Read Envy Online

Authors: Gregg Olsen

Tags: #Paranormal, #Fantasy, #Young Adult, #Mystery, #Thriller, #Crime

Envy (4 page)

BOOK: Envy
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As her husband buzz saw-snored next to her, Valerie Ryan said a silent prayer. She wanted to send something out into the universe that would provide some healing. She was a believer in the power of a positive message.

Katelyn, stay close to your mom and dad. They need you and they will never stop loving you. Where we are living now is not the end of things. You aren’t dust. You aren’t alive only in a memory.

Almost two hundred miles away in Portland, Colton James felt sick to his stomach about what had transpired just a few doors down from his house in Port Gamble. He wasn’t stunned about it, like his mother and father were. Colton had seen Katelyn over the past few months as she declined from a reasonably upbeat, moody teenager to a more sullen and distracted person. He read the text message from Hayley and texted back. Usually he was a brief texter, just a few words or even a solitary letter to convey what he wanted to say. This time he wrote out his thoughts more fully. He wanted to share. He needed to make a point.

I’M BUMMED ABOUT HER 2. SHE WZ WEIRD LATELY, BUT ALW NICE 2 ME & MY MOM. SHE 1CE GOT MY MOM’S PAMPERED CHEF PIZZA CRAP @ HER HOUSE. SHE MADE 4 KINDS OF PIZZA W/MY MOM. SHE REALLY LYKD KATELYN. SAID SHE WZ SPECIAL. WISH WE CUD TURN BACK TYM & CHNG THE 1 LIL THING THAT WUD CHNG EVRYTING. DUM, RIGHT? THINGS LYK THAT CAN’T HPN.

Next door to the Berkleys, Starla Larsen picked up her phone and touched the Facebook icon. There were lots of messages posted about Katelyn on her wall, as well as just about every other wall belonging to anyone who attended Kingston High. She went over to Katelyn’s wall. Starla hadn’t been there in a while.

Katelyn’s profile picture was of the two of them together, taken when they were Girl Scout Daisies. Both little girls were smiling widely to show off their missing front teeth. Starla hated that photograph for the longest time, but just then it brought a sad smile to her face. She decided she should weigh in with a post on Katelyn’s wall too. She liked to post snarky things about people and then add a smiley face to act like she was joking when she really wasn’t. She knew she did that because other kids expected her to be sharp, funny, and a little caustic; it was because of the way she looked—she was better than just pretty.

SO
ABOUT KATIE. DON’T KNOW HOW I WILL SLEEP 2NIGHT.
THE WORLD WAS NEVER VERY KIND 2 HER. HUGS 2U, KATIE.

Starla reached for the nail-polish remover while she sat there for a while watching the “Likes” come one after another. Several kids posted comments too.

WE’RE THINKING OF U, STARLA.
KATIE SEEMED SWEET. WISH I KNEW HER BTR.
WORLD SUX BIG TIME.
LUV U, STAR! BE STRONG!

Starla looked over at her cache of Sephora nail lacquers set up like a ten-pin bowling alley. In the back she saw the green polish that she and Katelyn had used in eighth grade when they each bought bottles and decided to glam up for St. Patrick’s Day. The color was more evergreen than kelly. The memory brought a genuine smile to her face as she turned the Rimmel London bottle in her hands. The color was called Envy.

Tears came to Starla’s crystal-blue eyes, brought on by a mix of regret, sorrow, and guilt.

I’m so sorry, Katie
, she said to herself.
I wish you knew that.

And finally, not far away, one person got online and started deleting the contents of a file folder marked katelyn. Inside were copies of e-mails, messages, and photographs that had meant to trap and hurt the girl. Each item had been designed as payback.

Delete.

Delete.

Delete.

chapter 5

IT WAS THE DESTINY OF A PLACE LIKE PORT GAMBLE. It snowed hard
after
Christmas. The land management company that kept the town in pristine and marketable form would have offered up a virgin (if there was one handy, that is) to have a little snow sprinkle the town the week before the holidays when it had its annual old-fashioned Christmas celebration, “In the St. Nick of Time.” But no such luck. It had been cold, wet, and rainy. When the snow finally came, it dumped five inches—a blizzard by western Washington standards. If school had been in session, it easily would have been canceled.

