Thursday, 19 October 2017
Trust Me by Zosia Wand blog tour with extract
Who can you trust if you can't trust yourself?
Twenty-seven-year-old Lizzie has a great relationship with her teenage stepson, Sam, even though they could pass for brother and sister.
When Sam becomes sullen and withdrawn, Lizzie starts to suspect that something sinister is going on at school. But no one believes her – and then suspicion falls on Lizzie herself...
Trust Me is an absorbing, suspenseful and thought-provoking thriller that asks if you can ever really trust anybody, including yourself.
‘I was hoping to speak to a parent.’ Mr Wright looks me up and down with a frown. I should have thought this through before I rushed up here. Chosen a different T-shirt at least. I don’t think Mr Wright appreciates the message, This Is What A Feminist Looks Like, scrawled across my chest.
Mr Wright is head of sixth form. He’s a proper grown-up, in a suit and tie, and he’s not impressed. He needs to speak to a parent. Jonty is the parent, but he’s not answering his phone. His job as South Lakeland’s arts officer involves a lot of face-to-face meetings, which he generally tries to arrange in his favourite cafés. He usually answers his phone quite promptly; this silence is unlike him.
I’m not an adequate substitute for Jonty. It’s not what I’m wearing that’s the issue. I could be dressed in a stylish suit or a frumpy knee-length skirt and cardigan and it probably wouldn’t make a lot of difference. What’s bothering Mr Wright is the fact that I could easily pass for Sam’s sister. We’re an odd sort of family.
Judging by the explosion of files across his desk, managing paperwork is not one of Mr Wright’s skills. He picks up a pen and starts to twirl it in his fingers. I feel sorry for the man; he appears beleaguered and I’m not helping the situation. He doesn’t know who I am in relation to Sam but isn’t quite brave enough to ask. He knows me. His wife, Eve, is my boss. She runs the community park where I work and he’s met me at events, though he’s obviously not connected me to Sam, or Jonty. Out of his suit he’s different, more natural. Rusty hair and freckled skin. His broad face is stern now, but I’ve seen the softness when he looks at Eve. He’s young for a head of year. He and Eve are a bit of a power couple. No kids, though Eve’s told me they’d like them; it just doesn’t seem to be happening.
I don’t know what to say. I’m not Sam’s mother but I live with his dad. Sam’s been with us two years and we’re muddling along. It works pretty well. It’s difficult for me to define the nature of our relationship; there is no word for what I am. I’m not married to his father, I’m not an aunt, nor an older sister, no blood relation. The school forms say ‘parent or guardian’ but guardian sounds dusty and formal. If I was Jonty’s wife I would probably be Sam’s stepmother, but I’m not, I’m simply Sam’s dad’s girlfriend. This sounds trivial and my relationship with Sam is not trivial. It was a bit of a shock to suddenly find myself responsible for two children, but I rose to the challenge.
There are so many things I’m not – mother, sister, friend – but in some way I’m all of these things to the gentle seventeen-year-old boy we’re here to discuss. Mr Wright is waiting for clarification. I look him straight in the eye. ‘Sam’s dad is at work and not currently answering his phone.’ I bite the bullet and make a choice. ‘I’m Sam’s stepmother.’
Mr Wright’s eyebrow flickers, but I hold his gaze. Damn him. I’ve earned that title. The school want to talk to a responsible adult? I’m a responsible adult. Mr Wright may not remember, but I’ve been to the school in this capacity before, when Sam was first considering the sixth form here. Nell, Sam’s younger sister, was still living with us then. Both kids had moved in at the end of January that year, when their mum had to go over to Ireland to take care of their nanna after her stroke. The timing couldn’t have been worse. Nell was in the last year of primary school and Sam was taking his GCSEs, so they moved in with their dad. And me. Not exactly part of the plan, but we got through it and Nell went to join her mum once the summer term was over. Sam, however, decided he wanted to stay, with us, in Tarnside and go to sixth form here rather than Ireland. Last time I was in this building, Jonty was doing the grown-up parent bit, with me sort of hovering supportively in the background, but I was part of that and dressed appropriately that time. I remember the Nicole Farhi jacket, a charity-shop find, but Mr Wright wouldn’t have known that.
‘You are responsible for Sam?’
‘Yes. Well, as far as anyone can be responsible for a boy of his age.’