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Authors: Amy Tintera

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BOOK: Listen for the Lie
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CHAPTER SEVEN
LUCY

The bedroom I lived in for the first eighteen years of my life looks nothing like it did when I was younger. Before leaving for Los Angeles, I cleared out the entire room. Took everything off the walls and boxed it all up, emptied the closet and dresser, tossed all the old notebooks and school assignments in my desk.

Mom replaced the furniture at some point—the twin bed is now a queen, and the dresser and desk are new—and so the room is completely different than when it was mine. It's a relief.

I pull my laptop out of my bag and plop down on the bed, which is hard as a rock. Mom thinks that soft beds are bad for your back, and she won't be convinced otherwise.

I have a few emails, a couple book-related, one hate-mail-related (“
Who did you sleep with to get the charges dropped, you evil bitch?
”), and one from my agent, Aubrey. Aubrey Vargas is a perpetually upbeat woman, and she has sent me an email with a lot of exclamation points about how she's not at all worried about the podcast. “
Your real name will be kept under wraps here as usual! I hope you have a great time in Texas!

Sure, Aubrey. The best time.

I also have a mountain of social media notifications, and I scroll through them quickly. I only have active social media accounts under the Eva Knightley name. I had Instagram, Facebook, and
Twitter accounts once upon a time, but I shut them down a long time ago. It felt too risky. I'd just barely skirted beneath the radar of social media for years before this podcast. I never wanted to tempt fate.

Eva Knightley is just a bubbly romance author with lots of (strictly online) friends. No one thinks she's murdered anyone, with the exception of the occasional fictional character.

I scroll through the comments on my Facebook reader group page, where a few people are discussing Clayton, the evil ex-boyfriend in my last book.


Am I the only one who thought that Clayton was going to mysteriously die at the end?”
Amber Hutton wrote.


Yes!”
Erica Burton replied. “
When Poppy says ‘literally no one would miss you if you disappeared tomorrow, Clayton,' I was like, she is going to murder that dude! And I'm not going to be sad about it!


LOL
,” Amber replied, “
100%. For a minute I wondered if I'd picked up a really weird romance novel, because the heroine doesn't usually kill people
.”

“Eva, maybe you should be writing serial killer books too!”

I snort as I type out a reply. “
Not a bad idea. Watch out, world—I'm entering my murder era!

The comment immediately starts to get likes and laughs. I have to wonder if they'd think it was funny if they knew who I really was.


Lucy, dinner!”
my mom calls from downstairs, and suddenly I'm sixteen again. I wish I'd gotten the stupid hotel room.

Dad made dinner. Both my parents cook, but Dad does it most of the time. He's better at it, and he enjoys banging the pots on the stove really loudly when he's annoyed.

There's been a lot of banging tonight.

I offered to pick up Grandma so she could join us, but she claimed exhaustion and told me to come over in the morning. “Exhausted means drunk,” Mom helpfully explained when I got off the phone.

Now, I sit at the table across from my parents. They're both on the other side, united against me. Or maybe they always sit there. It's weird, but perhaps they don't want to look at each other.

I take a bite of roast chicken. Dad's disappointment doesn't transfer to his cooking. People like to claim that food tastes better when it's made with love—like how their grandmother's pie didn't taste right when they made it, so it must have been the love that made it good.

This is bullshit, in my opinion. It was probably just extra butter or better-quality sugar that made it good.

Dad's cooking is proof of this. It is not made with love; it's made with resentment and disappointment. And it still tastes fucking great.

“How is work, Lucy?” Mom's using her long, peach fingernails to slowly peel the skin off her chicken breast. She banishes it to the edge of her plate, which seems a shame to me.

I look at my food instead of at her. “Fine. Same as usual.” My parents don't need to know I was fired. Their opinion of me is low enough already.

“That's good. You're still working for that educational publisher, aren't you? Doing copyediting and such?”

“Yep.” I did have that job for a few months, two years ago. Close enough.

“You
always
noticed misspellings and grammar mistakes. Don, you remember, don't you? She used to mark up the church program and give it to the pastor.”

“I remember,” Dad says. “I think that Jan has held a grudge about that forever.”

“Jan should have done a better job typing up the programs,” I say.

