First published in Great Britain in 2017

by Electric Monkey, an imprint of Egmont UK Limited

The Yellow Building, 1 Nicholas Road, London W11 4AN

Text copyright © 2017 Penny Joelson

First e-book edition 2017

ISBN 978 1 7803 1783 0

Ebook ISBN 978 1 4052 8615 2

The moral rights of the author have been asserted

A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library

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For Michael and Zoe



Title Page





























































I tense as soon as I hear the doorbell. I know it’s him. I know it’s Dan. Sarah’s still upstairs getting ready and I hope she comes down soon. I don’t want him coming in here.

Mum calls up to Sarah and I hear her say she’ll be down in a tick. ‘We’ve been keeping her busy, I’m afraid,’ Mum tells Dan, ‘so she hasn’t had much time to get ready!’

‘Ah, I know she wouldn’t have it any other way,’ says Dan. ‘She’s a diamond – and you too. What you do for these kids.’

I listen to them chatting away and Mum laughing at Dan’s jokes. Everyone loves Dan. Then Mum says she must get back to the kitchen, she’s left things on the stove and she’s sure Sarah won’t be long.

It’s quiet for a moment. I hear the distant clattering of pans in the kitchen. Then I hear Dan’s voice, coming closer as he speaks.

‘What are you watching, then? Ah – Pointless !’

I can hear him breathing. Then he whispers, ‘Bit like your life, eh, Jemma?’

He’s standing behind me now, but I can’t see him because my wheelchair is facing the TV. I try to focus on the quiz questions and forget he’s there, but he gives a long, dramatic sigh.

‘Don’t know how you can bear it.’ His voice is low, not loud enough to be overheard. ‘Watching the telly must be the most excitement you get.’ He only speaks like this when no one else is around. He used to ignore me completely, but not any more.

He moves so he is in front of me, blocking my view of the TV. Grimacing, he leans forwards. I get a gulping feeling, a tightness in my throat.

‘If I were you, I’d top myself,’ he whispers.

My heart thuds as he rubs his head thoughtfully.

‘Oh, yeah – you can’t, can you? Listen,’ he continues, ‘if you ever want a bit of help, I could –’

We both hear footsteps on the stairs. Dan backs away. His face transforms from ugly sneer to fake grin, his features softening as if they have been remoulded.

‘I’d have done better than that pair!’ he laughs, pointing to the telly. ‘Reckon we should go on this, eh, Sarah?’

I get a waft of Sarah’s perfume, which is quickly overtaken by the smell of onions frying in the kitchen.

‘I’m useless at quizzes,’ she laughs as she comes into view. ‘I bet Jemma could do it, though, if she had the chance.’

I don’t know about that, although I do sometimes get the right answers. It’s possible I’d be better than Sarah. She’s a brilliant carer, but she’s not too clever when it comes to general knowledge – or boyfriends.

At the edge of my vision, I see her kiss Dan softly on the lips.

Watching them, my own mouth feels suddenly dry.

The pair playing Pointless are out. They look very disappointed.

Dan and Sarah only have eyes for each other. ‘Ready?’ Dan smiles at Sarah. ‘You look stunning, babe.’

She nods and turns to me. Her eyes are sparkly, her cheeks flushed. ‘Bye, Jem. See you in the morning.’

‘See you, Jemma,’ says Dan. He winks at me.


‘Sorry to leave you so long, pet!’

Mum bundles into the room and I’m relieved to hear her warm, soft voice. She switches off the telly and pushes my wheelchair into the kitchen, to my place at the end of the table.

I hear the car on the drive. Dad’s back from taking Finn to his swimming lesson and picking up Olivia from ballet. Soon the kitchen is noisy and cheerful, as usual, and I push Dan out of my mind.

Olivia’s boasting to Mum about how good her dancing was and I watch as she shows Mum the new steps, while Mum tries to get her to sit down at the table. She’s nine and has only been here a year. We’re all fostered – I’ve been here since I was two and so has Finn, who’s nearly six. I’ve heard Mum say Olivia was ‘hard to place’. Maybe that goes for Finn and me too, though Olivia’s problems are different from ours. Finn is autistic, and right now is lining all his beans up neatly on the plate with his fingers. He’s obsessed with straight lines. Olivia’s a whirlwind – sometimes a tornado – and she’s loud. Finn and I don’t speak, so life is very different and much noisier since she came.

‘Sit down, Olivia!’ Dad says in his ‘firm but kind’ voice, and Olivia finally does. At least she doesn’t start one of her tantrums.

Mum serves up Dad’s shepherd’s pie and beans then starts feeding me my mushed-up version. Dan’s words creep back into my head while I’m eating and I try to shut them out.

If I were you, I’d top myself. Listen, if you ever want a bit of help, I could – 

I can’t believe he said it – as if my life is worth nothing!

Olivia is wolfing down her food like she’s never eaten before. She’s skinny, but she has a huge appetite. Finn isn’t eating. He’s still lining up his beans, concentrating as if his life depends on it.

‘Come on, Finn,’ Dad coaxes. ‘Time to eat them now.’

But Finn clearly doesn’t think his line is straight enough.

‘Finn, my love,’ says Mum gently, ‘why don’t you start with the pie?’

I don’t think Finn is listening to Mum, but I think he’s happy now with his line of beans. In any event, he forks a small amount of shepherd’s pie into his mouth.

Mum spoons some more into mine.

‘I saw Paula earlier,’ she tells Dad. ‘She looks dreadful, the poor woman.’

‘Still no news, then?’ Dad asks.

Mum shakes her head.

‘News about what?’ Olivia demands.

Paula lives down the road, and her son, Ryan, was murdered last month. He was nineteen and he was stabbed to death and no one knows who did it. Everyone’s talking about it, though – it’s even been on the radio.

Dad quickly changes the subject.

‘Finn’s swimming like a fish now,’ he tells Mum. ‘He’s come on so fast.’

‘And I was really good at ballet!’ Olivia says, never wanting to be left out.

‘I’m sure you were,’ says Dad.

‘How was school?’ Mum asks Olivia.

Olivia shrugs.

Olivia never wants to talk about school. It’s like it’s some big secret for her.

I have no secrets of my own. I’ve never done anything without someone knowing about it. I’m fourteen years old and I have severe cerebral palsy. I am quadriplegic, which means I can’t control my arms or legs – or anything else. I can’t eat by myself. I can’t go to the loo without help. I can’t move without someone lifting me with a hoist or pushing me in a wheelchair. I also can’t speak.

I’ve been this way all my life. I can see, though, and I can hear, and sometimes people forget that; they don’t realise that I have a functioning brain. Sometimes people talk about me as if I’m not even there. I hate that.

And sometimes people tell me their secrets. I think it’s because it’s quite hard to hold a one-way conversation. If they are alone with me, they want to talk to pass the time and they end up telling me stuff. They know I won’t tell anyone else so they think telling me is safe. The perfect listener.

Sarah told me her secret. She’s cheating on Dan. She’s still seeing Richard, her old boyfriend, because he’s so sweet and she can’t bear to hurt him by breaking up with him. Neither of them knows the other exists.

I’m always worried when Sarah has a boyfriend, although I enjoy the way she gossips to me about them. She has this dream of a fairy-tale wedding – she’s even shown me pictures of her ideal wedding dress online. I know I should want her to be happy – and I do. It’s just that I’d miss her so much if she went off to get married. She’s the best carer I’ve had.

More than that, I don’t want her to marry someone who isn’t good enough for her. And I definitely don’t want her going off to marry Dan.


Sarah’s in a great mood when she’s back on duty the next morning, though I can tell she’s got a hangover and is trying to hide it. She’s drinking loads of coffee. She clearly had a good night out with Dan and is singing a track by our favourite band, Glowlight.

She’s wheeling me from my bedroom to the kitchen when I hear the clunk of post landing on the mat. Sarah stops to pick it up and puts the small pile of letters on the kitchen table.

‘Oh look – one for you, Jemma,’ she comments. As she pushes me into my place, I see that the top letter, though addressed to Mum and Dad, has my name on it too – Parents/guardians of Jemma Shaw. I rarely get post. I wonder what it could be?

Mum picks up the pile and glances down. Then she quickly moves my letter to the bottom and puts them all on the kitchen counter. Sarah doesn’t seem to notice.

Now I am even more curious. Why doesn’t Mum want to open it?

