Norah McClintock presents...

Robyn Hunter Mysteries

Change of Heart

Things have changed in Robyn’s world. Her friends Morgan and Billy, once a happy couple, have broken up – and Billy is not taking it well. He continues to bother Morgan and even starts a fight with her new boyfriend, popular hockey star Sean Sloane. Robyn, who is still pining over her ex Nick, isn’t sure how to handle the awkwardness of the situation. And then one night, Sean Sloane is found dead.

All the evidence is pointing to Billy, but Robyn knows he isn’t capable of murder. Once she starts asking questions, Robyn uncovers some unsettling truths about Sean Sloane and his so-called friends.

Scholastic Canada Ltd.
ISBN 978-0-545-98569-7 PBK
224 pages
Ages 12 and up
5" x 7 ¾”


Excerpt

"What about me? I thought I was your friend."

"You are. You and Billy are my best friends."

"You put me and Billy in the same category, after what he did?" She shook her head firmly. "You have to choose. Either you’re my friend or you’re his. And if you’re mine, you won’t go and see him."

"Morgan, I have to. I—"

"Fine," she said. She turned and marched out of the cafeteria.

*  *  *

My mother picked me up after school and drove me to the detention centre where Billy was being held. We had to sign in at the front desk and go through a security check. My mother walked with me to the visiting room.

"I’ll wait out here," she said. "You go in. They’ll bring Billy down."

I sat down to wait and was shocked when Billy finally appeared. He’s tall and thin — really thin — even though he has a huge appetite. But now he seemed emaciated and so fragile that a gentle breeze could have blown him over. His face was a greyish colour and his blond hair was greasy and matted in the back, as if he hadn’t bothered to wash or comb it in days. He sat down opposite me at one of the visiting tables.

"Are you okay, Billy?" I asked.

He didn’t answer my question. Instead, he asked one of his own: "Have you seen Morgan?"

I nodded.

"I asked my mom to call her and ask her to come and see me. Did she say anything to you about that? Do you know when she’s coming?"

"No, I don’t."

Billy looked down at the tabletop. He took a couple of long, deep breaths before finally raising his head and fixing his pale blue eyes on mine.

"She doesn’t think I did it, does she, Robyn?"

I felt terrible. How many lies was I going to have to tell him?

"She’s pretty upset about what happened," I said. That was true. "But she’s known you forever, Billy. She knows the kind of person you are." That was also true, even if Morgan wasn’t exactly focusing on it right now.

"They arrested me, Robyn. They came to our house with a search warrant. They searched the house and the yard. My mother was freaking out, and she doesn’t do that very often." Billy’s mother is a successful businesswoman. "My father’s working out of the country, so he couldn’t help. Then they arrested me. They put handcuffs on me, Robyn. The neighbours were all watching. They handcuffed me and told me my rights. Then they put me in a police car and they took me downtown." The pained look in his eyes told me that he was remembering exactly what had happened and exactly how it had felt. "My mother phoned your mother and she came down to the police station. She was with me while they asked me questions. That was the only time I wasn’t one hundred percent scared, Robyn — when your mother was there. Then I was only about ninety percent scared. The cops think I did it. They think I killed Sean."

I looked into his blue eyes and saw a hundred different Billys: little Billy, from kindergarten, his hair so blond it was almost white, his hands covered in finger paint. Billy and Morgan and me out on the frozen lake up at Morgan’s cottage one winter, skating from the island where the cottage was to the town on the opposite shore. Billy and Morgan and me in junior high, organizing a pet pageant to raise money for Billy’s favourite charity, an animal rights organization. Billy and Morgan and me downtown so early in the morning that it was technically still night, rescuing injured birds that had crashed into office towers and taking them to an animal rescue organization for treatment. Billy, in the cafeteria at school, working up the nerve to ask Morgan out that first time. Gentle Billy. Sweet Billy. My friend Billy.

From Change of Heart: A Robyn Hunter Mystery. Copyright © 2009 by Norah McClintock. All rights reserved.