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Some Shall Break
By Ellie Marney
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After a harrowingly close contact with juvenile sociopath Simon Gutmunsson, junior FBI consultants Emma Lewis and Travis Bell went their separate ways: Emma rejected her Quantico offer and Travis stayed to train within a new unit of the FBI Behavioral Science division. But the unit’s latest case is feeling eerily familiar and Kristin Gutmunsson—Simon Gutmunsson’s eccentric twin—reaches out to Travis to send a warning: Emma is in peril.
When Travis and Kristin turn up evidence that points back to Daniel Huxton, the serial killer that Emma had escaped, things become more complicated. With a copycat on the loose, Emma returns to Quantico and is thrown back into her past traumas. Compelled to prevent more tragedy—even if it means putting herself in danger—Emma turns to Simon for help once again. But Simon is keeping secrets that could impact their entire investigation. Will the team be able to stop the Huxton copycat before time runs out for his next victims?
In a dark, unfamiliar bedroom in Beechview, Pittsburgh, Patricia Doricott, a twenty-year-old Duquesne poli-sci major, wakes up groggy.
She lies there for a second until her brain regurgitates the cab ride to Stanley Theatre with Fletch and Lori. The concert. Patricia’s older brother, Tom, bought the tickets for her as a gift, so she was glad Elvis Costello delivered. The music was great.
Her memory is hazy post-concert. She remembers afterward, another cab to Zack’s on Fourth Avenue. Then another club: getting drinks, chatting to a guy at the bar. It was crowded. There were any number of drinks. She’s gone home with someone, which is not a first, but it’s the first time she can’t remember the guy’s name.
The bedroom she’s in now smells of some kind of nauseating air freshener. She makes out a nightstand but no lamp. The room is damn dark: Maybe she just can’t see the lamp? Her mouth tastes terrible and her head hurts. Fumbling off the blanket, she realizes she’s still in her clothes. Not the typical Walk of Shame scenario, then. Patti stubs her toe on the way to the door, then twists the handle and opens onto—
A white hallway with dark dado and beige carpet, wincingly bright. She has the world’s most awful headache. Framed pictures in the hall show her reflection in the glass. Her dark hair has gone from tousled to bird’s nest, yeesh.
But framed pictures mean she’s in a house, not a dorm room. Okay, this is better. Easier, in some ways. Just say hi to the guy, thanks for being a gentleman, ask to call a cab, get home.
Patti walks onward until the hallway reaches stairs. She descends slowly, holding the banister, turns right past a front door, walks until the trail spills her out into the kitchen. A plain wooden table with one place setting: a bowl, spoon, glass of water, white coffee cup in a saucer. A box of Cheerios and a carton of milk on the table. Maybe the guy has gone to work. She’s honestly trying to remember his name, but that information lives somewhere just out of reach.
She sits at the table and drinks the water, wishing her head wasn’t fracturing everything into bright, painful prisms. Low music, somewhere farther away—KC and the Sunshine Band. Jesus, how much did she have to drink?
The sound of a door opening, closing, and a young man walks into the kitchen. Tallish, medium build, brown hair, white dress shirt and dark trousers, cute professor glasses. He looks like the guy from the bar, but she can’t be sure.
“Hi, honey,” he says cheerfully.
“Hi,” Patti replies, but she is thinking, What?
He takes the chair opposite, across the table. “How are you feeling?”
“Uh, yeah.” Her tongue, thick in her mouth. “Like my head got steamrollered.”
“Oh, would you like something for that?” He grubs in his trouser pocket, pulls out a blister pack of tablets. Pops two and pushes them across the tabletop. “Here you go. Tylenol.”
“Thanks, it’s fine. I’ll wait until I get home.” Better not to accept strange tablets. Nice place, do you mind if I call a cab? She rehearses mentally as she sips the water.
The guy cocks his head and smiles. “You do look so much like her.”
“It’s nothing. Would you like me to show you to the bathroom?”
“Uh, if you wouldn’t mind. Then I should probably call a cab.”
“Sure.” He smiles again as he rises from his seat and hurries over to help ease Patti’s chair out from the table. “Follow me.”
He leads her back the way she came. The music murmur fades the farther they get upstairs. Patti’s trying not to trip over her feet. How embarrassing. No wonder she woke up in her clothes.
Confession time. “I’m sorry, but what was your name again?”
“Peter.” He looks over his shoulder as they reach the hallway, walk past the pictures. “And you’re Patricia?”
“Peter and Patricia. Sounds nice together, don’t you think?”
“Here we are.” He angles to open a door on the left side of the hallway.
