"[A] dark... gripping thriller."―Publishers Weekly
An unnerving psychological thriller with an action-packed, adrenaline-pumping plot, The Lie is a story of past secrets that have the power to destroy lives, a novel that will keep fans of S.J. Watson and Chevy Stevens on the edge of their seats until the shocking conclusion.
Jane Hughes has a great boyfriend, a job in an animal shelter, and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She's happier than she's ever been...but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.
Five years earlier, Jane and her best friends set off on what was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, but it rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of her friends. Ever since, Jane has tried to put the past behind her and lead a normal life. But someone out there knows the truth about what happened―and they won't stop until they've destroyed Jane and everything she loves.
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C.L. Taylor works in higher education and has a degree in psychology, with particular interest in abnormal and criminal psychology.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
I know he's trouble before he even sets foot in the building. I can tell by the way he slams the door of his 4×4 and storms across the parking lot without waiting to see if his short, bespectacled wife is following him. When he reaches the glass double doors to reception, I avert my gaze back to my computer screen. It's best to avoid direct eye contact with an aggressor. When you spend twelve hours a day with dangerous animals, you learn a lot about confrontation, fear, and hostility-and not just in relation to dogs.
The bell above the doors rings as the man enters the reception area, but I continue to enter the details of a seven-day evaluation into the computer database. A German shepherd named Tyson was brought in by an inspector a week ago. We've been evaluating him ever since, and I've identified behavioral issues with other dogs, cats, and humans-unsurprising in a former drug-den guard dog. Some people believe that a dog like Tyson should be put down for his own good, but I know we can rehabilitate him. Your past doesn't have to define your future.
"Where's my fucking dog?" The man rests his elbows on the reception counter and juts out his chin, contempt etched onto his thin, sunken face. His shoulders are narrow beneath an oversize leather jacket, and his jeans hang loosely from his hips. He can't be much older than late forties, early fifties tops, but he looks worn down by life. I suspect he's the sort to own a dangerous breed. Small man, big car. Big dog too. No wonder he wants him back. He's missing his canine penis extension.
"Can I help you?" I swivel around to face him and smile.
"I want my dog. One of my neighbors saw the inspector turn up when we was out. They took him out the backyard. I want him back."
"He's named Jack, he's a Staffordshire bull terrier, and he's five years old." His bespectacled wife puffs into the reception area, her black leggings sagging at the knees, her pink lipstick neatly applied, and her gray-streaked hair scraped back into a tight ponytail.
I look back at her husband. "And your name is?"
"Gary. Gary Fullerton," the man replies, ignoring his wife.
I know the dog they are talking about. Jack was brought in four days ago. His right eye was so swollen it was sealed shut, his lip was torn and bloody, and his left ear was so mangled the vet had to remove half of it. He'd been in a fight, but it clearly wasn't a one-off. You could tell that by the scars on his body and the wounds on his face. This owner's obviously fresh from the police station. On bail pending a hearing, probably.
My smile fades. "I'm afraid I can't help you."
"I know he's here," the man says. "You can't keep him. We haven't done anything wrong. He got into a fight in the park, that's all. We've got seven days to claim him. That's what my mate said."
I angle myself away from him so my shoulders are square on to the computer and we're no longer facing each other. "I'm sorry, but I can't discuss special cases."
"Oi!" He leans over the counter and reaches for the monitor, yanking it toward him. "I'm talking to you."
"Gary..." His wife touches his arm. He glares at her but lets go of the monitor. "Please." She peers at my name badge. "Please, Jane, we just want to see Jack, that's all, just to check he's okay. We don't want any trouble; we just want to see our boy."
Her eyes mist with tears behind her glasses, but I don't feel sorry for her. She must know Gary enters Jack into fights. She's probably objected from time to time, maybe tried her best to clean Jack up with a wet washcloth afterward, but ultimately, she's done nothing to stop that dog from getting torn to bits.
"I'm sorry." I shake my head. "I really can't discuss individual cases."
"What bloody case?" the man roars, but his hands hang loosely at his sides. The fight's gone out of him. He knows he hasn't got a leg to stand on, and the shouting's just for show. The worst thing is he probably does love the dog. He was no doubt proud of Jack when he won his first few fights. He probably gave him a big handful of dried dog biscuits and sat next to him on the sofa with his arm around him. But then Jack started to lose, and Gary didn't like that; it knocked his pride, so he kept entering him into competitions, kept waiting for his fighting spirit to return, kept hoping his luck would change.
"Everything okay, Jane?" Sheila, my manager, strolls into reception from the corridor to my right and puts a hand on my shoulder. She smiles at Gary and his wife, but there's a tightness around her lips that suggests she's heard every word.
"We're going." Gary slaps the counter with the palm of his right hand. "But you haven't heard the last from us."
He turns and stalks toward the exit. His wife remains where she is, fingers knotting in front of her, silently pleading with me.
"Come on, Carole," Gary snaps.
She hesitates, just for a second, her eyes still fixed on mine.
"Carole!" he says again, and she's off, trotting obediently at his side.
The bell rings as they leave reception, and they cross the parking lot in single file, Gary leading, Carole following behind. If she glances back, I'll go after her. I'll make up an excuse to talk to her on her own. That look she just gave me...it wasn't just about the dog.
Look back, look back, Carole.
Lights flash as Gary points his key fob at the Range Rover, and he opens the door. Carole clambers into the passenger seat. Gary says something as she settles herself, and she takes off her glasses and rubs her eyes.
"Jane." Sheila gently squeezes my shoulder. "I think we should have a nice cup of tea, don't you?"
I get the subtext: Jack's your business, Carole's not.
She heads for the staff room, then stops suddenly. "Oh! I forgot to give you this." She hands me an envelope. My full name is handwritten on the front: Jane Hughes, Green Fields Animal Shelter. "A thank-you letter, I imagine."
I run my thumb under the seal and open the envelope as Sheila waits expectantly in the doorway. There's a single piece of paper inside, folded into four. I read it quickly, then fold it back up.
"Well?" Sheila asks.
"It's from Maisie's new owners. She's settled in well, and they're head over heels in love with her."
"Great." She gives an approving nod before continuing into the staff room.
I wait for the sound of her footsteps to fade away, then glance through the glass double doors to the parking lot beyond. There's an empty space where Carole and Gary's 4×4 was parked.
I unfold the piece of paper in my hands and read it again. There's a single sentence, written in the center of the page in blue ink:
I know your name's not really Jane Hughes.
Whoever sent it to me knows the truth. My real name is Emma Woolfe, and for the last five years, I've been pretending to be someone else.
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