Mom laughs, because it's true. Those programs were an embarrassment. For years I amused myself during sermons by counting all the mistakes, but by about age fifteen I couldn't take it anymore and
I'd hand over my corrections to the pastor after the service. I must have looked like a little asshole to Jan, the receptionist whose job it was to type them up every week.

They replaced Jan after I pointed out that she'd used
pubic
instead of
public
in the newsletter. My youth group lost it.
Plumpton Baptist Church Pubic Events
was the funniest shit we'd ever seen.

Jan was given another job in the church, but she definitely always hated me after that. It's not my fault that Jan couldn't be bothered to proofread her work.

I wonder whether anyone (besides my parents) remembers that now. Aggressively copyediting church documents seems rather tame, considering the events of the next few years.

Listen for the Lie Podcast with Ben Owens

EPISODE 2—“SHE WOULD NOT HESITATE TO CUT A BITCH”

There's a wealth of information out there about Savannah. Most of her friends and family have been forthcoming with stories about her life. But Lucy? She's more of a mystery. A lot of people I spoke with said they wanted the focus to remain on Savannah, not on Lucy. Savannah was the one who was murdered, after all.

However, you can't talk about Savannah without also talking about Lucy. So, I pressed people for details about her, and what they remembered about her from before the murder. Here's Ross Ayers, who grew up in Plumpton and went to school with Lucy.

Ross:
              I mean, Lucy was … she was okay when we were little. Like, she was sort of nice, I guess. But later she … I don't know. She …

Ben:
               She what?

Ross:
              Do I have to be politically correct about murderers now too? Jesus Christ. She was a bitch, okay? She was a huge fucking bitch.

CHAPTER EIGHT
LUCY

The next morning, I go to see Grandma. I invite Mom, hoping she'll say no, but she grabs her crutches and hobbles out to my car.

“Has she sent you a picture of the house?” Mom asks as I navigate the streets of Plumpton. I remember them well, much to my dismay.

“No.”

“God, it's awful. I'm so embarrassed.”

It is not awful. It is, however, supremely weird.

I stand in front of it and cock my head. “Huh.”

Mom grunts as she digs her crutches into the dirt and stops next to me. “She sold her old house—which was paid off, I'd like to add—to buy this … thing.”

“It's pink.”

“Yes.”

“I feel like she should have mentioned that.”

“She had them paint it that color on purpose. It was supposed to be brown.”

“Huh.”

“It's two hundred and fifty square feet. Who in the world wants to live in two hundred and fifty square feet?”

“Grandma, apparently.”

“And why is it on wheels? Where is she going to take it? She's never left Texas.”

That, I must admit, is a good point.

The tiny house is kind of cute, actually. It's basically a square box on wheels, but it has a certain charm, and it's not just the cheery pink color. There's a garden on the left side, and in front, two chairs and a small table. It's on a plot of land surrounded by trees, a much larger home barely visible in the distance.

The door opens, and Grandma steps out. She wears a loose, faded blue dress with white daisies dotting the hem. Her gray hair is pulled into a bun and her lips are a bright pink color that almost matches the house. I don't think I'll look that good when I'm eighty.

“Lucy!” She spreads her arms wide.

I walk across the grass to embrace her. She holds me at arm's length when I pull away.

“You're not just my favorite grandchild, you're also the most attractive one by a mile.”


Mom
.” Mom stops next to me with a grunt. “I wish you would stop saying that. It's so rude.”

“It's only rude if you tell the other ones.” Grandma turns away, waving for us to follow. “Come in! I made iced tea.”

I follow her inside, cold air blasting my face as I step out of the heat. Mom shivers. One upside of a tiny house—easy to keep cool in the summer. Or freezing cold, if you're Grandma.

For two hundred and fifty square feet, the house makes impressive use of space. There's a kitchenette to my right, and to the left, a sofa against the wall with a television mounted opposite it. For a moment, I wonder whether she sleeps on the sofa, until I see a rollout bed tucked into the wall. There's a bathroom in the far corner with only a curtain for a door.

“Sit down, Kathleen, you're making me nervous on those crutches.” Grandma points at the couch, and Mom obediently sits. I put her crutches against the wall.

“See, I can just move the table around when I have company!” Grandma slides the small square table so it's in front of the couch.

I sit on one of the stools she pulls from underneath it. “It's very nice.”

