YA Lit Magazine presents an exclusive fan fiction article based on the new series ALIBI, giving readers a sneak peek at what’s happening to Charles, Palmer, Mason and Rowan after the series ends.
November 30, 2012
Cover Story: Charles Cosgrove, Victim or Villain?
by Dominica St. Vincent
“Oh damn, it’s you!” Charles exclaims as he opens the door to his hotel suite. He reaches for a t-shirt that’s slung over the back of a Saarinen armchair and pulls it over his head, affording me a view of what has made him a sort of American cultural phenomenon in the past few weeks. At any hour of the day there are a horde of young girls gathered outside hoping for just a glimpse of him coming or going. I understand now it’s with good reason.
Charles Cosgrove is the reluctant bad-boy du jour and he certainly looks the part. He may or may not also be responsible for murdering Abigail Shelton, hometown golden girl and acolyte of Governor Kimberly Mackenzie, in a jealous rage. Just like on TV, he looks much more harmless than the electronic bracelet around his ankle would suggest.
Now fully dressed, he steps aside so I can enter. “Sorry. I’m such a wanker—I totally forgot you were coming. A few things on my mind these days.” He runs his hand nervously through his disheveled hair and gives me a crooked smile. In all journalistic objectivity, I can see what all the fuss is about.
He ushers me to a black leather couch that overlooks a sunny terrace. Not everyone who stands accused of murder can afford to await their trial in a $1,000 a night hotel room—even those who’ve been offered a reality TV show to document their incarceration. Charles Cosgrove clearly has connections in influential places. Most notably his father’s sporting goods empire in Australia.
The way he self-consciously takes a seat across from me, then stands right back up to offer me a drink, is chivalrous. I notice that Proust’s In Search of Lost Time is sitting on the coffee table, splayed out as if he just put it down mid-read. Charles seems for all the world like a nice young man caught up in a crazy situation. Of course, maybe that’s by design.
Settled once more, he leans forward, his elbows on his knees. “Okay, so how does this work? Do I just launch right in to my deepest fear or do you start with something easier like my favorite color or first kiss?”
He smiles again, this time full-on, and it is nothing if not disarming. I notice there’s a television on mute, flickering on the wall over his shoulder.
“Where would you like to start? Do you want to tell me about your first kiss? I’m certain there are plenty of people out there who would like to know.”
He blushes and puts his head down briefly. Then he sits back in his chair, seemingly a little more relaxed.
“It was a counselor at my summer camp—is that weird? She was in charge of like, the swimming program and was way too old for me. Probably like a really worldly sixteen to my gangly, awkward fourteen, you know?” He winks at me, like we’re conspirators.
“So she was your Mrs. Robinson?”
He laughs and pinches the bridge of his nose briefly with his hand, shaking his head. “Yeah, bang on. To me she was like this unattainable goddess. I honestly don’t know what compelled her. Probably she felt sorry for me.”
Looking at him now, only four years beyond fourteen and handsome in a way that seems to go hand-in-hand with privilege, I somehow doubted that.
“So what, she caught you in the middle of the backstroke and just laid one on you?”
“Er, no. It was the last night of camp you know, when they have the big fire and everyone sings kumbaya and all that. And she just sort of, took my hand and led me into the woods.”
Charles starts to blush again, and laughs self-consciously. “You don’t want to hear about my awkward teenage years. I’m not sure why I brought that up.”
“Alright, let’s switch gears then. How about we just cut straight to the question that everyone wants the answer to. Did you have anything to do with Abigail Shelton’s death?”
His face goes pale. The corners of his eyes crinkle a little, like he’s suppressing some kind of pain.
“I’m not allowed to talk about that. Legal stuff, you know.” His fingers flex against his knees, then grip them so hard his knuckles go white.
I catch sight of Rowan Price on the television behind him, and reach for the remote on the table. A few steps behind her is Mason Mackenzie--Charles’ cousin, Abby’s boyfriend, and son of the newly re-elected Governor Mackenzie.
