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Rockstar Book Tours: Excerpt & Giveaway ~ Remnants of Blood (H.F. Cunningham) ~ (US Only)


YABC is thrilled to be hosting a spot on the REMNANTS OF BLOOD by H. F. Cunningham Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out our post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About The Book:



Author: H. F. Cunningham

Pub. Date: September 14, 2021

Publisher: H. F. Cunningham

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 482

Find it:  GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, B&N, Kobo, TBD,

The Fair Folk are the stuff of myth. Stories of monsters and old magicks. But all myths carry a grain of truth. That truth is that remnants of this ancient power live on in the blood of their descendants.

When Tannin’s grandfather dies, he leaves her with a mountain of trouble. Between cryptic journals that warn of unknown foes lying in wait and a crippling debt owed to a cruel and formidable local Laird, Tannin is thrown into a cut-throat world where she is perilously out of her depth.

But her problems have only just begun. Secrets lurk in Tannin’s bloodstream – secrets not even she is aware of. And they want out.

A scheming princess with the offer of an alliance. A secret society with murderous intentions. A dark past that refuses to stay buried. Tannin’s life will never be the same.


"If you are a fan of fantasy, court intrigues, queer characters and a good old enemy to lovers trope, I can only urge you to put this on your TBR pile and read this book ASAP!” —Goodreads review

"Remnants of Blood is a must-read for any fan of the fantasy genre, and those interested in creative spins on folklore and legends. Cunningham’s writing style is sure to enrapture any reader and leave them wanting more. "—
Goodreads review

I would recommend this book to any lover of the fantasy genre, queer characters, action-packed fight scenes, and an overall amazing story! If you don’t already, then I would recommend adding Remnants of Blood to your TBR list immediately! "— Goodreads review

Book Trailer:



 A chapter from another character’s perspective


Chapter 20 Breaking Bread 

Attilo’s perspective (contains mild spoilers) 


“You’re cutting it fine, Captain.” Ava quipped from where she stood at the table sorting through sheafs of parchment as Attilo stalked into the crypt, pulling off his wet outer garments and stuffing them in a trunk out of sight. 

As Ava’s bodyguard he rarely left her side but the ancient stone crypt they used as their base of operations was secure from all sides and Ava wasn’t the type to wander off. It was one of the fundamental terms of their agreement. She got all the freedom she wanted to go into the city to do the work she needed to do if and only if he deemed it safe and he was with her. On days like today where he was tailing a target she was to stay put until he got back. She was fine being left with her books but he still didn’t like leaving her. It amazed him sometimes where she seemingly forgot how much of a target she would be if anyone realised she wasn’t safely behind the castle walls. Just because she didn’t want to be a princess didn’t mean she wasn’t one. 

“Tannin took a wee detour,” he said as he shed his wet cloak. “Didnae even look about once. If anybody but me was following that lass she’d have led them right here the wee eejit. She might no be dangerous, but she just might be a liability.” 

Ava was determined to bring Tannin into the fold. Once Ava got her teeth into a mystery there was no distracting her. She’d wheedle out the answers if it took her a day or a year and the wee bakery girl was her newest riddle. 

Attilo had been trailing her since the night she’d caught Ava’s interest and today was no exception. She was by far the easiest target he’d ever trailed. She didn’t look around once. The closest he’d come to blowing his cover was when she suddenly changed direction to dart into the bakery and had rushed right past him. She’d come out after only a few seconds looking very guilty and Attilo was convinced she stole something. He’d keep that information to himself, he decided, until he knew more. 

Ava seemed to be about to ask something when there came a pounding from the trapdoor. 

Attilo looked at Ava incredulously. 

Tannin wouldn’t seriously make that much noise at the secret entrance would she? 

Ava rolled her eyes and gestured for Attilo to let her in. 

“Open. Up. Arseholes!” Tannin bellowed from outside. “I’m freezin’ out here!” 

