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Authors: Linda J Singleton

Kelsey the Spy (6 page)

BOOK: Kelsey the Spy
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I start smiling. We hadn't had a Fit-Pic in months. Gran Nola, a yoga instructor, organizes a game of exercises with prizes for most graceful, highest achievement, and fastest. And if there's a race, our dog Handsome runs with us.

Mom says this is just what she needs to avoid thinking about “pre-first-day-on-the-job jitters,” and Dad can't wait to get started on the menu for the Fit-Pic. He consults with my grandmother on the phone, rattling off food choices, and then rushes to the kitchen to get ready. I expect my brother to stay home to study or my sisters to hurry off to be with friends. But they actually seem excited to hang out as a family—something we rarely do since moving to the apartment.

We find the perfect picnic table in a ring of shady oaks. And while Dad sets out a feast, Mom joins us kids for Gran Nola's fitness games.

“Our first contest is the William Tell,” Gram announces and then passes out apples.

We place apples on our heads and twist into whatever yoga pose Gran shouts out. Whoever poses longest without dropping their apple wins (and Gran always comes prepared with wrapped prizes). The Cobbler's Pose and Cow Face Pose are easy. Difficulty increases with the Eagle Pose. Mom loses her balance and laughs as she—and her apple—fall to the grass. The King Dancer Pose takes out both Kyle and Kiana, leaving me and Kenya. So it's a pose-off! We balance on one foot with our other leg bent and our palms praying. I'm doing good, my focus steady, until my nose itches and I sneeze. Kenya whoops over her win.

Gran Nola announces the fitness race, and all the kids line up.

This isn't a run-to-the-finish-line race. Nothing is that simple with Gran Nola. She sets up three fitness challenges: hula-hoop, jump rope, and headstand. Mom and Dad are judges as we complete each task. My sisters are great at hula-hooping and finish at the same time. Not so easy for me. The hula-hoop circles more often around my ankles than my waist. But I finally achieve the fifty spins needed to go on to jump roping. I'm quick at jump roping and make up time. At the finish though, it's my brother who wins by standing on his head for five minutes.

“Guess your big head is good for something,” Kenya teases.

We all laugh, then sit down for a picnic that should go down in history as the Best. Lunch. Ever. Dad even prepared special canine cuisine for Handsome.

While I'm chomping on a happy face cupcake, Handsome barks and then pokes his Frisbee at my leg.

“Want to play?” I ask, then swallow the last bite of cupcake.

Handsome barks excitedly, his dark eyes shining. There are too many trees around our picnic table, so I lead him to a grassy area and throw the Frisbee. After several throws, I notice another dog—a Queensland healer—watching us.

The dog is about twenty feet away, half-hidden in the shade of a green bush. The medium-sized healer has short, gray-brown fur and a cropped tail. There's a longing look on his face, as if he wants to play Frisbee too. I glance around for his owner but don't see anyone.

And that's when my brain clicks.

I've seen this dog before—or at least his photo on a lost pet flyer. I'm sure it's the same dog, and he's been missing for over a week.

Slowly, I stand up and hold out the Frisbee.

“Hey, boy,” I say softly. “Want to play with us?”

The dog looks up at me but doesn't move. But Handsome barks and lunges for the Frisbee. “Sit, Handsome,” I whisper. “Stay.”

Handsome whines a complaint, but he's well trained and sits. His gaze stays on the new dog though, playful and friendly.

I take a careful step forward, holding out the Frisbee like I'm offering a yummy dog treat. “Come over here and you can play with us.”

The healer's stubby tail wags, and I can read eagerness in his blue eyes. But there's fear too. He backs away.

“I won't hurt you,” I promise sweetly. “Come here and get the Frisbee. I have dog treats back at our table. You'll be safe with me.”

The dog hangs its head and whines.

“It's okay, boy,” I say soothingly. “I'll take you back to your owner. Come here and everything will be fine.”

That stubby tail wiggles, and I think he's starting to trust me.

I take another step, then another and—the blur of gray-brown fur spins around and vanishes into the bushes.

“Come back!” I call, running around the bushes. But there's no sign of him.

Drats. I lift up the Frisbee and resume playing with Handsome. But I keep an eye out for the Queensland healer. Unfortunately, he never returns.

Later that night, when I'm slipping into my pajamas, I search through missing pets flyers until I find a photo of the Queensland healer. His name is Bobbsey. He's ten months old and loves to run and jump—which is how he escaped from his yard. His owner is offering a twenty-five-dollar reward.

I'll show this flyer to Becca and Leo when we meet at the Skunk Shack tomorrow. Then we'll bike around looking for lost pets, which is always fun. It might be awkward though, because I won't be able to look at Leo and Becca without thinking of the secrets I uncovered.

Sighing, I take my notebook of secrets out of the hidden drawer. I curl up against my pillows and read through the latest entries. I imagine how each person would feel if I exposed their secrets, which reminds me how important it is to write down secrets instead of talking about them.

With a yawn, I close my notebook. I'm so tired I could sleep for a week. I reach for my pajamas, then stop when I glance at my backpack. Drats! I almost forgot my algebra homework. (Why teachers assign homework over the weekend is a mystery to me!)

I take out my textbook and paper but can't find a pencil. I turn my backpack upside down, dumping its contents onto my bed. Finally, a pencil! I lean back against pillows and get to work. When the last algebra equation is done, I toss everything into my backpack, then turn off the light.

Sunlight stabs my eyes.

Morning already?

I glance at the clock. Already half past seven? I'm running late!

Usually Mom wakes me when I oversleep, but her new work hours are even earlier than my school hours. And Dad is busy making breakfast.

I stagger out of bed, my muscles a little sore from yoga poses. I move slowly like a tortoise when I need to be speedy like a rabbit.

