Between the Spark and the Burn

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9780147509390: Between the Spark and the Burn

The conclusion to Between the Devil and The Deep Blue Sea, this gothic thriller romance with shades of Stephen King and Daphne du Maurier is a must-read for fans of Beautiful Creatures and Anna Dressed in Blood.

Freddie once told me that the Devil created all the fear in the world.
But then, the Devil once told me that it's easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry.
The problem with River West Redding was that he'd done both to me.


The crooked-smiling liar River West Redding, who drove into Violet's life one summer day and shook her world to pieces, is gone. Violet and Neely, River's other brother, are left to worry—until they catch a two a.m. radio program about strange events in a distant mountain town. They take off in search of River but are always a step behind, finding instead frenzied towns, witch hunts, and a wind-whipped island with the thrum of something strange and dangerous just under the surface. It isn't long before Violet begins to wonder if Neely, the one Redding brother she thought trustworthy, has been hiding a secret of his own . . .

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About the Author:

April Genevieve Tucholke digs classic movies, redheaded villains, big kitchens, and discussing murder at the dinner table. She and her husband--a librarian, former rare-book dealer, and journalist--live in Oregon. Between the Spark and the Burn is her second novel.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

MY DEAD GRANDMOTHER Freddie once told me that the Devil created all the fear in the world.

But then, the Devil once told me that it’s easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry.

The problem with River West Redding was that he’d done both to me.

Since then I’d spent months just waiting. Waiting on my rotting mansion’s wide front porch, on its secret little beach at the bottom of the cliffs, in its nefarious guesthouse. And I was getting antsy. I’d tasted love and terror last summer, and it left a sweetness in my mouth. I wanted to go somewhere. Anywhere. I wanted to make something happen. I wanted to get bone-shaking scared and face my fear. I wanted to get scratched. Bruised. Bloody.

River and his brother Brodie were gone. Long gone. Doing God knows what. Alone. Or together. Who knew.

Was River the Devil?

Was Brodie?

Mostly I tried not to think of them. Either of them. Of what they were up to or the trouble they were causing or the lies they were lying.

And mostly that didn’t work. At all.

Where are you, River?

Silence and not a word. Not for months. Neely had gone looking, but nothing. Maybe this was a good thing. Maybe it meant River was keeping his promise. But then why hadn’t he come back? He’d glowed up my damn heart last summer and then left without a trace. He’d been gone so long now that I could barely remember the smell of his skin. Or the way his eyes lit up when he lied. And lied. And lied.

River, what would you say if you could see me now, lonely little book-reading Violet, talking about getting in trouble and making something happen? Would you crooked-smile at me with that glint in your eyes and say, “I like you, Vi”? Or would you look worried and run your hands through your hair, and wonder what the hell had changed inside me since last summer?

A gust of cold wind blew in off the sea and smacked me in the face. Instead of wincing, I smiled. I had a blanket around my shoulders, coffee in a nearby thermos, and a pair of binoculars in my hand. The sea stretched on forever before me, and my thoughts went with it.

I’d read stories of widows who never recovered from the Death at Sea of their captain husbands. Widows who spent their days wandering the seashore, waiting.

But that wasn’t what I was doing down here, under the moody sky by the capering waves in the hidden little cove by my cliff-hugging tumbledown mansion that my grandmother Freddie had named Citizen Kane.

My Freddie-blue eyes squinted under the cold, glaring sun. I’d starting watching the ships again, out there on the Big Blue. I’d started wishing I was on them.

I sighed as a freezing winter breeze blew across my neck. A wave crashed into the sand and stretched its long fingers toward me. It drenched my feet and the hem of Freddie’s red dress—which I had stupidly worn down to the beach when I knew better. The seawater made the dress look redder, like it was blushing.

My hands pressed into cold ground. I leaned back. Closed my eyes. The sand rubbed against the Brodie-scars on my wrists, and they started hurting. But it was a good hurt, like cold snow melting on warm skin. Or like kissing River’s lips after he lied.

Maybe it was River’s magic that made me think of him still. Made me talk to him like I used to talk to Freddie. Maybe it was that bit of glow still lingering in me like the last tingle of opium in an addict’s blood.

River, I found something.

Heard something.

Freddie once caught me climbing a tree in the Citizen’s backyard. I was twenty feet off the ground and still going up when I heard her voice. GET DOWN RIGHT NOW, VIOLET WHITE. The second my feet hit earth she wrapped her arms around me and hugged me for five whole minutes, maybe more.

“Your life is not your own, Vi,” she said. “Don’t you know that? It belongs to the people who love you. So you need to take better care of it.”

Freddie was right, I supposed.

I wasn’t taking very good care of my life. Not since River came into it.

And yet . . .

I walked back up the steep trail toward home, my wet dress hitting my boots with a smack, each step. And I sang a little song to myself, something that I made up as I went along, something that was melancholic and nursery rhyme, something that sounded a little bit like A-hunting I will go, a-hunting I will go.

