Lie to me, p.1

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Lie to Me
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Lie to Me


  BOOKS BY NATASHA PRESTON

  THE SILENCE SERIES

  Silence

  Broken Silence

  Players, Bumps, and Cocktail Sausages

  Silent Night

  THE CHANCE SERIES

  Second Chance

  Our Chance

  STAND-ALONES

  Save Me

  With the Band

  Reliving Fate

  Lie to Me

  YOUNG ADULT THRILLERS

  The Cellar

  Awake

  The Cabin

  You Will Be Mine

  Copyright (c) 2018 by Natasha Preston

  All rights reserved.

  Visit my website at www.natashapreston.com

  Cover Designer: Sofie Hartley, Hart and Bailey Design Co

  Editor and Interior Designer: Jovana Shirley, Unforeseen Editing, www.unforeseenediting.com

  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  ISBN-13: 978-1987412017

  For the wonderful ladies and gents in my reader group. I love each of you!

  Contents

  1

  2

  3

  4

  5

  6

  7

  8

  9

  10

  11

  12

  13

  14

  15

  16

  17

  18

  19

  20

  21

  22

  23

  24

  25

  26

  27

  28

  29

  30

  31

  32

  33

  34

  35

  36

  37

  38

  39

  Epilogue

  Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  1

  Savannah

  Three years ago, to the day, I took off in the middle of the night. Leaving only a note behind.

  I was nineteen and in so much pain. My family had no idea that I was planning my escape; they didn't have a clue how bad things were for me. Or perhaps they just didn't care.

  I suppose, in the end, it doesn't matter.

  I'm in my cosy little kitchen, a hundred miles away from home, and although I don't really have anyone, I'm better off. It's better to have a small group of genuine friends than dozens of surface ones, right? Well, that's me. Only, instead of a small group, I have one friend, who's also my boss, who I could be genuine with--but that would involve opening up.

  Basically, neither of those is me. I don't have friends. I'm the hermit. That's me.

  Placing my hands around my mug of steaming hot coffee, I drop my shoulders. Yes, okay, I might be better off, but it still sucks.

  Things were so bad back then, and I had no one to turn to, no one who seemed to be on my side or at least trying to see things from my perspective. So, I did the only thing I felt I could, and I left.

  I hate to admit that I still feel the ache in my chest when I think about the circumstances surrounding my total abandonment of my boyfriend and entire family. Sometimes, it takes my breath away, and other times, I can ignore it. The ache is like the moon--always there but not always visible.

  My mum and my ex contact me often, but I do everything I can to keep them out of my life. I don't want to go back there. I don't even want to think about what happened.

  In these last three years, my life has changed immeasurably. I used to live with my family in a large house on a respectable estate where everyone kept their grass cut at a scarily precise length. It was a beautiful and safe place to grow up.

  It's where I met Simon--aka The Colossal Wanker.

  It's also where I left Simon.

  Now, I live in a small one-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of the city. It's a nice flat, built about six years ago, and I rent it from a sweet lady who bought it to hand down to her granddaughter when she turns eighteen. The apartment is also super close to work.

  Sometimes, I barely recognise the person staring back at me in the mirror, but this year, I am determined to rebuild me.

  The warm July rain hammers down on the window in my little kitchen.

  In my old life, I hated the rain. I used to care so much about my appearance and would never leave the house without perfect makeup, flawless hair, and trendy clothes. When I closed the door to the old Savannah--or Sav, as I was nicknamed--I decided it was pointless to worry about such trivial things. When your whole world has imploded on you, it makes stressing over flat hair a little too superficial.

  In an hour, I have to walk out the door for work. I'm ready, as I hate being late anywhere, not that my boss and only friend here would mind if I was a few minutes late.

  Heidi is everything I want to be. She's strong, independent, and successful, and she seems to have everything together.

  Her ducks are in a row. Mine are zigzagging.

  Though, I suppose, leaving everything I knew at nineteen and building a new life on my own does make me independent, but I'm working on the rest of it. Most of the time, I feel lost.

  My laptop is open on the table in front of me. I kept my old Facebook account, but I don't use it. Sav Dean is long gone. The picture of me barely looks like me. I was eighteen, and the photo was taken at Glastonbury. Even there, my dark blonde hair is styled in a perfectly maintained bun.

  Why did I ever care so much about what people thought of me?

  There are two unread messages in my inbox. I open every single one Simon, my family, and old friends have sent, but I never reply.

  Here goes nothing.

  With my heart racing, I click the first one.

  Simon.

  He can bugger off.

  His messages have changed a lot over the years. They started desperate, then turned angry, and then were full of hurt and a million apologies where he said sorry but didn't actually take any responsibility. Lately, they've been more pleading, but in the last two weeks, he's thrown in some desperation again.

  Sav,

  I know it's been a little while since I last tried to contact you, but I hope I've given you enough space to really think about us getting together. You probably have questions, lots of them, and I want to give you answers.

