Lara Jansen is the world's worst liar. Literally.
Born with an uncanny gift to know when the truth is being spoken, Lara lives a quiet, risk-adverse life as a tailor. But when handsome, mysterious Dafydd ap Caerwyn enters her life and claims-truthfully-to be a prince of Faerie, Lara's world is turned upside-down.
Dafydd has traveled from his world-the Barrow-lands-in search of a 'truthseeker' to help untangle the truth around his brother's murder, a crime which the warring factions in the Seelie court can't solve. Lara, determined to take a few chances with her life, agrees to journey to the Barrow-lands with him, but there, discovers that even her gifts don't necessarily prevent people from lying to her...and that charming, irresistible Dafydd has secrets of his own.
Caught between ancient, bitter rivalries and a burgeoning evil wielding dark power, Lara's own abilities grow uncontrollably, and the Barrow-lands may yet discover that truth is the deadliest magic of all....
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|Publisher:||Catherine E Murphy|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.90(d)|
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"--once upon a time, not so long ago, driven by a little old lady I know personally. She drove it to the store weekly, that's it, so its four thousand miles are gentle ones, ladies. It's six years old, but it has all the extras. You won't find a better deal here or anywhere else. Now, I know the sticker price is eighteen five and you're not looking to spend quite that much." The salesman leaned out from beneath his umbrella to get a better look at the deep V of Kelly Richards's T-shirt, and smiled. "It's cutting my own throat, but I think I can knock it down to seventeen flat. It's a bargain, ladies, a real bargain."
"Lara?" Kelly folded her arms beneath her breasts.
For a moment Lara found herself studying her friend's cleavage, too, if less avidly than the salesman had. Kelly had a lifetime's experience in using her assets to distract and command, whereas Lara's own figure had been described as a pirate's treasure: a sunken chest. Clinical curiosity made her wonder what it would be like to take control of a situation just by inhaling deeply.
"Earth to Lara, hello?" Kelly snapped her fingers under Lara's nose. "Are you in there?"
"Of course I am." Lara glanced at the yellow Mazda Miata the salesman hawked, but it was his quick patter that she concentrated on. The easy flow of words meant to distract and impress in the same way Kelly's T-shirt was--though Kelly had perhaps gone too far in her distraction techniques. She hadn't worn a coat, despite it being cold with a promise of serious rain. The salesman's gaze kept wandering to her chest. Lara shook her head, smiling. "He's lying."
Offense flew across the man's face and he clapped a hand over his heart. "How could I lie to two such lovely ladies as yourselves? But all right, all right, maybe a Miata isn't your style. Something with a little more kick to it, maybe something that makes a real impression when you pull up? I've got a Ford four-fifty over here, it gets thirty miles to the gallon--"
He broke off again as Lara and Kelly both turned incredulous looks on him. "All right, all right, maybe twenty-five in the city. But I can see discerning women like yourselves want better gas mileage than that. I've got just the thing for you. This way, please." He strode down the lot, Kelly at his side and Lara trailing behind, staying just close enough to overhear his routine. Kelly cast regular glances at her, and Lara shook her head each time.
Finally, exasperated, Kelly pointed at a ten-year-old Nissan with a four-thousand-dollar price tag. "What about that one?"
A spatter of rain hit the salesman's umbrella and rolled off in a pathetic dribble that matched his expression. "Decent gas mileage, but the engine was overhauled by an amateur."
"How's it run?"
He muttered, "Fine," and Lara nodded.
Kelly's smile lit up. "I'll take it."
Forty minutes later the Nissan sat outside a diner, Kelly whimpering with each raindrop that spattered against her new car. Her lunch, virtually untouched, no longer steamed with heat, and Lara waved her own half-eaten burger at Kelly's cooling french fries. "If you're bringing me out to the best diner lunch in Boston you might as well eat. Or is this a special new diet where you only inhale the scent of food?"
Kelly tore herself from the view to waggle a finger at Lara. "Technically, the Deluxe is in Watertown, not Boston."
Lara laughed. "Okay, fine. The best diner in the greater Boston area. You don't like it when I'm pedantic with you. How come you can do it to me?"
"Because you do it all the time. I'm just getting my own back. Anyway, lunch is for you, not me."
"So it's a new diet. One where you've given up eating?"
"Well, no, it's just, you know. I don't know how you can eat as much as you do and stay so slim." Kelly finally picked up her own burger, having been distracted from the car.
"Some of us get Mae West figures, others get fast metabolisms. Want to trade?"