Mom shoots me a look like I shouldn't encourage her. Grandma pours tea from a jug into three glasses, and then plunks two of them on the table. They're stemless wineglasses, the kind you're supposed to use for red. I only know this because Nathan is insufferably pretentious about wine. I like to drink my wine straight from the can.

“I'm glad you think so. Your mother is extremely disapproving.”

I take a long sip of tea and smile at her. Grandma doesn't ask if you want your tea sweet or unsweet. There's only one way iced tea is made, in her opinion—sweet enough to leave a nice coating of sugar at the bottom of the glass. (She is correct.)

Mom waves her arms around in a way that feels disapproving. “You had a three-bedroom house! And now you live in a closet!”

“Tiny houses are very hip. Millennials love them.”

“You're not a Millennial.”

She shrugs once, a shrug that would make Arya Stark proud.

Mom looks at me. Two matching vertical lines have appeared between her eyebrows. “Her old house was lovely. It had those big windows in the kitchen, and a sunroom in back.”

She says this to me like I don't remember the house just fine. Like I didn't spend many evenings there as a kid to avoid the yelling and tension at home. Grandma and I would sit at the kitchen table, eating candy that would ruin my dinner, while staring out the huge windows at the neighbor who always had to chase her little dog down the street.

“The sunroom was too hot most of the time anyway,” I say. Mom sighs.

Grandma nods in agreement, and then reaches into a cabinet to grab a bottle of vodka. She pours some into her tea.

Mom purses her lips. “Mom, it's not even noon.”

“What's your point?” She pours a little more into the glass. “Lucy, you want some?”

“No, thank you.” I try not to laugh.

“I seriously don't understand developing a drinking problem in your
seventies
,” Mom says.

Grandma sits at the head of the table. “Why not? Way I see it, seems like the perfect time to develop a drinking problem. It's dull as hell around here.”

I'm pressing my lips together hard to keep from laughing. Mom mutters something I can't understand.

“Let's give it a rest for today, shall we?” Grandma takes a long sip of her drink. “You can resume judging all my life choices after Lucy goes back to L.A.”

Mom sighs heavily but doesn't argue. She adjusts the front of her pale green blouse, like having her neckline in order might fix this situation as well.

“How is L.A.?” Grandma asks. “How's Nathan?”

“Mmhhh … I think that's about to run its course.” He still hasn't located his balls and officially dumped me, but I did get a
we should talk when you're back
text this morning that I haven't replied to yet.

Mom looks from me to Grandma, a tiny frown on her face. Mom didn't know about Nathan. It occurs to me now that Mom probably has no idea how often I talk to Grandma. Far more often than I talk to her.

Grandma has also noticed Mom's expression and now looks very pleased with herself. “And how is Plumpton? Different than when you left?”

“A little. There's a Starbucks.”

Mom drinks her tea and makes a face. She puts it down, nudging it to the other side of the table. “Did you give some thought to what you want to do for your party?”

“Oh yes, I made a list.” She jumps out of her chair—she moves like she's many years younger than eighty—and grabs a piece of
paper from the kitchen counter. She hands it over to me. It's a list of people to invite, a few food suggestions, and a list of cocktails. At the bottom, in capital letters, it says “PIE.”

“Instead of cake?” I point to the word.

“Yes. Several types of pie. But definitely pecan. And apple. And peach.”

I laugh. “Okay. I'm sure Dad can handle that.”

Mom nods. “Don makes an excellent apple pie.”

Grandma looks at me. “You know that radio host is in town?”

“Podcaster, Mom. They call them podcasters now.” Mom glances at me and then quickly away.

I rub the goosebumps on my arms. “Mom told me.”

The very large bottle of vodka is still on the counter. I imagine smashing it into Mom's head.

A soft voice whispers in my ear, “
Let's kill—

“Has he ever tried to contact you?” Grandma asks.

“Let's kill—”

Not now
. I shake my head, and the voice, away. “He emailed me.”

Mom blinks. “About what?”

“About doing an interview.”

“What did you say?”

“Nothing. I didn't respond.”

She clucks her tongue. “That's rude.”

“I never respond to emails about Savvy.”

“Can't blame you,” Grandma says.

Mom leans back in her chair. “He was perfectly nice.”

“Of course he was; he wanted something from you.” Grandma turns her attention back to me. “Are you going to go see people while you're in town? Any of your old friends?”

I snort. “What friends?”

BOOK: Listen for the Lie
12.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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