Attilo scowled and opened up the trapdoor. It was immediately wrenched open full and a very soggy dishevelled Tannin dropped into the crypt. 

“Finally!” She pushed strands of wet hair out of her face and gave him an offended look with her big brown eyes like he’d deliberately left her out in the rain. 

“The whole point o’ a secret meetin’ place is that it’s a bloody secret,” Attilo growled. “Which means, no yellin’ yer head off at the door.” 

Attilo knew he was an intimidating figure with his height, bulk and scar mangled face. Even at his age, his muscles were evident as were the weapons he carried but under his glare Tannin just shook water off her cloak as she shrugged out of it. “Well, let me in quicker then.” 

“Were ye followed?” 

Tannin hesitated. “I don’t think so.” 

“Were you?” 

“I dunno, I didn’t check.” 

Attilo gave Ava a meaningful look. “This is what I was talkin’ about.” 

“I’m new to this, remember.” Tannin reminded him. 

He grumbled that she should still know better as she rubbed her hands together and blew on them to warm them up and stepped into the circle of light made by lanterns in the wrought iron sconces. The poor thing squelched as she walked. 

“Tea?” Ava nodded to the canister perched on the sarcophagus that they used as a table.

“Oh please, aye,” Tannin said gratefully, helping herself to a steaming cup. 

“Uh.” She reached into the satchel that was slung around her shoulder. “This is for you.” 

She fished a loaf of bread out from her bag and held it out awkwardly. Her eyes darted from it to Ava and then to Attilo, seemingly unsure. 

So that’s what you were doing in the bakery. 

His brain fired off all worse possible situations. 

Hidden blades, poison, sedatives… or a simple gift. 

But even gifts were rarely simple. To accept the bread would be a unspoken promise to observe the ancient rules of hospitality. In theory, it meant that they wouldn’t harm Tannin and she, in turn, wouldn’t harm them or bring trouble to their door. Of course, it was just an old custom. It didn’t guarantee a thing. 

“It’s not much, but I couldn’t come with nothin’ if we’re going to work together so, uh, here.” Tannin mumbled, thrusting the loaf at Ava. 

“Thank you,” Ava replied graciously if a little amusedly, a smile hiding behind her serious face. Compared to the gifts she was used to receiving the sad slightly damp bread must seem a little ridiculous. If it wasn’t a death trap that is… 

“Wait.” Attilo stormed over, snatched the bread out of her hand and started squishing in the sides, cracking the crust and sending crumbs all over the table. He didn’t take chances. Not where Ava was concerned. 

“Hey!” Tannin protested. “What are you doin’?” 

Ava sighed. “He’s checking it for weapons. You can never be too careful.” 

“He’s ruinin’ it is what he’s doin’! The crust is the best part!” 

Attilo ignored them both and completed his inspection of the bread. It looked fine. He sniffed and inhaled only the scent of fresh baked bread. Gods, it smells good. 

Final test. He held out the loaf to Tannin. He wouldn’t be satisfied until she ate some herself. She rolled her eyes as she tore off a chunk and stuffed it in her mouth without hesitation. Attilo watched her closely as she chewed and swallowed. 

“Satisfied?” She asked mockingly.

He grunted in affirmation and took a tentative bite. Oh gods it was good. Still warm. Pity she’d felt the need to steal it. It wasn’t like her money troubles weren’t known to him and Ava – it was the reason she was so easy to bring in. A desperate wee lass with no options. But then she’d be easy to bribe into betraying them. 

“It’s good, right?” 

He gave another grunt as he took a second bite. With a grudging nod, he placed the loaf down in the middle of the table. No death trap today then.



“Well,” Ava said a while later, brushing crumbs from her lap, “now that we’ve broken bread together, we can get started properly.” 

Ava had eaten enough to be polite whereas Attilo and Tannin had dug in enthusiastically. He had to suppress a groan of contentment. It had been a long time since he had simple rustic food and the sweet nostalgia was threatening to engulf him. He rationalised that even if the bread was poisoned and Tannin somehow had immunity to it then it was better that he ate most of it and Ava only had a little. Then she would be safer. Plus, it was damn good bread. 

