Hider in the House: Episode Eleven:
Becca set her glass in the sink and came back to scoop the crumbs from the table. She set about washing and drying the glass and set it back in the cupboard.
After she hung up the towel, she shot a glance Hallie’s way. “Are you going to tell my dad I was here?”
Hallie didn’t hesitate. The girl needed to learn a healthy fear of the position she’d put them both in. “I should.”
Becca’s face fell. “He’ll tell my mom. They’ll get together. Then they’ll have a conversation with me.”
That could be interesting, Hallie decided. She found herself curious about Thomas’s remarried ex-wife. She would love to see the two of them interact and co-parent.
“I guess I should go.”
The girl turned back, her head came up. Hallie stood to face her. “First of all, can you get back to school safely? How did you get here without anyone knowing?”
“Are you going to tell?” Becca wasn’t going to divulge any of her secrets unless she got some assurances in return.
Hallie saw no reason not to tell her. “No. I’m not going to tell. But there are conditions. I want to know how you can cut school without anyone knowing.”
“I call in to the school office while my mom’s in the shower. Pretend I’m my mom. Tell them I’m sick.”
“And they don’t suspect?”
“I do a pretty good imitation of my mom.” She adopted what Hallie assumed was her mother’s stance and demeanor as she pretended to hold a phone to her ear. “Yes, this is Kristina Blaisdell, Rebecca Purdue’s mother. Rebecca isn’t feeling well today and won’t be at school.”
Hallie had to give her credit. She sounded very much the adult. “You do this often?” Probably best, she decided, to know what kind of truant she was dealing with.
“No. This is only second time this year.”
“But your mother must drop you off at school. Or you take a bus?”
“Sure. I walk in like always, wait until she leaves and walk back out. I go to the city bus stop a block away. Take the bus here. It stops three streets away.”
“Then you do it in reverse. Get back to school before the final bell, and you’re there waiting to be picked up. Smart girl.”
Becca grinned again.
“One thing,” Hallie said. “Your braces. There are cookie crumbs…”
Becca clapped a hand over her mouth. “Oh, God. I know. But sometimes I forget. I’ve got a toothbrush in my backpack.” She raced to the entry where she’d left it and went into the bathroom. When she came back out she showed Hallie her teeth. “All good.” She went to stow her toothbrush in her backpack and when she returned she said, “So you won’t tell?”
“Not this time,” Hallie said. “But you have to do something for me in return.”
“I knew it.”
“It’s easy, Becca. I won’t tell anyone you were here if you don’t tell anyone I was here.”
“Well, duh. That’d be like admitting I was here.”
“So we’re agreed.”
“Yes,” Becca responded impatiently.
“Not your friends, either. Not even the ones you trust. I’m serious, Becca. You can’t tell anyone you saw me here.”
“I get it, okay?”
Hallie knew she’d laid it on too thick by the annoyance she heard in Becca’s tone. But she wasn’t entirely comfortable putting her life in the hands of an eleven-year-old. “Okay. Now, I want you to head back to school. When’s the next bus?”
Hallie glanced at the clock on the microwave. “In fifteen minutes,” she answered glumly.
“Good. If you hurry, you can make it. If anyone asks, you started to feel better and your mom dropped you off.”
Becca dragged her backpack over her shoulder. “But what about Jacob? And Meredith?”
“You pretend nothing happened. For all Jacob knows, Meredith made the whole thing up. If she even said anything to him at all. You only have her word, and we decided she can’t be trusted, right?” Hallie picked up Becca’s hand and placed it over her heart. “Play your cards closer to your chest. That’s my advice.”
“Thanks—wait. I don’t even know your name?”
“It’s—” Hallie hesitated. “Hailey.” Close enough.
“Thanks, Hailey. Bye.”
“Bye, Becca. Be careful.”
She closed and locked the door behind her before she remembered she should have asked Becca for the key.
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