"If you think you know how this one will end, I promise, you don't." —Kara Thomas, author of That Weekend and The Cheerleaders
For fans of They Wish They Were Us and Sadie comes a propulsive thriller that reminds us that in real life, endings are rarely as neat as happily ever after. A contemporary take on the Lizzie Borden story that explores how grief can cut deep.
Charlotte lost her mother six months ago, and still no one will tell her exactly what happened the day she mysteriously died. They say her heart stopped, but Charlotte knows deep down that there's more to the story.
The only person who gets it is Charlotte's sister, Maddi. Maddi agrees—people’s hearts don’t just stop. There are too many questions left unanswered for the girls to move on.
But their father is moving on. With their mother’s personal assistant. And both girls are sure of one thing: she's going to steal everything that's theirs for herself. She'll even get rid of them eventually.
Now, in order to get their lives back, Charlotte and Maddi have to decide what kind of story they live in. Do they remain the obedient girls their father insists they be, or do they follow their rage to the end?
An Excerpt fromIt Will End Like This
A woman in black stands at the foot of my bed. Her hair is long and dark and covers her face. I don’t know who she is or why she’s here, but she keeps saying the same thing.
“She’s dead. She’s dead.”
My body is stuck to my bed. I can’t move my arms or legs. I turn my head and look out the window. A crow sits on the sill and looks in at me through the glass.
“She’s dead,” the crow says. Its eyes are huge and dark green. And when it speaks, it sounds afraid. I can sense its fear—it washes over my body like a cold shower.
“She’s dead,” the woman cries again. Only, each time she says it, her voice cracks more and more, and I hear tears, and something else, hiding in her throat.
It’s so dark I almost can’t see the woman. But I can feel her. Feel her presence.
Who is she? Who has died?
I look back at the crow, and a tear falls out of its big green eye.
“Wake up, wake up!” the crow cries. Loud and familiar in my ear.
I try to move my body, but can’t.
“Charlotte, she’s dead, wake up. Wake up.”
The woman in black comes close to me, and then reaches down and shakes my shoulders. I’m paralyzed. Unable to move away. I see that she’s covered in blood. She reaches out to me again, and I close my eyes tight.
“She’s dead,” she whispers right into my ear.
That’s when I wake up. But the voice doesn’t stop. My eyes focus, and I look up and see my older sister, Maddi, standing above me. She cries when she speaks.
“What?” I say, my voice hoarse with sleep and nightmares.
Maddi sits down at my feet and puts her face in her hands and sobs. Big loud sobs. It reminds me of a dog howling.
That dream felt so real. So vivid.
“What’s going on?” I shout.
“She’s dead, Charlotte. Mom is dead. An ambulance is on the way to come and get her,” Maddi says. I don’t recognize the look in her eyes.
I sit up fast and grab Maddi’s arm and shake her. My head spins for a moment, but then stills when I look at my sister. She sits there, like she’s lost all ability to move. Her arms limp and thin.
“What are you talking about? How? What happened?”
This must be a joke. I just saw Mom before I went to sleep. I hugged her before bed. She was fine. She was breathing. She was healthy.
“Out by the beach. Dad found her,” Maddi can hardly finish the sentence. I’ve never heard her like this before. Frightened. Scared. Heartbroken.
After the baby died, Mom started having fears. Weird fears. Fears that made her believe that something was eating her from the inside out, that something was killing her, but that’s all they were, fears.
Sometimes I would worry about her. But after months of dealing with it, I decided to let it go. Pretended I didn’t care that she was afraid.
How could I have been so stupid?
How could her fears have come true?
“That’s a lie. You’re lying. She’s asleep,” I shout, and get out of bed. Then I run out of my room and down the dark hallway, to Mom and Dad’s room. I’m dizzy with sleep and the feeling of sick hits my stomach, but I ignore it.