“Okay, where do we start?” Tannin asked eagerly. Her focus drawn to the assortment of jars, gadgets and weaponry that lined the wooden cabinet shelves. They had built up quite the collection over the years. 

“Here.” Ava dropped a tome onto the sarcophagus-table causing dust to puff up from either side. 

“Yay, more books,” Tannin said sarcastically. 

“Knowledge is the most important thing for what we’re doing.” 

“I get that, but can’t we do somethin’ a bit more… I dunno. Just a bit less… dusty?” 

“Books are where we start,” Ava said with a tone of finality. 

Tannin rolled her eyes behind Ava’s back and wandered over to the cabinet regardless. Attilo subtly followed her. If she was going to make a move, then it was smart to check out the whole environment for weapons or hidden advantages. 

“Ooh. What’s this?” Tannin asked, picking up a soft velvety pouch with silver stitching. It rattled when she shook it. She tipped the contents out into her hand and inspected the strange symbols carved into smooth black stones. It had taken them weeks of research and months of waiting to get a hold of those runestones. “What are these for?”

“Put that down.” Ava said sharply. 

Attilo suppressed a smile as he saw the twitch in Ava’s jaw. She was meticulous about her artifacts, and he knew that Tannin messing with them was going to drive her crazy. 

“Aye okay, I’m just lookin’,” Tannin said, dumping it back on the shelf in a completely different place to where she’d picked it up. Ava’s fingers tightened around the quill she was holding. 

“Hey, when do I get a sword?” she asked crouching to examine the rack of dulled weaponry. 

“Never. Those are for training.” Ava snapped. 

“What’s the point of trainin’ to then not have a sword?” She picked one up out of its stand and hefted it in both hands. Attilo studied her stance while gripping the handle of his own blade. If she made one move towards Ava – even with a blunted sword – he would take action. It was clear the girl didn’t know what she was doing with the blade as she held it up, but she had her feet planted and her weight balanced. The first thing anyone learning about weapons would learn. His suspicions pricked. 

It could be instinct but still… 

“Put that down.” Ava’s voice carried the warning tone that he was well familiar with, but Tannin was seemingly oblivious. 

“In a minute,” she grinned and swung the sword around loosely making exaggerated swishing, whooshing sounds with her mouth. She wasn’t arming herself. She was … playing with it. Attilo cocked his head amusedly. He knew Tannin and Ava were roughly the same age, but he often forgot just how young that was. Ava had never seemed like a child to him what with that calculating brain always ticking away. 

“Attilo, I think we need to get some of the materials from my brother’s nursery so Tannin can start learning at an appropriate level for her maturity,” Ava snapped irritably. Her patience was at its end. Attilo felt a little sorry for Tannin for the telling off she was probably about to get. 

He popped the last scrap of bread in his mouth as Ava barked, “I said put it down!” 

“Oh, good idea,” Tannin replied mockingly, returning the sword to its place. “Hey, Attilo, do you think we could get some more candles down here too so the princess can lighten the f*** up?” 

The snort and subsequent choked splutter that escaped him was undignified to say the least. Ava’s face was a picture. He doubted anyone had ever spoken to her like that in her life and her eyes had widened to saucers and her nostrils flared in indignation. She glared at him as he struggled to not laugh. He shrugged an apology, eyes watering. 

“Or maybe we can just put all the shiny things up on the higher shelves out of reach,” Ava retorted, pointedly looking Tannin up and down. 

“Oh, ha ha. Very funny, princess.” Tannin rolled her eyes. Attilo guessed she had heard just about every short joke there was. “Way to take the moral high ground.” 

Ava took a deep breath and closed her eyes. 

That’s it Ava, calm down and gain the control back. 