  Please let me at least try to offer you some peace. Please. I need to do this, and you need to hear this. We can both heal if you just let me talk to you.

  Nope. Not a chance in hell.

  My finger hovers above the keys, and my eyes tense. I want to tell him where he can go--straight to hell--but three years ago, I resolved to never speak to him again unless the apocalypse happened, and we were the last people on earth. And then our only interaction would be me laughing as I threw him to a zombie.

  Since that's not happening ...

  With shaking fingers, I click off his message and open the one from my mother.

  Savannah, my darling Sav, please come home. I understand you were hurt, but we are all here for you. We love you. Mum and Dad.

  I roll the grey eyes I inherited from my mother. Lies.

  Although, deep down, I still love my parents and sister, Isla, I'm not entirely sure I'd help them in the apocalypse either. My feelings toward them ch
ange daily, depending upon my mood. If I'm near that time of the month, they have absolutely no chance.

  Temptation tingles in my fingers, so I get up and grab my handbag from the table. I'll be early for work, at least fifty minutes, but Heidi won't mind. I can't stay here where the call to reply is getting stronger.

  Spending some time with Heidi always helps. Her strength seeps into my pores, and I gain a little more clarity when I've spoken to her. She has no idea what she does for me. I've never told her the real reason I left. Of course, she knows that I'm not close with my family and that I moved away, but no one in my new life knows about my old one.

  Not that I have many people around to hide my past from.

  I stop off at Starbucks on the way to the studio to grab Heidi's skinny latte and my Americano. She's a bit of a coffee nut, and if she doesn't have at least five cups a day, she gets cranky. The rain has eased, so I'm going to turn up at work, looking like a drowned rat.

  When I open the door to the studio, Heidi is sitting at her sewing table in the corner of the room. She looks up over a large pile of white-and-navy-chevron material and tilts her head to the side.

  Her blue eyes swim with sympathy. I'm only ever very early when something has gone wrong. Meaning when my old life comes knocking.

  "What happened, Savannah?" she asks, holding her hand out for the large drink.

  I hand it over and drop down in a seat on the other side of the table.

  Running my hand through my damp hair, I consider, for the millionth time, confiding in Heidi. She only has a very small portion of the real story.

  "My mum," I mutter, sipping on my coffee.

  "Oh, babes. I hate that she's still treating you badly."

  Her words feel like broken glass rubbing against my skin. "I know. I do, too. It's hard not to let her bother me when she messages."

  It's harder to read from my mum than Simon; it always takes me back to a time when I experienced the worst pain I had ever felt. She should have been there for me.

  "Why don't you delete your old email account?"

  Heidi thinks my mum contacts me via email. I haven't told her I have a Facebook account. She thinks I'm weird for not being all over social media, but that's fine. No one here calls me Sav, so I don't think she would find it anyway. Not that she would look.

  I suck in a breath. "I've asked myself that same question dozens of times over the last three years. I don't know why."

  Literally, I have no idea why I can't do it. Maybe I'm a masochist, and I secretly enjoy being hurt over and over again. Maybe I'm just as weak as I think.

  Heidi raises her eyebrow and brushes her iron-straight brown hair behind her shoulder. "We should work on that."

  "Speaking of work, what are you making right now?" I ask, eyeing the fabric.

  "Order for mother and daughter skater dress in the zigzag that came in last night."

  "Last night? You're already starting it?"

  We have, including this new order, seventeen items of clothing that Heidi needs to make by the end of the week, and she's making the most recent one.

  "Ugh, don't look at me with those judgmental eyes, Dean. I'll put this away at eight and work from the first order. Kent will be here soon, too."

  My spine stiffens at the sound of his name. Heidi's younger brother, Kent, always puts me on edge. I've only met him around five or six times, and we've spoken fewer words than that. He's intense and arrogant, only talking to those he deems worthy.

  "Why is he coming today?" I ask, my voice wavering, getting higher, like I suddenly inhaled helium.

  After Simon's and my mum's messages this morning, I'm definitely not poised enough to be around Kent.

  Brilliant idea, coming into work early.

  Can I go back to bed and start the day again?

  "Last night, I finally guilted him into putting together the new units and shelves in the storeroom. I wanted to get him in before he changed his mind, and I had to pay someone. We're running out of space, and we desperately need the storage."

  "Yeah, of course."

  When she mentioned asking Kent to put it together rather than hiring someone to do it, I hoped he would refuse. It's a menial job after all and not worth his time.

  "He's not that bad, Savannah."

  I shake my head in an attempt to appear surprised by her statement. "I don't think he's bad."

  "Hon, you're a terrible liar."

  Oh, that is so untrue.

  "He doesn't like me, and I suppose that makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Ignore me though; I'm more emotional than normal. Do you need me to do anything other than the usual today?"

  While Heidi handles the creative side of the business, I take on every other aspect. I deal with processing the orders through the website, social media, bookkeeping, packaging and posting orders, and all other admin jobs that need sorting. I love it.