“Where is she? Where’s Mom?” I scream when I open the bedroom door. But no one’s there except Mom’s assistant, Amber. She’s making the bed and crying.
There’s a lamp on by Mom’s side of the bed.
Dad isn’t here.
Is he out there with her? With Mom?
The light from the lamp washes the room in yellow. There’s a shadow on the wall from where Amber stands. She drops the pale blue comforter in her hands when she sees me.
“Where is she? Take me to my mom.” I try to hold back the scream that’s building deep inside my chest.
“Charlotte,” Amber says. She opens her arms for me and I go to her and hug her. She smells like flour and sweat. She holds me tight.
“What happened?” I say into her shoulder. My head feels like it’s going to explode, and my heart has shattered. To bits and pieces.
This isn’t true.
This is just another bad dream.
Another bad dream that I need to wake myself up from.
You don’t just die.
Wake up, Charlotte. Wake up, you’re asleep.
How can someone just suddenly die?
“I don’t know. I don’t know,” Amber says. She holds me tight in a hug for a long time.
I blink as many times as I can, but I know this isn’t a dream. That I’m living this moment, right now.
My mother isn’t here.
“How?” I pull away from Amber and fall to the floor. I touch the soft white carpet, to make sure I can still move my arms. Move my hands. To make sure I’m still here.
Over and over and over I think this. Over and over I ask myself.
“Is she outside? Can’t I go check on her? Just to make sure it’s her? It’s actually my mom?” I look up at Amber. I hadn’t realized how much taller she was than me. Not until now. Not until this moment.
“An ambulance is on the way, Charlotte. You can’t go outside right now,” Amber says.
I try not to picture Mom out there. But I can’t get the image out of my head. Her body, out by the water. Bloated and cold. I’m going to puke. I know I’m going to.
Where is she?
It’s not her. She can’t be dead.
It’s not my mom. It’s someone else.
She can’t be dead.
“She’s gone. Your mother is gone.”
“Charlotte, get up. We’re gonna be late for school.”
I lie in bed and stare up at the ceiling.
It’s been four months.
Four months since I’ve gone to school, yet every morning Maddi pops her head into my room and tells me to get up. I try not to let it get under my skin, but it does. Because she knows I’m not interested. Knows I don’t ever want to go back there. To show my face there. And to be honest, I’m sure no one wants to see me there, either.
Maybe she wants things to be normal again, but I know that can’t happen. She must know that can’t happen.
Nothing will ever be the same.
She needs to leave me alone.
She needs to go away.
My door squeaks as Maddi opens it and walks in. She’s wearing a sundress. It’s pink with white flowers. It reminds me of raspberry sorbet. Mom bought the dress for her a few years back. I remember because Mom bought my favorite white dress for me then, too. The one I wore to the funeral. It was the only thing she ever did that was remotely religious, buying us Easter dresses.
Maddi brings spring and life into my room even though I know it’s cold and dark outside. I can hear waves crashing against rocks in the distance.
The perks of living in a beach house.
That sound used to give me comfort. Used to soothe me to sleep.
Now it makes my skin crawl. A constant reminder of Mom. Of where she was found.
It’s cold in my room today. Winter is just around the corner, but Maddi hasn’t packed her summer clothes away yet.
I wonder if she will.
They remind me of Mom. I wonder if they remind her of Mom, too.
Maybe that’s why she wears them.
“You look nice.” I sit up. My room’s a wreck. I haven’t folded my laundry in weeks. There are empty soda cans, glasses of water, and candy wrappers scattered about. Sometimes Maddi will come in and clean up for me, but mostly my room just stays the way it is.
I’ve been wearing the same sweater and leggings for the last couple of days. I can smell myself, but it’s easier than doing laundry.
I’m such a slob.
I don’t even care that I’m a slob.
“Let’s go to school together today. Please?” Maddi is just eleven months older than me. I’m sixteen and she’s seventeen. We’ve always been really close, but the last few months we haven’t spent as much time together.