Today, HJ is pleased to share with you Tarryn Fisher’s new release: AN HONEST LIE
An Honest Lie is riveting suspense, but it’s also a scream of defiance, a howl of rage.
Lorraine—“Rainy”—lives at the top of Tiger Mountain. Remote, moody, cloistered in pine trees and fog, it’s a sanctuary, a new life. She can hide from the disturbing past she wants to forget.
If she’s allowed to.
When Rainy reluctantly agrees to a girls’ weekend in Vegas, she’s prepared for an exhausting parade of shots and slot machines. But after a wild night, her friend Braithe doesn’t come back to the hotel room.
And then Rainy gets the text message, sent from Braithe’s phone: someone has her. But Rainy is who they really want, and Rainy knows why.
What follows is a twisted, shocking journey on the knife-edge of life and death. If she wants to save Braithe—and herself—the only way is to step back into the past.
This seething, gut-punch of a thriller can only have sprung from the fiendish brain of Tarryn Fisher, one of the most cunning writers of our time.
Looking for more great reads by Tarryn Fisher? Don’t miss The Wives and The Wrong Famil
Enjoy an exclusive excerpt from AN HONEST LIE
It towered on high, a black house throned on a mountain and surrounded by lush foliage. The constant flow of water from the sky nourished the succulent shades of green on Tiger Mountain. Her house was at the highest point, a cake topper. She liked to think of the mountain as hers, but the road that led to the bottom of the mountain passed by many houses. She knew only a handful of their occupants. She felt less determined than she had five minutes ago. She could go home, say she wasn’t feeling well or give another flimsy excuse, but duty kept her left foot jumping between gas and brake as she navigated the curves.
Duty to whom? She met her own eyes in the rearview mirror, and then quickly looked away before turning left down a driveway. Rainy felt her tits lift and slap back against her rib cage as her old truck cleared a pothole; she’d forgotten to put on a bra. Trashy, she thought. Braking sharply in front of the shed, she threw the truck into Park and hopped out. The house was a Cape Cod, painted white with black trim and set back from the road on a cozy lot bordered by mountain hemlock. So stark was the comparison to her own ultramodern home that Rainy always paused to admire the warm charm of the Mattson house. Each of the houses on Tiger Mountain was marvelously different; that’s what both she and Grant loved the most about living there.
As she stepped away from the car, her boots crunched against the gravel in the driveway, and she kept her head down against the rain as she climbed the three stairs that led to the door. She could hear them inside, their voices filling up the house with a cacophony of sound. Rainy hated this part: walking into a room and having all eyes on her. They would check her clothes, noting the lack of effort, see that she was braless, wonder—she was sure—what Grant saw in her. She rang the bell and bent to unlace her boots. By the time Braithe Mattson opened her front door, Rainy had kicked them off and was standing in her socks. One, she noticed, was of the floral variety, and the other plain white. It was too late to do anything about it.
“I told you to stop ringing the bell and just come inside,” Braithe said.
She didn’t have time to respond. Braithe pulled her through the door, and Rainy had to rework her face as her host corralled her toward the kitchen where the women usually hung out.
“Working today?” Braithe glanced over her shoulder, eyeing Rainy’s black jeans and T-shirt. But Rainy didn’t sense any judgment, just curiosity. Braithe was—for lack of a more interesting word—kind. She nodded, and Braithe’s face lit with happiness. She was a rarity: a friend who understood that, for an artist, a productive day of work was hard to come by. Rainy felt a surge of affection for her. She’d only known Braithe for the year she’d lived there, but they’d fallen into an easy, noncommittal friendship that included an occasional dinner downtown and texts about nothing in particular. That dip you made on Friday night was amazing. Did you watch the Justin Bieber documentary? The boys want to go bowling Friday night, you down?
