Her whole life is a lie…
Nineteen-year-old Veronica Day learned to lie before she learned to talk. The only person she can be real with is her grifter mother, so when Tori disappears, Veronica isn’t just afraid of losing her only parent. She’s afraid of losing herself.
He’s a professional lie detector…
A wealthy senator holds the key to Tori’s disappearance. It’s easy for Veronica to lie her way into a job on his staff. It’s not so easy to work with his nephew, Jared, who does cutting-edge research in deceit detection.
As Jared begins to see through her lies, Veronica struggles to adapt. For the first time, she wants to let someone in. Only, she’s not sure how. She has spent so much time pretending to be other people, she doesn’t know who she is underneath the layers of disguises.
But this lie is so big, neither of them see it coming.
Veronica isn’t the only one with secrets. Jared joined his uncle’s staff for a reason, and when Veronica discovers the secret he has been working so hard to uncover, she has to make a choice. Hide behind the safety of another convenient lie? Or trust that Jared will love the person she really is when all is revealed.
TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE Excerpt:
At 9:37 AM on October 8th, the devil walks into my office.
I can tell it’s Uncle Spence by the click of his $400-a-pair loafers on the tile and the stench of his overpriced cologne. He probably commissioned a study on what fragrance appealed to the most voters, then special-ordered a vat of it.
My small, windowless office shrinks. I squeeze my computer mouse so hard the plastic crunches.
I shouldn’t have bailed on the gym this morning. I need that punching bag.
His footsteps stop in front of me. “Jared, my boy.”
I stare at my monitor, making him wait. I’m watching footage of the police interviewing the Torrey Pines killer on slow mo. I’m supposed to be identifying any microexpressions that might point to his guilt, but all I can see is Spencer’s face when he told me what happened to Elliott. I hadn’t even finished high school back then. I had no idea you could study a person’s split-second, involuntary expressions to find out if they might be lying. But I knew his tears were bullshit. He went on and on about what a sad loss Elliott’s death was to the world, but he sounded like he was reading someone else’s speech off a teleprompter. That tense set to his shoulders was gone. He was relieved the Elliott problem had been taken care of.
After Spencer has cleared his throat three times, I finally glance up.
He looks the same as he always does. Rich. Satisfied. Benevolently superior. Like Elliott’s death hasn’t affected him at all.
The dull edge of my anger sharpens to a deadly point. “I’m busy.”
“We need to talk.”
“No. We don’t.” Only half my brain is paying attention to the conversation. The other half is stuck in an unproductive loop. Why is he here? What does he want?
In the six years since Elliott’s funeral, Spencer and I have spoken exactly zero times. Even at the obligatory family events, we don’t interact. He stays in his corner, and I stay in mine.
One of the first-year grad students slows as he passes my doorway, craning his neck to get a better look at Spencer. “Hey. Are you—”
“Spencer Powell. So nice to meet you.” Spencer crosses my office, reaching the door in two short strides. “But I’m afraid I’m discussing urgent family business with my nephew. If you’ll excuse us.” He doesn’t wait for a response before he shuts the door in Bradley’s face.
The lock clicks into place, bringing my attention back to the matter at hand. Spencer needs something from me. And he wouldn’t leave the campaign trail for this cozy family reunion unless it was something big. Something I can use.
I won’t fail you, big brother.
There’s no way I can manage friendly, so I settle for stripping the active hostility from my voice. “You’re here. So talk.”
Spencer seats himself in the swivel chair in front of my desk. He’s in TV-interview pose—back straight, head cocked toward me, I-care-about-you smile plastered to his face. “I’d like you to consider doing me a favor. For the good of the family.”
He emphasizes that last word. He likes to remind me I’m not a Powell by blood—that I was only adopted out of the goodness of his sister’s heart, and my place can be revoked at any time if I don’t prove my worth. Not that he’d ever say that. Spencer Powell didn’t win his Senate seat by being stupid.
“What kind of favor?” I ask.
“You’ve done great work here, Jared. We’re all very proud of you.”
“And I’d like you to consider lending your expertise to the Powell campaign.”
The laugh burns on its way out of my throat. “What do you need me for?”
“I’ve had a rather disturbing email. A blackmail threat.”
Emotions flash through me so fast I can’t ID them. Though Elliott’s death is on Spencer’s hands, technically my uncle didn’t pull the trigger. He’s always been careful to follow the letter of the law, if not the spirit. But maybe he’s slipping. Maybe he’s gotten so cocky he thinks he’s above the law. Maybe there’s finally something I can use to make him pay.
I wait a second to respond, wanting to keep my voice even. “What did the email say?”
“The specifics aren’t important. It was all lies, of course.”
“Then why are you so amped to catch the blackmailer?”
Spencer shifts, making the chair squeak. He mutters something about broken laws and invasions of privacy, talking around the issue like the politician he is until he finally hits on an argument that makes sense. “The email came from my campaign manager’s account. It wasn’t from Carl, of course. He left his office door unlocked, and someone walked inside and used his computer. But that means it was either someone on my staff or a volunteer. I can’t have a person with that kind of access working to sabotage me. Who knows what they might resort to the next time?”
I lean back in my chair, considering. It’s probably a dead end, like everything else I’ve pursued for the last six years. But if the blackmailer actually has evidence of Spencer committing a crime… If I can find him and convince him to go public…
I’m not going to lie—even to Spencer—so I choose my words carefully. “All right. I’ll look for your blackmailer.”
He gives me the slick, I’m-on-your-side smile I can’t avoid, because it covers half the billboards in the city. “I knew you’d step up, my boy. You’ll start Monday morning. Send me your biography so we can get it up on the campaign website.”
“I’m not joining your campaign.” I can’t breathe. I stretch the collar of my T-shirt away from my neck, but it doesn’t help. “I’ll stop by and talk to the staff, but I have work to do.”
“Your mother tells me you’re not teaching this quarter. And that you’re nearly done with your thesis research. Surely you can spare a week or two. A month at the outside. Think about what this means to the family.”
I take a deep breath. The leather band of Elliott’s old watch is cool against my wrist.
A month isn’t too long. Not if I can end this, once and for all.
“Fine. I’ll be there Monday. And I’ll find your leak.”
“That’s all I ask, my boy. That’s all I ask.” Spencer gets up. He reaches across the desk, offering me his hand to shake.
His eyes are full of all the lies he has ever told—from the offhand campaign promises he has no intention of keeping to whatever bullshit he fed Elliott that last day.
I take his hand and clamp down hard.
This will be over soon.
No more lies.