After a tragic accident ends her best friend’s life, 17-year-old Becca Thompson succumbs to her grief the only way she knows how: by wallowing in it. She’s a fragment of the person she once was—far too broken to enjoy the summer before her senior year. But when Ben McCain, her best friend’s older brother, returns home, Becca has to face her new reality head on.

Becca isn’t interested in Ben’s games, especially since he abandoned his sister during the months leading up to her death. But when he begs for Becca’s help in uncovering the truth about what really happened the night of his Rose’s death, she finds herself agreeing, hoping to clear up the rumors swirling in the wake of her accident.

An unhinged ex-boyfriend, secret bucket lists, and garage parties in the Iowa farmlands she calls home, soon lead Becca to the answers she’s desperate to unveil. But nobody is being honest, not even Ben. And the closer Becca gets to the truth, the more danger lurks around her.

Clearing her best friend’s name was all she wanted to do. But Becca soon realizes the truth she craves might be uglier than the lies her best friend kept.

At 83,000 words, THE LIARS BENEATH is a YA romantic thriller told in dual time lines where the past eventually meets the present. It will appeal to fans of Karen McManus’ Two Can Keep a Secret and Pintip Dunn’s, The Darkest Lie.

 

Chapter One

Present day

Splinters tear at the undersides of my nails when I squeeze the wooden pew ahead of me. The raw skin burns, but I welcome the pain, needing it to fight back against the ache inside my chest.

In front of me sits an old man who’s scratching at his comb-over toupee. The side falls down past his right ear, leading way to the baldness beneath. I grumble under my breath, unable to see around his head, only for him to turn and stare at me from over his shoulder. His brown eyes are empty, maybe even a little lost. It’s eerily remnant to how I’m feeling right now.

“And now I will read a verse from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8.” The minister clears his throat. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.”

Settling under my dad’s outstretched arm, with Mom’s hand clasped tightly around my right one, I shut my eyes, avoiding the black coffin at the front of the church, happily welcoming the darkness my closed lids provide instead. It promises peace, an almost believable sense that this isn’t happening. There, in the dark world of grief, I’m with my best friend again—the echo of her voice whispering promises of forever in my ears. I smile as we climb trees, fish with my father early in the mornings on his boat, then spend our afternoons swimming in the small river off Colton Road.

Our space, our world, she’d say.

Yes. Always.

“…and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up…”

I clutch my mom’s hand even tighter, lower lip trembling. The minister tries to pull me back in, but I won’t let him. Not now.

Slipping back into my memories, I smell a campfire, taste the s’more goop dripping from my chin, listen to the echo of Rose’s laughter while she watches me shove four marshmallows into my mouth at the same time. There in my closed off thoughts, away from this church, I envision our midnight walks along the dam. Rose taunts me and teeters dangerously close to the edge, balanced only on one foot, urging me to join her, despite the fact that doing so scares the crap out of me.

I touch my mouth, hold my fingers there, eyes popping wide as the rush of the water drifts into my memories. The sole source of her ending was the exact same thing I feared falling into. Irony had never been so cruel.