Read The Deep End Online

Authors: Joy Fielding

Tags: #Thrillers, #Suspense, #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General

The Deep End

BOOK: The Deep End
11.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Praise for the powerful novels of
New York Times
bestselling author


“Fine-tuned details … [a] compelling tale.”

Kirkus Reviews


“[A] page-turner … [with] an ending worthy of Hitchcock…. Once again, the bestselling author tests the complex ties that bind friends and family, and keeps readers wondering when those same ties might turn deadly…. Those familiar with Patricia Highsmith’s particular brand of sinister storytelling will recognize the mayhem Fielding so cunningly unleashes.”

Publishers Weekly

“Fielding delivers another page-turner … a suspense novel with a shocking twist [and] a plot turn so surprising that all previous events are thrown into question. The author keeps the tension high and the pages turning, creating a chillingly paranoid atmosphere.”


“A very satisfying page-turner…. Fielding does a very good job in building her story to a totally unexpected denouement.”

(Ft. Lauderdale, FL)


“It’s hard to sit down and read a few pages of one of [Fielding’s] novels and not want to read the rest. Right now.”

The Knoxville News-Sentinel

“Riveting? You bet. Powerful? 10,000 horsepower. A real page-turner? And then some. Must-read? And how. Clichés, but so true of Joy Fielding’s
Grand Avenue.”

—The Cincinnati Enquirer

“Fielding deals confidently and tenderly with her subjects, and her plots and subplots are engaging. It’s a comfortable, engrossing book for anyone who wants to spend some time with four average, and therefore remarkable, women.”

Houston Chronicle

“A multi-layered saga of friendship, loss, and loyalty.
Grand Avenue
reminds us of how fear, unfulfilled dreams, and a thirst for power can ravage the closest of relationships.”

Woman’s Own

“Surprisingly moving…. Don’t forget to keep a family-size box of Kleenex handy in preparation for the tear-jerking finale.”


“Emotionally compelling … hard to put down…. Fielding fully develops her four women characters, each of whom is exquisitely revealed.”

Library Journal

“With her usual page-turning flair, Fielding [writes a] romantic drama with a thriller twist.”

Publishers Weekly


“Every line rings true.”

The Orlando Sentinel

“Dramatic and heartrending … the emotions are almost tangible.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch

“[An] affecting drama…. Fielding is good at chronicling the messy tangle of family relationships…. A three-tissue finale.”

Publishers Weekly

“This is rich stuff…. Fielding has again pushed a seemingly fragile heroine to the brink, only to have her fight back, tooth and nail.”


National Acclaim for
Previous Fiction

“Fielding’s specialty is stripping away the contemporary and trendy feminine masks to reveal the outrageous face of female rage…. But like a good mystery writer, she creates sympathy for the character.”

The Globe and Mail

“If you’re in the mood to bury yourself in a book … pick up Joy Fielding’s latest novel … it’s guaranteed to reduce you to tears, and once they’ve dried, will leave you feeling a little readier to tackle life’s challenges.”

—The Gazette

“Fielding masterfully manipulates our expectations.”

The Washington Post

Also by Joy Fielding

Mad River Road
Whispers and Lies
Grand Avenue
The First Time
Missing Pieces
Don’t Cry Now
Tell Me No Secrets
See Jane Run
Good Intentions
Life Penalty
The Other Woman
Kiss Mommy Goodbye

For Shannon and Annie


he phone is ringing.

Joanne Hunter stares at it from her seat at the kitchen table. She makes no move to answer it, already knowing who it is and what he will say. She has heard it before, has no desire to hear it again.

The phone continues to ring. Joanne, sitting alone at her kitchen table, closes her eyes, trying to conjure up images of happier times.

“Mom …”

Joanne hears her younger daughter’s voice as if through a tunnel. Her eyes open slowly. She smiles toward the young girl in the doorway.

“Mom,” her daughter repeats, “the phone’s ringing.” She looks at the white wall phone. “Should I answer it?” she asks, clearly disconcerted by her mother’s zombielike state.

“No,” Joanne tells her.

“It might be Daddy.”

“Lulu, please …” But it is too late. Lulu’s hand is already on the phone, lifting the receiver to her ear. “Hello? Hello?” She makes a face. “Is someone there?”

“Hang up, Lulu,” her mother instructs sharply, then instantly softens her tone. “Hang up, sweetie.”

“Why would someone call if they’re not going to say anything?” the child pouts.

Joanne smiles at her daughter, named Lana on her birth certificate, called Lulu by everyone except her sixth-grade teacher. The child has the remarkable ability to look both younger and older than her eleven years.

“Are you all right?” Lulu asks.

“Fine,” Joanne responds, her mouth a smile, her voice steady and reassuring.

“Why would someone do that?”

“I don’t know,” Joanne says truthfully, then lies, “maybe it was a wrong number.” What else can she tell her daughter? That death is on the line? That he is merely “on hold”? “Are you ready to go?” she asks, changing the subject.

“I hate this dumb uniform,” Lulu announces, looking down at herself. “Why couldn’t they pick something pretty?”

Joanne checks her daughter’s sturdy frame. Lulu is built more like her father, whereas Robin, her older daughter, is built more like herself, though both girls have their father’s face. She thinks the dark green shorts and lemon yellow T-shirt are, in fact, flattering and well suited to her daughter’s fair complexion and long, light brown hair. “Camp uniforms are always yucky,” she tells the child, knowing it would be pointless to try to persuade her otherwise. “You look very sweet,” she adds, unable to help herself.

“I look fat!” Lulu argues, an idea Robin has recently put into her head.

“You don’t look fat.” Joanne’s inflection indicates the end of that particular topic of conversation. “Is Robin ready?” Lulu nods. “Is she still angry?”

