Read Secrets Online

Authors: Nick Sharratt

Secrets

Contents

Cover

About the Book

Title Page

Dedication

Introduction

One: Treasure

Two: India

Three: Treasure

Four: India

Five: Treasure

Six: India

Seven: Treasure

Eight: India

Nine: Treasure

Ten: India

Eleven: Treasure

Twelve: India

Thirteen: Treasure

Fourteen: India

Fifteen: Treasure

Sixteen: India

Seventeen: Treasure

Eighteen: India

Nineteen: Treasure

Twenty: India

Things to Think About

Read on for the first chapter of
LOVE LESSONS

About the Author

About the Illustrator

Also by Jacqueline Wilson

Copyright

About the Book

I'm India.

And I'm Treasure.

My mum's a famous fashion designer, and we live in this gorgeous house. Mum's a nightmare, though. Nothing I do is good enough for her.

I live with my gran. We don't have much money, but Gran's brilliant – and anything's better than going back to live with Mum and horrible Terry.

I wasn't sure Treasure and I would have much in common – but it turns out we do.

We both love Anne Frank – she's the reason we started to write our diaries.

So when Treasure needed to escape from her violent stepdad, I knew the perfect hiding place.

Not a secret annexe – a secret attic . . .

For Alex – thank you so much for compiling my diary
.

Many of my books are about special friendships. Treasure and India, the two girls in
Secrets
, have one of the closest of these friendships, but on the face of it they are an unlikely pair. They're the same age, they're both bright, bookish girls, they both like drawing and colouring and inventing – but they are worlds apart when it comes to background.

Treasure's had a really scary life. Her mum has a boyfriend who hates Treasure, and vents his temper on her. He might be a good father to his own children, Bethany and Kyle and little Gary, but he threatens poor Treasure, making her life a misery. He goes too far and hits her with his heavy belt, cutting her forehead. Treasure's magnificent, feisty grandma sees this, and sweeps her off to live in her crowded council flat with her own extended family.

India lives nearby, but in a very different huge house. Her father wouldn't dream of hitting her with
a
belt – but he's too wrapped up in his own affairs to take any notice of her. India's dress designer mother is also absorbed in her own world, frequently impatient with her awkward challenging chubby daughter. India is ultra bright at school, but she makes the other girls groan. They can't understand India, especially her obsession with Anne Frank and her diary. India in her own way is just as much a lonely misfit as Treasure.

I'm the author. I have power over the plot! So of course I made the girls meet and get to know each other properly. They tell their stories in alternate chapters – and when Treasure has to hide away, India is inspired by Anne Frank's diary to offer her a kind of secret annexe.

I'm not really a bit like Treasure
or
India, but we have a few things in common. I was brought up on a big council estate like Treasure, though I never learnt to ride a bike, let alone do wheelies. I was obsessed by Anne Frank like India, reading her very moving diary again and again. I had a photo of Anne by my bedside for years.

Do you think Treasure and India will stay best friends forever? I do hope so.

One

Treasure

THIS IS THE
start of my whole new life. I am never going home. I don't ever want to see Mum again. Or Bethany or Kyle or grizzly little Gary. And I especially don't ever, ever, ever want to see Terry.

This notebook used to be the Official Terry Torture Manual. I invented a brand-new torture for him every day. It was a lot of fun. But then sneaky Bethany found the notebook under my pillow and showed it to him. He turned the pages very slowly, taking in all my carefully coloured diagrams of torture machines. I'd spent hours on the Terrible Tooth Tweaker and the Excrutiating Ear Enlarger and the Beastly Big Bum-Basher.

Terry looked at them. He nodded. He drew in his
breath
. Then he ripped the pages out and tore them up into tiny pieces. It was obvious he wanted to tear me into tiny pieces too.

Mum tried to turn it into a joke and pretended it was just my warped sense of humour.

‘That kid of yours is warped all right,' said Terry. He stood up and unbuckled the heavy leather belt round his jeans. ‘She needs teaching a lesson once and for all.'

Mum tried to laugh him out of it, acting like he was just kidding. She said he didn't really mean it. He was just trying to scare me. We were all scared. When he raised the belt Mum yelled at me to run for it. I didn't run fast enough. He got me on the side of my head and broke my glasses and cut me all down my forehead.

Mum cried. Bethany cried because it was all her fault. Kyle cried too though he likes to make out he's so tough. Gary cried, but that's nothing new. I didn't cry. I stood there with blood trickling down into my eyes and I clenched my fists and stared straight at Terry. He looked a bit fuzzy without my specs but he's got these really cold green eyes that you can't miss. I focused on them. Staring him out. He was the one who broke first. He looked away, ducking his head like he was ashamed.

He went straight out down the pub even though Nan and Loretta and her little Britney and Willie and Patsy were coming round for tea. It was all laid out on the living-room table: ham sandwiches and sausage rolls and leftover chocolate log and mince pies and
fruit
cake, though Kyle and I had nicked most of the icing. Bethany's off sweet stuff at the moment because she thinks she's fat. Well she
is
. I annoy her no end because I eat heaps and stay thin as a pin. Mum says it's my nervous energy.

No wonder I get nervous living with Terry.

But I don't live with him any more, hurray, hurray, hurray! He did me a huge favour hitting me with his belt. Nan took one look at me and went white.

‘My God, Treasure, what have they done to you?'

I just shrugged. I'm not a tell-tale like
some
people. Bethany and Kyle and Mum held their breath. Even little Gary stopped grizzling.

My nan's not daft.

‘Terry did it, didn't he?' she said.

Her voice was very quiet in the hushed room. She looked round, her eyes flashing.

‘Where is he?'

‘He's out, Mum. But it wasn't really Terry's fault. It was an accident.'

‘Accident my bottom,' said Nan.

Well, she said something ruder and more alliterative. We have learnt about alliteration at school. I am Top Girl. Which isn't hard because heaps of our kids have got problems. Our school has got a bad name. But I won't have to go to it any more. I shall go to a school near my nan's. I am living with her now.

I can't believe it! Oh, I love my nan
sooooo
much. She got it all sorted. She made me stand under the light in the living room and gently pushed back my sticky
fringe
and peeled off the plasters Mum had stuck on. Nan swore again when she saw the size of the cut.

‘Go and get your coat, Treasure,' she said quietly.

‘What are you on about, Mum?' said my mum.

‘We're off,' said Nan. She nodded at the rest of the family. ‘Come on. We'll have tea back at our place, once we've taken Treasure up the hospital.'

‘Hospital?' Mum whispered.

‘She needs stitches, Tammy. How did he
do
it? Did he knife her?'

‘No, no, it was an accident, his belt—'

‘His belt,' said Nan. She hugged me tight. ‘Right. Bethany, you get yourself upstairs with a big carrier bag and get Treasure's clothes packed. She's staying with me from now on.'

We all stared at Nan.

‘Jump to it, Bethany!' Nan commanded.

‘Yes, Nan,' said Bethany, jumping. She's not
her
nan but she does as Nan tells her. We all do.

‘You can't, Mum,' said my mum, starting to cry.

I thought she meant I couldn't stay with Nan. I nearly cried then, because I didn't want Mum to feel I was walking out on her. She needed me. She's useless at keeping Bethany and Kyle under control and she doesn't always get up for Gary in the night. And then there's Terry. He hits her too.

I decided maybe I should stay.

But it turned out she didn't mean that at all.

‘You can't take Treasure up the hospital, Mum. They'll want to know how it happened,' my mum
sobbed.
‘And then they'll get on to the Social – maybe even the police. They'll come down on Terry like a ton of bricks.'

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