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Do You Trust Your Neighbors?

Carter Wilson’s new psychological thriller proves that you shouldn’t.

the new neighbor excerpt
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  • Photo Credit: Yaopey Yong / Unsplash

As he stands by his wife’s grave on the day of her funeral, Aidan Marlowe receives a text—he’s won the Powerball. On the worst day of his life, he’s been granted financial freedom of the likes he and his family have never experienced before.

With nearly $30 million newly in his pockets, Marlowe decides that he and his seven-year-old twins will leave Baltimore and move to a small town in New Hampshire, where they can make a new start. But nearly as soon as he arrives, Marlowe is confronted by a terrifying idea—that someone has summoned him there.

Someone is watching the newest arrivals to Bury… and they’re willing to go to great lengths to torment Aidan Marlowe. We’re thrilled to be including The New Neighbor, an utterly chilling psychological thriller, as one of the books in our April/May Creepy Crate.

Read on for an excerpt of The New Neighbors, then subscribe to Creepy Crate for your chance to receive a copy!

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The New Neighbor

By Carter Wilson

Three days into the house and I'm overwhelmed in a way I could never imagine. Money hasn't caused more problems, but it sure as hell created a lot more paperwork.

Fortunately, my money has also let me hire a superhero.

Her name is Maya. She's my lawyer.

Maya Falk is a partner at Schraeder, Traub, and Falk, a Baltimore law firm specializing in tax and estate planning. They've also dealt with lottery winners.

Maryland is one of only six states where lottery winners don't need to disclose their identity, a fact that turned into a godsend in the spiraling weeks after I'd won. Holly's father had some loose connection to the law firm and made the introduction.

Related: 45 of the Best Thriller Books from the Last 80 Years

The firm assigned Maya to me. She told me she'd personally worked with lottery winners before and could help me navigate the complexities of my new-found wealth. In fact, she's become my life-support system over the past two months, creating an infrastructure around my life to keep me functioning. Since I hired her, Maya's established an entire estate plan and trust for the kids, and connected me with a wealth-management agency who invests my winnings and establishes my new and numerous bank accounts. She's provided me a long list of financial do's and don'ts, telling me how managing wealth is a terribly difficult job, one at which most lottery winners fail miserably.

I don't want to fail, and I don't want to spend recklessly. This house will probably be the most expensive thing I buy for myself. Other than that, I just want security, because the things I wish for more than anything else are impossible to acquire.

The doorbell rings, and I know it's her. She's flown in from Baltimore on my request.

I open the front door and find her standing in the soft glow of the afternoon sun. Maya's a pint of a thing, small and delicate, soft features framed by softer skin, and just a smattering of freckles around her nose. She could be Irish by her looks, but her family's originally from Israel. Her father once worked with the Mossad, and Maya told me she inherited his fortitude and determination. She's all of twenty-nine years old and maybe a hundred pounds, but I'd follow her into battle. 

"That's a hell of a front door," she says. "Need a battering ram to bust that down."

the new neighbor excerpt
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  • Photo Credit: Tyke Jones / Unsplash

"Keeps the salesmen away, I suppose."

She flashes a smile of perfectly straight teeth. Could be that my heart leaps a little at the sight of her, though I wish it didn't. "Come on in," I say.

She hands me a blank white envelope as she strolls into the foyer.

"What's this?" I ask.

"I don't know. It was on your doorstep. Probably an offer from a salesman who was too scared to knock on that door."

I place the envelope on top of a nearby furniture box, one of many scattered throughout the house. The interior decorator Christie recommended has been fast at work filling the house up.

Maya offers me a hug, which I accept.

"So this is it," she says. "This is the house that lured you away from Baltimore. Your castle." She looks around, hands on hips.

Related: 9 Horrifying Books About Bad Neighbors

I'd told Maya one evening over cocktails how I'd come to choose Bury as my new town. We met at the Four Seasons in Baltimore a month ago to discuss some remaining items regarding how to structure the kids' trust and I admitted halfway through my first whiskey sour that I wanted to move. Trip-hop music vibrated in the background as she leaned forward a few inches, her eyes a smidge wider.

