Blog Tour: Extract from Now You See Me…by Emma Haughton

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NYSM cover

I am thrilled to be hosting the Now You See Me… blog tour today.  Now You See Me… is a brilliant, action packed read that is full of suspense. I’ll be reviewing it later this week.

Here is an extract from the book…

4

then

 

It was a proper police car, with a strip of lights on the top, and a yellow and blue chessboard pattern on the sides. I stood there, hoping perhaps I was imagining it. Or that there was some completely ordinary, everyday reason for it being there, parked under the trees, obscuring the front door of Dial House.

I didn’t need this icy jolt in my stomach to tell me there was nothing good about a visit from the police.

The thought of Mum rose up again, that nagging pain that flared like toothache. I pushed it aside and focused on Danny. What the hell has he done? I wondered. A flush of anxiety made me hesitate. Maybe I should go home. Wait for someone to tell me what was going on.

But the thought of sitting around on my own, not knowing, was more than I could bear. So I went round and knocked on the back door. Normally I’d walk straight in, but somehow the police car changed everything.

No one heard me. I put my hand up to block out the reflection and peered through the window; the kitchen was empty. They must be sitting in the living room or the conservatory. I could go and ring the front doorbell, but that felt too weird; Dial House was practically my second home.

So I turned the handle and stepped inside. Sure enough, I could hear voices coming from the living room. Martha’s, then another woman’s. I cleared my throat quietly, heart picking up speed in my chest, and went up to the door. It was only half closed, but I tapped on it anyway.

“Yes?” Martha’s voice, high and uncertain.

I walked in. Four faces turned towards me – none of them Danny’s. Martha was on the sofa, her wide face drawn and pale, her wavy black hair loose and untidy. Paul beside her in his work suit, looking tired and serious. In the chairs opposite, two police officers – a man and a woman.

Everyone sat straight-backed and tense, perched on the edge of their seats like they never really meant to sit down at all.

I stumbled out a hello and the officers smiled and I felt like I could breathe for the first time since I saw the police car. They weren’t the same two, I could see that. They weren’t the officers from before, the ones who came about Mum.

Paul rose and beckoned me over, but Martha stared at me, her face shocked and vacant, like she’d completely forgotten who I was. Then her expression collapsed and her head sunk into her hands.

I felt a flush of unease. Was she angry with me for barging in?

I cleared my throat to mumble an apology, then understood – she thought I was Danny. That look on Martha’s face was disappointment.

Oh god. I felt giddy, my mind reeling. “Where is he?” I blurted. “Is Danny in some kind of trouble?”

Paul stepped forwards, his expression awkward, and put his hand on my shoulder, giving it a squeeze before introducing me to the police officers. “This is Hannah, the girl we were telling you about. She’s always been very close to Danny.”

The woman officer stood. She had brown hair and a nice face, the sort that made you feel you could say anything and she wouldn’t mind. “I’m PC Janet Reynolds, the area missing persons coordinator, but that’s rather a mouthful so I suggest you just call me Janet. And this is PC Simon Jenkins.” The man next to her gave me a brief nod.

She said all this with a little laugh that was obviously meant to make me feel more relaxed, but it didn’t work. The missing persons coordinator? The words rang in my head like the bell at school, loud and insistent. Suddenly I wanted to go home. To crawl into bed and read a book and

pretend that everything was okay.

“Shall I go?” I said to Paul quickly. “I just came to look for Danny.”

“That’s why we’re here, Hannah.” Janet paused, waiting for me to speak. I stared at her blankly, mind racing. I felt suddenly guilty, like I’d done something wrong. Only somehow forgotten, or perhaps not realized I’d even done it.

Seeing my confusion, Janet went on: “No one has seen Danny since yesterday afternoon, Hannah. We’re trying to establish where he might be.”

My heart started to race, my head felt light and spacey. It was like Mum, I thought. It was happening all over again.

I looked at my feet, fighting the panic that threatened to engulf me, and saw one of Alice’s toys beneath the sofa. The soft rag doll with the yellow hair you could tie in bunches. Where was Alice? At a friend’s house maybe? Or perhaps Martha had asked someone to look after her.

“So, it’s good you’re here, Hannah,” I heard Janet say.

“We wanted to talk to you anyway. We’re hoping you can help.”

I forced myself to raise my eyes. She gestured towards an empty chair. I sat down.

“As far as we can tell, you were the last person to see Danny yesterday. Or at least the last person we know of.” Janet paused again while I took this in. “Would you mind

if we asked you some questions?”

I shook my head. “Yes. I mean, no problem.”

“Do you want us to call your dad first and have him come over?”

I looked over at Martha. She was biting her lip, frowning. Wanting to get on with it, I realized.

I shook my head again. Dad would be buried in the lab somewhere at the university. It’d take ages to track him down.

“It’s fine,” I said.

“We’re her godparents,” Martha added quickly. “Hannah spends a lot of time with us.”

Janet glanced at her, then nodded. I sat at the other end of the sofa and pressed my hands between my knees so no one could see them shaking.