“She’s always angry.”

Joanne laughs, knowing this to be true, but wishing it were not.

“What time is Daddy picking us up?”

Joanne checks her watch. “Soon,” she realizes aloud. “I’d better get ready.”

“Why?” Lulu asks as her mother stands up. “Are you coming with us?”

“No,” Joanne acknowledges, remembering that they have already decided that it will be better if only Paul drives the girls to the bus. “I just thought I’d change …”

“What for?”

Joanne runs a nervous hand down the length of her orange T-shirt and white shorts. Orange is Paul’s least favorite color, she recalls; the shorts are old; there is a stain on one cuff she hasn’t noticed before. She would like to look nice for Paul, she thinks. She looks down at her bare feet. Her two big toenails are discolored a deep purple from playing tennis in shoes a half-size too small. She thinks of slipping on some sandals but decides against it. If Paul notices her toes, it will give them something to talk about. It has been several weeks since they talked about anything but the children.

The doorbell rings. Joanne’s hand flies skittishly to her hair. She hasn’t combed it yet this morning. Perhaps she could run quickly upstairs while Lulu is opening the door, pull a brush through her hair, change into the turquoise sundress that Paul always liked, and appear in the front hallway just as Paul and the girls are leaving, affording him only the briefest of glimpses, enough to whet his appetite, to make him think twice about what he has done.

It’s already too late. Lulu is at the front door, leaving Joanne no room to run. Hand on the door handle, Lulu turns back to her mother, whose lips automatically flex upward into a smile. “You look fine, Mom,” Lulu reassures her. She pulls open the front door.

The stranger who greets them is Paul Hunter, Joanne’s husband of almost twenty years. He is of average height and build, though Joanne notices new muscles beginning to bulge from under his blue short-sleeved shirt, undoubtedly the result of his recently implemented weight-lifting regimen. She thinks in that instant that she prefers his arms the way she has always known them—on the thin side, not so carefully delineated. She has always had great difficulty adjusting to change. This is probably one of the things that drove Paul away in the first place.

“Hello, Joanne,” he says warmly, his arm around their younger child. “You look well.”

Joanne tries to speak but is unable to find her voice. She feels her knees go weak, is afraid that she is about to fall, or burst into tears, or both. She doesn’t want to do this. It will make Paul uncomfortable, and that is the last thing she wants. Above all else, she wants her husband of almost twenty years to feel comfortable in his own home because she is still hoping that he will decide to come back. After all, nothing has been decided yet. It’s only been two months. He is still “thinking things through.” She is still in limbo, her future the direction in which his thoughts ultimately lead them.

“How have you been?” he asks, his presence filling the front hall.

“Fine,” Joanne lies, knowing that he will believe her because this is what he wants to believe. He will not see
the longing in her eyes, nor hear the quiver in her voice, not because he is a cruel man but because he is frightened. He is afraid that he will be pulled back into a life he no longer wants. And he is afraid because he doesn’t know what he wants to replace it.

“What happened to your toes?” he asks.

“Mom’s been playing tennis in shoes that were too tight,” Lulu answers for her.

“They look very sore,” Paul observes as Joanne notices for the first time how tanned he is, how well rested he appears.

“Actually,” Joanne tells him truthfully, “they don’t hurt. They did before they turned purple,” she continues, “but now I guess they’re kind of numb.” Joanne thinks this is probably a good way to describe her life but doesn’t say so. Instead she smiles, wondering whether she should invite him into the living room to sit down.

Paul checks his watch. “We should get going pretty soon,” he says, his voice casual, as if he is really not concerned about leaving. “Where’s Robin?”

“I’ll get her,” Lulu volunteers and disappears up the stairs, leaving her parents to walk their invisible tightrope without the safety net her presence provides.

“Would you like a cup of coffee?” Joanne asks as she follows Paul into the large, bright kitchen off the center hall.

“I’d better not.” He walks directly to the sliding glass door that makes up the kitchen’s south wall and stares into the backyard. “Quite a mess,” he comments, shaking his head.

“You get used to it,” Joanne tells him, realizing that she has.

The mess to which he refers and to which Joanne has adjusted herself is a large, empty, concrete-lined, boomerang-shaped hole that was supposed to have been
their new swimming pool. Designed by Paul (though he is a lawyer by profession) to provide the optimum swimming area in the given space, it was intended originally to be their equivalent of a summer vacation, or as the man from Rogers Pools described it only days before his company went belly-up, their “summer cottage without the traffic.”

“I’m doing all I can to get things moving again,” Paul tells her.

“I’m sure you are.” Joanne smiles to convince him that she understands he is not at fault. “What can you do?” She shrugs.

“It was my idea.”

“I don’t swim anyway,” she reminds him.

He turns from the window. “How’s your grandfather?”

“The same.”

“And Eve?”

“The same.” They laugh.

“Any more phone calls?” he continues after a slight pause.

“No,” she lies, recognizing that to say otherwise would only make him edgy. He would then be forced to repeat what he has already told her: that everyone gets crank calls, that she is in no danger, that if she is really worried, she should call the police again, or better yet, call Eve’s husband, Brian. He’s a police sergeant and he lives right next door. These are the things he has already told her. He has also told her—as gently as he could—that he feels she is overreacting and probably exaggerating, although this may not be intentional, that it is her way of keeping him tied to her, making him feel responsible for her when he has abdicated that responsibility, at least temporarily. He has not suggested, as her friend Eve has suggested, that
the calls might be a product of her imagination, her way of dealing with her present situation. Joanne doesn’t understand this theory of Eve’s but then Eve is a psychologist as well as her best friend. And Joanne is what? Joanne is separated.

BOOK: The Deep End
11.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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