Why?

I told her the first phrase that came to my mind. Because I need to rip the world open, and I can't do it from here.

What the hell does that mean?

I don't know.

Where would you go?

I polished off that drink in one gulp and told her about the moments after I found out I'd won the lottery. That cracking sound. Then, standing there at Holly's casket, after the groundskeepers resized the hole in the ground, after the others filed back in and stood around me, and as I watched them lower her into the ground, how I couldn't get one word out of my head.

bury 

It looped there, over and over.

That word ricocheted inside my head in the days and weeks that followed, like a bat trapped inside a house.

bury

On an impulse, I searched the word online, finding thousands of results, none of which resonated with me. Then it occurred to me to try the words bury town and that's when I found it.

Bury, New Hampshire.

Population seven thousand souls.

I fell in love with it immediately.

Related: 20 Twisted Psychological Thriller Movies That Will Mess with Your Head

It checked all the boxes: small, safe, excellent schools, scenic. And, as I soon discovered, very expensive. An hour outside Boston, Bury was a haven for wealthy hedge-fund managers and tech gurus. I knew it was within my means to add lottery winner to that list.

As I told all this to Maya over drinks that night, she strained under the effort not to roll her eyes.

So you chose Bury because you thought you were destined to be there because of its name?

I was about to hedge my answer, but decided I didn't need to be anything but honest with her.

Yes. Exactly that.

She took a moment, composing her thoughts. Finally, she asked, And even though your kids have their grandparents in Baltimore, and their school, and their roots, you're just going to up and move?

No hesitation on my part. Yes.

Well, then, was her only answer. She clinked my glass in a wordless toast and we carried on from there. 

the new neighbor excerpt
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  • Photo Credit: Wes Hicks / Unsplash

...

Maya and I spend the next hour sitting at a brand new rustic farm table in the kitchen, going over legal agreements. Her presence, her expertise, stabilizes me. At some point in life, everyone dreams of swimming in money. No one realizes, once winning, how easy it is to drown.

She's only staying one day and has arranged accommodations at the Oak Street Inn, a local bed and breakfast with all of five rooms. She agrees to come over for dinner tonight, which I tell her will be pizza delivery since I'm still in the process of buying kitchen equipment. It seemed such a romantic notion to only pack what was most essential and what we could fit into our car when moving here, donating the rest of our apartment's contents to charity. In reality, it's a huge pain in the ass. Plastic forks and paper cups occupy a speck of the space in my voluminous kitchen cupboards.

When we're done, I walk Maya out and wave goodbye as she drives away. I glance at my watch and see I came very close to keeping my promised time to the kids, only fifteen minutes later than I'd told them. I'll count that as a victory.

Walking back inside, I spy the unlabeled envelope Maya carried in with her. I pick it up and open it as I make my way up the stairs and to the kids' room.

I pull out a single piece of white paper filled with paragraphs. As I begin reading, I'm expecting a generic ad for lawn service, house painting, or some such.

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I stop halfway up the first flight of stairs, realizing there's nothing generic about this letter at all. The piece of paper wasn't generated for the masses.

It was written just for me. 

Mr. Marlowe. 

Welcome to Bury! Welcome to Rum Hill Road. Welcome to your new house.

We love your home. We've been watching it a long time.

Question: did you know that winning the lottery actually INCREASES your chances of suicide? The numbers must really skyrocket when you also take into account a freshly dead wife. It must be a struggle. We can only imagine the effect it all must be having on your little ones.

If you're feeling lonely or stressed, don't expect the people of Bury to be of any help. They're a nasty bunch. Maybe they think you don't deserve to be here in Bury. Or in this beautiful house. Maybe they think you should go back to Baltimore.

But we don't agree. We think you should stay right in this new house of yours.

In fact, we insist upon it. Don't think about leaving—this house needs you. We'll be back in touch soon.

With anticipation, 

WE WHO WATCH 

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Featured image: Yaopey Yong / Unsplash