The Secret Between Us

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9781415943793: The Secret Between Us

Nothing will break this mother-daughter bond. Not even the truth.
Deborah Monroe and her daughter, Grace, are driving home from a party when their car hits a man running in the dark. Grace was at the wheel, but Deborah sends her home before the police arrive, determined to shoulder the blame for the accident. Her decision then turns into a deception that takes on a life of its own and threatens the special bond between mother and daughter.

The Secret Between Us is an unforgettable story about making bad choices for the right reasons and the terrible consequences of a lie gone wrong. Once again, Barbara Delinksy has delivered a riveting study of family and a superbly crafted novel, perfectly targeted to reading groups and fans of provocative fiction.

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About the Author:

Barbara Delinsky is the author of more than seventeen bestselling novels with over twenty million copies in print. She has been published in twenty-five languages worldwide. Barbara lives with her family in New England.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1
They were arguing in the seconds before impact. Later, Deborah Monroe would agonize about that, wondering whether, had she been focused solely on the road, she might have seen something sooner and been able to prevent what occurred—because the argument had been nearly as distracting as the storm. She and her daughter never argued. They were similar in looks, temperament, and interests. Deborah rarely had to tweak Grace—her son, Dylan, yes, but not Grace. Grace usually understood what was expected and why.

This night, though, the girl fought back. “You’re getting hyper about nothing, Mom. Nothing happened.”

“You said Megan’s parents were going to be home,” Deborah reminded her.

“That’s what Megan told me.”

“I would have thought twice if I’d known there would be a crowd.”

“We were studying.”

“You, Megan, and Stephie,” Deborah said, and, yes, the textbooks were there, damp from Grace’s dash to the car in the rain, “plus Becca, and Michael, Ryan, Justin, and Kyle, none of whom were supposed to be there. Three girls study. Four girls and four boys make a party. Sweetie, it’s pouring rain, and even above the noise of that, I could hear shrieking laughter all the way from the car.”

Deborah didn’t know if Grace was looking guilty. Long brown curls hid broad–set eyes, a straight nose, and a full upper lip. She did hear the snap of her daughter’s gum; its spearmint shrouded the smell of wet books. But she quickly returned her own eyes to the road, or what she could see of it, despite the wipers working double time. Visibility on this stretch was poor even on the best of nights. There were no streetlights, and moonshine rarely penetrated the trees.

Tonight the road was a funnel. Rain rushed at them, swallowing the beam of the headlights and thrashing against the windshield—and yes, April meant rain, but this was absurd. Had it been as bad on the way out, Deborah would never have let Grace drive home. But Grace had asked, and Deborah’s husband—ex–husband—too often accused her of being overprotective.

They were going slowly enough; Deborah would repeat that many times in subsequent days, and forensics would bear it out. They were less than a minute from home and knew this part of the road well. But the darkness was dense, the rain an unreckoned force. Yes, Deborah knew that her daughter had to actually drive in order to learn how, but she feared this was too much, too soon.
Deborah hated rain. Grace didn’t seem fazed.

“We finished studying,” the girl argued around the gum in her mouth. Her hands were tight on the wheel, perfectly positioned, nothing wrong there. “It was hot inside, and the AC wasn’t on yet, so we opened the windows. We were taking a break. Like, is it a crime to laugh? I mean, it’s bad enough my mother had to come to get me—”

“Excuse me,” Deborah cut in, “but what was the alternative? You can’t drive by yourself on a learner’s permit. Ryan and Kyle may have their licenses, but, by law, they’re not allowed to take friends in the car without an adult, and besides, we live on the opposite end of town from the others—and what’s so bad about your mother picking you up at ten o’clock on a weeknight? Sweetie, you’re barely sixteen.”

Exactly,” Grace said with feeling. “I’m sixteen, Mom. I’ll have my real license in four months. So what’ll happen then? I'll be driving myself places all the time—because we don’t only live on the opposite end of town from everyone else, we live in the middle of nowhere, because Dad decided he had to buy a gazillion acres to build a McMansion in the forest, which he then decided he didn’t want, so he left it and us and moved to Vermont to live with his long–lost love from twenty–five years ago—”

“Grace–” Deborah couldn't go there just then. Grace might feel abandoned by her father, but the loss hit Deborah harder. Her marriage wasn’t supposed to end. That hadn’t been in the plan.

