Teaser: The Quiet Ones

Camille

1 year earlier

      Camille Holmes sat in the eerie silence of her room, still reeling from her discovery. Outside the sun was beaming, teasing its way through the blinds, a warm breeze rustled the leaves of the magnolia tree outside her window.  Such a contrast from the dreary rain that kept her indoors, leading her to do a massive closet overhaul just four days ago.  Two days before the pool party where she would confront Nick.  It was routine for her to clean house before having guests over.  She needed to be sure that no one would have reason to say she didn’t keep a spotless home. Not that this group would pay attention to that sort of thing, but this is the Camille that Nick built.  Looking back, the weather, her snooping, the party, the fight, the forgotten suitcase, it was all an omen.  Alas, she could not have known that she would be dead soon.

The weight of what she saw, what she knew, was crushing her.  The fan hummed a lulling cadence above, making her suddenly feel exhausted.  She looked up from the mockingly repetitive shadows at her feet, the sun and fan blades at play, to the photo taken on their honeymoon in Bora Bora.   Nick hated it.  His left arm was completely blurred and his face shined with sunburn. Camille’s eyes were squeezed shut as she hunched over, bursting with laughter.  There were plenty of other pictures, better ones, ones that truly embodied the promise their marriage started out with.  The couple in that photo were strangers now, to herself and to one another.

Camille had adored this particular picture.  They decided on a deep-sea fishing package during their week-long stay at the resort and while Nick was heaving over the side of the boat for the fourth time, Camille hooked an enormous blue marlin.  The captain helped her to reel it in but she was so intimidated by its size that Nick had to stumble over to hold it for the photo.  The captain counted down and just as he got to “1”, the marlin wriggled and slapped his tail right across Camille’s face, throwing her into hysterics while Nick struggled to regain his balance.  In the end, the fish was set free while they lay on the ground unable to compose themselves for so long that Camille’s entire body ached and even Nick overcame his initial embarrassment and enjoyed the moment with her.  He used to appreciate her ability to soften him if only in private.  Over time, however, she found herself changing as well. She was becoming rigid and insecure. Gone was the carefree woman she once was.  Even her mother had grown distant and she sensed this pleased Nick.  The more secluded she became, the more engrossed in hisworld, the better.

She hadn’t really looked at this picture in a while.  It represented a time in her life that was too painful to revisit.  And in losing herself in that memory, she’d almost forgotten it.  The cool little metal thumb drive in her hand.   She’d never seen it before and at first, she didn’t think twice about it. However, something about this tiny object that had never existed the day before ate at her curiosity until she couldn’t bear ignoring it any longer.  But, we all know what happened to that curious little kitty.

She shakily slipped it into her laptop while Nick was at the country club, knowing she had at least four hours to herself.  Her pulse quickened.  The little hairs on the back of her neck stood on end like little soldiers keeping watch.  She knew he wasn’t going to be home for a while but the idea of heading her own little investigation was thrilling and oddly satisfying.  She hadn’t felt so alert and alive like that in months.  Not since the affair.  She could think of nothing else since she found it, and for what? What was she hoping to uncover? Did she secretly wish this held something incriminating about Nick?  Surely, he wouldn’t be so reckless.  It would be completely out of character.  Nick is a prideful man, a careful man.  Everything he did was with purpose and wholly intentional.  Although, he hadbeen acting strange over the last several months.  But her therapist told her to be patient about that.  Reminded them to be patient with one another if their marriage would survive.

Or maybe her instincts were completely off.  Maybe this was some sort of secret vacation he’d been planning for her, and hid it here so she wouldn’t find out?  The idea wasn’t too far-fetched, he had done it countless times before.  She also felt an unsettled sensation the second she found it deep in the drawer where he kept his gym clothes.  She’d never been the one to go looking for such things.  She’d never once checked his phone messages, voicemails, emails. She trusted him.  She had no other choice.  He reminded her daily about how he let her choose to live here instead of the more affluent, palatial area of River Oaks.  Camille didn’t feel she belonged there, now she realized it wasn’t River Oaks she didn’t belong… she couldn’t connect with anyone, anywhere.