Excerpt: The First Mistake - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

From Sandie Jones, the author of the Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick andNew York Times bestseller The Other Woman, comes an addictively readable new domestic suspense about a wife, her husband, and the woman who is supposedly her best friend.

THE WIFE: For Alice, life has never been better. With her second husband, she has a successful business, two children, and a beautiful house.

HER HUSBAND: Alice knows that life could have been different if her first husband had lived, but Nathan’s arrival into her life gave her back the happiness she craved.

HER BEST FRIEND: Through the ups and downs of life, from celebratory nights out to comforting each other through loss, Alice knows that with her best friend Beth by her side, they can survive anything together. So when Nathan starts acting strangely, Alice turns to Beth for help. But soon, Alice begins to wonder whether her trust has been misplaced . . .

The first mistake could be her last.

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Domestic Suspense

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Excerpt: The First Mistake
By Sandie Jones

Excerpt: The First Mistake

Coming July 11th is THE FIRST MISTAKE — the new, provocative domestic supsense from bestselling author Sandie Jones (THE OTHER WOMAN). This time, she imparts a tangled story about a wife, her husband, and her supposed best friend.

I’m thrilled to share an early look at what awaits…

PROLOGUE

She looked at me with real warmth in her eyes, as if she trusted me with her life, and for a moment I thought I couldn’t go through with it.

But then I remembered what she’d done and I suddenly felt calm again. What goes around comes around, and she deserves everything that’s coming her way.

Trust is a funny thing; it takes such a long time to build, yet it’s broken in a second.

She shouldn’t trust me—it will be her undoing.

 

PART 1

PRESENT DAY

ALICE

 

ONE

 

“Sophia, let’s go,” I call out from the hall. “Livvy, where’s your homework?”

She huffs and rushes off to the kitchen. “I thought you’d put it in my bag.”

“I’m your mother, not your slave. And besides, you’re eight now, you should be taking more responsibility.” I’m exasperated, though in truth, I’d happily pack her school bag for another ten years if it meant I could hang on to my baby who, it seems, has disappeared within a blink of an eye. How had I lost that time?

“Here,” she exclaims. “Have you got my swimming cap?” “Olivia! Oh, for God’s sake, is it swimming today?”

She sticks one hip out to the side and rests her hand on the other, with all the sassiness of her fifteen-year-old sister. “Er, yeah, it’s Wednesday.”

“Run upstairs quickly, look in your top drawer. I’ll count to five and you need to be back down here. Sophia, we’re going.” I’m shouting by the end of the sentence.

What my elder daughter does up there I don’t know. Every day it seems to take her five minutes longer to straighten her hair, scribe the black kohl under her eye, inflate her lips with self-plumping lip gloss or whatever else it is she uses. She looks undeniably gorgeous when she does eventually appear, but is it all really necessary, for school?

“I can’t find it,” Olivia calls out.

“We’re late,” I shout, before huffing up the stairs. I feel a heaviness in my chest, a spring tightly coiled, as I rifle desperately through her socks and knickers. “If I find it in here . . .” I say, never finishing the sentence, because I’m not quite sure what I’m threatening. “Did you wear it last week?”

“Yes,” she says quietly, aware of my mood. “Well, do you remember bringing it home?”

“Yes, definitely,” she says confidently, knowing that any other response will have me blowing a gasket.

The grip on my chest releases as I spot the matte rubber cap in the back corner of the drawer. “Great,” I say under my breath, before adding as I run down the stairs, “Livvy, you really do need to wake up. Sophia, we’re getting in the car.”

“I’m coming,” she shouts back indignantly, as if she’s said it three times already. With her music playing that loudly, how would anyone ever know?

She skulks into the passenger seat of the car and instantly pulls down the sun visor to inspect herself in the mirror as we drive.

“Haven’t you just spent the past hour doing that?” I ask.

She tuts and flicks it back up with as much attitude as it will allow. “What time will you be home tonight?” I ask, ten minutes later, as I lean across and offer my cheek. She kisses it reluctantly, which she’s only just started doing again, since we struck a deal to park slightly farther away from school.

“There’s a maths revision class, so I’ll probably go to that,” she says. “What’s for tea?”

We’ve just had breakfast, are at least four hours away from lunch, and she wants to know what’s for tea? I do a mental scan of the fridge. It doesn’t look too healthy. I might be able to rustle up a pasta dish, at best.

“What would you like?” I smile.

She shrugs her shoulders. “Don’t mind. Something nice?”

I pull her toward me and kiss the top of her head. “Go on, go. I’ll pop into Marks and Spencer if I get time.”

She smiles and gets out of the car. “See you, divvy Livvy.”

“Bye poo face,” giggles her little sister from the back seat.

I put the window down as we drive past her and call out, but she’s al- ready locked into her phone, unseeing and unhearing of everything else around her. “Look up,” I say to her silently. “You’ll never know what you might miss.”

Olivia and I do a light jog into school, which isn’t easy in these heels. “I love you,” I say, as she rushes off to join a playground game of netball without looking back.

“Mrs. Davies, can I have a word?” calls out Miss Watts from across the playground. I purposely avoid eye contact. I don’t have time for this. I look at my watch to let her know I’m under pressure.

“Sorry, it won’t take a minute,” she says. “Would you like to come into the classroom?”

