The Silent Wife Page 1

Author: Karin Slaughter

Series: Will Trent #10

Genres: Mystery , Thriller


Beckey Caterino stared into the darkest corners of the dorm refrigerator. She angrily scanned the food labels, searching for her scrawled initials on anything—cottage cheese, Lunchables, bagel bites, vegan hot dogs, even carrot sticks.

KP, Kayleigh Pierce. DL, Deneshia Lachland. VS, Vanessa Sutter.

“Bitches.” Beckey slammed the fridge door hard enough to make the beer bottles rattle. She kicked the closest thing she could find, which happened to be the trashcan.

Empty yogurt containers tumbled out across the floor. Crumpled bags of Skinny Girl popcorn. Diet Coke-swilled bottles. All with two letters written in black magic marker across the front.


Beckey stared at the depleted packages of food that she had bought with her precious little money that her asshole roommates had eaten while she’d spent the night at the library working on a paper that was fifty percent of her Organic Chemistry grade. She was supposed to meet with her professor at seven to make sure she was on the right track.

Her eyes flicked to the clock.

4:57 a.m.

“You fucking bitches!” she screamed up at the ceiling. She turned on every light she could find. Her bare feet burned a track across the hall carpet. She was exhausted. She could barely stand up straight. The bag of Doritos and two giant cinnamon rolls from the library vending machine had turned into concrete inside her stomach. The only thing that had propelled her from the library to the dorm was the promise of nutrition.

“Get up, you thieving bitch!” She banged her fist so hard on Kayleigh’s door that it popped open.

Pot smoke curtained the ceiling. Kayleigh blinked from beneath the sheets. The guy next to her rolled over.

Markus Powell, Vanessa’s boyfriend.

“Shit!” Kayleigh jumped out of bed, naked but for one sock on her left foot.

Beckey banged her fists against the walls as she made her way to her own bedroom. The smallest bedroom, which she had volunteered to take because she was a doormat who didn’t know how to stand up to three girls who were her same age but had double her bank account.

“You can’t tell Nessa!” Kayleigh rushed in behind her, still naked. “It was nothing, Beck. We got drunk and—”

We got drunk and.

Every freaking story these bitches told started with those same four words. When Vanessa had been caught blowing Deneshia’s boyfriend. When Kayleigh’s brother had accidentally peed in the closet. When Deneshia had “borrowed” her underwear. They were always drunk or stoned or screwing around or screwing each other, because this wasn’t college, this was Big Brother where no one could be evicted and everyone got gonorrhea.

“Beck, come on.” Kayleigh rubbed her bare arms. “She was going to break up with him anyway.”

Beckey could either start screaming and never stop or get out of here as fast as possible.


“I’m going for a run.” She yanked open a drawer. She looked for her socks, but of course none of her socks matched. Her favorite sports bra was wadded up under the bed. She grabbed her dirty running shorts out of the basket and settled on two mismatched socks, one of which had a hole in the heel, but getting a blister paled in comparison to staying here, where she would go completely crazy on every living organism.

“Beckey, stop being such an a-hole. You’re hurting my feelings.”

Beckey ignored the whine. She looped her headphones around her neck. She was shocked to find her iPod shuffle exactly where it was supposed to be. Kayleigh was the dorm martyr, all of her crimes committed in service of the greater good. She’d only slept with Markus because Vanessa had broken his heart. The only reason she’d copied from Deneshia’s test was because her mother would be devastated if she failed another class. She’d eaten Beckey’s mac-n-cheese because her father was worried that she was too thin.

“Beck.” Kayleigh moved onto deflection. “Why won’t you talk to me? What’s this really about?”

Beckey was about to tell her exactly what this was about when she happened to notice that her hair clip wasn’t on the nightstand where she always left it.

The oxygen left her lungs.

Kayleigh’s hands flew up in innocence. “I didn’t take it.”

Beckey was momentarily transfixed by the perfectly round areoles of her breasts, which stared up like a second set of eyes.

Kayleigh said, “Dude, okay, I ate your shit from the fridge, but I would never touch your hair clip. You know that.”

Beckey felt a black hole opening up in her chest. The hair clip was cheap plastic, the kind of thing you could buy at the drug store, but it meant more to her than anything in the world because it was the last thing her mother had given her before she’d gotten into her car, left for work and been killed by a drunk driver who was going the wrong way on the interstate.

“Yo, Blair and Dorota, keep the scheming down.” Vanessa’s bedroom door was open. Her eyes were two slits in her sleep-swollen face. She skipped over Kayleigh’s nakedness and went straight to Beckey. “Girl, you can’t go jogging at damn rape o’clock.”

Beckey started running. Past the two bitches. Up the hall. Back into the kitchen. Through the living room. Out the door. Another hallway. Three flights of stairs. The main rec room. The glass front door that needed a key card to get back in but screw that because she had to get away from these monsters. Away from their casual malevolence. Away from their sharp tongues and pointy breasts and cutting looks.

Dew tapped at her legs as she ran across the grassy campus quad. Beckey skirted a concrete barrier and hit the main road. There was still a chill in the air. One by one, the streetlights blinkered off in the dawn light. Shadows hugged the trees. She heard someone cough in the distance. Beckey’s spine was shot through with a sudden shiver.

Rape o’clock.

Like they cared if Beckey got raped. Like they cared if she barely had money for food, that she had to work harder than them, study harder, try harder, run harder, but always, always, no matter how much she pushed herself, she ended up two steps back from where everyone else got to start.

Blair and Dorota.

The popular girl and the sycophantic, chubby maid from Gossip Girl. Two guesses as to who played which part in everybody’s mind.

Beckey slipped on her headphones. She clicked play on the iPod shuffle clipped to the tail of her shirt. Flo Rida started up.

Can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby …

Her feet matched the beat as they hit the ground. She passed through the front gates that separated the campus from the sad little downtown strip. There were no bars or student hang-outs because the university was in a dry county. Her dad said it was like Mayberry, but somehow whiter and more boring. The hardware store. The children’s clinic. The police station. The dress shop. The old guy who owned the diner was hosing down the sidewalk as the sun rose over the treetops. The light gave everything an eerie, orangey-red fire glow. The old guy tipped his baseball hat at Beckey. She stumbled on a crack in the asphalt. Caught herself. Stared straight ahead, pretending like she hadn’t seen him drop the hose and move to help because she wanted to keep at the forefront of her mind the truth that every person on earth was an asshole and her life sucked.

“Beckey,” her mother had said, taking the plastic hair clip out of her purse, “I mean it this time. I want it back.”

The hair clip. Two hinged combs with one of the teeth broken. Tortoiseshell, like a cat. Julia Stiles wore one in 10 Things I Hate About You, which Beckey had watched with her mom a quadrillion times because it was one of the few movies that they both loved.

Kayleigh would not have stolen the clip off of her nightstand. She was a soulless bitch, but she knew what the hair clip meant to Beckey because they had both gotten stoned one night and Beckey had spilled the entire story. That she was in English class when the principal came to get her. That the resources officer had been waiting in the hall and she had freaked out because she had never been in trouble before, but she wasn’t in trouble. Somewhere deep in her body Beckey must’ve known that something was horribly wrong, because when the cop started talking, her hearing had gone in and out like a bad cell connection, stray words cutting through the static—

Mother … interstate … drunk driver …


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