I was there for over an hour. I told them everything I knew, which wasn’t much. Only where Danny and I went yesterday afternoon, what we did, stuff he said, that sort of thing. Everything I could think of.

Janet asked all the questions. The policeman called Simon wrote everything down in a little notebook, which he tucked away into his pocket when we’d finished. They wanted to know details of Danny’s friends, places he went, where I thought he might be. They even asked me if I knew his email and Facebook passwords so they could check his messages. I wasn’t much help there either. Danny had become as distant online as he had in real life.

All the time I was talking Martha sat there, dragging her hands over her forehead, pulling the skin so tight it gave her face a startled look. You could feel the worry coming off her like a fever.

I kept trying to catch her eye. I felt nervous about saying the right things, or the wrong things, that I might somehow be letting her down. But when it was over, when Janet and Simon got in their car and drove away, Martha came over and gave me a brief hug.

“I’m sorry, Hannah. I’ll speak to you later. I need to go and pick up Alice.” Her words tumbled out in a rush and she almost ran out the room.

Paul gripped my shoulder as I stared after her. “You okay?”

I nodded. Turned to look at him. “Danny? Do you think he’s all right?”

Paul’s mouth twitched. His grip relaxed. “I’m sure he is, Hannah. He probably needed some time out. The police think he’ll come back in a day or two.”

“But why would he go off like that?” I asked, bewildered. “I mean, without telling anyone?”

And how could they be so sure he meant to go? I wanted to say. That someone hadn’t made him.

Paul gazed out the window to the view across the bay. It was a cloudy day, misty, and there wasn’t that much to see, but he kept his eyes fixed on the horizon like it was the most absorbing thing in the world. “I don’t know, Hannah. I really can’t answer that. But I’m sure we’ll find him very soon.”

His voice sounded convincing. Yet behind his words I thought I caught a glimpse of something. Something far less confident than he was trying to appear.

We hardly spoke all the way home. Paul seemed lost in his thoughts, driving automatically, like he could do it in his sleep. I’d told him not to bother giving me a lift. I only live half a mile away and I normally walk, but he was adamant. Under the circumstances, he said. It was nice but crazy. I know Paul’s my godfather and everything, but sometimes he behaves more like my dad than Dad ever does.

And when we arrived he insisted on waiting with me till Dad got back. This I really didn’t need. I wanted to be on my own. My head was starting to ache and I didn’t want to sit downstairs and think of things to say to Danny’s father. But I couldn’t find a way of saying this without sounding rude.

Paul lifted a pile of Dad’s biology journals from the old armchair by the kitchen table, his gaze flicking around the room. Suddenly I saw it all through his eyes. The heap of pans in the sink. The cereal packets on the table. The milk left out of the fridge. The usual chaos.

I grabbed the dirty knife and plate Dad had abandoned on top of the dishwasher this morning and shoved them inside. Paul looked embarrassed, like I’d caught him spying on us or something.

“What time is your dad home?” he asked.

I glanced at the clock above the toaster. Nearly six. Dad could be ages yet.

“I’ll call him,” I said, realizing Paul must want to get back to Martha and Alice. I picked up the phone and dialled Dad’s number at the university.

But even before it rang, the back door swung open and Dad walked in. His face twitched in surprise when he saw Paul sitting there. And something else, just for a second. Something almost angry.

Paul got up and stepped forwards as if to shake Dad’s hand, then changed his mind, leaving his arm hanging loosely by his side. It was mad. I mean, they’d known each

other for ever, since they went to university together years ago, and yet they were just standing there, Paul looking awkward and Dad bewildered. It was like everyone had

forgotten what to do with themselves.

I’d had enough. I mumbled something about homework and shot up to my room. But even with the door closed, I could hear the murmur of their voices in the kitchen. Not loud enough to catch what they were saying, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to know.

A bleep from my bag. I grabbed my phone and opened my messages, but the text wasn’t from Danny. It was Lianna, asking me where I’d got to. Hell, I’d forgotten I was

supposed to go round hers tonight.

I thought about calling to explain, but then she’d be bound to ask me what was going on. And somehow, though Lianna’s my best friend at school and the first person I’d turn to after Danny, I couldn’t face all the inevitable questions. The speculation. The bland reassurances.

I sent her a text saying I’d forgotten and was sorry, then flopped on my bed and stared up at the ceiling, exhausted but not sleepy. My eyes were hot and heavy, like I needed to cry. More than anything I felt sort of frozen, as if none of this was real.

Danny would be back soon, I told myself. He’d come home tonight and he’d ring me. And I’d ask him where he’d been, and he’d snigger and say something stupid like “Wouldn’t you just love to know?” in that taunting, teasing voice of his. Then he’d give in and tell me, and it would be somewhere obvious, and we’d all kick ourselves and wonder why on earth we never thought of it. And Martha would ground him for ever, but it wouldn’t matter.

Because he’d be back. And that was the only thing that mattered at all.