Kids in the area were annoyed about the timing of it all as well. Snow was no good to them if it didn’t mean a snow day or two. They were
already
on vacation. It was an utter waste of an arctic blast.

Hayley and Taylor trudged through the snow to hang out with Beth Lee for the afternoon. Beth and her boyfriend, Zander Tomlinson, had broken up the day before Christmas and, with Katelyn Berkley’s unexpected death, the topic outside of rampant text messages had been tabled.

“I had no choice but to drop him,” Beth told them, elaborating on her text message:
DUMPED Z. DEETS L8R.

Hayley was the first to pounce. “What did you mean you dumped him? Clearly, you had a choice.”

Beth, who seemed fixated on a zit on her chin, didn’t look at the twins as she spoke. She sat on the floor in front of the fireplace with a mirror in her hand and a pair of tweezers in the other. “I found a really cute dress and I had to have it.”

“Yeah?” Taylor said, taking a seat on the Lees’ way-too-big-for-theroom brown velvet sectional in house number 25. “Go on.”

Beth tightened her chin and picked at her pimple. “I didn’t have any money left over. I knew he was going to get me something for Christmas and I didn’t have a thing to give him. So I dumped him. Called him from the mall and said I wasn’t feeling it anymore.”

Taylor shook her head. “You’re so not kidding? You dumped him because you spent your Christmas cash?”

Beth looked up. “Yeah. So what? I’d rather hurt him than look stupid or cheap.”

“Right,” Taylor said. “Looking cheap or selfish is way worse than hurting someone. He really liked you!”

Beth ignored the sarcasm and Hayley spoke up. “I hate to say it, but you’re acting like Starla, Beth.”

“I’ll take that as kind of a compliment,” she said.

“It wasn’t meant to be a positive reflection on you or the situation.”

“Whatever. Anyway, I heard something about her,” Beth said, changing the subject like she was baiting a hook.

Of course Starla Larsen-centric gossip was always good. She was the Port Gamble girl everyone love-hated.

Taylor leaned forward expectantly. “Are you gonna tell us or what? Just pop that disgusting zit already and spill it!”

“That’s so gross,” Beth said. “And kind of mean.” She waited a beat, watching the twins, measuring their interest in all she had to say. The hook had been set.

Another beat.

“Starla and Katelyn had a major falling out,” she finally said.

“How major?” Taylor asked.

“Big time. Before she died, Katelyn told her mother that she hated Starla and that she wished Starla was dead or something.”

This time Hayley pressed for more. Her father would have been proud. “How do you know she said that?”

Beth rotated the hand mirror to get a better look at herself. “I heard Mrs. Larsen and Mrs. Berkley talking a few weeks ago. They were in the store buying coffee or hairspray or whatever it is women of their age need to get through the day. Mrs. Larsen was defending Starla, saying that it had been a big misunderstanding. But Mrs. Berkley wasn’t having any of it.”

Beth stopped talking. Her face beamed with a satisfied grin. “Got it,” she said, as she held out her tweezers. “Popped and
no
nasty hole. Who wants something to eat?”

Hayley and Taylor, thoroughly grossed out by what they’d seen, shook their heads in unison.

“That’s it? Was there more?” Taylor asked, pushing.

“I really didn’t listen, Taylor,” Beth said, clearly ready to move on from the Starla/Katelyn drama. “I saw that new kid Eli there, and I was trying to get him to notice me.”

Taylor smiled to herself and looked at her sister. Despite Beth’s constant need to be aloof, pretending indifference all the time, she knew who was who. “Hay-Tay” had always been her way of pretending to put up a wall. So what if Beth was completely self-absorbed? She was also an astute judge of what was worth passing along
and
when. They liked her.

Besides, in Port Gamble there weren’t a lot of choices for the mantle of best friend.

“But, Beth, didn’t you really like Zander?” Hayley asked. “Of all your boyfriends, he seemed to stay in your good graces the longest.”

“And that’s no easy feat,” Taylor added.

Beth curled up on the couch. “Is this pick-on-me time or what?” “No, not at all,” Hayley said.