“Will you please just pay attention for a few minutes?” She said resignedly. 

“Well, since you said please.” 



Attilo stretched and groaned as his stiff joints popped. Once the girls were finished sniping at each other they’d finally gotten to work. They’d been reading and explaining theories and things for an age, albeit with the occasional jibe here and there, and his brain felt worn out as much as his old back. 

He was reasonably satisfied with how it had gone though. The more time he spent around Tannin the more he was convinced that she was harmless. Not that he wouldn’t still be keeping an eye on her of course. There was still the Pine Street incident which was alarming to say the least. But if Ava was right about her theory – and he had to admit she usually was right – and Tannin had been cornered in the middle of the night then it was no wonder that whatever Remnant abilities she had had leapt to her defence. There was a lot of questions there still that needed answered. 

But not tonight. She had just left and he was more than ready to call it a day. He was about to suggest going back to the castle but when he caught the glint in Ava’s eye he knew he wasn’t getting to bed any time soon and groaned internally. 

“We’re not done here. I wasn’t joking earlier. Everything rare, valuable or honestly even anything sharp, needs moved to the top shelves or locked away.” Ava said sternly turning to assess the damage done to her immaculately organised shelves. “Anything that Tannin will want to play with.” 

Attilo laughed. “She’s jus’ curious.” 

“She’s a coarse little pest!” Ava huffed frustratedly. “I need to reorganise everything.” 

“Ye gonnae get rid of her for touching yer stuff?” 

“Of course not,” she sighed. “I just wish she had the ability to be a little professional. Besides,” Ava said, plucking a ginger cat hair from his tunic and holding it up with a raised eyebrow. “I know how much you love a cute little stray.” 

“Cute, eh?” He waggled a busy eyebrow. 

Ava gave him an icy look that would have send a lot of men running. 

“I was talking about the cat.” She said but not before he saw the blush colour her cheeks. 

“It’ll be good for ye tae have someone yer own age around for once.” 

She gave him another look. “We’ve had this conversation before, Attilo.” 

They’d had that conversation many times before actually. He’d tried to convince her to get involved with things that should interest girls of her age. Things where she could talk to people. Make friends. She did go to some events with other noble born youths – jousting contests and dances and the like - if just to keep her parents from looking too closely at what she did with the rest of her time. She always came back from them in a thunderously bad mood. 

“Cannae deny she brings a bit o life to this place.” 

“Too much life.” She muttered. 

She weighed the bag of runestones seemingly considering whether to move them to safety or not. She sighed before setting them back down muttering, “She can’t break these at least. We’ll keep bringing tea as well since she likes it. Sits still long enough to drink it anyway…” 

He grinned. He hadn’t seen a person ever get in Ava’s head quite as much as Tannin did. 

Aye, the cute wee stray will definitely make things interesting.

About H. F. Cunningham:


Hello! I'm HF Cunningham; a queer YA/NA fantasy author who likes puns!

My debut novel Remnants of Blood is launching 14th September 2021 and is perfect for lovers of fantasy, intruiging characters, enemies to lovers, monsters, scottish accents and witty banter!

Follow me on instagram or twitter hfcunningham or check out my website

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

Giveaway Details:

2 winners will win a signed finished copy of REMNANTS OF BLOOD & swag, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule:

Week One:


Living in a Bookworld



Writer of Wrongs

Guest Post


Two Chicks on Books

Guest Post



IG Post


Never Hollowed By The Stare



YA Books Central

Guest Post


The Book Review Crew









Rajiv's Reviews


Week Two:











BookHounds YA



The Momma Spot



Dorky Girl and Skeletor



Books and Kats



Lily Luchesi's Blog






Devouring Books


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Rockstar Book Tours: Excerpt & Giveaway ~ Bluebird (Sharon Cameron) ~ (US Only)


