Release Date: October 31, 2017
Paperback: 400 pages
About The Book:
Tragedy sends troubled film star Vivien Lockhart into the arms of Giovanni Moretti—and it seems her fortunes have finally changed. Until she meets his sister and learns that her new husband’s past holds dark secrets…
Tuscany, Present day
Lucy Whittaker needs to disappear. But her new home, the crumbling Castillo Barbarossa, is far from the secluded paradise it seemed. Strange sounds come from the attic. The owner of the house will never meet her in person.
The fountain in the courtyard is silent—but has never run dry.
Across the decades, Vivien and Lucy find themselves trapped in the idyllic Italian villa.
And if they are ever to truly escape its walls, they must first unearth its secrets…
Lucy, Present Day
I roll over in the dark, as if I can turn my back on thoughts of James.
It doesn’t help. There he is, in front of me, his optimistic smile and trusting eyes, and the subtle note of menace in his voice, which felt familiar because it was how he had always spoken to me. I hadn’t noticed that before. Always this quiet suggestion of what my answer should be; the response that would please him was the one that I gave. Just like today. I lied. Why hadn’t I felt able to tell him the truth?
I wish I could go back and unpick it. Tomorrow, I’ll see him, and I’ll set it all straight. But I know there won’t be a tomorrow. James will wake up to a call from someone at home, his lawyer, or his best friend, Grant, whom I never liked, and that will be it. I’ll never have a chance to see him again. In and out of my life, just like that.
The thought arrives with a hot bright f lash of relief, which is swiftly eclipsed by sadness. James said he wanted to be with me. Every word I’d hoped he’d ever utter had been spoken. I want you. I always have. In my stupidity I had thrown it away.
I must eventually drift off to sleep, because I am woken by a whisper.
It’s still dark. A thin band of moonlight creeps through the curtains. I check the time: 3:12 a.m. I listen hard, my heart pumping, waiting to hear it again. I’m not afraid, just alert, and I know it is the same voice I heard in the ballroom on my first day. The room feels cold, and saturated with thick, cloying menace.
Seconds—minutes?—pass, and the quiet is absolute. I look down at my body lying beneath the crisp white sheet, and for an instant it doesn’t look like mine; it could be the body of any woman, slender and still, the outline of a body in a morgue.
It begins with the slightest movement, so faint as to be missed with a blink.
The sheet twitches, a small sharp tug at the foot, as if being administered by someone out of sight, concealed at the end of the bed. I gasp, draw my legs up, and it is a quirk of the night, I’m sure, but it takes a moment for the contour of the body to catch up with the movement, as if we are divided by seconds, an original and an echo.
I go to scream but cannot make a sound. I’m paralysed, pinned to the sheets, transfixed by the site of the movement and waiting for the next pull, that little jerk, mischievous almost, fascinated by and afraid of it in equal measure. In the dusk I search, terrified, for a hand or a head, some shape to this invisible company.
There is none. I wait and I wait, and it does not happen again.
I get out of bed, the floorboards coarse and cold beneath my feet. Gingerly, I take a few steps, my wide eyes drawn into the pitch, searching and frightened of that search. It’s freezing. The skin on my arms is riddled with goosebumps; a chill trickles down the back of my neck, my legs, puddling round my feet. It shouldn’t be this cold.
Am I dreaming? My nerves are spiked with the suspicion that anything could happen; I’m in a zone where normal rules f ly out of the window and all that’s left is infinite, fearsome possibility. There is no safety net here. Whatever is with me cannot be escaped; I can run, I can leave this room, but it will still be with me. The air seems to pulse, pregnant with an urgent warning: a shout that drowns in silence.
Tap, tap, tap.
There is a knock at my bedroom door. My hand shakes as I reach to open it, white fingers trembling in the black like some shiver of life fifty fathoms beneath the sea. Don’t come again is all I can think. Please don’t. Please don’t.
I open the door. Darkness surrounds me, and at my feet is an object.
It is Vivien Lockhart’s diary.
Vivien, Italy, 1985
“SHALL WE TELL HER, GIO?” ISABELLA SAID.
Vivien looked between them, too stunned to speak. Isabella’s voice sailed into silence, throbbing there like a living thing. The subsequent moment of absolute quiet lasted so long that Vivien wondered if she had imagined it.
One look at Isabella told her she had not. The sister wore a smirk—no, more subtle than that, something Gio would never see—and licked her lips as if polishing a weapon that had lain unused in a chest for years, slowly gathering dust.
“Tell me what?” Vivien whispered. She both desired and feared hearing Isabella’s voice again. It was a higher register than she had imagined, softer, more lilting, more like a girl’s half her age, as if through lack of use it had preserved its infancy, like a gleaming set of silver cutlery kept pristine in a drawer.
“Gio…?” Vivien turned to her husband, but he didn’t speak. From his expression, eyes lowered, that telltale dagger of shame, she knew that Isabella’s voice wasn’t a revelation to him. Vivien had been right. They had been talking.
“Bella,” he said at last, with a swift movement of his head, “could you leave us alone?” Isabella watched him in a horrible instant of conspiracy, before retreating.
Tell me what?
A thousand terrors occurred to Vivien at lightning speed, then dissolved just as quick. She kept her eyes on her husband.
Protect this moment, she thought. Everything is about to change.
About Victoria Fox:
Victoria Fox is a bestselling author in the UK. She used to work in publishing and is now the author of six novels. The Silent Fountain is her breakout novel in North America. She divides her time between Bristol and London.