Welcome to one of the October 22nd stops on the blog tour for Buried Secrets by Donna M. Zadunajsky, organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more spotlights, reviews, and a giveaway! (More on that at the end of this post.)
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Craven Falls Book Two
by Donna M. Zadunajsky
Published: 22 October 2020
by Black Rose Writing
Genre: YA Mystery
Page Count: 238
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
My name is Robyn Wilde, or at least that’s the name the state gave me when I was five years old. I have no idea what my real name is or where I came from, who my parents really are, and why they didn’t want me.
But I can tell you this:
“I’m fifteen and ran away from my foster parents’ house after finding a file hidden away in their room with not only my name on it, but also the name Crystal Rosmus. According to the file, she knows a lot about me. How, I have no idea. But she lives in Craven Falls, Ohio, and I’m on a bus right now to find her.”
Three Weeks Earlier
According to the state of Illinois, my name is Robyn Wilde. I don’t know if that is my real name from birth or just something child services gave me when I ended up in the system, which I couldn’t tell you how that happened. I was very young, maybe five, when I moved to a different home. At least that was what I overheard my social worker tell my foster parents because I remember little from when I was a child.
I guess you can consider me a nobody. Like nobody wanted me. Nobody cared about me. Nobody loved me. Maybe the state should have just named me Nobody, instead of Robyn. Many times, I wondered if I had a different name other than Robyn before they placed me here? If I did, I can’t remember it. I can’t remember anything about my life, before I came here.
Here’s what I know: I’m fifteen years old, and I have lived in the poor, underclass section of Chicago my entire meaningless life. I’m not sure if I had a real family or if they’re somewhere out there in the world beyond the city of Chicago. If I did, were they dead or didn’t they want me anymore? Is that how I ended up in a foster home? I’ve been searching for those answers, practically my whole life.
I like to think my family died a horrible death. Okay, maybe not too horrible. They were my parents. There must have been no one else in the family to take me in, which meant no aunts or uncles to help raise me, and that was how I ended up here. I can’t recall anything before this shithole of a home, as if I blocked it from my mind. Just for shits and giggles, I tell my friends that my foster parents keep me drugged. That’s why I can’t remember my past.
But sometimes—sometimes I think I can feel someone else’s pain. I’ll get these sudden sharp pangs in my head, but then they disappear as if they were never there. But when I get them, I have to lock myself away because I can’t control what I do, not only to myself, but to others around me. I know something was wrong with me, but where I live, the people I live with, you don’t dare complain about being sick. Maybe it has something to do with all the germs floating around in this dirty, filthy, cockroach infested house.
I don’t know if anyone else feels the same way, but to me foster care was bullshit! The people that took me in, they don’t really care about me. I think they do it for the money. They don’t buy me the things that I need, like clothes or food with the money they get from the state. Instead they buy drugs and things they want.
Or maybe I’m an unlucky soul who got a raw deal in life. I got stuck with an awful foster family that didn’t give a shit about me or the system. It wasn’t as if I could compare this family with other foster families because I’ve only been in this house.
There were three other kids that had stayed here in the house with me and my foster parents, but they moved to another foster home, except for Alyssa.
Alyssa was like a sister to me. Close enough to a sister I never had. We were only three years apart in age; her being older than me. We liked the same things too. We would stay up late, reading, or just talking like sisters do. But that was the thing, I don’t know if that was true. I don’t know if real sisters or siblings got along with one another and did things together. I guess I will never know. I just wished someone would want me. That someone would love and hug me every day. Or at least show me some affection.
Alyssa was the first to go. The thing was, after she left, I never heard from her again. I’m not sure where she went and if she was okay. She has to have a better life than what we had here. I just wished she had taken me with her. I have three more years in this dump, then I can leave and do whatever I want, just like Alyssa.
~ ~ ~
Saturday morning when I woke, I had a feeling my life was about to change. Though, I couldn’t tell you it was for the best, because I didn’t know that yet. It all happened when my foster parents left the house and like I always did, I went rummaging through their things, looking for cash or valuables I could sell to get things I needed.
As usual, I searched in all their hiding places. I walked over to their dresser and rooted under clothes for cash. When I opened the bottom drawer of the dresser, I stumbled upon a hidden floor under my foster dad’s jeans. Obviously, one I hadn’t found before today, which seemed weird because I have checked this drawer before. I removed everything and found a single file.
