Don't Tell A Soul...
In a remote, heavily wooded area near the Berkshires of Massachusetts, Rachel Lorant died on her birthday. But she didn't die alone. That night, her four sorority sisters make a solemn, trembling pledge. They will never reveal what has just happened in those woods--ever. Instead, they will take their terrible secret to their graves...
Don't Think About The Past...
Now, ten years later, their secret is coming back to haunt them as each receives a card in the mail from Rachel: "Happy Birthday to Me. xoxo R." It's clear that someone knows what happened that night. Someone is stalking them and sending mysterious, chilling gifts that only they can understand--deadly warnings of what is to come. For the sins of the past have come back with a vengeance, and a killer will see that they all pay in blood...
And Whatever You Do--Don't Scream...
Brynn Costello has never felt such pure fear. She didn't want any part in what happened so long ago, but now, the mother of two will do anything to stay alive and protect her family--even if it means matching wits with a killer she can't see...a twisted psychopath who is closer than she thinks and who is saving her death for last...
In Staub's latest suspense novel (following last year's bestseller The Final Victim), four Massachusetts sorority sisters make a pact following the accidental death of their sorority sister, Rachel Lorant, on her birthday; together, they swear never to speak about what they saw that night. Ten years later, the women start receiving mysterious letters alluding to Rachel's demise. When one of the four is brutally murdered on the night of her birthday, the others begin to worry what their own encroaching birthdays hold for them. While police try to track down the murderer, our heroines hold tight to their secrets, even as they're hunted and killed one by one. By the time the past finally does come to light, it may be too late for one desperate survivor. Though her prose is strictly utilitarian, Staub keep things taut and unpredictable, changing perspective often and offering up a whole school of red herrings; capped with a gratifying conclusion, Staub's latest is a surprisingly effective thriller. (May)
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April 30, 2007
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Excerpt from Don't Scream by Wendy Corsi Staub
September, ten years earlier
". . . and I do solemnly swear that I will never ever tell another living soul what happened here tonight . . ."
"And I do solemnly swear that I will never ever tell another living soul what happened here tonight," the female voices echo dutifully, none without a quaver.
Brynn's is the most tremulous of all, barely audible even to her own ears. She prays Tildy won't notice and single her out to repeat the pledge solo. If that happens . . .
What will I do?
What can I do?
She'll just have to go along with it, the way she's gone along with all of this, right from the start. Against her better judgment, against her conscience, and, ultimately . . .
Against the law?
Tildy says no. Adamantly. She insists that they haven't broken any laws.
"It's not like we've murdered someone," she hissed when Brynn balked at the proposed plan. "Anyone in our situation would do the exact same thing."
Brynn highly doubts that, but she can't bring herself to say it.
There was a time when Brynn Costello--apple of her daddy's eye, valedictorian of her high school class, dean's list candidate for her first four semesters at Stonebridge College, Zeta Delta Kappa pledge--would have stood up to all of them. Even Matilda Harrington.
So why didn't you?
Why are you standing here in the woods in the middle of the night being sworn to secrecy?
This can't really be happening. If anyone ever found out . . .
But nobody will find out.
They're not going to tell.
Anyway, Tildy was right when she pointed out that what happened isn't their fault.
Still . . .
I just want to get out of here, go back to the sorority house, and forget this ever happened.
Or, better yet, just go home.
Swept by a wave of nostalgia, Brynn swallows hard over a lump in her throat. She longs for worn oak floors, oval braided rugs, chintz slipcovers. The savory aroma of fresh-brewed coffee, and onions frying in olive oil. The radio in the background, sock-hop standards and sixties' anthems of the local oldies station. Clutter, and laundry, and people coming and going . . .
But the seaside blue-collar household on Cape Cod is two hundred miles and a world away from the campus nestled in the Berkshires, the mountains of western Massachusetts. And there's no going back--not the way Brynn yearns to do.
Before her thoughts can meander down the fateful path that ultimately led to Stonebridge College, she's dragged back to the present.
Tildy, apparently deciding their oath needs something more to make it official, solemnly declares, "So help me God." "So help me God," the others obediently intone.
Not Brynn. She just moves her lips, refusing to invoke God. Not under these circumstances.
"Now we'll sing the sorority song," Tildy commands, lifting her hand to push her blonde hair back from her face. Her sorority bracelet, a silver rope of clasped rosebuds, glints in the moonlight. They're all wearing them--including Rachel-- and each is personalized with dangling silver initial charms. Brynn manages to join the others in singing. The ingrained lyrics she secretly always considered embarrassingly hokey now seem bittersweet as she forces them past the lump in her throat.
We'll always remember
That fateful September
We'll never forget
The new sisters we met
We'll face tomorrow together
In all kinds of weather
ZDK girls, now side by side
May travel far and wide
But wherever we roam
Sweet ZDK will be our home.
The sisters' voices give way to the hushed nocturnal woodland descant: chirping crickets, a rushing creek, and the September breeze that gently rustles the maple boughs high above the clearing.
Then another sound reaches Brynn's ears . . .
The faint, yet resonant crack of a branch splintering underfoot. She clutches her friend Fiona's arm, asking in a highpitched whisper, "Did anyone hear that?"
"Hear what?" Tildy's tone is sharp.