  She winces, and I know I'm not going to like this. "I feel awful asking now, but I need the storeroom cleared, so Kent can work. All of the stuff just needs stacking in the far side, near the door."

  I smile, but I'm sure it looks more like a grimace because I'm certainly not going to enjoy being in such close proximity with the miserable one.

  "No problem." The words taste sour, leaving my mouth. I'm going to need a really big glass of wine when I get home tonight.

  "Are you sure, Savannah? You just said he makes you uncomfortable, and I don't ever want you to feel that here."

  Raising my hand, I kick my legs out and sink back into the seat. "That was a bad analogy. Like I said, I'm ultrasensitive today, but honestly, I have no issue with working alongside your brother. It'll be good to get the storeroom organised." I add a smile to really sell my speech.

  Heidi sighs in relief, the colour returning to her cheeks as she realises she can concentrate on creating amazing, handmade clothing rather than babysitting me and her brother.

  See, I'm not a terrible liar.

  I take a large sip of my coffee. At least I have the biggest caffeine hit Starbucks sells.

  The front door to the studio bangs open. I feel him before I see him. The air changes, thickening to the point where I fear it might choke me. Heidi stands up and takes her latte with her as she greets her brother. My pulse hums.

  Breathe, Savannah.

  I've survived worse than Kent Lawson.

  My legs are made of lead as I stand and turn to face them.

  All right, so Kent might come across as angry or bored most of the time, but, Jesus, he is good-looking. He's easily over six foot with dark hair styled slightly longer on top, eyes that are closer to turquoise--changing from blue to green, depending on what he's wearing--and muscles that could turn any sane woman crazy.

  But he's a massive knobhead. A massive one.

  So, there's that.

  He makes me feel as timid and insignificant as I sometimes feel. I can't ignore the change in myself when he's around, and, damn, I hate him for that.

  Heidi starts talking to him and leads him towards the storeroom, but her words are just noise. Kent hasn't even acknowledged my presence. Not that I'm surprised, but sometimes, it's nice to be seen as an actual human being.

  See, he's a knobhead.

  "Fucking hell, Heidi, what have you bought?" he grumbles, looking into the storeroom.

  It's a pretty big space, and we have shelves and cupboards that span the length and height of the longest wall, opposite the door.

  "Thanks for agreeing to do this," she replies sweetly, totally unfazed by his less than charming manner.

  "I'll start clearing the rolls of material away from the flat-pack boxes," I offer. My voice sounds normal, so at least no one in this room, besides me, knows how nervous I am around Kent.

  "No, Savannah, finish your coffee first," Heidi says, giving me a look that I know means, Do as I say.

  I pause, standing still and not really knowing what to do. On the one hand, I want to rush into it and get it over with, but I also really want
this coffee.

  "Yeah, it's not like I have anything else to do," Kent says, raising his eyebrow.

  Gritting my teeth so hard, I'm surprised they don't snap, I count backward from ten.

  You want to keep your job.

  "Kent, don't be a dick! Ignore him, Savannah. He obviously got out of bed on the wrong side." She slaps his arm hard, but he doesn't even flinch. "Be nice to her," Heidi tries to whisper, but I still hear.

  And, now, I feel like a child.

  Seriously, I want my do-over.

  Kent swings his arms behind his back and rocks back and forth on his feet. He looks around the room, but he's not really taking anything in; he's trying to make it clear that he's waiting.

  I take a sip very slowly and narrow my eyes. My heart is racing as I challenge him because, although I want to stand up to him, he would definitely win if pushed.

  Why does he make me feel even weaker than usual?

  Because you know the old you would have taken him down in seconds. You wouldn't have let him make you feel meek.

  I don't stand up to him because he's the sort of guy to push, and all I want is to keep people out. Kent isn't someone you're able to keep at arm's length. No, he would be all up in my face ... and other areas.

  Kent's chest expands as he sucks in a breath. He stills, not letting it out. Watching me with his stunning eyes, he rocks back again. Heidi is oblivious of the battle I'm having with her brother, still looking into the storeroom with a frown. She's probably having one final debate about where things should go. She walks inside and doesn't look back at us.

  I take another sip. God knows where I've found the confidence to face Kent, but I don't look away. Partly because I'm tired of feeling weak and partly because Kent is like gravity. He's the car crash you can't look away from.

  Kent lets out a long breath, eyes still staring dead at me.

  I sip.

  He tilts his head down, glowering. If his eyes shot bullets, I'd be gone.

  I take the final sip, stretch my arm out, and let the cup drop into the bin.

  Smirking, he drops his arms from his back to his sides. "Done?"

  "Ready when you are," I reply, standing tall.

  I want to high-five myself for holding my own, but I'm not yet entirely sure I won't faint. That wasn't a good idea.

  Kent dips his chin in the direction of the storeroom.

  He's letting me go first.

  Well, fuck me.

  Maybe he just wants to watch me fall over. But I don't. I walk ahead of him with my head held high, like a total boss.

  2

 
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