I sat on the floor of their bedroom and scanned through the documents, which were about me. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. What I was reading! I hopped on the junky Dell computer my foster parents had in the kitchen and googled the name listed in the file. The name I was hoping belonged to my birth mother.
I clicked on the site under her name, which then took me to another website. It was as if the computer was playing some kind of game with me. Click this link, then that link until I would get so frustrated and give up on the search, but I would not stop now. Not when I was so close to knowing where I came from and who I really was.
Was the computer trying to hide the truth from me? The truth that I wasn’t sure I wanted to know, or did I? Would it be something that would destroy me? Or something good? I could definitely use a change in my life. Like getting out of this place. It surprised me the state allowed me to live in such filthiness.
I clicked on another link that sent me to, of course, a different page. There it was in black and white typed letters the name, Crystal Rosmus. It said that she was a former police officer here in Chicago. I read the article about her, but I didn’t know how it had anything to do with me. There was no mentioning of my name, just some kid by the name of Megan Josten. Something about a robbery that had gone wrong. Why would my foster parents have a file like this? It had my name on the outside of the envelope, but I couldn’t find anything on the papers related to me.
This Crystal Rosmus seemed to have disappeared into thin air. I searched her name but without a credit card the link wouldn’t tell me anymore than what I had found. I would have to see if my friend at school could find out more for me.
I racked my brain, trying to think if I had ever heard of her name before, but nothing came to me. But I also wasn’t sure if that was her name any longer. She may have changed it or gotten married, but there was only one way to find out.
When my foster parents came home, I asked them about what I had found. Let me just say that things didn’t go so well, and I got my ass kicked out of their house for snooping through their things. Normally, I would return in a day or two, but not this time. I wasn’t going back into that house if my life depended on it. I grabbed what little things I owned, which wasn’t much, shoved them into my backpack, and walked out the door.
The Dead Girl Under the Bleachers
Craven Falls Book One
by Donna M. Zadunajsky
Published 18 June 2020
by Black Rose Writing
Genre: YA Mystery
Page Count: 264
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Three dead bodies…
The quiet town of Craven Falls is depleting in population. One by one…
Scarlet Fitzgerald thought it would be fun to play a game on Laura Stevenson, a nobody at Craven Falls High. But what happens when the game unleashes buried secrets Scarlet doesn’t want anyone to know? Secrets that could get someone killed, including herself.
Three can play a game, but one of them ends up dead…
I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror beside me, smiled, and tossed my red hair over my shoulder.
I tapped the end of my pencil on the notebook sitting in front of me while perched at my desk in my bedroom. This was something I did when I was thinking of a plan. A plan to humiliate poor Laura Stevenson in front of the whole school at Homecoming, which was in four weeks. All I needed to do was to get her to think I really did like her and that she was one of us.
Thinking back to earlier. I can’t believe she thought I adored her bedroom. That it was amazing! Like her room was better than mine because she did it all herself instead of using a designer to decorate like I did. Who did she think she was anyway? She wasn’t anybody special.
But that’s not my reason for wanting to humiliate her. No, she’s had this coming since Jr. High when she tried to tell Rachel that I wasn’t worth her time and wouldn’t be a good friend to her. Didn’t she know who she was messing with? That we can’t both have her? It’s her loss for losing her when high school started. Besides, Laura wasn’t pretty enough to be our friend. She wasn’t rich enough to hang out with us, but I was interested in seeing how far I could string her along.
“Scarlet, are you in here?” my stepmother Lianne asked as she opened my bedroom door. She never knocked. Just opened the door like it was her room, her house. She knows I don’t like her. Can’t stand her as much as she can’t stand being in this house with me.
She’s such a bitch. “Yes, what do you want?” I snapped. “Can’t you see that I’m working on homework, Lianne?” Didn’t she know that I don’t like to be bothered when I’m in my room? I’ve told her many times since she married my father, which I know for a fact was just to get her grubby hands on his money, not to come into my room. God, she was so annoying!
My father is a powerful man who gets what he wants. Maybe that’s where I get my confidence from.
