Dead Girls Can't Lie: A gripping thriller that will keep you hooked to the last page

Dead Girls Can't Lie: A gripping thriller that will keep you hooked to the last page

by Carys Jones

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781786692504
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication date: 08/15/2017
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 279
Sales rank: 1,084,510
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Carys Jones loves nothing more than to write and create stories which ignite the reader's imagination. Based in Shropshire, England, Carys lives with her husband, two guinea pigs and her adored canine companion Rollo.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Kelly didn't kill herself.

The message arrived shortly after midnight when North was caught somewhere between sleep and surrender. Blurry-eyed she stared at her phone, at the cryptic message from an unknown sender.

'I know,' she whispered to the device as she lay on her sofa, bathed in the glow from her television which was on its second run through of Dark Crystal. 'I know she'd never leave me.'

By dawn North was completely awake and the message was gone, wiped from her phone as though it were the fragment of a dream. But North didn't care. It had given her the impetus she needed to get out of her flat and prove the point which had been gnawing at her since her best friend's demise. She wasn't alone in her conviction. That was all that mattered.

*
'North Stone. That your name?'

'Yes,' North tightened her fingers which were clenched around her hands. It was cold in the interview room. Colder than she'd expected.

'North. That's an ... interesting name.'

With a sigh she braced herself for the inevitable volley of questions which would now be flung back and forth across the table.

Why North?

Why did your parents call you that?

Where are your parents?

The conclusion to such questions was always the same; North was strange. Everyone in their small South Downs town knew it. Everyone except Kelly. And she was the reason that North was even here. They were supposed to be talking about her.

'My parents were mega into stargazing. I know, I know, I work in the local observatory the irony of which isn't lost on me. Yes they were lost at sea during a romantic adventure on board a yacht. No I don't expect them to ever return. It's been eighteen years, I'm pretty sure they're gone.'

The police officer's silver eyebrows dropped into a flat, sympathetic line. He was obviously old enough to know the notorious story of what happened to the Stones. He was asking about her name to be polite. Kind even. And North did not have time for either placation. She was here on urgent business.

'Look,' North unclasped her hands and lay them flat on the table as though she were showing her cards in a high stakes poker game. 'You're wrong about Kelly Orton. She would never kill herself.'

'Miss Stone —'

The officer hung a little too heavily on the Miss for North's liking.

'And on a jogging trail? Absolutely not! No way! For starters, Kelly never went jogging. Like, ever. We're both allergic to anything that makes you sweat. Seriously, Officer ...' she lifted her ashen eyes to meet his.

'Childs,' he stiffly informed her.

'Officer Childs. You're wrong about Kelly. You guys shouldn't be ruling this as a suicide you should be launching a murder investigation.'

With a sigh, Officer Childs stood up, letting his chair grate noisily against the tiled floors. He walked over to the door to the interview room and opened it with one fluid motion, extending his body out into the hallway. 'Angie, can you get in here?'

A moment later he was joined by another officer, a woman with bright red hair which stopped suddenly at her shoulders. Her mouth lifted into a pitying smile the second she saw North hunched on the other side of the table.

The air in the little room managed to hold the years' old stench of stale cigarettes and coffee. A single strip light across the ceiling bathed everyone who sat in there in an unflattering light. Kelly would have hated it. She'd have tossed her golden hair over her shoulders and refused to sit in such a room. North twisted uncomfortably on her plastic chair.

'I'll handle this,' Angie whispered to Officer Childs who eagerly left as she slid into his vacated seat. 'So, Miss Stone.' Her tone was clipped and formal. She reminded North of some of her more competent teachers during her time at Millwater Secondary. But thinking about school made her think of the Kelly from the past and she couldn't do that. Not yet. Not when there were so many questions about the present left unanswered.

'As I was telling your colleague,' North adjusted herself to match the female officer in stature. Though she was much shorter than Angie, she could still push her shoulders back and lift her chin. She wanted to look confident. Especially when everyone was treating her like she was broken. 'Kelly Orton did not kill herself. It's impossible. Someone put her there. Someone killed her. This is a murder case.'

'Someone killed her?' Angie arched an eyebrow as she gave a sympathetic nod. 'Look, Miss Stone, I know that this must be an extremely trying time for you given how close you were to the deceased but —'

'She never went jogging.' North slammed her hands against the table, all pretence of appearing composed abandoned. This was her friend they were discussing. Her best friend in the entire universe. As soon as the news had come in, North knew it wasn't true. When her parents disappeared she'd felt it from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. But when they told her about Kelly being found on a jogging trail in some nearby woods, North felt nothing. There was no tingle of truth running through her body like some water diviner. 'You need to start looking for who did this to her. For who is to blame.'