Following Braithe past the formal areas of the home, she braced herself, keeping her eyes on the back of her friend’s head, dreading the routine of the next five minutes. There was nothing more painful to Rainy than the way women greeted each other: the high-pitched squeals of joy, the touching and hugging, the exaggerated expressions that accompanied the small talk. The high, singsong voices saying, “How are youuuuuuuu?” Bonus points if they delivered a compliment about hair or outfit. In her circles in New York, her artist friends never touched; they kissed the air beside her cheek and asked how she was in the same sentence they inquired about her bag. They didn’t wait for the answer—that was the best part to Rainy—but here, they wanted her answer. Here, they asked and expected to receive.
Braithe Mattson’s kitchen was stark white, aside from the large black butcher-block island that sat at its center. A cluster of women were seated around it, seeming to glow under Braithe’s mood lighting. These were the faithful, the loyal, her ladies-in-waiting. The room smelled of her signature scent, a Tom Ford candle—Rainy had once Googled the price of it—called Lost Cherry. It was cozy, even if it was a little overly curated. Rainy did not see herself as one of them; she was the newest, still in the first year of her feel-out phase. She came to their weekly happy hours, and since some of their partners and husbands were friends, there were crossover dinners and summer barbecues, the group discussion centering on sports, their respective jobs and family gossip. All in all, they were nice…and they were Grant’s friends. She’d come because Grant was important to her, and he had asked her to.
Rainy made a split-second decision: she sneezed violently into her elbow, and by the time she opened her eyes, a unanimous “Bless you” echoed from the women across the room. Suddenly, everyone was laughing, including Rainy, who was able to avoid the hugging and touching part as she sniffled past them. No one wanted to get sick or touch the snotty girl.
The Tiger Mountain group was composed of mostly childless, married women in their thirties and forties who connected via a Facebook page, but the Baby Tigers—as Tara called them—were a handful of newlyweds in their mid-twenties. They brought a fun, energetic vibe to the group; it felt like hanging out with your little sister and her friends. They were cute, but there was a disconnect that happened whenever the thirty-and forty-somethings spoke about things the twenties hadn’t reached yet. The two that came to happy hour with the most consistency were Ursa and Mackenzie, best friends who seemed to enjoy the company of the slightly older women. The other twenties had broken off into their own group that Ursa and Mac still hung out with occasionally. Rainy felt bad calling them the Baby Tigers; Tara had only come up with that nickname because she was threatened by their youth.
Braithe came back and pushed a glass of white wine into Rainy’s hand. Her lips were lined in gold, as were her eyes. She surveyed the room.
“Sit over there by Viola, will you—she’s miserable because she can’t drink.” She said it loud enough for Viola to hear.
Braithe winked at Viola, who in turn made a face at her. Rainy made her way over to where Viola was sitting and slid obediently into her seat. She would have chosen to sit next to Viola, anyway. The clock on Braithe’s range read 7:47; she’d stay until nineish, and then say she had to get home to let Shep out. These were dog people; they would understand. That meant an hour and fifteen minutes for happy hour and she could call it. She grinned at Viola, who returned her look with raised eye-brows. Her pursed lips were a perfect matte burgundy.
“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re thinking. I am thinking the same damn thing.” Viola leaned back in her seat, cradling her belly and looking miserable. Rainy eyed the gaggle.
They were talking about a new restaurant and were distracted for the moment.
“Well, why do we keep coming to these things?”
“Good question. Pass me that water, would you?”
Rainy leaned forward, reaching for the glass, and Viola took it from her gratefully. She drained it, eyeing Rainy over the rim.
“Indigestion,” she said before Rainy could ask. “Samantha made some shit, and now I can’t tell if I’m in labor or if hot sauce is leaking into my chest cavity from her rice.” She pounded her chest with a small fist and grimaced. Samantha was Viola’s partner. Rainy had only met her once at one of these things; she was one part goth and the rest awkward computer nerd. Since Rainy was equally as awkward, she’d hit it off with Samantha, who shared her dry sense of humor.
“Why did you put hot sauce on your rice?”
Viola looked at her sideways, eyeing her with disapproval. “Why do you not?”
