FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book as well as a giveaway copy from the publisher in exchange for coverage and an honest review.
About the Book
It Should Have Been You
by Lynn Slaughter
Blog Tour Schedule
Read Other Excerpts from It Should Have Been You!
Published by Page Street Kids (Jan 30, 2018)
Living in her sister's shadow has never been more dangerous.
Five months ago, Clara Seibert’s twin sister was murdered. Struggling under the weight of newfound and unwanted attention, the only thing that makes Clara feel normal is ghostwriting an advice column for her school’s newspaper—until she starts receiving threatening emails in her staff inbox.
“It should have been you...but soon."
Convinced that her email stalker blames her for her sister’s death and is out for revenge, Clara undertakes her own investigation to clear her name and avoid a similar fate. Can she solve the murder before it’s too late?
About the Author
Lynn Slaughter has a passion for dance and music—from Frank Sinatra to Chopin—and her first book, While I Danced, was a finalist in the 2015 EPIC competition in the Young Readers category. After a long career as a professional dancer, she earned her MFA in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University. She and her husband live in Louisville, Kentucky. You can visit her at www.lynnslaughter.com and follow her on Twitter @lslaughter2.
Alethea's review is forthcoming (just received the book!) but you can read an excerpt here, and by checking out the previous blog tour stops (linked above). You can also add the book to Goodreads and order your own copy online. These are not affiliate links.
By the time I got home, I was famished. I hoped our guests couldn’t hear my stomach growling as the aroma of my mother’s signature coq au vin and wild rice filled the house. After five months of frozen dinners, I’d forgotten what a wonderful cook she is.
Dr. Lewitsky and Mr. Rasher sat in the living room with my parents sipping white wine and snacking on some disgusting-looking stuffed mushrooms. They rose to greet me. I hadn’t seen them since the funeral. Like my parents, they seemed to have aged in just a few months. The creases in her face had deepened, and dark shadows underlined his eyes.
She hugged me and exclaimed, “It’s so lovely to see you, Clara. I only wish we were all here together under happier circumstances.” Her eyes misted, as she grabbed my hands in hers. “Look at these lovely long fingers—just like Moura’s.” She held up my hands as though she were showing off the prize winner of a hand model contest at the state fair. “Don’t you think so, Joel?”
He shrugged and looked uncomfortable, while she blathered on. “Well, it’s just a shame that you don’t play.”
I pulled my hands from hers. “Not really. Believe me, if you’d heard me play, you’d know why Mrs. Edlemore was very relieved to lose me as a student.”
I was already sorry they’d come, wishing I was back in my cocoon of a newspaper office instead of here. But this was a command performance. Even if it hadn’t been, I would have shown up for my mom and dad—especially Mom. I’d do anything to help her find her way out of her grief-filled fog—even spend yet another evening on Moura talk. Hell, I’d had a lot of practice.
As though sensing my feelings, my dad, bless him, piped up with: “Clara has other talents. She’s like you, Joel. She writes for her school newspaper and wants to study journalism in college.”
Mr. Rasher smiled politely. “Music feeds the soul, but words on paper can sing too, no?”
“Yes,” I said, liking him a bit better tonight. I knew he was a big deal in the music writing business, but his work always seemed a bit over the top to me, almost like his philosophy was— why use a simple word like “sad” to describe a piece of music, when you could use “lugubrious”?
He and his wife were a super example of “opposites attract.” Whereas she was perfectly put together with her coiffed frosted hair and navy-tailored pants suit, he seemed… well, wild. Unless his dusty blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail like it was tonight, it spilled everywhere. And his clothes always looked like, “I had to throw something on, so this was it.” Tonight, he wore jeans, weathered cowboy boots, and an ancient-looking jacket over a T-shirt from last year’s Stravinsky Festival.
The conversation shifted to the logistics of setting up Moura’s memorial scholarship fund. Dad proposed offering college scholarships to disadvantaged aspiring pianists, while Mom insisted, “It’s really too late for a concert career by that time. Moura would have wanted to help younger gifted students get the kind of quality piano training they need.”
As far as I knew, Moura had never had the slightest interest in advancing anyone’s music career other than her own. But hey, this was the most animated I’d seen my mother in weeks, so who was I to argue?
The discussion continued into dinner. Dr. Lewitsky went on and on about memorializing my sister—her prize student, who’d catapulted her own reputation as a master teacher into the stratosphere—but Mr. Rasher was strangely quiet. Likely his wife had pressured him to write the flattering puff piece about Moura for Ohio Magazine. Was he as weary as I was of all conversations revolving around the great Moura Seibert?
