Did She, or Didn’t She—from J.T. Ellison’s ‘Lie to Me’ [EXCERPT]

Mystery woman

Don’t a single suspenseful moment of J.T. Ellison’s Lie to Me, coming September 5. (Photo by Geoff Livingston, Flickr)

Don’t look for me.

Those were the last words she’d used to him.

JT Ellison's LIE TO ME

Mira

And so he didn’t. Not right away, at least. He sat and wrapped his mind around the situation. Then he searched through everything of hers he could find, looking for something, anything, that might give answers.

Nothing. It was like she’d gone to take a shower and disappeared through the water into another land.

He went into deep, irreversible denial. She is fine, he told himself. She’s taking a break. The self-talk worked. His morbid thoughts fled. He knew, deep in his heart, Sutton would never be that selfish.

He gave her three hours to come back, three long, quiet as the bone hours, and then, when the idea that she might actually be in some sort of trouble started to eat at him, began calling round. Of course he did. He wasn’t a total asshole, despite what most people thought. It was the success—people automatically assumed because he was a man, and he didn’t like to give interviews, and held people at arm’s length at signings and he kept himself off of social media and focused on his work, he was a dick. Maybe he was.

He called her friends—there weren’t many, but the ones she had were close, bosom buddies, BFFs.

Rachel hadn’t seen her and was brusquely late for work. Out of character for her; a yoga teacher, she was generally the most calm and friendly of Sutton’s friends.

Ellen, the head of library sciences at Vanderbilt University, didn’t answer her mobile; he left an innocuous “Hey, call me,” message.

Filly (Phyllis, really, but she hated to be called by her given name) answered her landline on the first ring, no doubt assuming it was Sutton calling. Even at Ethan’s voice, her greeting was cheery and excited. When Ethan asked if she’d seen Sutton, she seemed genuinely concerned, but claimed they hadn’t talked for a few days because Sutton had been so busy. He couldn’t help it, Filly’s concern was so genuine and helpful he immediately suspected she knew something, but when pressed, she reassured him Sutton was probably just out for a run and told him to call her when Sutton showed up, then got off the phone with a lame excuse about her baby crying. Way to twist the knife, Filly.

Ivy was out of town on business, or he’d have called her first. Ivy was friends with them both. She was Sutton’s closest friend and confidant, a true part of their lives. Had been for three years now. He glanced at his watch, hesitated for a minute, then sent a text. A self-employed stock broker, she was good about keeping her phone on her. She’d get back when she was able, she always did.

He sat at the table, head in his hands. Jumped a mile when the phone rang. He didn’t bother looking at the Caller ID, answered with a breathless, “Sutton?”

“It’s Siobhan. What’s wrong?”

Oh, bloody retching hell. Sutton’s mother was the last person he wanted to involve in this. To put it mildly, Siobhan and Sutton weren’t close, and Sutton would be furious with him if she knew he’d spoken to her at all.

Deflect, and get her off the phone.

“Good morning, Siobhan. How are you?”

“Has something happened to Sutton?”

“No, no. Everything is fine.”

“Let me guess. She stormed off and won’t return your calls.”

“Something like that.”

“Well, I haven’t seen or spoken to my daughter in weeks. By the way, thank you for the cruise. The Adriatic was amazing. You should take her sometime.”

The sudden urge to confess, to shake this venal woman from her self-absorbed life, was overwhelming, and the words spilled from his mouth. He told her what he’d left out of his previous conversations.

“She’s gone, Siobhan. She left a note and walked out on me. I’m worried about her. She didn’t take her things—her phone, her computer, her wallet are all here.” As if that would explain it all.

And it did, enough at least that his mother-in-law reacted. “I’m on my way over,” and she hung up on him.

Oh, bollocks. All he needed was Siobhan wandering the house looking for clues. Looking in the corners, at the dust and secrets.

You’re an idiot, Ethan. Whyever did you tell her? That desperate, are we?

He poured himself a fresh cup of tea, looked around. Fuck cleaning up. So the place wasn’t pristine. Who cared. Siobhan would find a flaw, a fault, no matter what. They could scour the place top to bottom, have it Architectural Digest photoshoot ready, and she’d still want to move a vase or find a small part of the counter with a smear.

Siobhan Healy—Shiv-awn, for the uninitiated, which she delighted in sharing, loudly—took pride in being different. Her friends (and some of her enemies, Sutton included) called her Shiv for short. She was Sutton’s opposite in every way, looks (small and dark, Black Irish with her ebony hair liberally streaked with gray and cobalt eyes, face pinched and mean) temperament (brash and extroverted; Siobhan adored attention, good or bad) speech (lowbrow, in Ethan’s mind, though she didn’t have an accent, she claimed she was from a Dublin slum and never hesitated to share the story of her continually upward journey.)

She’d come to the States and married a succession of men, each wealthier than the last. She was on husband four now, a meek-mannered man named Alan, who liked to make jokes, corny jokes, about he and Ethan—hey, we should go into business together, call ourselves…Ethan Alan, ha ha ha ha, get it, Ethan Alan—when he drank too much.

Ethan wasn’t sure how this woman could have created her daughter, often wondered about their storied past, but Siobhan and Sutton both refused to ever talk about her childhood, punctuated however briefly by the one night stand sperm donor who was her father. It wasn’t, as Sutton said, one of the husbands. He was anonymous. Never around. Sutton had never met him.

Ethan found that sad. His own parents had been kind, generous people, though he hadn’t understood them well, nor they him. They were both gone now. They’d died quietly and unobtrusively four months apart when he was twenty-two. He’d been sad, but not devastated. They’d sent him to public school when he was a wee lad, and he’d only seen them at breaks. Ethan had always been bookish; it was the all-boys school he attended that shaped his personality: brash and wildly creative. It was a fine way to grow up, but Ethan wanted something different for his life. He’d always dreamed of a close-knit, exuberant household for his own family one day. Children running in the backyard, dogs playing and barking, a knockout wife, madly in love. Safe and stable.

The American dream. That’s one reason he’d moved to America, after all.

Safe and stable. He’d tried. Lord knew, he’d tried.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

J.T. Ellison

J.T. Ellison
(Photo by Krista Lee Photography)

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series, the latter starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the international thriller series “A Brit in the FBI” with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter.

Cohost of the Emmy Award-winning show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband. She invites readers to visit her at her home on the Web at JTEllison.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

LIE TO ME
By J.T. Ellison
416 pgs. Mira. $26.99

Preorder Lie to Me before its release on September 5, 2017! You may order it from one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Books-A-Million, and Barnes & Noble.

This excerpt is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

Read all the excerpts from Lie to Me in order! Follow the tour as listed below:

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About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

3 Responses to Did She, or Didn’t She—from J.T. Ellison’s ‘Lie to Me’ [EXCERPT]

  1. Pingback: J. T. Ellison, author of LIE TO ME, on tour August/September 2017 | TLC Book Tours

  2. Pingback: On A Good Marriage [GUEST POST] | Jathan & Heather

  3. Thanks for featuring this excerpt for the tour!

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