Queen Bee
177 pages
English

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177 pages
English

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Description

A brand new psychological thriller from the bestselling author of The Bridesmaid and The Daughter in Law.

In the quiet village of Helesbury, Miranda Wallace prides herself on being the most popular member of her small social circle; the perfect friend, the best mum – the queen bee.

Until one day, Verity arrives. Cool and indifferent, Verity is everything Miranda isn’t, but she threatens to shatter Miranda’s picture-perfect life.

Suddenly plagued with insecurities, Miranda is certain Verity is hiding something. And Miranda knows all about secrets and the damage they can cause, because she’s hiding some of her own.

So when Verity threatens to reveal the truth about Miranda and destroy the perfect life she’s built, Miranda knows she has to act to protect the people she loves – even if the results are deadly.

Praise for Nina Manning:

'Heart-stopping, pacy and tension filled. Highly recommended.' Claire Allan, USA Today Bestseller

'Compelling and claustrophobic, Nina is an exciting new voice and definitely one to watch' Phoebe Morgan, author of The Babysitter

'Chilling and creepy. An atmospheric and addictive debut.' Diane Jeffrey, author of The Guilty Mother

'Totally addictive. I couldn't put it down!' Darren O'Sullivan, author of Closer Than You Think

'A claustrophobic, nail-biting thriller that draws you in and doesn't let go.' Naomi Joy, author of The Liars

‘Clever, emotionally draining and totally gripping. I absolutely loved this book!’ D E White, author of The Forgotten Child


Sujets

Informations

Publié par
Date de parution 26 janvier 2022
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781801622158
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0100€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Extrait

QUEEN BEE



NINA MANNING
For Savannah, the Queen Bee of our family.
CONTENTS



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54


Acknowledgments

Book Club Questions

More from Nina Manning

About the Author

About Boldwood Books
1
10 MAY 2019 – 8.15 A.M. – GLOUCESTER POLICE STATION



Interview with Natasha Redwood, deputy head of Helesbury Primary School

I had my suspicions from the start. In my job, I interact with hundreds of people every day, you see. Something never sat quite right with me, but I couldn’t ever put my finger on it. It was a gut instinct – you know that feeling? There was this void opening up between Evie and Miranda when they had previously been best friends, inseparable, for over a year. Then along comes Verity, and suddenly, Evie is a different person. So yes, if you’re asking were there any clues, then, yes, of course, in hindsight – oh, the joy of hindsight! I can look back now and realise that everything that didn’t add up at the time, that I pushed aside, were glaringly obvious clues. I should have said something sooner. Maybe then things would have ended differently. But you don’t, do you? You ignore the clues – you always ignore them. Even when they are screaming at you in the face.
2
BEFORE