I un-mute the television. Hearing Rowan’s voice, Charles looks over his shoulder, alarmed.
“Abby was my best friend,” Rowan sniffs. “We always looked out for one another. I didn’t want to believe it at first, but I know in my heart Charles Cosgrove did this.”
Mason nods like it is the only true thing in the world.
Charles snorts in disgust, but he sounds defeated. I mute it again.
“I get the sense you don’t think Rowan is being genuine.”
He looks me directly in the eye. “That girl is incapable of genuine. She’s the most accomplished manipulator I’ve ever met.”
“So you think she had something to do with Abby’s death?”
He looks cagily around the room. He stands and walks over to the terrace door.
“No. I don’t know. It’s just—I know what it feels like to be wrongly accused and I wouldn’t put anyone else through that. Not unless I was sure. But she and my cousin have some heavy secrets to hide.”
He runs his hand through his hair again. I can tell he’s nervous that he’s gone too far. But there’s something more here, and I need to know what it is.
“The Mackenzie family has thrown their considerable power behind what they’ve called, and I quote, “bringing a killer to justice.”
Charles only nods. His eyes look unfathomably sad.
“There are some, however, who suggest that they are merely using you as a scapegoat to protect their own son—your cousin Mason—who is rumored to have had problems with anger management and even drugs in the past. Is that true? Did you ever see Mason lose his temper?”
He looks me square in the eye. “Everyone loses their temper now and then. It doesn’t mean you’re a murderer.”
His shoulders slump a little. Even though I have no idea what to make of that slightly sinister comment, I have to suppress the urge to jump out of my chair and comfort him. It’s a little unnerving, the effect he has.
There’s a beep-click at the door and both of us jump. Palmer Hutchins pushes her way in the room and she freezes when she sees me. Charles has a look of panic on his face.
She looks startled but quickly strides forward, hand extended.
“Hello,” she says, trying to recover her poise with a smile. She is an equally stunning counterpoint to Charles—even more so in person than in the tabloids.
She’s holding a bag of pastries and a cup of coffee. Her eyes cut to Charles, who has risen politely to greet her.
“Charles asked me to join him for the interview.”
“That’s odd, given Charles had forgotten I was coming," I reply.
Without missing a beat, Palmer flutters her lashes and taps the side of her temple. “I’m much better at remembering things than he is.”
A convincing lie, but a lie nonetheless.
She looks uncertainly at Charles. He seems frozen in place and then he nods and settles back in his seat. Palmer balances herself on the edge of the couch, as far away from him as she can possibly get. Even still, I can sense the electricity between them.
I let them both squirm for a minute before I break the silence. There is one question that every gossip columnist in the county is burning to ask these two, and here I sit.
“Are you two dating?”
“No.” Palmer purses her lips and looks down at her lap.
Charles takes a deep breath. “We’re just really good friends. Everyone wants to make it something it’s not, because it's sensational. Sells magazines in the checkout line and all that.”
I couldn’t help but notice Palmer fidget and wonder if it was because what Charles said was true, or because it wasn’t.
“Friends are probably hard to come by these days,” I observed.
Palmer stands abruptly and walks out on the terrace. Charles frowns and looks over his shoulder, then back at me.
He lowers his voice so only I can hear.
“I’m not so sure I had any to begin with.”
About the ALIBI series:
Abigail Shelton is dead.
Spring Valley's golden girl is found floating face-down in her boyfriend’s pool, hands bound behind her back, head bleeding, drugs and alcohol in her system. Her friends are the only suspects – and they all have reasons to want her dead. Everyone has an alibi, but no one is innocent.
ALIBI is a 4-part young adult e-book series. Each one-hundred page installment reveals the perspective of a different character: the secret love, the nemesis, the boyfriend, the best friend. As their tales unfold, we learn that Abby is not as perfect as everyone believes, but she’s not the only one with secrets to hide. This page-turning tale of suspense, betrayal, murder, and lust will keep fans of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars up and reading well past curfew.
ALIBI is available now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.