“Okay, forget Dad,” Grace went on, “but once I get my license, I’ll be driving places alone, and you won’t see who’s there or whether there’s a parent around, or whether we’re studying or having a party. You’re going to have to trust me.”

“I do trust you,” Deborah said, defensive herself now, but pleading. “It’s the others I don’t trust. Weren’t you the one who told me Kyle brought a six–pack to the pool party at Katherine’s house last weekend?”

“None of us had any. Katherine’s parents made him leave.”

“Katherine’s parents. Exactly.”

Deborah heard her growl. “Mom. We were studying.”

Deborah was about to list the things that could happen when teenagers were studying—things she had seen both growing up, when her father was the only family doctor in town, and now, being in practice with him and treating dozens of local teenagers—when a flash of movement entered her line of sight on the right. In quick succession came the jolt of a weighty thud against the front of the car, the slam of brakes, the squeal of tires. Her seat belt tightened, holding her while the car skidded on the flooded pavement, fishtailed, and spun, all in the space of seconds. When it came to a stop, they were facing backward.

For a minute, Deborah didn’t hear the rain over the thunder of her heart. Then, above it, came Grace’s frightened cry. “What was that?

“Are you okay?”

What was that?” the girl repeated, her voice shaking this time.

Deborah was starting to shake, too, but her daughter was upright, belted in, clearly okay. Scrabbling to release her seat belt, Deborah hiked up the hood of her slicker and ran out to search for whatever it was they had hit. The headlights reflected off the wet road, but beyond that paltry light, it was totally dark.

Ducking back into the car, she fumbled through the glove box for a flashlight. Outside again, she searched the roadside, but saw nothing that remotely resembled a downed animal.

Grace materialized at her elbow. "Was it a deer?" she asked, sounding terrified.

Deborah's heart continued to pound. “I don’t know. Sweetie, get back in the car. You don’t have a jacket.” It was a warm enough spring night; she just didn’t want Grace seeing what they had hit.

“It had to be a deer,” Grace cried, “not even hurt, just ran off into the woods—what else could it be?”

Deborah didn’t think a deer wore a running suit with a stripe up the side, which was what she swore she had seen in the split second prior to impact. A running suit meant something human.

She walked along the edge of the road, searching the low shrubs with her light. “Hey,” she called out to whoever was there, “are you hurt? Hello? Let me know where you are!”

Grace hovered at her shoulder. “Like, it came from nowhere, Mom—no person would be out here in the rain, so maybe it was a fox or a raccoon—or a deer, it had to be a deer.”

“Get back in the car, Grace,” Deborah repeated. The words were barely out when she heard something, and it wasn't the idling car. Nor was it the whine of wind in the trees or the rain splattering everything in sight.

The sound came again, definitely a moan. She followed it to a point at the side of the road and searched again, but it was another minute before she found its source. The running shoe was barely visible in the wet undergrowth some four feet from the pavement, and the black pants rising from it, half hidden under a low branch of a hemlock, had a blue stripe. A second leg was bent in an odd angle—broken, she guessed—and the rest of him was crumpled against the base of a tree.

Supine, he ran no risk of suffocation in the forest undergrowth, but his eyes were closed. Short dark hair was plastered to his forehead. Scrambling through a clump of wet ferns, Deborah directed her flashlight to his head, but didn’t see any blood other than that from a mean scrape on his jaw.

Omigod!” Grace wailed.

Deborah felt for a pulse at his neck. It was only when she found it that her own began beating again. “Can you hear me?” she asked, leaning close. “Open your eyes for me.” He didn't respond.

Omigod!” Grace cried hysterically. “Do you know who that is, it’s my history teacher!”

Trying to think quickly, Deborah pulled her daughter back onto the road and toward the car. She could feel the girl trembling. As calmly as she could, Deborah said, “I want you to run home, honey. It isn’t more than half a mile, and you’re already soaked. Dylan’s alone. He’ll be scared.” She imagined a small face at the pantry window, eyes large, frightened, and magnified behind thick Harry Potter glasses.

“What'll you do?” Grace asked in a high, wavery voice.

“Call the police, then sit with Mr. McKenna until an ambulance comes.”

“I didn’t see him, I swear, I didn’t see him,” wailed Grace. “Can’t you do something for him, Mom?”

“Not much.” Deborah turned off the engine, turned on the hazards. “I don't see any profuse bleeding, and I don’t dare move him.”

“Will he die?&...

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