When a girl disappears, long-buried secrets resurface…
Coco is missing. Her room’s a mess, and her phone is left behind in her dorm at Lainsbury Hall School
Ella, Coco’s childhood best friend, is desperate for her to return, although she knows that if she ever sees Coco again, there’ll be a lot of explaining to do.
Bea knows that her new group of friends attracts drama, and she thinks she has the last shred of common sense between them all. Only, if that was true, she would leave Genevieve, her toxic ex, well alone.
Conrad is confident that Coco will return safe and well. Only, the way his secrets are unravelling, he’s worried he won’t be when this is all over.
Harrison and Coco are the perfect couple. Everyone knows that. But looks can be misleading. Even the smartest boy in school can make a terrible mistake.
In order to navigate the web of secrets and lies that Coco leaves behind, her circle of friends needs to unravel a few of their own.
But the question remains: What happened to Coco?
In the misty darkness lit only by a blue streetlamp, Ella knew that she was not alone. She turned and saw the faceless figure far down the drizzly street. It came towards her at speed. It didn’t seem to be moving, but she knew that it was gaining on her. She started to run, but her legs would not move. She was stuck, as though in quicksand.
When she dared check over her shoulder once again, the figure was only about five steps away, and she could see raspy breaths escape the black silhouette in a wispy white cloud. The scene whirred in front of Ella as she pulled on her legs, sobbing, begging them to move. But they would not. All she could hear was the breathing, slow and rattling, as though it was the figure’s very last. Four. Three. Two.
It was the skeletal hand on her shoulder that woke her. In the darkness of her room, she was alone. She turned her alarm off and felt uneasy in the silence. She was soaking wet, her back from sweat, her face from tears.
She washed her face, hardly daring to open her eyes and look into the mirror above the sink. She felt watched, hunted.
As she brushed her teeth, she turned on all her lights and opened the dreary brown curtains that Lainsbury Hall School had placed in all the dorms. But even in her bright vanity lamps that took over her dressing table, drowning her in bright white light as she did her make up, her eyes darted around the corners of her mirrors, checking all angles of the room in the reflection for the faceless spectre. She was not herself today. Then again, she hadn’t been herself yesterday, either.
She knotted her school tie, adding the final touch to her uniform, and grabbed her bag. She checked her bag twice to 5 make sure that she had remembered all the books. Not that it mattered. Her dorm was only across the path to the school, but she could not shake the feeling that she had forgotten something.
She knocked the door to Coco’s room and crossed her arms, rubbing them in the cold of the dreary dorm corridor. It was always Ella who had to keep Coco on time, and she was not in the mood to miss breakfast this morning.
“Come on!” she yelled, but there was no answer.
“She hasn’t slept in again, has she?” Bea asked, emerging from her own room. Bea’s key clicked in the lock and she shrugged her rucksack over her shoulder.
“I don’t know. She must have.” Ella placed her hand on the cold metal door handle.
“Wait!” Bea grabbed Ella by her shoulder and she jumped.
“Sorry, but what if, you know, Harrison sneaked in last night? They might be…”
Ella shrugged. “I don’t think so. I always hear them. She usually warns me.”
Bea threw her a look of revulsion. “Oh, God. Ew.”
Ella let out an exasperated sigh as she pressed down on the door handle. To her surprise, it was unlocked. Coco’s room was dark, but they could see that her bed was unmade and empty.
“She must have gone to his last night,” Bea said simply, shrugging and turning to leave. “Don’t you think?”
But Ella stopped for a moment, peering into the darkness. Coco’s room was usually ridiculously tidy. She rarely left her bed unmade, and whilst it wasn’t unheard of for her to venture to Harrison’s room at night, it was unusual. Ella stared at that bed, finding it difficult to look away, to shake the feeling reverberating through her bones, the build-up of something unfamiliar. It was almost a chill, but it seemed to stop as her back clenched in anticipation of the tingle down her spine.
There was something wrong with Ella this morning. She felt like a bird, or a deer, jumping at every small thing, not knowing which way was which. A mist covered the rolling grounds of the school as they made their way down the path to the dining hall and the air felt chilly and autumnal for the first time that year. They were flanked by the usual parade of weary-eyed students in expensive school uniforms, carrying bags and instruments, or wearing sports kits and carrying sticks or bats or balls.
They walked down the aisle in between the vast rows of benches and sat down next to the boys at their usual table in the furthest corner of the loud and warm dining hall. They had sat together at this table for all their meals for the past four school years, enjoying the sun which sometimes drenched them in the mornings as they ate breakfast. Coco loved the portrait of some ancient ugly headmaster from decades before, with Twat written on the glass in small letters in Sharpie that had as of yet gone unnoticed by staff.
Ella had hardly sat down before she and Harrison turned towards each other. “Where’s Coco?” they asked at the same time, and a brief laugh passed over Harrison’s face, his usual congenial smile flashing towards her before his frown of concern.
Thank you, VB Furlong and Zooloo’s Book Tours.
About the author
VB Furlong is a trainee lawyer and writer of young adult novels living in Berkshire, UK. She wrote her first “novel” at ten years old and has not stopped writing since then. As a teenager, VB Furlong wrote for her local paper and an online magazine whilst devouring any book she could find, and in writing for an older teen demographic hopes to instil the same love of books as she had, and still has to this day.
Through her writing she aims to explore many of the issues she faced herself growing up, in the hopes that others facing the same issues feel some solidarity. Her friendships are a huge part of her life and consequently is a major theme in her writing, exploring the way in which we interact with each other, especially in difficult times.
Originally from Mumbles, Swansea, VB Furlong enjoys the sun and the sea, and walking her three dogs across the cliffs. These walks have offered her inspiration for many pieces of writing, including What Happened to Coco