Archie Sheridan had a paper birthday hat on his head and six bullets in his front pocket. The bullets rattled when he moved, making a clinking sound that no one else seemed able to hear. The hat’s tight elastic band dug at his neck. He pulled at it, feeling the imprint of a ligature mark forming.
“How was the bridge traffic?” Doug asked. Archie guessed that Debbie had sent him over. Go make small talk with the awkward guest.
That’s what he was now, a guest. It still took some getting used to.
“Fine,” Archie said. He rolled the bullets between his fingers. It was a lie; the bridge had been backed up for miles.
Archie saw Doug’s face light up and then turned to see Debbie coming toward them from the kitchen. She was wearing a white chef’s apron and licking frosting off her thumb. Her hair was dark and very short and her body was strong and lean, though Archie supposed he wasn’t supposed to notice that anymore. Doug reached to put his arm around her waist as she stepped next to them, but she gave him a quick look and he pretended to do something else with his arm. No public displays of affection in front of the guest. He might feel bad.
“Archie says the bridge was clear,” Doug said. He was tall and long-limbed, with light brown hair and a wispy beard that made him look like a graduate student. He looked ten years younger than Archie even though they were the same age.
Debbie gave Archie a knowing smile. “Really?” she said. “At this time of day? That would be a first.”
Archie shrugged. He’d grown a beard once, but it had just made him look like a rabbi.
He could hear the kids in the kitchen, but he couldn’t see them. They had stationed him in front of a window in the far corner of the living room, while they frosted the cake. The apartment still smelled like the lasagna Debbie had made for dinner. There were dirty dishes on the table.
The window looked south, over downtown Vancouver. Archie could see the red taillights of airplanes lining up to land at the Portland airport, a barge making its way east down the river, the lights of the new Vancouver library, Fort Vancouver, a movie theater, a digital bank tower clock. Oregon was just on the other side of the Columbia River, a distant, indistinct horizon. Archie lived in Portland. He knew its topography, its skyline, its bridges and landmarks. But the view from Debbie’s window was an unfamiliar landscape.
“It’s not as far as people think,” Debbie said. “If you can avoid rush hour.”
“I know,” Archie said. But the truth was, he wondered sometimes if she had moved far enough. He missed his family, but he knew that the farther away from him they were, the safer he could keep them.
Debbie’s condo was on the tenth floor of a secure building. The kids didn’t have a yard anymore, but no one got in or out of the building without being buzzed in. The elevators required a keycard to operate. Security cameras monitored the hallways. Two security guards were on duty in the building around the clock.
The kids could live without a yard.
“Sara wants to be Gretchen Lowell for Halloween,” Debbie said.
Archie inhaled quickly and coughed.
Debbie patted him on the back. “I already said no
"[Chelsea Cain] creates stories that are razor-sharp in their delivery and heart stopping in their presentation . . . Kill You Twice is one of her best efforts." —The Huffington Post
"With her very first thriller, Heartsick, Chelsea Cain established herself as a grand master of the genre. She wields her words like the sharpest of blades, carving away at reality to create unimaginable horrors—nightmarish crimes best solved by the skills of Detective Archie Sheridan and company . . . Admirable." —Louisville Courier Journal
"Chelsea Cain fills her new novel with dark atmosphere, a quick-thinking, likable hero, fast-moving narrative and plenty of wit.”—The Associated Press on The Night Season
“Heartsick is a dizzying novel. Lurid and suspenseful with well-drawn characters, plenty of grisly surprises and tart dialogue, it delivers.”—The New York Times Book Review