Book Three is now officially off the powers that be and I’m anxiously waiting for feedback/news about comes next. You, however, don’t have to. Here’s a little sneak peek preview of What Goes Down (Working Title) – a story about family secrets, betrayal and mental illness.
Note: Everything is subject to change and also to copyright
Seph stared unblinkingly at the photo that had been attached to the email as her mum bustled into the dining room.
‘God knows where your dad’s got to,’ Laurel said, brushing her hair away from her face as she sat down. ‘The food will get cold if he doesn’t hurry up. He’s always late.’
Her jovial voice suggested that everything was acting completely normal. Like this was just an ordinary day with no surprise, shock or scandal waiting around the corner. Her face looked the same way it always had: warm and friendly, with an easy smile and kind, Hazel eyes. There was nothing about it to suggest it was the face of someone capable of lying for years on end.
‘Everything alright? You look a bit off,’ Laurel said, her voice coaxing and trustworthy.
It was a voice that had always made it easy for Seph to confide in her, forging a relationship where she felt open and able to speak to her mum about anything. There’d never been a need for secrets, at least, not from Seph’s end and especially nothing as huge as this. Maybe it was a hoax, or some kind of elaborate joke. It could even be a case of extremely sophisticated spam. Seph’s eyes flicked down to the phone in her hand and forced out a tiny laugh in an effort to make things seem less explosive than they were. Maybe it was like Hoodoo. If she didn’t believe in it, it couldn’t be real.
‘I just got an email from some guy…’ Seph tailed off, shaking her head and shrugging her shoulders as she shakily touched the screen of her phone to go back to the email. ‘It’s really stupid, but he says he’s my real dad?’
What was that look that just passed across her mum’s face? It had been so minuscule and so fleeting that, if she’d have blinked at that moment, she’d have missed it.
Laurel laughed lightly, trailing a hand down the plait hanging over her right shoulder. ‘Spammers these days.’
It was barely there, but Seph saw the slight tremble in her hand. She knew right then that any ideas of there being another explanation were quickly disappearing. Unease unfurled its way down her spine, vertebrae by vertebrae, as she handed the phone towards her mum. Laurel stared at the phone but didn’t reach out to take it.
‘Read the email, mum.’
‘Why?’ She laughed again, but it sounded even more hollow than it had the first time.
Seph held her gaze until Laurel took the phone with barely masked reluctance and put it down on the table in front of her. She watched her mum intently as she read, noting the rise and fall of her shoulders, the way her back remained rigid and upright in the chair, despite the odd angle she had to tilt her head at to read the screen. When she needed to scroll down the email, Laurel touched the screen light and quickly, as if it were something that might sting.
‘There’s an attachment, too,’ Seph said.
She breathed quietly as her mum pressed the attachment icon and the image of a baby in the arms of an unknown man filled the screen. Seph sat perfectly still and waited for her mum to look back up at her, still hoping against all hopes that there was a perfectly decent explanation.
Laurel’s shoulders slumped and Seph didn’t need to see her face to know the words written in that email were true. Her deafening silence said it all. Her breath hitched in her throat, sending what felt like a battalion of tears to the back of her eyes just waiting to fall like soldiers.
‘Mum? Is it true?’
Laurel put her hands over her face for a few seconds before dragging them down across her skin and bringing her palms together. She kept her eyes closed as she rested her fingers against her mouth and blew out a long, slow breath through pursed lips.
Laurel shook her head before slowly turning it into a nod. ‘Yes.’ She opened her eyes, nodded again and dropped her hands into her lap. ‘It’s true.’
Seph’s eyebrows knitted together as her mum’s words hung in an air where they didn’t belong. ‘You’re kidding, right?’
It wouldn’t be the first time practical jokes had been made on unsuspecting recipients in their house, but it was usually her dad who’d make them and it wasn’t April Fool’s Day. And, more importantly, this wasn’t in the slightest bit funny.
‘Right?’ Seph prompted with more urgency.
‘Seph, I…’ Laurel’s voice stopped at the sound of the front door opening and closing, and a second later, Tony burst through the archway to the dining room.
Seph looked at him all smart in his dark suit, white shirt and yellow tie, and wished she could stop everything right now. Why wasn’t there a big red button she could press to stop time, right this second, before everything fell apart? He was her dad, not some random guy called Nico who she’d never even heard of. Wasn’t he?
Introducing Seph (Persephone) Powell – the 27 year-old artist at the centre of What Goes Down. Come take a look at my Pinterest board to see what I had in my head while writing her character.