Dangerous Lies Read online





  ALSO BY BECCA FITZPATRICK

  Black Ice

  Hush, Hush Saga

  Hush, Hush

  Crescendo

  Silence

  Finale

  First published in Great Britain in 2015 by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd

  First published in the USA in 2015 by Simon & Schuster BFYR,

  an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, NewYork

  A CBS COMPANY

  Copyright (c) 2015 Becca Fitzpatrick

  www.beccafitzpatrick.com

  This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.

  No reproduction without permission.

  All rights reserved.

  The right of Becca Fitzpatrick to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, 1988.

  Simon & Schuster UK Ltd

  1st Floor, 222 Gray's Inn Road

  London

  WC1X 8HB

  www.simonandschuster.co.uk

  Simon & Schuster Australia, Sydney

  Simon & Schuster India, New Delhi

  A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

  HB ISBN 978-1-4711-2508-9

  eBook ISBN 978-1-4711-2511-9

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

  Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY

  Simon & Schuster UK Ltd are committed to sourcing paper that is made from wood grown in sustainable forests and supports the Forest Stewardship Council, the leading international forest certification organisation. Our books displaying the FSC logo are printed on FSC certified paper.

  THIS ONE'S FOR MY CHILDHOOD FRIENDS

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  First and forever, thank you to the Fitzpatrick boys: Justin, Riley, and Jace.

  Thanks to Jenn Martin, who works tirelessly behind the scenes so I can focus on writing.

  I'm grateful to my team at Simon & Schuster: Jon Anderson, Justin Chanda, Anne Zafian, Mekisha Telfer, Lucy Ruth Cummins, Chrissy Noh, Katy Hershberger, Dorothy Gribbin, Jenica Nasworthy, Chava Wolin, and Angela Zurlo.

  A shout-out to Zareen Jaffery, editor extraordinaire.

  I owe my copyeditor and proofreader, Katharine Wiencke and Adam Smith, respectively, a thank-you.

  Catherine Drayton, it's been a wild and exciting seven years. Thanks for taking a chance on me. Lyndsey Blessing and the crew at InkWell Management: Thank you for your support!

  To the many librarians and booksellers who've placed my books into the hands of a reader: consider this a thank-you just for you.

  Thanks to Matt Epley for answering my baseball-related questions.

  Thanks to Cameron and Rebecca Chin for providing insight into the world of rodeo cowboys and ranch life.

  Thanks to Erin Tangeman for helping me with a couple law-related inquiries.

  Thanks to Rob Baer for answering my questions about broken ankle bones--even if you did ask for a rather steep cut of the royalties as compensation.

  Thanks to Jason Hales, who, I hope, believes in second chances.

  Laura Andersen, Ginger Churchill, and Patty Esden: Long-distance hugs have worked surprisingly well at holding our group together. Love you now and always.

  Finally, a heartfelt thank-you to you, dear reader. Whether you've been reading my books over the years, or you're taking a chance on me now, it's been a pleasure writing for you. I do hope you enjoy Chet and Stella's story.

  CONTENTS

  1

  2

  3

  4

  5

  6

  7

  8

  9

  10

  11

  12

  13

  14

  15

  16

  17

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  20

  21

  22

  23

  24

  25

  26

  27

  28

  29

  30

  31

  32

  33

  34

  35

  36

  37

  1

  AN ANGRY RAP SHOOK THE MOTEL ROOM DOOR. I lay perfectly still on the mattress, my skin hot and clammy. Beside me, Reed drew my body to his.

  So much for ten minutes, I thought.

  I tried not to cry as I nestled my face into the warm curve of Reed's neck. My mind absorbed every detail, carefully retaining this moment so I could play it back for a long, long time after they took me away.

  I had a wild impulse to flee with him. An alley flanked the motel, visible from the room they kept me in. Details like where we would hide and how we'd keep from ending up at the bottom of the Delaware River with cement blocks strapped to our feet kept me from acting on that impulse.

  The knock grew louder. Bending his head close to mine, Reed breathed deeply. He was trying to remember me, too.

  "The room is probably bugged." He spoke so softly, I almost mistook the sound for a sigh. "Have they told you where they're taking you?"

  I shook my head from side to side, and his face, which was crisscrossed with cuts and swollen at the cheekbones, fell. "Yeah, me neither."

  Because his body was also bruised, he rolled gingerly onto his knees, searching along the headboard. He opened the nightstand drawer and fanned the pages of the Gideon Bible. He looked under the mattress.

  Nothing. But of course they'd bugged the room. They didn't trust us not to talk about that night, even though my testimony was the last thing on my mind. After everything I'd agreed to do for them, they couldn't give me ten minutes, ten private minutes, with my boyfriend before they dragged us apart.

  "Are you mad at me?" I couldn't help whispering. He was in this mess because of me--because of my mom. It was trouble with her that had effectively ruined his life and future. How could he not resent me even a little? His hesitation made me feel a deep, limitless anger toward my mom.

  Then he said, "Don't." Softly, but firmly. "Don't say that. Nothing's changed. We're going to be together. Not now, but soon."

  My relief came quick and sure. I shouldn't have doubted him. Reed was the one. He loved me, and had proven once again that I could count on him.

  A key scraped the lock.

  "Don't forget the Phillies account," Reed whispered urgently in my ear. I met his eyes. In the seconds that followed, we shared an unspoken conversation. With one slight nod, I told him I understood.

  Then I threw my arms around him so tightly I heard the breath go out of him. I released him just as Deputy Marshal Price thrust open the door. Two black Buick sedans idled in the parking lot behind him.

  He glanced between us. "Time to go."

  A second deputy, one I didn't recognize, led Reed out. With one backward glance, Reed held me in his gaze. He tried to smile, but only one side of his mouth turned up. He was nervous. My heart began to pound. This was it. Last chance to run.

  "Reed!" I called out. But he was already inside the car. I couldn't see his face behind the tinted glass. The car turned out of the lot and accelerated. Ten seconds later I'd lost sight of it. That's when my heart really started to pound. This was actually happening.

  I squeezed my suitcase handle hard between my fingers. I wasn't ready. I couldn't leave the only place I knew. My friends, my house, my school--and Reed.

  "First step's always the hardest," Deputy Marshal Price said, coaxing me outside by the elbow