Friday Night Book Club: Read an excerpt from Lucy Diamond’s compelling and beautifully written novel Something To Tell You
 More about the book!

The Friday Night Book Club: Exclusive excerpts from Pan Macmillan every weekend!

Staying in this evening? Settle in with a glass of wine and this excerpt from Something To Tell You, the new novel by Lucy Diamond.

Warm and witty, no one writes about love, family and friendship like Diamond, the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Secrets of Happiness and On a Beautiful Day.

About the book

When Frankie stumbles upon an unopened letter from her late mother, she’s delighted to have one last message from her … until she reads the contents and discovers the truth about her birth. Brimming with questions, she travels to York to seek further answers from the Mortimer family, but her appearance sends shockwaves through them all.

Meanwhile, Robyn Mortimer has problems of her own. Her husband John has become distant, and a chance remark from a friend leads Robyn to wonder exactly what he’s not been saying. Dare she find out more?

As for Bunny, she fell head over heels in love with Dave Mortimer when she first arrived in town, but now it seems her past is catching up with her. She can’t help wondering if he’ll still feel the same way about her if he discovers who she really is – and what she did.

As secrets tumble out and loyalties are tested, the Mortimers have to face up to some difficult decisions. With love, betrayal and dramatic revelations in the mix, this is one summer they’ll never forget.

Read the excerpt:


Chapter One

The door was painted white, with a smart brass letterbox and matching knocker. Standing there, trying to summon up some courage, Frankie Carlyle could smell the sweet fragrance of the pale velvety roses that rambled up the side of the house, and felt the warmth of the midsummer sun on her bare head. Behind her, shouts and laughter from a nearby sports field were carried on the breeze, as well as the faint rumble of the ring-road in the distance. Come on, then, she said to herself. This is your moment. The one you’ve been thinking about for the last six months. Are you going to knock or what?

She’d set off that morning feeling determined, feeling ready. Had driven all the way here – up the tarmacked spine of the country, through the Midlands and into Yorkshire, gripping the steering wheel so doggedly that her hands had stiffened with cramps the second she’d pulled on the handbrake. Craig had suggested taking the train – it was so much faster, he’d said, clicking at his phone to look up the timetable for her – but Frankie preferred to travel under her own steam. Not least in case she needed to make a quick getaway again.

The miles of motorway, the service stations and traffic were all behind her now, though, the northward slog already dimming in her mind compared to the surreal situation of standing there, outside his house. But what if he no longer lived here? Or, worse, didn’t want to know?

Well, there was only one way to find out.

After a final smoothing down of her tousled dark hair, and an apprehensive lick of her lips, she swallowed back her trepidation and rapped the knocker once, twice. The sound was almost as loud as the thumping of her heart. For a hysterical moment she was seized by the urge to turn and run, to get back in the car and drive away, give up on the whole ridiculous idea. Then she imagined Craig’s astonished face if she went home and told him this – ‘What, you didn’t even wait for him to answer the door?’ – and managed to hold her nerve instead, folding her arms across her chest and doing her best to compose herself. Deep breaths. This encounter didn’t have to be combative or upsetting. She would be pleasant, friendly, calm. If he ever opened the door, that was. If he ever appeared!

A car chugged past behind her, but otherwise the street was quiet. The house was still, unresponsive, and she began to feel her adrenalin leaking away, disappointment edging into its place. She knocked again. Perhaps he was out in the garden, tending to a vegetable plot. Perhaps he was snoozing in a deckchair, the morning’s newspaper half-read on his knee. Perhaps he was deaf. Perhaps he was dead.

‘You all right there, love?’ came a voice just then and Frankie turned to see a woman emerging from the neighbouring house, unlocking the small blue Micra on her drive in a businesslike manner. She looked to be in her fifties and was giving Frankie a beady once-over, as if she could smell trouble.

‘Oh,’ said Frankie. ‘Yes. I was looking for Harry Mortimer.’ It felt peculiar to actually say his name aloud after all this time; to speak of him in terms of being a real person, rather than as a shadowy concept. A mystery. ‘Does he still live here?’

‘Harry? He certainly does. Although you’ve missed him today; they’ll be down at the village hall for hours yet.’ She eyed Frankie with barely disguised interest. ‘I’ll be there myself later, if you want me to pass on a message?’

Yeah, right. Like that wouldn’t be the most inappropriate thing ever. ‘It’s okay, I’ll . . . The village hall, did you say?’