White bathroom, not huge, compact. A showerhead on the wall over a bathtub. A toilet, a freestanding sink. Security bars on the window, which is pretty standard for Pittsburgh, although not usually on the second story.
“I’ll just leave you to freshen up,” Peter says, smiling away.
He closes the door. There’s no lock but Patti needs to pee, so she uses the toilet, washing her hands after and splashing her face for good measure. This headache is not going anywhere, god. Another twenty minutes of polite conversation while she calls a cab and waits, then skedaddle. She’s looking forward to getting in the cab.
Half her makeup comes off on the hand towel. She can’t see her panda eyes because there’s no mirror in here. Weird.
A knock on the bathroom door, and it swings open a foot. Peter, smiling again—he has a real commitment to smiling. It’s a bit more than she can deal with right now.
“Brought you something you’ve always wanted…” His voice is singsong.
Peter bites his bottom lip. Swings the door wider. He’s holding a clothes hanger up high, and suspended from the hanger is a long white dress. “I know, I know—I’m not supposed to see. But it’s a special occasion.”
“I don’t want to hurry you, but you should get changed quick so we can get started.”
Peter is smiling now in a different way. His eyes are glinting. The dress has pearlescent sequined roses around the bodice. In Patti’s fuzzy state, it takes a moment to register.
Then it all comes into focus.
The white dress. News reports.
When she looks back at Peter, he’s got a long-barreled gun of some bright metal in his other hand. He holds it across his chest. The cock of the trigger echoes loudly in the security-barred bathroom.
“Come on, Patricia.” He smiles and smiles. “I can’t wait to get started.”
Patti Doricott begins to cry.
Kristin Gutmunsson, twin sister of the most infamous juvenile serial murderer in American history, watches the oak trees through a window one floor above the Quantico library. The outside leaves ripple in a breeze. Insulated behind the window, Kristin cannot feel the breeze, but she can imagine the coolness of it.
Kristin has a richly developed imaginary life, and right now she is using it to tune out the people talking at her.
She feels nostalgic, looking at the oaks. In her mind, she and her brother, Simon, are lying down together under the big oak in the back garden of the Massachusetts house. It is the end of the summer of ’78, and they’ve played croquet all afternoon with Janet and Marlowe. Once their friends left, Simon and Kristin finished the game without them. Now, with the sun lowering, the grass is pleasantly shaded.
Simon reclines with the bottle of lemon water from the tray. Kristin flops beside him, her hair spun out like a silver fan. Simon plays with it idly as they pass the bottle back and forth.
“You’ve got grass stains on your skirt,” he notes.
“And a sweaty face.” She swipes the long cotton sleeve of her blouse against her forehead.
Simon gives her the handkerchief from his trouser pocket. His snowy hair matches her own, and they are both wearing croquet whites. Against the bed of verdant lawn and fall’s first russet oak leaves, Kristin imagines that she and her twin look like a sculpture of marble angels.
“You were very mean to Marlowe,” she says. “I think that’s why he and Janet went home.”
Simon shifts to lean on his elbows, looking at the sky. “I’m not mean to Marlowe. He brings it on himself. I wanted to play, not watch Marlowe make cow eyes at you all afternoon.”
“I like the cow eyes.”
“I like Marlowe.” Kristin traces a gnat’s flight in the air above them with her finger. “I think he wants to ask me out.”
“It’s a shame, then, that he’s already dating Janet.”
“I know.” Kristin makes a vexed frown. “It’s most annoying.”
Simon laughs. Kristin loves to see him laugh more than anything. She loves her brother most when he is at his most free. Every pointed edge of him seems to smooth away. At fifteen, she senses him becoming sharper.
And he grew up to become the keenest blade. The knowledge of what her brother is tinges Kristin’s thoughts with melancholy. A few short months after this pastoral scene, Simon will lead Marlowe to a small clearing at the edge of the woods outside town and open up his innards to the air.…
“Kristin? What do you think?”
She looks away from the window, half-tumbled in the memory. Travis Bell is the person calling her name. She understands why Bell sometimes seems uncomfortable working with her. Yes, they both survived the fiasco of the Butcher case, three months ago. But she is the sister of his father’s murderer. Socially, it makes things rather awkward.
They also look like perfect opposites, her white skin and hair next to his dark Mexican American coloring. He’s standing now in his G-man suit, jacket open and hands on hips. Bell’s father was a US Marshal, and Bell has inherited a measure of law enforcement attitude. But his social intelligence is above standard, and Kristin is intrigued by his personal development. She wonders if he’s aware that his empathy—and his attractiveness—may be a liability in the bureau. Bell is young, but he has one of those faces that will become even more rugged and interesting with age. He is still in training and doesn’t yet have the closed-off expressions of a proper FBI agent.
