The opening scene from Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer, due out in a year or so from Holiday House.
Some motion made her pause. The shifting of a leaf, a scent upon the humid wind— With a single fluid motion she was up among the branches of an ancient oak. Adjusting her hat against the slanting sun, she settled in to watch. To wait.
“Tiernay! Tiernay, come out here this instant!”
I remained hidden among the branches of my favorite oak, not moving, not breathing. Well, trying not to breathe. You’d think that if Houdini could stay underwater for four minutes, if T.J. Redstone could conceal herself in the airless tomb of Arakistan’s Hidden City for nearly a quarter hour, I could hold my breath long enough for Mom to cross the backyard.
I tried to breathe out slowly, through my nose, the way T.J. did when hiding behind the curtains of the Arakistani ambassador’s chambers, waiting for him to reveal the location of the lost Amulet of Kazir. But instead my breath came out in a noisy rush, through my nose and my mouth and probably even my ears. I shifted among the branches, sending autumn leaves crackling to the ground.
Mom looked sharply up. “Tiernay Markowitz, what are you doing up there?”
“Tiernay West,” I said, all need for stealth gone. “My name’s Tiernay West.” Why is it so hard to get people to call you what you want?
Mom sighed. She enjoyed sighing, especially around me. “West is not what it says on your birth certificate.”
“That’s what it says on the covers of Dad’s books.”
“It’s a pseudonym, Tiernay. That’s different.” Mom and I’d had this discussion before.
“You changed your name after the divorce. Why can’t I change mine?”
“When you’re eighteen, you can do whatever you want. Until then, you’ll do as I say.”
But I didn’t want to wait until I was eighteen to do cool stuff. I wanted adventures now.
“Right now,” Mom went on, “I say you’re to get down here and put on some decent clothes. Or have you forgotten that we’re meeting Greg for dinner in less that an hour?”
Of course I hadn’t forgotten. Why else would I be hiding?
“All right, all right.” I climbed down a few branches, then jumped to the ground. My landing wasn’t quite worthy of the great cats of Africa, but it was close. I only scraped one knee. And my hat—broad-brimmed and woven from pale straw, a gift from Dad when he visited the Amazon to write The River’s Secret—stayed on my head, as all true adventurers’ hats do.
“Tiernay, be careful!” Mom shouted, as if I were still up in the tree, and not right there beside her. “One of these days you’re going to get yourself killed.”
“I’m always careful,” I said, as I stalked past her across the yard and toward the house.
Just like T.J. Just like Dad.