Im not who you think i a.., p.1

I'm Not Who You Think I Am, page 1

 

I'm Not Who You Think I Am


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I'm Not Who You Think I Am


  Happy Birthday

  Ginger felt someone staring at her. She had an uneasy sensation, a sixth sense that she was being watched.

  At first Ginger ignored the feeling, since most of the people in the restaurant had looked at her when the waiter brought Ginger’s hot-fudge sundae with a lighted candle on top.

  A few minutes later, as Ginger scraped the last spoonful of fudge sauce out of the sundae dish, she sensed that someone was still watching her. Curious, she turned and caught the woman staring intently at her.

  As Ginger untied ribbons and laughed at silly cards and opened her packages, she was aware that the woman by the window was watching her every move.

  Once, Ginger frowned at the woman, hoping she would take the hint. The woman responded with a sad look and kept staring.

  As Ginger thanked her family and Karie for their gifts, she felt a hand on her shoulder.

  She looked up, into the face of the woman who had watched her all through lunch. Involuntarily, Ginger leaned away from the woman’s touch.

  “Happy birthday, Ginger,” the woman said. She was a small woman, and she spoke softly, directing her words to Ginger, as if no one else were in the room.

  A chill of apprehension prickled the hair on Ginger’s neck. She knows who I am, Ginger thought, but I don’t know her.

  OTHER BOOKS BY PEG KEHRET

  Abduction

  Cages

  Don’t Tell Anyone

  Earthquake Terror

  The Ghost’s Grave

  Nightmare Mountain

  Runaway Twin

  Searching for Candlestick Park

  Stolen Children

  Terror at the Zoo

  The Pete the Cat Series

  Spy Cat

  The Stranger Next Door

  Trapped

  I’m Not Who

  You Think I Am

  PEG KEHRET

  For Bob Kehret,

  who lives with purpose and

  coaches with honor

  PUFFIN BOOKS

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3

  (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

  (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

  Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand

  (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Registered Offices: Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  First published in the United States of America by Dutton Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 1999

  Published by Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers Group, 2001

  Reissued by Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2006, 2011

  Copyright © Peg Kehret, 1999

  All rights reserved

  THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS HAS CATALOGED THE DUTTON EDITION AS FOLLOWS:

  Kehret, Peg.

  I’m not who you think I am / by Peg Kehret.—1st ed.

  p. cm.

  Summary: Thirteen-year-old Ginger becomes the target of a disturbed woman who believes that Ginger is her dead daughter.

  [1. Stalking—Fiction. 2. Mentally ill—Fiction. 3. Mothers and daughters—Fiction.]

  I. Title

  PZ7.K25181ae 1999

  [Fic]—dc21 98-33879 CIP AC

  Puffin Books ISBN: 978-1-101-66171-0

  Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

  The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

  Table of Contents

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Author Q&A

  Discussion Guide

  Chapter

  One

  GINGER FELT SOMEONE STARING at her. She had an uneasy sensation, a sixth sense that she was being watched.

  At first Ginger ignored the feeling, since most of the people in the restaurant had looked at her when the waiter brought Ginger’s hot-fudge sundae with a lighted candle on top.

  “Your attention, please!” he had boomed. “We want to wish a happy thirteenth birthday to Ginger!”

  Mom and Dad began singing “Happy Birthday to You,” and Ginger’s six-year-old brother, Tipper, and her best friend, Karie, joined in enthusiastically. Laura, Ginger’s older sister, seemed embarrassed and tried to get them to tone down the volume, but by the time they got to “Happy birthday, dear Ginger,” Laura was singing along.

  The family at the next table sang, too, even though they didn’t know Ginger, and everyone applauded when Ginger blew out the candle.

  A few minutes later, as Ginger scraped the last spoonful of fudge sauce out of the sundae dish, she sensed that someone was still watching her. Curious, she turned and caught the woman staring intently at her.

  The woman, who wore a brown blazer over a cream-colored blouse, seemed about the age of Ginger’s parents. She sat alone, holding an open book, but her eyes were not on the printed page. She gazed over the top of the book, directly at Ginger.

  When Ginger’s eyes met hers, the woman did not look away, nor did she smile or nod. Instead she stared harder, as if she were trying to memorize every freckle on Ginger’s face.

  Ginger whispered to her mother, “Do you know that woman over there by the window, the one with the book?”

  Mrs. Shaw glanced discreetly toward the window and then turned back to Ginger. “I don’t think so. Why? Does she look familiar?”

  “No, but she keeps watching us. I thought she might be a client of yours.” Ginger’s mother owned a small business, Celebrations; she planned parties and special events. People were always greeting Mrs. Shaw on the street and talking about how nice their anniversary party had been, or their wedding reception, or the company picnic. Sometimes Ginger thought her mother knew everybody in town by name.

  Mrs. Shaw looked again, then shook her head. “I don’t think I know her.”