After I get dressed, I tame my tangled hair into a ponytail and brush my teeth. As I'm leaving the bathroom, there's a
thud
from my brother's room. Kyle rushes out of his room, carrying toiletries and a change of clothes. He brushes past me on his way to shower, mutters “sorry,” and then slams the bathroom door.

Immediately, I jump into action.

This is my chance to search his room.

- Chapter 8 -

What I Found

My sisters treat showering like a vacation destination—packing luggage and moving into the bathroom for an hour or two. But not Kyle. He never takes more than ten minutes. Will that be enough time?

With a furtive glance down the hall, I duck into Kyle's room. I leave the door open a crack so I can hear the rush of running water. As soon as the shower stops, I'm out of here.

My brother's room isn't much bigger than mine, but it feels spacious because he's so neat. Everything has an orderly place; his desk is spotless with supplies such as pens and paper organized on shelves. His bedspread doesn't have any wrinkles. And no socks or shoes clutter the floor.

Where would he hide a large box?
I tap my chin and slowly turn in a circle to gaze around the room.

Nothing under the bed.

Nothing behind or under the computer desk either.

The box is too wide to fit into a dresser drawer so that only leaves the closet. But all I find are shirts and pants hanging in order of size and color. I drag a chair over to check the top shelf where I hide my spy pack in my own room. No luck—until I look behind a suitcase in the back corner and see an edge of white.

The mysterious box!

My heart pounds as I shove the suitcase aside. I have to move quickly. The box is bigger than I realized; about three feet long and six inches deep. But it's surprisingly light, like holding a balloon.

And when I lift off the lid …

Nothing.

Why would Kyle hide an empty box?
Something important must have been inside it—but what? And how will I ever find out?

I start to put the lid back on when sunbeams from the bedroom window behind me shine on a tiny green spot inside the box.

Only it's not a spot.

I pick up a flat, round piece of plastic. It's olive-green, the size of a quarter but thinner and bendy. Both sides are smooth with no identifying marks.

What is this? And why hide a tiny green circle in a large box?

Before I can come up with any ideas, I realize it's quiet.

The rush of shower water has stopped. As soon as Kyle dries off, he'll come in here to get ready for school.

Drats. I have to get out of here!

I shove the box back behind the suitcase. I don't realize I'm still holding the green circle (a gaming disk, maybe?) until I'm already back in my room. The bathroom door creaks open, and Kyle's bare feet shuffle against the worn hallway carpet.

Whew!

Sinking into my computer chair, I turn the coin-sized plastic disk over in my palm.
What are you?

No time to figure it out now.

When I hear Dad calling my name from downstairs, I slip the disk into my pocket and grab my backpack. I race to the kitchen and slather a bagel with strawberry cream cheese. I'm halfway out the door when Dad taps my shoulder.

“Don't forget this.” He grins as he hands me a sack lunch.

“Thanks!” I kiss his cheek, then hurry out of the apartment. I take two stairs at a time to the bike rack where I unlock my bike and pedal so fast I make it to school as the warning bell rings.

I usually stop by my locker, but instead I go straight to my homeroom. The bell rings as I slump into my desk.

“Made it!” I whisper in exhausted relief.

Becca turns around from her desk and gives me a thumbs-up.

During class, when my teacher, Ms. Grande, isn't watching, Becca and I exchange notes.

I looked n K box!
I write to her.

She replies,
?????!!!!!

Show U @ break.

Now
, she insists.

Leaning forward, I stretch my arm out beneath my desk and open my palm. Green plastic shines.

Becca's brows knit with questions. But I shrug and mouth, “Later.” My teacher must have psychic hearing because she calls my name and wags a warning finger at me. So we wait to talk until between classes when we meet at my locker.

“What is this?” Becca picks up the plastic circle, twirling it in her fingers while kids swarm past us in the hall.

“No idea,” I say. “I hoped you'd know.”

“It could be a sequin or button except no holes.”

“Jewelry?” I guess.

“Not very good jewelry if it is.” Becca's glittery hair clip sparkles as she shakes her head. “It might be a game piece.”

“I wondered about that too, but Kyle isn't a gamer,” I say firmly. “He's more into sports—at least he was before he got so obsessed with applying for scholarships and studying his SAT prep book.”

“You don't know what's he's involved with now,” Becca points out.

“He
has
been acting really suspicious.” I spin my locker combination and open the door. “I'm positive he knew I was following him when he biked off with the white box, and he lost me by cutting through the mini mall.”

“Or he went into the sheriff's office,” Becca says. “I think you should talk to Sheriff Fischer.”

“No.” I think of the Kiss and hide my reddening face as I take my science textbook from my backpack and place it in my locker.

“Why not?”

“I don't want to bother the sheriff.” I bite my lip.

“Sheriff Fischer won't mind,” Becca persists. “He's known Mom since they were kids, and when he comes over, he's super nice, not like a sheriff but more like an uncle.”

Or a future stepdad
, I think.

“He's easy to talk to,” Becca adds. “If you won't talk to him, I will.”

“No! Don't!” I snap, then see Becca's surprised expression and soften my voice. “I mean, I'm positive Kyle didn't go there. My brother may be acting sneaky, but he'd never get involved in anything illegal.”

“You can never be … OMG!” Her eyes go wide and she gasps. “Is that what I think it is?”

“What?” I look around but don't see anything shock-worthy.

“In your backpack.” Becca points. “I can't believe you brought it to school.”

I follow her gaze, and my stomach lurches like I've tumbled into a black hole. My backpack hangs open off my shoulder so some stuff is visible—including an ordinary-looking notebook that is far from ordinary.

BOOK: Kelsey the Spy
6.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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