'I could show you the pictures,' Angie cocked her head at her, her green eyes crinkling sadly at the corners. 'The pictures from the crime scene. Would that help you get closure?'

'What? No. I mean —'

'She was found hanging from a tree, Miss Stone. It appears that she laced the rope around the branch and executed her own intentional fall. Please excuse my bluntness but I fear that some of the facts might not be getting through to you. There was a rope around her neck marked with her own fingerprints. A dog walker found her at approximately five thirty-six a.m. The coroner's report claimed that Kelly had been dead for at least two hours prior to discovery. This leads us to believe that she visited the jogging trail during the cover of night to avoid being seen. Or stopped.'

'You're wrong,' North clung to her conviction, regardless of the evidence being thrust towards her via Angie. Since reading the grim details in an online newsfeed, North knew they were false; nothing about the discovery of her friend rang true with her. 'Kelly is the happiest person I know. She's the brightest star in the whole damn galaxy.'

'She was,' Angie quietly corrected her. 'I know how difficult this must be for you. Kelly was your best friend. In cases like these, loved ones are often wracked with guilt, wondering how they missed the signs, wishing that they could have done more —'

'Kelly did not hang herself. She did not go out to some piece of crap jogging trail in the middle of the night to end her own life. She just wouldn't do that.' North balled her hands up, letting the tips of her nails create crescent moons in her palms.

'People aren't deliberately leaving you.' Angie gave North a long, level look. It was a look North was used to seeing on the faces of teachers, then co-workers. A look filled with fear and sympathy. A look that said, I'm sorry all this crap happened to you but I'm kind of glad it wasn't me.

In Millwater, North was a cautionary tale. She was the girl whose parents went away and never came back. People liked to blame her preoccupation with the stars on a reluctance to accept her own dire reality. Kelly never felt that way. She admired North's obsession with all things celestial. And now she was gone and the whole world already believed it was suicide.

'This isn't about my parents,' North raged.

'I know that your grandmother died last year,' Angie kept her voice soft. 'You must be feeling pretty alone right now.'

'This is about Kelly,' North was on her feet. The rage setting her body on fire making it impossible to remain sitting down, to pretend to be civil. Here was an officer of the Millwater Police Department refusing to acknowledge that a terrible crime had been committed. Kelly Orton would never, ever, go jogging.

Not that Millwater PD had much experience in dealing with cases of this nature. Most people left the sleepy little town before they felt compelled to commit any sort of crime. Drug addicts moved on to bigger cities with stronger connections to the underworld and the wealthy flocked closer to London. Boasting a commute of two and a half hours into the capital, Millwater wasn't a favoured location for young professionals. The people who lived there were trapped in the middle of the road, stuck on a plateau reflected by their claustrophobic little town.

'Seriously,' Kelly had once said, mojito in hand, 'if you ever see me in a pair of leggings or jogging bottoms shoot me, North. Just shoot me.'

Kelly and North would hop on a bus and leave the dull confines of Millwater to go dancing. To the theatre. They'd change the lyrics to their favourite songs and plan out all the musicals that they'd one day write together. They ate pizza and drank cheap wine as they watched Sex and the City. They cried over Titanic and made a vow that they'd always make space for one another on that bloody door at the end. They were inseparable, their lives so fiercely intertwined that it made no sense that when Kelly's final breath had been squeezed out, North hadn't just dropped to the floor. Somehow a heart that was used to beating in tandem with another was managing to go solo. And North didn't understand any of it.

'If you won't believe me then I'll prove it myself,' North was marching towards the door.

'North, just listen —'

Spinning around, North faced Angie like a bull which had been shown a red flag. 'This isn't about me feeling abandoned. Or me struggling to grieve. This isn't even about my parents, or my grandmother. This is about Kelly. How she never would have done this. Somehow I'm the only one who gets that, which means it's up to me to figure out what really happened to her.'

'I'm sorry.' Angie's expression was kind, open. She wasn't trying to push North away.

'I don't need your pity.' North let the door slam behind her as she hurried out. Her phone buzzed in her pocket, hastily she pulled it out.

Kelly didn't kill herself.

The same message from the same unknown sender. This time North made sure to carefully save it before it could disappear again.

*
'The reason I called you all together is because there has been an exciting discovery.' Alexander Beckett stood before his workforce of fifteen. His soft Irish lilt bounced off the walls of the meeting room. In a crisp white shirt and jeans he looked effortlessly casual and devastatingly handsome. According to Kelly, he had a jawline you could cut cheese on. His eyes were bright as he addressed the assembled group.

'What we originally thought was the presence of a new star is actually —' he stopped short when he locked eyes with North.