The woman walked along the beach, the wind whipping her hair across her face. She hadn’t wanted to come out that morning, but when Bernie, her eight-year-old West Highland terrier, had come and sat next to her feet, looking up at her with his little watery eyes, she couldn’t bear it any longer. Once in the bracing air, she hadn’t felt glad that she was out in the way that people often did; she thought only of the cosy warm embers of the fire lingering in the hearth and the tin of cookies she had baked with the grandchildren two days before, now perfectly chewy and begging to be dipped into a cup of hot chocolate. But she kept pushing forward, hat pulled firmly over her ears, scarf wrapped tightly around her neck and hands stuffed firmly in her pockets.
She watched as Bernie raced ahead, sniffing in between the small wooden boats moored away on the shore near the brambles. She never understood who owned these boats – most of them looked so old and decrepit. The row of boats came to an end and then a strip of brightly coloured beach huts came into view. The woman had been intending to turn around and head back to the main path that would lead her back home to the warm fire and chocolate, but Bernie had scampered off ahead and was already at the second beach hut, sniffing and cocking his leg. The huts ran for another hundred yards or so. Only a little further – she would turn around at the end of them and head home.
She trudged reluctantly towards Bernie, who had now thankfully stopped, giving her time to catch up with him, the wind coaxing her along from behind this time. Bernie was sniffing near one particular beach hut and so the woman presumed he would take another pee and move on, but he jumped up onto the small wooden veranda – his ears pricked up, as though he were now waiting for someone to walk right out. The woman arrived next to him and noticed that this hut was one of the shabbier ones on the block. The paint had probably been a bright, bold blue once, but had now been bleached an insipid turquoise and was peeling off in strips, revealing the austere wood behind it. It was mid-January, and none of the huts along this stretch would open until at least mid-March, when the owners began getting them back into shape again for the spring and summer season. But something about this particular hut had enticed Bernie over. He wasn’t any kind of working hunting dog, but occasionally something would grab his attention.
The woman stopped next to Bernie as he cocked his head from side to side the way he would when someone was talking to him in that high-pitched way people sometimes spoke to animals.
‘What is it then, boy?’ The woman’s breath was a little short and ragged from her exertion in the winter elements. She stuffed her hands further into her pockets, the bitter unrelenting wind thrust itself at her back, and she stumbled forward, taking the four steps to join Bernie on the veranda, who was in no hurry to move. These beach huts were worth a few quid more than the ones down at the tourist beach; people paid for the luxury to be off the beaten track and away from the masses – not forgetting the extra twelve square foot and extra-large window they got for their pound. The front of the beach hut was a glass bi-folding door with a net curtain running across it – perhaps to reduce some of the light bleaching the interiors, but more likely to stop passers-by stopping and staring in.
‘Come on now, Bernie. Whatever is it?’ The woman crouched at her dog’s side.
He cocked his head once more, left then right, as though he were following a conversation at a frequency beyond his mistress’s hearing.
‘We really need to be getting back now.’ She patted his head and thought of the last log she had put on the fire before she left the house; it would be burnt down by now. She braced herself to stand – she wasn’t putting up with this nonsense any more – but as she went to turn, she saw a flicker of something move in the corner of the window at the same time as Bernie let out a little bark. She stayed looking at the front of the beach hut; the bi-folding doors were on a latch, but there was no lock. This time, she dropped again to her knees. Then, just as though she had summoned it, the net curtain twitched. Then it moved a centimetre. And then a small hand pulled the curtain to one side, revealing the face of a child, pale faced, perhaps five or six years old. Their hair was cut jaggedly short so that it was impossible to tell if they were a boy or a girl. The woman gasped, stood and staggered backwards.
‘Is your mummy or daddy there?’ the woman said loudly to the window, looking around the empty beach for a sign of anyone who could claim this child as theirs. The child shook their head.
‘Are you all alone?’ The woman tried again.
The child nodded.
The woman grappled in her pocket for her phone and without hesitation dialled 999.
3



Dinner at mine, seven thirty? X
I pressed send on the text and waited for the reply. Anabel was eating her spaghetti and David was still at work. I had little else on that day, so I had time to wait for the reply to come back from Evie. We had made a loose arrangement to see one another that evening; I’d been having trouble finalising the specs on the recent set of candles I had created, and Evie was so good for bouncing ideas off. She was a busy mum – like we all were – but she always found time for me. Like, always. In the year since we’d met, I could count on one finger the number of times Evie had ever cancelled, and that had been with good reason – her daughter, Juno, had been throwing up all day. At forty-three, I finally felt like I was in a proper friendship – as sad as that may seem. The time and effort I had poured into female relationships in the past, only for them to turn out to be merely masquerading as friendships, was thankfully a distant memory. Pity I’d had to wait until it all blew up in my face before I discovered that. But that was then. This was a new life; this was what real companionship felt like, not one based on superficial hugs and praise.
The last year has been a new beginning for me, and I wanted to celebrate one whole year living in the tiny village of Helesbury, and who better to do that with than my best friend, Evie. I had never before referred to a grown woman as my best friend. It had always felt a little childish – adults didn’t parade around announcing to the world that they were best friends. But I knew Evie felt the same way as me. We were both incredibly grateful to have one another.
Evie’s reply came through just as my daughter, Anabel, sucked up her last piece of spaghetti.


Perfect, Miranda, looking forward to it x
I felt my heart swell with happiness.
‘Well done, sweetheart,’ I said to Anabel as she took her empty plate to the dishwasher. Anabel had always been a good eater. From the day she had taken her first bite of solid food just over eight years ago, I had known she was going to be one of those kids who didn’t make a fuss with her food, and I’m not ashamed to admit there had been jealousy from other mothers who struggled to get anything remotely healthy inside their kids, whereas Anabel was wolfing down every fruit and veg available. I remained modest though and tried to share any tips when asked how the hell I got a one-year-old to eat quinoa and edamame beans – but the truth was, I was just lucky. Lucky to have met and married David just over ten years ago, and lucky to have our one and only daughter. Three was the magic number as far as I was concerned.



I turned out the light in Anabel’s room and blew her a final kiss just before seven thirty, and then heard the familiar light knock on the front door. I arrived downstairs moments later and looked at my beautiful friend, her cheeks flushed from the walk over here in the late March wind. She pulled off her beanie hat and her bobbed blonde hair was ruffled, yet she still

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