Kristin looks back to the window. “I don’t think you need more explanation from me. I mean, I appreciate that you’ve kindly allowed me to visit you here at Quantico, but I’ve already given you my opinion about what you have to do.”
Special Agent Howard Carter’s baritone. “Miss Gutmunsson—”
“I knew it after the first girl’s case appeared in the newspaper, of course, but I wasn’t completely sure. By the second girl, I was sure. That’s why I contacted Mr. Bell last month, to give him my instinct. I asked to come here today because I wanted you to confirm it, and act on it.”
“It can’t be just about instinct, Miss Gutmunsson.”
Kristin turns again to face the room. A long table of some beige wood runs down its length, a Rolm business-phone unit set in the middle. The briefing room is this afternoon’s temporary location while the basement area of FBI Behavioral Science is being fumigated. Light from the windows makes the blond brick walls and tan carpet glow.
“Instinct is only useful with evidence,” Carter reiterates. “We have to compare the evidence.”
Special Agent Howard Carter stands at the opposite side of the table to Bell. Carter is a Black man in his early fifties, with a close-cropped beard and mustache. He is wearing a brown three-piece suit, and his glasses are on a chain. Carter is reasonably smart, Kristin suspects. He presents as reserved and calm, even when he is frowning like this. His facial expressions are much more standard FBI.
Kristin tries again. “Then examine the evidence—I’m sure you’ve started doing that already. Because I know what this is, and I think you know what this is.”
Carter nods, slow and reluctant. “We have been tracking some superficial similarities between these new murders and the Huxton case—”
“You see? So you already know. And you know you need to call Emma.”
“Kristin,” Bell says. Low, warning.
“The flowers at the crime scenes are a different touch, certainly. So is the posing and the locations of the bodies. But even without all the same elements, the flavor is the same.”
The mention of flavor seems to make Bell uneasy. “Daniel Huxton died in 1979. We’ve got photos. We’ve got autopsy reports—”
“Obviously I’m not saying it’s the same man. But I know it feels similar enough. You should call her.”
Bell chews his bottom lip, exchanges a look with Carter. “Is Agent Martino still on the ground in Pittsburgh?”
Carter nods. “Day after Labor Day though, he’ll be trying to get caught up on any backlog. He might be hard to contact. You want to talk with him about it?”
“Maybe, yeah,” Bell concedes.
“You reviewed the Huxton case file?”
“I had to.” Bell doesn’t seem very comfortable about it.
“Did it feel disloyal to Emma, to read the file?” Kristin asks. She is not interested in procedure, only in feelings.
Bell ignores her question, directs his words to Carter. “I’ll talk to Martino.”
She prods again. “Did it make you angry, to read it?”
A fast glare from Bell. Yes, angry.
Carter seems to settle something in his own mind. “All right, thank you for your… instinct, Miss Gutmunsson. I’ll order a thorough literature review. Everything we have on Huxton, cross-referenced with what we have on this case.”
Kristin isn’t sure why they’re being so dense. “And who’s going to call Emma?”
Bell sighs. “Emma deserves a break. I’m not gonna call her just on a hunch. She doesn’t need to deal with all this stuff again—”
“Are you being deliberately stupid?” Kristin blinks at him. “Travis, you’ve seen the pictures of the victims. Small, slim, dark-haired, college-aged…”
Something crackles behind Bell’s eyes. “She’s in Columbus.”
“That’s only three hours from Pittsburgh.”
Now, at last, a little panic in his face.
“Okay,” Carter says. “I hear what you’re saying, Miss Gutmunsson, but let’s not rush into anything. Let’s complete the review, the cross-referencing—”
“You really think she’s in danger?” Bell blurts.
Kristin is saved from replying when the phone rings.
Once Emma is settled in her favorite chair in the living room, Audrey Klein brings out a bowl of fresh raspberries. “Here, enjoy. Last crop of the season.”
Emma Lewis knows Audrey has kept the fruit because she cares, that it is a gift freely given. “Ah, geez. You know I love these.”
“Go on, eat as many as you want.” Audrey settles carefully into her own comfortable wingback, with the crocheted lap blanket. The blanket helps with the arthritis in her knees. “Thanks for making time for our session today.”
Emma shrugs. She and Audrey are friendly because the therapeutic relationship is an exercise in trust, but this is a scheduled appointment, not a social call.
“How was Labor Day with your folks? Roberta’s all right?”
