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Watch Out for Her

A Novel

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About The Book

A tense psychological thriller about a mother who must keep watch at all times if she wants to keep her family safe—from USA TODAY and #1 national bestselling author Samantha M. Bailey.

Wherever you go…
she’ll be watching.

Sarah Goldman, mother to six-year-old Jacob, is relieved to move across the country. She has a lot she wants to leave behind, especially Holly Monroe, the pretty twenty-two-year-old babysitter she and her husband, Daniel, hired to take care of their young son last summer. It started out as a perfect arrangement—Sarah had a childminder her son adored, and Holly found the mother figure she’d always wanted. But Sarah’s never been one to trust very easily, so she kept a close eye on Holly, maybe too close at times. What she saw raised some questions, not only about who Holly really was but what she was hiding. The more Sarah watched, the more she learned—until one day, she saw something she couldn’t unsee, something so shocking that all she could do was flee.

Sarah has put it all behind her and is starting over in a different city with her husband and son. They’ve settled into a friendly suburb where the neighbors, a tight clique of good citizens, are always on the lookout for danger. But when Sarah finds hidden cameras in her new home, she has to wonder: Has her past caught up to her, and worse yet, who’s watching her now?

A spine-tingling, page-turning novel from USA TODAY and #1 national bestselling author Samantha M. Bailey, Watch Out for Her is psychological suspense at its very best—a chilling look at trust, voyeurism, and obsession in the modern age, and how far we will go to watch out for those we love.

Excerpt

Chapter One: Sarah

CHAPTER ONE SARAH
Now

I watch people.

With a voyeur’s keen eyes, I peer out the window of our rental car as Daniel pulls up to our new house at 227 Lilac Lane. This is the house we’ll be living in for the next six months until we find one we want to buy. I’ve seen only grainy pictures of the inside. The new consulting firm my husband will be working for found the home for us—an incentive to bring him on board. It makes this sudden move across the country easier. Easier but still hard.

At twilight, the detached two-story blends into the others on this quiet suburban Toronto street, like I hope we will. At the end of the block, there’s a cul-de-sac, and a set of boxy town houses across from a ravine. I shiver, not from the bitter mid-September chill but because the woods feel too close. They remind me too much of everything we left behind in Vancouver.

Our son, Jacob, and I exit the car, sneakers squelching in the puddles from an overnight rain. The sound centers me in the present, far from Holly Monroe, our babysitter over the summer, and the reason I agreed to this unexpected move. Daniel is ahead of us, dragging a suitcase behind him. Every few seconds, he looks over his shoulder, smiling. I smile back, but inside I’m crying over everything I’ve hidden from him—and everything he might be hiding from me.

Jacob stops in front of the three-bedroom redbrick home looming before us.

“It has eyes,” he says. His voice is flat, his body trembling through his thin coat. The wind is sharper in Toronto than North Vancouver, something else my son is now forced to get used to. “The windows are the eyes, and the door is the mouth. It has no nose, though.”

I pull him close. A six-year-old’s imagination, but still, his words haunt me.

Jacob isn’t aware of the real reason we’ve left Vancouver. All he knows is that Daddy got an exciting new job as a business consultant in the city where he grew up, and Mommy supports Daddy. Neither my little boy nor my husband knows anything about the nights I hid in the thick cluster of trees outside our pool enclosure because it offered the perfect view of our babysitter’s house.

I wanted to be her. Holly—young, beautiful, her whole life an exciting blank slate. But then I stopped trusting her. And in the end, I wanted only to protect what was mine.

I turn to my son as he slips his thumb into his mouth, a habit I thought he’d gotten over this summer. My heart constricts at how vividly the freckles dotting Jacob’s nose stand out against his chalk-white skin. He looks terrible. We took the red-eye so he would sleep, but he was devastated about the move, about being uprooted so suddenly, that he cried for almost the entire flight. It’s been said that you’re only as happy as your unhappiest child. I have just one child, and he’s shattered, so that’s how I’m feeling, too. He’s lost his home and left behind everyone he loves, except me and Daniel.