Kelly glanced past her burger into the V of her own T-shirt. "Nah, I guess not. But thanks for coming along. You always know when salesmen are lying."
"Kelly, anybody who sells used cars is lying. You don't need me along to tell you that." Lara squished her burger until bacon and cheese oozed out of the bun, then sank her teeth into it with a blissful sigh.
"Yeah, but you also know when they're telling the truth."
Lara shrugged her eyebrows, grateful her mouth was full. Kelly was right, the correctness--the truthfulness--of her statement hummed under Lara's skin like a hive full of bees. She couldn't remember a time when lies didn't strike discordant notes. As barely more than an infant, Lara had heartily mistrusted her mother until Gretchen Jansen had learned to explain that Santa and the Tooth Fairy, among others, were simply stories that people told. Her mother's patient explanations had eventually allowed her to understand the idea of popular legends, but the truth-sensing ability had become even more awkward when her father died. There were no comforting lies to be shared with a child who was fundamentally incapable of accepting "Daddy's gone away for a while" as basic truth.
Since then--she'd been seven--she had understood it would be easier if she could instantly know when she was being lied to. It had never worked that way, though as she'd aged she'd learned to discern more and more about the probable truth. The Miata had almost certainly never belonged to a granny, and its four thousand miles were probably the result of someone tinkering with the odometer. But unless the salesman said so directly, she wouldn't know. Worse, she couldn't tell the difference between a truth based on misinformation or a genuine truth: if someone believed what he was telling her, it read as true.
As peculiar talents went, it was good for getting her out of jury duty--a frustrating perk, as she thought serving on a jury might be interesting--and not a great deal else.
"Hey. Hey, wake up." Kelly reached across the table to thump Lara's forearm. "Look, it's that guy from the news. The weatherman. Why don't you go ask him if he's single?" She nodded out the window, where a slender blond man in a long coat hurried past Kelly's Nissan, his shoulders hunched against bursts of rain. A cameraman followed, looking irate. "Poor guy, he predicted sunshine today."
"Oh. Is that why you're wearing a T-shirt? I thought you were just trying to keep the car salesman off his game."
"Merely a side benefit. No, I'd have brought a coat if I'd known it was going to be this nasty. Wow, there's a job that'd suck for you, huh? What if you had to predict the weather and kept getting it wrong? You'd give yourself the heebie-jeebies."
Lara, watching the weatherman cross the street, shook her head. "I don't think so. I'd be predicting on the best data I had, so it might be okay."
"Best data." Kelly snorted. "How many times have I watched the news and the weatherperson said it was snowing when it was raining, or when the prediction was windy when it was as calm as a crypt?"
"Calm as a crypt." Lara took her attention off the street and made a face at her friend. "Who says things like that? I don't know if you watch too much Addams Family or if you're just planning a career as an undertaker."
"I'm planning a career as a rich young widow," Kelly said archly. "See, if you were really a good friend you'd have already found me a rich old man to marry."
"Most of my clients aren't old."
"But they're rich, right?" Kelly's eyes brightened. "They have to be, to afford their spiffy custom suits."
Lara wrinkled her nose and put on a haughty accent. "Please. We at Lord Matthew's Tailor Shop prefer the term 'bespoke' to 'custom made.'"
"That's because you at Lord Matthew's are a bunch of Europhile snobs," Kelly said cheerfully, and Lara laughed.
"Steve's got three hundred years of tradition to live up to. Give him a break."
"Oh yes." Now Kelly put on the accent, sniffing disdainfully. "Steven Taylor, eighth in a line of tailors beholden to a Lord Matthew, whose name became so synonymous with quality that even during his lifetime men were referred to 'Lord Matthew's tailor' rather than the Newbury Street Tailor Shop. That's your party line, isn't it?" she said in a normal voice. "You have to admit it sounds snooty."
"It is snooty. But I love it. The way everything fits together flawlessly, it's like a true thing made real."
"A true thing made real. And you think I say weird things."
Lara grinned. "Someday I'll make your wedding dress and you'll understand why it's so fantastic. No patterns, just your body shape and your every whim conceded to. Except if you try to make a disastrous fashion choice, in which case I'll politely ignore you and make something suitable. At least I could do that with you. We've had clients with no taste at all. A couple of them were even famous."
"Fortune five hundred famous?"
"More like movie star famous."
Kelly brightened again. "Now, see, if I were even the tiniest bit interested in sewing, I would so make you get me a job. Intimately fitting clothes to movie stars. I want your life."
"No, you don't," Lara said with perfect confidence.