Excerpt from The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Lies I Tell

A Novel

by Julie Clark

The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark X
The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark
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    Jun 2022, 320 pages

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"What's he like?" I ask. "Between us."

Veronica thinks for a moment and says, "Your typical politician. Closet womanizer. Fancies himself to be Reagan reincarnated. David says he's obsessed with him. 'He won't shut up about fucking Reagan.' " She gives a small laugh and shakes her head.

"But what do you think?"

She looks at me with an amused expression. "I think he's like every other politician out there—­pathologically ambitious. But he pays David well, and the fringe benefits are great." Then she nudges my shoulder. "I'm glad you could come. I think there'll be quite a few people here who will be good for you to meet. Possibly some new clients."

I take another sip of wine. My whole reason for being here tonight is to snag one client in particular. "I could use the business," I say. "It's been hard starting over."

"You'll get there. You've got years of experience in Michigan behind you. I mean, the way you handled our purchase of the Eightieth Street property. I still don't know how you got the sellers to drop their price like that."

I suppress a smile. Shortly after we'd met, Veronica had mentioned over post-­yoga sushi that they were looking for an investment property, but the agent they were using wasn't finding them anything in their price range.

"Did she show you that property on Kelton?" I had riffed, knowing exactly what they were hoping to find. "The one-­story traditional that was on the market for $1.7 million?"

Veronica's eyes had widened. "No, and that would have been perfect. I should ask her about it."

"It sold in multiples the day it hit the market, so it's too late," I said. "Your agent works out of Apex Realty in Brentwood, right? We're always getting internal email alerts announcing her deals—­ten million, twenty million." I took a piece of sushi and held it between my chopsticks. "I can tell you, managing escrows at that price point can be consuming."

My story was that I'd moved home to Los Angeles after a successful career selling real estate in Ann Arbor. My new website links to another one in Michigan, featuring listings pilfered from Zillow and Redfin.

Veronica had set her chopsticks down and said, "She was great when we purchased the Malibu house, but maybe this price point is beneath her." I took a sip of my lemon water and let Veronica spin this out in her mind. Finally, she'd said, "I'd love to throw you the business. Maybe you can put your feelers out, see what you can find."

I'd found them something almost immediately. A single-­story traditional in Westchester on a tree-­lined street. Hardwood floors, a bay window, and a fully remodeled kitchen. When I handed Veronica the listing setup, outlining the house's features and price, she'd balked. "This is nearly $500,000 above our maximum budget."

In another lifetime, I'd once taken classes toward a digital design degree. I still have the certificate of completion tucked in a box, somewhere in storage. Granted, it's a forgery, but I'd learned enough to get by in the beginning, and even more in the years since.

"I think I can get them down significantly. Let's just take a look and see what we think. It's on lockbox, so we can go now if we want."

The listing I'd handed her was mostly accurate—­bedrooms, square footage, HVAC; I'd only inflated the price. From there, I'd proceeded to "negotiate down" to just over $200,000 above the actual list price.

This only worked because apps like Zillow and Redfin don't exist for people like Veronica and David. In their tax bracket, no one does anything that can be outsourced. Accountants and bookkeepers who pay their bills. Maids and housekeepers to do their grocery shopping and cook their meals. And a trusted real estate agent to do the searches, coordinate with the listing agent to preview properties, set up private showings, and manage the transaction for them.

Excerpted from The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark. Copyright © 2022 by Julie Clark. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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