Trust Me, I'm Lying (Trust Me #1) - Mary Elizabeth Summer Page 0,1

disposal option, I take the gum out and stick it to the bottom of the Strattons’ mailbox. I walk up to the covered porch and rap smartly on the blue door. A few moments later, a brittle, middle-aged woman with a too-bright smile and Jackie O style opens it.

“Mrs. Stratton, I presume,” I say in a slightly lower pitch than usual. People assume you’re older if your voice is deeper.

“You must be Ms. Scott,” she says. “Please, come in.”

She’s easy enough to read. Nervous, excited. She’s an easy mark, because she wants so much for me to be real. I mean, look at me. This disguise is a stretch, even for a professional grifter. But she won’t doubt it, because she doesn’t want to. No disguise is more foolproof than the one the mark wants to believe. I might feel a little bad for her if I were a real person. As it happens, I’m not a real person, and she is not my client.

I cross the threshold into an immaculate foyer. The living room opens off to my left, rich and inviting but lacking in the warmth the plush upholstery implies. It’s a gorgeous room, beautiful and cold, like an ice sculpture in the sun.

Mrs. Stratton motions me into the room and I sit in an armchair next to a brick hearth that hasn’t seen a fire in years. Julep would have chosen the couch, with its army of throw pillows, but “Ms. Scott” is here on business and doesn’t approve of all the touchy-feely nonsense that comes about sitting next to people.

“Would you like something to drink?”

“A glass of water would be most appreciated,” I say.

Mrs. Stratton leaves the room, returning a few moments later with a precisely cooled glass of water. She places a coaster on the polished end table next to me. I smile my approval, and her smile widens.

“I’ll go get Heather,” Mrs. Stratton says, and calls up the stairs for her daughter, who is expecting me.

Heather enters the room in what I can only assume is her Sunday best. Her family is Episcopalian, I’m fairly sure. I can usually tell by the decor of the house, the mother’s clothing choices, and the books on the shelves in public spaces. For example, you can always tell a Baptist household by the oak dining room table, the spinet in the living room, and the variety of Bibles on the shelf next to the television set. Episcopalians don’t often have televisions in their living rooms. Don’t ask me why.

“Hello, Heather,” I say, standing and extending my hand. She shakes it, shooting me conspiratorial glances while acting fidgety, and overall doing a lousy job of pretending she doesn’t know me. But her mother will chalk it up to nervousness as long as I do my part right.

I sink back into the armchair, and Heather sits across from me on the couch. She looks tense, but then, she would be. Heather’s mother hangs around for another moment or two before realizing she is supposed to leave and finally whisking herself away to some other part of the house.

I raise my hand when Heather opens her mouth. So many of my clients foolishly think we don’t have to go through with the scam from beginning to end. They assume that once they can no longer see the mark, she’s not still around listening. My dad calls it the ostrich syndrome.

“Tell me about yourself, Heather,” I say. “What do you want to study at NYU?”

What follows is a yawn-fest of questions and answers. I couldn’t care less about Heather’s GPA. And