- Pages: 288 Pages
- Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
- Imprint: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
- ISBN: 9780399545931
An Excerpt From
Agatha’s chair was empty.
The whispery silence of the room turned to a roar in my ears.
I looked around but didn’t see her anywhere. And there was nowhere for her to hide.
She was gone.
The door to the hall was closed—I would have heard it open, right? And the bathroom door was wide open, the light on. There was no one in there.
Oh, God, I’d lost her already. They were going to kick me out.
Deep breath. First of all, I didn’t lose her. She lost herself. Second of all, it wasn’t my job to keep her in one place, was it? What should I have done, commanded her to stay still? Wrestled her to the ground? This wasn’t my fault. Of course it wasn’t.
But I knew I needed to find her before Laura came back.
Could she be hiding under one of the beds?
I stared at the nearest one warily, half expecting Agatha to be hiding underneath, waiting to jump out at me when I leaned close. I crossed the room, steeled myself, and knelt down to push away the white bed- skirt and look under the bed frame.
Empty. Not so much as a single dust bunny.
I went to the second bed, knelt, and lifted the bed- spread. This time, I had no doubt that when I bent down and got my face near the floor, Agatha would come flying at me like a bat out of a cave.
Some companion I turned out to be. I surveyed the room, wondering if Laura and John would simply send for the car and load me right back up.
I walked over to the open bathroom door and looked inside. The walls were tiled with shining squares of pale blue, the floor a spotless retro checkerboard of white and black. The toilet squatted in the corner by the bathtub—
And as I looked at it, the shower curtain rustled.
Okay, I told myself. This is good. She’s in the tub. She’s waiting there for you to find her. This might even be her idea of a joke—like she’s hazing you. If she was capable of playing a joke, maybe we could communicate. Maybe it wouldn’t be a creepy one-way friendship. It could be a creepy two-way friendship.
I walked over to the tub, paused, and said, “Agatha?”
I gently pulled the curtain back, trying to figure out what I was going to say to convince her to return to the chair.
But the bathtub was empty.
Then I heard a low bump, the sound of an elbow or knee thudding against something solid.
It was coming from the nanny’s room. My room. My stomach clenched and I felt an indignant flare of temper. Was this how it was going to be? Would I not be entitled to even a little bit of privacy?
I expected to find her in there, but still somehow the sight of her startled me—her slender form, held stiffly with mannequin-precise posture, standing in front of my small dresser.
As I watched, she removed the last of my clothes and dropped them carelessly to the floor.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
She looked over at me silently through owlish, indifferent eyes. I felt almost as if we were in a staring contest, but apparently that was just me, because a few seconds later she shifted her blank contemplation to the door of the small cabinet behind me.
“What are you doing?” I asked again. But even then, so early in our acquaintance, I knew better than to expect an answer. “Why don’t you go sit down?”
Without so much as the involuntary twitch of a muscle in her jaw, she wandered out of the room. I followed her as far as the doorway and watched her return to her chair.
“Are you trying to make me feel like I don’t belong here?” I asked her. “Because if that’s it, you don’t need to waste your energy. I could never belong in a place like this.”
I know she heard me—she must have. But she didn’t react.
“I probably shouldn’t be here at all,” I said, more to myself than to her.
It was the strangest thing. There was no one else in the room with us, and obviously Agatha hadn’t spoken—I was looking right at her, so I would have known. She didn’t even open her mouth.
But I had the distinct impression that I heard someone say, You’re right.
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