After breakfast Sarah goes to get Olivia ready and Dad gets up to leave for work. Mum follows him out into the hallway to kiss him goodbye. Their voices are muffled, but I can pick out Mum’s words. She says, ‘There’s been another letter. I haven’t read it yet, but I think we’ll have to tell her.’

I strain to hear Dad’s reply. ‘Yes – she is family. Jemma has a right to know.’

Family? What are they talking about? If only I could ask. It sounds like they’re planning to tell me. I just have to hope that they do.

Dad’s gone and Sarah’s in the kitchen with me, easing my arms gently into my coat, ready for school. I’m conscious that my letter is still there, at the bottom of the pile on the counter.

Olivia’s moaning that she can’t find her reading book.

Mum sighs. ‘When did you last have it, Olivia?’

Olivia shrugs. ‘Dunno.’

‘Have a look in your bedroom, will you?’ Mum tells her.

Olivia slopes off slowly towards the stairs.

‘Sarah, can you go with her? I can’t see it down here.’

‘Sure,’ says Sarah. ‘You’re ready, Jemma. That’s one down at least!’ She hurries off after Olivia.

‘Where’s Finn’s water bottle?’ Mum mutters to herself. ‘I’m sure I washed it yesterday. I bet you know where I put it, Jemma.’

As it happens, I do know. I saw it fall off the draining board and down behind the bin.

The doorbell rings and Mum wheels me towards the door. We never know if it will be my minibus or Finn’s cab that comes first. Today it’s the cab that takes Finn to his special school.

Mum sighs and pushes a spare green water bottle into Finn’s bag, which is not going to please Finn as he always has the blue one. She helps him with his coat and gives his hair a quick comb. He wriggles away as fast as he can and out the front door with his taxi escort, Jo.

‘Reading book found,’ Sarah says, coming down the stairs.

‘I hope you said thank you, Olivia?’ says Mum, though she knows full well that Olivia hasn’t.

‘It wasn’t me who lost it, Lorraine!’ Olivia protests. ‘Why do you always have a go at me? It’s not my fault!’

She stamps her feet and I’m relieved when the doorbell rings again so I can leave before Olivia starts screaming.

But all I think about as the minibus jolts along the road is the letter. I try to work out what Mum and Dad were talking about. Family? Mum has an aunt and Dad has a brother, but we don’t see much of them as they live a long way from here. Were they talking about their family? Or . . . or could it be mine – like my natural mum, the one who gave birth to me and then dumped me? Could she have finally decided she wants to see me?

I hope it’s not her. I don’t want to see her – not ever! She probably only wants to get a look at me and gawp. I hope Mum and Dad tell her to get lost.

As soon as Dad is back in the evening I am waiting for them to talk to me – but they don’t say anything. I couldn’t even see my letter in the kitchen at dinner time. The whole pile had gone. Have they changed their minds or are they waiting for Finn and Olivia to be in bed, so they can talk about it? I’m not exactly looking forward to a conversation about my birth mum, but waiting for it and wondering about it is even worse.

Dad washes up while Mum and Sarah put Finn and Olivia to bed. It seems like it takes forever, even though I know it is probably just the normal amount of time. But then, finally, when it’s nearly my bedtime and I’m watching TV on my own, Mum and Dad both come in. Mum pauses the TV and Dad turns me round to face the sofa and sits down, looking serious.

He has the letter in his hand. I get a surge of relief mixed with panic.

‘We’ve got something to tell you, Jemma,’ he says gently. ‘Something important.’

My heart is beating so fast. Suddenly I don’t want to hear – I don’t want to know.

‘We’ve had a letter,’ Dad continues, ‘from social services.’ He pauses, as if unsure how to carry on.

Mum sits down beside him. ‘Jemma, I know this is going to be a bit of a shock and I will explain why we haven’t told you before . . .’

I wait.

Dad reaches out and touches my hand. ‘You’ve got a sister, Jemma.’


A sister?

Mum sighs and smiles. ‘Her name’s Jodi.’

I try to take it in. The shock is making me breathless. A sister. I was so sure it was my birth mum wanting to see me. A sister – a sister is something completely different.

‘The thing is,’ Mum continues, ‘we knew she wasn’t told about you. So we thought it might be upsetting for you to know about her. But she found your name mentioned in some papers and . . . I’m sorry, Jemma. It’s been hard to know what to do.’

