Teresa Bassett shares an exclusive excerpt from her upcoming novel Tell and You Die.
Image supplied by Teresa Bassett
I’m excited to share with you the news that my next novel for Authors Reach, Tell and You Die, is almost ready for publication, scheduled for release in summer of this year. Like my other books, it’s a young adult mystery, but this time with a paranormal twist. It poses the question: what would you do if you suspected your sister of a terrible crime?
Main character Rose Jago is sixteen, and her family have moved to Cornwall to try to make a new start. Five months previously, her adored brother Will was one of seven killed in an explosion, and no one yet knows whether it was a terrible accident or a planned attack.
Rose hopes the move will bring her closer to her troubled sister, Lily, with whom she’s never got on, but she soon realises that the nightmare has only just begun. When a sinister man from the past reappears, Rose must confront her deepest fears. What does her sister know about Will’s death? And is Rose being manipulated, or is her dead brother really sending her ghostly warnings from beyond the grave?
Tell and You Die is aimed primarily at readers of eleven and above, but would also be suitable for older readers. I’m thrilled about its upcoming release. Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt from chapter one.
Image supplied by Teresa Bassett
Dad raises his glass of red wine and smiles. Surrounded by boxes and furniture, we’re eating chip shop takeaways from sheets of paper balanced on our knees.
“I reckon this calls for a toast, don’t you?” he says. “Our first meal together in our new home.”
He’s trying his best, though we’re all on edge, and nobody’s fooled. I grin back at him and raise my mug of orange juice, but can’t think of a single word to say.
“Things will be different tomorrow.” Mum reaches for the salt carton teetering on the arm of her chair. “We’ll have the place straight by the time you girls get back from college. Well, a bit straighter, anyway.”
I sneak a glance at Lily, who sits apart from me on the tatty old sofa we should have left behind. I wish she’d look up, connect with us somehow, any of us, but she just sits there picking at her food, her face pinched and chalky white.
I munch in silence, staring round at the grubby paintwork and stained, donkey-brown kitchen cupboards visible through the open doorway. They must have been all the rage last century.
Mum catches my frown. “I know, Rose, there’s loads of work to do. It’s the best we could manage, I’m afraid—you need to practically rob a bank to buy a house around here. It’s handy for college and your Dad’s new job, and you’ll be surprised what we can achieve with a bit of elbow grease. Once we’re straight, I can get a job, too, and we’ll be able to think about renovating.”
Her cheeks have a splash of colour and her voice chirps with the old breeziness, but there’s something forced about it. I don’t knock it, though. It’s a relief to hear her talk about normal, everyday things.
“It’s okay, Mum,” I tell her. “We’ve only just got here. Lily and I can help at weekends. And the village looks really pretty.”
“You think so?” Dad’s eyes have gone all wistful. He’s been dreaming about getting back to Molennys, the village in Cornwall where he grew up, ever since I can remember. “I was worried it’d be a bit dull for you girls, but …”
I know what he’s thinking, and I agree with him. Dull’s good. Eventful things happening to you are wildly overrated.
I glance at Lily again, but she just stares down at her fish and chips. Everyone used to say how similar we were, tall with copper-coloured wavy hair and green eyes. Now I’m not so sure. Lily’s thinner. Her thighs are like stalks, her kneecaps sharp and knobbly through her jeans. She must have lost a stone or more since it happened.
At last she looks up from her fish and chips. She focuses on the faded blue wall, the streak running down it like a dribble of brown sauce. “It wouldn’t be so bad if we had a room each,” she says in a flat tone. “I’m eighteen and sharing a room with my little sister. That’s something you do when you’re ten.”
Little sister? I turned sixteen months ago—there’s barely a year and a half between us. And I’m not exactly thrilled about sharing a room, either.
When no one replies, she sighs and stares back down at her meal. “You could have got a three-roomed, modern house in a city for the same money. Birmingham or Bristol, somewhere interesting.”
Dad and Mum exchange a glance. Dad reaches for his glass of wine and takes a big slug. His face is flushed and I can tell he’s struggling to control his emotions.
“I know this is what I wanted,” he says, “rather than the rest of you, but, well, you girls will be up and off before we know it. Mum and I have to look to the future. Can’t you see that?”
He tries to catch Lily’s eye. Her face half-hidden by her curls, she carries on picking at her fish. She’s been peeling back the batter and dissecting it like a surgeon, cutting everything into tiny pieces and arranging them into shapes. I want to yell at her to stop fiddling and just eat it.
As Dad turns to me, his eyes are glassy. I hope I’m wrong but I’m scared he’s going to cry. This hasn’t happened for several weeks now, and I need to make sure it stays that way.
I lean towards him. “It’s fine, Dad, honest it is.”
Mum presses her lips together, working hard to keep her tone light. “It won’t be for long,” she tells Lily. “When you’ve left college you’ll be able to get a job anywhere you like. You’ve no idea how lucky you are to have so many choices.”
“I won’t be staying around this dump, that’s for sure,” Lily snaps.
Dad’s cheek twitches. “Well, that’s your choice. Something you’ll learn as you grow up is that people don’t always want the same things from life. People want different things at different ages.”
Seems to me he put special emphasis on the words “grow up”, but maybe Lily didn’t notice. Dad’s clearly at war with himself. He’d love to have a row with her, the way they used to, but he’s forcing himself to make allowances.
Anger rises in a heatwave to my face, and part of me is thinking, go on, Dad, let rip at her. But he holds back, just like Mum and I always do. Because contrary to what we might have expected, Lily’s the one who’s been affected the most. She was there when it happened, after all. Well, not when, obviously, but just before.
Very carefully, Lily lays her knife and fork across the grave-like pit she’s constructed from the fish, wraps everything in the paper and places the leftovers on top of an unpacked cardboard box. Then she rises to her feet and stalks out of the room.
Image supplied by Teresa Bassett