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Lies that Bind

Lies that Bind

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A missing young woman. A grieving mother. An investigative journalist determined to find answers.

From the bestselling author of Sweet Tea Tuesdays and Only One Life comes a suspenseful story of three women who, in search of freedom from the lies that bind them, experience personal growth, discovery, and forgiveness.

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Synopsis

On a snowy morning in December of 2009, Reese Carpenter disappeared from the scene of a single-car accident that claimed her father’s life. First responders to the accident saw no evidence of her, and she’s been neither seen nor heard from since.

A decade later, Reese’s mother, Eva, who holds out hope Reese is still alive, confides in her new across-the-street neighbor, Maggie, about her missing daughter. When her husband’s controlling behavior turns abusive, Maggie, an investigative journalist, uses the search for Reese as an opportunity to get out of town.

In this captivating novel, Maggie takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of emotion as she travels from Virginia to a college campus in Ohio to Washington DC, unraveling the secrets of the dysfunctional family that drove a young woman to a desperate act of survival.

Read an Excerpt

Click the down arrow . . .

Early morning traffic approaching the Portland International Airport is more stop than go. With a glance at the dashboard clock, Valerie lays her hand on the horn, the loud blast setting Maggie’s teeth on edge.

“Mom! Geez! That’s not helping anything.”

“Sorry, honey,” her mother says, and blows the horn again, two short successive toots. “I don’t want you to miss your flight.”

Maggie wishes she would miss her flight.

The stoplight overhead changes from yellow to red, leaving them stranded in the intersection behind a line of unmoving cars. When angry honks from cars to her right urge them onward, Maggie avoids eye contact with the drivers. What can she do? She’s only the passenger. The minivan in front of them finally gains clearance, and Valerie inches her Subaru forward.

Maggie studies her mother’s profile, memorizing her features for later when she’s living three thousand miles away. What will she do without her mother? Her rock. Her best friend. She’s seen Valerie nearly every single day for the past twenty-eight years. Who knows when they will be together again? Easter? Maggie’s birthday in June?

Valerie’s hair is the same mahogany color as Maggie’s, gray roots dyed and cut to shoulder length. Her mother is a no-frills woman devoted to her family. They live a modest life on her father’s plumber’s salary. But what they lack for in possessions, her parents make up for by showering their children with love and support. Her mother volunteers in their church’s office and provides food and care for sick parishioners. While Maggie admires her mother, she wants more out of her own life. Sure, she wants a family. But only when the time is right. Career first, and then come the children.

“Say, Mom, did you ever have any doubts about Dad?”

Valerie, her head on a swivel, shoots Maggie a concerned look. “Not serious doubts, no. Why do you ask? Are you having doubts about Eric?”

Maggie bites on a hangnail as she thinks about her answer. “I wouldn’t call them doubts exactly. More a feeling of unease.”

Valerie’s expression softens and she returns her gaze to the road. “Which is understandable considering you’re moving all the way across the country to Virginia.”

Maggie sighs. “I’m sure that has something to do with it. But I never had doubts about Daniel. Obviously, he had doubts about me.”

“Daniel got cold feet,” Valerie says. “He would’ve come to his senses if you’d given him some time.”

“Some time?” Maggie scoffs. “Daniel and I dated for six years. I was expecting an engagement ring. Instead, he breaks up with me out of the blue and flies off to Europe. Exactly how much time do you think I should’ve given him?”

Tightening her grip on the steering wheel, Valerie mumbles, “More than six months for sure.”

Maggie met Eric a week after Daniel dumped her. They got engaged seven weeks after their first date and married four months later. She started dating him to prove to Daniel that she was moving on with her life. She never intended to fall for Eric, but she discovered qualities in him that appealed to her. He’s everything Daniel is not. Older than Maggie by five years, he’s mature and secure, a successful real estate developer who can more than adequately provide for her and their future family. Most importantly, she knows she can count on him not to run out on her.

“Marriage isn’t what I thought it would be,” Maggie says, chewing harder on the hangnail as she stares out the window.

“I warned you, marriage is hard work.”

Maggie wonders why she opened this can of worms. “Correction, you warned me not to marry Eric.”

“We warned you it was too soon after Daniel,” Valerie says. “Despite what you think, we don’t dislike Eric. We’re concerned because we know so little about him. He only invited three people to the wedding, not family or friends but coworkers. You claimed you investigated him, but . . .”

“But what, Mom? He’s from Topeka, Kansas. His parents are both dead. He graduated from Seaman High School and Kansas State University.”

“You already told me all this.”

Maggie crosses her arms over her chest. “Then what are you saying?”

The line of cars comes to a complete stop again, and Valerie shifts in her seat toward Maggie. “As a child, you interrogated every new kid on the block before you’d let them in our house.“ She laughs. “You turned more than one poor child away when you thought they were lying. You knew the names and ages of their siblings. The breeds of their pets. Their mother’s and father’s occupations. What kind of cereal they ate for breakfast—”

“What’s your point, Mom? I have an inquiring mind. I’m an investigative journalist.”

“That is my point. Your genuine interest in people’s lives is what makes you so successful at your job. But it’s different with Eric. You confirmed what he told you about himself, but you haven’t learned much else. It’s like you’re in denial, afraid of what you might find out about Eric, that your new husband isn’t the man you want him to be.”

“You’re wrong,” Maggie says with a stiff upper lip. “Eric is the perfect man for me.”

Maggie admits, though, that she didn’t try very hard to find out about his past. She’s never seen a photograph of his parents, and whenever she quizzes him about his family, he gets visibly upset, as though some horrific tragedy happened to him during his youth. She doesn’t want to know more about his past. Her mother is right. She’s afraid to find out he isn’t the man she wants and needs him to be—steady, caring, good provider.

Watch the Trailer . . .