“Ready to see the house?” I ask, trying to sound upbeat.

Jacob pulls his wet thumb out of his mouth. The skin around the nail is ripped and chapped. “I want to go home.”

Well, that’s impossible, I think to myself, but I don’t say it out loud. Two weeks ago, Daniel sold our beautiful cliffside home in Forest View to a private buyer from his exclusive golf club. Our home doesn’t belong to us anymore. My husband has taken care of everything, for once, a far cry from the man who doesn’t make his own lunches for work and who has left child-rearing our son mostly to me. All I have to do now, in this new place, is be Jacob’s mother. I should have been content with that all along rather than yearning for more, for my own sense of self.

A porch light flicks on when Daniel gets to the front door. Jacob and I follow him up the three steep steps, and I peer through the decorative glass, our ghostly reflections staring back at me. Daniel rummages for the key in the lockbox, inserts it, and turns it. There’s no click. The black oak door wasn’t locked.

“Wow. The property manager forgot to lock it,” Daniel says.

I feel eyes on me and spin around. Under the dim yellow glow of a streetlamp, a curtain twitches in the house across the street. A face appears, then disappears. I will not overreact. I refuse to give into the foreboding dread that’s been pressing on my chest since the last time I saw Holly sixteen days ago.

I trail behind Daniel, pushing Jacob inside and locking the front door behind us. Before I can even look around the main floor, Jacob lets out a howl—a low, agonized wail that twists my insides. Daniel looks at me, shutting his eyes for a moment like he always does to try to make it all disappear.

I take over as usual. “What’s wrong?” I ask Jacob as I kneel on the hardwood at his eye level.

“Mr. Blinkers! I can’t live here without him!” He punches his fist over and over on his skinny thigh. I take his tiny hand and hold it between mine.

There’s no pain greater than your child’s pain. I’ve made so many mistakes that I can never undo. My sole focus now is making my son happy again. But I can’t because we lost his favorite toy, Mr. Blinkers—the soft, gray stuffed bunny he slept with every night, all summer long. It disappeared while we were packing up the few items of clothing, toys, and electronics we brought with us. I blame myself. I probably threw it out by accident. It’s my fault, like so many things that happened over the summer.

“Maybe we can find a new Mr. Blinkers at a store here, sweetheart.”

Daniel drops our bags, and the house keys hit the small ebony table at the door. The clang makes me jump.

He crouches with me in front of Jacob. “Buddy, we’ll get you a new bunny, and we’ll take him to see the CN Tower. It has a restaurant at the top that spins.”

Daniel’s trying too hard, and Jacob sees right through it.

“I want the bunny Holly gave me!” He leans into my shoulder, and the tears come so fast and furious my coat is damp. I hug him fiercely and let him cry, my rainbow baby, my miracle after my miscarriage. Jacob is the only child I’ll ever have.

Daniel locks eyes with me, his full of regret. Regret about what? How strained and distant our marriage has become? How invisible I’ve been to him for the last year? How friendly he and Holly were when they didn’t know I was watching? No, I won’t go there right now. He’s reassured me—I had it wrong. It was all in my head.

Since the day Daniel suggested moving across the country to fix everything, he’s been making such an effort to be more attentive, to make me feel like I matter, like when we got married fifteen years ago. I’ve chosen to believe him that nothing was going on between him and Holly. I’ve chosen to believe it, but do I actually?

I have to be rational, for once. Daniel is the man who massaged my feet every single night when I was pregnant with Jacob. Daniel cried with me when we lost our first baby, our daughter, at sixteen weeks because her heart had stopped beating inside me.

I can’t lose anyone else. It would break me.

Jacob keeps bringing up Holly, and every time, it puts my teeth on edge. Daniel is the first to answer him.

“Jacob, it’s better we don’t talk about Holly, okay? We need to move on.”

