The cabin, p.5
The Cabin, page 5
Wright clicked his tongue. "As interesting as all this is, I need you to get into the squad cars now." He looked at each of us when he spoke. I felt naked under his intense glare. It was clear he thought one of us did it. "We're taking a trip to the station, so we can ask you some questions and get a formal statement," he said, pursing his lips, "and then my colleagues are going to search every inch of this house--and your homes." He nodded toward the front door and walked out.
I sat in a small interview room, biting my lip. One of the female police officers had brought me a change of clothes, so I was wearing gray sweats and a plain white T-shirt. My clothes had to be sent off for examination. Even though I'd done nothing wrong and was fully cooperating, I still felt like a criminal.
DI Wright and a pretty female officer he'd introduced as DI Lancer sat opposite me. I refused to have my parents or anyone else with me because it would seem like I had something to hide.
Wright tilted his head. "Tell me again, Mackenzie, what happened last night?"
Leaning forward, I leaned my arms on the cold table. "I don't know. We were all drinking. God, we drank a lot. The last thing I remember is Blake waking me up from the sofa and..." I was going to have to admit that we'd slept together. I wasn't sure why it was embarrassing--it just was. I licked my dry lips. "We went upstairs. In the morning, we woke up and went down to make breakfast. That's when we found...what we found."
"Where was everyone else when you and Blake went upstairs?"
"Megan went up to a bedroom first. Aaron and Kyle crashed on the living room floor. Josh and Courtney must've gone to his room while I was asleep on the couch. They weren't in the living room when Blake and I went upstairs. I assume Aaron and Kyle didn't go find bedrooms because they didn't want to get in an another argument with Josh."
"Um. Yeah. Megan and Josh had a disagreement about where to sleep and Blake told her to go up. Aaron stood up to Josh too."
"They physically fought?"
"No, of course not. It was just verbal."
"What was the argument about?" he pressed.
"Megan and Josh's?"
The DI blinked as if I had asked a stupid question. There were two arguments. How was I supposed to know which one he was asking about?
"Yes, the argument between Megan and Joshua."
"Well, Courtney wanted everyone to sleep downstairs, but Megan wanted a bed. Josh told Megan that it was his house and she had to sleep where he said. Blake stepped in and told her to go upstairs to bed. It was nothing really."
"What was Joshua's argument with Aaron over?"
I bit my lip and looked at the recorder on the table beside Wright. "At first, Aaron was just sticking up for Megan, but then Josh said something about Aaron dumping Tilly before the accident." I frowned, struggling to remember clearly. Was that it? "I think. He spits that out occasionally. I can't remember exactly what they said, but they shouted, and then Courtney told them to stop."
"And then we went back to drinking."
"Why did Courtney want everyone downstairs?" he asked.
I shrugged. "She said we should all drink until we dropped. I don't think she really cared if anyone wanted to go to bed though."
"But Josh did?"
"Josh is Josh." Was Josh.
Wright's bushy eyebrows pulled together. "What does that mean exactly? What was Josh like?"
"He didn't really care about anyone other than himself. He liked to be the big man, and we were all supposed to be in debt to him for organizing get-togethers, like this trip." I dropped my eyes to the table. "And the theme park weekend."
"Is this the trip which resulted in a car accident?" he asked. "Two people died that day, Tilly Moss and Giana Beaucoup, is that correct?"
"Yes," I whispered. "How do you know that?" Tilly and Gigi had been sitting in the back of the minivan when we were hit by a truck.
"It's a small town, Mackenzie." I knew that. No matter what happened and where it happened, everyone in town knew your business. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table. "Joshua organized the trip that led to two of your friends' deaths."
"I know where you're going with this. No one blames Josh for what happened. It was an accident." We only blamed him for how he treated us and what he said after.
"How can you be so sure your friends feel the same way?"
I gritted my teeth. "Not forgiving someone is one thing. Murder is another. None of my friends are capable of that."
