I’m so lucky, Nicole tells herself. If the first thirty- two years of her life were exceptionally ordinary, the last two have been anything but. It’s almost impossible to believe. There are so many younger versions of herself she’d like to travel back in time and describe this new life to and not one of them would believe her.
The car’s soft top is down and sun glints off the bonnet. Nicole’s new Chanel sunglasses filter everything the prettiest blush pink, even the lovely sheep grazing in the fields. She doesn’t think she’s ever felt so hopeful or so happy before, not even on her wedding day or the day it was confirmed that she and Tom were lottery winners and were about to become filthy rich.
Even so, she drives carefully, hands at ten and two on the wheel. Maybe she’s gripping it a little tighter than usual as her endorphins surge, but she doesn’t consider putting her foot down. Nicole is risk averse; never in her life has she craved an adrenaline rush. Before they were rich, there was nothing impulsive about the tenacious way she sought promotion to the position of administrative manager at Carter, Carter & Dun, solicitors specializing in conveyancing, and persuaded Tom they should put aside every spare penny to save up for a deposit to buy their first home, a tiny house in Swindon’s dormitory suburbs. She put in long hours, turned herself out well on a tight budget, and everything she did was for her and Tom, her childhood sweetheart, the love of her life.
Even now that their life has become a fairy tale, she’s proud of what she achieved then and she’s proud of how she’s handled things since they won the money. When the people from the National Lottery arrived at their home to confirm the win and Tom was acting, well, as shocked and stupefied as someone who had won the lottery, she listened attentively to their advice, took notes on everything they told her, twice underlining the advisers’ suggestion to think carefully and take their time before making any radical decisions. The only decision Nicole made swiftly was not to go public with the win. The thought of people knowing appalled her. She’s instinctually private and Tom is incredibly laid back, so he didn’t welcome the idea of the fuss it would bring, either.
She also paid special attention to the financial adviser who opened new accounts for them to take receipt of the money and she took heed of the cautionary tales he told, about previous winners who behaved rashly and lost it all, and decided that would not, ever, be her and Tom. Over her dead body. Tom might have been happy working as a mechanic and going to the pub with his mates on Friday, but she always dreamed of having a bigger, better life and this was their chance.
She slows the car as she approaches a neglected wooden sign that points left, toward Lancaut Nature Reserve, and makes the turn onto the lane that leads to their home, which is also their biggest investment to date. She and Tom built the Glass Barn on the Lancaut Peninsula, an outcrop of land formed by a dramatic bend in the River Wye, on the border between England and Wales. Her father, a keen birder, brought her there as a child. He called it a lost, special place, and it hasn’t changed.
Copyright Gilly Macmillan 2023. THE MANOR HOUSE published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Nanny and What She Knew comes the terrifying story of what can happen after all your dreams come true
Be careful what you wish for...
Childhood sweethearts Nicole and Tom are a normal, loving couple—until a massive lottery win changes their lives overnight.
Soon they’ve moved into a custom-built state-of-the-art Glass Barn on the stunning grounds of Lancaut Manor in Gloucestershire. They have fancy cars, expensive hobbies, and an exclusive lifestyle they never could have imagined.
But this dream world quickly turns into a nightmare when Tom is found dead in the swimming pool.
Nicole is devastated. Tom was her rock. And their beautiful barn —with all its smart features that never seem to work for her—is beginning to feel very lonely. But she’s not entirely by herself out there in the country. There’s a nice young couple who live in the Manor itself along with their middle-aged housekeeper who has the Coach House. And an old friend of Tom’s from school has turned up to help her get through her grief.
But big money can bring big problems and big threats. Was Tom’s death a tragic accident, or was it something worse? And is her life in danger as well?
Nicole’s beginning to feel like a little fish in a big glass bowl.
Surrounded by piranhas.
Thriller Psychological [William Morrow, On Sale: July 4, 2023, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780063074385 / eISBN: 9780063074408]
Gilly Macmillan grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and also lived in Northern California in her late teens. She studied History of Art at Bristol University and then at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.
She worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery before starting a family, and since then has done some lecturing in ‘A’ Level photography.
Gilly lives in Bristol, UK with her husband and three children and now writes full time.
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