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First published 2012 by The O’Brien Press Ltd, 12 Terenure Road East, Rathgar, Dublin 6, Ireland. Tel: +353 1 4923333; Fax: +353 1 4922777 E-mail: books@obrien.ie Website: www.obrien.ie

ISBN: 978-1-84717-XXX-X Text © copyright Judi Curtin 2012 Copyright for typesetting, layout, editing, design © The O’Brien Press Ltd All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or utilised in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or in any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher A catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 12 13 14 15 The O’Brien Press receives assistance from

Layout and design: The O’Brien Press Ltd Cover illustration: Woody Fox Printed The paper used in this book is produced using pulp from managed forests


Chapter One

V

ictoria and I stood on my front doorstep and hugged for a long time. ‘I need to go or I’ll miss my plane,’ she said, when she finally pulled away. ‘You’re going to have such an amazing time in California,’ I said. ‘Well, it’ll probably get a bit boring after a while.’ She wasn’t fooling me. ‘It’s OK,’ I said. ‘I know that, unless my parents win the lottery in the morning, I’m not going to California any time soon. I don’t mind though, honestly.’ 7


Victoria gave me one of her piercing stares, and I surrendered. ‘OK,’ I said. ‘I mind a bit, but I’m still happy that you can go.’ She looked doubtful, so I smiled my best smile. ‘I want daily updates,’ I said. ‘You can contact me by text or e-mail or Facebook or even carrier pigeon if you want. All I know is, I want to hear every single detail of who you meet and what you do. That way it’ll be almost like I’m there with you.’ Victoria looked at her watch. ‘OMG,’ she said. ‘I’m in so much trouble.’ She gave me one last quick hug and then she started to run. ‘I’ll bring you back a present,’ she called over her shoulder. ‘And I hope you have a great time in Seacove too.’ ‘Sure,’ I said, even though she couldn’t hear me. ‘I’ll have a great time in Seacove. It’ll be a 8


total blast.’ I blinked tears from my eyes as I went back inside. Once upon a time, my family could afford exciting holidays to places like California, but then my dad lost his job, and everything changed. It was so long since I’d seen the inside of an airport that I’d almost forgotten what they looked like. Last year’s holiday was to a tiny village called Seacove – and I so wasn’t happy when Mum and Dad told me about it. I had sulked all the way there, certain that it was going to be a total borefest. When I got there though, I met an amazing girl called Kate. The two of us, and our friend Lily, started a campaign to save Kate’s special tree, and in the end, it turned out to be one of the best holidays of my life. This year was totally different though. It would be nice to hang out with Kate and Lily again, but there wasn’t going to be a tree to save or anything. Seacove was just going 9


to be … Seacove, and all the time, Victoria was going to be having the time of her life in California. It just wasn’t fair!

m

n

o

‘I need to ask you a favour,’ said my friend Ruby, when she called over that afternoon. ‘So ask,’ I said, as I sat next to her on my bed. ‘Well, you know how I’m going to London soon, for a trial for a swimming scholarship?’ ‘Of course I know that. You’ve told me ten times. It’s the most amazing thing ever. And I also know that you’re going to get the scholarship, and be a world famous swimmer, and when you’re representing Ireland in the Olympics, I’ll be able to boast that I knew you back when you could barely do the doggypaddle.’ 10


Ruby looked embarrassed, like she always does when she’s being praised. ‘Anyway,’ she said, ‘about the favour.’ ‘If you want me to lend you some clothes,’ I said, ‘That’s no problem. I haven’t got anything new lately, but I know you like my purple top, so you can have that and….’ ‘It’s not that kind of favour,’ said Ruby. ‘It’s a bit bigger than that. You see, Mum was going to come to London with me, but we can’t afford to stay in a hotel.’ I thought of my money box, which had about three euro in it, and hoped very much that Ruby wasn’t going to ask me to lend her some money. ‘So I have to stay with Jenny who’s over in London on a hairdressing training course,’ she said. ‘That’s brilliant,’ I said. ‘I wish I had a totally cool big sister who would invite me to stay with her in London. You’re going to have such 11


a good time.’ ‘It’s not that simple though. Jenny lives in a second floor flat, and there isn’t a lift and …’ ‘Oh,’ I said. ‘That is kind of a problem.’ You see Ruby’s mum, Maggie, is a wheelchairuser, and for her, a second-floor flat without a lift might as well be on the moon. ‘And,’ continued Ruby, ‘I’d be too scared to go to London on my own, so I was kind of wondering if you’d like to come with me.’ I put my hands over my mouth to hide the happy, squeaky noises that were threatening to escape. The thought of a trip to London was so amazing I hardly dared to think about it. Then all kinds of problems presented themselves, lining up in my mind, spoiling everything. Would Mum and Dad let me go to London with Ruby? Could they afford to pay for me to go to London? 12


And what about our family holiday to Seacove? Ruby was grinning, like she could read my mind. ‘My mum has spoken to your mum and dad already,’ she said. ‘The swimming trials are in the middle of your trip to Seacove, but your mum and dad said it’s OK for you to go away for a few days. Flights are really cheap at the moment, and since we won’t be paying for a place to stay, it’ll hardly cost anything, so if you want to go, just say the word and it’s all sorted.’ I jumped up and hugged her. ‘Of course I want to go. Now move over, I need to start planning what to wear.’

13

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