He preaches to me daily, “Appearance is everything, Scarlet. Don’t let them see you fall. One mistake and you will be looked down upon. I won’t have a daughter who isn’t successful or popular.” I will succeed and be first at everything. That’s just who I am. I’m a Fitzgerald, the Mayor’s daughter. And this bitch, Lianne, needed to go before she ruined everything!
“Scarlet Marie, you know I can have your car taken away from you for a week,” Lianne said in a stern, yet evil voice.
“What?” I yelled. “You can’t do that! You’re not my mom!” How dare she use my middle name. Only my father could say it.
“Watch me!” she hissed. “You’re not going to get anywhere in life with the way you talk to people. If it were up to me, I’d send you to a boarding school a thousand miles away, but lucky for me you’re graduating soon. So, I don’t have to wait much longer,” Lianne said a smile spreading across her face. “It will be a blessing to have you out of my house.”
“Your house?” I questioned. “You think just because you married my father that you own this house?
That you own me?” Over my dead body. I wanted to tear this bitch apart but knew if my daddy heard me talking to her this way, I would be in big trouble. He was the enforcer of punishments in this house, and if I backtalked my stepmom, all hell would break loose. Besides, I can’t lose my car! I refuse to take the bus to school. If I did take the bus, my classmates would laugh at me, like all the other dorks that have to take the bus since they don’t have a car. But I can’t. I’m Scarlet Fitzgerald, the Queen of the school. I say who can and cannot do something!
“Lianne, I’m sorry,” I replied in a soft tone, even though I wanted to stab my eyes out.
She smiled at me, knowing that I was probably full of shit and didn’t mean what I was saying. “Your father is home and we’re about to have dinner. Finish what you’re doing and come downstairs, please,”
Lianne said leaving the door open. “Annoying. bitch,” Lianne muttered before walking down the hall.
I stared at the now empty doorway, hoping she would catch on fire or fall down the marble staircase and break her neck, but that was wishful thinking on my part. Did she think I couldn’t hear her? Or maybe she wanted me too, so I would get pissed off and start something when my father was home. Normally I would but I had things to do right now.
I went back to finishing what I was writing. The first thing I needed to do was to make sure that Laura believed she was one of us, then I would slowly Pick. Her. Apart.
~ ~ ~
Later that night, I texted Rachel to see what she was doing. We always texted goodnight to one another.
I don’t think we’ve ever gone a whole day without talking or texting.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
Two minutes later, she still didn’t text me back. It’s unlike her not to get back to me right away. I tapped my favorites list on my phone and speed dialed her number. The phone rang three times, then four. She still didn’t answer. By the sixth ring it went to voicemail. I have never, since we’ve known each other, had to leave her a voicemail, and I’m not about to start now.
I pressed “end” and sat back on my throw pillow resting against the headboard. Where was she? My mind was racing, thinking the worst. We had just seen each other a couple of hours ago. What could have possibly happened in that amount of time?
I opened her contact information in my phone to see if I had another phone number. I didn’t because I have never called her house phone or had ever needed to call it since we have cell phones. Then, I’d have to speak to whomever answers the phone and pretend that I cared to talk to them, when all I really cared about was talking to my best friend Rachel.
I send her one text after another.
“Please text or call me, ASAP!”
“Is everything okay?”
“What is going on?”
“Why aren’t you texting me back?”
But I get no reply from her.
Rachel almost always has her cell phone plugged into the charger next to her bed. Then, it clicked in my head. Maybe she was in another room and left her phone charging. That had to be it. I was sure of it.
Rachel wouldn’t intentionally not answer my texts, right? No, I was certain that wasn’t the case.
There had to be something going on in that house of hers. Maybe her parents wanted to spend quality time with her. Gross, I thought to myself.
Sometimes, I honestly think they don’t like me for some reason. But what was there about me not to like? I was the best thing that ever came into Rachel’s life. We are like sisters.
My phone beeped. I had a text.
It was from Rachel:
“Sorry, my phone died. Can’t talk now. See you at school tomorrow.”
My mouth dropped open. What the hell was that all about?
Donna M. Zadunajsky started out writing children’s books before she wrote and published her first novel, Broken Promises, in June 2012. She since has written several more novels and her first novella, HELP ME! Book 1 in the series, which is about teen suicide and bullying.
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