Home > Big Little Lies(16)

Big Little Lies(16)
Liane Moriarty

“Oh yeah.” Josh turned his face back to the window.

“Why do you have to avoid radar detection?” asked Celeste.

Perry shook his head and shared a tolerant “women!” grin with Max, who was sitting on the other side of Celeste and had leaned over to listen to the conversation. “It’s obvious isn’t it, Max?”

“It’s top secret, Mummy,” Max told her kindly. “No one knows that Daddy can fly.”

“Oh, of course,” said Celeste. “Sorry. Silly of me.”

“See, if I got caught, they’d probably want to run a whole battery of tests on me,” said Perry. “Find out just how I developed these superpowers, then they’d want to recruit me for the Air Force, I’d have to go on secret missions.”

“Yeah, and we don’t want that,” said Celeste. “Daddy already travels enough.”

Perry reached across the aisle and put his hand over hers in silent apology.

“You can’t really fly,” said Max.

Perry raised his eyebrows, widened his eyes and gave a little shrug. “Can’t I?”

“I don’t think so,” said Max uncertainly.

Perry winked at Celeste over Max’s head. He’d been telling the twins for years that he had secret flying abilities, going into ridiculous detail about how he’d discovered his secret powers when he was fifteen, which was the age when they’d probably learn to fly too, assuming they’d inherited his powers and eaten enough broccoli. The boys could never tell if he was serious or not.

“I was flying when I skied over that big jump yesterday,” said Max. He used his hand to demonstrate his trajectory. “Whoosh!”

“Yeah, you were flying,” said Perry. “You nearly gave Daddy a heart attack.”

Max chuckled.

Perry linked his hands in front of him and stretched out his back. “Ow. I’m still stiff from trying to keep up with you lot. You’re all too fast.”

Celeste studied him. He looked good: tanned and relaxed from the last five days, skiing and sledding. This was the problem. She was still hopelessly, helplessly attracted to him.

“What?” Perry glanced at her.

“Nothing.”

“Good holiday, eh?”

“It was a great holiday,” said Celeste with feeling. “Magical.”

“I think this is going to be a good year for us,” said Perry. He held her eyes. “Don’t you? With the boys starting school, hopefully you’ll get a bit more time to yourself, and I’m . . .” He stopped, and ran his thumb across his armrest as if he were doing some sort of quality-control test. Then he looked up at her. “I’m going to do everything in my power to make this a good year for us.” He smiled self-consciously.

He did this sometimes. He said or did something that made her feel as besotted with him as she’d been that very first year after they’d met at that boring business lunch, where she’d first truly understood those four words: swept off my feet.

Celeste felt a sense of peace wash over her. A flight steward was coming down the aisle, offering chocolate chip cookies baked on board the plane. The aroma was delicious. Maybe it was going to be a really good year for them.

Perhaps she could stay. It was always such a glorious relief when she allowed herself to believe she could stay.

“Let’s go down to the beach when we get home,” said Perry. “We’ll build a big sand castle. Snowman one day. Sand castle the next. Gosh you kids have a good life.”

“Yep,” Josh yawned, and stretched out luxuriously in his business-class seat. “It’s pretty good.”

Melissa: I remember I saw Celeste and Perry and the twins down on the beach during the school holidays. I said to my husband, “I think that’s one of the new kindergarten mums.” His eyes nearly popped out of his head. Celeste and Perry were all loving and laughing and helping their kids make this really elaborate sand castle. It was kind of sickening, to be honest. Like, even their sand castles were better than ours.

12.

Detective-Sergeant Adrian Quinlan: We’re looking at all angles, all possible motives.

Samantha: So we’re, like, seriously using the word . . . “murder”?

Four Months Before the Trivia Night

I want to have a playdate with Ziggy,” announced Chloe one warm summer night early in the new year.

“All right,” said Madeline. Her eyes were on her older daughter. Abigail had taken an age cutting up her steak into tiny precise squares, and now she was pushing the little squares back and forth, as if she were arranging them into some sort of complicated mosaic. She hadn’t put a single piece in her mouth.

Ed said quietly to Madeline, “Wasn’t Ziggy the one who . . . you know?” He put his hands to his throat and made his eyes bulge.

“What are you doing, Daddy?” Chloe giggled fondly. “Daft Daddy.”

“You should have a playdate with Skye.” Abigail put down her fork and spoke to Chloe. “She’s very excited about being in the same class as you.”

“That’s nice, isn’t it?” said Madeline in the strained, sugary tone she knew she used whenever her ex-husband’s daughter came up in conversation. “Isn’t that nice.”

Ed spluttered on his wine, and Madeline gave him a dark look.

“Skye is sort of like my sister, isn’t she, Mummy?” said Chloe now. Unlike her mother, she’d been thrilled to learn she was going to be in the same kindergarten class as Skye, and she’d asked this question about forty thousand times.

“No, Skye is Abigail’s half sister,” said Madeline with saint-like patience.

“But I’m Abigail’s sister too!” said Chloe. “So that means Skye and I must be sisters! We could be twins, like Josh and Max!”

“Speaking of which, have you seen Celeste since they got back from Canada?” asked Ed. “Those photos Perry put on Facebook were amazing. We should have a white Christmas one day. When we win the lottery.”

“Brrrr,” said Madeline. “They looked cold.”

“I’d be an awesome snowboarder,” said Fred dreamily.

Madeline shuddered. Fred was her little adrenaline junkie. If something could be climbed he climbed it. She could no longer bear to watch him skateboard. At just seven, he flipped and spun and hurled his skinny body through the air like a kid twice his age. Whenever she saw those cool, laid-back dudes interviewed on TV about their latest BASE-jumping/rock-climbing/how-can-we-do-our-best-to-kill-ourselves adventure, she thought, There’s Fred. He even looked the part with his scruffy, too-long surfer-boy hair.

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