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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David and Veronica signed paperwork when I asked them to, wired the funds where I told them to, and if they ever noticed they'd never met the listing agent or sellers, it was a fleeting thought and then it was gone again.

In the end, David had proclaimed it the easiest transaction he'd ever done. Why wouldn't it be, when everyone got exactly what they wanted? The sellers got $200,000 over the real asking price. Veronica and David felt like they got the deal of the century, thanks to the one I'd fabricated. And I got a shiny—­and ironclad—­reputation within their circle of friends.

The main element of a good con is a strong thread of legitimacy. Of almost being who you say you are. Just like on a movie set, I'm real. My actions are real. It's only the background that's fake.

David joins us now, wrapping his arm around Veronica's waist. "Meg, you look gorgeous," he says. "I hope my wife hasn't been boring you with details of the remodel?"

I force a smile. "Not at all," I say. "We were actually just talking about Ron. I hear the election is going to be close?"

David nods. "Our internal polls show them nearly tied. Tonight's fundraising will go a long way toward our final push."

"You must be exhausted," I say. "Veronica tells me you're never home."

David winks at Veronica. "Sounds like the two of you have been getting into some good trouble in my absence. Thanks for keeping her busy."

"It's been my pleasure."

When the conversation turns toward their annual winter vacation to the Caribbean, I tune them out and watch the crowd of people mingle and mix, small clusters forming and then re-­forming into new configurations as the quartet in the corner launches into a new rhythm. Los Angeles is so different from Pennsylvania, where I'd been last. I've had to make a steep adjustment, softening my approach, making sure all my edges match who I say I am. Here, people are naturally wary, looking for the angle, the hitch, the trick. It's expected that no one you meet is exactly who they say they are.

I work hard to embed myself into other people's circle of friends, so that no one notices that I don't have any of my own. I haven't had a true friend in years, not since before I left Los Angeles. I try not to think of Cal, or wonder where he is, whether he's still with Robert. I have very few regrets in my life, but how things ended with Cal is one of them.

A tendril of anxiety winds its way through me as I think through my timeline once more. Unlike my past jobs, this one has an expiration date—­fourteen days before Election Day. Which leaves me twenty weeks. One hundred forty days. It sounds like a lot, but there will be very little room for mistakes or delays. There are specific benchmarks I'll need to meet along the way in order for everything to work. The first of which is an introduction to Ron, and that has to happen tonight.

As part of my background research, I've dipped into Ron's real estate portfolio, searching public records to get a feel for how much he's got in equity and how much he's leveraged. Thanks to his run for office, I've been able to look through his taxes as well. One thing that stood out was how many financial risks he's taken and how many of them played out to his advantage. I think back to how he tricked my mother, robbed us both of what was rightfully ours, and I wonder how many others Ron has used and then discarded on his path to state senator.

"Meg, help us out. Saint John or Saint Croix?" Veronica's eyes are pleading.

I know she's been angling for Saint Croix, so I say, "The last time I was in Saint John was about three years ago." I shake my head as if saddened by the memory. "As much as I love that island, I was really disappointed. You stay at the Villas, right?"

David nods. "They've always taken really good care of us."

I wrinkle my nose in distaste. "I think they've unionized. Definitely not the experience I was hoping for."

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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