Prologue

Today was going to be a good day. I couldn’t predict the future, but I knew that no matter what the wind blew my way, I could face it with my head held high.

 

Walking into the local café in this area of Southhurst, I made an effort to wear a beaming grin. I read somewhere that simply smiling releases hormones to make you happy. You could literally fake your way to being happy. And that was what I planned to do.

 

I asked Heidi for my regular and I took the steaming mug over to a corner table, sitting in the chair placed neatly under it.

 

Flicking through the Sunday paper, I soaked up all the happenings of Southhurst. I wanted to be involved in every aspect of the city. I was getting back on track again, it was time to be involved in my community.

 

I meant what I said – that today was going to be a good day. I really did. I meant it when I said that I was turning over a new leaf. That I would no longer be a hermit, isolated from society. I meant it.

 

But then I saw her. Sitting on the opposite side of the café, intently tapping away on her keyboard, the table she occupied covered in scraps of paper. It had been so long since I’d laid my eyes upon her. So long since I had been close enough to touch her. I couldn’t even remember the last thing that I’d said to her. That time was such a blur.

 

Even though the years had come and gone and we had both changed with them, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that it was her.

 

I really did want to be a better person. I wanted to make a difference, do something good. Move on from her.

 

But as I sat there, unable to take my gaze off her, all the rage came flooding back.

Chapter 1 - Avery

The blood smeared across my face somewhat ruins my makeup – I was going for a more au natural look today, but man, do I look good in red.

 

I stare at my elusive reflection in the one-way mirror of the interrogation room and I listen to the tedious tick of the clock that is undoubtedly broken as it has not been 12:32 for the full twenty-three minutes.

 

I wonder if they are on the other side of the glass right now. Watching me. Analysing me. Discussing how they are going to crack me.

 

Or maybe they’re doing rock-paper-scissors to decide who has to talk to me because none of them want to listen to another whiny, pathetic girl and her sob story.

 

Eventually a large, rounded man with the shadow of a forgotten beard creeping across his face approaches the chair opposite me. Those pigs really need to lay off the donuts.

 

I examine him and his manner. He definitely went with rock. I shake my head. Everyone knows that rock is too obvious, you never go with rock.

 

I cringe as the detective drags the metal chair along the floor and it shrieks in protest. He shuffles around in his seat for a good seventy-three seconds.

 

That’s fine, I have nowhere to be. You take your time. Get yourself comfy, I think to myself as I roll my eyes.

 

He clasps his hands on the table in a very let’s-get-to-business manner and stares me down for an entire forty-three seconds. I bet he thought I was going to break. He obviously doesn’t know who he’s dealing with. I don’t break.

 

Instead, I maintain the doe-eyed gaze and quivering lower lip of a woman who has just experienced that traumatising event.

 

At last, the oaf actually speaks; “Miss, can you please tell me exactly what happened before we found you early this morning at half past two?”

 

I glance down at my hands and twiddle my thumbs. I want to drag out my pause for as long as possible. You know, to really build up the suspense.

 

The interrogation room is cold, standing the hairs on my arms up on end. It doesn’t unsettle me, though. In fact, I feel at home in the hostile, hollow room.

 

I gulp down a deep breath.

 

Show time.

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