They knew! All this time Mum and Dad have known that I have a sister. So many feelings are swirling round inside me. The thought of them not telling me makes me angry – but Mum’s right. It would have been hard knowing about her if she was never going to know about me. I am still in shock, but I’m curious too.

A sister. My sister. I start to wonder what she’s like – how old she is . . .

‘The papers Jodi found, they were her adoption papers,’ Mum continues. ‘You and Jodi were split up when you were taken into care. Your natural mum couldn’t cope – she had a lot of problems. She was very young, and on her own.’

I’ve sometimes imagined it – my mum giving me up. I could even picture her face, horrified at her own baby, unable to cope with what I was. But there were two of us – two children. That idea never entered my head. And she couldn’t look after my sister either. Is my sister disabled too? I’m not sure what to make of this – but I know it changes things. It changes everything.

‘Jodi’s been asking if she can . . . contact you,’ says Dad, drawing me out of my thoughts.

I get a surge of excitement that quickly sinks when I think what they would have had to tell Jodi – that I can’t exactly contact her back.

‘She’s been persistent, but we weren’t sure if it was a good idea,’ says Mum. ‘It’s so hard when you can’t tell us how you feel about it. . . . But we’ve told her about you, and we’ve said she can write to you. I hope it’s what you want, Jemma. I really do.’

My sister! I’m still finding it hard to believe that I have one. I wonder how much she’s been told about me. Will she really want to know me once she finds out what I’m like? I am thrilled, though. I can’t wait to know more about her. She’s going to write to me! My sister is going to write to me!


‘I still can’t believe you’ve got a sister and no one told you!’ Sarah exclaims, as she picks up a book to read to me in bed. ‘I knew nothing, Jemma. Your mum and dad never even mentioned her.’

I definitely believe her – if Mum and Dad had told Sarah about Jodi she’d have let something slip. She’d never keep something like that from me.

‘Me and my sister Kate,’ says Sarah, ‘we don’t always get on, but I can’t imagine growing up and not knowing her. I bet you can’t wait for a letter from Jodi!’

Sarah keeps mentioning Jodi over the next couple of days. It’s like she’s as excited as I am. I wish I could tell her how nervous it makes me, though. What if Jodi doesn’t write?

At least it means Sarah’s not talking about Dan so much. I can almost start to pretend he doesn’t exist. In fact, today Sarah isn’t talking at all – she’s concentrating as she battles to get my rebellious arms into the sleeves of a jumper. My muscle spasms are worse than usual because I’ve not been sleeping well. Thinking about my sister has been keeping me awake.

‘Tonight’s the night,’ she whispers. I wonder what she means. She’s not seeing Dan again, is she? She’s seeing so much of him I’m scared sometimes that she’s going to run off with him! But of course, she’d never do that.

‘I’m splitting up with Richard,’ she says. ‘It has to be done – I’m not being fair on him.’ She runs a brush quickly but gently through my short tangly hair. ‘I can’t keep putting it off. I know he’ll be gutted, though – he’s such a softy.’

At last Sarah is doing the right thing. It’s no good going out with someone just because you feel sorry for them. Now she just needs to dump Dan too! I wish she had more sense with men. She’s had a few boyfriends since she’s been here and they’ve all been hopeless. Like Jason, who was always borrowing money from her and never giving it back, and a guy called Mario who was only interested in football and a total bore. Next was wimpy Richard. And then Dan came along.

Sarah’s in her room getting ready to go out when the doorbell rings. She’s meeting Richard in town, so I know it’s not him. I’m in the living room, but the door’s open and for once I’m at an angle where I can see into the hall. Dad opens the front door. I hear Dan’s voice greeting him.

What’s he doing here? Sarah is definitely not expecting him.

Dad invites Dan in and I hear the front door shut, then I watch them as they chatter about the weather. When Dan sees Sarah all dressed up, what’s he going to think? He’ll get suspicious for sure. I strain to listen, but now Olivia’s started one of her tantrums. She’s lying on the floor somewhere behind me, kicking and screaming like a two-year-old except twice as loud.

I hear Dad call upstairs, ‘Sarah! Dan’s here!’

He’s assumed Sarah’s going out with Dan tonight!

At least he’s warned her – it would be awful if she came down and just found Dan in the hall. I have no idea what she’s going to do.

