When her father is
accused of fraud, seventeen year old Vandy Spencer discovers her entire life
has been built on a heart-shattering deception.
Seventeen year old Vandy Spencer lives like a princess.
Sheltered by her wealthy family, she happily makes plans to spend a fantasy before-college
gap summer with her gorgeous boyfriend.
Then her dad is accused of a huge financial fraud. Vandy
is thrust into a frenzy of media attention as accusations and innuendos pile up
daily. The victims of her dad’s swindle vow revenge, and her dad flees.
As her perfect life disintegrates, Vandy struggles to separate
reality from lies. Was her perfect life truly so perfect? Did she ever really
know her father?
When family secrets come to light, revealing an
unimaginable betrayal, Vandy learns to appreciate the simple richness of
sincerity and truth.
A branch cracked behind me and leaves rustled. I
scrambled to my feet. Stenny had come after me! He really did love me, enough
to follow me, and...
Pete Hawthorn stepped out of the woods, holding a
flashlight. The backglow lit his face, which was drawn into the frown he wore
lately whenever he saw me, and his mouth turned down into a scowl. “Don’t you
have any sense at all, Dandy-Vandy?”
I should have known Stenny wouldn’t traipse through the
woods searching for me. It wasn’t his style. He’d use his phone.
My own phone, tucked in the pocket of my shorts, burst
into the first bars of Boyfriend. I
ignored it and poked a finger at Pete’s chest. “Quit calling me that. Don’t you
have better things to do than skulk around the woods in the dark? Like maybe go
“I took the night off.” He peered at me. “Why are you
“None of your business!” Then, as his words sank in, I
asked, “Why’d you take the night off? Is Gus okay?”
“Gramps is the same as he always is.” Pete slid the
button on the flashlight and the bulb dimmed. “I stayed home because we heard
the news about your dad. We’re going to help, in whatever way we can.” His
voice barely carried across the small space between us, the words and tone
“That means a lot, Pete. Thanks. Tell Gus thanks too.”
“Yeah.” Pete turned the flashlight on bright again and
waved it in a searching arc. “Where’s the jerk-off? He leave you alone out
My gratitude evaporated like dew off grass. I planted
my hands on my hips as my phone played Boyfriend
again. “Stenny’s not a jerk-off, and he’s probably at the tree house, where I
“Isn’t it good to know he’ll stay where you tell him
to? At least you won’t need to put a leash on him when the two of you are
wandering around France.” Pete narrowed his eyes. “It’s dark out here,
Dandy-Vandy, in case you haven’t noticed. Do you have a flashlight? Or am I
gonna have to walk you home?”
I didn’t need him to babysit me. I opened my mouth to
say so, and then reconsidered as the sounds of the night surged around me. He
was right. The darkness crackled with noises I hadn’t paid much attention to
during my rush to get away from the hurt of Stenny’s doubt. The air seemed
ominous too, full of a sickly-sweet odor, a combination of gasoline, motor oil,
and damp dirt. It stunk like zombies, or worse, vampires.
“Thanks, Pete. That’s a good idea.”
“I have them occasionally.” He gestured with the
flashlight. “The path’s this way.”
We strode along single file without speaking. The dry
leaves crackled beneath our feet and the occasional haunting cry of a bird
shredded the air.
“Nightingale,” Pete said.
We reached the end of the path, coming out of the woods
behind a row of bushes fencing Kingsway’s open lawn. A line of solar lights
illuminated the back yard, glowing against the pool cabana and the house’s
white walls beyond—big, ornate...and home.
I smiled despite my worries. “I love how pretty our
house is at night.”
Pete shut the flashlight off. “I’ll send you pictures
of it while you’re enjoying your European adventure with the jerk-off.”
I was turning to him when a man carrying a portable video camera dashed
across the lawn. I gasped. “He’s headed for the house! I have to warn Dad.”