Norah McClintock presents...

Robyn Hunter Mysteries

Last Chance

Robyn had planned to spend August soaking up the sun on a dock. Instead, she finds herself entering data at an animal shelter. It seems like things can’t get worse, until she runs into Nick D’Angelo, a boy she’d hoped never to see again. And she’s not surprised to learn that he’s part of the shelter’s young offenders program. But when’s he’s arrested again, Robyn finds herself doubting his guilt.

From five-time Arthur Ellis Award winner Norah McClintock.

Scholastic Canada Ltd.
ISBN 0-439-95229-8 PBK
232 pages
Ages 12 and up
5 x 7 ¾”


Excerpt

The skin around his eyes tightened. “Give what back?”

“I saw you in the office,” I said. Straight-and-narrow people, like my mother, would have called that a lie. More creative people, like my father, would have called it a bluff.

“What office?” Nick said.

He didn’t look or sound like he cared one way or the other about me or what I was saying. Maybe he was a better liar than I was. Or a better bluffer.

“The office where all the money is,” I said. “I know you took some. If you give it back right now, I won’t tell Kathy.”

He reacted by not reacting — he just stood there. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t give any indication that he had even heard me.

“I’m not kidding,” I said.

He shook his head in disgust. “Man, and they say people change. You sure haven’t.”

“Neither have you.”

He looked at me — studied me — before finally saying, “You didn’t see me in that office.” He said it as if it were a fact, as if he had no doubts about it. “If you had, you would have gone to Kathy already. You probably would have called the cops, too. People like you, if they think they’ve got something on you, they go straight to the cops. The only time they ever try to make a deal is when they have no proof, when they’re trying to make you trip yourself up. But this time you got nothing on me.”

This time.

“Yeah? Well, I’m going to talk to Kathy right now,” I said.

“You do that,” Nick said. He sauntered back to the picnic table and sat down again. The rest of the guys were all over him, probably trying to find out what I had said. Maybe he told them. Maybe he didn’t. Antoine turned and looked at me. I couldn’t read his expression any better than I could read Nick’s.I strode back inside, trying to look determined. But Nick was right. I hadn’t seen him in the office. I hadn’t even seen him in the building. I didn’t know for sure that any money was missing, just that it had been disturbed. All I had were suspicions — and Nick’s track record, or, rather, his criminal record. And — this really bothered me — the fact that he hadn’t denied it. When an innocent person is accused of stealing, he denies it. At the very least he becomes indignant. Nick had done neither. Instead he’d just taunted me.

I hesitated outside my office door and reviewed what facts I had.

Fact: someone had been in that office and had at least touched that money. There was a good chance that whoever it was had taken some of it.

Fact: the money had been raised for charity. What kind of person would take money that had been raised for a good cause? That was easy — Nick D’Angelo. He’d done it once before. I made my decision.

I walked past my office door and knocked on the one next to it — Kathy’s door.

Kathy’s expression changed from cheery to expectant to concerned as I spoke. Her shoulders gradually slumped. She caved back in her chair. She asked me a few questions. Finally she said, “I’ll talk to Nick.”

“But he’s not going to admit it,” I said.

Kathy gave me a long, weary look. She seemed disappointed. What shook me was that I wasn’t sure who she was disappointed in — Nick, for maybe doing something terrible, or me, for telling her something she clearly did not want to hear. I wished that I hadn’t said anything.

From Last Chance: A Robyn Hunter Mystery. Copyright © 2006 by Norah McClintock. All rights reserved.