Today I’m delighted to be bringing you an exclusive extract from One By One, the brand new thriller from Ruth Ware which is out on Thursday 12th November. I’m growing to be quite a fan of Ruth’s books, she really is picking up the mantle for Christie-esque intrigue and thrills. If you want to know more about the book, read on after watching this (sound on folks)
About the Book
Snow is falling in the exclusive alpine ski resort of Saint Antoine, as the shareholders and directors of Snoop, the hottest new music app, gather for a make or break corporate retreat to decide the future of the company. At stake is a billion-dollar dot com buyout that could make them all millionaires, or leave some of them out in the cold.
The clock is ticking on the offer, and with the group irrevocably split, tensions are running high. When an avalanche cuts the chalet off from help, and one board member goes missing in the snow, the group is forced to ask – would someone resort to murder, to get what they want?
From the Book
Snoop ID: ANON101 Listening to: offline Snoopscribers: 0
Something happened on arrival. I don’t know what, but I saw Eva, Topher and Inigo huddled in the corner of the lobby with the chalet girl. And I heard my name, I’m certain. They were talking about me. Whispering about me.
All I can think about is what they were saying, and why they were glancing over their shoulders and scheming.
Oh God, I hate this.
No. That’s not true. I don’t hate all of this. This place – this incredible chalet, with its pool and its views and its sheepskin throws and velvet sofas – this place is a dream come true. I don’t think I have ever set foot in anywhere so luxurious, at least not since leaving Snoop. If I was here alone, I would be perfectly happy, more than happy in fact. I would be pinching myself.
I hate them.
When at last I’m alone in my room, I sink onto the hand stitched quilt, lie back on the feather-stuffed pillows, and shut my eyes.
I ought to be prowling around the room, taking in the glorious panoramic view of the mountains, testing out the spa settings on the bath, marvelling at my luck in being here. But I’m not. Instead I am lying here with my eyes closed, replaying that awful, awkward moment downstairs over and over again.
I should be used to it. Used to them forgetting about me, taking me for granted, ignoring me. I had a whole year of that at Snoop. A year of people going out for drinks after work, and not inviting me. Twelve months of ‘Oh, Liz, would you reserve a table for four at Mirabelle?’ and knowing that that four didn’t include me. One full year of invisibility. And I was fine with that – more than fine, actually. I was quite comfortable.
Now, three years after I left, everything has changed. I am very, very visible. And somehow Topher and Eva’s scrutiny and their efforts to charm me are worse than being ignored.
It is 5.28 p.m., French time. I have about ninety minutes before dinner. An hour and a half to wash and change and try to find something in my suitcase that won’t make me look like a frump compared to Eva’s new assistant and that Tiger girl from marketing.
I don’t even consider competing with Eva and the other woman with the high heels – what was her name? Miranda. They are not just out of my league, they’re out of my pay grade. Eva was a catwalk model, and even before Snoop started to take off, her budget for shoes was higher than my whole salary. I have always known that we were operating on different levels. But it would be nice if I could go down to dinner looking like I belong in the same room with the others.
I unzip my sagging wheelie case and rummage through the layers of clothes I stuffed in there early this morning. At last, halfway down, I find a dress that might do. I drag it over my head, and then I stand in front of the mirror, smoothing down the material, staring at myself. The dress is black and stretchy, and I bought it because I read some piece in Elle that said every woman needed a little black dress and this was the cheapest one in the feature.
But somehow it doesn’t look like the dress in that photoshoot. It is crumpled from my case, and although I’ve only worn it two or three times, the material has gone into bobbles under the arms giving it a tired, charity-shop look. There are what look like cat hairs all over the back, even though I don’t own a cat. Maybe they’ve come off my scarf.
I know that a girl like Tiger would probably pick this dress up in a thrift shop and accessorise it with something ridiculous like a chain-mail vest and biker boots and walk out looking like a million dollars.
If I wore a chain-mail vest, it would pinch the skin under my arms and clank when I walked and strangers would laugh and say ‘Taking up jousting, love?’ And it would rust where my sweat seeped into the links, and stain my clothes, and I would hate myself even more than I do already.
