A tense sneak peek into The Other Olivia, the just-published thriller from Tamara M Bailey:
She fell into Matt's chair and watched his email account update. A dozen new work messages, along with one from Sarina, received eight minutes ago. It had a lot of silly gushing and heart emojis. Olivia scrolled down to see what Matt had sent earlier this morning.
She's still acting weird, it said. I really think she knows. Part of me hopes she does, because every time I'm with her, I think of the next time I can be with you. I love you, my darling. I can't wait to see you tonight.
Olivia stared at the message for a long, long time. She couldn't bring herself to close it.
She didn't realize she was shaking until she heard the chair rattling beneath her.
What, exactly, did they have planned for tonight? And what cover story was he going to use this time?
She reached for her phone. Her mind had gone to Kass because Kass was always the first person she called in a crisis.
Her phone screen switched on when she picked it up. She'd received messages while she'd been staring at the email. All five were from the shaggy man she'd seen outside.
7.41: They're going to kill you.
7.42: I don't know exactly what they're planning, but I know it's happening soon.
7.45: Are you there?
7.51: Olivia, for god's sake, at least let me know you got my message.
7.54: I'm nearby. I'm going to check on you.
A chill seized her. She thought again of Winken in her kitchen.
It wasn't real. It couldn't be real. The shaggy man was completely delusional.
Why would they kill me for a lousy signature?
She set down her phone and rubbed her temples. She had enough to deal with without this absurd claim.
Her phone buzzed.
If you die, it's enough of a legal gray area that they have a better chance of securing the rights of everything you mapped.
Are you sure?
And then, several seconds later:
THEY'VE DONE IT BEFORE
She let out a shuddering breath and checked over her shoulder to make sure the office door was still closed.
My usual housekeeper is sick and someone called Winken has replaced her. I don't know who he is.
There was an agonizing silence before a new message came through.
Have you eaten the food?
Come up with an excuse not to eat. Don't say anything to make him suspicious. I'll be there in a few minutes.
This couldn't be happening. She couldn't have a cheating husband and a global corporation trying to kill her.
TAMARA M BAILEY: I have a few favorite scenes in The Other Olivia, but this one requires little context and has been in the story since the very first draft. I wrote it in a notebook while drinking a gingerbread-flavored latte in a Starbucks in Prague, watching snow swirl outside the windows. Considering Western Australia has neither snow nor Starbucks, the novelty makes it a particularly special memory.
I also love this scene because it’s where Olivia’s life flips dramatically on its head.
Before this happens, she’s in her sleepy, safe (albeit unhappy) world. Now she’s about to be launched into a deadly situation, one that pops the bubble wrap that’s suffocated her for so long.
Olivia’s been hiding from life since a terrible accident, and this is the pivotal moment she starts to find herself again, taking her on dangerous journey toward meeting the other Olivia.