He sighed. "So that brings us back to you."
Did the detective think I was guilty? My palms began to sweat. "No. I would never hurt anyone. I didn't do it. I swear."
"Let's talk about your relationship with Courtney Young for a minute. You'd been friends for how long?"
I frowned at his use of the past tense. "About eight years. We met when we were eleven." We sat next to each other at school and became insta-friends. We shared a love of the Twilight books, trashy teen romance films, and boys. I'd give anything to go back to our preteen years.
"And in that time, have you had any fallings-out?"
"A few, I guess. We never argued for long though. I think the longest we've ever gone without talking was two or three days." It would be longer now. I pressed my fingernails into the palms of my hands trying to offset the pain of losing her, which tore through my chest. I would never hear Court laugh or sing like a cat being strangled again. Bless her, she tried so hard to be the next Britney, but it was never going to happen.
He wrote something down and I thought he was going to ask some follow-up questions, but he changed direction. "How long had Josh and Courtney been together?"
I shrugged. "Around a year and a half, I think."
"You don't seem too thrilled by your friend's relationship with Joshua. Why is that?"
"Like I said before, Josh is--was--a selfish person. He brought Court down. She was so much more outgoing and confident before him. After they got together, she didn't have her own voice or opinion. She just backed up whatever he said. She deserved better."
His eyebrows arched.
"That doesn't mean I wanted anything bad to happen to him." Not that bad, anyway.
"What happened after Tilly's and Giana's deaths? From what I can gather, that's when the feud began."
"It wasn't a feud. Josh said some things that were insensitive."
"He said at least it wasn't him and Courtney."
"Who died in the crash?"
I nodded. "Yes. I was glad the rest of us were OK, but I don't know how he could place anyone else's life below his own. Like they were expendable. He said the accident was Gigi's fault anyway, because she got too drunk to drive so Court had to. Apparently, that meant she deserved to die."
"And you hated him for it."
I played with the hem of my T-shirt. I didn't hurt anyone, but Detective Wright was constantly leading me there, wanting me to admit to something I hadn't done. I wanted to tell the truth, but I was scared. "Hate is a very strong word. I didn't ever want anything bad to happen to him, but I wished he would break up with Courtney and get out of our lives."
"How badly did you want him out of your life?" the detective pressed.
"I didn't kill him!" Why wasn't he listening to me? I felt sick.
Wright's mouth twitched. His breath blew across my face. It smelled of stale tobacco mixed with mint. "I'm not saying you killed Josh, but do you know who did?"
"No. I swear I don't. My friends aren't violent though, I know that much."
"Hmm," he murmured. "Did you each have a bedroom to yourself?"
"No. Megan and I were sharing; the others had a room each." But I stayed in Blake's, I left out.
"And you unpacked as soon as you arrived?"
I don't know. I'm not their mum! "I'm not sure. Megan didn't. She never does."
"Hmm." He clicked his to
"I don't know. Blake might have one, it being his house too."
I wanted to ask why he was asking, but something stopped me. Wright was intimidating. He looked like a powerful man. He was tall, muscular, and had a take-no-shit attitude. He was probably a bit in love with himself. He squinted at me as if he wanted me to believe he already knew who the killer was and was just waiting for us to crack.
He tilted his head. "You stayed with Blake all night?"
"He was still there when you woke?"
"Yes. I woke first."
He nodded. "What did you have to eat while you were at the cabin? Did you cook?"
The sudden change in direction had me concerned. I'd never been interviewed by the police before. "We all cooked enchiladas."
He stared at me, keeping his eyes focused on pulling truths from mine. "You all cooked?"
"We all helped, yeah."
Now why was that important?
He gave another short nod. "And the drinks. Let me guess, you all got each other drinks too?"
"Yes," I replied slowly. There was something I was missing, but I had no idea what. I closed my eyes and rubbed my temple. I didn't think like a bloody detective!
"So you all drank, you fell asleep, and when you woke, Joshua and Courtney were--"
"Yes," I replied before he could say dead on the kitchen floor. We all knew the outcome by now.
"Not a peep in the night, huh?"
"Joshua and Courtney were stabbed dozens of times and you didn't hear anything..."
I closed my eyes and took a breath as I was about to throw up. "No, I didn't hear anything," I said, then opened my eyes.
Please believe me.
He arched his bushy caterpillar eyebrow. "I think that's it for now. You're free to go back to the waiting room with the others."
Already? That hadn't seemed to take as long as I thought it would. He looked at me and half smiled. Oh, he's not done with me at all. I stood up and walked out of the room, anxious to get back to my friends. As I left, I kept my head held high and walked with confidence, trying to show him I wasn't intimidated. I probably walked guiltily.
Through the glass panel in the door, I could see everyone already out there.
"You OK?" Blake asked, pulling the door open for me from the inside, as I was about to push it.
I shook my head and wrapped my arms around myself. "Not really." Megan sat on the chair, curled up in a ball; Kyle's arm was around her shoulders, rocking her like a child. I smiled at Blake in thanks and knelt down in front of my friend. "Megan?"
Her body trembled.
"She hasn't said anything since she came out of being questioned," Kyle said. "How'd it go?"
"He thinks it was one of us," I replied. Blake had moved to the other side of the room. He stood against the wall, looking out of the window, acting as if he were alone.
Kyle followed my gaze to Blake. "Maybe it was," he whispered.
I narrowed my eyes. We couldn't turn against each other. We had to stick together until the police found out who was really responsible. I was about to defend Blake when Wright came back into the room.
"We're going to run a drug test on you too, Mackenzie," he announced as if he'd offered me a cup of tea.
"What? Why do you need to do that?" I asked. He hadn't mentioned that before. They already had the clothes we were wearing and our other belongings from the cabin. I thought they had finished with the tests.
Oh, this is the because.
He rubbed the dark stubble under his chin. "Standard procedure, especially when I have two murdered teens and five more at the crime scene claiming to remember nothing. Take a seat, Miss Keaton, Mr. Harper. I'll be with you again in a moment." He stepped out into the hallway.
Blake sat on one of the faux leather chairs, staring into space. I took a seat between him and Megan. "This is like a dream," Megan whispered.
"A nightmare," I countered. "Have you both been tested yet?"
Blake shook his head. "Aaron went first."
Aaron looked up. "Did they tell you what they're testing for?"
"This is the first I've heard of it." I shrugged. "I really don't know. I've never had to take a drug test before. This is crazy." Did they test for every drug or just the most common ones? "Have you seen your mum yet?" I asked Megan.
She shook her head, crying. "I-I think they're all here, or they've been called, but we can't see them until we've done this." Her voice wobbled.
Defiantly, Blake stood up and walked to the window again. He leaned on the windowsill, deep in thought. Soon he would have to face his parents and they were going to have a lot more to deal with than just getting him through what'd happened to Josh and Courtney--they had also lost a son.
"Megan, come with me," Wright said, poking his head into the room again.
Megan shot me a look as if to say either wish me luck or help and scurried after Wright with her shoulders hunched. I ran through everything that had happened for the millionth time, but once I'd fallen asleep, I remembered nothing. No noise in the night that disturbed me. Surely someone would scream if they were being murdered. If Courtney saw a spider, her scream could wake someone from a coma. I may have been extra tired after drinking and being with Blake, but surely not that exhausted.
The door opened and Kyle was summoned. Wright was calling each of us himself. Why wouldn't he send an officer to do that? Did he need that much control that he did the rubbish jobs himself too?
I sat back and closed my eyes. There was nothing new I could remember and it scared me that so much of the evening was either a blur or completely missing. That didn't look good. We couldn't have been drugged. No one else was in the house, unless it had been done before we left for the weekend. Some bottles of spirits had been opened previously.
But who would drug us?
