Domestic noir at its best. Readers will devour this stunning page-turner about the disintegration of a marriage as grief, jealousy, betrayal and murder destroy the facade of the perfect literary couple. New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison takes her exceptional writing to a new level with this breakout novel.
They built a life on lies
Sutton and Ethan Montclair's idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.
Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.
Enjoy a sample of Lie To Me by J.T. Ellison.
In Which Introductions Are Made
You aren’t going to like me very much. Oh, maybe in your weaker moments, you’ll feel sorry for me, and use those feelings of warmth and compassion and insightful understanding to excuse my actions. You’ll say to yourself, “Poor little girl. She couldn’t help herself.” Or, “Can you blame her? After all she’s been through?” Perhaps you’ll even think, “She was born to this. It is not her fault.”
Of course it’s my fault. I chose this path. Yes, I feel as if I have no choice, that I’m driven to do it, that there are voices in my head that push me to the dark side.
But I also know right from wrong. I know good from evil. I may be compelled to ruin the lives in front of me, but I could walk away if I wanted.
Never mind that. Back to you.
Truly, deep down, you are going to despise me. I am the rot that lives in the floorboards of your house. I am the spider that scuttles away when you shine a light in my corner, ever watching, ever waiting. I am the shard of glass that slits the skin of your bare foot. I am all the bad things that happen to you.
I steal things.
I kill things.
I leave a trail of destruction in my wake that is a sight to behold, wave after wave of hate that will overwhelm you until you sink to the bottom of my miserable little ocean, and once you’ve drowned I will feed on your flesh and turn your bones to dust.
You’re mine now. You are powerless against me. So don’t bother fighting it.
I hope you enjoy the show.
We Find A Body
The body was in the woods off a meandering state road that led into a busy, charming, historical downtown. It was completely obscured from view, deeply hidden, under several pine boughs and a thick layer of nature’s detritus. Synthetic clothing was melted to the flesh, making it difficult to tell race or gender at a glance. Closer inspection would show hair that was long and a curious shade: not blond, not red, possibly chemically treated. The left hand held evidence of rings, a wedding set, and so the body would eventually be determined as female.
The shroud of melt and bough had not stopped the forever daisy-chain progression of decay. Instar maggots and adult flies delighted in their found treat. A genus party started soon after. Diptera and coleoptera were evident three days in, paving the way for the coming colonization of Calliphoridae. Though the body was burned beyond ready recognition, the insects didn’t seem to mind; it was simply a barbecue feast to them.
Outside of this natural progression, the body lay undisturbed for two days. Birds of prey flew in long, lazy circles overhead. Cars drove past less than fifty yards away, drivers unknowing, uncaring, that one of their own lay rotting nearby.
Three Days Gone, a severe thunderstorm knocked free several of the funereal branches, allowing the body to be exposed, pelted by hail breaking through the leafy canopy. The heavy rains saturated the ground and the body sank deeper into the muck, where it canted on its side.
Four Days Gone, the body was ravaged by a starving coyote, forty-two razor teeth shredding everything available.
Five Days Gone, the body disarticulated, the fire and the heat and the wet and the insects and the coyote and the natural progression of things breaking it down quickly and without thought to the effects this would have on the loved ones. The idea of a nonintact body was sometimes more than people could take.
Six Days Gone, they found her.
Ethan found the note ten minutes after he rolled out of bed that Tuesday, the Tuesday that would change everything. He came downstairs yawning, scratching his chest, to…nothing. Empty space, devoid of wife.
Sutton always began her morning at the kitchen table with a bowl of cereal, a piece of fruit, and a cup of tea. She read the paper, scoffing at the innumerable typos—the paper was going under; paying for decent copyediting was the least of their worries. A bowl full of cereal, a glass of milk, and a spoon would be laid out for him, the sports page folded neatly by his seat. Always. Always.
But this morning, there was no evidence Sutton had been in the kitchen. No newspaper, no bowl. No wife.
