“A unique and fresh plot with twists you won’t see coming. I sacrificed so much sleep to devour this novel. You won’t be able to put it down once you start it.”
—Shanora Williams, New York Times bestselling author of The Wife Before
Girls Without Tears, an all-new fast paced and thrilling dark mystery from T.L. Finlay, is out now!
A missing child, a distraught mother, and a killer on the loose set the stage for a brutal bloodbath in the Florida Everglades in this thrilling read, perfect for fans of Wendy Walker and Megan Goldin.
When six-year-old Skye disappears from Everglades City, Noa is hesitant to return to her hometown to help with the search effort. Skye is the daughter of Noa’s ex, Zack, and Taylor, the girl he dumped her for. Going home also means facing the townspeople who have always misunderstood Noa’s medical condition, Congenital Insensitivity to Pain, and dealing with more of their ignorant comments.
But returning home is just the beginning of Noa’s painful journey. When her childhood friend, Jamie, is assaulted by a vagrant, Noa intervenes in a violent counterattack—and the man’s fingerprints are found near Skye’s DNA. As Noa gets closer to the truth of who kidnapped Skye, she starts to uncover secrets about her hometown that she didn’t expect.
Nothing and no one are what they seem in this small Florida backwater—and any good friend can quickly become a deadly enemy.
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Keep reading for a look inside Girls Without Tears!
It should have been the perfect, most romantic experience ever. Until Zack sat up right in the middle of it all and pointed in horror at my arm. “Oh, god—Noa! Look at your arm!”
It was purple and swollen, the skin stretched to a shiny bubble. Two large dots oozed with blood and pus. “Now that’s weird,” I commented.
Zack was already off me and scrambling into his shirt. “It’s not weird, you were bitten by a spider! Noa, they’re venomous!”
In the end, I was given an antivenin from the hospital and a lecture from my parents. I could’ve died, they’d said. And they were disappointed in me for sneaking out of the house (of course, we left out the sex part). My mother cried that I was backsliding, until my father told her to shut up and sent me to my room.
Zack was on restriction for a week. Not only did you sneak out of the house, but you put Noa in danger! You know you can’t put her in those positions, Zachary! She’s not an average girl!
I knew his mother didn’t mean anything bad by that, but it still bothered me. Would he have gotten in so much trouble if it were someone else? Someone who could feel pain? Would he only have been scolded then? I found myself wishing I had actually felt the venomous spider bite.
Things fell quiet after that until a year later, with the arrival of Taylor Spells. Taylor moved to Chokoloskee from Tampa when her father’s contracting company began building condominiums in Naples, which happened to be the second week of our senior year. She was a junior, and she took our tiny coastal town by storm. Taylor was beautiful, confident, and rebellious. She hated the town and her parents for making her move there. The one thing she loved in that place was Zack.
For the first time in my life, I cried because the pain was unbearable. Words that never made sense to me were suddenly sparking with recognition behind my eyes— ache, burn, throb, sting—they filled my heart, screamed through my veins, festered in my mind and soul.
“It’s just been . . . really hard,” he’d said the night he shattered my life. “These last few years—I love you, Noa, but I can’t anymore. Always with the fear in my mind that something could be wrong with you and it’d be my fault if you didn’t catch it in time. I’m always checking to make sure you’re not bleeding, not limping, always having to monitor how hard you’re scratching your arm or rubbing your eyes—”
“I never asked you to do those things, Zack!”
“—making sure you’re going to the bathroom and eating every few hours.”
“Is this about Taylor?”
He said no, but it obviously was. They were dating by Thanksgiving.
Hurricane Taylor destroyed my heart and my senior year.
I went to the University of Miami and never looked back. The day I received my bachelor’s in communications was the day he proposed to Taylor, and I told my parents I wouldn’t be returning to Everglades City. I moved from the college dorms in Coral Gables to my lofty apartment on South Beach, got a great job working for a public relations company contracted by the Florida Department of Transportation, and posted selfies on the beach to showcase my perfect life.
It’s been ten years in the making, but I’m happy. I take clients to lunch at Houston’s, get drinks with my coworkers at Prime 112, and take dates to Mary Brickell Village, Lincoln Road, and Wynwood. I’m an independent big-city gal with a career and a social life.
I skip watching Netflix tonight and return my father’s call. He doesn’t answer, but my mother does.
“Zack’s daughter has been kidnapped,” is what she says in lieu of a greeting or an explanation of why she’s answered his phone.
“I saw. I had a missed call from Dad.”
“He’s with Zack and the family right now. He left his phone at home, you know him. But I know he wants you to come home, Noa. We both do. We’re all—everyone is so scared.”
The muscles in my neck tense, hands fisting. “Come home? Why?”
I wait as she blows her nose unabashedly. “We need you. We need all the help we can get.”
I hesitate. “But you know nothing has changed. I’ve never been ‘needed’ in that town. You know I haven’t spoken to Zack Flynn since high school, and now I’m just supposed to show up during the worst time of his life?”
My mother, on the other hand, doesn’t hesitate. “That’s exactly what you should do. This is bigger than a breakup, Noa. There is a child missing. And it’s not just Zack and Taylor you’d be helping. This is a community in crisis.”
“Mom,” I say softly before things start to escalate, “this community is also quite dramatic. You know as well as I do how they don’t connect with me. I would simply be a distraction. Number two on the list of things to gossip about besides the missing child.”
A child is missing, my mother repeats. Six years old. Her name is Skye, and she loves kittens and rollerblading. She has brown hair and beautiful eyes, just like mine. She said if she didn’t know any better, she would think Zack had a baby with me and not with Taylor.
Meet T.L. Finlay
I love fiction. I love reading it, writing it, talking about it, and pretending to be it and that is all.
I tried writing my first book at the age of eleven, when I penned a story (seriously, a pen and spiral notebook) about a girl in the 1800s who stole a horse and ran away from home. I stopped because I got scared when the characters started taking over—I didn’t understand how powerful the magic of writing was at that age. So I stuck with poetry for the remainder of my childhood.
I also enjoyed reading books and judging them. Why would the author use that word? Who taught her how to spell? I hate this character! I loved that! What does that have to do with anything? Oh, so that’s why he did it that way. I soon discovered that I read with an editor’s eye—both a blessing and a curse.
I graduated college with a Bachelor in Communication Arts and a minor in English. Somehow, no matter what job I held after that, I always ended up being transferred to the writing/editing department. *shrugs* I don’t really know what to think of that.
I’ve edited eight hundred gazillion manuscripts of all genres for various authors. I do love editing, but my heart lies in writing psychological thrillers. I published my first, The Rules of Burken, in April of 2019. My second, The Falling of Stars, will be released in late summer of 2019.
I’ve been married since 2004 to the love of my life, and we have two athletic boys who have to be driven everywhere. This means that I’m their chauffer, their sports agent, and they don’t even like reading. *sighs* The cherry on top of this family dynamic is my little dog, Scout, who is so ugly it’s comical. But her brains, wit, and smart mouth make up for it.
**This has been edited to add our rescue pup, Goliath, who is as wimpy as he is massive. But he has a heart of gold and the face of a cherub. I can’t, with these dogs…
Connect with T.L. Finlay
Facebook page: https://bit.ly/3QokgZL