TITLE: THE RIDDLE OF THE SECOND BORN
GENRE: MG Light Fantasy
Shivering in my pajamas, I whispered Mom in counts of eleven. My fingers wriggled in rhythm as I completed the sequence. I inched open my parents’ bedroom door, hovering in a moment of possibility—Mom sleeping, ready to wake and turn my twelfth birthday into the best one ever.
Moonlight peeked through the blinds, reflecting onto the neatly made bed. A scent of furniture polish added to the unused air. My bubble of hope popped, leaving a sour taste at the back of my throat. Such an idiot to think she’d be here after a year of absence.
I hugged my arms tight and crept toward the bedroom I shared with my big sister. Nora had her own space until Dad brought his friend Emily into our home last month. He figured we needed a live-in nanny while he traveled on business. Emily’s son, Tony the Terrible, got Nora’s room. According to Dad, having a boy my age living with us would be fun.
He was wrong about that. And wrong about Emily caring for us. Last time I woke her before the alarm screeched at seven, she banned my dog from sleeping on my bed. Emily’s superpower? To create the worst possible punishments.
I sneaked past her room, moving like a shadow, the wooden floorboards sticky under my bare toes.
Not silent enough to fool my dog. Peggy’s good-morning dance exploded into the predawn calm, her thumping tail banging in joyful beats against the wall.