I was starting to feel a tinge of guilt for having such thoughts, when Dr. Lewitsky turned to me. “You know, Clara, you could be a big help. How about if you contact all the young people who were fans of Moura’s about raising money for the scholarship? She has a memorial site on Facebook where you could get in touch with them.”
I swallowed hard.
“Actually, Clara steers clear of social media,” Dad said. “There were some… unkind things said after Moura’s death.”
“Well,” Dr. Lewitsky said with a sniff, “I’d be glad to do a little research for you. You know how it is—Young people respond more to another young person.”
“Honestly, I don’t think her fans would respond well to me. It’s no secret there were a lot of rumors…”
“All the more reason to show them what rubbish all that talk was, how much you care,” she argued.
“I should think you’d want to do anything to help memorialize your sister,” Mom said in a low voice. For the briefest of moments, our gazes locked.
“I’ll think about it. And maybe I can get an article in the school paper.”
“Great idea, honey,” my dad said. “Now, how about if we form a planning committee?”
Dr. Lewitsky seemed enthusiastic about all of the possible candidates, until Dad brought up asking Anne Hartsell. “I’d rather not if you don’t mind,” she said. “Alex and Moura were such competitors, and it might be, you know, uncomfortable.”
My dad looked puzzled but smoothly steered the conversation elsewhere. I was puzzled too. Alex Kwon was Mrs. Hartsell’s student—also very gifted and ambitious. He and Moura had gone head-to-head in competitions since they were kids. She usually came out on top, but as far as I knew, they’d been friends. So had Dr. Lewitsky and Mrs. Hartsell.
I filed this away in my mental folder of “Strange Things about Music People I Will Never Understand.” Since everyone seemed to be done with their main course, I offered to clear the table and bring out the dessert and coffee. Even kitchen duty was preferable to committee talk.
When I brought in dessert, however, conversation was blessedly interrupted by “oohs” and “ahs” over my mom’s chocolate mousse topped with real whipped cream. She’d definitely brought her A-game to tonight’s dinner, and she looked brighter and more alive than I’d seen her in weeks. Maybe doing something in Moura’s honor would really help her heal, move on with her life. I sure hoped so.
As they lingered over coffee, my dad brought out his trusty yellow legal pad to jot down notes on their next steps. A classic Dad move. Mr. Rasher excused himself and headed for the bathroom, and I retreated to the kitchen and pantry to put away the dishes. I glanced down the hallway that led to Moura’s studio. Her door was slightly ajar and the light was on.
My whole body stiffened. I’d avoided Moura’s studio since that night—too many ghosts, too many memories. The sickening sweet smell of my sister’s blood, her glassy-eyed stare, my own screams.
I felt myself sliding. No—not going to replay this. Not again. What had the therapist said? Take three cleansing breaths and substitute a memory of Moura alive, happy, playing the music she loved so much.
The breaths helped, but my curiosity won over and I crept down the hall to Moura’s sanctuary.
The door creaked slightly as I opened it wider. Mr. Rasher turned around, a startled look on his face. He held a picture of Moura that had been shot during a guest appearance with the university orchestra. Her eyes were closed, and her head was thrown back in ecstasy as she played the final notes of a Bach concerto.
“This is my favorite picture of her,” he said, his voice sounding unsteady. “Years of covering music, and I’ve never met anyone this young who played with such reverence for the music, such passion. She was remarkable, you know?”
“She was,” I said. He looked so sad that I moved toward him and touched his arm. “I loved listening to her play, too.”
For the first time that night, he smiled warmly. Then he surprised me by giving me a hug. He smelled of sandalwood and country air.
When he drew back, he said, “I’m so sorry. , Clara. I know how difficult this is for you, even if you and Moura…you weren’t close, were you? Moura just didn’t understand you. , Clara. You were like two shooting stars on totally different trajectories.”
I was about to tell him that Moura had been the only star in my family when Dr. Lewitsky walked in. “Time to go, Joel.” Her voice sounded brittle. Was it hard for her to be in Moura’s studio, too?
“Yes, of course,” he said, as he handed me Moura’s picture. “It was nice talking with you. Take care.” He touched my shoulder as he brushed past.
Dr.Lewitsky grabbed his arm as they moved down the hallway ahead of me.
Excerpted from IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU © Copyright 2018 by Lynn Slaughter. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
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