Excerpt: Everything That Follows by Meg Little Reilly
CAUGHT IN THE BACKWASH, THEY HAVE LOST CONTROL OF THEIR LIVES…
For fans of Megan Abbott and Chris Bohjalian comes a novel of moral complexity about friends who must choose between self-preservation and doing the right thing in the wake of a fatal boating accident. Set in the moody off-season of Martha’s Vineyard, Everything That Follows is a plunge into the dark waters of secrets and flexible morals. The truth becomes whatever we say it is…
Around midnight, three friends take their partying from bar to boat on a misty fall evening. Just as the weather deteriorates, one of them suddenly and confusingly goes overboard. Is it an accident? The result of an unwanted advance? His body disappears quickly, silently, into the dark water. The circumstances are murky, but what is clear is that the other two need to notify the authorities. Minutes become hours become days as they hesitate, caught up in their guilt and hope that their friend has somehow made it safely to shore. As valuable time passes, they find themselves deep in a moral morass with huge implications as they struggle to move forward and live with their dark secret.
Sean felt his arm pull back before he could think to stop it, and then the skin around his knuckles was tightening, and with one furious swing, his fist exploded into the side o Hunter’s left eye.
Hunter’s hands rushed to his face just as his knees buckled and the blood around his cheekbone started to pour. “Fuck, man!” He fell to the dock.
Kat ran toward him.
Ashley ran in after her.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to go down. Sean looked on in horror as the women tried to pry Hunter’s fingers from his face so they could examine the damage. They looked at his busted eye, and then back and Sean, and then back to the eye. This wasn’t what he’d intended to do. It wasn’t Sean’s plan.
“Fuck, man!” Hunter yelled again as he stumbled up to his feet. He let his hands drop to his sides and everyone took a good long look at what Sean had done.
It was hard to make out the injury in the moonlight, but not impossible. Hunter’s eye was red, the socket soon to be bruised and the broken skin beneath it was a bloody mess. But it was a standard punch, probably no permanent damage incurred.
Sean was relieved to see that he didn’t seem to have broken anything, butwas no less ashamed.
He hadn’t thrown a punch since ninth grade, and even then—after he caught Bryan Alpo trying to steal his bike—he couldn’t believe he had it in him. There may have been times in life when a punch was justified, but that didn’t mean all men possessed such an impulse. Sean always thought he wasn’t the punching type.
Hunter stared at Sean, and everyone held their breaths. Would he punch back? If he wanted to, Sean wouldn’t block it. That wouldn’t be right. He would let Hunter take a big, premeditated swing as he stood there. He wanted it now because this was almost worse than a punch. Hunter just stared in anger, like he was considering every revenge possibility, and the longer he stared, the more violent his busted eyes looked.
Just fucking punch me, Sean thought.
Hunter drew a wet breath. “I’m not sleeping with Kat,” he whispered. “I’m not.”
Sean looked at Kat, who had been watching him. He believed her. He believed both of them now. He turned back to Hunter and suddenly felt more horrible than he had ever felt in his whole life. They really weren’t sleeping together. Something was going on with his girlfriend, but it was clear now that it wasn’t an affair. And he’d allowed himself to be seduced by outlandish theories from a near stranger. Ashley.She was still there. Jesus, why was she still there?
About the Author:
Meg Little Reilly is the author of the novels EVERYTHING THAT FOLLOWS and WE ARE UNPREPARED. She's a public radio commentator, essayist, and outdoors enthusiast. Prior to writing novels, Meg worked in national politics and the White House. She holds a B.A. from the University of Vermont and an M.A. from the George Washington University. These days, she lives in rural Vermont with her husband and two daughters.