As part of the blog tour celebrating the release of Kate Moretti‘s The Vanishing Year, Titan Books has given us a short excerpt from the new thriller. First, though, here’s the synopsis:
Zoe Whittaker appears to have a charmed life. Newly married to a rich and attentive man, she has the best of everything.
But five years ago, Zoe’s life was in danger. Because back then, Zoe wasn’t Zoe at all.
When an attempt is made on her life, Zoe fears that her past has caught up with her. But who can she ask for help when even her own husband doesn’t know her real name?
Zoe must decide who she can trust before she — whoever she is — vanishes completely…
And now, on to the excerpt…
THE VANISHING YEAR
Pulling out a slip of paper, I dial the number scrawled on the back in my own hand. When the receptionist picks up and chirps New York Post, I ask for Cash Murray. His voice comes on the line after a small blip of hold music and I ask him to meet me for coffee. He agrees and picks a place a block from the office. I dress conservatively, in a white silk blouse and black pants, and I’m at the coffee shop ten minutes early. To my surprise, Cash is already there, seated in a corner booth, thumbing through the New York Times.
“Do you have to hide out in obscure diners to read that?” I say as I slide into the booth across from him. My pant leg catches on a ripped swath of red vinyl. I look down quickly and am relieved to see the fabric isn’t torn.
He gives me a grin, and I realize he’s much younger than I’d thought. He’s my age — a beefy man, the kind that spends an hour in the gym every day, but probably not more than that, a simple effort to fight off genetics. His elbows rest on the table and his arms are thick, his nails bitten to the quick. He moves quickly, the jumpy, alert markers of a journalist.
“To what do I owe the honor, Mrs. Whittaker?” He sips from his mug, raising one eyebrow. I flush, feeling transparent.
“I need you to show me your pictures from last night?” I end the statement with a upward lilt, and silently curse myself. I think of Henry, who speaks with gusto, who would have thrown off the statement like a command, and Cash would be scrambling to meet it. I get raised eyebrows and a friendly smile.
“Oh! Yeah, I got some really great shots!” He’s enthusiastic now, leaning back in his seat. “I’d love to run them by you. You know, you’re easy to photograph.” He picks at his nail.
“Well, that’s what I wanted to tell you. I need you to not run any shots of me, in particular.” I try for my Henry voice. “I did discuss that before the event, you know.”
“Oh, that’s almost impossible. I mean, you ran the show. The whole event was spectacular, and you were the shining star of the night. Really, if you’re worried about the shots, I’m telling you, they were stunning. I say that professionally, you know?”
“No, Mr. Murray, listen, it’s not that. I just can’t have my picture in the paper, okay? I won’t sign off on it.”
“Well, to be honest, you don’t have to. I was invited to the event to take pictures. If you want me to run the article, I need to use you. Frankly, photos of impoverished kids aren’t selling the society pages. Beautiful women who care about impoverished kids are.”
“Then don’t run the article.”
“But I already wrote it.”
“I don’t care, can’t you just call the whole thing off?” He eyes me suspiciously and I shift in my seat. I maintain eye contact, refusing to be the one who breaks first. Finally, he gives me a wry smile.
“Why don’t I show you what I have and we can go from there?”
I nod slowly. Okay, fine.“But my camera is at home. How about we meet here Monday, same time?”
“When is the article running?” I’m surprised, I’d expected it to run tomorrow.
“Oh, well, it’s a write-up of the event but it’s more a spotlight of the charity, so it’ll run next Sunday.”
I agree to meet him, then almost laugh out loud at a sudden thought. The reason behind my insistence is a better story than the one he’s trying to protect. I realize then why Cash Murray is a journalist for the society pages. He lacks the nose for hard news.
Kate Moretti‘s The Vanishing Year is out now, published in the UK by Titan Books and Atria in North America. For more on the author’s writing and novels, be sure to check out her website, and follow her on Goodreads and Twitter.