Author: Natalie D. Richards
Pubdate: October 6th, 2015
His smile is a crime.
Emerson May is “the good girl.” She’s the perfect daughter, the caring friend, the animal shelter volunteer. But when her best friend’s brother breaks into her room, his hands covered in blood, she doesn’t scream or call the cops. Because when Deacon smiles at her, Emmie doesn’t want to be good…
The whole town believes notorious troublemaker Deacon is guilty of assaulting his father. Only Emmie knows a secret that could set him free. But if she follows her heart, she could be trusting a killer…
You can’t always trust the boy next door.
After years as a professional paper-pusher, NATALIE D. RICHARDS decided to trade in reality for a life writing YA fiction. She lives in Ohio (Go Bucks!) with her husband, three children, and a ridiculously furry dog named Yeti. This is her second novel. Visit her on Twitter @natdrichards or at nataliedrichards.com.
This October Natalie D. Richards releases her latest YA thriller, MY SECRET TO TELL. To celebrate, Natalie is here for a quick Q&A and has brought an excerpt to share!
What was the inspiration behind MY SECRET TO TELL?
I’ve spent many, many vacations in Beaufort, North Carolina (Not South Carolina! And if you wondered, Beaufort in North Carolina is BOH-FURT, not BYOO-FURT.) Beaufort is a magical place to be. I had some story ideas kicking around set in Beaufort, but I only knew it as a tourist. I didn’t know many locals well and I wanted to learn more. When I went to visit for research, what I learned about the year-round Beaufort life really changed my angle. It’s a very different way of living, being on the harbor like that, and in a tourist town, no less. I’ve never met lovelier folks and they had some of the best stories. I’m a bit spellbound by that little town, and that magic is why the book was born.
My name lands somewhere between a hiccup and a sob, and my feet stall out on the sidewalk in front of my house. I adjust my grip on the phone, hoping I misheard her tone. This doesn’t sound like Chelsea. This voice is breathless.
“I’m here,” I say. “What’s up? You don’t sound right.”
“I’m not.” She takes a shuddery breath.
My shirt’s sticking to my back and cicadas are click-buzzing the end of another blistering day, but I go cold. Something’s wrong.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
“It’s my dad, Emmie,” she says. I can tell she’s crying.
I grab my chest. It’s too tight. Burning. “What happened?”
Her words all tumble out on top of one another, interrupted by shaky breaths. I try to pick out pieces that make sense. “He’s hurt—bleeding—we’re behind the ambulance and I can’t—he’s not—someone attacked him.”
I start climbing the porch steps, because she’ll need me. I’m her best friend, so I should be there. I need to change clothes and go. “You’re on the way to the hospital, right? They’ll help him there.”
Another sharp breath. “I don’t know if they can. He’s so bad. So bad.”
My heart clenches. “Where are you?”
“We’re almost there. Joel’s with me.”
“Okay, good. I’m coming,” I say, crossing my porch and hauling my front door open. “Let me just call Mom. I’ll borrow the car.”
Chelsea’s still crying when I storm down the hallway toward my bedroom.
“Emmie, I can’t find Deacon…”
“Your brother never answers his phone,” I say, pushing open my door. “I’ll run by the docks first and—”
“No. No, he was there. He was at the house.”
Chelsea makes a strangled sound, and I notice the liquid-thick heat in my bedroom. The kind of heat that tells me the air conditioner is broken. Or my window is open.
My gaze drags to my fluttering white curtains, to the dark smudge on the windowsill.
Chelsea’s voice goes low and raspy. “He ran, Emmie. God, he was there with Dad. He was in the house, but he ran.”
I swivel with an invisible fist lodged in my throat. My bathroom door is open, a red-black smudge beneath the knob.
My mouth goes dry, my pulse thumping slower than it should. Then I see the blood on the floor by my sink, and my heart tumbles end over end.
“We’re here. I’ll call soon,” Chelsea says and hangs up.
I see him, his back to my tub and his dark head bowed on one bent knee. Oh God.
He’s covered in blood. It’s on his legs, his hands. Dripping onto my white tile floor. He looks up, and my heart goes strangely steady.
I take a breath that tastes like purpose. “Deacon?”