By Annie Miles, John Byrne, Isabel Eckersley, and Sorrel Provola
Publisher: Twisted Library
eBook, 254 pages
Abigail Shelton is dead.
Spring Valley's golden girl is found floating face-down in her boyfriend’s pool, hands bound behind her back, head bleeding, drugs and alcohol in her system. Her friends are the only suspects – and they all have reasons to want her dead. Everyone has an alibi, but no one is innocent.
ALIBI is a 4-part young adult e-book series. Each one-hundred page installment reveals the perspective of a different character: the secret love, the nemesis, the boyfriend, the best friend. As their tales unfold, we learn that Abby is not as perfect as everyone believes, but she’s not the only one with secrets to hide. This page-turning tale of suspense, betrayal, murder, and lust will keep fans of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars up and reading well past curfew.
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Excerpt From Alibi
The night of Abby’s death
Mason “Ace” Mackenzie blinked at the watery faces around him. They shifted and blurred, their voices coming out garbled.
“Mason,” his mother said in a slow, demonic voice that clashed with her pink suit and starched hair. “Do you know why you are here?”
Ace shrunk back in his chair. They were all facing him—his mother, his father, and the family’s lawyer. They sat in their posh leather chairs and were looking at him.
The lawyer stood up and came at Ace. Slowly.
Everything was happening slowly. And Ace knew why.
He was drowning. Drowning like Abby had. Drowning under the weight of whiskey and Rowan’s drugs and a horrible, head-splitting pain.
“Mason, be a good boy,” the lawyer said. “Answer your mother.”
Ace shook his head. The small movement made his skull feel like it would burst open.
A tan, fleshy fist shook in Ace’s face. “Damn it, Mason. You answer your mother right now.”
At his father’s voice, Ace sat up straight and struggled to find the right words. “Abby—my girlfriend—is dead.”
The lawyer turned to his mother. “Good. I think we’re getting somewhere now.” To Ace, he asked, “Do you remember anything about Abby tonight? Did you—” He glanced at Mrs. Mackenzie. “Did you hear anything outside?”
His father cut in. “Who saw you out there by the pool?”
“Charles did,” Mrs. Mackenzie answered. “When he pulled Abby’s body out of the pool.”
The memory of Abby’s body hit Ace; she was pale and dripping, her long hair curled like wet fingers around her neck. His face crumpled. He was going to cry. Oh, God. Not now. Not in front of everyone. And then he caught a hazy glimpse of the whiskey bottle on his mother’s desk and another memory came over him. It was Charles, sitting stupid and unsuspecting on the floor of his mother’s office, his hand outstretched for a glass of whiskey.
Ace started to giggle.
“William,” his mother said in her demonic voice.
Ace’s father reached out. He grabbed Ace by his shirt and pulled him up.
“Mason Anderson Mackenzie, you better get this straight. Your girlfriend’s death is going to be on the six AM news. You need to give us some answers now so we can get your mother—I mean, you—out of this mess.”
But Ace kept laughing, his voice getting higher and higher. “Do—do you think that—h—hot chick in the tight swe—sweater will be here?”
His father looked over at Mrs. Mackenzie. “What the hell is he talking about?”
For a brief moment, Mrs. Mackenzie’s face came into sharp focus, her disdain clearly visible as she said, “Mason has always had a thing for that reporter from Channel 4. The dumb blond with the big—”
The intercom crackled on. “Mrs. Mackenzie?” came the raspy voice of Andrew, the head of his mother’s security team.
Mrs. Mackenzie cut off and swallowed hard. “Yes, Andrew?”
“I have some videotapes for you.”
Ace howled with laughter. His baseball hat tumbled off his head as he slithered out of his father’s grasp onto the floor. Caught somewhere between pain and hysteria, he curled into a ball and hugged his aching head.
“What is so funny?” his father demanded.
“Andrew—he found your old porno tapes! Ha ha, you think he’s going to score with them? Get it? Score ?”
His mother winced. His father flushed red. The lawyer lifted one finger and stroked his beard nervously.
His mother hissed, “They’re security tapes, Mason.”
Security tapes? Here? At the mansion?
Ace’s laughter died a quick death. Time sped back up to normal. His mother’s sharp, fox-like face slid back into crystal clarity.
Sweat trickled from Ace’s scalp through his thick black hair and down his neck. Ace held his breath, not knowing what had gone wrong. Only knowing that, somehow, he had been found out.
“Could you see what happened to her on the tapes?” Mrs. Mackenzie asked in a tight voice. She glanced at Ace and even in his drunken state, he couldn’t miss her barely suppressed fury. She was going to lose the governor’s race, and all because her son was stupid enough to get caught on tape.
They all held their breath.
Andrew said, “Not exactly. We don’t have any good angles of the pool and it was pretty dark back there. But I think you should look at them anyway. There are a few things that are…well, you’ll have to see them.”
Four sets of lungs exhaled.
“Perfect. Get the tapes ready. William and I will meet you in a moment.” Mrs. Mackenzie snapped her fingers, back in perfect, cool command.
As soon as the intercom switched off, she fixed Ace with a steely glare. “I don’t think you realize how this looks, Ace. You’re young and you’ve never thought about anything seriously. But since I have to spell it out for you.” She glanced at Ace’s father, who hauled Ace up from the floor and dropped him in a chair.
