Authors: Krista McGee
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Religious, #Christian, #General
Kara was right behind her, though. She grabbed Addy by the shoulders, forcing her to stop. “Addy, you know what I’ve noticed about you?”
Addy groaned. “No. What, Dr. Kara?”
“I’ve noticed”—Kara arched one eyebrow in a “watch it, sister” slant—“that you get angry when you’re uncomfortable. You don’t want to admit you’re scared or nervous, so you get angry to cover it up.”
Addy turned and walked away, too upset to even speak.
After a few days’ acquaintance, Kara thinks she can analyze me? Please
. Addy power-walked her way toward the trailers.
She rounded the corner of the massive front porch just as Jonathon came from the other side. Addy narrowly missed running right into him. She gazed up just in time to throw an irritated glance his way.
“Hey,” Jonathon called after her. Addy was surprised to see he appeared even more irritated than she did.
“You know, most girls are excited to be here.” Jonathon shook his head and sighed. “I mean, I don’t expect you to fall all over me. But do you really think acting like that will get you attention?”
“What?” Addy sucked in her breath. “I don’t want attention.”
“That’s not what Hank says.”
“And what does Hank say?” Addy put up her hand to stop him. “Never mind. I don’t want to know. I just want to go home.”
“There’s something we have in common.”
“Thanks.” Addy’s voice was laced with sarcasm, and she bit her tongue to keep from saying anything else she’d regret.
“No, that’s not what I meant . . .” Jonathon appeared conflicted. He rubbed his temples and looked at Addy, his eyes softening. Melted chocolate.
Addy was confused, almost ready to apologize. But she was interrupted by Lila, the Hawaiian bombshell with a grass skirt for a brain.
“There you are, Jonathon.” Lila tossed her long black locks like she was in a shampoo commercial. “Hank told me you wanted to see me. That’s so cute. Come on, I’ll take you into The Mansion. I was just about to practice for Thursday night.” Lila grabbed Jonathon’s arm and led him toward the door.
Jonathon looked puzzled, but he went along. As they walked away, Lila glanced over her shoulder and gave Addy a “he’s all mine” smile. Addy fought the urge to stick out her tongue in response.
Addy walked away, her heart and mind racing. She was angry. She was embarrassed. She felt like an idiot. Her uncle would be disappointed with her behavior.
was disappointed with her behavior. Jonathon was upset with her. Even Kara was put out. Addy was supposed to be the light here, but instead she was causing more problems than anyone else. She broke into a jog and arrived back at the trailer sweaty and out of breath.
Sitting on her bed, Addy thought about what Kara had said. Did she really use anger as a cover? She thought back to her response to going on the show, her treatment of Jonathon—every time she saw him—especially her most recent outbursts.
Kara was right.
With reluctance Addy made her way back to The Mansion.
Okay, God. I hear you
till nothing?” Kara inquired.
Addy, surrounded by books that might as well have been written in Latin, was trying to find some sort of talent to display at the performance.
“Nothing. Unless sitting onstage and reading silently counts.”
“Sorry, chick. Not gonna happen.”
Addy had met with an acting coach for her required hour the day before. Less than fifteen minutes into their session, the coach recommended that Addy “consider another arena in which to display her talent.”
As Addy opened up yet another book of monologues, Lila poked her head into the room.
“Oh, hi, girls. Can’t find anything?” She smiled. “It must be hard. Especially for you, Addy. I saw you with the acting coach yesterday. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Not pretty. But I guess you’re used to that—not being pretty.”
Lila picked up a book, flipped through it, then tossed it in the pile. “Don’t worry. I’m having trouble finding something too. Voice lessons for six years, dance lessons for seven. And I’m in the theater track at my performing arts school. Five minutes just isn’t enough.” She laughed. “Oh well. I’m sure I’ll come up with something.”
Trash talk. Beautiful Hawaiian trash talk. Addy’s initial impression that there was nothing under that long black hair was wrong. Lila was brutal. But brutal with a smile. A deadly volcano disguised as a grass-covered mountain. She was trying to intimidate Addy.
And it was working.
Thankfully Kara was there to rescue her.
“I don’t know, Lila. You only have a couple more days. If you wait too long, you might get up on that stage and freeze. All those lights, millions of people watching . . . it’s scary.
scary.” Kara’s face was deadly serious. Addy felt like she should be playing screeching horror film music in the background.
Lila’s eyes grew wide, then hardened. “Oh, I’m not scared, ladies. Not at all. In fact, I was just trying to make
feel better. I’ve had my piece ready for a while. It’s something I perfected at home. Won first place at my school’s talent show.”
“A performing arts school has a
show? I go to a performing arts school—
theater track—and our teachers wouldn’t dream of putting together a talent show. It’s so
.” Kara spat out the last word like it was poison.
“Wh-what?” Lila was flustered. Beaten at her own game. “I don’t . . . I mean, we have . . . well, whatever.” She regained her composure. “My piece is fantastic. You won’t want to miss it. I’m sure it’ll be the highlight of the night.” With that, she swept out of the room, wanting, no doubt, to get in the last word.
Kara winked at Addy.
“I didn’t know you went to a performing arts school.”
Kara grinned. “I don’t. And Lila probably doesn’t either.”
“Oh.” Addy laughed. “Trash talk.”
Kara burst out in loud laughter. “Exactly.”
The girls continued to work for the next two hours, listening to CDs, thumbing through piles of scripts, until Eric, one of the assistant directors, came into the room.
“Hi, girls.” Eric was one of the few nice ones on the show. He actually treated the contestants like humans instead of cattle. “We need to take some video of you talking about yourselves, for your package before the performance.”
“Package?” Addy inquired.
“TV lingo for video clip.”
“So who’s first?” Eric looked from Kara to Addy.
Kara jumped up. “I’ll go. Can I freshen up a little first?”
“Sure. Why don’t both of you meet me at the gazebo in ten?”
The taping of the first part of the “package” went as smoothly as Addy guessed it could go. Because Eric was so kind, Addy felt relaxed. She just answered the questions as they came. How old are you? What are your hobbies? How were you chosen to be on
The Book of Love
? The answers came easily. Until the end.
“Tell us about your parents,” Eric said, glancing at his notes.
“Yes, you know—mom and dad—you have some, right?” He laughed. Until he saw Addy’s strained face and watery eyes.
She did not discuss her parents with anyone but Uncle Mike and God. The subject was difficult. She didn’t want to share their story with anyone else. Especially not with fifteen million strangers.
“You know what?” Eric closed his binder. “I think we have enough. Dan, go ahead and wrap that.” He smiled apologetically at Addy and squeezed her shoulder. “I’m sorry if I brought up a painful subject. I won’t mention it again, okay?”
She must have looked more upset than she thought or he wouldn’t have felt so bad. Her mouth had gone dry, and she asked to be excused to go to the catering table for a drink.
Addy was sipping a Diet Coke when Kara sat beside her.
“Let’s go for a walk, roomie.”
“I’d rather not,” Addy replied, eyes on the ice bobbing in her drink. She could tell by Kara’s tone that she wanted to talk. Addy hoped her tone revealed her desire to remain silent.
“Addy. You need to talk.”
“No, I don’t.”
“See, you’re angry. Because you’re uncomfortable. And because you know I’m right.”
“I thought you wanted to be an actress, not a psychiatrist.” Addy nudged Kara’s shoulder with her own.
“We all have to have something to fall back on.”
“I really don’t want to talk about it.” Addy looked back down at her drink.
Kara pulled Addy up by her arm, spilling Diet Coke on the perfectly manicured lawn. “I know. But you need to. Come on, let’s go.”
God, help me
, Addy prayed.
, was the reply.
was six and a half when my world came crashing down,” Addy began. “We lived in a little jungle village in Colombia. My dad was the village doctor; my mom was the nurse. They had lived there for several years and they loved it. My dad had been a doctor for a while in the States, but he didn’t like it. Didn’t feel totally fulfilled.”
Addy couldn’t bring herself to admit that her parents were missionaries. She prayed that God would understand. “My mom felt the same way, so they sold everything they had and moved to Colombia. I was born there. My first memories are running around with the village kids, playing in the rain forest, watching monkeys jump from tree to tree and trying to follow them.”
“Wow,” Kara exclaimed.
Addy forgot how unique her childhood was. Because it was
, it just seemed normal. “Anyway, our village was pretty remote, so we didn’t often hear much from the ‘outside world.’ But when I was six, some people moved into the village next to ours.”
Addy’s mind raced back to that day, to the familiar memory that never left her.
“What language are they speaking, Daddy?” Addy gazed past her father, beyond the low-lying branches of the tree. Several men were speaking quietly. They were looking around and pointing toward her village.
“Shh, honey. Be very still.” Daddy stroked Addy’s hair, listening carefully to what the men were saying.
Addy waited for what felt like hours. She sat down, staring up at the colorful birds making their way from tree to tree. She wanted one of them to come down to her so she could play with it, but Daddy wouldn’t want her to use her bird-calling voice then, so she remained silent.
When the men left, Daddy picked up Addy and threw her on his shoulders. Normally she loved this. They would take walks and Daddy would tell her the names of all the trees and the plants. Addy would touch the different leaves, some slick, others almost furry, and try to recall their names.
This time, though, Daddy didn’t walk. He ran. Addy gripped his neck as he picked his way through the dense forest to her village. Mommy was outside, talking with her friends. They were cooking over a fire. Addy hoped they would make something sweet tonight.
“Laura, gather the elders. Now.”
Mommy’s eyes widened, and she ran toward the other huts, calling out the names of the men in the village. Everyone came outside, and soon almost the entire village was in their small hut.
“I overheard some men in the next village. They were speaking Spanish. I could understand some of it.” Daddy looked at the people and closed his eyes. “They are going to use the village to process drugs. Cocaine.”
Addy wasn’t sure what cocaine was, but she knew about drugs. Some of the villagers had taken drugs. They did bad things. Mommy and Daddy helped some of them stop. “Dr. Joshua, this is not our business,” one of the elders said. “Leave it be. We cannot stop them if they want to do this.”
“We must stop it,” Daddy said. “You’ve seen what these drugs do to people. Imagine them getting into the hands of thousands more. We can’t allow it. I will go into Mitú and tell the authorities. Who will come with me?”
At first no one spoke. Addy raised her hand. “I will, Daddy. Then I can see Sarah and Miss Stacy too.” Some of their American friends lived in Mitú. Addy loved to visit them the few times a year her family went into the larger city.
“No, sweetheart,” Mommy said. “Not this time. But, please, one of you at least. Have we taught you nothing? Will you really allow these men to come and do this?”
“Mrs. Laura,” another elder spoke. “It is not our business. It is bad luck to put ourselves into another man’s affairs.”
“Luck? There is no luck. There is right and wrong. This activity is wrong. God would not want us to ignore it.”
“We will not go with you, Dr. Joshua,” the oldest man in the tribe said, and the others nodded in agreement.
Addy’s mother wiped a tear and Addy hugged her, not fully understanding all that was happening.
Two days later, Daddy returned from Mitú.
The day after that, the police arrived. The men from the other village, the ones Daddy had overheard talking about the drugs, were right behind the police. They started screaming for everyone to come outside. The police stood beside them.
Inside their hut Mommy sobbed. “The police are corrupt. They will kill everyone!” She picked Addy up and handed her to their maid. “Please escape with Addy.”