Chapter 1– Trouble Always Knocks Twice
“Oh. My. God! Not again!”
Barefooted, hair dripping from the shower, Megan sprinted down the hall with her hands over her ears to block out the blaring of the burglar alarm, going off for the third time that morning. In her rush to get down the grand staircase she tripped, nearly colliding face-first with the eight-foot-tall statue of the goddess Athena on the landing.
Slipping and sliding on damp feet across the marble floor of the entrance hall, she managed to make it to the alarm panel beside the front door without killing herself or breaking any of the priceless antiques that filled the manor, which for her was a miracle.
“Shut-up-you-stu-pid-thing!” She punctuated each syllable with a jab of her finger as she keyed in the alarm code, all the while cursing whatever gods had decided that her blissfully quiet summer vacation needed some shaking up.
Two and a half months had passed without a single sign of the Order or its spies. Maybe they were on holiday, too, although she thought that was about as likely as it was for her to suddenly wake up in her apartment back in New York City. And now, on the day before she started her second-to-last year at St. Agatha’s College for Girls, the private school she attended here in England, the four month-old burglar alarm was having sensitivity issues.
She pushed the last number of the code, but the alarm kept up its incessant whine. Another try of the code was like pushing an elevator button, thinking it would make the car come faster—nothing happened. Maybe she had remembered it wrong?
“Why won’t you just be quiet!” She pulled a polished wand of wood from her back pocket and pointed it at the
A blue ball of energy erupted from the end of the wand and shot into the panel. With a loud POP, a shower of sparks, and the smell of ozone, the squawking alarm stopped, leaving its dulcet tones echoing in her ears.
“Crap.” Other words ran through her mind, but she wouldn’t say them out loud. She put her wand back in her pocket and punched the panel, angry for messing up. Again. “Bailey!” She probably could have used the bell pull
or even gone to find the butler, but yelling made her feel better.
“Yes, Miss?” Bailey appeared in the archway between the entrance hall and the lounge as if he had just popped into existence. He looked annoyingly perfect for so early in the morning—spotless, wrinkle-free black tails, the dome of his bald head shining as if he polished it like the banister.
“You roared?” Bailey’s face was dour and stoic, and Megan heard the disapproval in those two little words. He might as well have added what he really wanted to say in his nasal British accent: Shouting across the house
is rude, Miss.
Megan refused to let him guilt her into better manners.