I look at my watch again. “I’m running late, can we do it here?”

“Of course. It’s just that . . .” She looks around surreptitiously, but it’s early enough not to have too many other parents within earshot. “It’s just that we had a little incident yesterday, in the playground.”

My heart lurches and I can feel my brow furrowing. “What kind of incident?” I ask, forcing myself to stay calm.

The teacher rests a reassuring hand on my arm, though it feels any- thing but. “Oh, it’s nothing serious,” she says. “Just a falling-out between a few of the girls.” She rolls her eyes. “You know how girls can be.”

“Was Olivia involved?” I ask.

“Apparently so. There were just a few nasty words bandied about, and Phoebe Kendall says that Olivia threatened not to play with her anymore. I’m sure it was nothing more than playground antics, but Phoebe was a little upset by it.”

I imagine she was. “Olivia didn’t mention anything last night. Did you speak to her?”

“I had a quiet word yesterday,” she says, looking around again before continuing in a hushed tone. “It’s just that it isn’t the first time that Olivia has been involved in an altercation of this type.”

I look at her, trying to read what’s going on behind her eyes. “Oh” is all I can manage.

Miss Watts leans in closer. “She’s normally such a bright and bubbly child, eager to be friends with everyone, but these past few weeks . . .”

I rack my brain, wondering what’s changed things. “I’ll talk to her— see what’s going on.”

“Perhaps it would be useful to come in for a chat,” she says, tilting her head to one side. Her condescending smile reminds me of a therapist I once had. The one who asked me to close my eyes and imagine I was lying on a deserted beach, with the sun warming my skin and the gentle waves lapping at my feet.

I hadn’t gone back. Treating me like a five-year-old didn’t work then, and it certainly isn’t going to work now.

“I’d be happy to see you and Mr. Davies after school today if you’re available?” Miss Watts goes on.

“I’m afraid Nathan . . . Mr. Davies is away on business. He’s flying back this afternoon.”

“Ah, okay then, perhaps another time,” she says. “I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about, just something we need to keep our eye on.”

“Of course,” I say before turning on my heels and instantly bumping into a group of girls playing hopscotch. “I’ll talk to her tonight.”

I make my apologies to the disgruntled children as I tiptoe over brightly painted numbers on the tarmac.

“Wow, you look a bit done-up for this time in the morning,” calls out Beth, as she streaks past me in trainers and go-faster Lycra with her daughter Millie trailing behind.

“Hey, gorgeous girl,” I say to the petulant-looking eight-year-old. “What’s up?”

“She got up late,” Millie replies, as she rolls her eyes theatrically toward her mother. “And now we’re all paying for it.”

Beth turns around and pokes her tongue out at the both of us. “Let me drop this little madam off and I’ll walk out with you.”

I tap my watch. “I’m running late,” I say after her. “I’ll catch you later.” But she’s already gone and is depositing Millie in the playground. I start walking out, knowing that within seconds she’ll be at my side.

“So where are you off to all dressed up?” she asks, half-accusingly, as she catches up with me. I look down at my black skirt; granted, it is a little tight. And my red top; perhaps a little low. But my jacket goes some way to covering me up. Suddenly conscious of what Miss Watts might have thought, I pull it closed.

“Do I have to be going somewhere to make an effort?” I laugh lightly, though Olivia is still nagging at my brain.

“Anything other than pajamas or gym gear is abnormal at this time of day,” Beth says. “So yes, you looking like that, when us mere mortals haven’t even had time to brush our teeth, is really not fair, and most definitely shouldn’t be allowed.”

“It’s just my normal work attire,” I say. “Nothing out of the ordinary.” My face flushes and she raises her eyebrows. Who am I trying to kid? “I believe you, even if a thousand others wouldn’t,” she says, giving me a wink.

I smile, though I feel the heat rise in my cheeks. “Did you hear anything about the girls falling out yesterday?”

She looks at me nonplussed and shakes her head. “No, why, what happened?”

“Miss Watts just told me that a few of them had a bit of a ding-dong. It seems Phoebe and Livvy were involved. I just wondered if Millie had said anything to you about it.”

“No, but I can ask her if you like.”

“Probably best not to make a big thing of it for the moment,” I say. “I’ll wait and see if Livvy mentions it.”

“Okay. You still on for tomorrow night?”

“Definitely! Nathan’s back today and already knows he’s on babysitting duties.”

“That’s what I like to hear,” she says, laughing. “A man who knows his place.”

“Where do you fancy going?” I ask. “Uptown or do you want to stay local? There’s a new place that’s just opened in Soho. Nathan went there with a client and raved about it.”

“I don’t mind, could give it a try. Though saying that, I don’t get paid for another three days, so if it’s expensive, I might have to save it until after payday.”

“No worries, it’ll be my treat,” I say, and see her eyes momentarily narrow. I bite my tongue and immediately wish I could suck the words back in. I’d hate for her to think I’m being patronizing, but I’d genuinely like to help. It takes a little longer for my brain to catch up with my mouth and realize that she might appreciate a handout for something more worthwhile than an over-priced meal in a fancy restaurant.

“Don’t be silly,” she says finally, and I let out a sigh of relief. “Why don’t we do a pizza night tomorrow and go uptown next week?”

“Sounds like a plan,” I say.

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