Chapter 2

I FOUND MY parents painting out in the shed—it got great afternoon sun, even in winter, which it was. It sat there, squat and chipping paint, in its little shaft of sunshine, wedged in between the skeletal winter woods and the overgrown maze and the now empty guesthouse and the beautiful, buffeted, browbeaten, salt-stained Citizen Kane.

I loved the ocean. Its sounds were like lullabies and mothers’ voices—I’d grown up on them, a soundtrack of lapping waves and seagulls and storms.

Yet the rollicking sea sea sea was a bully. I reached up to the low roof of the shed and knocked off a couple of icicles. A rotted piece of wood fell with them. I left it on the ground and went inside.

My brother was in there too, painting away, and the redheaded orphan boy, Jack. My next-door neighbor Sunshine was sitting on the floor, watching. I sat down next to her and enjoyed the cluttering bodies and the burnt smell of the space heater in the corner.

It was Christmas Eve and pretty much everyone I knew was packed into a painting shed. There wouldn’t be any baking, or decorating, or caroling. Not with the Whites, not at the Citizen. But that was all right with me.

“So I’ve decided to go after River.”

I said it quick, just like that, before I had a chance to think better of it.

“Who is River?” my mother asked, head snapping up, looking straight at me. Really looking, for once. Most of the time her eyes were distracted and dreamy when she talked to me, as if her mind were clicking through colors, figuring out the exact peachy shade of my skin, the perfect wheat-yellow combination of my blond hair. My parents painted and the rest of us moved around them in a blur.

“Neely’s older brother,” Luke said when I didn’t answer. They searched my face, Luke and Jack and Sunshine, trying to puzzle out why I’d brought up River after all this time, why I’d dipped my toes into that mess of lying, glowing, out of control, brown-eyed, brown-haired rich boy.

The hell if I knew why I did it. The words just fell out of my head, out of my mouth, like leaves off trees. Like snow out of the sky.

Maybe there was something in the air.

I sighed.

I wondered if Neely would be back for Christmas.

I missed him.

I missed the way he reminded me of River—the way he drank espresso with narrowed eyes and ran his hands through his hair.

Though Neely’s hair was blond, like mine, not brown, like River’s.

And Brodie, the other brother, the half brother, his was red. Red, red, red.

I missed the way Neely laughed at everything. Redheaded cowboys with knives. River’s lying. Everything.

I missed the way he loved his older brother so damn much and at the same time really liked putting his fists in River’s face.

Neely had run off three times already, trying to find his older brother, trying not to think about his younger one.

But nothing.

I wanted Neely to come back. But not because he looked like River. And not because I was restless and cabin-fevered and dying for something to happen.

I wanted him to come back because I’d found something while he was gone.

“Violet.” This from Dad, though he didn’t look up from the sunset colors he was splashing on his canvas. He leaned forward on his little wooden painter’s chair, his nose almost touching the wet paint, and the pink skin of his bald spot caught the winter sun coming through the shed’s skylight. He motioned at me with his free hand. “Violet, fetch me the Dante.”

I knew better than to ask follow-up questions when my father was painting. They wouldn’t get answered, so I didn’t even try.

People didn’t change. Not really. Not ever.

Except . . .

Freddie changed, once. She’d given up booze and boys and trouble and painters and Reddings. I’d found the letters. I knew.

I’ve changed too, River. You would have noticed, if you were here, because you notice everything.

Even Luke and Sunshine were different now, after Brodie. After the bat and the rat and the cutting and the leaving me for dead. They were deeper, darker, quieter. Freddie used to say that kids were sponges, soaking up everything around them.

I wondered what I had soaked up from River last summer.

Something good.

Something bad.

Freddie would have been able to tell me.

I looked from Dad to Mom. Dad leaned forward when he was concentrating. Mom leaned back. Her straight brown hair, long like mine and Sunshine’s, swished across her back as her pretty hazel eyes blinked against the bright light.

I went to the door.

“Vi.”

I turned back around. My twin brother waved his fingers at me, just like dad. “Fetch me some coffee.”

“Me too,” Jack said from the far corner, though he at least glanced up and gave me a grin to take the edge off.

I walked up the steps of the Citizen, on my way to the library. I’d been sitting right there, right there on those steps, reading Hawthorne on a balmy, breezy June day, when I first saw River. When I first saw the wavy hair and the brown eyes and the black linen pants and the white button-down shirt and the panther hips and the all of it.

Dante. Citizen Kane’s big, fat, twisty-staired dusty library was a thing to behold. The long velvet curtains hadn’t been drawn to let in the sun, and the room was shadowed and cold. So cold it burned the inside of my nose. I thought about starting a fire in the fireplace—there was some old wood piled up in a nearby basket from God knew when. But as my fingertips touched the knobby bark I remembered reading a story about someone somewhere who lit a fire under a sooty chimney, breathed in, and fell over dead.

