There Should Have Been Eight

Berkley Books

there should have been eight nalini singh

November 2023

  • An Amazon Editors’ Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller and Suspense in November!
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    Advance Excerpt

    Even though I’d blamed Darcie for her actions since that horrible weekend, I couldn’t help but hurt for the naked depth of her grief. “I’m sure that’s not what your therapist meant.”

    When she didn’t respond, I said, “Come on. Let’s go get this vintage wine so we can get drunk and weepy, and probably watch Kaea do the naked limbo under a broomstick.”

    Bursting into a wet laugh at the reminder of one particular night at the flat, she nodded, and led me to a right turn into another hallway. The cellar door proved to be the one at the very end—far away from the single weak wall lamp that lit up the windowless internal hall.

    Shadows converged thickly around the door through which we were to enter.

    “No horror movie vibes at all,” I muttered.

    Darcie’s laugh was forced as she opened the door and pushed the switch on the inside wall. And got a big fat nothing. “Bulb must’ve blown.”

    She wiped her face on her sweater. “You were right. We should’ve looked for a flashlight.”

    “I have my phone.” I turned on the flashlight icon, the resulting light revealing a set of narrow and dusty stairs that vanished into nothingness.

    “Oh, hell no.” Stronger, sounding more like herself, Darcie backed off from the doorway. “You wait here while I run back to the kitchen. I just remembered that Jim keeps his personal flashlight in the pantry.”

    I should’ve called after her, told her I wasn’t staying here alone. But I let her go, her footfalls fading quickly as she broke into a jog. After a while, the only sound was my breath. The shadows coalesced into a near-physical presence around me, pressing down on my shoulders and whispering in my ears.

    Because as I stared at the circle of light thrown by my phone, I had the chilling realization that this was my future. At least for the short term. A limited field of vision that would get progressively smaller . . . until all that remained was a blurry pinprick.

    The doctors had been clear with me. While there was a slim chance that I might retain a small percentage of my vision, that percentage would be limited in the extreme. And even that droplet of vision might be restricted to one eye. It was equally possible that I’d have nothing, the visual world a complete blank.

    “I know the temptation is to ignore it, but you can’t.” Dr. Mehta’s kind but firm tone. “This is going to happen. Pretending it won’t will gain you nothing. You have a brief window of time here—time that you can use to set yourself up to thrive in the years to come.”

    I hadn’t wanted to listen to her, hadn’t wanted to accept that my world would one day be smaller than the aperture of my favorite camera. I didn’t know why today was different, why the realization settled heavy and solid in my gut.

    I spoke the cold truth aloud. “I’m going blind.”

    There was nothing the doctors could do, no magic potion I could drink, no operation that’d fix me. I’d have to tell my family soon, my friends, too.

    But first, I had to begin to live in the dark.

    So despite Darcie’s request that I stay here, I walked into the cellar and down the stairs. The first delicate strands of a spider’s web across my nose and mouth made me shriek, but I was an old hand at tearing through them by the end.

    Once at the bottom, I should’ve switched off the light, made myself embrace the pitch-black, but I couldn’t.

    It wasn’t about safety, about bumbling around in a room full of glass bottles. It was because I was afraid of the dark. I’d always been afraid of the dark. No matter my intention to accept the diagnosis, that fear wasn’t going to vanish overnight.

    My heart thudded, my tongue too fat in my dry mouth, but I was here. I’d walked into the dark and I wasn’t screaming. As far as I was concerned, that was a win. Turning carefully to the left, phone light pointed in front of me, I sucked in a breath. Rows of wine bottles stretched out in front of me, the bottles stacked on shelves created for that purpose.

    I discovered the same when I checked on the right.

    Excitement took a big bite out of my fear. I was no wine snob or expert, but I could distinguish the different layers of flavor and appreciated complexity—but I’d never had the budget to try truly old wine. This week might turn out far better than I’d expected if I could go to town on this cellar.

    I grabbed a couple of bottles at random, purely on the basis of which ones had the most interesting labels. I could always put them back if Darcie and Ash didn’t want me to open a specific one.

    Tucking both under one arm, I began to walk quickly back up the stairs.

    The door slammed shut.

    I froze. “Darcie!” Barely able to hear myself over the thudding drum of my pulse, I tried again. “Darcie, I’m down here!”

    Silence from the other side.

    “Ha ha, very funny.” My face was hot, sweat blooming in my armpits. “It better not be locked.”

    I raced up the remaining steps, my phone held in a death grip. Putting the bottles down on the landing at the top, I wrenched at the door handle. And almost sent myself careening down the stairs when it came open without a problem.

    “Fuck!” Though I managed to catch myself in time, I dropped my phone.

    The light blinked out.

    Copyright © 2023 by Nalini Singh

    “Singh excels at creating atmospheric scenes, evoking dusty secret passageways and the dangers of the freezing weather to create a sense of dread. Told from Luna’s perspective, this story of friendship and obsession unfolds gently at first, then at a breakneck pace until it reaches a shocking conclusion.”

    ~ Booklist (Starred Review)

    “… a divinely engaging mystery.”

    ~ Entertainment Weekly

    “The characters are vivid and vivacious and every obstacle hits you in the gut as they try to escape. If you love a revenge story, a reunion story or a locked room story- this is an excellent read that will keep you up way past your bed time!”

    ~AndiReads on Goodreads

    “I have not loved a murder mystery novel as much as this one for quite a long time.”

    ~Handcrafted Librarian on Goodreads

    “My gosh! I was on the edge of my seat for the entirety of this book!”

    ~KT Book Reviews

    “The book’s key moments unfold…like a carefully orchestrated symphony, each note revealing a crucial element in the story…”

    ~A Page Book Club

    There Should Have Been Eight

    In this chilling thriller from New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh, a remote estate in the New Zealand Alps hosts a reunion no one will ever forget.

    Seven friends.
    One last weekend.
    A mansion half in ruins.
    No room for lies.
    Someone is going to confess.
    Because there should have been eight…

    They met when they were teenagers. Now they’re adults, and time has been kind to some and unkind to others. None more so than Bea—the one they lost nine long years ago.

    They’ve gathered to reminisce at Bea’s family’s estate, a once glorious mansion straight out of a gothic novel. Best friends, old flames, secret enemies, and new lovers are all under one roof. But when the weather turns and they’re snowed in at the edge of eternity, there’s nowhere left to hide from their shared history.

    As the walls close in, the pretense of normality gives way to long-buried grief, bitterness, and rage. Underneath it all, there’s the nagging feeling that Bea’s shocking death wasn’t what it was claimed to be. And before the weekend is through, the truth will be unleashed. No matter the cost….