Excerpt – Vikki has arrived in Lynes Glen, Niall’s childhood home, hoping to become more than friends over the weekend. She has just finished her unpacking and is on the landing about to go downstairs to join Niall and his sister Lainey when…
She heard voices coming from below her. Quiet tones, as if anxious not to be overheard, but they carried straight up the stairwell to where she was standing.
‘So she doesn’t know… …’ It was Lainey speaking.
‘Good. Let’s keep it like that.’
‘How about Alex?’
‘He feels the same as we do – honestly, Niall.’
‘I hope so. It’ll be bad enough facing him as it is.’
‘It’ll be fine. We’re all agreed. Total silence. It never happened.’
‘I got a bit of a start on the way here… …’
‘Vikki thought she saw something… someone on the diving board by the lough…’
‘Go on.’ A trace of ice in Lainey’s tone.
‘Someone with long, red hair.’
‘For Christ’s sake , tell me you’re joking… …’ Her response was instant and sharp, the language a surprise coming from perfectly polished Lainey.
‘I’m not. I told her it was a trick of the light, that we’re in fairy country now.’
‘You big eejit.’
‘I panicked. I couldn’t think straight. I nearly crashed the car as it was. Supposing she hadn’t been seeing things? That someone – or something -– had been there?’
‘Jesus, don’t start. There couldn’t have been anything there. It’s all blocked up.’
‘That’s how it looks but I’m sure you can still get through somehow.’
‘It would be difficult but not impossible. Still, as far as we’re concerned, it’s all blocked up, right?’
There was a short silence.
‘Vikki seems like a nice girl but I can’t understand why you wanted to drag her over here into all this.’
‘She’s a good friend. She’s very special to me.’
‘Did you really have to bring her this weekend?’
‘Coming back here – I felt I needed all the support I could get.’
A door opened downstairs and one of the children called out. There was the sound of footsteps fading away. Vikki put her fist to her trembling mouth, tip-toed back along the corridor and went into the bedroom, her face stinging. She needed a few moments to compose herself before going downstairs. And she needed to shove what she’d heard into a far corner of her mind, otherwise she’d drive herself mad wondering what had gone wrong in this family and why Niall needed her support.
She went across to the dressing table and checked her face in the mirror. She looked OK, didn’t see? Just a tiny telltale tinge in her cheeks. She went over to the window and rested her hot cheek against its coolness. Outside, the surrounding countryside was veiled in afternoon sunshine and, despite her misgivings, she felt a lift of pleasure at the beauty of the scene. In the distance, she saw the glint of something sparking against the grey-blue shale of the mountains. It came again, a quick flash, then she realised it there was a car travelling along the approach road to Lynes Glen that Niall had taken earlier that afternoon. Alex and his family? Alex, the brother Niall hadn’t spoken to in over twenty years, for whatever reason he was unable to say… …
© 2017 Zoë Miller
‘Fans of Big Little Lies will enjoy Zoë Miller’s latest book’ – Irish Country Magazine
‘The mood and timing of the book are particularly and expertly orchestrated’ – Books Ireland