Room Service is a part of the Underlined Paperbacks collection.
Celebrating a birthday isn't fun when there's a killer on the loose in this scream-worthy read from the author of ESCAPE ROOM.
No parents, no rules. Fender, Linnea, Lucas, and Kate are celebrating Kate’s birthday in a luxury hotel. They’re here to have fun and make forever memories. They all know not to bring up what happened last year, especially on this weekend. All that matters is having the most epic time ever.
But the party is over. Someone is leaving messages at their door. Someone who knows exactly what happened a year ago. Someone who wants revenge.
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An Excerpt fromRoom Service
She’s not here.
But what was I expecting? That she’d be waiting for me, here at the harbor? Just because she wrote to me doesn’t mean everything will be the same as it was before.
The letter has been burning inside my pocket all the way here. It was suddenly there on the mat this afternoon, with my name on it, in her handwriting.
I stared at it for a few seconds because I couldn’t believe it was real. But in a few minutes I’ll finally know what it is that she wants to tell me. I really want to read the letter here. In our special place.
I run the last few yards along the jetty.
“Hey! Good evening!”
Startled, I look around. A man is waving at me from a nearby yacht.
I wave back. If she were here now, she’d come up with a name for him. She often made up characters based on complete strangers she saw. She’d think of a name, a profession, and a home life. I always thought she might become a writer when she was older.
The man sails out of the harbor and I’m alone again. I rest my hand on the hard edge of the boat. It’s upside down, propped up on poles, and the space beneath it makes the perfect hiding place. I come here every Friday, even if it’s raining or stormy.
When I’m here, I can pretend, just for a while, that everything is still the same.
I crawl under the boat and take the letter from the inside pocket of my denim jacket. The envelope is a striking gold color. I hold it to my lips and breathe in deeply, hoping to pick up some of her scent.
I recognized her messy handwriting immediately. It’s just as chaotic as her.
The stamp is postmarked with the name of the town where she lives now. I don’t know her exact address. She doesn’t want to be found--certainly not by me.
I think about my friends. If Kate and Lucas knew where I was now, they’d probably freak. They think I practice with the band every Friday evening. They have no idea that the band broke up ages ago. I left last summer, because I couldn’t play anymore. I kept forgetting my solos when we were playing gigs, and my fingers wouldn’t stop shaking.
I only ever use the guitar in my bedroom as something to throw my clothes over now.
My friends don’t have a clue. They’ve both just gotten on with their lives.
Kate was broken at the time, maybe even more than I was. But after the summer break, a miracle occurred.
And that miracle was called Linnea.
Our homeroom teacher sat her next to Kate on the first day of school this year, in the one empty seat.
It was just as if Linnea had come to replace her. A new version, completely intact.
She got Kate to laugh again. I remember hearing that sound again the first day back at school and realizing it had been months since she’d last laughed.
From then on, Linnea was one of us. She came and sat with us at recess, on our bench by the river, and she’ll be there this weekend when Kate celebrates her birthday.
Linnea is everywhere she used to be.
She patched up Kate. Lucas is crazy about her. But she can’t fix me.
I open the envelope and pause for a moment.
What if this letter does even more damage? Maybe it says how much she hates me.
But then I think about the past few months. Hearing nothing from her is still a thousand times worse than hearing something.
The letter is clumsily folded in half. The paper smells of her perfume. The images that the fragrance evokes startle me.
Her body against mine.
Under this boat.
I should have soaked up those moments when I still could.
My hands shaking, I unfold the letter. But as soon as I read the first two sentences, I wish I hadn’t.
There are times when hearing something is worse than hearing nothing.
I never expected to write this, but I can’t go on any longer.
This is my suicide note.
“Tomorrow’s the big day.” Lucas is sitting in our usual spot by the river, staring at the opposite bank, where the setting sun is casting a pink glow over the Riverside Hotel.
I never thought I’d go inside that five-star hotel, but Kate is celebrating her birthday there tomorrow.
“Two rooms.” Kate looks at us. “Far away from my dad and the people from his firm.”
Kate’s dad has a business meeting at the Riverside this weekend and managed to score a couple extra rooms for his daughter. There should normally be one adult per room, but no one’s going to check. Besides, Kate’s dad will be around if anything goes wrong.
“Two rooms? Perfect!” Lucas grins. “So I’m sharing with Linnea?”
“You wish.” By now I’m so used to Lucas making remarks like this that I just fire straight back at him. “You snore.”
“Do too,” says Kate. “Fender says he didn’t sleep a wink at camp because of you.”
“Hey, where is Fender, anyway?”
“Practicing with the band again, of course.” Kate’s face clouds over. I know she doesn’t like it that he doesn’t hang out with us much but, to be honest, it’s fine by me.
The intense way Fender stares at me with those brown eyes--it gives me the shivers. Whenever I have an opinion about something, Fender automatically has to say the opposite. I constantly have to defend myself when he’s around.
Lucas looks back at the opposite bank. “Just as long as he’s there tomorrow, right?”
I lean over the handlebars of my racing bike and speed up. It’s late, but we got to talking about the Riverside and I lost track of the time.
I’m so curious to see inside the fancy five-star hotel, with the huge glass dome above the pool. Apparently you can see the stars through it when you’re swimming on your back.
As I ride my bike past the park, I hesitate for a moment, but it’s by far the shortest route home, so I turn right anyway.
The lampposts shoot past and my bike light swings to and fro.
There’s something eerie about the park in the darkness. The trees tower above, like huge creatures with long arms.
Behind me, I hear a rattling sound coming closer and closer. Another cyclist?
I look back, straight into the bright front light of a dark bike. It’s so big that it’s more like a car’s headlight. Why won’t they just pass me? There’s plenty of room!
I cycle a bit more to the right, but they’re still panting down the back of my neck.
“Go past,” I shout over my shoulder, but there’s no reaction.
I feel my heart pounding. What does this person want from me? Are they some kind of creep?
I should have taken a different route!
I cycle faster, but the distance between us doesn’t increase. In fact, I think it gets smaller.
I lean a bit more forward and go even faster. I’m really quick on my racing bike. I can get to school in just a few minutes.
The rattling behind me is farther away now. I keep pedaling until I think I can’t hear anything.
Cautiously, I look back and then heave a sigh of relief. The bright light is gone. I’ve lost them!
I want to get home as quickly as possible.
But then I see a branch lying in my path. Just in time, I turn left, but I start swerving dangerously. My bike tips and I hit the asphalt with a bang, the handlebar grazing my ribs.
“Ow!” I grab the place where it hurts. For a moment, I lie there, but then I realize that the cyclist could catch up with me at any second. I scramble awkwardly to my feet, clutching my right side.
Here he comes! What does this maniac want from me? You sometimes read stories about girls who . . . I’m about to pick my bike up off the ground when he shouts again.