothes and ignore the itching in my hands to grab it and read the whole thing now. My self-control is waning.
I could just sneak a quick look.
Biting my lips, I calculate the probability of being caught with it. I could say it's mine.
Pah, like that's believable.
As I reach for the bag, a noise from the hallway interrupts me. I pull my hand back as Livvy pops her head around my door.
"Hey," she says. Her smile is bigger than mine.
She loves people, and she loves life. I...do not.
Personality of the Year is with her, and he gives me a tight smile. Harry would rather spit in my face than be civil, but Livvy is all about the twin-bond thing, so he's never rude to me in front of her.
"Hey," I reply. "How was...whatever you were doing?"
"We just spent some time with Harry's family; they took us to play tennis."
Whacking a ball with a bat. Fun.
"Great," I say, trying so, so hard to keep the sarcasm out of my voice.
I love my sister, and I never want to make her unhappy, but--fuck me--she lives a dull life. Still, at least she has one.
"Ready for tomorrow?"
She sucks in a breath, and Harry puts his hand on the small of her back. "As I'll ever be."
"Same." I nod, picking up my bag and Celia's card. There are so many things I want to write in the card, but no one else can know, so I keep it simple and impersonal.
Offering me an affectionate smile, Livvy tilts her head, and I'm suddenly scared she'll want to hug me too. We haven't hugged in...I don't know how long. Even though I love my family, I feel a complete detachment to them most of the time.
It's because of Celia.
Maybe, if things had turned out differently, they'd have had her and not me.
I'm being stupid, of course. They would never want us to change places, but guilt pretty much strips all rational thought.
"Mum said you're staying at Nan's?" she asks.
Her dark eyes turn black. "Really, Bella?"
"I'll be home early. What's the problem?"
Harry's eye twitches. Oh, he'd love to voice his opinion right now. I'll be there for Mum and Dad tomorrow, but I can't wake up to Mum's crying. I just can't. They don't understand, and it's my fault.
"Fine," she snaps. She pulls Harry across the hall to her room.
We might shar
* * *
Nan ushers us into the house, and the smell of freshly baked bread has my stomach rumbling.
"Food?" I say, giving Nana my puppy-dog eyes.
She likes to feed us--well, anyone really.
"Ten minutes," she replies. "Grandad's making pasta."
"Score," Livvy says, linking arms with Mum and Nana before walking into the kitchen.
Mum doesn't look for me to take her other arm.
I'm not touchy-feely.
Dad and I follow behind, and we meet Grandad in the kitchen. He's stirring pasta sauce on the hob and bobbing his head to some seriously old-sounding music. Turning around, he greets us with a smile. I go over to him because he's not the hugging type either. He's safe.
"How are you, kiddo?" he says.
Still kiddo even though I'm eighteen.
"I'm good, Grandad. How's old age?"
"You're only as old as you feel," he replies as I mouth the words along with him.
"And how old do you feel today?"
I snort and rest my elbow on the worktop beside the cooker. "Yep, still old."
"It'll creep up on you before you know it."
It should have been creeping up on Celia.
"Please. I have ages yet. Can I have a taste?" I ask, pointing to the sauce.
"Have I ever said no?"
He gets a fresh wooden spoon from the pot of a thousand utensils and hands it to me. The sauce is good, and I have another taste before he removes the spoon from my hand.
"Let's save some for everyone else."
"Why? We all know I'm your favourite."
He laughs and kisses my forehead. I do get along with him best. I love them all equally, but I'm closer to Grandad--probably because we both have a general dislike of people and lean more on the sarcastic side.
"How are you feeling about tomorrow?" he asks.
"I know how that feels."
Celia spent a lot of time with our grandparents in the year leading up to her death, so it hit them really hard, too. Now, I'm filling that void, and I think they love having a teen around the house again. Can't think why.
"You'll stay a while tomorrow, right?"
He smiles, and his dark eyes lose their shine. "Of course I will. Nana and I will take you home in the morning, leave you all to visit Celia in peace, and then join you."
"After breakfast at the cafe?"
"Absolutely. I want a full-works omelet, and I'm not eating the regurgitated-looking monstrosity your nan makes."
Other author's books:
- Broken SilenceSilenceThe CellarPlayers, Bumps and Cocktail SausagesLie to MeSilent NightReliving Fate
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