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YOU LOVE ME

Find out Joe Goldberg's next victim in the first excerpt of You Love Me

Everyone's favorite stalker is back with a vengeance in the third installment of Caroline Kepnes' blockbuster series.

As Caroline Kepnes' You Love Me (out April 6) begins, we find our Joe on Bainbridge Island, Wash. He's taken refuge from Los Angeles thanks to a big payoff — hush money, as it were — from Love Quinn's family, and nabs himself a volunteer gig at the Bainbridge Public Library. But old habits die as hard as Joe Goldberg's girlfriends. Here we meet his current love interest, Mary Kay DiMarco — and her husband, the person who stands in the way of her stalker's happily-ever-after.

YOU LOVE ME

Excerpt from You Love Me, by Caroline Kepnes

You don't have a husband—but you do—and this guy isn't husband material—but he is—and he's not Eddie Vedder and it's not 1997 so why is he sitting there with his feet up—Doc Martens—wiping his slimy hands on his Mother Love Bone T-shirt while he dictates God knows what into his phone? He pecks you on the cheek—and you let him kiss you—and the ballroom on this boat is flooded and the water is cold—and you touch him. His face. You casually break every bone in my body and pull a sweater from your purse.

He won't take the sweater and I can't take this. Won't take this.

Married. Buried.

You must think I'm a moron. The Mothballs didn't tell me and Melanda didn't tell me and Seamus didn't tell me and your little community is a clique of mean-spirited liars but f--- me because this is what I get for being Mr.Goody Two-shoes because since when do I rely on strangers to tell me the truth about the people I love? You're married. You really are. He's whining about your upcoming trip to Phoenix right now and he sleeps in a bed with you and we can't hang out like a family today because he is your f---ing family. Not me.

Married. Buried.

He holds up a bag of chips and Nomi claps her hands and I snap a picture of the motherf---er and there's a tattoo on his leg and the ink is black: Sacriphil. I remember that band, barely, one of those nineties, not-quite-Nirvana groups and WHY THE F---DIDN'T I GOOGLE YOU ON DAY F---ING ONE?

Your husband is an overgrown fan boy in dirty cargo shorts and he has bad taste in tattoos and he produces another bag of potato chips like some third-rate magician—I hate magic—and I hate him and right now, worst of all, I relate to Nomi because I hate you, Mary Kay. You lied to me. You want Phil's chips and you wave him on and I remember you in the bathroom of the pub, when you were mine, when you kissed me. He tosses the chips to you and you catch the bag like you're in a bridal party, like it's a bouquet.

Married. Buried.

This is why you ran away from me and this is why we've been treading water and Nomi screams at the top of her lungs. "Dad! Come look!"

Your husband is an iceberg and I can't take it anymore. This is the story of my life. Everything that should be mine, everyone, they're all snatched away from me. I lost my son and I've tried so hard to be decent. Good. I've tried to forget all the Shel Silverstein poems I memorized when I was incarcerated, when I thought I'd actually get to be a dad, and now you do the same. You steal my shot at family and I can't forgive you, the same way I can't forgetthose f---ing poems. You usedme, Mary Kay. Love stole my son,but you have stolen my dignity,my self-respect, and I shouldhave staked out your house theday we met.

Everything looks different now. You weren't hazing me at the diner. You were playing fast and loose, weren't you? You thought one of your Friends might say something about your husband in passing. And that's why you were looking around in the pub so much on our date. You were afraid we'd get caught. You're a dishonest woman. You don't wear a wedding ring and you criticize your mother for her sham of a divorce but what the hell do you call this?

Your husband's angry teenage boy outfit is embarrassing—you must be the breadwinner—and okay. I never directly asked if you're married but that's because you're my boss. And okay, it would have been presumptuous of you to passive-aggressively declare your marital status—So my husband loved the Lisa Taddeo book—because that's not your style. But who the f--- are we kidding?

Your husband would never read the Lisa Taddeo book. He's not a reader. I can tell and you are right, Mary Kay. We see what we want to see and I didn't want to see it. Same way I didn't want to believe that Love was capable of stealing my child.

I grab the railing. The ship hasn't sunk just yet. Yes, you're married, but if your marriage was any good, you wouldn't be so into me. I can still save us. I google you—I should have done this weeks ago—and there you are, Mary Kay DiMarco and oh no, oh no. Your husband isn't a fan of that f---ing band. He is in the band, the lead singer—of course—and Google knows his name because Phil DiMarco was that guy who sang that song.

You're the shark inside my shark, you're the second set of teeth and I just die underneath.

I'm the one who dies underneath because that's you on the cover of his album and the history is sinking in, sinking our ship. Those are your legs under your black tights and gender-reveal parties are nothing compared to this big reveal—It's a dad! It's a husband! It's a has-been rock star in shorts!

We're getting close to the dock and I'm not gonna be intimidated by your husband. You were his muse and you're not my muse. I respect you as a person. And okay, so he was kinda semifamous but he would never be in a clue on Jeopardy! and I'd rather be your work husband than the husband you loathe so much that you can't even speak of him in casual conversation.

He walks up to you and puts his arms around you, and again, the boat is flooded and the water is cold, but I won't let it get to me. I will not f---ing freeze to death. You are telling him he needs to put on a sweater—I know you—and it's mind-bending to see you like this. Married. Buried. How long did you think you could get away with this, Mary Kay?

We're slowing down and you're searching for something in your purse, and I bet you've been winging it because that's what you do—Nomi was "the surprise of your life"—and before I came into your life, you were on cruise control. You married a music man and I'm sure you loved him at first. You were his tiny dancer and foxes do like attention—your body parts are on the cover of his album—but times change. You told me that you never understood why your mother left your father. You called it a sham divorce. That's why you're still in the cage with Phil. You don't know how to leave that rat, do you?

Nobody in your family is hungry, but you're rummaging through your purse. You pull an Ani Katz book out of your purse—I told you to read that one!—and you pause. You're thinking about me. You want me. And then you shove it back in your purse and I feel guilty because you must be constantly worried about what happens when the book is out of the bag, when I find out about your life, when Phil finds out about me.

Your rat groans. "Emmy, stop it already, man. We're not starving to death."

"No," you say. "I know I have a candy bar. It's in here somewhere."

You and I are the same, aren't we? We sacrifice our feelings and our desires for the people we love. The Meerkat is annoyed—Forget it, Mom—and Phil is disinterested—Em, I'm gonna eat with Freddy. But you're still looking for it, determined to provide for your family, and then you prevail and wave a 3 Musketeers bar in the air.

"Got it!"

It's impossible not to love you right now, the sheer joy on your face, the win. You bite the wrapper of the candy bar that you knew was in your purse and you are the girl who dreamed up the Empathy Bordello. You care about everyone and that includes your rat husband. You tear the candy bar in half and I love you for the big things and the little things, the pleasure you take in sharing. But there's a fine line between selfless devotion and self-destruction and you give one half of your 3 Musketeers to Nomi and the other half to Phil and what's left for you?

We disembark and I stay out of the way and let you and your family cross the bridge into the city while I take the stairs down to the street. I watch Phil wave goodbye to you and the Meerkat and of course this rat stayed with you—who would leave you?—and you couldn't leave him. He's too pathetic, exposing his legs so that everyone can see his Sacriphil tattoo. You stayed because it wouldn't be fair for Phil to fail as a rock star and a husband.

And I didn't see any of it coming.

FROM THE BOOK YOU LOVE ME, BY CAROLINE KEPNES. COPYRIGHT © 2021 BY CAROLINE KEPNES. PUBLISHED BY RANDOM HOUSE, AN IMPRINT AND DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE LLC.

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