  “Maybe she’s a spy,” said Tipper.

  “Don’t be silly,” Laura said. “Why would anyone spy on us?”

  “She’s probably just looking this way, trying to catch the waiter’s attention,” Mr. Shaw said.

  Ginger said nothing more, but she knew the woman was not trying to summon a waiter. She is staring at me, Ginger thought. And I wish she’d stop.

  Mr
. Shaw glanced at his watch. “It is exactly twelve-thirty P.M.—the time you were born,” he said. “Congratulations, Ginger. You are now a teenager.”

  “We’ll never forget the day you were born,” Mrs. Shaw said, and she launched into the familiar story of how Ginger was not expected for another two weeks and how they had a flat tire on the way to the hospital and Ginger almost arrived before Mrs. Shaw made it to the delivery room.

  “You were such a small baby,” Mr. Shaw said. “I was afraid to hold you.”

  “Five pounds, twelve ounces,” Mrs. Shaw said.

  “The only thing I remember,” Laura said, “is that I got to stay with Grandma and Grandpa, and when you called them from the hospital, Grandma cried. I thought something terrible had happened, until she hung up and told me I had a baby sister. I was astonished to realize that people sometimes cry when they’re happy.”

  “What do you remember about my birthday?” asked Tipper.

  “You were our biggest baby,” said Mrs. Shaw. “Almost nine pounds.”

  “And you are the only one to be born here in Seattle,” Mr. Shaw said. “Laura and Ginger were born in Texas.”

  “I think our birthday girl should open her gifts,” Mrs. Shaw said.

  “So do I,” agreed Ginger. As she untied ribbons and laughed at silly cards and opened her packages, she was aware that the woman by the window was watching her every move.

  Once, Ginger frowned at the woman, hoping she would take the hint. The woman responded with a sad look and kept staring.

  As Ginger thanked her family and Karie for their gifts, she felt a hand on her shoulder.

  She looked up, into the face of the woman who had watched her all through lunch. Involuntarily, Ginger leaned away from the woman’s touch.

  “Happy birthday, Ginger,” the woman said. She was a small woman, and she spoke softly, directing her words to Ginger, as if no one else were in the room.

  A chill of apprehension prickled the hair on Ginger’s neck. She knows who I am, Ginger thought, but I don’t know her.

  “Have we met?” Mr. Shaw asked. “I’m afraid I’m not good at remembering names.”

  The woman started to speak, hesitated, then turned away and walked quickly out of the restaurant.

  “That was odd,” Mrs. Shaw said.

  “How did she know my name?” Ginger asked.

  “She’s a private investigator,” said Tipper. “Your boyfriend hired her to follow you.”

  “What boyfriend?” said Karie.

  “The waiter announced your name,” Laura said, “and we all sang ‘Happy birthday, dear Ginger.’ It wouldn’t be too hard to figure out.”

  That’s right, Ginger thought. Everyone in the restaurant knows my name, not just her.

  “Could you have repaired a player piano for her?” Mrs. Shaw asked her husband. “Or bought an old player piano from her?”

  “It’s possible. I’m not as good as you are at recalling names and faces.”

  “I bet she’s a scout for ABC Sports,” said Tipper. “They’re going to offer Ginger a million dollars to broadcast the next Olympics.”

  “She’s probably just a lonely woman who wished she was included in our celebration,” said Mrs. Shaw.

  Laura, who had come by herself, left to prepare for a party she was catering later that day. The rest of them lingered while Mr. and Mrs. Shaw had a second cup of coffee. Then they gathered Ginger’s gifts, the wrapping paper, and the two containers of leftovers, and walked to the Shaws’ van.

  Everyone piled in: Ginger and Karie in the far backseat, Tipper in the center seat, and Mr. and Mrs. Shaw in front. As Mrs. Shaw maneuvered the van out of its parking space, Ginger looked out the side window and caught her breath.

  The woman stood across the street. She held a pencil, and as Ginger watched, she wrote quickly on a piece of paper, glancing once at the van as she wrote.

  Did she wait for us to come out of the restaurant? Ginger wondered. Did she write down our car’s license number? But why?

  Ginger did not tell the others what she had seen. She didn’t want to sound overanxious or to spoil the upbeat mood of her birthday celebration.

  And, really, what was there to say? That the odd woman had written something on a piece of paper? She could have been adding an item to her grocery list or jotting down a reminder to herself to pick up the dry cleaning.

  It probably had nothing whatever to do with me, Ginger told herself. Still, her uneasy feeling persisted. Twice, she turned and looked at the street behind them, fearing that the odd woman might be following in her car. Once, there was a delivery truck in back of them, and the other time there was a red sportscar driven by a man in a plaid cap.

  Karie planned to stay at Ginger’s house all night. As they started toward the house with her sleeping bag and overnight case, the sensation of being watched prickled Ginger’s scalp, just as it had at the restaurant.