Mrs. Mackenzie stepped forward and leaned over Ace. “It looks really bad that your girlfriend died and you were found next to her body. At myceremony. In my house . Before the election, for God’s sake . So you better think hard about everything that’s happened. We need to know what you did yesterday so we can get out of this mess. Write down everything that you did, down to every pimple you popped.”
Ace bristled. He never got pimples.
His mother continued, “We’re going to look at the security tapes. You better have something for us by the time we get back—some statement we can give to the reporters. They’ll be back in two hours.”
She marched through the door, Ace’s father trotting after her. Only the lawyer hesitated. He stopped at Ace’s chair and peered at him, comprehension at last dawning on his face. “Mrs. Mackenzie, I think your son needs to go to the hospital.”
“Nonsense. Why would you think that?”
Ace wasn’t so far gone that he couldn’t hear the returning note of panic in his mother’s voice. Despite what everyone thought, Ace wasn’t actually dumb. He might say stupid stuff a lot, but he understood more than he let on. Like now, for instance. The lawyer understood, too. Still, he gave a half-hearted attempt to help Ace. “His, uh, pupils look a little large.”
“Nonsense,” Mrs. Mackenzie repeated. “He’s just in shock. After all, the poor boy’s girlfriend just died. Let’s give him some privacy.”
Translated: Let’s give him time to sober up.
Again, the lawyer nervously stroked his beard. “O—kay. Are we going to watch the tapes now?”
“Yes. Hurry up. We only have a few hours before the reporters come back.”
At the door, the lawyer paused one more time and shot Ace a look. What was it that Ace saw in his brown eyes? Disgust? Pity?
The door shut behind him and Ace fell into a paranoid panic. The security tapes. Abby. Rowan. Palmer. Charles. Oh God, what was on those tapes? Ace stumbled to his mother’s desk. As he yanked a pad of paper off the top of it, he knocked into the whiskey bottle. It teetered precariously on the edge of the desk. Ace grabbed it, clumsily twisted the top off, and raised it to his lips. He knocked a few gulps back. A few more.
Abby, how could you leave me now? he thought. I need you here. I need you to tell me it will all be okay.
For the first time in a long time, Ace remembered how it used to be between him and Abby. Before they’d started dating, she was his best friend. She listened to him talk about his family, his sports, his worry that he’d never be good enough.
His eyes burned. To keep his tears at bay, he thought of the way Abby had turned out—whining, clingy. Deceitful. But really, was that any worse than who he himself had turned into? A blinding rage took hold of him. He hurled the bottle across the room and watched it shatter, drenching the walls of his mother’s study with pale brown liquid.
I’ve got to get control of myself, he thought. I’ve got to get out of this.
But he couldn’t think straight. He couldn’t focus. He couldn’t escape the thousand emotions that were swirling around inside him.
Painfully aware of the clock on the wall, ticking off precious minutes, he forced himself into action. Maybe, for once, his mother was right. Maybe all he had to do was write down everything he did yesterday. Anyone reading it would realize that none of it had really been his fault. Abby’s death, Palmer’s fear, that final, bloody showdown with Charles. What else could Ace have done? Half the town would have done the same thing in his situation.
Ace grabbed a pen. He raised it and focused hard before carefully writing:
6:00 a.m. Woke up. 200 push-ups. Went for a 5-mile run. Gravity boot sit-ups. Injections.
7:00 a.m. Lifting.
9:00 a.m. Shower. 3 egg-white omelets. 12 grams of protein. 3 Adderall, crushed and snorted.
10:00 a.m. Football practice. Charles scored a touchdown. Just like he did with my girlfriend, the whore.
He viciously scratched that last word out and continued.
12:00 p.m. Sorta got a BJ in the parking lot behind the practice field.
12:30 p.m. Shower in the locker room.
12:45 p.m. 80 squats in the weight room. 100 more push-ups. Shot up some more—
No, you idiot, don’t write that in.
1:15 p.m. Shower again. Go home.
Watched Palmer stuffing envelopes. Think she wasn’t wearing a bra.
He jotted down the rest of his day, focusing on how helpful he’d been with his mother’s event and leaving out the things that no one needed to know.
When he was done, he took a proud look at his masterpiece. The writing was a bit crooked, it was true, but overall—No, wait a minute , he thought, looking with absolute horror at what he had written about Palmer.
He ripped the paper off the writing pad and shredded it with stiff, awkward fingers. Maybe he really was as dumb as everyone thought.
Behind him, the clock chimed four-thirty a.m..
One and a half hours to go before the world wakes up to hear about Abby.
Ace pulled a handful of pills from his pocket. He hesitated. He really didn’t want to do this anymore. But, after a moment, he carefully selected a small tablet. After placing it on the desk, he bashed it with his pen, over and over, crushing it. Minutes later, his nose burned but his brain began to gather steam. He was focused—well, almost, if it weren’t for the tremors.
Once more, Ace picked up his pen and began to write. Fast, furious words streaked jaggedly across the page. Only he wasn’t starting his story yesterday. He went back weeks ago, enough time for everyone to realize that, really, Abby’s death wasn’t his fault at all.
By the time he was finished, everyone would know whose fault it really was.
Check out the others stops on the Alibi tour here: