Page 58 of Don't Look Back

I ignored him. “It’s just, when I went there, I thought it would be difficult to fall from there and hit the lake without…being pushed. And I must’ve fallen, because I’ve had this…memory of climbing up something.”

“I thought you didn’t remember anything?” The detective’s voice was sharp.

I gritted my teeth, realizing how that looked. “It’s not a clear memory, more like fragments and just a feeling. I don’t even know if it’s real.”

He watched me for a few moments. “This memory of climbing? Do you think it involves the cliff?”

“I think so.” I lowered my eyes. “I don’t really remember anything else.” That made sense, that is. I lifted my lashes, meeting his acute stare. “I really wish I did. There is no one else who wants to know what happened that night more than me.”

“Besides her mother,” he corrected, sitting back. His dark gaze went to the lawyer. “Obviously, both of you girls were on the cliff. We’ve established that. One of you lived. One of you died. The question remains, was there a third person, Miss Franco?”

I let out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding. “I don’t know.”

When I got home, my room was a mess. Knowing that strangers had combed through my undies creeped me out. I felt violated. Nothing had been spared in the investigation. Not even my bed. What did they think I’d hide in there? My laptop was also gone. Forensics. According to Ramirez I’d have it back in a week.

I really hoped I didn’t have a  p**n  addiction I’d forgotten about.

It took me the better part of the evening to clean my room. Mostly because my mother’s constant hovering slowed things down. Pale and stricken, she left me alone only to return with a cold-cut sandwich for me. The act surprised me and it also scared me. I could see that she didn’t seem concerned about how all this would make her look to her uppity friends.

Worried, but this time it was for me.

That didn’t make me feel any better, because I knew I had a reason to be worried. My interrogation—er, questioning—went downhill quickly after Ramirez asked who the third person was. He kept asking the same questions in different ways, trying to trip me up. It became clear that he believed I was faking or I wasn’t telling him everything.

Lincoln broke out the lawyer guns. He wanted evidence. Detective Ramirez laid it out plainly. I was the last person to be with her. My “memory loss” was my only defense, the only thing “getting in the way of justice.” Any evidence the police had was circumstantial, but people had been convicted on far less. Lincoln told me and my dad afterward that it would never get to that point. I wanted to believe him, but my paranoia was hitting epic levels.

One of you lived. One of you died.

Pacing the length of my bedroom well into the late hours, I was a nervous, sweaty mess by the time I slid between the covers, pulling them over my head like a child. There, in the safety and isolation of my blanket cocoon, I reasoned things out.

Cassie had been murdered. Skull crushed before she was sent over the cliff. Or maybe on the way down. Either way, she’d been pushed. There was little to no evidence supporting that she’d jumped. It was obvious the police didn’t believe it was a suicide. No water in the lungs. One of two things happened: I’d hit her with something and then pushed her and then somehow fallen off the cliff myself, or there had been another person there who was responsible for everything. Hit Cassie with something, pushed her off the cliff, and then did the same to me—or at least tried. Or she could’ve hit her head on the way down.

One of you lived. One of you died.

I somehow felt closer to Cassie than I ever had before. We were still joined by the secret of that night, a memory I couldn’t reach.

At some point I dozed off, and I dreamed of the cliff, of Cassie and a third person who kept staying out of my direct line of sight, hiding his or her identity from me. I woke up, my skin sticky with cold sweat and the covers twisted around my hips. Tears clung to my lashes.

Minutes passed, and I kept my eyes squeezed shut. I tried counting to one hundred, but I only made it to twenty before tiny bumps spread across my skin. A shiver of awareness alerted me to something unnatural in the room.

My breath slowly leaked out of my lips as my muscles locked up. Someone was in the room with me. Every cell in my body knew this. Too afraid to open my eyes, I remained perfectly still.

An icy breath moved over my brow, down my cheek.

I swallowed, and my eyes popped open against my will and a scream came tearing out of my throat. I wasn’t alone.

Chapter twenty

Swathed in darkness, he leaned over me. All I could see was his chest, but I could feel his breath. I couldn’t move, couldn’t stop screaming as he pulled away. Get up! Hit him! Get away! My brain kept spewing out commands, but my body wouldn’t obey.

He was still there, a cold hand moving along my neck, over my pounding pulse. “Samantha,” he said roughly, voice somewhat familiar. “This shouldn’t have happened.”

Then the lights turned on, blinding me in their startling intensity, and I could move. I jackknifed up, my mouth open, bloodcurdling sounds still coming from me. Arms were suddenly around me, and my shrieks pitched even higher.

“Shh, Sam, it’s okay. Everything is okay. Shh, it’s all right.”

I struggled to recognize the voice and the arms around me. All I kept seeing was the man above me; I felt his cold breath and chilly fingers above my pulse. I couldn’t stop shaking, no matter how soothing the words being whispered in my ear were.

More voices finally broke through—my dad—Mom. It was Scott holding me, trying to snap me out of it.

“What’s going on?” Dad demanded, a black pistol in his hand.

Mom sat beside Scott, placing a hand on my back. “Samantha, baby, talk to us.”

It took several tries to form a coherent sentence. “He was in my bedroom, standing over me! I woke up, and he was there.”

“Who?” Scott asked, pulling back so that his eyes met mine. “Who, Sam?”

Dad rushed to the bedroom windows, fiddling with the locks while I focused on my brother’s face.

“I don’t know, but it was him. It was him.”

Scott’s brows knitted as he glanced over my shoulder. “Was it Del?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Mom snapped, patting my back. “He wouldn’t come in here and scare her like that.”