Rainy laughed. “Touché.”
Braithe seated herself on the last empty bar stool, her glass of white wine in front of her. To her left was Tara Hessler, her right-hand woman and main lady-in-waiting. Tara was a little flushed tonight, her creamy skin rosy with anticipation. She was, in Rainy’s opinion, a social scavenger, but a smooth one. She needed to be the prettiest girl in the room, but that was Braithe, so she settled for a close second. Tara adorned Braithe like an unnecessary tiara. Rainy avoided having close friendships for that reason: the last thing she wanted was costume-jewelry friendship. She didn’t have time for that. Codependency sucked up large chunks of time.
Rainy, being the newest to the group, was always pelted with questions when she showed up to happy hour. It was like they were trying to fast-track her into their group with these little Q and As.
“The new-girl novelty will wear off soon and they’ll stop hounding you.” It was a promise Viola made to her a year ago when Rainy moved to Washington. They wanted to know who she hung out with in New York—a handful of close artist friends from college. Who she dated before Grant—two art students and a gallery owner, nothing serious. Where were her parents? Dead. Did she miss the city? Yes and no. She liked the solitude and vast openness of Washington. And finally, the most painful question of them all—was she going to marry Grant? Viola had called them out after that, told them to stop being nosy.
Rainy did not want to play house for the next ten years—she did want to marry Grant—but she also had no intention of talking to them about it. He was the only man she’d ever felt this way about, unless she decided to hold these little happy hours against him.
“Get to know some people, this is your new home,” he’d said.
“What people?” she’d argued stubbornly. “You are my people.”
“Friends,” he’d said. “Friends are good, friends are healthy.”
Ursa, in a pink silk top and jeans, was lip-synching along with Braithe’s playlist, forcing Mac to be her audience. She got right up in Mac’s face as she sang, “You make me, make me, make me want to cry!” Mac giggled and shoved her away; undeterred, Ursa began grinding against Tara on her other side. She paused her dancing to point a finger at Rainy and wink.
Viola laughed from beside her. “She is on tonight.”
Rainy had never really seen Ursa not be on. She was energetic: matte skin, leggy, shaggy hair. She worked in marketing and was smart as a whip. Rainy liked the way she could make anything sound fun—even a bikini wax. Mackenzie was her best friend: sweet, less sure of herself, a kindergarten teacher by trade. Rainy thought they were both in their late twenties, but she wasn’t sure; Botox made it impossible to guess a woman’s age. When Grant set her up with the group—the wives of some of his friends—he’d called them “fun” and “easygoing.” She’d wondered if he’d remembered she was uptight and not fun at all, but loving someone meant talking yourself into things on occasion. And besides, Viola was one of the realest people Rainy had ever met. The group was worth it solely for her friendship. And then there was Braithe: the glamorous, put-together adult friend. Her job was to make everyone feel like they had a place at the table—her table.
Rainy sipped her drink, content for the moment. She looked around at their faces, her gaze finally resting on Tara. To her consternation, Tara was looking at her, as well. Rainy crossed her legs, suddenly nervous. Maybe it was the way Tara had repeated her name the first time Braithe introduced them, dropping her chin and raising her brows. “Rainy like our damn weather…?” Everyone had laughed, including Rainy, but she’d had the distinct impression that Tara didn’t like her. And over the last year that feeling had grown, fanned to life by Tara’s lack of eye contact and her occasional snarky remarks. When they were in a group, it was easy to overlook that she usually hadn’t said a word to Rainy all night. With Tara being the life of every party, she seemed inclusive, drawing everyone into her stories and jokes. Rainy had never minded the slights; these were, of course, Grant’s friends, and she didn’t take offense, since she didn’t want to be there, anyway. But here was Tara, smiling at her warmly, no hint of dislike on her face. Her full lips were curled nicely, the mole above her lip punctuating her smile. The result was French model holds a secret she’s about to spill.
Rainy put her drink down and leveled her shoulders, the tag from her T-shirt scratching her neck. She could feel the energy building in the room, and it was making her nervous.
