Welcome to the final day of the blog tour for The Lies I Tell by Joel Hames. I have an extract to share with you all today, with thanks to Zoé and the publisher but first let’s see what this book is all about.
Author : Joel Hames
Title : The Lies I Tell
Pages : n/a
Publisher : Spellbound Books
Publication date : February 5, 2021
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
Meet Polly. Meet Emily. Meet Belinda.They’re all me.
My name is Lisa and I’m an identity thief. If I’m not inside your system stealing your money, I’ve probably already stolen it. I’m your friend. I’m a thief. I’m gone. I’m in control.
Only now, the tables have been turned. I’m in danger. My son is in danger. And I don’t know where that danger’s coming from.
Any friend. Any enemy. Any stranger. Anyone from the past I’ve been trying to outrun for years.
| EXTRACT |
SPENDING TIME WITH Simon was fun, but it was more than that. It was everything I’d built my life around. Me and Simon. Simon and me. No one to get in the way. No one to ask questions I didn’t want to answer. No one to hurt him or let him hurt himself while my back was turned. No one to screw things up. I got him downstairs and turned the heating on – it was cooler in here than in Lena’s flat – and I read him a book based on a cartoon spin-off from the Star Wars franchise. It was a book I’d read him a hundred times in the last few months, but that didn’t matter. Simon loved it. When I read it to him, when I saw him smile and touch the pages, the little burst of joy so sharp it was almost pain that I felt when he remembered what was coming next and said it before I did, all that meant I loved it too. His smile hadn’t changed, the same one he’d flashed as a baby, and the hair was still blonde and the face rarely anything other than pale, but he was beginning to acquire a quiet solidity. The ethereal, translucent quality that had so worried me at first, that had made him a fugitive child, barely there at all, had passed into memory.
When he’d tired of the book he asked if we could work on the Project. He pronounced the word carefully, trilling the “r”, curling himself around the “c”, imbuing the final “t” with its own syllable. The Project was the construction of the Millennium Falcon in Lego. It took up most of the top of his bookcase, with the books it had displaced relegated to the floor, and three weeks into it I was coming to the conclusion that it consumed even more time than it did space. It wasn’t, however, something to be tackled in small bites.
I suggested the figures instead. He approved and ran to his toy box, returning with his hands full of them. I had become a Star Wars expert by osmosis. The movies were on constant rotation, with occasional breaks for various related cartoons. Brandishing a Storm Trooper in one hand, he began to quiz me in a now-familiar manner.
Who would win a duel between Kylo Ren and the young Obi Wan? Who was the worst baddie in the galaxy? Which was the fastest ship?
Spending time with Simon was the point of everything. Making him happy. Keeping him safe.
But I had work to do. I waited until he was absorbed in a subplot of his own creation, the rescue of a mutinous Storm Trooper by his rebel sister. He’d even given them names, Jorlon, who refused to buckle under the most hideous tortures, and Flinka, the bravest fighter in the galaxy. I listened to him play for a minute, to Jorlon’s screams and Flinka’s defiant quips, and headed for my laptop.
I rolled my shoulders, stretched my arms, closed my eyes and visualised my plans in neat, serried ranks, lines of soldiers awaiting their orders. I powered up and activated the virtual private network, which was designed to conceal my location from all but the most determined eyes. I opened a browser and found a random site. I checked the IP address I was using, the visible address, and double-checked it wasn’t showing up as related to me or my physical address in any way. The VPN was working. This was the way I started every session, the list of habits I’d taught myself, the routine I’d built as insurance against getting sloppy. There were more details, more things to do, of course, but this was the way it always began.
I logged onto a couple of Instagram accounts and checked for activity. Nothing exciting. I did the same on Twitter. Instagram and Twitter weren’t bad, they helped me build a fully rounded person who knew the sort of things she was supposed to know if she was the person she said she was. If she liked the Kardashians or Manchester United or soft rock or hard porn. But they weren’t made for getting close to people. I grabbed some images off the web, making sure they weren’t marked and wouldn’t be picked up by crawlers, and posted a handful of updates. Just keeping it real.
The good stuff was all on Facebook, but Simon was growing restless. I sat him on a chair in the kitchen and pulled stupid faces while I buttered some bread and slathered strawberry jam on top. I took the laptop into the kitchen with me and glanced at it from time to time, just to be sure no one had eyes on me and nothing was happening that shouldn’t be. Satisfied, I pulled up Facebook with one hand while wiping jam off Simon’s cheek with the other.
Information gathering, I’d called it, when I’d started hanging around finding out useful things about people I didn’t know. Now I was more honest with myself. It was stalking, plain and simple, and there was no one better at it than me.
I started without logging in, which gave me the basics on half a dozen of my potential victims, the ones who weren’t smart enough to filter their privacy settings. Once I’d checked for significant updates, it was time to interact.
For the Bean Counter, I was Emily Chatsworth. Emily had piercings in most of the obvious, visible places, and a few that were more commonly kept under wraps. Emily had red hair – this month, at least – and was politically active, but she enjoyed a drink or twelve and she knew how to party. Emily was a London girl, born and bred, who liked to travel but would always come home to the Big Smoke. Emily helped set up major events – concerts, conferences, shows, you name it, she did it, half stage-manager, half producer. The names of celebrities tripped off Emily’s tongue – her fingers, really – like rain in Wales, but she didn’t boast, not really. She was cool, and drop-dead gorgeous, as gorgeous as the software could make her without looking too good to be true. Emily didn’t think she was gay, not permanently, at least, but her recent history said otherwise.
If you’d like to find out more about Lisa, her multiple identities, what she’s hiding from and who is coming for her, then why not grab yourself a copy of The Lies I Tell now!
| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |
A Londoner in exile, Joel Hames lives in rural Lancashire with his wife and two daughters.
His works of fiction include the bestselling Sam Williams trilogy Dead North, No One Will Hear and The Cold Years, and the standalone psychological thriller The Lies I Tell.
When not writing or spending time with his family, Joel likes to eat, cook, play the piano, and make up excuses to avoid walking the dog. There’s the MMA thing, too, but he doesn’t like to show off.