The Unexpected Everything

By: Morgan Matson

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


Justin!! In order to thank you properly for the hundreds of things you did for this book, these acknowledgments would go very long. So I’m going to try to limit myself to two. You know what? Make it three. I’m not driving. Thank you for your patience and enthusiasm—for believing in this story right from the beginning, and your unshakable confidence that we’d have a book by the end of it, even when it was months late and hundreds of pages too long. Thank you for your beyond-amazing notes. As ever, you knew what this story was before I did, and helped me find it draft by draft. And thank you for being so wonderful to work with—between the LOTR notes calls and emoji-filled emails, it’s always such a joy. I couldn’t have done this without you, and I’m so lucky to get to work with you.

Thanks to Emily Van Beek, my wonderful agent and fierce supporter. Thanks also to Molly Jaffa, Amy Rosenbaum, and everyone at Folio.

Lucy Ruth Cummins, I didn’t think a cover could be more beautiful than SYBG’s. But then you added PUPPIES. You’re a genius. Thank you for making my emoticon dreams come true. And a huge thank-you to Meredith Jenks for the gorgeous photos!

The people I’m fortunate enough to work with at Simon & Schuster are the absolute best. Thank you to Chrissy Noh, Katy Hershberger, Jon Anderson, Anne Zafian, Michelle Leo, Katrina Groover, Dorothy Gribbin, and Lucille Rettino. And a special shout-out to Alexa Pastor for reading every draft!

I share a writing office with three of the finest people in Los Angeles. Rachel Cohn, Leslie Margolis, and Jordan Roter, thank you for everything. I promise I’ll start refilling the water cooler.

Thanks to Anna Carey, Jennifer E. Smith, and Jenny Han. Jenny, here’s to that night in Italy!

I’m so fortunate to know Jessi Kirby and Siobhan Vivian, brilliant writers and wonderful friends. Thanks, you guys, for the encouragement and support.

Thank you to Jane Finn and Katie Matson. And thanks especially to my brother, Jason Matson, the bravest person I know.

And, of course, thanks to Murphy, without whom this book would have been written much, much faster.





The Elder looked across to Tamsin in the firelight. “Pay close attention when people tell you stories,” he said. “At their core, every story you’ve ever heard comes down to two things. Someone goes on a long journey or a stranger comes to town.”

Tamsin considered this as the fire crackled. “But can’t it sometimes be both?”

The Elder looked at her for a long moment, like he was seeing something she was not. “Yes,” he finally said, his voice grave. “Very occasionally, it can.”

—C. B. McCallister, A Murder of Crows. Hightower & Jax, New York.





Chapter ONE


I flexed my feet in my too-tight shoes and made myself stand up straight, trying to ignore the rapid-fire clicking of the cameras going off all around me. It was still really hot out—despite the fact it was getting close to five—but I was wearing a knee-length tweed skirt and a white button-down shirt. My hair had been blown out and curled, and I was wearing pearl earrings and a light application of makeup. It was not the way I would normally have looked on a Wednesday afternoon in early June, but this was anything but an ordinary Wednesday.

“Thank you all so much for coming today,” my father said from behind the podium that was currently in the middle of our front porch. He shuffled his papers for a second before taking a deep breath and going into his prepared speech, the one I now knew by heart, since Peter Wright, his chief of staff and main strategist, had made me listen to it over and over until I could do so with absolutely no change in my expression, like all of this was old news to me by now, and nothing my dad was saying would catch me by surprise.

For a moment, as the now-familiar words started to wash over me, I just blinked at the podium. Where exactly had it come from? Did Peter travel around with spare ones in the back of his SUV?

“. . . regret that the people of Connecticut might have lost any of their trust in me,” my dad said, snapping me back to the present moment. I fixed my eyes on him again, hoping that my face hadn’t betrayed anything other than a supportive daughter standing by her father. If it had, this story, which was already dominating the twenty-four-hour news channels and had spilled onto the networks, would just keep getting bigger.

It wasn’t like I didn’t understand why. A prominent congressman, one of the stars of the party, is suddenly caught up in a scandal that threatens to upend not only his career but the next national election—the headlines practically wrote themselves. If it had been someone else, I would have looked at the round-the-clock coverage and shrugged, figuring it was to be expected. But now that it was happening here—my front yard, my porch, my father—that certainty was totally gone.

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