Chapter 6

' INTRUDER!' I heard Meg holler from her door as I flew down the hallway.

I jumped into the first open room I saw, quickly shutting the door behind me. Gasping with relief, I slowly slid down the wall, wondering if I needed to kick start my heart.

It didn't seem to be beating.

The doorknob behind was turning again.

Oh, for the love of Cheese!

I sprung to my feet, my eyes scanning the room in a panicked manner before landing on a door in the wall beside me.

You better be a closet, darn you!

I grabbed the handle and yanked myself in, barely shutting it before the other one opened.

I waited for the shriek, the police sirens, the gun going off.

Nothing happened.

Hallelujah, I did it! Well not technically since I still had to steal a purse and get out of this house alive but still… I did it!

I breathed an unsteady sigh of relief, feeling my way further back into the darkness. I was sitting on something lumpy and it was starting to hurt.

What the heck was in here anyway?

I reached underneath me and pulled up a round squishy container that felt like foam. The lid was peaked into a point.

Well, there's what's been digging into my bum.

I yanked the lid off and dropped it beside me, when a strange musky scent began to fill the air. I sniffed the container cautiously, my nose meeting with the smell of wet leaves and sweet lemon grass.

What the hell?

I jabbed my hand in, trying to see what was inside when my finger brushed across something textured and warm.

' What on earth-' I began

Except then it moved.

I shrieked, and shot up so fast I bonked my head against an overhanging shelf. There was a crash as the contents from above me tumbled down, and something heavy hit me in the eye.

I fell back, landing on my side, flailing my arms wildly in an attempt to sit up.

And then the door opened.

We stared at each other- me half buried under boxes and a stuffed snake, him in Spiderman pyjamas.

' McWhite?' Luke got out finally, an incredulous look on his face.

I struggled to stand up, and finally managed. ' Hello, um…I'm from the Water Agency downtown, and ah… I was just here to check your pipes.' I knocked the wall to demonstrate and listened.

'Well, seems like they're doing just fine, so I'll be going then. Thank-you for your cooperation.' I edged past him and made a run for the door.

He grabbed my arm, pulling me back.

So close! Argh…

' What were you doing in my closet?' He asked his voice baffled, although his tone indicated he was quickly getting over his shock.

' I wasn't doing anything in it.' I said defensively.

' I hear a shriek, a bang, and then a thunderous crash…honestly, what do you expect me to think?' He asked, his eyes starting to twinkle.

' All I did was SIT DOWN, when I found this annoying thing, underneath me. So I picked it up and opened it and it moved and nearly ate me and I highly suggest you clean out your closet, because you've got things living in there!' I replied heatedly.

His eyes flickered from me then to the closet, then back to me again, and suddenly a light dawned in his eyes.

His eyes crinkled and he burst out laughing.

'You…sat…on….Gary…' He gasped, and then lost himself in other fit of laughter.

Say what?

' My pet newt.' He said, still chuckling, answering the question in my eyes.

' For Pete's sake, who the heck keeps newts in their closet?!' I ranted.

'Shouldn't you be apologizing?' He asked calmly, his brown eyes still twinkling

' For what?'

'That you might have squished him?'

Oh.

Oh dear.

I hadn't thought of that.

I opened my mouth to apologize when footsteps thundered down the hall.

'Quick! Get in the closet!' Luke hissed.

Oh, please not again-

Slam.

Great, Now Gary's ghost is going to haunt me forever.

I sat down gingerly, straining my ear against the door to see what Luke would say.

It was Meg, babbling hysterically.

' Oh my gosh Luke! There is someone is this house! Tell mum there's someone in this house, she won't believe me! I've got a stalker, or something. He was climbing through my window when I opened the door, the screen is on the floor! He's trying to kill me! He's trying to-'

There was a stifled snort, which I guessed to be Luke.

'Luke,' Came a calm voice who I assumed to be their mother. ' Have you seen anything?'

' No.' There was a pause and then: ' I think Meg's been at the sugar again.'

' I am not hallucinating!' Came the indignant response.

I stifled a laugh.

' Alright Mister Smarty Pants, how come someone unscrewed my window screen? Explain that.' Meg's huffy voice challenged.

' It was me.' Came the quick reply.

' You?' Meg asked surprised.

' Yeah…I was pretending to…be an… uh…assassin. Like the kind that kidnap people.'

There was a silence and then, ' You are so immature Luke, God. Don't ever scare me like that again.'

' Sorry.'

She ranted at him for several more minutes and then there were footsteps and their voices faded away.

The door opened a second time and Luke offered me a hand and hauled me out of the closet.

'Now, where were we?' He asked, like helping girls out of his closet was perfectly normal.

' Well…um…'

'First of all, what's this all about anyway? What have you been up to McWhite? Come on, spill.'

I took one look at his determined but curious gaze and knew I wasn't getting out of it unless I talked.

So I unleashed the whole story in one breathless excited gasp.

He stared at me. ' You went to all this trouble just to-'

I clamped a hand over his mouth. ' Shh.'

He pulled away and stared at me, thoughtfully now.

'Hold on.'

He disappeared out the door and returned several seconds later with a white bag in his hand.

I reached for it eagerly.

' Wait. There are rules. First off, if you damage it in any way, I'll kill you because that's what my sister will do to me. Second, she'll know it's missing within the week, so you've got four days at most. Third, you have to explain what's going on with Ellie, fourth, you'll owe me for this. Still willing?'

I nodded energetically, not really listening.

'O.k, here you go.'

' How am I going to-?'

'I'll sneak you out the back door.'

' By the way, I'm really sorry for squishing Gary, even though you don't really seem to mind and I'm sorry for kicking your cat.' I said in a rush.

'You kicked my cat?' He asked, astonished.

I nodded, embarrassed.

He laughed outright, gazing at me with a sort of this-girl-is-crazy-insane look on his face.

' Oh, and Luke?'

'Yeah?'

'Nice pyjamas' I said grinning.

He blushed.

Well whaddya know…