Their love led to a lie.
Their truth led to the end.
Scottish enigma Brigs McGregor is crawling out from the ashes. After losing his wife and son in a car accident - and, subsequently, his job - he's finally moving forward with his life, securing a prestigious teaching position at the University of London and starting a new chapter in the city. Slowly, but surely, he's pushing past the guilt and putting his tragic past behind him.
Until he sees her.
Natasha Trudeau once loved a man so much she thought she'd die without him. But their love was wrong, doomed from the start, and when their world crashed around them, Natasha was nearly buried in the rubble. It took years of moving on to forget him, and now that she's in London, she's ready to start over again.
Until she sees him.
Because some loves are too dangerous to ever rekindle.
And some loves are too powerful to ignore.
Can you ever have a second chance at a love that ruined you?
The Lie is a second-chance romance with a dark, forbidden twist.
Without even thinking, I end up in Natasha’s neighborhood, on her street. I pull the car over and stare at her building. I can drive off. I can go blow off some steam with Lachlan. I can drive and scream and wish to god that things were different.
But I don’t want to do it alone.
I get out of the car and head to her flat.
I knock on her door, wondering if she’s even in, if she might still be sleeping. It’s still early on a Saturday and we don’t see each other on the weekends without it being work related, such as seeing a classic film at the cinema. I hadn’t planned to talk to her until Monday, her last week of work as my research assistant before going back to London.
My heart pinches at that thought.
She’s leaving me.
What the hell am I doing?
But then the door opens slowly and she’s staring at me with wide eyes, her hair piled on top of her head in a messy bun, a fluffy robe around her body.
“Sorry,” I say quickly, immediately feeling bad. “Did I wake you up?”
She yawns. “Kind of, but I should be getting up anyway. What’s, um, up?”
I rub my lips together. “I…I wanted to know if you wanted to go for a drive?”
I shrug. “I don’t know. Far away. But not too far. I have to be back by twelve-thirty for Hamish.”
“What time is it now?”
She rolls her eyes. “And you were wondering if you woke me up. I should still be sleeping for at least another two hours.”
I nod, embarrassed at my enthusiasm. I’m being inappropriate. “I should go.”
I turn around, but she reaches out and grabs my arm, holding tight. “No, don’t,” she says. “I want to go with you. Just give me five minutes, okay?”
I turn to look at her and she’s flashing me a persuasive smile.
“I’ll be in the car,” I tell her.
Somehow she’s true to her word. In five minutes she’s jogging down the steps of her building, dressed in jeans and a tank top that shows off the tawny warmth of her summer tan. She hasn’t touched her hair at all; it’s still up in that bedhead bun, and there isn’t a bit of makeup on her. She doesn’t need it. She looks joyful. She looks absolutely beautiful.
“You’re fast,” I tell her as she slips into the passenger seat.
She giddily drums her hands across the dash and beams at me. “I’m fast when I want to be. I love this car. Where are we going again? Oh right, somewhere far away. Can we get coffee first? I’m dying.”
I can’t help but grin at her as I turn the key. The car starts on the first turn. She’s my good luck charm. “You don’t seem like you need coffee.”
“I always need coffee,” she says emphatically. “You know this. So where to?”
“I honestly don’t know. You pick.”
“Do you have a map?”
I nod at the glove compartment. “In there.”
She opens it and it falls open with a clunk. She takes out an old faded road map and starts looking it over.
“Anything strike your eye?”
“I’m looking for Loch Ness.”
“That’s too far.”
“Okay, is there like another lake with a swamp monster?”
“Nearly all the lochs are in the Highlands.”
“Arrrrrrrrrr in the Highlands,” she says playfully, imitating my accent.
“Okay, maybe no coffee for you.”
“Don’t be cruel, Professor Blue Eyes.” She goes back to studying the map but the mention of my nickname makes a small fire build inside me. And not one of anger.
She points on the map. “Here. Balmoral.”
“That’s where the Queen lives.”
“I know. I want to say hello.”
“It’s a two-hour drive,” I point out.
“Well, then we better get cracking,” she says. “The Queen is expecting us.”
She’s definitely full of spirit today. It seems to latch onto me and I ingest it like a tonic. She’s erasing all the humiliation and pain from the morning.
We head out of the city, taking the A-90 to the M-90 and speed north. After we get her some coffee and we share a couple of sausage rolls for breakfast, I warn her that we literally will see the estate and have to head back. But she doesn’t mind.
And honestly, neither do I. I crank the old radio on the car to pick up an oldies station playing a special on Otis Redding. The day is warm and gorgeous, and even though we’re going fast, our windows are down, enjoying the wind and the sun on our skin.
About an hour into our drive, Natasha turns to me and says, “Tell me the truth. Why did you come to get me this morning?”
“Was it that unusual?” I ask without looking at her.
“Yes,” she says. “The last time you came to my house without me knowing…”
“Back then I was following up on an email. I wanted to know if you were all right,” I tell her before she can tell me anything else about that night.
“And now I want to know if you’re all right,” she says gently.
I glance at her. There’s a softness in her eyes that undoes me. I grip the wheel hard, conscious of my every movement and how they might appear to her. A good man, after the night she kissed me, the night I kissed her right back, would have never been alone with her again.
But I’m not a good man.
I’m a man who is slowly but surely falling in the wrong direction.
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Dirty Angels and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.
Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.
Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.