They all were staring at her now, smiles picking up the corners of their mouths. Rainy suddenly felt a knot form in her throat; she was going to choke on her own panic.
“Um…what? You guys are weirding me out.”
“Look at my face, Rainy…look at my face.” Ursa wiggled her eyebrows and made kissy faces until Rainy cracked up.
“Rainy…” Tara scooted forward in her seat, drawing Rainy’s attention back to her. Tara was seated directly across from her, on the side of the island nearest the kitchen door. In one hand she loosely held her vodka tonic, and the other was sliding something across the counter to Rainy. Tara tried to control the cogs of every situation and Rainy did not want to become one of those cogs. For that reason, she was hesitant to look down at what Tara was passing to her.
She’d lived in Washington for a mere four months when her thirty-fifth birthday snuck up. She hadn’t been thinking about it. She’d been preoccupied with settling into her new home, finding a comfortable groove with Grant. The things on her mind back then: wondering if Grant secretly hated her cooking and stressing about whether she needed to go to bed when he did. When he told her he wanted to plan a dinner to celebrate, she’d been surprised.
She’d been content to spend the night at home with Grant. She secretly hated her birthday, anyway; since her mother died, it had been a reminder of who she didn’t have. But at the time, it seemed important to Grant to plan something for her, so she’d let him.
“What type of food? Vietnamese, Korean—I know this great Mexican place in Tacoma.” He was excited as he opened his laptop and said, “It’s Seattle, I can find you almost anything you want—or at least something similar.”
The New Yorker in Rainy highly doubted that, but she kissed him to get a taste of his excitement and said, “Seafood sounds great.” Grant had booked a place on the water that he swore up and down served the best crab legs in the state. He’d sent a group text to his friends and their wives with the date and time. Everyone texted back, excited, and then Tara’s text had come.
Hey, don’t mean to be a vibe killer, but that’s the weekend of the annual chili cook-off.
The texts came in fast little pelts: everyone suggesting that they combine the two.
Rainy had been embarrassed that her birthday plans were disrupting something they all wanted to do. We’ll have a cake for her at the party! someone had texted. But she was already mortified by then, trying to make some big weekend about herself when they barely knew her.
“I’ve never celebrated my birthdays. I don’t want to be the center of attention,” she’d argued when he said it was no big deal to reschedule the dinner.
“This is your first year here with me. Let me do this.”
Grant was so set on the issue—so pleased with himself—that she couldn’t bear to burst his bubble. She’d relented, but with a sinking feeling. She didn’t want his friends to think she was the one pushing the issue, demanding to celebrate even though they barely knew her. It had been a rule among her New York friends to ignore each other’s partners until they were too embedded in the circle not to. A cruel but cautionary way to not get “too attached.” As she half hid and healed, the coldness had suited her, but these were Grant’s people. She was thirsty for his approval—and the last thing she needed was to be the topic of their gossip.
She agreed to a six o’clock dinner on Friday night with four other couples: Braithe and Stephen, Tara and Matt, Viola and Samantha, and Gary and Linney—a couple Grant knew from high school that he affectionately referred to as Old Faithful. Ten minutes before they were supposed to leave, Tara had texted links to the group with several reviews she’d found online about the restaurant.
Five cases of food poisoning in the last four months, she’d said. Didn’t know if you wanted to chance it…
No one had. And by that time, it was too late to get a reservation for ten people anywhere else. The dinner had been canceled, and Rainy was left with the distinct impression Tara had wanted it that way. Rainy had never figured out why Tara disliked her, and she’d learned to not care. There were plenty of people who liked her well enough.
Now, she glanced around and saw five sets of eyes pinned on her. The sudden surge of attention from everyone at one time was making Rainy dizzy.
“Take my hands, Lorraine Ives.” Tara’s nails were painted a pearly white. She flipped them over and held two small palms toward her, so soft and unblemished Rainy was fixated. Had the woman ever so much as fried bacon in her life? Tara cleared her throat and Rainy offered her hands apologetically.
