Last week, while conducting an illegal search of Kayla’s room with Silas, her phone rang! An overwhelming 90% of you chose to Answer the phone!, even though it is probably Kayla’s parents calling from Europe. What will they say? What will YOU say?

Chapter 05: Call Me, Any, Anytime

Your hands are sweaty, and you have to dry them on your jeans before you can get Kayla’s iPhone to register your swipe through the thick plastic screen protector on her gaudy case. Just as you’re afraid the caller will hang up, you connect.


“Darling! How are you doing?” Kayla’s mom’s theatrical voice shrills out of the phone, like she’s channeling Zsa Zsa Gabor as that mouse, Bianca, in the old Disney movie, The Rescuers.

“Um, okay. How are you?” You almost add, “Mrs. Peters” but bite it off. You’re not sure Mrs. Peters knows whether or not you’re Kayla, and you get the idea it might be good not to clue her in. You’re pretty sure they know Kayla’s missing — I mean, you did send them about a thousand emails, and surely the police talked to them, right? — but now you’re not so sure. What if they, like everyone else, don’t think there’s anything to worry about? Or worse, what if they know something about her disappearance?

“We’re simply lovely. Paris is so enchanting in the fall! I do wish we could have brought you this time, dear, but with theater camp and school, well, that just would have been irresponsible.” You just make a noncommital sound in reply. This was definitely getting weird. Obviously, Mrs. Peters thinks you’re Kayla, which is messed up on all sorts of levels, the most basic being her not even recognizing her own daughter’s voice (or not-daughter’s voice, actually), and getting worse from there. But maybe you can play it off and get some info.

Injecting some of Kayla’s own dramatic qualities into your voice, you interrupt.

“Oh, I KNOW Mom! I can’t believe you guys wouldn’t take me to PARIS. But things are good here — the school play’s My Fair Lady, and you know I was born to be Eliza Doolittle. Maybe we can go to London after it’s over?”

Silas is staring at you, one eyebrow cocked. He pulls a notebook out of his pocket and starts scribbling, then turns it to you to read.

Ask when they’ll be back

Duh. Like you hadn’t already thought of that. You just have to warm up to it. You give him an, “Yeah, I’m not a total idiot” eyeroll and go back to the phone, where Mrs. Peters is inventing some elaborate excuse not to take you — Kayla — to London, and going on about what a great city it is.

“Hey, so, when are you guys coming back? I mean, the play is in a few weeks, and I’d LOVE for you to get to see me in it.”

“Oh, honey. We’re not sure. Your father’s business, well, you know how it goes. We’re just playing it by ear! But do let us know how the play goes. Maybe we can catch it on that YouTube or something! Oh, there’s your father now. I’d let you chat with him, but we’re late for an important dinner. Ciao!” The phone goes dead, nothing but silence after the little beep beep beep. You frantically poke through the call history and try to call her back, but you get a message saying international calls are blocked on the phone. Dammit. That must have happened after Kayla’s exchange student boyfriend moved back to Sweden last year and she racked up thousands of dollars in bills from late-night, “I miss you,” “I miss you more!” sobfests before she moved on to Dylan (the creep).

Silas takes the phone from you with a, “May I?” look and copies the number down in his little notebook. You wonder if he raided his dad’s stash of reporter stenos — too cute. Just then, the phone rings again. It’s a blocked call. Silas hits TALK and SPEAKER, and aims the phone at you.


After a minute of silence, there’s a click, then a distorted voice comes on the line.

“We know what you did, and we know who you called.” Beep beep beep. Silence.

“Holy shit,” you both say at once. Suddenly, you’re shaking hard, and you clamp your hands under your arms to stop. “We have to get out of here,” Silas says, then grabs your arm and pulls you back to the laundry room. The phone goes into his pocket.

Once you’re both outside and several blocks away, you think you might be able to speak again.

“What the hell is going on?”

It can’t be normal for Kayla’s mom to think you were Kayla. “Do you think she was pretending?” Silas asks.

You hadn’t considered that, but you weren’t sure. Kayla’s mom was pretty weird and flighty, and she sounded even more weird than normal today. That “glamorous 1960s jetsetter” act was definitely not normal, even for Mrs. Peters.

“I don’t know. What if she was being forced to call? Or what if she’s trying to establish an alibi or something?” Or — and you can hardly allow yourself to think it, let alone say it out loud to a boy who may be super hot, but whom you just met — what if she’s setting you up somehow? “We should tell someone. That second phone call …” You trail off. There’s just too much going on. Silas reaches over and takes your hand, absently running his thumb up and down yours. It’s comforting, and you’re tempted to lean over the center console and rest your head on his shoulder, when you remember. He has Kayla’s phone. Was that just an automatic habit, sticking it in his pocket, or does he want to do something with it? Also, what else was in that notebook of his? You turn to him and stare at the side of his head, his eyes focused on the road as he drives you both … where? You’re not headed toward school or your house. You open your mouth and say…

What do you say to Silas?

A. “Where are we going?”

B. “We need to tell the police.”

C. “Let’s tell your dad.”

D. “Hey, give me Kayla’s phone. I need to check something.”

Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.