Eleven-year-old Kate keeps her knowledge to herself—one sister’s stash of marijuana, the other’s petty cash pilfering, her grandfather’s contraband candy bars. She protects her mother and Gran, too, screening out critical comments from the hotel suggestions box. But suddenly the stakes are raised; her grandfather’s best friend is murdered the day after Kate heard the two men arguing.
At the same time, far from the quiet mountain resort, a homeless man sees a robbery gone wrong . . . a gang member seeks revenge for the death of his son . . . and a boy chooses the worst time to wield spray paint on a store window. In a strange and spiraling sequence of events, their disparate worlds collide at Harrison Lodge.
Kate offers shelter to one of them, unaware of the terrible consequences to the family she loves. But people can hide in all kinds of ways, sometimes even in plain sight . . . and some secrets are just waiting to be exposed.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Erin Healy is the bestselling coauthor of Burn and Kiss
(with Ted Dekker) and an award-winning editor for many bestselling authors. She is a member of ACFW and Academy of Christian Editors. Her novels include such thrilling stories as Never Let You Go, The Baker’s Wife, Stranger Things, and Motherless. She and her family live in Colorado.
Read an Excerpt
By ERIN HEALY
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Erin Healy
All rights reserved.
The Twix bar was for her grandfather. Kate sneaked into his workshop so she could tuck it into his toolbox, where he kept forbidden sweets from her grandmother's watchful eye. Grandy had diabetes, and Gran feared it. But Grandy said there was nothing to fear about occasional indulgences, and Kate believed him. Why else would two little candy bars make him so happy? Besides, if she stopped smuggling Twix into his toolbox, he might stop leaving her thank-you gifts — "old junk" that was far more interesting than anything she ever got for birthdays or Christmases. Last month, when Kate turned eleven, her mother gave her a red velvet dress weighed down with sparkling beads. Kate hoped she might outgrow it before she had any chance to wear it.
Long ago the workshop had been a garage. And before that a carriage house for buggies pulled by horses. Kate remembered the old photos that once hung in the lodge, even though Gran took them down a long time ago. Today wood dust coated the floor, and the air still smelled of stain, though Grandy had sanded and refinished the outdoor furniture way back in the spring. His domain was cozy and brightened by a line of windows and a view of pine trees.
Kate entered from the outside, where she was less likely to be spotted, and found his toolbox sitting atop a massive Masonite worktable almost as tall as she was and as wide as the queen-size beds in the lodge's guest rooms. Here Grandy repaired broken chairs and rewired old lamps and restrung the frayed cords of miniblinds and curtain trolleys. Usually he stood. The tall stool pushed under the tabletop was for her whenever she asked if she could watch.
When Kate lifted the toolbox lid to put the Twix bar inside, a bright flash made her flinch and drop the candy. After blinking the stars from her eyes she carefully raised the top again.
A contraption of springs and wires attached to the lid moved a tiny tack hammer. This was poised over an old camera with a flash cube, ready to strike the shutter release and take another picture. A sticky note bearing Grandy's neat block printing told her the rest of the story.
Can you believe this old beast still works? She's yours, Agent K. Don't let the film canister go to the bad guys.
The camera was a plastic but weighty box just bigger than a card deck. Kate put her eye to the viewfinder and framed a picture of Grandy's powerful radial arm saw, but when she pushed the shutter button nothing happened. She turned the camera over in her hands. Her thumb brushed a small lever and moved it slightly. Would it break if she pushed on it?
When Grandy's voice reached her from outside the shop, she was still trying to decide.
Though Kate was welcome here, being caught in the act of exchanging gifts ruined the fun. She ducked under the big table into the shadows of boxes and boards stacked against its legs just as he opened the door. Kate flinched when the door hit the stopper and bounced off.
"What do you mean it's gone?" Grandy demanded.
He slammed his desk chair into the nook under his computer, then turned to a small window that overlooked the side yard, his cell phone to one ear, his fist on one hip.
"How did you lose it?"
At the answer, Grandy kicked over a small tower of five-gallon buckets. They separated and rattled around the concrete floor. With one arm he swept all of the paperwork off his desk. A paperweight hit the wall.
Kate clutched the camera and made herself as small as one of the buckets that wobble-rolled past the workbench. She knew better than to hold her breath but found it hard to breathe quietly. She'd never seen her grandfather do much more than slap a table when he was upset.
"you had no right, Gorman. It wasn't yours to risk."
Mr. Gorman was Grandy's best friend, owner of the Kwik Kash Pawnshop. Gran thought a pawnshop was a terrible place for a child to spend her time, so Grandy took Kate there at every opportunity, the easiest secret she ever had to keep. That and the one about Grandy's motorcycle, which he kept at Mr. Gorman's house. Grandy took her for rides in the summertime. Mr. Gorman, hairy as a yeti and nice as a teddy bear, always told her a knock-knock joke and then gave her a slug for the toy dispenser at the front of the store. It spit out plastic pods that held tattoo transfers, bouncy balls, and sticky men that could walk down the glass display cases that held the knives.