  She hung back, looking both ways on her street while her parents and Tipper went inside. She saw nothing out of the ordinary. Mr. Colberg strolled along the sidewalk, with his gray poodle, Fluffy, on a leash. A white car was parked in front of the Lawtons’ house; the Lawtons often had guests. Brett Konen jumped rope in her driveway.

  “What are you looking at?” Karie asked.

  “Nothing. It’s just—well, that strange woman at the restaurant made me nervous. I know it sounds goofy, but I was afraid she might follow us.”

  Karie looked startled. “Why would she do that?”

  “I don’t know. Something about the way she looked at me gave me the willies. After we got in the van, I saw her across the street, writing on a piece of paper, and I thought—oh, nothing. It was probably my imagination.”

  Karie looked all around. “I only see a man and his dog, a girl jumping rope, and a fine example of cumulus clouds.”

  Karie hoped to be a television weather forecaster someday. She had explained the various kinds of clouds to Ginger, but Ginger didn’t remember which was which.

  Ginger looked up at the fat, fluffy clouds, drifting like huge kernels of popcorn across the blue sky. Cumulus.

  “That woman did act odd,” Karie said, “but I wouldn’t worry about it. There are a lot of strange people who are perfectly harmless. Just forget her. You’ll never see her again.”

  • • •

  Joyce Enderly could hardly believe her good fortune. After years of searching, the girl showed up right under her nose. At a restaurant, of all places.

  The girl had changed a lot since that Saturday in Montana, Joyce thought. Her face was rounder and her hair a darker shade. But all kids change in three years’ time.

  The girl had changed her name, too, which seemed strange. Three years ago, when she escaped at the freeway rest stop, her name had been Lisa, not Ginger.

  Joyce still felt sick when she remembered that day. She and her husband had almost made it to their new life, and then Lisa ran screaming out of the bathroom, and Joyce had driven off in a panic without waiting for Arnie to come out of the men’s room and get in the car with her.

  She had ditched the rental car and hitchhiked to Seattle, where she and Arnie used to live. She changed her name, rented a room, and got a job.

  Later she saw on the TV news that Arnie went to prison for abducting Lisa. Joyce felt sorry for Arnie, but she knew if she had waited for him, both of them would have been arrested.

  She was relieved that the girl had not recognized her in the restaurant. Of course, Joyce had lost forty pounds and gotten contact lenses after the Montana incident. And back then, her hair had been blonde.

  This time, Joyce thought, I’ll be smarter. I’ll talk to her and win her confidence. I’ll tell her who I am and then she’ll want to come with me and I won’t have to use force like we did last time.

  Chapter

  Two

  “PEUW!” GINGER SAID WHEN she and Karie went inside. “What’s that awful smell?”

  “Burned piano keys,” said Laura. She was in the ki
tchen, filling three dozen miniature cream puffs.

  “Do I want to know what happened?” asked Ginger.

  “I scrubbed some old keys this morning,” Mr. Shaw explained. “Then I warmed the oven and put them in, to dry out the wooden part that the key tops are glued to. I turned the oven off and left the keys in it.”

  “I didn’t know they were there,” Laura said, “and I preheated the oven to bake cream puffs for Queen Victoria’s party. Some of the plastic key tops melted and dripped on the inside of the oven.”

  “Other kids come home and smell cookies baking,” Ginger said. “I smell burned piano keys.”

  “I’m glad the keys weren’t ivory,” Mr. Shaw said. “I can’t get the ivory ones anymore.” He started out the kitchen door, toward his piano workshop. “Ginger, bring Karie out to the shop after a while and see the piano I’m working on. It’s a baby grand, and somebody spilled a platter of spaghetti all over the strings.”

  “How disgusting,” said Laura.

  “Not as disgusting as the old pianos that are full of mouse droppings,” Ginger said.

  “This conversation could only happen at your house,” said Karie.

  Laura finished the last cream puff. “I washed the carrot greens and saved them for you,” she told Ginger, pointing to a pile of carrot tops in the kitchen sink.

  “Thanks.” Ginger stuffed most of the carrot greens into a plastic bag and put them in the refrigerator.

  “Nothing unusual ever happens at my house,” Karie said.

  “That’s because you have a normal family,” Ginger said. “Be grateful.”

  Ginger envied the quiet atmosphere at Karie’s house, where the phone seldom rang and customers didn’t traipse in and out to discuss candles or look at pictures of corsages and cakes. Between Mrs. Shaw’s Celebrations business, Mr. Shaw’s Old Time Player Pianos, and Laura’s B.A. Catering, the Shaw household was usually in chaos.

  The rest of her family thrived on the constant activity, but Ginger often wished she could unplug the phone and bolt the door. She couldn’t remember the last time she had watched a ball game on TV without being interrupted.

 
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