Title: Tell Me No Lies
Author: A.V. Geiger
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
The pulse-pounding sequel to Follow Me Back—the perfect thriller for the online generation.
No one knows what happened to pop icon Eric Thorn. His Twitter account? Frozen. His cell phone? Cracked and bloody, buried in the snow.
Tessa Hart knows the truth, but she’s finally left her #EricThornObsessed days behind. She has no intention of ever touching her Twitter app again. But SnapChat…That’s safer, right?
Agoraphobic fangirl Tessa Hart has finally left her house—only to trade one hiding place for another. But she can only stay out of sight for so long before she’s forced to face the deadly consequences of the past.
Back in an interrogation room, answers only lead to more questions in the pulse-pounding conclusion to the Follow Me Back duology.
May 1, 2017, 2:19 p.m.
OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPTION OF POLICE INTERVIEW
—START PAGE 1—
INVESTIGATOR: Thank you for joining us, Ms. Hart. For the record, I’m Detective Tyrone Stevens with the Los Angeles Police Department. This is my partner, Detective Andrew Morales. Today is May 1, 2017, at 2:19 p.m. This interview is being recorded.
HART: Why am I here exactly?
INVESTIGATOR: Just a few questions. Could you please state your full name for the record?
HART: Tessa Lynn Hart.
HART: I’m a social media consultant.
INVESTIGATOR: Consultant. Very nice. You’re how old now?
HART: I’m nineteen.
INVESTIGATOR: And how long have you been in that profession?
HART: A few months. I started in January.
INVESTIGATOR: What date in January? Can you recall?
HART: January 1.
INVESTIGATOR: New Year’s Day?
INVESTIGATOR: And what services do you provide for your clients?
HART: Only one client. I run his Twitter… Sorry, can I have a glass of water?
INVESTIGATOR: Are you all right?
HART: No… [pause] It’ll pass. Just give me a sec.
INVESTIGATOR: Are you ill, Ms. Hart?
HART: I’m OK now. What were you asking me?
INVESTIGATOR: What do you charge as your consulting fee?
HART: I can’t tell you that.
INVESTIGATOR: Ms. Hart, this will all go much faster if you simply answer the questions.
HART: I’m really not allowed to say. I signed a nondisclosure agreement.
INVESTIGATOR: Well, let me ask you this: If we were to contact your so-called client, would he corroborate your statement that he employs you as a… What did you call it again? A social media consultant?
HART: Are you calling me a liar?
INVESTIGATOR: I’m simply trying to get the facts on the record.
HART: Look, I can prove it. I’m not delusional, OK?
INVESTIGATOR: No need to get defensive, Tessa. We’re simply trying to establish your employment history.
HART: I already told you as much as I can say about it, so can we please move on?
INVESTIGATOR: I’ll decide when we move on.
HART: I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be rude, but you haven’t even told me what you’re investigating. What division are you guys with?
INVESTIGATOR: Ms. Hart, the Twitter account you say you run… Is it by any chance the Twitter-verified account of Eric Thorn?
HART: What homicide? Is someone dead?
INVESTIGATOR: Tessa, did your role as a social media consultant include the tweet sent from the @EricThorn Twitter account on… Andy, what was that tweet again?
INVESTIGATOR 2: “Sleep with a leech, and it just might bleed you dry.” Tweeted January 1, 2017, at 7:26 a.m.
INVESTIGATOR: That’s right. New Year’s Day. Tessa, you tweeted that message from Mr. Thorn’s account, did you not?
HART: Like I told you, I signed a nondisclosure—
INVESTIGATOR: Do you have a copy of the agreement you signed?
HART: N-no. I mean, not on me. I don’t carry it around with me.
INVESTIGATOR: See, the odd thing is, according to the Twitter records we obtained, someone tweeted that one message, and then there was no further activity on the account for an extended period. In fact, the account with username @EricThorn was completely inactive over the entire month of January. Does that sound right to you?
HART: Wait. You already have the Twitter records?
INVESTIGATOR: And then the account resumed activity on… Do you have that date, Andy?
INVESTIGATOR 2: February 3, 2017.
INVESTIGATOR: Tessa, what happened on or about February 3, 2017?
HART: I’m not stupid, OK? You obviously already know.
INVESTIGATOR: For the record, Ms. Hart.
HART: February 3. It was a couple days after the news broke.
INVESTIGATOR: What news, Tessa?