YABC is thrilled to be hosting a spot on the Bluebird by Sharon Cameron Blog Tour hosted by  Rockstar Book Tours . Check out our post and make sure to enter the giveaway! About the Book: Title:  BLUEBIRD   Author:  Sharon Cameron Pub. Date:  October 5, 2021 Publisher:  Scholastic Press Pages:...
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Rockstar Book Tours: Excerpt & Giveaway ~ Black Panther (Ronald L Smith) ~ (US Only)


YABC is thrilled to be hosting a spot on the BLACK PANTHER THE YOUNG PRINCE: SPELLBOUND by Ronald L. Smith Blog Tour hosted by  Rockstar Book Tours . Check out our post and make sure to enter the giveaway! About The Book: Title:  BLACK PANTHER THE YOUNG PRINCE: SPELLBOUND   Author: ...
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Rockstar Book Tours: Excerpt & Giveaway ~ Battle Dragons: City Of Thieves (Alex London) ~ (US Only)


YABC is thrilled to be hosting a spot on the CITY OF THIEVES (Battle Dragons #1) by Alex London Blog Tour hosted by  Rockstar Book Tours . Check out our post and make sure to enter the giveaway! About The Book: Title: CITY OF THIEVES (Battle Dragons #1)   Author:  Alex...
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Debra Branigan
The cover is fantastic and the story sounds like a very adventurous read. I can't wait!
Monday, 13 September 2021 19:00
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Rockstar Book Tours: Excerpt & Giveaway ~ The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities (Rick Riordan) ~ (US Only)


YABC is thrilled to be hosting a spot on the THE CURSED CARNIVAL AND OTHER CALAMITIES by Roshani Chokshi, J.C. Cervantes, Yoon Ha Lee, Carlos Hernandez, Kwame Mbalia, Rebecca Roanhorse, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Sarwat Chadda, Graci Kim, and Rick Riordan Blog Tour hosted by  Rockstar Book Tours . Check out our...
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Rockstar Book Tours: Excerpt & Giveaway ~ Pahua and the Soul Stealer (Lori M. Lee) ~ (US Only)


YABC is thrilled to be hosting a spot on the PAHUA AND THE SOUL STEALER by Lori M. Lee Blog Tour hosted by  Rockstar Book Tours . Check out our post and make sure to enter the giveaway! About The Book: Title:  PAHUA AND THE SOUL STEALER   Author:  Lori M....
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Recent Comments
Chiara Jucha
Looks incredible!
Monday, 06 September 2021 15:39
Debra Branigan
The cover is beautiful and the synopsis sounds like a fantastic read. Thank you for sharing.
Tuesday, 21 September 2021 21:21
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Rockstar Book Tours: Excerpt & Giveaway ~ Take Me With You When You Go (David Levithan & Jennifer Niven) ~ (US Only)


YABC is thrilled to be hosting a spot on the TAKE ME WITH YOU WHEN YOU GO by David Levithan & Jennifer Niven Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out our post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About The Book:



Author: David Levithan & Jennifer Niven

Pub. Date: August 31, 2021

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 336

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD,

From the New York Times bestselling authors of All the Bright Places and Every Day comes a story of hope, family, and finding your home in the people who matter the most.

Subject: You. Missing.

Ezra Ahern wakes up one day to find his older sister, Bea, gone. No note, no sign, nothing but an email address hidden somewhere only he would find it. Ezra never expected to be left behind with their abusive stepfather and their neglectful mother - how is he supposed to navigate life without Bea?

Bea Ahern already knew she needed to get as far away from home as possible. But a message in her inbox changes everything, and she finds herself alone in a new city - without Ez, without a real plan - chasing someone who might not even want to be found.

As things unravel at home for Ezra, Bea confronts secrets about their past that will forever change the way they think about their family. Together and apart, broken by abuse but connected by love, this brother and sister must learn to trust themselves before they can find a way back to each other.







Subject: You. Missing. 



Date: Mon 25 Mar 12:12 EST 

Dear Bea, 

I am not mad at you. I don’t blame you. But I do think you owe me an explanation. 

