Authors: B. A. Frade,Stacia Deutsch
I woke up late. I don't know what happened, but I must have fallen asleep at some point. When I got up, it was noon! NOON!
Half the day was gone. I knew, according to Sam's schedule, that the moon was going to rise in about six hours. And I hadn't made any real plans to protect my friends. This was bad.
Feeling groggy and with my hair sticking up, I stumbled into the kitchen.
“Good morning, sleepyhead,” Cassie said with
a wicked grin. “I hope you don't want anything, because I just cleaned up. If you're hungry, you should probably go home.” The way she said it would have sounded like she was joking, but I knew better.
I gave her a long look that said “I thought we settled this. No way. Nohow.”
No matter how awesome Sam thought her cousin was, I was never going to like her. I already had plans to haunt Cassie for the rest of her life if she mauled me, Sam, and Riley tonight. I'd rattle those chains she had down by the cage.â¦
“Why didn't you wake me?” I asked Sam.
“You were snoring so peacefully,” she said. Her hair was so high and fluffyâit was poised for the best day ever. For me, the way things were going, it would be the worst. Even if we lived through the night.
“Get dressed, Emma!” Riley said. “We're about to build the telescope!” She grabbed my hand. “Let's go upstairs. I'll help you pick your outfit.”
I didn't want to leave Sam alone with Cassie, but the sun was up and that felt sort of safe, so I went.
Riley picked a dress for me. It wasn't one I'd packed. It was Sam's, but I'd worn it before and was sure she wouldn't mind.
“I look kind of fancy,” I told Riley as I checked out the knit green sweaterdress, paired with boots and a yellow-checkered scarf. “Is this too much for today?”
“You look fabulous,” Riley said, admiring her work. I could see she was considering what to do about my tangled mop of morning hair. “It's a celebration.”
I don't know why the idea of celebrating the full moon put me over the edge at that minute, but I snapped.
“It's too dangerous to go out tonight,” I told her. “The celebration is canceled.”
All that work I had done to bring Riley back to being a friend was ruined in an outburst of stress and frustration.
She stared at my messy hair as if I was hopeless. “Why do you have to ruin everything?!” Riley stomped out of the room.
I chased her down in the hall and caught up by the bathroom.
“I just want to keep you safe,” I explained. “Full moons bring out werewolves.”
“DUH! Like I didn't know that!” she shouted, then dashed down the steps faster than I could keep up. As she leapt down the last stair, I heard her exclaim, “I hate the moon!”
I got to the kitchen as fast as I could. Moon pie creation, in preparation for the “celebration” that I'd just declared canceled, was in full swing. Sam had bits of white flour in her hair, and Cassie was wearing the apron from the night before. Now that I was taking a good look, they'd both clearly been styled by Riley.
Cassie was wearing new black clothes, but her hair was swept into a long braid. There was a black ribbon tied at the end, a sure indication of Riley's touch.
Like me, Sam was in a dress. Only hers was a frilly party dress. I almost laughed. We'd gotten that one together for the sixth-grade dinner, and it didn't really fit her anymore. I kept my giggle inside. There were more serious things pressing.
Riley was sitting on a stool at the counter, giving me the stink eye. Her look told me she hadn't shared what happened upstairs, but if I made one wrong move, she would get me rebanished for the rest of the weekend.
I mouthed that I was sorry. If I was going to make sure everyone lived through the night, I really needed to get a grip.
Riley glared at me for a heartbeat. I couldn't tell if she accepted the apology because she turned her head away and gave a silent signal to Cassie. Her sister nodded, and the two of them left the kitchen to talk privately.
I waited till they were in the other room, then moved in that direction. I had to hear what was going on. I hoped they were talking about the cage.
I'd reviewed the purpose of the jail cell in the basement a million times in my head and was starting to think of ways to use it. Should we lock ourselves in for our safety? Or should we lock Cassie inâalso for our safety?
Cassie had clearly built it for someone to be held inside, but I still hadn't determined who. I planned to ask the Scaremaster, but to do that, I would have to go upstairs, and I wasn't leaving Sam again until I absolutely knew she'd be safe without me.
Sam was stirring the moon pie mixture and humming. I stationed myself in a place I could still see her and strained to hear what Cassie and Riley were saying.
“That's what Emma said,” I heard Riley tell her sister.
“Emma is right,” Cassie replied.
Okay, so it wasn't about the cage, but it was equally bizarre. Me? I was right about what?!
“I can handle it,” Riley was whining. “Nothing bad will happen.”
“No,” Cassie replied. “It's too dangerous.”
“Mom and Dad would say it's all right,” Riley said.
“No they wouldn't,” Cassie replied. “They'd keep the secret.”
The Scaremaster's first story, the one that had gotten me in so much trouble, was playing out in the living room! Cassie did have a secret. And Riley knew what it was! They were whispering. This was terrible.
I remembered what the story had said. I am not sure why I hadn't mentioned it before, but there were details in there that I couldn't have known. That is, if they were true. And many things that didn't make sense. Plus, there was that terrifying line:
Emma must be stopped.â¦
“Whatcha doing?” Sam said, coming to stand by me.
On impulse, I turned to her. “Shhh.”