HART: It was all over the Internet. There’s no way you could’ve missed it. I was living out of a VW camper van on the other side of the Mexican border, and I still heard the news.
INVESTIGATOR: Tessa, can I ask you to clarify what news story you’re referencing?
HART: It started with one little post on Facebook, and then it spread like wildfire. It trended on Twitter for weeks. You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard about it. I mean, I practically was living under a rock.
INVESTIGATOR: For the record, you’re referring to—
HART: Dorian Cromwell, lead singer of Fourth Dimension, spotted by some goatherd in Switzerland…very much alive.
FEBRUARY 1, 2017 (THREE MONTHS EARLIER)
“And this just in. We’re getting word now from sources in Switzerland that the Facebook Live video has been authenticated. The man in the video is, in fact, Dorian Cromwell—”
Tessa squinted at the tiny image on her phone, straining to make out the facial features of the blurry figure. The thirty-second clip showed a lone man making his way down an icy slope. He had his face tipped down, eyes on the uneven terrain, but he glanced up and raised a ski pole in greeting as the clip ended.
Dorian Cromwell, for real? How could they be so certain? To Tessa, the man looked more like a cross between a hippie and a homeless person, with a scraggly beard and a mop of unwashed hair that hung down below his shoulders. She supposed she could see a passing resemblance to the formerly clean-cut boy band leader, but it was hard to say. A bush of facial hair concealed the whole bottom half of his face. The video was shot from too far away to make out his age or eye color.
Someone had streamed it on Facebook two days ago with a geotag in Munster, Switzerland, and a clickbaiting caption:
Guten Tag, Dorian. #DorianCromwell #VeryMuchAlive
Tessa had noticed the story on TMZ the other day, but she hadn’t given it much thought. Just another rumor started by some attention seeker. It happened with Eric all the time too. In the month since Eric’s disappearance from Texas, he’d been “spotted” dozens of times by fans around the world. All fake, of course. Those pics were old shots doctored in Photoshop, easily recognizable to anyone who followed Eric’s social media half as closely as Tessa always had.
Still, the mere thought of dead celebrities made Tessa’s pulse rate jump. She shifted position inside the back of the van, sitting up straight. The thin, fold-down cushion that served as her sleeping surface creaked beneath her weight. At the noise, her eyes flicked to the tinted van window beside her. She’d propped it open a few minutes ago to let in a whiff of the cool mountain air. It was after dusk, and the long shadows of the pine trees cloaked the van’s interior in darkness. No one could see her inside. The rational part of her mind knew that—and yet she fought the urge to pull the window closed.
“No,” Tessa muttered. She’d suffocate in here without fresh air. She closed her eyes and pulled in a deep breath, counting the beats inside her head.
Eric one…Eric two…Eric three…
There was no one out there watching her. Tessa had learned to view the lingering sense of dread with clinical detachment. It was anxiety creeping up on her. A quirk of her brain chemistry. Nothing more. Nothing real. The van was parked at the far end of a densely wooded campground in the foothills of a Mexican mountain range. It was quiet here, with only a couple other cars parked near the cabins at the other end of the unpaved lot.
No one was watching. No one cared about some beat-up, old VW camper with Texas plates.
Tessa exhaled slowly, releasing the tension from her lungs. She turned her attention back to her phone. The story about Dorian was turning into more than idle Twitter gossip. Tessa was tuned in to a live stream of U.S. network television, and they’d interrupted the evening news to cover the breaking story. She wished they would freeze the frame so she could study the face in the video. She didn’t dare hit Pause, for fear that she might lose her connection to the feed.
The show went to commercial, and Tessa glanced toward the window again. She pulled out one of her headphones to listen for the sound of approaching footsteps, swallowing against the bubble of tension that swelled inside her chest.
Her ears were greeted by the gentle sounds of nightfall. The distant hoot of an owl. The babble of the creek that ran nearby. The breeze stirring back and forth through the tree limbs. Not a human sound in the mix.
If only she could make her mind believe that…
Tessa scowled. She knew she should focus on the positive. She would always have anxiety, but she’d come a long way since December. Literally. Her phone’s GPS placed her at 543.2 miles from her childhood home in Midland. To think, only a month ago, she’d worried she would never set foot outside her front door.
