This is what I remember: the leather box lying open on the marble kitchen island; inside it a bed of black satin cradling a golden gun. It’s small enough to look like a toy.
Across the kitchen, Angie opens the back door, letting in a freezing blast of winter air. She looks upset, and I’m pulled to her almost involuntarily. All I want to do is make sure she’s okay, and it doesn’t even matter that she probably doesn’t understand how much she means to me.
It’s purer this way. She can take whatever she wants from me, whenever she wants it, because I’m her best friend.
Margot comes inside behind Angie, grabbing her hand. “Please,” she says. Angie doesn’t pull away. She doesn’t even see me.
The room spins. My tongue is thick from the syrup of too many drinks. I have beached up against the edge of the island, the marble cutting into my stomach, and the box is right in front of me. The gun is engraved with leaves and flowers, and it looks like a charm you might wear on a bracelet next to a miniature dagger and a coil of rope.
I reach for it. The metal is cool, the gun heavier than I expected. It’s pretty. The vines seem to come alive, twining around the grip and the barrel, ending in the small dark muzzle: a silent, open mouth.
Someone says my name.
Ryan, Margot’s best friend, lunges toward me from the other side of the island. She’s an avenging demon of the ice princess variety, blond and pale with her silver dress glittering over pushed-up breasts while she points her finger at me.
Angie is beside me, her face a mask of shock. “What the hell are you doing?” she demands. “Let’s go.”
It takes me a second to realize she wants to leave. With me.
She takes my hand, pulls the gun away. Her fingers are so cold it’s as if they’d been dipped in a bucket of ice, but they still send an electric jolt all the way through my vodka-induced emotional padding.
Angie puts the gun back in the box. Ryan picks it up, curling her finger around the trigger.
Copyright © 2017 by Malinda Lo. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.