There it is again: my husband is trying. I run my hand over his thick brown hair, just starting to gray at the temples. Of course the gray suits him, while my hair, which I dyed platinum at the end of July, is pulled back in a greasy ponytail, but the dark roots are already showing.

“I want everything the way it used to b-b-be,” Jacob stutters.

“Honey,” I say. “Change is hard, but everything’s going to be okay. It will be even better than before.”

My voice cracks. It was so hard to say goodbye to my mom, my brother, Nathan, sister-in-law, Pam, and nieces Sienna and Lily. Before this, I’d never left Vancouver for more than a couple of weeks. Now the mere idea of ever returning fills me with dread. I lost all control this summer. I saw things I should never have seen. I did things I should never have done.

I stroke Jacob’s cheek before stepping out of the foyer toward the first doorway. There are two more doorways ahead, a creepy fairy-tale house of endless doors. The darkness immediately overwhelms me. Our old house boasted a large open-concept design with long windows, through which the morning light shone bright and happy. From our pool deck, we were mere steps from the forest of stately Douglas firs overlooking the Capilano River that swirled just beyond our backyard. Here the main floor is all dark molding and narrow windows. Eerie shadows spill onto the dusty, sable-colored hardwood.

I blow out a heavy breath and snuggle Jacob, whose teeth are chattering. “We should turn on the heat.”

“Sure. Jacob, come with me. We’ll find the thermostat. I forgot how much colder it is in Toronto. Even in September.” My husband’s skin is pallid. He looks as exhausted as I am. I feel another sharp pang of guilt, but I try to focus on Daniel, who seems happy to be back in Toronto, where he was raised, beginning a new consulting career after a decade as a COO in Vancouver, handcuffed to his desk.

I hold the black banister all the way up the curved staircase, leading to a spacious landing covered in brown hickory flooring. The master bedroom is large, with expensive, somber oak dressers and headboard. I itch to snoop in the nooks and crannies to discover who lived here before us and what skeletons they might have hidden in this house. Old habits die hard.

I close the door and glance in the full-length mirror on the back. My cheeks are hollow, and the circles under my eyes are a deep purple. I don’t care. Here I can go back to being Sarah Goldman: just a mother and wife, no longer a photographer and a woman who was obsessed with her twenty-two-year-old babysitter.

My fatigue is debilitating. I’ve never slept well, but the frenzied rush to leave Vancouver has drained me.

With Daniel and Jacob downstairs working on the heat and hopefully bringing in the few boxes in the trunk, I lie back on the king-size bed, bare of sheets or a duvet. This maudlin house isn’t to my taste, but at least it’s furnished. I’m glad to see a smoke detector on the ceiling, but the tiny light in the middle isn’t on. I should check the batteries. At only five foot one, I need to grab the black chaise next to the window that overlooks the street.

I drag it under the smoke detector, releasing dust motes into the air. I stand on it, sighing, because my fingers can’t possibly reach high enough to take it down. But I can at least see it clearly now.

It’s not a light in the middle, not a light at all. But there’s something round in the center of the smoke detector.

It’s a camera.

The house has eyes.

Someone is watching me.

About The Author

Dahlia Katz Photography

Samantha M. Bailey is the USA TODAY and #1 nationally bestselling author of Woman on the Edge, which has sold in eleven countries to date. She is also a journalist and freelance editor; her work has appeared in NOW Magazine, The Village Post, The Thrill Begins, and The Crime Hub, among other publications. Watch Out for Her is her second novel. Samantha lives in Toronto, where she’s currently working on her next book. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @SBaileyBooks and on her website at SamanthaMBailey.com.

Why We Love It

Watch Out for Her is about mothers and daughters in search of the thing they need most—love. It’s also about women whose instincts to keep watch over their loved ones begins innocently enough, but over time, they find themselves slowly cross an invisible line. Once they’ve gone too far, there’s no way to go back to the domestic lives they had before. This book is compulsively readable, the kind of novel that gets passed from friend to sister to mother to book club buddy with the best kind of caution for a thriller: ‘Read it. Because you won’t be able to put it down.’”