"Blake, are you OK?" I asked once we were alone.
He shook his head. "Me and Josh..." Shaking his head again, he turned to me. My breath caught in my throat. His eyes were dull and he held himself differently. He looked haunted, like he was in physical pain.
You and Josh what?
"What, Blake?" I prompted softly.
"This is going to kill my mum. She'll wish it were me."
I blinked in shock. Sure, Blake had decided to live with his father, but that didn't mean his mum didn't love him as much as Josh. "No, that's not true."
He frowned in despair and bent slightly as he blew out a breath. In that moment, I knew he believed what he said was true. He really believed his mum loved his brother more and would prefer him to be dead. "She wouldn't want it to be you."
"No, she wouldn't want it. But she would want it to be Josh a hell of a lot less."
"Blake, come with me," Wright ordered.
We hadn't had enough time to talk. I wanted to reassure him that his mum wouldn't wish he'd died over Josh. Wright wasn't going to give us another minute though. Blake walked out without another word or even a glance in my direction, and I sat down. My head fell back against the wall. How was I even here? I wanted my parents. Mum could fix anything.
She can't fix this.
When it was my turn, I was led down a short corridor and into a small room with a table like they had in the emergency room. "Sit down, please. This won't take long," a lady told me. She turned before introducing herself, so I guess I wasn't going to get to know her name.
"Thanks," I said, taking a seat and biting my lip.
"Lift up your sleeve."
My eyes widened. "This is a blood test?" I was scared of needles, so avoided blood tests like the plague. Something told me I couldn't opt out of this one though. How would that look?
"Yes. Lift up your sleeve, please."
I shoved the elbow-length sleeve over my elbow and gripped the side of the chair. Why didn't I request my mum or da
"Drugs," she replied in very much a "duh" manner.
Weren't they required to tell you what it was exactly if you asked? I didn't push it. I just wanted to go home. I needed to see my parents. What was supposed to be a chilled-out, drunken weekend messing around with my friends had ended with blood, murder, and police. Today had to end.
The needle stabbed my skin. I held my breath and squeezed my eyes closed as I imagined it sinking into my vein. It stung. This is nothing compared to what Courtney went through. I swallowed the lump in my throat. Had she been in pain long? Did she pray for death?
"All right," the nurse said, gently pulling out the needle and placing a cotton ball and Band-Aid over the spot. "All done. You can wait with your friends in the front. I believe your parents are here."
"OK, thanks," I replied and hurried out of the room.
I stepped into the holding area. Aaron, Kyle, and Megan sat on chairs by the front door. I sat beside a shaking Megan and rubbed my arms, suddenly feeling cold.
"Where's Blake?" I asked.
Megan nodded to the door to an office. "Speaking to his dad on the phone. He's in Hong Kong, apparently, and trying to get a flight back."
"He doesn't even seem that upset. His brother just died," Aaron said, watching Blake through the glass. "What does that tell you?"
"That he's just seen his brother's lifeless body and he's in shock. Same as us," I replied.
How could Aaron judge Blake like that? There was no set way to behave when you lost someone you loved. Everyone reacted to grief and loss differently. I surprised myself by being so calm. When Tilly and Gigi died, I had been a mess. But I saw them die. We were traveling home, joking around and playing the license plate game that I sucked at. We were hit. I remembered the sound of crushing metal and the screams from my friends. Tiny pieces of glass were everywhere, cutting into my skin. Everything was in slow motion until we came to a stop. I heard Tilly cry until she fell silent and I heard Gigi whisper something unintelligible before her eyes closed forever. But I couldn't move. I was sitting behind them but I couldn't reach. My seat belt had locked and I was dizzy. I tried but I couldn't move to help them.
This time was different. This time their deaths didn't appear to be accidents--and my friends and I were also suspects. I couldn't grieve properly while I was being questioned, while their killer was still out there.
by Natasha Preston / Romance / Thriller have rating 4.2 out of 5 / Based on25 votes