"No," Grandy said impatiently. "I don't know. Don't ask me to understand, 'cause I don't. I can't."
Grandy threw the phone down onto the clean surface of his desk and continued swearing, a loud rush like snow running off the mountain in spring. The desk chair rattled and squeaked as he pulled it back out and sank into it.
"I'm gonna kill him," he muttered.
Silence finally filled the workshop and lingered until Kate's tailbone ached. Her big toe began to tingle, and when it spread to her other toes and she couldn't stand it anymore, she wiggled her foot. Her shoe tapped the table leg and a nail rolled off the workbench, striking the floor like a gong.
Her grandfather sighed.
"You've been detected, Agent K." He swiveled in the chair as Kate crawled out on all fours, uneasy though he smiled. It wasn't his usual smile somehow.
"It's all right." He extended an arm to her and she stepped into a one-armed hug, nothing like his usual bear squeeze. "Even grown-up friends have fights now and then."
"I didn't mean to spy."
"I didn't mean for you to have to."
"What'd Mr. Gorman do?"
"Will it be okay?"
Grandy looked away.
"Long as you're here for hugs, girl, yes. Everything will be okay."
She showed him the camera. "It took my picture."
"Can't wait to see that one!"
"But now it won't work anymore."
"You have to advance the film first." The lever made a noise like a zipper as he pushed it farther than Kate had dared.
"Mr. Gorman should say he's sorry so you guys can make up." Kate took the camera back, and her grandfather rose to collect the scattered buckets. "That's what we have to do at school when someone does something stupid."
"Yes. Yes. I remember giving plenty of students advice like that in my day."
"Back when you were a teacher?"
"But grown-ups don't have to do what kids have to do," she said.
"Maybe that's true. But here's my experience: the older you get, the more you want. You think you're smarter; you think you can do what you want, get away with more." Air huffed out of the buckets as he nested them.
Kate's grandfather stared at the buckets. She lifted her camera to frame him once more but decided she didn't like this picture. Her mother often stared out the window with the same flat mouth, the same dull eyes. The expression made Kate feel unbearably lost, as if the people she loved had vanished to someplace she couldn't go and left her behind to fend for herself.
"You aren't really going to kill Mr. Gorman, are you, Grandy?"
"What?" He blinked and set the buckets on the floor. Dust floated through the faint morning light behind him. "No! Of course not. You know that's just a figure of speech. Tell you what: the truth is, I'm smarter when you're with me. So after I cool off — let's say lunchtime? — you come with me and we'll visit the Kwik Kash, and maybe you can talk some sense into me and Gorman both just by standing there and smiling. Would you do that for me?"
She nodded and kept her fears to herself. Because the Grandy who spoke to her looked like the man who put cameras in his toolbox for her to find, even sounded like him and wore his hair with the same crooked part down the left side of his head, but his eyes belonged to someone Kate didn't recognize at all.CHAPTER 2
Charlie left his latest home with less than when he'd arrived: the clothes on his back, his favorite knit cap, and a harmonica in the cargo pocket of his outdated pants. And more: a split lip and a bruised cheek, both of which were swelling.
Home was a bridge that spanned the South Platte River and supported Interstate 25. Charlie slipped out of the cramped spaces framed by girders and plywood scraps, cushioned with sleeping bags and deteriorating foam rubber, thinking about how quiet a dozen people could be when one of their own was taking a beating. When Merridew gave Charlie the ultimatum and the fist across his face, Charlie's brothers and sisters had looked away.
Overhead, hundreds of cars hummed across the freeway slab, causing the steel arches to vibrate like a musical tone under his fingers when he played his harmonica. He half walked, half scooted down the gentle slope to the riverbank. The bridge supports framed a view of the Denver Broncos' Mile High Stadium. Tomorrow the traffic and the crowds would pour into the vast parking lot, and the bridge would hum with a different energy.
Charlie jumped the last six feet onto small round stones that shifted when he came down.
They weren't really his brothers and sisters, all those boys and girls sitting in awkward quiet up there at the top of the arches. They were just a ragtag bunch of homeless kids. It was time he moved on anyway. He was twenty-one and hadn't even needed a family — just a place to sleep and a little help pooling resources for food. That much he could find somewhere else.
"Charlie." The whisper belonged to a girl, the light-footed Eve, who was as pale as a ray of light. Her call floated down on his head.
He scooped up the South Platte in his palms and tried to hold the cold on his puffy lip. The water turned pink in his palms. Eve descended without a sound, and the rocks didn't even register her weight as she crossed them.
But Charlie didn't give her his attention until she moved away, upstream, and fished something out of the river. A gold and blue beer can. She brought it to him.
"Hold this on your cheek," she ordered.
It worked better than the water, which had already wet his shirt. The fact that the beer belonged to Merridew also helped.
"I know you don't want to rob that shop," she said. "But we can't do it without you."
Eve barely cleared five feet. She had fine gold hair, hummingbird bones, and translucent skin that combined to create a deceptively delicate package. But Charlie knew as well as anyone that she was entirely capable of taking care of herself.