—Nita P., VP, Editorial Director, on Watch Out for Her

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 26, 2022)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982155193

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Raves and Reviews

“Yet again, one of our most beloved thriller writers brings us a story with the heart of a family drama and the pulse of an edge-of-your-seat spine-chiller. Filled with foreboding from the very first page, this one will keep you up all night—and have you checking the locks!”
— MARISSA STAPLEY, New York Times bestselling author of Reese’s Book Club Pick Lucky

“Shows that Bailey is no one-book-wonder. It’s as tightly plotted and skillfully written as her first, with a great backstory to carry it off. . . . Bailey builds the suspense here with excellent pacing and clues that drop at exactly the right time. This is a great book to take on that summer holiday or the cottage weekend when all you have to do is chill, eat, and read.”
— The Globe and Mail

“Bailey is a strong writer who keeps the reader turning pages . . . A cautionary tale about the fine line between diligence and obsession and the dangers of doing the wrong things for what we believe are the right reasons.”
— Toronto Star

“A cleverly written, twisty, and brilliantly creepy thriller. With compelling characters intertwined with obsession, lies, simmering menace, and secrets at its heart, this is a page-turner which drew me in and kept me hooked. A real must-read!”
— KAREN HAMILTON, internationally bestselling author of The Perfect Girlfriend

“A tense and claustrophobic thriller in which Bailey makes you question whether the heart of a family is a place of safety or danger. Paranoia, obsession, and secrets ensure a twisty read.”
— GILLY MACMILLAN, New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew 

“Creepy, surprising, and relentlessly tense, Watch Out for Her is so much more than a thriller; it’s an unflinching exploration of the roles we allow women to fill. With dark secrets and cliffhangers galore, this thrill ride will keep you up long past your bedtime. I couldn’t put it down.”
— ANDREA BARTZ, New York Times bestselling author of Reese’s Book Club Pick We Were Never Here

“The ragged psychological tension in Watch Out for Her echoes the tone of Bailey’s earlier bestselling novel, Woman on the Edge. . . . Despite touching on heavy, complex problems such as maternal anxiety, marital secrets, addiction, and searing family rifts, Bailey weaves her story smoothly between Sarah’s past in Vancouver and her new life in the suburbs of Toronto, where she and her family have moved for a new start. . . . Bailey writes with a light touch of Alfred Hitchcock.”
— Winnipeg Free Press

“A hair-raising, suspenseful page-turner [that] will have one watching their back wherever they go, but what really gets to the novel’s heart is the unexpected and chilling ending. . . . The narrative is so well written and joined together it flows effortlessly.”
— The New York Journal of Books

“Samantha M. Bailey’s latest thriller is as propulsive as her sizzling debut. Two troubled women enter into a complex relationship that could shatter not only their lives, but the lives of everyone they touch. A page-turner in the most literal sense of the word, I could not put this book down until the final shocking twist.”
— ROBYN HARDING, bestselling author of The Perfect Family

“An irresistible story about what happens when we take our obsessions too far. Propulsive, electrifying, and sinister, I could not tear myself away from the narrators, two women each hiding dark secrets from their families. Bailey’s assured prose delivers as enthralling a tale as her stellar debut.”
— STEPHANIE WROBEL, bestselling author of This Might Hurt and Darling Rose Gold

“Addictive and relentlessly twisty. . . . Nobody else writes a propulsive, family-centered mystery quite like this: Bailey is queen of the domestic thriller for a reason. Watch Out for Her masterfully deals with the shifting power of obsession, and the secrets we keep from our loved ones . . . and ourselves.”
— LAURIE ELIZABETH FLYNN, bestselling author of The Girls Are All So Nice Here 

“A compulsive and chilling exploration of trust, obsession, and voyeurism, Samantha M. Bailey knocks it out of the park with this intricately plotted domestic thriller. With dark secrets and surprising twists, this one’s sure to be a new favorite!”
— CHRISTINA McDONALD, USA Today bestselling author of Do No Harm

