TITLE: Red Lick
GENRE: YA Historical
In a last-ditch effort to gain his father's respect, Hawthorne takes part in a midnight hunt, only to learn his prey is human and his father is a member of the Klan. With no way out of the situation, he participates in a murder and learns the next day that the boy murdered was not the intended victim. Unable to live with himself, Hawthorne decides to turn himself in and tell what he knows, but can he do it before the Klan, or the victim's angry brother, take their revenge?
August 24, 1963
Thorny Taylor crept through the dark wood, his clothing heavy and damp with humidity. He had to catch up to the others, and he had to do it quickly, without notice. If he scared off the night's prey, there would be no more chances for him. He could not fail again.
“Watch out, boys! He's doublin' back!”
Thorny's heart quickened and he crouched behind a large sycamore, trying to melt into the sweltering dark. In the distance, a firefly blinked as though sending a signal. Thorny pulled his clothes from his sticky skin and peered around the tree.
Please, God. Let me catch him. Let it be me.
Brush crackled and branches snapped. Voices rose from the silent depths, growing louder and louder. They were coming, all of them, barreling toward him like a freight train, making no effort to be quiet. Thorny stood, ready to pounce.
A blur broke through the trees and Thorny sprang from the brush. Someone slammed into his chest and they both tumbled to the ground. Thorny shoved the body away then scrambled on top of it. He sat on the heaving chest and pressed his knees down on two flailing arms then stared at the struggling body beneath him.
Jesus, he whispered. Willie?
“Get off! Let me go!” Willie pleaded, his face twisted in terror. “Come on, don't do this. Let me up”
He doesn't know it's me.
Thorny swallowed, grateful for the hood that covered his face.