“Yeah, everyone’s good. Robbie said she’s seeing someone. Won’t tell me who, though.”
“Big sisters like to torture you with that stuff.” Audrey smiles. “Now, have you been trying to walk, like I suggested?”
“Yes.” Emma eats another raspberry, corrects herself. “I mean, I start off walking. I always start that way.”
“And then what happens?”
“I get a… It’s like an itch. A burn in my calves.” She looks out the window, thinking of the long, late-fall grass brushing her legs. “One minute I’m walking. And then I’m striding. And then I just… It’s like all this energy comes to the surface and I have to move. Like something inside me is saying, Hurry, hurry.”
Audrey pours them both tea from the big jug. “When you came back from Virginia you were running every day.”
“Sometimes twice a day.”
“I know.” Emma accepts her glass.
“Until you threw up.” Audrey sips from her own glass. “So sometimes running brings no relief.”
Emma tries to think of how to phrase it. “Some days I run, and that’s all there is. Just the road, and my feet, and it’s quiet. Other days it’s like… something is pulling me forward. Like I could run forever and never find it.”
“What are you thinking you’ll find?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you think the running helps somehow?”
“I don’t know if it helps.” Emma’s eye turns inward. “I don’t know what it’s supposed to help with. It just is. It’s just what I need to do.”
“Okay, let’s talk about something else now. I want to ask you whether you feel you’re regaining balance.”
Emma’s grateful they’re not talking about running anymore. Talking about running makes her want to run. “I’m doing okay. I’m keeping up with my classes.”
“Well, I already know you’re a good student. Do you feel your career goals have changed?”
“No. Maybe. I still want to help kids.”
“Your goals are your own, Emma.” Audrey sits back, her glass of tea held over the lap blanket on her crossed knees. “And your goals aren’t dependent on anyone else’s approval. What’s important is that, whatever direction you choose to go in, it’s one that makes you happy and brings you satisfaction.”
“You believe that?”
“Yes. Part of my job, as your therapist, is to help you make the choices that you want to make, that feel right for you. To give you room to grow—and change. It’s about evolving, Emma.”
“Okay.” Emma’s hands are cold where she clasps her glass.
“Are you still comfortable talking?”
“Yes. I just never really questioned what I want to do before.”
“But your experience at Quantico changed that?”
Emma has a sudden flash of memory: Agent Ed Cooper in his meticulous suit, dead teenagers in a warehouse, the horrifying grin of the man who killed them. A white-haired boy with blood on his teeth. The sounds and smells of the Jefferson building at the FBI base come back to her. It hasn’t really been that long.
“Quantico was… I felt useful. But I also felt used.”
Audrey inclines her head. “Can you say more about that?”
“I’ve just been wondering whether I made the right decision, to reject the FBI’s job offer. Stuff like that.” Emma rubs at the condensation slipping down the side of her glass. “My first reaction was No way. But that was just after St. Elizabeths, and I was raw. Now I feel like I’m healing.”
“That’s good.” Audrey takes another sip. “But there’s a balance in that, too. You have to examine if you’re knitting back together or if you’re simply growing defensive armor over the wound.”
“The result is the same, though, right? You can get by.”
“There are some differences. And one is healthier than the other, long term. What still attracts you to the FBI program, d’you think?”
“The idea of saving other victims.” Emma’s voice is firm.
“Maybe.” Emma fidgets, hesitates, sips her tea. “Being the hunter instead of the hunted.”
“I can see the appeal of that for you. It’s good to acknowledge that the offer is tempting. And it’s an intellectual challenge, which I know you like.” Audrey cocks her head again. She’s pushing sixty years old, but her eyes are sharp. “You seem restless, honey.”
“I feel a little like that,” Emma admits.
“Can you say a bit more about what you’re feeling?”
Emma tries not to frown. The feeling is there: amorphous, opaque. “I don’t know.”
“Is it a physical feeling in your body? You mentioned your sister is dating—is the feeling related to dating?”
“What? No. You know I don’t…” Emma shifts in her chair. “I’m not ready for that.”
“Aren’t you?” Audrey smiles. “You’re nineteen years old. Healthy. It wouldn’t be unlikely if you were feeling that urge.”
“It’s not that. I’ve just been wondering if maybe I should have accepted the offer from Quantico.”
“Well, I know you still have some connections there. Have you heard from Travis?”
Emma startles. She only ever lets herself think of him as Bell. “No. I don’t think he would do that.”
“We never… I just don’t think he would do that.”
“Would you like him to?”
