Read My Sister’s Secret Online

Authors: Tracy Buchanan

My Sister’s Secret


Published by Avon

An imprint of HarperCollins

1 London Bridge Street

London SE1 9GF

First published in Great Britain by HarperCollins 2015

Copyright © Tracy Buchanan 2015

Cover Design © Lisa Horton 2015

Tracy Buchanan asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

A catalogue copy of this book is available from the British Library.

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins.

Source ISBN: 9780007579396

Ebook Edition © July 2015 ISBN: 9780007579402

Version: 2015-07-28


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Praise for

best book I’ve read
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‘One of the
hot summer reads
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‘Kept me


keep you guessing
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journey packed with adventures, secrets, struggles, devastation, but also courage and love’

‘Each page brings
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fab summer read
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totally recommend

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Can’t wait
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‘One of the
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‘I simply

highly, highly recommend
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To Paul and Jessica, my brother and sister


Busby-on-Sea, UK

March 1977

Faith lay still, the rain wetting her face and bouncing off the soft skin of her outstretched palms. She heard voices, footsteps, but couldn’t move, couldn’t call out. She looked up at the soaking tree branches above. If she narrowed her eyes slightly it almost looked like she was underwater, floating under a submerged tree…

Wouldn’t that be wonderful, discovering the drowned forest she and her sisters had spent their summers searching for? She remembered the first time she showed them the map she’d made. Three years ago. She was sixteen, so naïve then, so excited too. She’d hurried down the beach, the pebbles stretching out before her, the sky bright blue above, sun hot and hazy. When she caught sight of her sisters, she slowed down. She liked watching them when they were like this, quiet and still. Her thirteen-year-old sister, Charity – the youngest of the three – lay on a towel, chin tipped up towards the sun, eyes closed, wild black hair a tangle above her head. Her sunburnt legs stretched out from faded denim shorts, her halter-neck top matching her red knees. She was at that confusing age between girlhood and womanhood that Faith remembered so well.

Sitting behind Charity on a large white rock, her pale knees tucked up to her chest, was Hope. She watched the sea pensively as it foamed against the beach, the end of her pen in her mouth, notepad open in her other hand. The swimsuit she was wearing – an old one of their mother’s, swirling colours of green, red and blue – and the turquoise swimming cap that hid her long red hair made her look more like thirty than fifteen.

Faith quickened her step towards them, bare feet scrunching pebbles, the object of her excitement hidden behind her back.

Hope peered up first, face lighting up when she saw her older sister.

‘How’s the poem going?’ Faith asked her.

‘I’m stuck on the colour of the sea.’ A frown puckered her pale skin as she turned to look back out towards the sea. ‘It’s such a strange colour today, not blue or grey or green.’

‘Ribbons,’ Charity lazily murmured without opening her eyes. ‘Blue, grey and green ribbons.’

Faith smiled as she sat down next to Charity, pebbles warm beneath her bare calves.

‘Ribbons. I like that. You’re not so useless after all, Charity,’ Hope declared, scribbling in her notepad as Charity stuck her tongue out at her.

‘I’ve got something to show you both,’ Faith said.

Charity opened one eye, squinting up at her sister. ‘Please not another type of snorkel? Because honestly, they all look the same to me.’

Faith laughed. ‘I promise it’s not.’ She looked over at Hope, impatient. ‘Come on, I want to show you both together.’

Hope put her hand up. ‘Wait, I have one more line to write.’ She finished scribbling then snapped her notepad shut, shouting, ‘Finished!’ Then she jogged over to them, pulling her swimming cap off and raking her fingers through her wavy red hair as it fell around her thin shoulders.

‘So,’ Faith said as Hope joined them. ‘You know we’re going to travel the world when we’re old enough?’

Charity and Hope exchanged a smile. Faith always came up with fun adventures.

‘As Daddy pointed out, we can’t visit every single country in the world,’ Faith continued. ‘That would take us a lifetime. We need a

‘I quite agree,’ Hope said as Charity nodded.

‘Well, I’ve decided what our focus will be.’ She took a deep breath, looking at each of her sisters in turn, drawing out the drama.

