Five-year-old Ava Boone has been missing for six months. There are have been no leads, no arrests, no witnesses. The only suspect was quiet, middle-aged Leland Ernest.
And Grace Wright has just bought the house next door. Recently divorced, Grace uprooted her two small children to start again and hopes the move will reset her crippling insomnia. But now she understands bargain-price for her beautiful new house.
With whispered neighbourhood gossip and increasingly sleepless nights, Grace develops a fierce obsession with Leland and the safety of her children. Could she really be living next door to a child-kidnapper? A murderer?
With reality and dream blurring more each day, Grace desperately pursues the truth – following Ava’s family, demanding answers from the police – and then a body is discovered…
Nate sings “Three Blind Mice,” Chloe’s favorite nursery rhyme. He’s marching and clapping, and she’s naked and jumping on her bed.
I stand in the doorway, watching them, wishing we could go back to that time when we were a family, whole and unfractured.
Nate raises the blinds (cordless, of course), and my pulse hitches.
“Oh no,” I say. “Keep the blinds closed.”
“Who’s looking? It’s morning. Sun’s out.” He points at the blue sky as if I were an idiot.
My voice lowers a register. “Please close the blinds.”
He tilts his head at my request. “Are you taking a higher dose of—”
“Nate.” Quick and sharp. This is all I have to say. We’ve had this discussion before. No open talk about medications in front of either child.
Wyatt crosses the hallway into his room, a Goosebumps book in his hand. Chloe continues jumping on the bed, singing, “See how they run.”
“Close them,” I say, but movement beyond Chloe’s window catches my attention.
Behind my neighbor’s second-story window, a small hand presses against the glass at the bottom ledge. Above the splayed fingers, brown curls frame a little girl’s face. Her cheeks are soft and round, still holding tight to baby fat. Her lips are slightly parted; she was going to say something, but forgot. Air shimmers before my eyes as if it hangs above an asphalt road on a hot day after a steamroller pressed new oil. I blink. Her fingers are so small. I rub my palms into my eyes and blink again.
She’s gone. The window glass has a slight ugly green tint, a characteristic of energy-efficient windows. Even if someone had been there, you wouldn’t be able to make out detail through the tint. You’re seeing things. You’ve been here before. You just need sleep.
Nate lowers the blinds and softens his tone. “You seem anxious, Grace. Everything OK?”
Skin along my back and shoulders tingles. Heat is coming off me. Why, yes! Everything is dandy since you fucked a handful of nurses and I moved into this crumbling house next door to a possible child killer and several times a day I feel the floor drop an inch away from me and now I’m seeing things. Everything is fabulous, dear.
I smile. “Everything’s fine.”
She Lies Close was published by Titan Books on 8 September 2020