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He Will be My Ruin
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11 hrs 39 mins
Twenty-eight-year-old Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a bottle of Xanax and a handle of Maker’s Mark, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers secrets in the childhood lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man who Celine herself claimed would be her ruin.
On the hunt for answers that will force the police to reopen the case, Maggie uncovers more than she bargained for about Celine’s private life—and inadvertently puts herself on the radar of a killer who will stop at nothing to keep his crimes undiscovered.
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December 23, 2015
My wrists burn.
Hours of trying to break free of the rope that binds my hands behind my back have left them raw, the rough cord scrubbing away my skin and cutting into my flesh. I’m sure I’ll have unsightly scars.
Not that it will matter when I’m dead.
I resigned myself to that reality around the time that I finally let go of my bladder. Now I simply lie here, in a pool of urine and vomit, my teeth numb from knocking with each bump in the road, my body frozen by the cold.
Trying to ignore the darkness as I fight against the panic that consumes me. I could suffocate from the anxiety alone.
He knows that.
Now he’s exploiting it. That must be what he does—he uncovers your secrets, your fears, your flaws—and he uses them against you. He did it to Celine.
And now he’s doing it to me.
That’s why I’m in a cramped trunk, my lungs working overtime against a limited supply of oxygen while my imagination runs wild with what may be waiting for me at the end of this ride.
My racing heart ready to explode.
The car hits an especially deep pothole, rattling my bones. I’ve been trapped in here for so long. Hours. Days. I have no idea. Long enough to run through every mistake that I made.
How I trusted him, how I fell for his charm, how I believed his lies. How I made it so easy for him to do this to me.
How Celine made it so easy for him, by letting him get close.
Before he killed her.
Just like he’s going to kill me.
November 30, 2015
The afternoon sun beams through the narrow window, casting a warm glow over Celine’s floral comforter.
It would be inviting, only her body was found in this very bed just thirteen days ago.
“Yeah,” I respond without actually turning around, my gaze taking in the cramped bedroom before me. I’ve never been a fan of New York City and all its overpriced boroughs. Too big, too busy, too pretentious. Take this Lower East Side apartment, for example, on the third floor of a drafty building built in the 1800s, with a ladder of shaky fire escapes facing the side alley and a kitschy gelato café downstairs. It costs more per month than the average American hands the bank in mortgage payments.
And Celine adored it.
“I’m in 410 if you just . . . want to come and find me.”
I finally turn and acknowledge the building super—a chestnut-haired English guy around thirty by my guess, with a layer of scruff over his jawline and faded blue jeans—edging toward the door. Given the apartment is 475 square feet, it doesn’t take him long to reach it.
I think he gave me his name but I wasn’t listening. I’ve barely said two words since I met him in front of Celine’s apartment, armed with a stack of cardboard flats and trash bags. An orchestra of clocks that softly tick away claim that that was nearly half an hour ago. I’ve simply stood here since then, feeling the brick-exposed walls—lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and filled with the impressive collection of treasures that Celine had amassed over her twenty-eight years—closing in on me.
But now I feel the need to speak. “You were the one who let the police in?” Celine never missed work, never arrived late. That’s why, after not showing up for two days and not answering her phone or her door, her coworker finally called the cops.
The super nods.
“You saw her?”
His eyes flicker to the thin wall that divides the bedroom from the rest of the apartment—its only purpose is to allow the building’s owner to charge rent for a “one-bedroom” instead of a studio. There’s not even enough room for a door. Yes, he saw her body. “She seemed really nice,” he offers, his throat turning scratchy, shifting on his feet. He’d rather be unplugging a shit-filled toilet than be here right now. I don’t blame him. “Uh . . . So you can just slide the key through the mail slot in my door when you’re finished, if you want? I’ll be home later tonight to grab it.”
Under different circumstances, I’d find his accent charming. “I’ll be staying here for a while.”
He frowns. “You can’t—”
“Yeah, I can,” I snap, cutting his objection off. “We’re on the hook with the lease until the end of January, right? So don’t even think of telling me that I can’t.” I’m in no rush to empty this place out so some jackass landlord can rent it next month and pocket my money. Plus . . . My gaze drifts over the living room again. I just need to be in Celine’s presence for a while, even if she’s not here anymore.
“Of course. I’m just . . .” He bites his bottom lip as if to stall a snippy response. When he speaks again, his tone is back to soft. “The mattress, the bedding, it’ll all need to be replaced. I would have already pitched it for you, but I figured that it wasn’t my call to make. I pulled the blanket up to cover the mess and tried to air the place out, but . . .”