‘Yes, darling, it’s over on Main Street, opposite the Co-op.’ She jerked a thumb up the road. ‘Left at the top there, you can walk it in a few minutes.’ Then she hesitated, one hand on her car door as if she wanted to ask something else.

‘Thanks,’ said Frankie quickly, just as the woman’s mouth was opening again, a question no doubt forming on her lips. ‘Thanks very much.’

Still alive then, and at the village hall. Right you are, she thought, striding off to find him, before her courage could drain completely away.

‘Let me begin,’ said John Mortimer, ‘by welcoming you all here this afternoon. It’s great to see so many friends and family members together, and it’s a testament to Mum and Dad that virtually everyone who was invited today was able to join us in celebrating their Golden Wedding anniversary. Thank you very much for being a part of it, and for sharing our special day.’

A crowd of faces beamed back at him, some more flushed than others, thanks to the free bar. There were four grown-up Mortimer children, four grandchildren, countless cousins, Harry’s pals from the bowling club and Jeanie’s entire knitting circle (eighteen opinionated women, plus one snake-hipped young man whom they all mothered shamelessly). There were babes in arms, old school friends, various people who’d been taught piano by Jeanie over the last four decades (even if nowadays many of them wouldn’t know a semi-quaver if it bit them), a clutch of Harry’s old colleagues from the High School, and in a grubby changing room behind the scenes a stout man wearing a lot of fake tan was stripped to the waist, gluing on a chest wig.

‘Now, as legend has it,’ John said, ‘Mum and Dad met at a dance in this very room. According to Mum, Dad asked her to dance because of some bet or other with his mates.’ He paused to acknowledge the smattering of laughter that followed. ‘And according to Dad, Mum only said yes because all his friends were sniggering behind his back and she felt sorry for him. So it wasn’t exactly your traditional love-at-first-sight scenario.’

There was more good-humoured laughter at this, not least from Harry and Jeanie themselves, hand-in-hand, leaning against one another companionably.

‘Whoever would have thought,’ John continued, ‘that, more than half a century on from this bet, Mum and Dad would be looking forward to their second honeymoon together – not to mention celebrating fifty years of wedded bliss?’ Somebody cheered and John grinned out at the throng. He was a confident public speaker, poised and assured; years of working as a university lecturer meant that he knew how to work the room, how to keep the interest of those listening, how to deliver a well-timed punchline.

The sun was slanting through the window and falling around him as if it had been directed specifically there. He’d begun the party in a suit and tie, but his jacket was now slung over the back of a chair somewhere, with his tie stuffed in a pocket, his shirt sleeves rolled up and his top button undone. He still looked good, though, his wife Robyn assessed, watching him from the other side of the room. Forty-four years old and he cut the same fine figure he always had: charming and witty, tall and handsome, with the audience in the palm of his hand. Look at all those women twinkling at him, in fact. Everyone loved John.

‘And so today is really all about love and friendship, and the joy that they bring,’ John went on. ‘Fifty fantastic years of marriage, sticking together, come what may. There have been highs – I’m guessing the birth of their first and best child is up there as a highlight.’ He paused to preen himself jokingly. Something To Tell You Lucy Diamond ‘Although to be saddled with Paula, Dave and Stephen afterwards . . . Well, let’s just say there have been tough times for Mum and Dad as well. Disappointments.’ He grinned, shrugging as some protesting heckles came from his siblings. ‘Anyway, Mum and Dad have been great parents, great friends, great members of the community, and we all think the world of them. So will you please do me the honour now of raising your glasses and joining me in a toast. To Jeanie and Harry.’

‘JEANIE AND HARRY,’ the crowd cheered as one, before John gave a salute and sauntered down from the stage, where one of his brothers pretended to punch him and another got him in a headlock. Meanwhile Paula, their sister, was making I-see-you gestures at her teenage sons, who were minesweeping random abandoned glasses of alcohol (please God, let them make it through the party without throwing up). Stephen’s partner, Eddie, was surreptitiously checking eBay on his phone (the Mortimers en masse always drove him to reckless spending). And Bunny, Dave’s girlfriend, had decided it was time to slather on another coat of Frosted Raspberry lipstick, if only to stop her eating anything else from the buffet. Diet-tip number 376, she thought to herself, heels clicking as she tottered across the parquet floor.

