YOU’RE INVITED by Amanda Jayatissa
Berkley Hardcover | On sale August 9th, 2022
Morning of the Wedding
I woke up with bruised knuckles and blood under my fingernails, more rested than I have been in years. I guess this is who I am now. The kind of person who would finally get a good night’s sleep after attacking someone else. The kind of woman who would fly halfway around the world to stop my ex-best friend from marrying my ex-boyfriend. If that’s one too many exes for you, well, it certainly is for me. But I’m also the kind of woman who does whatever it takes, so here I am.
I opened the sliding door that led out onto the small balcony attached to my room at the Mount Lavinia Hotel. It overlooked the expansive private beach, which was deserted.
Of course it was. It was too early in the day for anyone to be out there. Maybe later on, but then again, who knows how things will pan out? The wedding would definitely be canceled now. The guests would all shuffle home, dispirited and upset. Or maybe they wouldn’t. Maybe they would just be grateful for the all-expenses-paid weekend, and take advantage of the beautiful beach and open bar. They would definitely mull around, gossiping and curious about what transpired. Aunties would have their own theories, no doubt, and phones will light up with messages about what happened to the unfortunate bride, Kaavindi Fonseka. This is Colombo after all.
It flickered in my stomach then-the first flutter of nervousness. I knew I couldn’t keep it away for long. It had been a simple plan, of course. But like all simple plans, it could be quite complicated unless you teased everything out. Laid everything bare. And like all simple plans, it had the potential to go very, very wrong.
I watched the waves swell and bounce and crash and forgive. The fishing boats were already well on their way out to sea, and a few birds circled the ocean in the distance. Keeping my eyes on the horizon, I took a deep breath and counted to five.
My hands were steady on my cup of tea, but a fleck of dried blood had made its way onto the clean white ceramic. I’d better take a shower. Today was a big day for me. Perhaps even more so than yesterday. So much depended on what I did next.
I stepped into the bathroom and made the water as hot as it would go. It felt like a betrayal, washing the last bits of yesterday off me. Knowing she was gone, as I watched the water swirl down the drain. But I went through all the motions, still nervous but also feeling, for the first time in a very long time, that I belonged to myself. That things just might be okay. That I was finally vindicated of everything that happened five years ago.
I shampooed my hair, conditioned it, slathered on soap that smelled like jasmine all over my body.
Deep breath in, Amaya. Now count to five. Let it out slowly. Just like Dr. Dunn said.
It was over. After so many years, I could finally let it go.
Steam clouded around me as I dried and then dressed myself. My small overnight bag was already packed, ready for me to make my exit. My passport was at home, with the rest of my luggage. The flight back to LA wasn’t until tomorrow morning, but I could last till then.
I checked the time-6:36 a.m. A pattern. A lucky number. Thank goodness. I felt some of the tension leave my shoulders.
I’ll wait until 7:00 a.m. to check out. 7:07 a.m., if I could manage it. I couldn’t afford to look suspicious. After all, who checks out of a five-star hotel at the crack of dawn unless it’s some sort of emergency? I didn’t want to draw attention to myself now. I couldn’t leave anything up to chance.
I busied myself by giving the room a once-over-making sure I hadn’t left my charger plugged in and forgotten, or left anything hanging behind the bathroom door. There was a T-shirt in a plastic shopping bag that I kept near my purse, waiting to be thrown out on the taxi ride home. It was always better to be safe. I sat down, phone in hand, watching the numbers on the clock tick their way toward when I could leave.
The rap on my door came at 6:51 a.m., ricocheting through my quiet room, lodging itself deep in my heart.
Who would knock on my door now?
It didn’t make any sense.
I hesitated a moment.
The second rap sounded more urgent.
“Miss Bloom, this is Alistair Ferdinand, the hotel manager. Sorry to disturb you. Could we have a moment, please?”
Well, at least it wasn’t the police. They’d come later. I hoped to be gone by then.
I took another deep breath and cracked open the door.
“Yes?” I tried to keep the tremble out of my voice. I knew it even before he said anything. I could feel it in my bones-the writhing. The inherent sense that things were about to go very, very wrong.
“Miss Bloom, my apologies for this, but we have to search your room.”
“Search my room?”
But he was pushed aside by someone as she barreled her way inside.
“Where is she?” Her voice was shrill.
“Tehani? What are you doing here? What’s going on?” My voice was a whimper. An embarrassing contrast against hers.
“Oh fuck off, like you don’t know.”
“I-I don’t understand.” I swallowed. This wasn’t what was supposed to happen.
“I’m sorry, ma’am.” The manager stepped in. “We have been instructed to search all rooms immediately. It appears that one of our guests has gone missing.”