This is from the Southern WIP. I read this chapter at Miscon. This is the end of that chapter, if you were there and want to see where it’s going. Otherwise, hopefully it’s just mercilessly tantalizing:
He reached into his right breast pocket and pulled out a folded paper. He set it on the counter, put on his hat, and walked out. A few moments later, Taryn heard his car start and his emergency flashers came on again as he drove out the gravel driveway. She noted all this while she stood staring at the paper, her stomach twisting tight.
She knew with every cell of her body that it was a bomb. It would blow her life to bits if she read it.
Mechanically she walked around the end of the island. She reached for the paper, her hand hovering above it. She wanted to sweep it into the trash and forget about it. Instead Taryn slowly unfolded the page and smoothed it flat with trembling fingers. It was thin onionskin paper. The edges had yellowed, leaving the center a gray-white. The Book List was scrawled in bold letters across the top in red ink. Two columns of names followed.
She scanned them. Cora Brody topped the list. She’d died seventeen or eighteen years ago. Cancer, supposedly, though gossip said she had drunk herself to death. Taryn was inclined to believe the latter. She continued reading, recognizing most of the names, which wasn’t surprising. She knew everyone in Axton.
Then her gaze hooked on two names in the second column. The air leaked from her lungs and she couldn’t breathe. Taryn clenched the edge of the granite counter top, her body sagging.
It wasn’t possible. Someone would have told her. Granger had told her, a mocking voice whispered in the back of her mind. Granger had given her the paper, laid it on the counter like a gift. A deliberate act of cruelty. She hated him more than ever.
For there on the page were two names she could never have dreamed would be together, much less written in bloody red ink together on The Book List:
Taryn’s dead mother and her father’s wife.
Just like that, the bomb went off and her world exploded in flames.