He turned and walked away, pressing the numbing can to his face. The wobbling river rocks made swagger impossible, which was annoying.
"Please." Eve followed like a stray dog. "Merridew's going to make us do this whether you help or not. There's a million ways it could go wrong. I know you pretend not to care and we all hate Merridew, but we need your experience here. Tell me I'm wrong."
Charlie didn't have to tell her anything.
"We all know you have a record, breaking and entering. It's no secret."
He began the short climb from the river up to Walnut Street, which made a hairpin turn under the bridge. From here it was only a couple of miles to downtown Denver, where he could stake a corner with his harmonica and panhandle enough for a meal and time to come up with a plan.
"Charlie, don't be a jerk."
He stepped out onto the road. Eve caught up and jogged to match his long stride.
"Drogo's still just a baby," she said. "He and Ender have never done anything like this before. Who knows what might happen?"
"So convince Merridew to change his mind."
Eve reached out and took a fistful of Charlie's T-shirt, jerking him out of stride.
"The guy who gave you that right hook doesn't change his mind. Look at me."
Charlie twisted toward her but she didn't let go of his shirt. Stepping in close, she lifted her other hand to his eyes. It contained a wad of cash, wrinkled ones, maybe ten, twelve dollars. Pocket change.
"It's all I've got," she said. "Take it. Get something to eat and calm down. Then help us out. Do it for Ender. He's the closest thing you've got to a brother."
"Not a brother who'd step up when Merridew was going at me."
"Well, Merridew's the dad now."
"Not my dad."
"C'mon, Charlie. He earned the right and now's not the time to challenge him, is it?"
"You think there's such a thing as the right time? you don't even know what you've lost yet."
Until three days ago, the street family Charlie and Eve belonged to had always abided by a strict code of nonviolence. This was not the way of most street-family cultures. Charlie had seen, during long days of independence, the ways other Denver families enforced compliance and loyalty. Taxing a member's personal belongings or privileges was common. Punishment could be physical. Beating, starving, isolating, excluding. Street-family fathers with cultlike authority punished with ritual abuses. Branding, burning, cutting. Others created elaborate fantasy worlds in which members learned to play specific roles — worker, enforcer, ruler — until it became their reality. Violence was expected and necessary, both as punishment and, meted out to enemies, proof of allegiance. Violence was power.
But the man who had originally invited Charlie to join them operated differently. His approach to governing was at the same time passive and effective. In his family, no one was an enemy. Don't bother us and we won't bother you. Live and let live. Every man for himself.
It was a philosophy Charlie could subscribe to. A large enough group of people living together agreeably this way could, in theory, protect itself from the risks of living alone. Until Merridew forced his way into the ranks and proved it wasn't enough.
A drop of blood from his lip dripped onto Charlie's shirt. He touched his fingertips to the cut.
"Least Ender could've done was come ask me for himself."
"I'm asking for him," Eve said. "I'm asking you."
The chill of the beer can and the pure November air started to clear Charlie's head. In another time or another place he might have done it for Eve, because she had more guts than the rest of them put together, and it would be easy to care for someone like her. But she belonged to Ender. She was his to look after. What right did they have to ask him for anything?
He took the rumpled money. She used both hands to make sure he got it all.
"I'll think about it."CHAPTER 3
Kate left Grandy's workshop by the other door, the one that led into the dim old hallways and updated slate floors of the Harrison Lodge.
Ages and ages ago the lodge had been a private mansion, a summer getaway for a rich businessman. Her great-great-grandfather. Or maybe it was three greats. no one talked much about him. Then, long before Kate was born, someone had turned the mansion into a hotel. There was an occasionally popular restaurant on the first floor, well-appointed guest rooms and a library on the second, and a third-story event center with full-circle views of peacefulness. These days the Harrisons worked like the servants they'd once employed.
The hall that Kate entered ran the full length of the lodge, front to back, and if she had gone all the way to the end she would have passed Gran and Grandy's private suite, and Great-Grandma Pearl's room opposite theirs. Here on the main floor the old people didn't have to climb stairs or venture outdoors when the weather got mean.
But instead of going that way Kate turned left and ducked under a velvet privacy rope and entered the lodge's public foyer. Light from two-story windows filled the entryway, making it the brightest space in the lodge. She looked out the window through the viewfinder of her new-old camera, wondering if this would be a good spot for snapping proof of the guests who said they had no pets and then smuggled them in anyway. She decided she could get better pictures from the library's balcony upstairs.
The hard gray floors were covered with thick area rugs to reduce noise and absorb tracked-in snow. Beyond the leaded-glass double doors was the reception desk: a shiny dark wood face, speckled granite counters, sleek new computers. An island of empty mailboxes stood in the center of the floor, and behind these, hidden from customers, a clutter of paperwork topped a second desk under the windows. Kate's mother sat here staring down the winding driveway, a paperback novel parted under her fingertips.
Excerpted from Hiding Places by ERIN HEALY. Copyright © 2015 Erin Healy. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.