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Queen of Disguises

De
176 pages
Amateur detective and singing sensation Dinah Galloway has enough on her plate without having to worry about being pursued by a vengeful stalker. The red-headed twelve-year-old is in the running to sing in commercials promoting beautiful British Columbia. To clinch the job, Dinah has to get fit at a wellness retreat on Salt Spring Island. Veggies? Exercise? Yech! Grudgingly, though, Dinah admits that her lifestyle could be a little healthier. Off to Salt Spring she goes, along with the two other finalists: one friendly, the other the last word in sulky. Her friends Talbot and Pantelli make their usual disruptive appearances, along with Dinah's ever-anxious mother and cool, elegant sister Madge. Hoping to shed not only pounds but her crazed pursuer, Dinah learns the true meaning of personal best, it truly is how you play the game, not whether you win or lose.
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Queen of Disguises
A Dinah Galloway Mystery Queen of Disguises Melanie Jackson
A Dinah Galloway Mystery
Queen of Disguises
Melanie Jackson
Copyright © 2009 Melanie Jackson
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Jackson, Melanie, 156-Queen of disguises / written by Melanie Jackson.
(A Dinah Galloway mystery) ISBN 78-1-5546-37-4
I. Title. II. Series: Jackson, Melanie, 156- . Dinah Galloway mystery.
PS856.A65Q38  jC813’.6 C-14-8
First published in the United States, 2009 Library of Congress Control Number: 200922
Summary:Competing for a spot in a commercial, Dinah must become healthy while eluding a vengeful pursuer.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover design by Lynn O’Rourke and John van der Woude Mask photo credit by Dreamstime
Orca Book Publishers Orca Book Publishers POBox 2, Stn.PO Box  Victoria,çCuster, Canada à ûŝà  ŝ 920-0 www.orcabook.com Printed and bound in Canada. Printed on 00% ç recycled paper. 2•   2 0 09
ïn memory of my mother, Pearl Chandler, a true pIlgrIm soul. MJ
A Vengeful Prelude
Game’s on, DInah Galloway. Oh, not shot put or the hundred-meter dash or speed skatIng or any other sport you’d ind at the OlympIcs. MIne’s therevenge game. A game of hIde-and-seek, where ï’mItand you’re the target. e one ï hunt down. And when the game’s over, you won’t sIng or snoop anymore. at’ll be a gold-medal day for me, VIolet BrIdey. at’s rIght. VïOLET BRïDEY. e one you cruelly called Beak-Nose. Remember? Hmph! ï happen to thInk a promInent bump Is dIstInctIve: gIves one that Matterhorn look. Most ImposIng. But back to the delIcIous revenge ï’m plottIng. All those months In prIson, ï nurtured my plan as tenderly as the begonIa ï kept on my wIndowsIll. Pruned It back when It grew too much In the wrong dIrectIon; enrIched It when It wIthered. Not much else for me to do there except grow thIngs. e begonIa: an orange one, the color of ire. e Idea: Ink dark, cold as revenge.
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Your fault ï was an Inmate, DInah. You poked your freckled—and, If ï may say so, rather snub—nose, wIth those ever-smudged glasses teeterIng crookedly on top, Into my oh-so-lovely plans. ï had my fortune, that glowIng moonstone, In the palm of my hand. How cleverly ï’d stolen It, you must admIt. en a scream from you, and the polIce were alerted. e prIson walls closed around me. e other Inmates thought the walls were brIck, butï knew better. e walls hemmIng me In were you. Your face was on every one of them. You, “the red-hot redhead,” as crItIcs drooled. As they never drooled for me. “Too melodramatIc,” they snIFed. “No matter how hard she trIes, she’ll always be an amateur. Couldn’t act her way out of aHeater for Dummiesbook!” Yet even the crItIcs had to acknowledge my partIcular talent. ey never knew when ï took on more than one role In a play, not tIll the end, when the lIghts came up. Howï savored theIr eyes, bulgIng wIth astonIshment; theIr slack jaws. ït was all ï could do not to laugh out loud at them asï took my bow for my multIple roles. You see, DInah, ï am the Queen of DIsguIses. And now ï’ve igured out theultimatedIsguIse, hee hee. at’s how ï’ll avenge myself on you. Prepare to meet your own personalIt, DInah Galloway. Your curtaIn call.
Chapter One A Stalker...But Where?
“LET TE GAMES BEGIN!” A voice blasted out of the loudspeaker right over our heads. I jumped, bumping Madge. “You’re so jittery today, Dinah,” my sister scolded. “Anyone would think you’d developed a nervous twitch. Especially in your neck. Why do you keep looking behind us?” “I don’t know. It’s weird. I have this feeling someone’s watching me.” I craned round again, surveying the dozens of other kids waiting, like me, for an audition to sing in commercials for Vancouver’s 1 Olympics. Two of us would be chosen: one for a commercial featuring opera, one for swing. Swing, a-ring-a-ding-ding, as Sinatra would say. Hat’d be me. I hoped. He other kids, and the ŝàs (i.e., signiîcant adults) accompanying them, were staring anxiously at the door of the Witherspoon Advertising Agency. When Mr.
