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by Theresa Garrido
Description: Something dark and menacing is disturbing the tranquil community of Reflection Bay. Can best friends Aggie and Babs solve the mystery? Houses are being broken into; pets are being killed; innocent people are being hurt. The authorities are on the case, but sixteen-year-old Aggie Callaway and her best friend, Babs Butler, aren't convinced they are giving it their all. Determined to find out who is behind the nightmarish events, the girls do a little detective work--never dreaming that the very individual they are trying to find is watching their every move. Aggie and Babs unearth clue after clue, unaware that the danger is closer than they think. Then Aggie's focus changes when she meets eighteen-year-old Trey Davenport. A transplant from California, Trey has the blond good looks of a surfer and, although confined to a wheel chair, has enough charm to capture Aggie's heart. What's more, he is as eager as the girls to uncover the mystery that plagues the area. When both Aggie's parents and her pal, Babs, leave for a weekend away, Aggie faces two nights alone--and realizes for the first time that someone is stalking her. She calls on Trey for help, but with his handicap, will he be there in time?
eBook Publisher: L&L Dreamspell/L&L Dreamspell, 2010 Spring, Texas
eBookwise Release Date: February 2010
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [215 KB]
Reading time: 131-184 min.
"Know who's moving into the brick house?" I looked over my shoulder at my dad, hidden behind the newspaper. As usual, he hadn't heard me. "Dad? Do you know who's moving into the brick house across the bay?"
Dad lowered the paper. "Uh...think their name's Davidson or Davis or...something..."
"Okay...know anything else?"
"Hmmm, they look like they have money...two big boats by the dock..." I glanced at him again, hoping he was still looking at me. He wasn't. "Dad."
He put the paper down. "What?"
"The Bartlett House. What do you remember about the original owners?"
Dad folded the newspaper, stood and stretched. "Not much." He carried his dirty dishes to the sink, dried his hands on a towel and shrugged. "All I know is Franklin W. Bartlett built the mansion in the early part of the twentieth century for his wife and five children. When three of his children drowned in a freak boating accident, the wife was too distraught to stay in the house a day longer, and they packed up everything and moved to Seattle or Olympia or some place."
"Jeez...how awful. Sounds like a plot for one of your books."
"Don't think I haven't thought about it. As a matter of fact, I read some old newspaper clippings about the place just the other day, looking for info on the thirties." He stared off into space.
He blinked. "Oh...let's see... After the Bartletts moved out, I think a second cousin took ownership of the property, but he stayed only four or five years before moving to I-don't-know-where. For thirty-one years after that, a family named Dobbs lived in the mansion. When they sold the place, a wealthy family in Seattle purchased it, but they only used it sporadically, like a few weeks in the summer and in the fall. Remember the two kids who water-skied all day long--rain or shine?"
"Not really. Been vacant for as long as I can remember. Kids at school say it's haunted. Babs and I took the boat over once last summer to look around, but the place gave us the creeps. Yard was all overgrown...windows looked like blind eyes."
"Yeah, 'bout time someone moved in. I'm surprised it took so long. Place is an expensive piece of real estate. I've seen old snapshots. Was pretty impressive seventy years ago. Well, gotta hit the keys. Don't worry about lunch for me."
Dad disappeared into his study at the end of the hall. Half the time he acted like I didn't exist. This morning's conversation was the longest one we'd had in months. I'd realized on my ninth birthday I'd been an accident. They'd forgotten; had thought it was the next Tuesday. Even though they'd heaped apologies on top of me and promised a trip to Disneyland, I'd cried for two days. That's when I figured my parents hadn't really wanted kids. Both lived in their own worlds, and those worlds didn't have room for a child. I'd pretty much raised myself. I'd stopped hoping for a brother or sister when I turned twelve. Now, at sixteen, all I wanted was to go to college--preferably out of state--and get my own place.
No use wasting energy, wishing. Summer vacation was winding down; couldn't waste it. Leaving the window, I reached for the phone, punched in my best friend's number and waited impatiently for her to pick up.
Babs--Barbara Lynn Butler--answered on the third ring. "You're home. Thanks for letting me know." I couldn't hide the peevishness.
"I wanted to call you. But it was after ten and you know my mother. Always bowing to Miss Manners--"
"--I wouldn't have this problem if they'd let me have my own cell phone, but, no, they say it's too expensive, while I say there are super family plans and--"
"--Verizon has one and so does--"
"Shut up. Jeez."
"I'm glad you're home. How was Bellingham?"