“Wow! Relentlessly tense and incredibly twisty—Watch Out for Her proves the amazing Samantha M. Bailey is the queen of family suspense. With authentic emotion and complex and heartbreaking relationships, Bailey shows her brilliance in revealing the destructive power of love and the intensity of the need to belong. I flew through the cinematic pages, riveted and completely immersed in this propulsive and original thriller. Everyone will be talking about this—do not miss it!”
— HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN, USA Today bestselling author of Her Perfect Life

“Samantha M. Bailey turns our most visceral fears into an artform in Watch Out for Her—a fierce and terrifying tour-de-force that puts unseen eyes on the back of your neck from page one. Through rich and palpably unsettling prose, Bailey delivers a relentlessly tense and inescapably honest thriller that scared the hell out of me as only she can. Read this book.”
— P.J. VERNON, author of Bath Haus and When You Find Me

“I’d planned on reading a chapter or two but ended up devouring Watch Out for Her in a day. Compulsive, propelling, and unputdownable, this twisted thriller is as enthralling as it is surprising. A fantastic read that’s sure to be a huge hit!”
— HANNAH MARY McKINNON, bestselling author of You Will Remember Me

“An addictive read from start to finish, Samantha M. Bailey’s talent and skill are on full display in this well-crafted domestic thriller. Watch Out for Her will have you second-guessing everyone you meet and rooting for characters you don’t trust—and there is nothing more fun than that. Absolutely riveting.”
— JENNIFER HILLIER, bestselling author of Little Secrets and the award-winning Jar of Hearts

“This insanely addictive, utterly propulsive, and unbelievably tense thriller will consume you. With intoxicating, scalpel-sharp prose and gasp-worthy twists, Bailey has crafted a fresh and deeply unsettling take on obsession and voyeurism. Reading Watch Out for Her is like pulling a pin from a hand grenade and waiting for it to detonate. This is destined to become the most talked about, explosive thriller of the year."
— MAY COBB, author of The Hunting Wives

“Sometimes the best literary escape for an exhausted mom is a novel that sucks you in from page one and makes you want to read and read. . . . You will stay up way past your bedtime.”
— The Globe and Mail

“Bailey’s newest creepy thriller set in Toronto and Vancouver already has us looking over our shoulders. . . . Exploring themes of motherhood and paranoia, this psychological thriller is bound to be a gripping page turner.”
— She Does the City

“A deep dive into a world of secrets, where no one is who you think they are, and everyone has something to hide. Bailey’s deft hand at ratcheting tension makes this an exquisite read. It will suck you in and you’ll love every moment of it!”
— AMINA AKHTAR, author of Kismet and #FashionVictim

“[A] spine-chilling thriller . . . Expertly crafted, Bailey’s psychological suspense novel will hold you captive from the very first page.”
— Daily Hive

“A tense, acerbic psychological thriller. . . . Smart, suspenseful, and full of shocking twists. It is intricately plotted—Bailey reveals just enough to create frenzy and momentum. Her characters are well-developed and propel the expertly paced story. . . . Bailey is a master at manipulating her reader. With short and punchy chapters, she cleverly delivers on so many levels. . . . A must read!”
— Style Canada

“Bailey gives suspense fans another gripping and satisfying page-turner. . . . Just about each chapter ends on a cliff-hanging note that will have you hungry to keep going, making this an exciting book to devour. Expect to lose sleep. . . . Chilling and unpredictable.”
— She Does the City

“Tense from the opening chapter, this thriller will have you glued to the pages as you discover that the lies we weave are usually deeper than face value. With a cast of unreliable narrators, this suspenseful tale will have you doubting who to trust until the very last chapter. An early favorite of 2022, Watch Out For Her is sure to be among the best psychological thrillers of the year.”
— JAIME LYNN HENDRICKS, internationally bestselling author of Finding Tessa and It Could Be Anyone

“A tense, character-driven thriller . . . An anxiety-riddled ride with a menacing undertone that keeps readers guessing.”
— Mystery & Suspense Magazine

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