If You’re Gone traces a trying summer for rising high school senior Lillian White as she struggles to cope with the sudden disappearance of her boyfriend, Brad Lee - reported missing the morning after his graduation ceremony. When law enforcement dismisses the case and classifies Brad as voluntarily missing, Lillian becomes desperate to prove that he couldn’t have just walked away. Not from his friends. Not from his family. Not from her.
Launching her own investigation into the darker side of her small North Carolina town, Lillian begins to uncover secrets from Brad’s past that force her to question everything she thought she knew about him and their relationship.
"Soul-stirring... Truly one of the most innovative voices to come along in a while. Goodwin has weaved an engaging web of deceit and intrigue that embodies not only her storytelling prowess but highlights her visionary filmmaking abilities in novel form." (Justin Price, creator of 'Future' SVOD channel)
If You're Gone will be available June 20th, 2016 from Edge of 22 Publishing.
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if you’re gone
pre- reading excerpt
He didn’t come home last night.
My heart pounded as I replayed the message a second time. After waking up to my buzzing phone signaling four missed calls and a voicemail marked urgent, I expected to hear juicy gossip from Jason Hamilton’s graduation party. Instead, I learned that my boyfriend was nowhere to be found.
“Brad said the two of you had plans after the ceremony, was he headed somewhere after he dropped you off at home? I know it’s early, but call me back as soon as you get this.”
“He isn’t with me,” I assured Brad’s mom when I returned her calls. “But please let me know when you hear from him.”
“I will,” Mrs. Lee promised before hanging up. “And you do the same.”
She wasn’t as frantic as her message had let on, but there was an unsettling tone in her voice. We both knew it wasn’t typical of Brad to stay out all night without telling anyone. Not anymore, anyway.
My mind wandered back to the Lions Port High graduation ceremony the night before- squished next to my best friend, Anna Redmond, in the packed football stadium watching Brad accept his diploma. It had been a perfect North Carolina evening; complete with a romantic, lakeside picnic that Brad and I shared once he was able to shed his cap and gown.
I snatched my cell phone off my lap and dialed the number that had lived at the top of my ‘favorite contacts’ list for the past six months. Please Lord, I prayed silently, let him answer.
“Hi.” I heard the deep voice on the other end and opened my mouth to speak. “You’ve reached Brad Lee. Leave a message.”
His outbound greeting sounded cold and unfriendly, which made me realize I had never gotten his voicemail; he always answered the phone when I called.
“Hey babe, it’s Lillian,” I said after the tone, clutching his silver class ring that hung on a chain around my neck. “Your mom has been calling me trying to find you. Is everything all right? Let me know where you are, okay?”
Suddenly, I remembered a detail from the night before and felt a rush of panic. I pictured Brad tapping on my bedroom window and saying those three little words for the first time. The words I had been dying to hear. Does he regret his decision to profess his love to me? Could that explain the radio silence?
I unlocked the screen of my phone again, this time dialing Anna. My thumb drummed anxiously against the back of the plastic case as it rang.
“Hello?” Anna’s usually chipper voice sounded muffled over the line, assumedly lying in her bed with the phone sandwiched between her head and her leopard-print pillow.
“Sorry, were you asleep?”
“It’s the first day of summer and it’s only nine am,” she groaned.
“Do I need to remind you how to send a text?”
“I’m sorry,” I lied. “But you’re the one who sleeps with your cell.”
“Yeah, yeah,” she spoke clearer this time, although her tone dripped with sarcasm. “I didn't need my beauty sleep anyway.”
I scoffed, but I knew she had expected me to laugh. Anna, arguably the most beautiful girl in our junior class, could look runway ready after cramming all night for a test and skipping a shower.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
Anna was a true best friend- she could read my emotions even through a subtle grunt.
“Maybe…” I sighed. “Can you come over?”
“Will there be coffee?”
“I’m sure I can scrounge something up.”
“You owe me,” she laughed.
“I know. Bye.” I pressed end and clutched the warm phone in my hand as I attempted to sort through my thoughts, reliving every detail from the previous night. The ceremony. The picnic. The lake. The window.
Brittany Goodwin is an author, screenwriter and director, best known for the internationally distributed faith-based feature films, Secrets in the Snow and Secrets in the Fall, which have both been awarded the highest honor of five Doves from the Dove Foundation.
Brittany lives outside Nashville, TN with her husband and every growing number of rescue pets. She enjoys traveling with her husband and dogs, DIY projects, quoting John Hughes films, playing (and winning!) movie trivia games, and binge-watching Investigation Discovery Channel. A self-proclaimed armchair detective, Brittany is an active member of many Missing Persons blogs and Facebook pages, which inspired the topic of her debut YA novel, If You're Gone.
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