I know you’re gone. We all know you’re gone. I think from the moment Mom went into your room and found it the way you left it, we knew. What an exquisite f*** you to her and Darren—a perfectly made bed. Like it had never been slept in. Like you’d never been here at all. How many times have they yelled at you to make that bed? How many times have you refused? (Hint: The answer to both questions is the same number.) And now: You left everything smooth and blank. 

No note. No word. 

I know. I looked. 

I wasn’t the one who found your room like that. I was sitting at the kitchen table, trying to eat cereal in a way that wouldn’t annoy Darren. Suddenly Mom was screaming your name. Again and again, angry at first, then something else—maybe ten percent scared. (It maxed out there, about ten percent.) I’ll admit I didn’t think much of it, since no morning would be complete without you two fighting. Darren didn’t look up from his toast either. But then Mom came storming into the kitchen and launched right into me—Where is your sister? Tell me right now where she is. 

If I were you, I would have responded with something like “How the f*** should I know?” or “Isn’t it a little early for this shit, Mom?” But it’s a well-established fact that I am not you, so immediately I was like, “I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know—what’s going onnnnnnn?” Sounding guilty as I tried so hard to sound innocent. Then she turned to Darren and was like, “She’s gone,” and he was like, “How the hell can she be gone?” 

As an answer, we took a family trip up to your room. That’s when I saw your bed and thought, Oh, wow. She’s taken off. 

I wasn’t going to say anything more than that, but they saw me looking around and Darren was on me in a flash, asking what was missing. I pointed out that your backpack wasn’t anywhere in sight, and that your schoolbooks were now stacked next to your garbage pail. (Nice touch.) Also, the biggest shock, your phone was abandoned on your dresser. Presumably so we couldn’t use it to track you. 

Mom and Darren acted like insider knowledge was required to make this observation, so the interrogation resumed. I didn’t crack, though. Or wait—I guess I did crack. But they quickly saw there wasn’t anything behind the crack. You’d left me empty too. 

They might have kept on me—there wasn’t anything else for them to do, or at least nothing else that was occurring to them—but at that moment we were jolted by a honk outside. And I’ll admit—even though it didn’t really surprise me to find you were gone, it surprised the heck out of me to have Joe in front of our house, coming to pick you up. Because that meant you’d left him too. 

I probably don’t need to describe the ambush that followed. Darren dragging poor Joe out of the car, into the kitchen. Sitting him down, asking him hundreds of questions. And Joe sitting there, it dawning on him that his girlfriend has vanished. You are his life, Bea. You know that. And of all people, Darren was telling him that his life had walked out the door. Buh-bye. 

Even though Darren yelled at Joe to look at him, only him, Joe kept looking over to me, begging me to tell him this wasn’t really happening, that I had a secret message from you, the coordinates of a meeting place where you’d be waiting. 

All I could do was shake my head. 

Eventually, Mom and Darren were satisfied by Joe’s cluelessness. And you know what? The fact that Joe was in the dark pissed them off more. Like they were outraged at how unfair you were being to him, as if they’ve always been the biggest Joe fans in the world. And in fairness, they probably do like him better than they like either you or me. But that’s not exactly an achievement. 

Mom actually said to Joe, “Now you see what a liar she can be,” as if they were on the same side, as if she was giving him some motherly advice. I didn’t get it at all. But, of course, from the moment Mom started dating Darren, I gave up on figuring her out. And figuring out Darren is way too easy, and not very helpful. When things don’t go his way, he yells. As you know. 

I politely mentioned that it was time to go to school, so I needed to run upstairs and get my stuff. I felt bad about leaving Joe alone with Mom and Darren, but there didn’t seem to be any way around it. 

The minute I got to my room, I knew exactly where to look. I’m guessing you thought it would take me longer, but it didn’t. You know exactly what I found. And what I didn’t find. 

