When Katie Brashers announces to her friends that she’s headed to Orlando, Florida, for spring break, no one thinks twice. But when school resumes and Katie is nowhere to be found, her sixteen-year-old classmate and friend, Michelle Martin, grows suspicious. The school staff claims that the family moved to Florida, but Michelle doesn’t buy it. First, Katie never said goodbye to her devoted boyfriend, Brad; and second, Katie still has a treasured family book Michelle gave her to read—a book Katie promised to return. Something doesn’t make sense. Michelle and her best friend, Tami, team up with Brad to investigate the family’s disappearance, but it’s not easy. Not only do they have to dodge Michelle’s demanding, nosey mother, but they also have to sneak around the neighborhood while avoiding arrest for trespassing. After talking to neighbors and looking inside the house, they still have nothing but circumstantial evidence. Michelle is about ready to give up—until she takes her dog for their daily walk and uncovers a concrete clue. The clue leads her closer to the truth, but also thrusts her into dangerous circumstances beyond her control. If she isn’t careful, Michelle could end up like Katie—gone without a trace.
“I don’t get it, “ I told Tami as we walked together to our lockers. “Michelle, who cares?” she said. “It’s Friday! You should be thinking of, like, going to Equalizer instead. Pick you up at 7:00?” Equalizer was an under twenty-one dance club that was on the other side of Giles. Many kids from school hung out there and even some from the bigger city of Marian. That always seemed odd to Tami and me since Marian had everything including theaters and museums. Giles on the other hand had a small population of about four thousand and our biggest attractions were an ice cream shop and public swimming pool. “Tami! You don’t care why someone just disappears?” I asked. “She didn’t disappear. She was probably, like, planning on the move but didn’t wanna tell anyone. She was weird like that. So secretive.” She put her accounting book in her locker and took out a notebook. “One more class and we are outta here! Well, not really a class. It‘s screw off study hall.” “Yeah, well I’ll see you later,” I said, turning to walk toward my science class. Just then Brad stopped me. “Hey, did Katie mention anything or drop any hints to you about leaving for good?” “No,” I said. I didn’t know these two were serious. I mean, they went to the movies a few times but that was it. I always thought Brad was cute and hoped to go out with him someday. I envied Katie a little since she was the object of his affection. “I thought she would have returned the book I let her borrow a couple weeks ago.” He narrowed his eyes at me as if I were being petty. It sounded awful to worry more about a book than Katie, but this book belonged to my grandmother and it had sentimental value. Elizabeth Benningfield wrote it about a love story set during The Great Depression. The story was fictional, centered around actual facts. It was out of print and my grandmother had it signed by Elizabeth in 1961. When I was a child she told me the cover was etched in gold. I thought it was real gold but my mother always told me it wasn’t. That was a tale my grandmother liked to tell. My mother would kill me if she knew I loaned the book out. “You’d think she would have told you she was moving, if you guys were close,” I said, changing the subject. “I was hoping we would get that way,” Brad said. “It doesn’t look like it now.” He slowly walked off so I headed toward my science class.
Kelli Sue Landon was born in Peoria, Illinois. Her published short stories include “The Diary,” “Pizza Night,” and “Campfire Dreams.” She works for the United States Postal Service in Peoria. Sudden Moves is her first novel.