Authors: Liz Kessler
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either
products of the author’s imagination or, if real, are used fictitiously.
Text copyright © 2009 by Liz Kessler
Illustrations copyright © 2009 by Katie May
Cover illustrations: copyright © 2009 by iStockphoto (background);
copyright © 2009 by Gail Shumway/Getty Images (butterfly)
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in an information retrieval system in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, taping, and recording, without prior written permission from the publisher.
First U.S. electronic edition 2010
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 2008938410
ISBN 978-0-7636-4202-0 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-0-7636-4829-9 (paperback)
ISBN 978-0-7636-5244-9 (electronic)
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Somerville, Massachusetts 02144
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“We have a problem.”
“What is it?”
“We’re nearly out of time. There’s only a matter of weeks left.”
“So what’s the problem?”
“The child. We all know the conditions that were set.”
“And she hasn’t met them yet. Her heart is closed.”
“Give me the file.”
“Here it is. It’s all up to date, just —”
“She needs a friend.”
“Someone to talk to . . .”
“. . . Open up to.”
“Can’t you check the files? There must be something in there that can help.”
“Done. I’ve cross-referenced everything — twice. I couldn’t find anything.”
“Nothing at all?”
“Well, there’s just one possibility. It’s an outside chance, but there was a case earlier this year. The friendship score was the highest ever.”
“Here it is. I’ve already located that client. She might be just what we need — if only we could get her in the right place.”
“So, how do you propose we do that?”
“We could use the fairy from the original assignment. I know we wouldn’t normally match a fairy godmother with the same client twice, but that girl may be our best chance. We just need to get her here, set up a few meetings —”
“Do it! Get that fairy godmother on the case, and let’s get moving. We haven’t got a moment to lose.”
So here’s the situation. You’ve won tickets for your whole family to take a vacation anywhere you like. What do you do?
Most normal people would start with the Internet, or a brochure or two, perhaps a travel agent. My parents? Thirteen different road maps, two atlases, and a box of pushpins. That’s what you need to plan a vacation in
house. And this was day three of planning. Remember, I said
people do it the other way — the easy way.
I grabbed a magazine and left them to it.
“How about the Poconos?” Dad asked, opening up the fourth map and laying it on top of the others across the kitchen table. “We’ve never been there.”
“Yes, we have. Don’t you remember? We were on our way to visit friends and ran out of gas, so we had to stay there for the night.”
“Oh, yes. A little hilly, wasn’t it?”
Mom leaned farther across the map, knocking a cup of cold coffee all over the mountain range — and herself. “What about Florida?” she asked, wiping her shirt with a tea towel.
I got up from my stool and joined them at the table. “Mom. Dad. You know, this is . . .”
Dad looked up as my voice trailed off. Mom was too busy opening the box of pushpins to notice the hesitation in my voice. “Come on, let’s just stick one of these in a place and go for it,” she said. She was on a mission. She started rolling up the tea towel that she’d just used to mop up the coffee. “We’ll do it blindfolded,” she announced firmly.
“‘This is’ what?” Dad asked, stopping to look at me. “What is it, sweetheart?”
This is supposed to be
I wanted to say.
I’d won it at the school’s talent show at the end of the year. Tickets for my parents and me to go anywhere we liked. Anywhere
liked. I was the one who’d won them! We’d been planning to go in the summer, but my parents had had lots of parties booked. Their party-entertaining business is at its busiest in the summer, so we’d ended up having to postpone the trip to my fall-break vacation.
I looked into Dad’s eyes. They were dark and tired. He smiled his goofy smile at me, and I couldn’t help softening. He deserved a vacation as much as I did. So did Mom. They’d both worked really hard all summer without a real break at all. At least I’d had a week away at Charlotte’s — if you could count that.