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Witherspoon deigned to open it, we’d be called, one by one, to go in and sing. He loudspeaker re-erupted. “LET TE GAMES BEGIN!” Some of the younger auditioners started crying. He volume was set soloud. According to a secretary who had popped out earlier, the repeated announcement was supposed to rev us up. Put us in mind of athletes slaloming down hills and so on. But it was merely deafening us. I and a lot of the other kids stued our îngers in our ears. Madge didn’t need to. She had her iPod on and was test-listening to dierent pieces of music for her wedding, planned for the end of August. Madge was the only person in the crammed hall with a blissed-out smile. As usual, male glances uttered and settled on her like hungry bees. My eighteen-year-old sister was a drop-dead stunner. She had creamy skin, soly wavy auburn hair and lupine-blue eyes with—get this—long,naturally darkeyelashes, as compared to my stubby reddish ones. Maybe I had the feeling of being watched today because of Madge. Maybe I’d intercepted some of the stares meant for her. An elbow like a wrecking ball knocked me aside. It belonged to a pale, slick-haired, practically lipless boy my size. Hat is to say, shorter than your average tween. Reaching up a tuxedoed arm, he plucked one of Madge’s earphones o. “ey, baby,” he greeted her, pitching his voice low. “Can you give me directions? I’m lost in love.” “Um,” I said nervously. He kid looked like Countlet Dracula, but I felt I ought to warn him. “Madge isn’t the most patient—”
Queen of Disguises
5
“Quiet, Pee Wee,” the kid said out of the corner of his mouth. To my astonishment, Madge broke into a lovely smile. “You’re so sweet,” she cooed to the kid. “Interrupting my appreciation of Debussy.” e apped his eyebrows at her. “In the next room, it’ll soon be mydébut, see? a ha ha.” “So cute,” Madge smiled. And, grasping his shirt and tuxedo collar all at once, she hoisted the kid and jammed him in a nearby wastebasket. “Weight liing pays o,” she remarked to me. Hen, calmly, she replaced the dangling earphone and listened on. Madge was talented at tuning the world out, even when she wasn’t iPod-equipped. My sister was a dreamy artist who oated through much of her life musing about how to portray beauty in urban settings. He grimier, the better. His was her specialty, what she described as putting opposite ideas together, the clash before the creation. Uh, oka-a-a-ay. Anyhow, I was secretly quite proud of Madge. She’d be starting next month at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. “Oh, Cornwall,” gushed a big, platinum-dyed-haired woman in a black-and-white check dress. Shoving other auditioners and ŝàs out of the way, she lumbered over to him. “Your nice tux, son! YoupromIsedto be careful.” She tried unwedging Cornwall from the basket. Hen— “AUDITIONS WILL BEGIN SORTLY. WE WILL CALL FOR SINGERS IN ALPABETICAL ORDER.” Startled, Cornwall’s mother fell backward, knocking over a fat, cherubic little boy and girl. Carl and Carlotta Featherwhist, the Singing Toddler Twins. I’d got to know
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Carl, Carlotta and their mom at auditions; I even babysat the twins sometimes. Hey were good kids, if a little hyper. Flattened by Cornwall’s mother, the twins now erupted into wails. Over the heads of some ŝàs, I spotted the telltale neon orange of a snack machine. Using my head as a battering ram, I plowed through the crowd. Madge hadhermusic; I had mine. In this case, the sound of a package of Fudgee-Os crashing to the vending machine slot. As I tucked two chocolaty cookies in my mouth at once, a înger timidly tapped my shoulder. I turned, face bulging, to see a thin girl with long, neatly combed chestnut hair. She peered at me shyly out of large, dark eyes. “Angela Bridey!” I got out, more or less. It was kind of an awkward moment, since I’d helped send her Aunt Violet to jail the previous fall for attempting to steal a valuable moonstone ring. But then, I thrive on awkward moments. Hey’re so much more interesting thanregular ones. I gulped down the Fudgee-Os and smiled at Angela. Aer all, what’s a little family incarceration between friends? “I know you’ll impress Mr. Witherspoon with your beautiful high soprano,” I said sincerely. “Hough maybe he should remove any crystalware from the room before you start.” Angela crumpled into tears. “Oh, Dinah!” “I was just kidding,” I said in alarm. “Jokes are kind of a reex with me.” I glanced round. With one hand on his neck, another on his ankles, the platinum-haired woman was trying to wrench Cornwall from the wastebasket. He twins kept on howling.