“Sorry, artist acknowledging beautiful hands.”
Tara flushed, pleased with the compliment. Viola kicked Rainy under the table and Rainy shot her an apologetic look. What? She has beautiful hands.
Before she could make sense of why everyone was watching her and what was happening, Tara launched into her sell.
“So! We know you’re new to the group, and we don’t always like the new people,” she said, winking. The others murmured their agreement, and Rainy wondered who the last new member had been. Maybe one of Grant’s other girlfriends? Tara continued. “But we’re all totally obsessed with you—that’s why—and you can absolutely say no, buuut we won’t let you.” They all laughed at the joke she didn’t get and Rainy held her breath as she waited for the punchline. Were they going to suggest matching tattoos? Were they swingers, asking her into their circle? The possibilities were endless as Rainy sat sweating beneath their eyes. She could feel her eyebrows dancing comically in confusion.
“Picture sun, heat—” she said the word heat with reverence “—and drinks by the pool! We’re inviting you on our girls’ trip…to Vegas!”
At first, Rainy’s relief was immense; a girls’ trip was kind, inclusive. And then she processed the word: Vegas. She glanced over at Viola and wondered if they would have invited her instead if Viola wasn’t in her last trimester, and then corrected herself for thinking that way. It was a nice gesture, one she never intended to accept. But she couldn’t tell them why.
They were waiting for her to say something, but she was having trouble forming words.
“You guys,” Viola said from beside her, “give her a minute to swallow what you eager beavers are saying.” She felt a much gentler kick under the table: Viola saying, You okay?
Tara loosened her hold on Rainy’s fingers, which was a good thing because Rainy’s hands were starting to sweat, and she doubted her sweat was organic enough for anyone in the room.
“Okay, let me explain.” Tara pushed her hair behind her ears and scooted forward on her stool. She had pale blond hair that on the average day was scooped back into a ponytail, but tonight she wore it parted and past her shoulders. “Every year we go on our annual girls’ trip. We’ve done all sorts of things,” she said, waving a hand in the air. “Camping near the hot springs, we’ve driven up to Canada for the week and stayed in a lodge…”
“What about the year we rented those tree houses?”
Rainy glanced over as Braithe set down a baked brie, surrounded by a cluster of fruit, in front of them. The room seemed to hinge on Rainy’s answer, but it was one thing eating cheese with these women a few minutes from her own home, another entirely to go away with them. Shit, why had she drunk the wine so fast? She couldn’t think of a good lie fast enough.
“Vegas is not my thing. Trust me, I’m not fun, not even a little bit. Look, you sat me next to the pregnant woman—you all know it’s true in your hearts.” That brought a cry of outrage from
from Viola, and a few laughs from the others.
“That is not true, Rainy! We love hanging with you!” This came from Mackenzie, who was always positive, always inclusive. She was married to Bryan Biggs, a software engineer; the group fondly called them BigMac.
Rainy reached for the cheese, slamming back a mouthful to buy herself time. They wouldn’t understand this, her hesitation. They had just emerged from a bitter winter, and everyone was jumping at the chance to travel again. She should want to go. Any normal person would want to go.
“Well, we certainly aren’t going to force you to come,” Braithe said a little hesitantly. Her face was conflicted but Rainy couldn’t tell why. She was a fairweather member of the group and they’d always been okay with that.
“But I for one am going. And you know what else? I’m not going to feel bad about all the money I’m going to lose at the slot machines…and I plan on losing a lot of it, more than last time.” She pointed around the table, daring anyone to contest, and Rainy breathed a sigh of relief. She owed Braithe one. The banter continued, and the air of planning descended on the group. Rainy was content to listen to them talk about it, laughing when Tara and Ursa got into an argument about set-ting drink limits, so no one would be chaperoning anyone else.
“Last time we were there I had to drag you back to the room as you vomited into my bag,” Tara complained.