Beth shrugged a little. “Too bad. I like it when you tease me a little. Makes me feel kind of like I’m the third twin,” she said, pausing a beat. “The smart one. The
pretty
one.”

Both twins knew there was some truth to that. Not that Beth was prettier or smarter, but that Beth was sometimes lonely being an only child. They’d never known a moment when they hadn’t had each other.

“You can be whatever you want to be, Beth. But please, promise that next time you’ll pay attention when you’re in the vicinity of some good info.”

Beth smiled. “All right. And I’ll make sure that you’re two of the top ten people I’ll tell first.”

Hayley’s and Taylor’s phones buzzed.

“That must be Mom,” Hayley said. “She’s spamming us with mass texts.”

Taylor looked at the message from their mother and closed the phone. She looked a little upset, but she tried to hide it as she slid the phone back into her pocket.

“What’s up?” Beth asked, watching Hayley as she shut her phone with the same kind of reaction.

“A reporter found out that Katelyn was in the crash,” Hayley explained. “She’s writing a story about Katelyn, her death, and the crash.”

Again, the crash.

“Freak! Haven’t they milked that one for all it’s worth by now?” Beth asked.

“Not from this angle,” Taylor said. “Katelyn surviving the crash only to die now makes her death even sadder.”

Inside, she could feel her heart rate escalate. The idea of reliving the crash, talking about it, and having others talk about it again made her feel sick to her stomach too. It was funny how the word
crash
could have that strange effect on her. It didn’t have to be
the
crash. Just any crash. It wasn’t because the memories of what happened were so awful to relive.

It was because neither she nor her sister had any recollections whatsoever of what happened that rainy afternoon all those years ago.

Not a single one.

chapter 6

WHAT REMAINED OF KATELYN BERKLEY was transferred onto a stainless-steel table ringed by a gleaming trough of running water.
Gushing water.
The rushing flow around Katelyn would help eliminate all the blood that would spew forth once deep, hacking cuts were made on her torso. Her eyes were closed and, even more positively and importantly,
she was dead
. And yet, for anyone who knew Katelyn, there was a deserved measure of empathy for the humiliation of it all. Indeed, it was only one of the many indignities that are required when a young, healthy person dies. Strangers would be looking at her body.
Her naked body
. Then they’d begin the practice of cutting her open like a split chinook salmon as they reviewed and measured the contents of her chest, her stomach, and even her brain. In the instance that she took her last breath, she’d unwittingly given herself over to strangers—strangers with blades. If she’d killed herself and sought refuge from pain, real or imagined, she’d made a mistake.

Katelyn didn’t fade away or cross over to some kind of nothingness. Instead, she ended up as a piece of evidence, a high beam of light on her, in the county morgue in Port Orchard—a place where she would have refused to be caught dead in … unless she were really dead.

And there’d be no say in it wherever she was.

While no one seriously suspected foul play in Katelyn’s death—there wasn’t any reason to, really—the Kitsap County coroner’s office protocol required the most invasive of techniques before Sandra and Harper Berkley could lay their only daughter to rest in Port Gamble’s Buena Vista Cemetery. And, what with reduced holiday staffing and ensuing police investigation, it would take a while.

Rest.
As if rest were even possible since her parents were unable to stop arguing long enough to make sure that their baby was remembered for all the love she’d given them, rather than the pain she’d left them to endure.

There she was, on the pathologist’s table, her green painted toenails facing up, ready to relinquish any last shred of modesty. Katelyn Melissa Berkley had died a horrible, tragic death in the bathtub of her Port Gamble home. She’d arrived by ambulance late, late Christmas night, and, like some leftover holiday ham, she’d been held for three days in the cooler of the county’s basement morgue in an old house on Sidney Avenue, next to the Kitsap County Courthouse.

With her assistant looking on, county forensic pathologist Birdy Waterman passed an ultraviolet light over Katelyn’s skin. She started with the dead girl’s neck and moved the beam down her small breasts and stomach.

“There’s some cutting on her arms. More on her stomach. New ones on her arms,” she said in a matter-of-fact voice that was a mask for her emotions. Among the things that Dr. Waterman loathed above all others was a child on her stainless-steel table.

BOOK: Envy
10.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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