Tell On You is now under the scrutiny of five beta readers around the U.S. (Washington State, Texas, New York, New Jersey and South Carolina). They are astute critics whom I can trust to give me honest, constructive feedback and suggestions.
But while, they’re reading, I thought I’d give you a taste of what’s in store.
A stand-alone novel, Tell On You is sort of Lolita meets Fatal Attraction, with a nod to The Great Gatsby. Does that pique your curiosity?
The novel poses the question: What does a second chance look like?
To my protagonist, Jeremy Barrett, a 34 year-old teacher with a discontented, newly pregnant wife, pushy in-laws, and no prospects, it looks like Nikki Jordan, his beautiful 16 year-old student. In her adoring eyes, he sees a more promising reflection of himself. But Nikki is not what she seems. When he finds himself caught in a dangerous triangle between Nikki and her frenemy, Heather, Jeremy discovers just how costly a second chance can be.
Here is an excerpt from Chapter Four of Tell On You.
Now Jeremy saw Mr. Donnelly purse his lips.
“Why didn’t you discuss this situation with me when you read Heather’s paper?” the principal asked.
For lots of reasons, Jeremy thought. “I didn’t want to blow things up and embarrass her even more,” he said. Or myself, he silently added.
“So, these allegations of Mrs. Lloyd’s – ” The principal reached for the copy of the email Jeremy held. “—that you made sexual advances toward Heather…”
“Completely untrue. I was never even alone with the girl.” Jeremy shook his head. “God knows what she may have told her mother. But there’s absolutely nothing to it.”
Mr. Donnelly nodded slowly. “I’ll want to see a copy of that paper she wrote.”
“Of course,” Jeremy agreed. “I archive all their papers until the semester is over.”
“There will have to be an official inquiry, you realize.”
“Is that really necessary?”
“I’m afraid so,” the principal replied. “I must say, it sounds like you were unduly harsh with the girl.” Jeremy swallowed. Perhaps he had been.
“I’m going to have to put you on suspension, effective immediately,” Donnelly said.
“Suspension!” Jeremy protested. “That’s crazy! I didn’t do anything.”
Mr. Donnelly put up a hand to quiet him. “I’m sure we’ll wrap this up quickly, and everything will get back to normal.”
“But how will I support my family?” Jeremy fought a wave of panic. Of all the times for this to happen! With Mel newly pregnant, his in-laws pushing them to buy a house.
“If,” Mr. Donnelly began. “When you’re cleared,” he corrected himself, “you’ll be paid retroactively for administrative leave. I’m sorry,” he added. “But we can’t ignore this kind of thing. There are procedures the school must follow in these circumstances. Legally, morally and practically, I simply have no other choice.”
Jeremy was speechless. What the hell was he going to tell Melissa?
Mr. Donnelly stood. “Assuming everything you told me is true, I’m sure you have nothing to worry about.”
Jeremy rose unsteadily to his feet. “I assure you, sir,” he said, “I have nothing to hide. I’d never do anything to hurt a student, or the school.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” He cleared his throat. “Now, can I rely on you to collect your things and leave the premises immediately? Without the embarrassment of a security escort?”
Not much of a choice. “Of course,” Jeremy replied.
He slunk out of the principal’s office, his mind reeling and his gut churning. For all his bravado, in truth he had plenty to hide and everything to worry about.