They knew how to throw a good party, did the Mortimers. Birthday, Christmas, Halloween: you name it, they’d be there with their dance-floor playlists and groaning buffet tables, everyone in their finery and up for a good time. Sometimes there would be a theme – Hollywood Glamour, for example, or Guilty Pleasures – when the more imaginative family members would go to town with elaborate costumes and wigs, and props and decor would be sourced weeks in advance. There would be dancing. Drunkenness. Cake. Nostalgia. Only very occasionally a fight.

Two and a half hours into this particular do and things were starting to hot up, a feeling of looseness in the warm air, the casting aside of inhibitions. The cask of Black Sheep best bitter had already run out, the gallons of home-brew that Harry had brought along reduced to their last cloudy dregs, and all that remained of the buffet were a few dried-up sandwiches curling at the corners on a plate.

The tables had been shunted to the sides of the hall, and now they had the Tom Jones impersonator giving it his pleather-trousered, open-shirted all up on stage, while a throng of dancers joined in with complete abandon below. Everyone was happy, everyone was enjoying themselves, and a deep feeling of contentment swept over Robyn as she cleared egg-mayonnaise-smeared paper plates into a bin bag and neatly stacked the empty platters. This was where she belonged – to this family, this tribe. Growing up as the only child of a single parent, enduring quiet Christmases and lonely holidays when she’d been too shy to strike up any friendships at the campsite kiddies’ clubs, she still sometimes felt like pinching herself that she was a part of the noisy, gregarious Mortimer clan.

‘WHY, WHY, WHHYYYYYYY, De-LI-LAH!’ roared the crowd as ‘Tom’ tipped his head back for the chorus, the microphone angled above his fleshy pink lips. A medallion bounced in the rug of his chest hair with each pelvic gyration, and Robyn’s lips twitched in amusement as she saw Dave throwing a brotherly arm around John and Stephen, the three of them swaying and bellowing along together. Nearby, Eddie was stepping out of their way with a roll of his eyes, and Robyn couldn’t help feeling kinship with him. In her opinion, the world was divided into two types: those who Joined In, whether it was singing along with a song, clapping enthusiastically to music during a show or shouting out the catchphrases in a pantomime (‘He’s behind you!’); and then there were those who were just a bit too awkward and self-conscious to really let themselves go in the same way. She, unfortunately, had always been a member of the latter camp; the sort of person, in fact, who would take it upon herself to clear up a buffet table so that she didn’t inadvertently get hauled onto the dance floor. The Mortimer siblings, needless to say, were all most definitely in the former.

Still, it was good to see John looking so relaxed after a tough few weeks at work, she thought. He always found the summer term stressful – exam pressure wasn’t solely for the students – but this year there had been a suicide on campus within his department, as well as some kind of cheating scandal. It had taken its toll on his sleep recently, and he’d been distracted and withdrawn. For all that he could make eloquent speeches at parties or give interesting lectures on civil engineering to his undergraduate classes, he had never been the most communicative person when it came to the subject of his own feelings, plunging into a silent sort of gloom if things became particularly difficult. She hoped he might be coming out of this most recent episode at last.

Meanwhile there was their son Sam, eleven and awkwardly tall, hunched over his phone on the sidelines, while his older cousins gathered with their friends in a huddle elsewhere. Go and talk to them, she’d urged him earlier, but he had given her one of his As-if looks and slouched away. He seemed to have hit adolescent self-consciousness early, all elbows and lanky legs, his gaze dropping to his feet whenever anyone tried to speak to him. Conversely, Daisy, his nine-year-old sister who didn’t have a shy bone in her body, was in the thick of it near the cake table, gesticulating and bossing around a group of little ones, organising some game or other involving balloons. Any minute now, though, Robyn suspected, Daisy would start regaling them earnestly with information about insects – her current fascination – which might be of less interest to the others. Not that that usually stopped her.

‘My, my, MYYYY De-LI-LAH!’ the crowd howled along with the strutting Tom Jones-alike. ‘Why, why, WHYYY, De-LI-LAH!’

‘”Why” is the bloody question,’ said Paula just then, appearing beside Robyn with a glass of red wine. Robyn sometimes felt a bit plain beside the dramatic looks of her sister-in-law, who had glossy dark hair in a long, straight bob, complete with millimetre-perfect fringe and excellent eyebrows. Paula worked as an estate agent in the city centre and was always smartly turned out, in satiny blouses and tight skirts plus heels that would hobble Robyn within five minutes. Today, she wore a dark-pink dress with some complicated ruching at the waist, plus a silver feather necklace. ‘ Why-why-why the hell did Mum and Dad book this orange-faced twerp – and why does he think it’s a good idea to sing about a man murdering a woman at an anniversary party, for crying out loud? I mean: inappropriate, much?’