So I just stood in the icy library shadows wondering what to do, and the next thing I knew, I was shivering. And it might have been from the cold. Or it might have been that dark rooms made me think of Brodie now. Of him watching and listening and waiting, all those days last summer when we didn’t know he was there.

I went to the floor-length curtains and yanked them open with both arms, dramatically, like people do in movies. Dust exploded into the air and rolled around in the pale winter light.

The world outside was still. Holding its breath, like it was waiting for snow. The pine trees were tall and green, as always, but everything else was brown and stiff and dead. The sea was calm and gray, reflecting the cloudy sky above. The broken nude fountain girls had lost their dresses of ivy, and icicles hung from their fingertips and noses and breasts.

One bold ray of sunshine shoved its way through the clouds and reached into the library, and suddenly everything inside looked comfy and cozy. The books seemed to be fidgeting in the light, as if wanting to be held. Even the ratty sofa seemed to be smiling at me, and looked like it wanted me to curl up in its arms.

I started up the spiral staircase to the poetry section, flinching when the frigid metal railing touched my palm. I found Dante’s Inferno on the bottom shelf, the last book on the end, covered in gray dust so thick it looked like the book was wearing a wool sweater. No one had put their hands on this shelf in a while.

John White needed inspiration from Dante’s description of hell, no doubt. My dad painted hell a lot. Maybe because his mother, my grandmother Freddie, had talked about the Devil all the time.

Or maybe not.

I reached for the book, and breathed in. Dust and frozen air. Hell sounded kind of good at the moment. Warm.

Sorry, Freddie.

I was glad my parents were home. Even if they’d gone to Europe for all those months, and sent no postcards, and seemed to forget us entirely, caught up in their art like a person gone stupid and selfish with their first taste of love. I was still glad to have the bastards back. I was.

I leaned over the black railing that bordered the upper level, wrapping all the way around the library. I hugged the dusty Dante to my chest, and looked down at the grand room below.

We should spend more time in here. Instead of just the kitchen and the painting shed and the attic and our bedrooms. We should try to be a family in here. It’s a family kind of room.

Freddie used to end her summer nights in the library, sitting on one of the swoopy art deco sofas, reading to herself or out loud to me. In late spring it always smelled like the lilac bushes outside the windows, and I figured not even River would have nightmares if he went to sleep with the smell of those purple flowers floating in from outside . . .

My eyes shifted to the side of the room, and the thought drifted away.

I saw it.

There were sloppy stacks of books on the floor in the corner near the fireplace and the grandfather clock. They had been growing and growing over the five years since Freddie’s death. One tower had collapsed onto its side and lay sprawled across the floor . . . and behind the collapsed tower was another stack of books, almost hidden in the shadows. But the shaft of winter sun hit it now in just the right place. And I saw it.

The color of green tea with cream in it.

Of moss growing up a tree.

Of Freddie’s ancient ruby-eyed tiger statue carved from jade that we’d had to sell three years ago.

That specific shade of green was Freddie’s favorite color. My wonderful, flawed, blue-eyed, Devil-fearing grandmother Freddie.

I’d looked for it for years . . . something that Freddie had poured her secrets into. Something that Freddie had left for me. Only me. Not Luke, not my parents. Just me. I found it last summer—letters to Freddie from Jack’s grandfather, and River’s too. But I didn’t think that was all of it. Freddie used to read me gothic books right here in this library. Books in which characters uncovered secret diaries from departed loved ones. She had to know I would look for hers, after her death.

I dropped the Dante and took off down the spiral steps. I pushed books out of my way, reckless and stupid like a bully in the schoolyard. I reached forward, fingers grasping, grasping, and then the Freddie-green was in my hand, my palm gliding along the creamy green leather, butter-smooth.

I opened it.

Looked inside.

Saw the thick, heavy writing, as familiar to me as the tilt of her nose and the lilt of her voice.

Freddie’s diary.

I’d found it, damn it all. I’d finally found it.

Merry Christmas, Violet, Freddie whispered, from wherever she was.

Chapter 3

September
Can still feel Will’s lips on me. On my neck, stomach, back, hips, thighs . . .

The diary felt warm in my hands, like it had kept a little bit of living, breathing Freddie in it.

I was lying in River’s bed, in the guesthouse. I hadn’t done that in months. The lamp with its red fringe shade was shooting blood-colored slants across the bed. I could see smudges on the nightstand where my fingertips had disturbed the dust.

Freddie’s diary wasn’t ...

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Descripción Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2015. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. The crooked smiling liar River West, who drove into Violet s life one summer day and shook her world to pieces, is gone. Violet and River s brother Neely are left to worry until they catch an eerie radio broadcast about strange events in a distant mountain town. They take off cross country in search of River, but are always a step behind, finding instead frenzied towns, witch hunts, and a wind whipped island with the thrum of something strange and dangerous just below the surface. It isn t long before Violet begins to wonder if Neely, the only one she thought trustworthy, has been hiding a secret of his own and for her, the devil always lurks in the shadow of a secret. Nº de ref. de la librería AA99780147509390

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