Thursday, 14 March 2019

Blog Tour Extract: Your Guilty Secret - Rebecca Thornton


You know Lara King. 

The top billing of the showbiz pages, you've seen her every morning; over your breakfast, on your commute to work. You know everything about her; you've dissected her life. 

Her perfect relationship with film-star Matthew Raine. Her beautiful six-year-old daughter Ava. 

And so when a terrible incident shatters the family's carefully constructed facade, a media frenzy ensues. 

What happens when the perfect woman begins to unravel? When her whole life is really just a lie? One she will do anything she can to stop you from finding out?

This story is . . .

YOUR GUILTY SECRET. 


Your Guilty Secret - Rebecca Thornton
ISBN - 9781785760754
Publisher - Bonnier Zaffre


Extract 

August 26th, 2018
1530hrs
What would you do if your child disappeared into thin air? I mean, what would you really do?
You might pound the pavements screaming their name, breath sour with fear. Air escapes you.
And when you get home, escorted by the police, you might fall into the arms of your husband or wife or a member of your family. Slamming your fists into their chests, your knees drop ping to the ground. Pleading. With who, you don't really know. And then with a renewed vigour and a sense of hope, you'd go out again. Back to where your child disappeared. You'd watch as the police knocked on surrounding doors and took witness notes and because you were there, in the action, you might feel you were doing something. Anything.

You might consider me for a minute when I tell you that my child has disappeared, yet despite the world's gaze on me, I have absolutely no control over where I look for her. I cannot open the front door to our home in The Hidden Hills. I cannot press the pattern of small, shiny gold buttons that remotely open the huge iron gates, with the hand-carved wooden sign on it. Los Palisades. I cannot use my thumbprint to access the extra security we had installed.

If I could, I might for a moment sweep my gaze across the lawns for any sign of her - my eye line darting in and around the uniformly cut grass, the luscious, rare rose blooms spilling down from the clean lines of our house - even though we were miles from where she disappeared. I'd still glance over to the pool - as I always did. A habit I'd been unable to relinquish from before she'd learned to swim. The clench of my stomach just until I reassured myself, two or three times over, that there was no small body, face down in the softly lapping turquoise water.

I would then race down our cobbled drive, lined with newly buffed cars. I'd curse the palm trees forcing me to weave my way around their silvery trunks. I'd ignore the burn of my lungs. The way my legs would barely be able to hold me up. I'd run, purely because I'd be incapable of driving. Or perhaps it would kick start my senses afresh. And I'd try and think back to where it had all started, my throat swollen with the catch of my breath.

I'd try and revisit that moment we'd left the house, water bottles under our arms. Me, in workout gear despite having no intention to exercise. Her in a navy sundress embroidered rabbits across the collar. Silver Superga trainers. Her face tilted up to mine, scrunched up against the sun.
“Treat day, she'd said. Can you believe it? Just you and me.'

I'd think about this as I tried to remember, left or right? Which way had I manoeuvred the car?
Had I thought about the paps as I normally did when we left the house? Had I planned my whole route along the back streets, where they might not be lurking, eyes scanning for my number plate? The way their lenses followed me, like snipers. Or had I just driven aimlessly, enjoying the day panning out ahead of us, with nothing to do. No one to see. Just me and my daughter. But I can't remember the ins and outs of my thoughts from this morning. If I had known what was going to happen, I'd have taken more care to engage with my inner monologue. To remember the way I'd felt a little impatient as Ava had kicked at the tyres of our car before she'd climbed into the back seat. The slight twist of her front tooth as it pushed its way through her gums. I'd have looked carefully at the way her body was formed. The soft roundness of her stomach. The fine, blonde hairs travel ling down her tanned arms.

But of course, I never thought that today would end up like this. I do, at other times. Think the worst. Catastrophise. But there was something so perfect about the way today had been panning out. Just me and her. A special treat. Ice cream. It was the first day in a long while I'd felt able to breathe.
That in itself should have been the first sign of things to come.

It was Detective Mcgraw who sat me down in the police station and told me that he was driving me straight home and that I had to stay indoors. Those green eyes of his, continuously locked onto one focal point a fraction above my right shoulder. White face, a fine tracing of freckles smudged across his top lip.
'I need to be out there though. Looking for her. She's my daughter. Please. There must be a way?'
'I know. And I'm sorry. We can't risk hampering the investigation. Thousands of people are out there, looking. And so we need you to stay inside your house.'

I knew he was right. That it was for the best. You see, I wanted you to be looking for her, without distraction. Surely I had learned by now – stay out of view in times of trouble. After all, a
wrongly placed smile, a casual lift of my eyebrow could set you off, and that's not what I need right now. I'm getting ahead of myself. I suppose I should tell you the things that happened less than six hours earlier. Just after we had pulled out of our drive, sun beating down through the windscreen.
I'll tell you as much as I can remember. The same details I told Detective Mcgraw in my oak-panelled study after he'd told me they'd taken my computer and mobile phone. We'd sat, me at my desk with my leather in-trays and stationery drawers all in straight lines in front of me. He was opposite me, in an ergonomic swivel chair that kept twisting from underneath him.

'I'd planned a special day out, I told him. "Just us. It's such... It was such a beautiful day, the words spill out my mouth.
'Any reason for the outing? An occasion, perhaps?'
'Yes. It was my way of saying thank you. For the way Ava behaved for the announcement. Did you see it?'
'I read about it.'
'She had been so good, I continued. 'So I told her that I'd take her out.'
And then what? We've pieced together as much as we can of your journey, mapping the CCTV footage. You hadn't pinned any of your locations on your public social media accounts. Any private ones we need to know about?'
'No.' OK. If you could tell me what happened this morning, then?'
“At nine forty-five this morning we drove to Laurel Canyon. To go for a walk. On the way there, Ava grew tired. She lay down."







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