She had slid into the back room, her cheeks still burning with outrage following her visit to the police station. Autumn winds had left her hair tangled madly atop her shoulders. She resisted the urge to shrink beneath the intensity of his gaze. Alexander Beckett had eyes as bright as any star. When they looked at you it felt like they were penetrating through your skin, your bones, looking right down to your core. North tried to channel Kelly, tried to think of what her beloved friend would do. Instead of nervously chewing her lip and sinking deep into her green hooded jumper, North stood up straight and met Alexander's gaze.

'You shouldn't be here,' the group parted like the red sea as he made his way through them, approaching her. 'North, I heard about what happened to Kelly. You should be with loved ones right now. You should be grieving.' He placed his hands on her shoulders and North wanted to scream. He wasn't supposed to be touching her. 'Go home,' Alexander urged, squeezing her shoulders tighter and lowering his voice. 'Take a few days. I can't imagine what you're —'

'Tell me about the star,' North ordered abruptly. She could sense people averting their gazes but still straining to listen. But she was no longer a source of intrigue for the office gossips. That time had passed.

'Look, North —'

'You claim it's not a new star. Then what is it?' Out of the corner of her eye she saw Elijah sidle up to her, his blue eyes dulled with concern.

'North, go home.' Alexander gave the order but didn't lift his hands from her shoulders.

'It's a supernova,' Elijah offered quietly, nervously pushing a hand through his dark curls. 'Celine spotted it last night.'

'A supernova?' North's voice caught in her throat. A supernova. The death of a star. Discovered last night. Just a few nights after Kelly had supposedly taken herself out to the woods, to the jogging trail and —

'Don't concern yourself with this, North. Go home. I insist.' Despite his insistence Alexander didn't move, nor did his hands.

'I want to be here, at work,' North told them sincerely. She could feel everyone watching her, assessing her face for signs of an imminent breakdown. Did they expect tears? Hysteria? She refused to give them the satisfaction. North had been perfecting public mourning since she was fourteen. She'd gone pro around the time she lost her grandmother.

'Go home,' Alexander repeated, a cool calmness lingering in his gaze but his tone sharpening as he delivered an order. He was reverting to being just her boss.

'Please,' North looked deep into Alexander's eyes, trying not to see what she normally found in them. 'I don't want to be alone right now.'

'You shouldn't be here,' he was leading her away from the group, towards the door, and for some reason she was letting him. 'The supernova will still be here when you get back.'

'You're going to study it?'

'Yes,' Alexander let go of her to scratch his perfect chin. He smelt of cologne mixed with the ocean. He must have gone running along the beach that morning. Now he was someone who went jogging. He had the washboard stomach to prove it. Alexander Beckett was a man of science but appearances were important to him. He wore a shirt every day to work despite telling his colleagues that he favoured an 'informal' atmosphere at the observatory.

'I could come back with you,' Elijah had followed them over to the door. 'I can keep you company, if you like.'

'You'll be needed here,' North threw him a sad smile. 'A new supernova is a big discovery. Alex will need everyone on it.' With a deep breath to steady herself, she looked at Alex, hoping her smile now seemed more confident than sad. 'So what caused its creation? A gravitational collapse or —'

'Whilst I admire your dedication to your work,' Alex leaned past her to open the door into the small corridor which led out of the demountable – a slender, temporary structure which would one day be replaced by something quite literally more concrete. The site consisted of three such buildings and the main telescope. 'You really shouldn't be here, North. Not so soon after what happened. Take all the time you need to heal, to process this.'

'But -' he was already walking away, the conversation, in his mind, concluded.

It was cold out in the corridor. Almost as cold as the interview room at the police station had been. The thin walls of the demountable did little to keep out the chill of a September afternoon.

Alex was gone. His voice drifted back to her as he continued addressing the others in the main office.

'I've been assigned to study what the supernova might become,' Elijah was still there, caught in the doorway between the meeting and the corridor.

'You have?'

'You've got the same assignment,' he tugged at the sleeves of his frayed woollen jumper which appeared to be several sizes too big. Elijah was small with large blue eyes which were constantly scrutinizing his surroundings and made him appear like a nervous bird. But when he smiled all the tension lifted and he had dimples in his cheeks. North had noticed his dimples before she'd even clocked the serene shade of his eyes. 'There will be a lot of hours of data collecting. Together.'

'She didn't kill herself.' It was the first time North had said those words without the presence of a police officer. It felt strangely liberating and also oddly forbidden, like she was breaking some law by vocally denouncing the police's assumptions about Kelly.

'They said she was found out in the woods.' Elijah looked down at his red Converse. 'Hanging from a tree.'

'She didn't do it,' North insisted. 'The police don't believe me but I know she didn't do it. I know that she wouldn't —' she bit down on her tongue. Her final thoughts were too predictable. And painful.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Dead Girls Can't Lie"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Carys Jones.
Excerpted by permission of Head of Zeus Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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