Look, I don’t blame you for taking the money. I’m not at all surprised that you took the money. In fact, I’m going to confess to you that I have more than one hiding place. You knew about the hiding place I told you about, and I never put anything in there that I wasn’t okay with you stealing. (I’m not going to call it borrowing, although I’m sure that’s the way you want me to think of it. I am not expecting any of it back.) 

The big question, as I was lifting out the tray of baseball cards, wasn’t whether you’d robbed your little brother. It was whether you’d left me something in return. 

And you had. This email address. 

I’ll admit, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as ymail. I will make sure no one else knows about this address, and (as you see) I’ve made up my own return address, only for you. I understand the rules of engagement here. If you’d left without giving me any way to contact you, I wouldn’t have ever forgiven you. Ever. But this is okay, I think. As long as you tell me what happened. 

Mom and Darren were too busy asking Joe questions to notice me slipping back into the kitchen. To Joe’s credit, he was asking questions right back—had they called the police? Had they tried Sloane? Was either of their cars missing? 

That last question sent Darren flying from the room, with a look that made it clear he would hold Joe personally responsible if either of the cars was gone. While he checked, Mom said that no, nobody was going to call the police. Beatrix wasn’t abducted. She wasn’t in danger. Or if she was in danger, it was her own d*** fault. 

“We have to get to school,” I repeated. 

But we weren’t going to be cleared to go until Darren was back, saying the cars were safe in the garage. I didn’t point out that both sets of keys were sitting on the kitchen counter, which would have saved him a trip. 

Joe and I were free to go. We didn’t say anything as we walked to the car. We were still afraid Mom and Darren might hear us. It was only when we were safe in the car and I was putting on my seat belt that Joe asked, “Is she really gone?” 

And I had to say, yeah, it sure looked like it. 

I was mad at you then. Because Joe was trembling. He didn’t want me to see him cry. He didn’t want to be that guy, not in his own car. But there we were, me sitting in the seat that was always yours. It was like you’d sent me to break up with him, and it didn’t matter that you’d dumped me too. Because Joe was the one you were supposed to take along and didn’t. It’s clear you didn’t even ask. I’m not quite sure what he did to deserve that. 

I didn’t tell him about the email address. Not even when he asked if I knew how to find you. Blood is thicker than water, I suppose. It can also leave a much crueler stain. 

We clung to the hope that Sloane would know something, that you’d left some instructions with her. Maybe you were over at her house, waiting for us to find you there. Joe and I tried calling and texting her, but there wasn’t any response. With me, I could almost understand—it wouldn’t have been out of the question for Mom and Darren to commandeer my phone to track you down. But Joe’s calls? I had no idea why she wasn’t answering those.

I tried to reassure Joe, telling him you’d run away before, that you’d called it “taking a break,” never really going that far. Like the time you got that hotel room in Columbus and crashed that forensics convention until one of the advisors complained you were distracting his team. 

I thought this news would make Joe feel better, but he’d never heard any of these stories before, and that only made him feel like more of a heel. I was accidentally emphasizing how little he knew you. Which was odd, because I would’ve thought he knew you better than I did, for all the time you’ve spent with him these past couple years. 

It’s possible I wasn’t very convincing when I told him about how you always came back. Because those other times didn’t feel like this time. I don’t know how to explain it. I saw that bed and knew you were planning to be gone for good. The fact that you’d cleaned out my hiding place confirmed it. You wouldn’t have done that unless you really, really needed to, right? 

Joe and I got to school, and I was convinced that we knew something that nobody else did—not yet, at least. Everyone was wandering around thinking you were still with us, still a part of the school. Yeah, I can imagine you saying, like they paid so much attention to me while I was there. But some people did. Joe said he’d look for Sloane, and I said I’d do the same, even though from my freshman vantage point it was going to be harder to track down a senior. I’m sure some detective would ask, “Well, what about looking for Bea when you got to school?” But neither of us seriously thought you’d be here. Of all the places in the world, this is the last place you’d escape to. 

