The Guest List by Lucy Foley Read Online (FREE)
As I do I catch sight of something that makes my blood run cold.
There is someone at the window, looking in at us out of the blackness, observing silently. The face is pressed against the glass, its features distorted into a hideous gargoyle mask, its teeth bared in a horrible grin. As I continue to stare, unable to look away, it mouths a single word.
I’m not even aware of the champagne glass leaving my hand until it explodes at my feet.
The wedding night
It is a few moments before the waitress regains consciousness. She is, it appears, uninjured, but whatever she has seen out there has struck her nearly mute. The most they can get from her are low moans, wordless nonsense.
‘I sent her over to the Folly for a couple more bottles of champagne,’ the head waitress – only twenty or so herself – says helplessly.
There is a palpable hush in the marquee. The guests are looking among the throng of people for their loved ones, to check that they are safe and accounted for. But it is difficult to spot anyone among the seething crowd, all a little worse for wear after a day of carousing. It is difficult, too, because of the structure of this state-of-the-art marquee: the dance floor in one tent, the bar in another, the main dining section in the largest.
‘She could have had a scare,’ a man suggests. ‘She’s a teenage girl. It’s pitch-black out there and it’s blowing a gale.’
‘But it sounds like someone needs help,’ another man says. ‘We should go and see—’
‘We can’t have everyone wandering all over the island.’ They listen to the wedding planner. She has an innate authority, though she looks as shocked as the rest of them, her face drawn and white. ‘It is blowing a gale,’ she says. ‘It’s dark. And there’s the bog, the cliffs. I don’t want someone else to … to injure themselves, if that is what has happened.’
‘Must be shitting herself about her insurance,’ a man mutters.
‘We should go and look,’ one of the ushers says. ‘Some of us blokes. Safety in numbers and all that.’
The day before
‘Dad!’ I say, ‘You terrified poor Hannah!’ I mean it was a bit of an overreaction from her, dropping her glass like that. Did she really have to make such a scene? I stifle my annoyance as Aoife begins sweeping up the shards, moving discreetly around us with a broom.
‘Sorry.’ Dad grins at us all as he enters the room. ‘Thought I’d give ye all a little fright.’ His accent is more pronounced than usual, presumably as he’s on home turf, or nearly. He grew up in the Gaeltacht, the Irish-speaking part of Galway, not far from here. Dad’s not a big man but he manages to take up quite a bit of space and presents an imposing figure: the set of his shoulders, the broken nose. It’s difficult for me to see him objectively, because of what he is to me. But I suppose an outsider might assume he was a boxer or something similarly pugilistic, rather than a very successful property developer.