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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and events are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, locales or events is entirely coincidental.


Eleven-year-old Meg MacAllister stopped at the living room door and peered into the semi-darkness. She knew he was here, had heard his voice from her room upstairs when her mother answered the doorbell. But she didn’t know if he still waited in the living room, as he had the last time, or if Natalie had called for him already.

She listened. Heard nothing. No rustling, no breathing. She drew a breath, glanced over her shoulder to the hall behind her, and apprehension tightened her shoulder muscles.

If only she hadn’t left her math book on the table by Daddy’s chair. She could see the angular outline of it, next to the pipe stand.

She needed it, had to have it now. The teacher assigned so many problems for homework this afternoon that she’d be up late completing them all as it was.

Meg took another breath and, on tiptoe, silent as a shadow, stole into the room.

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