Terrence was waiting for me at my locker as usual. And I kissed him hello as usual. He asked me how I was doing…as usual. And I thought: This is where it starts. If I tell someone else, that’s when the new reality begins. I wanted to lie to him. But at the same time, if our family has taught me anything, it’s that lies will come back to haunt you, and that people are more forgiving up front than if they find out later you’ve been lying all along. Seeing what you just did to Joe made me want to avoid doing anything like it to Terrence. So I told him the short version. I made it sound less final than it probably is. But I didn’t pretend it wasn’t there. 

Also, I didn’t tell him about the hiding place, or the missing money, or this email address. I promise I won’t tell anyone about those things.

Terrence was concerned—asking me if I was okay, asking me if there was anything he could do. I told him I was open to suggestions, and that I was feeling a lot of different emotions at the same time, sad and confused and strangely relieved and deeply unsettled.

Because he’s sweet, Terrence pretended to understand. He has some issues with his family being pretty don’t-ask-don’t-tell about him being gay, but I’ve never really let him see how monumentally messed up our family is. 

We kissed goodbye, as usual. I went to my morning classes. In your honor, I didn’t pay attention. 

(I know that’s not fair. I know you cared about some things.) 

Now it’s lunchtime and I’m at one of the computers in the library, making sure Mrs. Goldsmith doesn’t look over my shoulder and see what I’m typing. Sloane still hasn’t been found, although Joe has talked to people who’ve seen her at school today, so we know she isn’t off somewhere with you. I think Joe’s disappointed by this, but it makes sense to me, the alone part.

Poor Joe. Poor Sloane. Poor me. 

You do realize how hard this is going to be, right? You do realize what you’ve left me with? And while I guess I’m happy you gave me the gift of plausible denial (“Really, Darren, I had no idea!”), some prep time would have been nice too. 

And a goodbye. I would’ve liked a goodbye. 

But for now, I’ll settle for you telling me where you are. If you trusted me enough to give me this email, you have to trust me enough to let me know where you are, and that you’re okay. If not the first part, then at least the second. You have it easy—you can picture where I am. You can imagine exactly what I’m doing. You know which computer I’m at—the same one you’ve found me at all year, when the library is about to close and it’s time to look for another place where we can avoid home. You know what it’s going to sound like when I get back and Mom and Darren yell at me some more. You know—you must know—the disappointed, heartbroken look that’s going to be on Joe’s face for a long time. I know you pay attention. You know things I don’t know. And you also know a lot of things I do know. Focus on those for a minute. 

I’m hoping it’s not something I did. I don’t want to be the reason you chose today—the reason you couldn’t wait two months until you graduated. I don’t think I’m the reason, but I just have to put that out there. 

Lunch is almost over. I’m going to hit send. I’ll be very careful to cover my tracks, to make sure no one else will find these emails. So you can write me back. 

Really, Bea. Write me back. It’s going to be very hard to make it through your disappearance without you. 

I know you’ve never needed me, Bea. But f*** it—I really need you. 

Write. Back.





About David Levithan:


David Levithan’s many acclaimed novels include Someday, Another Day, Every Day, Two Boys Kissing, and Boy Meets Boy. His bestselling collaborations include Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Sam & Ilsa’s Last Hurrah (both written with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (written with John Green). In 2016, David was named the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for his contribution to YA literature. You can learn more about him at and follow him on Twitter at @loversdiction.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon |BookBub

About Jennifer Niven:


Jennifer Niven is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of All the Bright Places and Holding Up the Universe. Her books have been translated in over 75 languages, and have won literary awards around the world. When she isn’t working on multiple book and TV projects, Jennifer also oversees Germ, a literary web magazine for high school age and beyond. Jennifer divides her time between coastal Georgia and Los Angeles. Find her at and on social.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub




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Penny Olson
The cover is beautiful and the story sounds really powerful.
Friday, 17 September 2021 19:15
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