Today, we have an excerpt from Niki Mackay‘s latest novel, The Lies We Tell. The novel is published by Orion Books in paperback today.
Miriam Jackson is a famous radio presenter. Married to a successful film director, she has created the perfect life for herself.
Then her daughter goes missing.
Miriam is desperate to find her before her husband finds out and her perfect life crumbles around her. So she calls the only person who can help: Private Investigator Madison Attallee, who has just solved the biggest case of her career.
Can Madison find Miriam’s daughter? And will Miriam share the truth about her past?
Read on for the novel’s prologue…
Everything is blurred. It is as if the world is uneven around the edges. When I try to stand, my legs are wobbly and I fall back down again, laughing to myself as I go. Ben hands me a thin joint and I inhale deeply, feeling it all over. I look at him, he looks even more wonderful than usual. I mumble, ‘I love you,’ and he says it back, squeezing me gently. I am too overwhelmed to dance. I settle for watching everyone else instead. They all look so beautiful. When Ben leans down and tells me he’s going to get us water, I just nod.
Happy, unconcerned, high.
I don’t know how much time passes, but he seems to have been gone for ages and I’m beginning to feel unsettled now. Anxious and jittery instead of buzzing and free. The music has changed from bouncy house to a darker, more frantic gabba tune. A distorted voice yells ‘this is hell’, and the strobe changes into heavily pulsating red and black.
I start to feel sick. I have another go at standing.
I lean against the wall for support, slipping and sliding. My heart is racing. He shouldn’t have left me for so long. Underneath the drugs I feel annoyed. I get out into the designated ‘chill-out zone’ where a long chrome bar glistens and sparkles. My eyes get stuck seeing waves, seeing diamonds. I have to stop again, transfixed. I work on finding my balance, finding my feet – at least here the music is less hectic. The lights twinkle. Fat stars, beautiful and bright. My heart soars again. The dark corners and sharp edges of life recede for now. Held back for another time. I can feel my blood pumping. I take a deep breath in.
People are sitting huddled in groups at tables and in small circles on the floor. They are smoking spliffs and fags, drinking beer and champagne. I’m okay. I feel myself calming down.
Darren runs past, heading into the main arena and I grab his arm. ‘Seen Ben?’ my voice sounds funny, like it’s bouncing off the walls and hurtling back towards me. A force with a physical presence. Then I wonder if I’ve spoken at all. Darren hasn’t responded, he’s looking over my shoulder. I try again, shouting louder. He frowns, shakes his head and shrugs, before racing off. My heart picks up pace. Everyone looks less benevolent, a swarming mass of strangers. I stand still, take a few deep breaths and wander around trying to avoid bumping into people. Finally, I can make out the silhouette of his hair, shoulder length and curly, behind misty white glass. I feel a ball of excitement starting in my belly, working down. Ben.
I’ve found him. The relief is so palpable it fizzes up within me, forcing a laugh. Joy bursting out. I swing the door open, ready to throw myself into his arms, but he looks up at me, pale faced and ghastly. I’m still smiling until I look down. I see that he’s holding Ruby in his arms and something is happening to her. Her limbs are moving, spasmodic and wrong. There is foam coming out of her mouth. I sober up quickly, shock slapping me hard, and I drop to my knees. I grab at her but it does nothing. Then I’m screaming at Ben to get help. Get help. But by the time the ambulance arrives it’s too late. Everything is too late.