Sep 1 2013
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Danvers is a Young Adult Gothic mystery about a teenage sleuth who finds herself thrown into the spooky town where her parents died and from where she was sent away as a baby. Fourteen years later, she discovers that the secrets of the town have not died.
I got the bad news on June thirteenth, which happened to be a Friday—not that I was superstitious or anything. In fact, it started out as a pretty good day. By one-thirty, when the last bell signaled the end of my junior year, the air outside had reached seventy-five degrees with just a breath of wind—perfect beach weather. I could get down there from the school in exactly twelve minutes on my rusty cruiser if I pedaled full speed along the river levee, dodged all the bums passed out under the bridges, and ignored the “WALK YOUR BIKE” sign over the trestle that led to the boardwalk.
This time of year the old, wooden roller-coaster ran like clockwork, inching up the mountain every two minutes, rat-a-tat-tat followed by a thunderous swoosh! and another round of jubilant shrieks that always made me smile. I zoomed beneath the red tracks, waving at the boy in the red and yellow striped hat behind the corndog stand. At the candy counter, a saltwater taffy machine churned away, eternally stretching a giant pink gob, while two kids on a bench scuffled over a paper cone filled with funnel cakes. Here, I finally slowed to inhale the scent of summer freedom—fried junk food mixed with coconut lotion and salty kelp bobbing in the Pacific. Three heavenly months of volleyball and surfing and hanging out with my friends.
Where the boardwalk met the sand, I chained my bike to a battered pole with the familiar sign that read “No-Attitudes Volleyball,” a term someone had coined for the friendly pick-up games we played down here.
No ‘tudes allowed.
That pretty much spelled out the culture of Santa Cruz, California—one of the many reasons why I loved my hometown. The usual crowd had gathered already, scattered amongst the volleyball courts, getting lathered up in sun screen. I kicked off my lime green flops, and they landed in the pile with the rest.
“I’m in!” I hollered, stripping off my hoodie and T-shirt as I loped across the sand to join them.
The text from Dad came just after I delivered my third winning serve of the day. Josh, sprawled under an umbrella with his head propped up on my backpack, heard my phone beeping and flipped it across the sand to me. “Heads up, Alli! Incoming.”
I caught the phone and glanced at the screen.
Come home. We need to talk to you.
I tossed the ball at my teammate, Poppy. It bounced off her butt, interrupting her loud and obnoxious—but hilarious—victory hoots. She whirled around in surprise. “Aren’t we playing another set?”
I shook my head. “Gotta go.”
She groaned as I hurried off the court. So did the boys on the other side of the net. “Aw come on, Alli, you got to give us a chance to catch up!” Pete protested. “We’re not going to lose to a bunch of girls!”
“What, you mean again?” I called back. His friends snickered.
Josh stood as I grabbed my T-shirt, shook the sand loose, and pulled it over my bikini top. “Hey, what’s going on?”
“It’s my dad.” I showed him the message.
He understood right away. Josh knew what I had feared since the day Dad lost his job at the local paper. He walked me to my bike, tossing his empty Mountain Dew into a recycling bin along the way. “Maybe it’s not what you think.”