‘Oh come on, Faith, don’t torture us,’ Charity said, bouncing up and down on her toes in anticipation.

‘We should focus on visiting submerged forests!’ Faith declared. ‘I was looking through the photos from Mum’s field trip last week in Austria, they’re beautiful!’

Charity went still. ‘Submerged what?’

‘You never listen when Mum tells us about her trips,’ Hope said, rolling her eyes.

‘They’re forests that disappear beneath the sea over time,’ Faith explained.

‘Mrs Tate read a poem in class about a whole town that got flooded in Wales after I told her where Mum was going,’ Hope said. ‘You can still see the remains of its forests when the tide goes out.’ She flicked through her notepad then tapped her finger on a page. ‘Here it is. “When waves crashed on the sea-shore / with thunder in its wake / The bells of Cantre’r Gwaelod / are silent ’neath the wave.”’

‘So these forests are a bit like Atlantis?’ Charity asked.

‘Kind of,’ Faith said. ‘But minus the buildings. And they’re not just beneath the sea. You can find them in lakes and rivers too. There’s one in Austria that only appears in the summer when the snow melts. The water floods the trees, and even a park bench. I found a book in the library about them, and drew a map of all the forests I could find in it.’

Faith pulled out what she’d been hiding behind her back and laid it on the towel. It was a large and rather beautiful drawing of the world map, tiny illustrated trees dotted in different locations. At the top, in Faith’s pretty looped handwriting, was: ‘World Tour of Submerged Forests.’

The three sisters bent over the map, hair trailing across it, dark, red and blonde. They traced their fingers over the trees then all peered up at one another.

Charity smiled. ‘This is so cool, Faith.’

Faith’s pretty face lit up. ‘Isn’t it? I can collect samples from the trees as we travel. I’ll be a marine biologist by then anyway.’ She looked at Hope. ‘And you can write poems about them.’ Hope nodded, grey eyes sparkling. ‘And Charity, you can—’

‘Sunbathe after each dive?’ Charity suggested.

The three girls laughed.

There was the sound of crunching pebbles. They all looked up to see their friend Niall approaching. The top half of his wetsuit was around his waist, exposing the tanned skin of his chest. His face was very tanned too, his blue eyes even more vivid as a result. He looked like he’d grown up in the weeks since they’d seen him last. Faith supposed he wasn’t the annoying little boy they’d first met on this beach four years before. He was fifteen, after all, nearly a man.

She noticed Charity staring shyly at him, her cheeks flushing. Clearly Charity had noticed the change in Niall too. Hope on the other hand was oblivious, rolling her eyes as she always did when Niall appeared.

‘Come join us, Niall,’ Faith said, beckoning him over. ‘We’ve decided to do a world tour of submerged forests.’

Niall crouched down and looked at the map. ‘There’s a submerged forest off Busby’s coast, apparently.’

Hope looked at him cynically.

‘Seriously. A fisherman saw the branches of a tree during a storm.’

‘That’s hardly proof,’ Hope said.

‘But it’s something,’ Charity said, jumping up and shading her eyes as she looked out to sea. ‘I’d love to see it.’

Niall smiled at Charity. She bit her lip, looking away. Hope shot her a warning glance, but Faith smiled. It was nice, watching the way they were together. Niall was a good kid, despite his troubled background. It wasn’t his fault his parents drank too much and lived on the grim estate at the other end of Busby, was it?

He pulled a pencil from the small blue rucksack Faith always carried around with her and quickly drew a little tree over Busby-on-Sea on the map.

‘If we find it, it can be the first forest we visit,’ he said.

‘We?’ Hope replied.

‘Yeah, who else will teach you all to dive properly?’

The three sisters looked out to sea, the waves crashing and receding before them. Then Niall picked Charity up, throwing her over his shoulder and running into the sea with her as Faith laughed.

The happy memory dissipated. A tear slid down Faith’s cheek. She was so cold, so frightened. Her sisters would find her though. They’d see her bed was empty and they’d come looking for her. Then she’d tell them every little thing that had happened during the past few weeks and they’d figure it all out together, because that was what they always did.

No more secrets,
she thought to herself.

She closed her eyes.

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