Home > The Lie

The Lie
Author: Debra Webb

Chapter One



“All these years,” he said, mostly to himself, “Being caught was never a concern.”

He laughed. Not really a laugh. More a dry, rusty sound. Men like him didn’t laugh. Not really. But this was almost laughable. He had gone to great lengths to protect the work. His every tedious effort had kept him safe for more than three decades.

How many others, he mused, could claim such an astounding record?

Few, he supposed.

Now, however, his choices had been limited. A man could not outrun fate forever. Even a cat ran out of lives eventually.

He smiled at his companion who glared back at him from the keeping place.

“I can’t stop it now.” Not that he actually wanted to prevent what came next. In fact, he relished the potential interactions and reactions to come. He was protected. Though he would miss the challenge of the work he had come to love so, change was a part of life.

For a true chameleon, transformation was a necessary element of existence.

It was time for change.

As if to applaud his conclusions, the birds sang for him. Oh, how they called out to each other…a siren’s song to lure in their prey. They watched him, reacted to his voice. They were so like him in their brutality. Their beauty belied their ruthlessness.

The sheer hatred emanating from his companion reminded him that he had many preparations to make. Like the beautiful birds, his companion watched him from his cage.

He knew better than to trust either—the birds or the companion. One was as ruthless as the other.

“You shouldn’t waste your energy,” he warned. “You’ll need it for what’s coming.”

The fool dared to spit in his face.

Didn’t matter. He would, as the saying went, have the last laugh.

Tomorrow would prove interesting.

The day after, even more so.

It was time to watch his carefully orchestrated drama play out like the finale in the latest hit on Broadway.

A believable lie was far more complicated than the simple truth. He had become very, very good at creating the perfect lie. And why not?

He’d had the very best teacher.



Chapter Two



Miller’s Bend Road

Maple Ridge, Tennessee

Friday, November 27, 10:00 p.m.



That’s a wrap, folks. Until next week! May your killers be too slow to catch you!

Lara typed the final comment, ending her blog for the day. More comments would appear over the weekend. She would check back in from time to time. It was never a hardship to respond to her followers. She smiled as she closed her laptop. As long as her audience kept growing, she would answer their comments twenty-four/seven if necessary. The bigger her audience the better the sponsors and endorsements.

She stood, stretched her back and headed to the kitchen to pour herself a glass of wine. As a teenager she never expected her fascination with true crime to turn into something that would earn her a living.

Her decision to give it a try had been greatly influenced by her mom’s constant urging that Lara should follow her passion. She reached for a stemmed glass—same one she’d used last night—rinsed it out and went to the fridge. She grabbed the bottle of white and opened it. Some connoisseurs hated screw off tops but Lara was grateful for the convenience. Especially after a long evening of answering comments on her crime blog, Killer Musings.

The first taste of the fruity Moscato was sweet on her tongue. She sighed. When she’d lived in New York most of her friends adored their reds, cabernet, merlot, pinot noir. Not Lara, she loved her whites, once in a while the occasional blush but never the deeper reds.

The notification that a new email had arrived echoed through her tiny cottage. Glass in hand she padded barefoot through the house, returning to her office. When she’d come to Maple Ridge in June to make the arrangements for her mother’s funeral, she’d had no idea how long she would stay. The heart attack had been so unexpected, Lara had needed time to pull herself together and to do what needed to be done. Maybe pack up the family home and put it on the market. No way was she leaving New York and staying in this small Tennessee town. Though it was fairly close to Nashville, Maple Ridge was basically the middle of nowhere compared to her Manhattan neighborhood.

The weeks had turned into months and by September Lara had decided that maybe she’d buy herself a small lake house for visiting when she needed to get away from the rapid-fire pace of the city. She could transition some of the keepsakes from her childhood home and then sell the place.

Except that last part hadn’t happened. Instead, she had fallen in love with this little cottage and its cozy bohemian theme, and she’d left her mom’s house exactly as it was except for a few things she had brought here to her cottage. Eventually she’d have to sort through things with an eye toward downsizing and sell the place, but not now.

Maybe next year.

Right now, she sat down at her desk, stared out the window at the darkness beyond. The view from nearly every window was the same—the lake. It was so calming, it made her want to be still, to just be.

The excitement and endless possibilities of the city had kept her jumping and moving, her mind humming. She’d prowled Manhattan and the other boroughs for ten years. She’d traveled all over the country interviewing survivors of the worst sorts of monsters—cold blooded murderers. One of these days she might even finish the book she had started ages ago. She had been approached with the idea of publishing more than once. Recently, she’d started work on the project again. Maybe it was time she saw it all the way through.

“Maybe one day I’ll actually have something completed to submit,” she muttered before sipping her wine once more. The truth was, she’d been mentally toying with the project for months before actually opening the file on her laptop. Not that she’d told anyone. Well, she might have mentioned it to her closest friend. She smiled as she read the sender of the new email she’d received. Nate Decker. Her friend and FBI agent.

How was it possible that so much time had passed without a face-to-face meeting with the man she unconditionally considered her best friend? Five years. Unbelievable. Never enough time, she decided as she opened his email.

Great analysis as always. Time will tell if you’ve solved the crime before the police can.

Lara laughed but it had happened. Over the years she’d figured out the killer before the police once or twice. The local authorities—wherever the heinous crime occurred—were always grateful for the assist but rarely appreciated her telling the world by blogging about it.

She hit reply and selected a wine glass emoji to send to her longtime friend.

Despite the fact that they’d never met in person, she and this handsome FBI agent were as close as possible in a long distance, online way. Five years ago when she’d just started making a name for herself as a blogger in the world of true crime, she’d needed information available only through the Federal Bureau of Investigation. After submitting her request, she had received an email through her site from a Special Agent Nathaniel “Nate” Decker. They’d become fast friends. Obviously as a member of law enforcement, he loved solving crimes just as much as she did. He was intrigued by her depth of research and innate ability to assess a homicide. She had often teasingly suggested he probably thought her to be a closet serial killer and wanted to keep tabs on her. Either way, he was her go-to guy for all things FBI.

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