‘Valid point,’ Robyn laughed. ‘It’s not your average smoocher, let’s face it.’

‘Worse, he’ll do “Sex Bomb” any minute, and then they’ll all be going for it with the thrusting, and one of the oldies will put their back out,’ Paula went on with comic exasperation, rolling her brown eyes up into their sockets.

‘I’d say the odds are pretty high right now on that person being your Aunty Pen,’ Robyn replied and they both paused to giggle at the woman in question, who had one plump hand clasped to her wobbling cleavage and the other flung out in the air as she sang along. ‘She’ll give someone a black eye, with all that gesturing and pointing, any minute, you wait.’

Paula snorted, but then her eyes narrowed as she caught sight of one of her sons apparently filming their boogying great-aunt on his phone. ‘Busted,’ she said, getting to her feet. ‘You wait, the little sods will be planning to put this on YouTube … Hey!’ she called, hurrying over to them, her hair catching flashes of the neon disco lights. ‘Oh no, you don’t.’

Robyn watched her go, smiling to herself as Paula clamped a hand on the culprit’s shoulder, like a police officer making an arrest. Turning back to her bin-bag duties, she had just decided that yes, she probably should polish off the last mini sausage roll rather than condemn it to the depths of the dustbin, when she noticed a new arrival to the party, someone she didn’t recognize. The woman in question had slipped in through the entrance hall and was gazing around warily from the doorway. There was something familiar about her heart-shaped face, wide-set eyes and snub nose that gave Robyn pause. She must be some friend of the family, although … Well, Robyn had known the Mortimers for a long time. She thought she’d met all of the friends and neighbours by now.

Plus, was it her imagination or was the woman even in the right place? Rather than striding forward, gift in hand, scouring the room for Jeanie and Harry like everyone else, she was staring around as if she didn’t recognize anyone. A gatecrasher? Robyn wondered with a frown. A wrong turn?

Tying the top of the bin bag, Robyn watched in interest as the newcomer’s expression suddenly changed, a muscle twitching in her jaw. Turning to see what had caught her eye, Robyn’s gaze fell upon Harry, holding court amidst a group of bowling-club cronies. He was laughing and moving his hands expressively, telling one of his tall stories, no doubt. Glancing back, Robyn saw the woman’s gaze lock onto him, then she began walking swiftly in his direction.

Robyn felt her skin prickling, a portent of doom. Growing up, she’d had a Jack Russell, which would always stand rigid and bark whenever a thunderstorm was about to roll in, as if he could feel the electrical charge in the air. She could almost hear him barking now in her head, warning that the wind was changing.

Feeling unnerved, she watched the woman cross the floor towards Harry. And then she saw Harry’s face freeze. His smile falter. He stared at the woman, eyes bulging as if he’d seen a ghost. Paling and seeming to forget about the punchline to his story, he stepped through his friends to approach her. The two of them then moved to one side of the room together, while Jeanie stared after them in what looked like confusion. Robyn similarly couldn’t tear her eyes away, certain that something very important was happening.

‘All right!’ yelled the Tom Jones singer just then. ‘Anyone feeling sexy? This one’s for you!’ And the band launched into the opening chords of ‘Sex Bomb’, which prompted an immediate scream of joy from the bevy of aunts, as well as a whooping conga line of Jeanie’s knitting group as they flooded onto the dance floor.

‘What did I tell you?’ laughed Paula, reappearing and grabbing Robyn’s arm in the next moment. ‘Come on, let’s stun the crowd with our moves.’

‘Embarrass our kids, more like,’ Robyn said, already predicting her son’s expression of horror when he saw her awkward attempts at dancing, but she overcame her reluctance, allowing her sister-in-law to tow her onto the dance floor nonetheless.

A short while later, when she next glanced across the room to see what had happened to Harry and the stranger who’d appeared, Robyn noticed they had gone. So too had Jeanie. Perhaps it was nothing, she told herself, putting them out of her head.

Except it wasn’t.


Categories Fiction International

Tags Book excerpts Book extracts Friday Night Book Club Lucy Diamond Pan Macmillan SA Something To Tell You

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