So much for small steps. Tessa pursed her lips at the thought of her old therapist, Dr. Regan, and the excruciating desensitization exercises she’d prescribed. What a monumental waste of time. In the end, the small steps led nowhere. Everything had changed in one night. One giant leap.
Tessa couldn’t really blame her therapist though. She never would have attempted this trip if she hadn’t been forced by circumstances. Tessa still longed for the safe cocoon of her childhood home, but she knew she could never go back. Not after what happened there on New Year’s Eve. The house itself had become one giant trigger. The mere thought of the rotted, old back deck made Tessa’s mouth go dry.
No, her old, safe refuge was lost to her—like an empty womb, and she was the infant who’d been ripped from it and cast out into the cold, harsh world. By dawn on New Year’s Day, she’d understood that she couldn’t stay there any longer. She knew what she had to do.
A month had passed since that morning. All that blood…staining her hands, her clothes, her mother’s hallway carpet… Then easing the Ferrari down the unplowed, snowy streets, with its owner hidden in the trunk…
And then the frantic flight across the border. Tessa had rolled into this campground by nightfall on January 2, and the journey had taken every ounce of mental stamina she possessed. She’d collapsed after she got here. Taken a double dose of anxiety meds and slept in the back of the van for twenty-four hours straight. But she’d made it. When push came to shove, she was stronger than she knew.
Tessa nodded to herself. She turned her back to the open window and bent over her phone. The live stream cut back to the news studio, and Tessa slipped in her earphones to listen.
“Once again, if you’re just tuning in, a spokesperson has confirmed that Dorian Cromwell is not dead. He has been living for the past seven months in an underpopulated region of the Swiss Alps, accessible only by foot or cross-country ski…”
Tessa fought back the urge to shake her phone. The whole story made no sense! Dorian’s death couldn’t have been staged. They found his body in the Thames. They conducted a murder trial and locked up his killer in a psych hospital. How could he have faked all that?
“—still a lot of unanswered questions.” The news anchor paused and pressed in his earpiece, listening. Tessa leaned forward as she waited for new information. “Right. I’m getting word now that—”
But Tessa never heard the end of his sentence.
Out of nowhere, the sound cut out. Tessa’s head snapped up. She registered the shadow of a human arm, reaching through the window behind her. She lunged to close the curtain, but not before her gaze locked with a pair of eyes peering back at her in the darkness.
“Oh my God,” she whispered, clapping a hand to her heart. “You scared me!”
Her travel companion made no reply. He slid the van door open, with her headphone jack in his hands and a curious expression on his face.
“Sorry, sweet pea,” Eric said after he settled onto his half of the double mattress. “You looked intense. What are you watching?”
Praise for Tell Me No Lies:
“This sequel delivers on the action…readers left hanging by the first volume will be intrigued to see how this story ends.” —Booklist
“Timely, twisty, and totally thrilling.” —Paula Stokes, author of Liars, Inc. and Vicarious
“The next big thing in YA thrillers.” —Ali Novak, author of The Heartbreak Chronicles and My Life with the Walter Boys
Also by A.V. Geiger:
Title: Follow Me Back
Author: A.V. Geiger
Release Date: June, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…
Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.
When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…
Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts, this thriller for the online generation will keep you guessing right up to the shocking end.
Praise for Follow Me Back:
“Follow Me Back is the perfect mix of fandom with just the right amount of suspense. An enthralling page turner from beginning to end.” —Anna Todd, New York Times bestselling author of the After series
“Told though alternating points of view, tweets, and police reports, this novel is perfect for fans of Sara Shepard, April Henry, or Kimberly Derting. In her debut novel, Geiger creates a rich horror story which is all the more intriguing because of its conceivable possibilities. Using fan culture and social media communications to the best effect, she makes the setting and plot convincingly real.” —VOYA Magazine
“Debut author Geiger’s social-media-saturated thriller (which fittingly got its start on Wattpad) should transfix teens for whom online relationships (romantic and otherwise) are integral parts of daily life, and catfishing and hacking are genuine fears. Tweets, direct messages, and police interrogation transcripts are incorporated throughout, throwing the reliability of both narrators into question and hinting at the sinister thread underlying this boy-meets-girl story.” — Publishers Weekly
About the Author:
A.V. Geiger is a popular online author and member of the elite Wattpad Stars program. Her original teen fiction has received millions of hits on Wattpad, the story-sharing website, and was ranked #1 in the Mystery/Thriller genre. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and twin boys. Learn more at avgeiger.com