"Oh, man...I love Grams and Gramps--you know I do. But Grams insisted I drink skim milk and eat plain yogurt for breakfast every morning. Plain. Ugh. Both are disgusting and--"
"Okay. I have some juicy news. Someone's moved into the old Bartlett place."
"No. You're kidding. Who'd want to live in that hideous monstrosity?"
"I sure wouldn't. But Dad said it was pretty impressive years ago. I've been watching them all week. They must have money because there're two really snazzy boats tied to their dock, and the place has been crawling with people, moving furniture and painting. The yard's really looking good, too. So, do you want to take Sandy out and do some snooping?"
"Of course. I'll be on the beach waiting."
Took me only five minutes to get ready--throw on a sweatshirt and find my Mariners baseball cap--then I stuck my head in Dad's office. "Hey, Dad..." He grunted so I continued. "I'm going out in the boat with Babs." Receiving his absent-minded nod, I left the house, letting the door slam behind me.
I ran down to the beach and shoved Sandy into the olive green water. Sandy is my beautiful little six-foot motorboat that Dad and I found behind Ostrand's Hardware store two years ago. She'd been a wreck--all covered in barnacles--but Dad said I could have her. I worked on her all summer, scraping a ton of barnacles off her bottom. Wasn't easy. After patching her up, I painted her a sandy gray. Sandy and I are out on the water every chance we get. Next to Babs, my boat's my best friend. And since my folks weren't taking me out driving so I could get my license, she was my only means of getting out.
Babs and I've been best friends since kindergarten and are complete opposites--the yin and yang of each other. I'm slim and Babs is plump. I have straight, brown hair that just touches my shoulders and brown eyes, while she has a mop of short, blond curls and blue eyes. With her big, round glasses, I think she looks like a character in the Peanuts comic strip.
I'm five-foot four and simply tower over Babs, who stands four-foot, zero inches, in her stocking feet. She's a Little Person. Some people refer to her as a dwarf, but she prefers the LP label instead. Born with a genetic condition called achondroplasia, Babs has really short arms and legs. With me at five feet four inches and her at only four feet, we get stared at whenever we're out shopping or messing around.
Chugging out of the bay and around the point, I headed up the coast about half a mile to the Butlers' place. Seven minutes later, I skimmed into shore, waving at my friend, who sat cross-legged on the sand, smiling. "Hey, there!"
Babs's grin widened. "Man, I'm glad you called." She splashed into the water and struggled into the boat, making it dip to one side, then plopped down on the middle seat. "I was at my wits' end unpacking and sorting laundry and giving my mom a detailed description of everything my grandparents said and did while I was there. Man. You would've thought I'd been in the Peace Corps somewhere in the back of beyond. So." She grinned. "It's good to be home. I missed you."
I grinned back. "Yeah, me, too. I was going out of my mind with boredom, waiting for you to get back. The only thing to do besides summer reading was watching the action over at Bartlett House."
"Awesome. So, who are they? I asked Dad and, believe it or not, Mr. Newsman didn't know. Have to be the Addams Family to want to live in that old house."
"The who?" My eyebrows rose.
She gave an exaggerated sigh. "You know. That old sitcom from the 60's about the weird family living in a creepy old mansion. Gosh, where've you been all your life? Don't you watch any retro-TV?"
"You know we don't watch TV at my house. Not much, anyway. Dad didn't know anything relevant, only historical stuff. All I know is that someone's moved in, and I'm really curious about who they are but didn't want to go over by myself."
"Okay. What are we waiting for? Let's go, Nancy."
"As in Drew, numskull."
I just rolled my eyes, shoved off, and started the motor. We headed back around the point, a frothy wake of spindrift trailing behind. Bartlett House loomed up on the opposite shore. The place was a circus. Men swarmed all over, moving lawn furniture to the patio next to the house, riding lawn mowers on the wide front yard, and walking back and forth on the over-sized dock.
"Whoa, baby," Babs murmured, "someone really is moving in. I wonder who? Funny my folks didn't know anything about it."
"Maybe they're celebrities and want privacy. Maybe they're escaping from the paparazzi," I said in a low voice.
Babs smirked, then inhaled. "Man. Look."
I followed her up-thrust chin, surprised to see somebody in a wheelchair rolling across the freshly mowed lawn toward the boathouse. The boy looked about our age. Now we were wallowing in curiosity. I steered the boat across the mouth of Reflection Bay then throttled down so I wouldn't make any wake. We coasted up to the dock just as the boy wheeled onto it. He stared at us like we were wearing clown suits.
"What do you two freaks want?"