Bailey's voice trembled. "I ran. I was in my pajamas at the hospital because I didn't stop to even change. I think I figured if I got there fast enough I could prove it was a terrible mistake."
The memory of Bailey in sleep shorts and an old black T-shirt, hair unbrushed, with those blue eyes wild with grief, would haunt Dev forever. Her sister had collapsed on the floor and let out a wail that brought goose bumps. Was it easier for her to pour out her emotion at all times? To empty herself like a vessel until it was filled up again with feelings, and then tip it over and spill them out—like the little teapot song? Dev had always wondered. Because her insides were like a devastated forest—quiet, dehydrated, with perished trees standing in even lines.
Silence settled over the room. Everyone seemed lost in their thoughts, so when Pris called out their names, Devon jumped.
"What is it? Did you find the Gucci suit?" Dev asked, trying for some sarcastic wit to break up the heavy sadness thickening the air.
"No. I found a trunk."
Dev watched her sister drag out a cedar trunk with beautiful gold carvings. It was medium-size, with pedestal feet and an intricate lock. A shiver raced down her spine as they all gathered around the piece, staring at the object as if it held the answers to something instead of some carefully preserved blankets or linens.
Dev was the first one to speak, ignoring her suddenly reacing heart. "Open it up."
Pris hesitated, her hand like a fragile bird, hovering midway in the air. A strange foreboding swept through Dev.
Then the lock clicked and she lifted the lid.
The scent of must and cotton and wood rifted to her nostrils.
They stared down at a quilt.
Her shoulders relaxed. The quilt was ivory colored, and stitched, and quite beautiful, but still a boring reveal after such anticipation. It was obvious from her sisters' relieved sighs they'd done the same thing. Expected something else.
Bailey smoothed her hand over soft material. "Pretty. I would've saved my dibs for this, Pris. Better than the sweater."
Pris grinned. "You and Dev can fight over it, or we can donate it. I certainly don't need another quilt in my life."
Dev lost interest and turned back to the second bureau. "Not sure why Mom needed a trunk to store bedding. This place has a huge linen closet that's only half full."
"Maybe she liked the beauty of it," Bailey murmured. "I'm always attracted to those pretty hatboxes, but I've never owned a hat in my life. It's kind of romantic."
Dev gave a snort. "Mom was the least romantic person I've ever known."
"Why would you say that?" Bailey asked. "She probably had dreams and fantasies like everyone else."
"I agree with Dev on this one," Pris said, her voice a bit brisk. "Mom was practical. She preferred stability and smart decisions over passion. She wasn't the type to date a bad boy or ditch a logical plan over an impulse."
"Well, I disagree," Bailey said.
"What's new?" Dev muttered. She practically felt Bailey's glare, so she concentrated on her task. A rustling rose in the air, along with her sister's voice.
"Um, guys. I found something."
Dev turned, expecting to see more quilts, but Bailey was holding a fat manila envelope in her hands. "It's probably copies of important financials or old pictures," Dev said, peering over her sister's shoulder.
Bailey opened the clasp and pulled out a stack of letters tied with a purple ribbon. Dev watched as her sister tugged on the ribbon and flipped slowly through the papers. No envelopes. Just one letter after another with dates at the top and the same salutation repeated.
Livia, amore mio.
"What is it?" Pris asked, turning from the closet.
"Letters. A lot of them," Bailey said.
Dev picked up the envelope and slid her hand inside. "Nothing else in here. Are they to us?"
Bailey shook her head. "They're from someone named R. And they look like love letters."
This excerpt is from the hardcover edition.
Monday we begin the book THE DIAMOND EYE by Kate Quinn.