“Are you eavesdropping on my cousins?” Sam asked, eyes wide. “You wouldn't do that, would you, Emma?”
I shook my head. “No,” I said. “Iâ¦” Even in my ever-creative spinning mind, there was no excuse I could come up with fast enough. “So, yes,” I admitted. “I was listening.” I quickly went on. “Sam, Cassie is a werewolf. We can't go out with her tonight. The moon is going to make bad stuff happen.”
“You're losing your mind,” Sam said. “Stop it right now.”
“Fine,” I gave in, but it was going to be on my terms. “I'll stop, but you have to stay right next to me. All day and night.”
“No way,” Sam said firmly. “If I have to go to the bathroom, I'm going alone. If I need something upstairs, I'm goingâ”
“Fine,” I cut her off, both as a distraction and because I'd forgotten to tell her something important. “But if you do go upstairs, don't freak out about the window.”
She'd already been upstairs earlier to change clothes, but I guess she hadn't noticed since I'd closed the blinds.
“What?!” Sam stormed past me to the stairs. “What did you do, Emma?”
“Nothing,” I said, “I promise. Pinkie-promise. It wasn't me.” I stuck to her like glue as she entered her bedroom.
I shouldn't have said anything, because once she pulled up the slats, she went ballistic. I swear I could feel Sam's shocked reaction resonate in my own bones when she saw the window. “What happened?” she asked, voice tight.
I sounded like a five-year-old when I said, “Duke did it.”
“No way,” Sam said, hands on hips. “What really happened, Emma?”
“Duke,” I repeated. “He threw a rock at the window to get your attention.” I decided to give him a little rescue. “He likes you. And just wanted to talk to you. Isn't that sweet?”
“I don't know why you keep lying to me,” Sam said.
“I'm not lying.” I crossed my heart with a finger. “On my honor.” I looked around for the rock, but I couldn't find it. It had probably rolled under the bed or fallen into a corner.
“You have to tell my parents,” Sam said, storming back out of the room. “You broke it; you get to explain.” She went back downstairs, with me on her heels.
“Oh, Sam, there you are,” Cassie said as we entered the living room. “There was a delivery.”
She smiled at me, and my stomach sank. “The zombie kid next door
“A delivery? From Duke?” Sam looked at Cassie, then looked at me.
Cassie held out a small box.
“For me?” Sam asked, reaching forward.
Cassie pulled the little red box away. “No,” she said. “It's for Emma.” She thrust the box at me as Sam stepped back.
“That doesn't make sense,” I said. “Are you sure?”
“He was muttering, but I am almost positive he said âEmma.'” Cassie turned to Riley, who confirmed it.
I took the box and very slowly lifted the lid. “Oh, Duke.” I sighed as I raised a thin silver chain out of the box. There was a pendant on the end. A small matching silver ball about the size of a marble.
I saw Cassie's eyes widen in surprise, but she recovered quickly.
“Ha!” Sam said. “This proves you broke the window. Your story doesn't hold up. Duke didn't throw a rock to get
attention. If there was a rock, and I'm not saying there was without proof, it was to get
attention. So you are responsible for the damage either way.” She pointed at the necklace in my hand. “He doesn't like me.â¦ Obviously, he likes you!”
“He doesn't like me,” I said to her. “He's teasing me.”
Sam shook her head, then twirled in her too-tight dress. “You can borrow this beautiful gown when you two get married.”
“And I'll do your hair,” Riley added, as if all was forgotten. It seemed that the hysterical idea that I was marrying Duke, while we were still in middle school, was enough for everyone to forgive what had happened earlier.
Plans were made for my color scheme and my dress and my flowers and my hair while we finished the moon pie and built the telescope. Cassie and Sam were my bridesmaids, and Riley was the flower girl.
With Sam's love of schedules, I was surprised she didn't mark it all down on a calendar.
“Uh, I'm twelve years old,” I interjected for the zillionth time. “And Duke likes Sam, not me.” But they didn't care. They were all having fun.
I didn't get offended; first, because I knew they were just fooling around, but more than that, no one seemed mad at me anymore. We were together, and that was what was important.
Truth was, I knew what was in Duke's head, and it wasn't a matchup with me.
Silver is the one thing that is rumored to keep away werewolves. I didn't need a movie or an old leather journal to tell me that. It was a myth, like a stake to the heart for a vampire or a bucket of water tossed on the Wicked Witch of the West.
Werewolves were afraid of silver because it was the one thing that could kill them. A silver bullet to the heart was the only effective weapon against a werewolf, so for self-preservation, they instinctively backed away from all things silver.
I'd told Duke about the werewolf, and he, through this present, was mocking me.
Even though it was a joke, I decided to wear the necklace, just in case. I slipped the chain over my head and let the silver marble rest against my shirt.
The day passed faster than I could have imagined. Cassie only told me to leave like ten times. Each time she did, I stuck closer to Sam.
Sometime around dinner, Cassie gave up and stopped nagging at me and casting evil looks.
“Let the festivities begin!” Sam announced the instant the sun began to dip below the horizon. This whole thing was bound to an atomic clock she had found online. Sunset was minutes away.
While the sun went down, Sam took her time packing a backpack with the telescope and moon pies she'd made earlier.