Kate used to be good at recognising people. So good, she worked for the police, identifying criminals in crowds of thousands. But six months ago, a devastating car accident led to a brain injury. Now the woman who never forgot a face can barely recognise herself in the mirror.
At least she has Rob. Young, rich, handsome and successful, Rob runs a tech company on the idyllic Cornish coast. Kate met him just after her accident, and he nursed her back to health. When she’s with him, in his luxury modernist house, the nightmares of the accident fade, and she feels safe and loved.
Until, one day, she looks at Rob anew. And knows, with absolute certainty, that the man before her has been replaced by an impostor.
Is Rob who he says he is? Or is it all in Kate’s damaged mind?
J.S. Monroe and Head of Zeus have shared an extract with us today. Enjoy.
*****beginning of extract*****
Kate glances across at Rob’s smooth, sleeping body and slips quietly out of bed, wrapping a cotton dressing gown around her as she steps out onto the terrace. It’s a warm August evening and no one can see her here. The isolated house, all glass and oak and concrete, is cut deep into the Cornish hillside and faces out to sea, which is empty tonight, apart from the winking lights of tankers moored in the distance off Falmouth.
‘You OK?’ Rob calls out.
She swings around. It’s too dark in the bedroom to see him properly.
‘I couldn’t sleep,’ she says, turning back towards the bay, where a ribbon of moonlight has been laid across the water.
A moment later, his arms are wrapped around her from behind. ‘Come back to bed,’ he whispers in her ear.
She can feel him against her, a familiar swelling. She rests her hand on his smooth forearm and thinks again about the necklace he gave her earlier, his insensitive response to her squeal of pain. It still niggles.
‘Thank you for the present,’ she says. He must have just been tired. Hardly surprising after a long week at work and then the flight down.
‘Not too tight?’ he asks.
Back inside the bedroom, they snuggle up in the darkness. In all other respects, he’s played it well this evening. He ran her a bath with Moroccan rose oil and brought in two glasses of chilled champagne. Her exhaustion of earlier slipped away. Afterwards, he was the one who fell asleep almost instantly, like a laptop closing.
‘Talk to me,’ she says now, quietly. ‘Tell me about your week.’
She still doesn’t understand exactly what Rob does in London. One of the articles she read about his meteoric career described him as a serial ‘techpreneur’, the youngest ever founder of a British ‘unicorn’ company and a pioneering champion of something called ‘direct neural interface’ technology – the interaction between brain and machine. She likes the sound of unicorns. The ‘disruptive’ tag is less appealing. He also runs a charity on the side that puts on art shows in hospitals, which is how they met.
‘That’s so interesting,’ she offers, filling the silence. ‘You’ve developed an app, you say, that makes women wake up in the middle of the night begging to give their man a blowjob? That’s incredible. What a smart, selfless piece of coding.’
He nudges her playfully. And then all she can hear is the faint in and out of his breathing, and the sound of the waves below.
Sleep soon starts to lap at her own consciousness, but something’s preventing her from dropping off. What Rob said about doubles last weekend has been on her mind all week. She hasn’t been able to forget it, his words chasing her through her days of painting and nights of restless dreams. And I’ve already met mine, a long time ago. What must it be like to actually meet your double? And when did Rob encounter his? Where? We’ve all got a double out there somewhere, watching, waiting. Shadowless. It’s revealed an unexpected side of him. A new insight.
*****end of extract*****
J.S. Monroe read English at Cambridge, worked as a foreign correspondent in Delhi, and was Weekend editor of the Daily Telegraph in London before becoming a full-time writer. Monroe is the author of six novels, including the international bestseller, Find Me.