“Well, leave me where I am next time and mind your business,” Ursa shot back. “Besides, I am not sitting at a slot machine pressing buttons the first time I get a vacation in two years. Send me to a club and let me dance!”
She spotted the time on Braithe’s range right as they were discussing hotels and stood up a little too abruptly; her chair screeched painfully against the floor.
“Rainy, no! Stay longer!” Tara said. Her teeth were stained purple, like she’d been feasting on the wine instead of drinking it.
“I have to go let Shep out.” The planned excuse tumbled easily out of her mouth. She wanted to give herself a congratulatory pat on the back.
Tara had a poodle named Stacey that she treated better than most parents treated their kids. She nodded right away like she understood.
“Promise us you’ll at least think about it, okay?” Tara was smiling, the blond daggers of hair contrasting with the sweetness of her tone.
Rainy knew this tactic, and she wasn’t going to allow herself to be guilted or strong-armed into something she didn’t want to do.
“Think about what?” She said it casually, but she supposed if you listened closely, there was a nip to her voice. Tara’s smile became fixed. Rainy could see her thoughts ticking behind her eyes.
“Think about coming, silly.” She leaned in and Rainy had the urge to pull away. “I know it would mean a lot to Braithe if you did.”
She stared into Tara’s eyes and saw something she didn’t like; what was that? Desperation? She blinked back her thoughts, casting a glance at Braithe, who was chatting with Ursa and Mac. The only one paying attention to them was Viola, who was pretending to text, but Rainy knew the look on her face—she was listening. Rainy highly doubted Braithe’s happiness was hinging on her going to Vegas, especially since she’d be surrounded by her groupies. If Tara wasn’t getting it, she’d help her.
“I already said no, but hey, hit me up if you guys decide to do the tree houses again. I’ll see you guys next week.” She tucked her hair behind her ears, avoiding Tara’s eyes and winking at Viola, who gave her a thumbs-up.
She was moving toward the door; a few more steps and her hand would close over—
“Rainy.” It was Braithe, walking toward her, an apologetic look on her face. Her shoes made pitter-patters on the hardwood as Rainy turned to face her.
“She comes on strong, but she means well.” Braithe’s mouth was pulled into a tight little bud; she only made that face when she was worried. Little tendrils of hair had come loose around her face. She looked like a painting.
“How did I know you were going to say that?”
Braithe sighed and opened the door. “Have you considered that we actually like you?” Rainy hadn’t; she’d been too busy trying to like them. It felt more like they were tolerating her, but she smiled at Braithe and nodded.
“I’m behind on work. I can’t really take the time off right now. Maybe next time. You guys will have to let me know how it all goes.”
Braithe laughed, reaching out to squeeze Rainy’s shoulder. “That sounded rehearsed.”
Rainy grinned, guilty. “I’ll see you, Braithe.”
She’d already bounded down the stairs when Braithe called after her again. “We’re at Viola’s tomorrow, remember? Throwing her a little sprinkle before the baby comes. You signed up to bring sparkling apple juice and the couscous.”
“I remember,” Rainy called over her shoulder. She hadn’t, and was glad Braithe couldn’t see the lie on her face. The mist soaked into her clothes as she walked. She could feel Braithe watching her from the doorway, wanting to say one last thing before sending her off. She’d only known the tiny, articulate former ballet dancer for a year, but she was the unofficial group mother. And there it was: “Don’t be a stranger this week. Come down for coffee.”
Without turning around, Rainy lifted a hand to acknowledge that she had heard, and walked quickly to her truck.
Excerpted from An Honest Lie: A Novel by Tarryn Fisher. Published by Graydon House in April, 2022. Copyright © 2022 by Tarryn Fisher. All rights reserved.
Excerpt. ©Tarryn Fisher. Posted by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.
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Meet the Author:
Tarryn Fisher is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of nine novels. Born a sun hater, she currently makes her home in Seattle, Washington, with her children, husband, and psychotic husky. She loves connecting with her readers on Instagram.
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