Emma shrugs. “I mean, I miss him. I miss… the partnership. Teamwork. But I don’t think he would contact me unless it was some kind of emergency.” She presses her lips. “Not like some other people.”
“You’ve had another postcard from Simon Gutmunsson?”
The last card had been addressed to her care of the psychology department at Ohio State University. It read, Dearest Emma, Are you still shining? Thinking of you, Simon. Emma put her winter gloves on, took it downstairs to the basement incinerator, and burned it. Then she burned the gloves.
Remembering the handwriting now, she sets her glass aside and wipes her palms on her jeans. “I don’t want to talk about Simon.”
“No, and we don’t have to. Let’s talk about something else, then.”
“Okay.” Emma knows what’s coming.
“I know your birthday was last week. If you’re feeling vulnerable on the tenth, you know you can come see me, or call.”
“I want to try something different this year,” Emma says. “I’ve got a good schedule on Fridays, lots of classes. I’m going to try to keep real busy.”
“Sounds good. If you need me, though, I’m right here.” Audrey makes the offer seem casual.
Emma knows that Audrey clears her day on the tenth of September—the anniversary of Emma’s abduction—every year, just for her. The knowledge makes her feel grateful but also pathetic. She eats one last raspberry to get rid of the feeling.
After the session, she lets Audrey gift her a small container of raspberries. Then she walks out of the turreted house, down the steps, heading for her car. The Rabbit is parked by the curb, getting some sun. Audrey’s street in Mount Vernon is lovely: double-lot blocks, plenty of grass around the houses, graceful, widely spaced trees. The dogwoods are starting to change color.
Emma turns her face toward the sky. Her parents will be out in the yellow leaves, thinking about harvesting apples and cutting pumpkins. It makes her consider growth, and whether she’s really evolving. She’d like to think so. She’s been seeing Audrey for almost three years now. But there are no real markers with therapy, nothing to say, “Here, I’ve reached this point, I’ve made progress.” It’s just a gradual shift so that one day you wake up and realize you don’t think like that anymore, or you’ve slept through the night for a while now, and maybe this is the new normal. Emma wonders if she’s plateaued, and if such a thing happens, or if she would even know if it had.
She gets in the Rabbit and takes it out past Sears to the Texaco on West High Street, gases up the car. It runs better since her father replaced the carburetor in August. She eases onto Old Delaware Road toward Route 71 for the trip back to OSU. It’s about an hour of potato and corn fields, peaceful rolling country. She could drive like this all day. Then the concrete and asphalt of the highway, and she’s finding her way home.
She manages to get a parking spot under one of the old ornate streetlamps on West Tenth Avenue. When she gets up to her dorm room, she discovers her roommate, Leanne Frome, is painting her nails with some kind of disgusting glitter polish that makes the whole room smell like sour lemons.
“There’s mail on your bed, I think it’s from your sister. Oh my god, isn’t this the worst? Open the window for the stink, I’ve still gotta do the other hand.”
“That stuff reeks.” Emma puts the raspberries on the dresser—she’ll share them with Leanne later—throws her knapsack on the bed, and grabs up the mail, checking the sender addresses. Since Simon’s postcards, she always checks the addresses.
“What I get for buying cheap.” Leanne shakes her hand and blows on her fingers. “I don’t know why I’m going all out, we’re only going for coffee.”
“You got a date?”
“Yeah. But I haven’t had a date in, god, a while.”
“Thanks.” Leanne’s a redhead, and pleased embarrassment looks good on her. “Hey, how were your folks?”
- *“A razor-sharp sequel exceeding the previous installment’s high expectations.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
- “An edge-of-your-seat thriller and taut psychological study, Some Shall Break takes you on a terrifying journey as it dives into the heart of its hero and its villain. This is a sequel that will have you screaming for more!”—C.S. Pacat, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Rise
Praise for None Shall Sleep:
"A YA Silence of the Lambs that blew me away with its daring premise, gripped me with its twists and turns, and kept me up all night until its stunning conclusion. Ellie Marney brings the serial killer thriller to YA with riveting suspense and sizzling style. Don't read this book in the dark!"—C.S. Pacat, USA Today bestselling author of Fence
- "The tightly plotted story moves inexorably forward with shocking twists. Vivid, chilling, and important."—Kirkus Reviews
- "Marney has created a thrilling cat-and-mouse story in this taut, Silence of the Lambs-like thriller.... Marney also skillfully creates engaging and complex characters as well as a budding romance that tenderly juxtaposes the overarching plot."—Publishers Weekly
- On Sale
- Jun 6, 2023
- Page Count
- 400 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers