Authors: Joy Fielding
Praise for the powerful novels of
New York Times
“Fine-tuned details … [a] compelling tale.”
WHISPERS AND LIES
“[A] page-turner … [with] an ending worthy of Hitchcock.… Once again, the bestselling author tests the complex ties that bind friends and family, and keeps readers wondering when those same ties might turn deadly.… Those familiar with Patricia Highsmith’s particular brand of sinister storytelling will recognize the mayhem Fielding so cunningly unleashes.”
“Fielding delivers another page-turner … a suspense novel with a shocking twist [and] a plot turn so surprising that all previous events are thrown into question. The author keeps the tension high and the pages turning, creating a chillingly paranoid atmosphere.”
“A very satisfying page-turner.… Fielding does a very good job in building her story to a totally unexpected denouement.”
(Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
“It’s hard to sit down and read a few pages of one of [Fielding’s] novels and not want to read the rest. Right now.”
—The Knoxville News-Sentinel
“Riveting? You bet. Powerful? 10,000 horsepower. A real page-turner? And then some. Must-read? And how. Clichés, but so true of Joy Fielding’s
—The Cincinnati Enquirer
“Fielding deals confidently and tenderly with her subjects, and her plots and subplots are engaging. It’s a comfortable, engrossing book for anyone who wants to spend some time with four average, and therefore remarkable, women.”
“A multi-layered saga of friendship, loss, and loyalty.
reminds us of how fear, unfulfilled dreams, and a thirst for power can ravage the closest of relationships.”
“Surprisingly moving.… Don’t forget to keep a family-size box of Kleenex handy in preparation for the tear-jerking finale.”
“Emotionally compelling … hard to put down.… Fielding fully develops her four women characters, each of whom is exquisitely revealed.”
“With her usual page-turning flair, Fielding [writes a] romantic drama with a thriller twist.”
THE FIRST TIME
“Every line rings true.”
—The Orlando Sentinel
“Dramatic and heartrending … the emotions are almost tangible.”
“[An] affecting drama.… Fielding is good at chronicling the messy tangle of family relationships.… A three-tissue finale.”
“This is rich stuff.… Fielding has again pushed a seemingly fragile heroine to the brink, only to have her fight back, tooth and nail.”
National Acclaim for JOY FIELDING’S
“Fielding’s specialty is stripping away the contemporary and trendy feminine masks to reveal the outrageous face of female rage.… But like a good mystery writer, she creates sympathy for the character.”
—The Globe and Mail
“If you’re in the mood to bury yourself in a book … pick up Joy Fielding’s latest novel … it’s guaranteed to reduce you to tears, and once they’ve dried, will leave you feeling a little readier to tackle life’s challenges.”
“Fielding masterfully manipulates our expectations.”
—The Washington Post
Also by Joy Fielding
Whispers and Lies
The First Time
Don’t Cry Now
Tell Me No Secrets
See Jane Run
The Deep End
The Other Woman
Kiss Mommy Goodbye
Copyright © 2003 by Joy Fielding, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Seal Books and colophon are trademarks of Random House of Canada Limited.
Seal Books/published by arrangement with Doubleday Canada Doubleday Canada edition published 2003
Seal Books edition published June 2004
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Seal Books are published by Random House of Canada Limited.
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my sweet potato
Once again, my thanks and gratitude to Owen Laster, Larry Mirkin, and Beverley Slopen for their continuing friendship, insight, advice, and unfailing generosity of spirit. Please know that your support means the world to me.
To my gorgeous editor, Emily Bestler, and her assistant Sarah Branham, for their smarts, hard work, and dedication. And to Owen’s assistant, Jonathan Pecarsky, for always managing to sound pleased to hear from me.
To Judith Curr, Louise Burke, Laura Mullen, Estelle Laurence, and the wonderful people at Atria and Pocket, for their continuing efforts on my behalf—and for those wonderful chocolates at Christmas.
A special thank you to Michael Steeves from MacInfo, who responded to my frantic cries for help when my computer seemingly swallowed my disk. His efforts on my behalf were truly heroic.
To Maya Mavjee, John Neale, John Pearce, Stephanie Gowan, and the staff at Doubleday Canada, a division of Random House, who have never flagged in their support. Our association has spanned many years and several publishing upheavals, and I am both proud and happy we’re still together.
is the first of my novels to be set in my hometown of Toronto, and I realized as I was writing this book how much this beautiful city means to me. I am particularly indebted to Dr. Jim Cairns, the Deputy Chief Coroner for the province of Ontario, and to Gord Walker in the dispatch regional office for the time both so graciously took to answer my questions and share their expertise. My thanks also to the Toronto International Film Festival—the greatest film festival on earth—for providing both the backdrop for this book, and also some of my greatest film memories.
To my readers, again I thank you for your emails, your comments, and your enthusiasm. And a special thanks to those of you who show up at book signings. You make book tours worthwhile.
And lastly, to my family and friends, especially Warren, my amazing husband of almost thirty years, and our beautiful and talented daughters, Shannon and Annie. Without you, truly I would be lost.
morning began, as did so many of their mornings, with an argument. Later, when it was important to recall the precise order of events, the way everything had spun so effortlessly out of control, Cindy would struggle to remember what exactly she and her older daughter had been fighting about. The dog, the shower, her niece’s upcoming wedding—it would all seem so mundane, so trivial, so unworthy of raised voices and increased blood pressure. A blur of words that blew past their heads like a sudden storm, scattering debris but leaving the foundation intact. Nothing extraordinary to be sure. The start of an average day. Or so it had seemed at the time.
(Images: Cindy, in the ratty, green-and-navy terrycloth bathrobe she’d bought just after Tom left, towel-drying her chin-length brown hair as she emerges from her bedroom; Julia at the opposite end of the wide upstairs hall, wrapped in a yellow-and-white-striped towel, pacing back and forth in front of the bathroom between her room and her sister’s, impatience bubbling like lava from a volcano inside her reed-thin, six-foot frame; Elvis, the perpetually scruffy, apricot-colored
Wheaten terrier Julia brought with her when she’d moved back home just under a year ago, barking and snapping at the air as he bounces along beside her.)
“Heather, what in God’s name are you doing in there?” Julia banged on the bathroom door, then banged on it a second time when no answer was forthcoming.
“Sounds like she’s taking a shower,” Cindy offered, regretting her interference as soon as the words were out of her mouth.
Julia glared at her mother from underneath a mop of ash-blond hair, painstakingly straightened every morning to obliterate even a hint of its natural curl. “Obviously.”
Cindy marveled that one word could contain so much venom, convey so much disdain. “I’m sure she’ll be out in a minute.”
“She’s been in there for half an hour already. There’ll be no hot water left for me.”
“There’ll be plenty of hot water.”
Julia banged her fist a third time against the bathroom door.
“Stop that, Julia. You’ll break it if you’re not careful.”
“Oh, yeah, right. Like I could break the door.” As if to prove her point, she thumped it again.
Stalemate, Cindy thought. As usual. The way it had been between the two of them since Julia was two years old and had balked at wearing the frilly white dress Cindy had bought her for her birthday, the stubborn toddler refusing to attend her own party even after Cindy had conceded defeat, told her she could wear whatever she liked.
Nineteen years had passed. Julia was twenty-one. Nothing had changed.
“Did you walk the dog?” Cindy asked now.
“And just when would I have done that?”
Cindy pretended not to notice the sarcasm in her daughter’s voice. “When you got up. Like you’re supposed to.”
Julia rolled large green eyes toward the ceiling.
“We had a deal,” Cindy reminded her.
“I’ll walk him later.”
“He’s been cooped up all night. He’s probably desperate to go.”
“He’ll be fine.”
“I don’t want any more accidents.”