I am still standing there, gazing blankly at myself in the mirror, when there is a knock at the door. My stomach flips. I can’t face them. I can’t face any of them. ‘Who – who is it?’ I call. My voice breaks on the last syllable.
‘It’s Erin, I’m your chalet host,’ I hear, faintly through the wood. ‘Just wanted to check you have everything you need?’
I open the door. The girl who greeted us earlier is standing there. I didn’t get a chance to really look at her when we arrived, but now I do. She is pretty and tanned, with shiny chestnut hair, and she is wearing a neat white blouse tucked into dark blue jeans. She looks self-possessed, assured, everything I am not. Only one thing is out of place – the thin, pink tracing of a long scar that runs across her right cheekbone, disappearing into her hair. It stretches as she smiles at me, and I’m … surprised, I suppose. She looks like the kind of person who would cover such a thing up with make-up. But . . . she hasn’t.
I want to ask her how she got it, but it doesn’t feel like the kind of question you can just blurt out. Once upon a time I would just have asked. Now I have learned the hard way, that kind of directness makes people think you are weird.
‘Hi,’ she says, still smiling. ‘I’m Erin. I just wanted to check everything was OK with your room, and to let you know there will be pre-dinner drinks in the foyer this evening at 6.45, followed by a short presentation.’
‘A presentation?’ I tug at the hem of the dress. ‘About the resort?’
‘No, a business presentation I think. Was it not on your schedule?’
I rummage in my case and pull out the creased and folded itinerary Inigo emailed over a few days ago. I have spent practically every spare second since poring over it, trying to figure out how this week is going to play out, so I know full well there is nothing listed for the first night, but I still need to reassure myself I’m not going crazy.
‘There’s nothing listed,’ I say. I can’t prevent a note of accusation creeping into my voice. The girl shrugs.
‘Probably a last-minute addition? Your colleague – Ani, is that right? She just asked me to set up the projector in the den.’
It is on the tip of my tongue to blurt out that Ani isn’t my colleague. I have never worked with her. In fact I barely know any of them apart from the four original founders, Rik, Elliot, Eva and Topher.
But I am too busy trying to figure out what this means.
Ani is Eva’s assistant. So this presentation must be some- thing Eva has hatched up. And Eva is the most strategic person I know. She would never leave anything off an agenda by accident. Which means she has done this on purpose. She is executing some kind of plan.
‘Do you know what it’s about?’ I ask. ‘The presentation?’
‘No, sorry. The timing is literally all I know. Drinks at 6.45, presentation at 7.’
‘And . . . what should I wear?’ I don’t want to ask her, but I’m starting to feel desperate.
The girl smiles, but there is puzzlement behind her expression.
‘How do you mean? We’re really informal at Perce-Neige, no one dresses for dinner. Just wear whatever you feel comfortable in.’
‘But that’s what they always say!’ The words burst from me, in spite of myself. ‘They say, oh, just wear whatever you want, and then when you turn up there’s some secret dress code that every- one seems to know apart from me. I go too smart and they’re all in jeans and I look like I’ve tried way too hard, or I wear something casual and they’re all in suits and dresses. It’s like everyone else has the key to this and I don’t!’
As soon as the words are out, I want to take them back. I feel naked, unbearably exposed. But it is too late. They cannot be unspoken.
She smiles again. Her expression is kind, but I see the pity in her eyes. I feel the blood creeping up into my cheeks, turning my face hot and red.
‘It’s really relaxed,’ she says. ‘I’m sure most people won’t even change. You’ll look lovely whatever you wear.’
‘Thanks,’ I say miserably. But I don’t mean it. She is lying, and we both know it.
Intrigued? Believe me, this unexpected presentation is only the beginning – plenty more surprises to come for all of the team at Snoop. If you like the look of what you read you can but the book at any of the retailer links above.
About the Author
Ruth Ware is an international number one bestseller. Her thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game, The Death of Mrs Westaway and The Turn of the Key have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the Sunday Times and New York Times. Her books have been optioned for TV and film and she is published in more than 40 languages. Ruth lives near Brighton with her family.