He called for her. There was no response. He searched through the house. Her bag was in her office, her cell phone, her laptop. Her license was stashed in her small wallet, all her credit cards present and accounted for, a twenty folded in half shoved behind them.
She must have gone for a run.
He felt a spark of pleasure at the thought. Sutton, once, had been a health nut. She’d run or walked or done yoga every day, something physical, something to keep her body moving and in shape. And what a shape—when he’d met her, the woman was a knockout, willowy and lithe, strong legs and delicate ankles, tendons tight and gleaming like a Thoroughbred. A body she sculpted to match his own, to fit with him.
Ethan Montclair couldn’t have a dog for a wife, no. He needed someone he could trot out at cocktail parties who looked smashing in a little black dress. And not only looked good, but sounded good. He needed a partner on all levels—physical and intellectual. Maybe it was shallow of him, but he was a good-looking man, drew a lot of attention, and not only did he want his wife to be stunning, he wanted her to be smart, too. And Sutton fit the bill.
He knew they made a powerful, attractive couple. Looks and brains and success, so much success. That was their thing.
After Dashiell, she’d bounced back into shape like the champion racehorse she was; though later, when their world collapsed, she’d become tired and bloated and swollen with medications and depression, and she no longer took any interest in being beautiful and fit.
That she’d decided to start running again gave him hope. So much hope.
Spirits lifted, he went back to the sunny, happy kitchen and got his own bowl, his own cereal. Made a pot of tea, whistling. Went for the stevia—no sugar for the health-conscious Montclairs, no, never.
That was when he saw it. Small. White. Lined. Torn from a spiral-bound notebook, a Clairefontaine, Sutton’s favorite for the smooth, lovely paper.
This…thing…was incongruous with the rest of their spotless kitchen. Sutton was above all things a pathological neatnik. She’d never just leave something lying about.
All the happiness f led. He knew. He’d been all wrong. She hadn’t gone running.
He picked up the note.
I’m sorry to do this to you, but I need some time away. I’ve been unhappy, you know that. This shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Forgive me for being a coward. Forgive me, for so many things.
Don’t look for me.
She was gone.
He felt something squeezing in his chest, a pain of sorts, and realized that his heart had just broken. He’d always thought that a stupid, silly term, but now he knew. It could happen, it was happening. He was being torn in two, torn to shreds. No wonder there were rites warning against this—what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
God was ripping him apart in punishment, and he deserved it. He deserved it all.
He didn’t cry. There were no tears left for either of them to shed.
He put the note down carefully, as if it were a bomb that might go off with the wrong touch. Went to their bedroom. Nothing seemed out of place. Her brush, her makeup case, her toothbrush, all lined up carefully on the marble. Her suitcase was in the closet.
He went back downstairs to her office, at the back of the house. Doubled-checked.
Her laptop was on her desk.
Her cell phone was in the charger.
Her purse was on the floor next to her chair.
Her wallet inside, the smiling DMV photo that made her look like a model.
Like a zombie, he moved back to the kitchen. He opened the refrigerator and got out the milk. Poured cereal in the bowl. Dropped the stevia into his tea. Sat at the empty table, stared at the spot where his wife’s head should have been.
What was he supposed to do now? Where could she be? He ran through the possibilities, the places she loved, rejecting one after another. Surely he was wrong in his thinking. Surely she’d simply run away, to one of her friends. That’s where she’d gone. Should he give her some time and space, like she asked?
She left without her things, Ethan. Sutton’s lifelines are her laptop and phone. They are her office, her world.
A dawning realization. Sutton hadn’t shaken the depression, not completely. She was still prone to fits of melancholy. She might have done something stupid, crazy. She’d tried once before, after… Oh, God. Her words. Perhaps she was telling him exactly what she’d done.
I’m a coward. Forgive me. Don’t look for me.
He threw the bowl of cereal across the room.
“Bloody fucking hell. You selfish, heartless bitch.”
We hope you enjoyed this sample of Lie To Me by J.T. Ellison.
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