Never Lie

My daughter Delilah loves the garden behind our house.

She turned one a few months ago, and she’s in this adorable chubby toddler phase where she walks around with her arms out at her sides, about to topple at any moment. I watch her from the rocking chair in front of the house as she does just that—falls to her knees in the soft grass, then gets right back up without missing a beat.

She is a girl with a mission. Right now, her mission is to bring me a daisy she found growing in the grass. She makes it the rest of the way over to me and places one of her tiny hands on my knee.

“Mama,” she says. “‘Dis.”

“Yes.” I accept the slightly crumpled daisy. “It’s a flower, darling.”

“Flar,” she repeats. “That’s right.”

She beams up at me. I might be slightly biased, but I think she’s the most beautiful child who has ever lived. She looks a lot like her father. Ethan and I both have blond hair, but mine comes out of a bottle and his is real. She has his blond curls—although his is cut too short to curl—and his clear blue eyes. She’s a spitting image of the way he looked in the baby pictures he finally showed me soon after we bought this house.

She takes such joy in the little things too. I bought her a baby doll for her first birthday, and her little face lit up with a brilliant smile. It made me remember the collection of dolls I used to have as a child. I had at least a dozen of them. And then another collection in a drawer in my room of the shorn heads of the dolls I didn’t like as much.

“Flar!” Delilah cries, then she toddles back into the garden, eager to rip out more of my flowers and deliver them to me.

I reach for the iced tea on the glass table by the rocking chair. We kept some of the furniture Adrienne Hale left behind in the house. We kept the bed but got a new mattress. We kept her sectional sofa after sponging it down aggressively. We kept the antique coffee table. I took down the portrait and stashed it in the attic. I couldn’t quite bring myself to destroy it.

Unfortunately, Dr. Hale didn’t have any patio furniture. All of that had to be purchased new. But we got a few gorgeous items. Everybody who comes to our house remarks enviously about how beautiful the place is.

They have no idea what a steal it was.

A hand drops onto my shoulder—Ethan is standing next to me. I smile up at him, and his eyes crinkle as he smiles back. He’s one of those men who’s going to get much more handsome as he gets older. You can just tell.

“Is she being good?”

“She’s always good,” I say.

It’s true. We live a charmed life here. We have an angelic little daughter. Ethan can work from home most days and avoid a commute into the city. All we had to do to get here was knock off a few people.

Right after our weekend at the house, I called Judy and told her we were very interested in the estate going up for sale. I pressured her to show it to us before it was officially ready for a viewing and we put in an offer on the spot. We didn’t haggle. We paid the asking price, not a penny less.

After all, we had a reason not to want people tromping in and out of the house. We had a reason to keep Judy from discovering any of the hidden compartments and turning the house back into a crime scene. We especially had a reason to keep her out of the garden.

And now it’s ours. Our dream house. I don’t know how I could’ve ever not wanted to live here.

“How is the bean doing?” Ethan asks me.

I instinctively lay my right hand on my stomach. A few weeks ago, I found out that Delilah will have a baby brother or sister. We’re both ecstatic about it. After all, as Ethan points out, we have four more bedrooms to fill. Dr. Hale wasted this house, living here all alone. We will put it to good use.

“The bean is good,” I tell him.

He grins at me. “Glad to hear it.”

Delilah has found another flower to bring to me. But in her eagerness, she takes a worse spill this time and doesn’t recover quite as easily. She sits on the grass, her chubby legs stuck out in front of her, wailing until her face turns bright red.

“Oh no!” I cry, my maternal instinct kicking into overdrive. “Let me grab her.”

“No.” Ethan squeezes my shoulder. “You rest, Mama. I’ll get her.”

I smile and take another sip of my iced tea while my husband sprints into the garden to comfort our daughter. He’s so good with her. He’s sweet and patient and he makes her laugh. Although to be fair, it isn’t hard to make a one-year-old laugh. Dropping a Cheerio on the floor will do the trick.

Sure enough, after a minute, Ethan has Delilah happy and laughing again. He lifts her onto his shoulders and gives her a ride around the garden while she giggles with delight.

I watch as Ethan’s loafers trample over the patch of grass that just started growing back about eight months

ago. For a year, we watched that patch anxiously. The grass on the rest of the garden was so lush and green, but nothing grew there.

I looked it up. I told Ethan that after a dead body is buried in the ground, plant growth is suppressed for about a year, but then it comes back even better than before. And it’s not like somebody was going to look at that patch of soil where nothing could grow and know that Luke Strauss’s body was buried underneath.

Digging his grave was harder than killing him. Ethan took care of both counts—I’d never found him sexier. Luke fought, but not as hard as I would have expected. I saw the resigned look in his eyes seconds before Ethan slashed his throat. And now that he’s gone, he’s reunited with his precious Adrienne, if you believe in such things.

Thankfully, two years later, the grass has grown back where we buried him. His body will act as fertilizer for years to come. As will the body of Edward Jamison, buried a few feet away.

Ethan waves to me from the garden. I love him so much. I never thought it would be possible to love again after what Cody did to me. But here I am. Married to a wonderful man. And the two of us share a secret that will bind us together for the rest of our lives. Both of us will take that secret to our graves.

At least, I will.

Sometimes I wonder about Ethan. He gets nervous when people go out into our garden. He was so anxious about the grass, I almost thought he was going to crack for a while. If somebody came around and started asking questions, I’m not sure how he would hold up.

Hopefully, that won’t ever happen. But if it does, I’m prepared to take care of the situation.

After all, my mother always said that the only way two people can keep a secret is if one of them is dead.

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