Thankfully Dan doesn’t come into the living room – I think Olivia’s screaming has put him off. Mum comes in to see what’s up with her, saying a quick hello to Dan as she passes. She turns my wheelchair round, which is annoying as I’d rather watch what’s happening in the hall than look at Olivia, who is lying on the floor at the far end of the room, pointing and screaming. Now I can see what’s upset her. One of her ballet shoes is trapped on the candelabra light fitting, near the ceiling. Finn must have thrown it up there. He’s got good aim.

Mum calms Olivia and says Dad will get it down. Finn is nowhere to be seen. Mum turns me to face the TV and switches it on. Then she pulls Olivia up gently, hugging her, and holds her hand to lead her out. I hear them going upstairs.

I’m conscious that Dan is still in the hall. Sarah calls to say she’ll be down in a few minutes. Then I hear Dan sigh. He walks into the room and goes straight to the telly and picks up the remote, flicking through channels. He’s acting as if I’m not even here. I wish I could say, ‘Oi! I was watching that!’ even though I wasn’t really.

He settles on the news. I don’t want the news. On the screen I can see a coffin being carried into a church. A reporter is speaking. It’s only when I hear him say the name Ryan Blake that I start paying attention properly.

Ryan – from down the road. It was his funeral today. I want to know what the police have found out. Mum and Dad think Ryan might have been into drugs.

‘Police are still appealing for witnesses,’ the reporter continues, ‘and his parents are pleading for anyone who knows anything to come forward.’

Dan suddenly turns towards me.

‘You don’t know anything . . . do you, our Jemma?’ he sniggers.

I can’t bear him calling me ‘our Jemma’, like he’s part of the family or something.

‘Here’s a secret for you,’ he continues, ‘and I know you won’t go telling anyone.’ He winks. There’s a pause. He presses his face close to mine, so close I can feel his hot breath on my cheeks. ‘They’re never gonna catch me!’ he whispers, screwing up his eyes and then nodding at the screen. He stands back, smiling, as if he’s gloating. ‘There’s something for you to chew on, freak !’

Sarah’s feet patter on the stairs.

Dan quickly flicks the channel over to a game show.

Catch him? What did he mean?

It’s a wind-up – it must be . . .

‘Hiya, babe,’ he says.

‘What are you doing here?’ Sarah asks. I see her arms flapping a bit like Finn. I can tell she’s panicking, but she’s also gazing longingly into Dan’s eyes. She won’t cancel on Richard to go out with Dan, will she? She needs to split up with both of them. I wish she could hear what I’m telling her in my head.

‘You left a glove in my car,’ he tells her. ‘I only found it today. I was passing so I thought I’d pop it in. Don’t want you getting chilly fingers!’

‘Oh, thanks! I was wondering where it was,’ she replies. ‘But I’ve got to get a move on. I’m off out with Emma and Rihanna – we’re going to the cinema.’

‘Out again?’ he says.

‘Yes, I switched my next night off. It’s Emma’s birthday,’ Sarah says quickly. Sarah seems to have her excuse ready prepared – but I guess this is what she’s told Mum. ‘We’re having a girls’ night out. Becks is coming too. We’re seeing that film you said was for soppy teenage girls.’

‘No way!’

‘Yeah, really.’ Sarah laughs for a little too long. ‘And I’ve gotta go or I’ll be late.’

‘No worries, I’ll give you a lift,’ says Dan.

‘No, Dan. I’m fine,’ Sarah assures him.

‘It’s no prob,’ says Dan.

‘Oh . . . All right, then.’

An uneasy feeling grips my chest. I don’t want her to go with him. What he said to me . . . Surely he was joking. Dan’s horrible, but he wouldn’t actually kill someone. Would he? And why did he turn up here this evening? It doesn’t feel right. Maybe she’s done something to make him suspicious. Was he trying to catch her out?

Sarah says goodbye to me and touches my hand gently. Her hand is hot – she knows this is a mess and she briefly meets my eyes with a look that says she knows I know this too. She turns to the door.

‘Bye, Jemma,’ Dan says, winking again. I see his sneering face in my head when he called me freak and remember what else he said. I don’t trust him one bit.

They go and I hear the front door bang shut.

Dad comes in and stares up at the ballet shoe on the light fitting, muttering, ‘You’ve got to be joking,’ under his breath.


Mum gets me ready for bed, but I’m barely listening as she chats away about needing to get me some new clothes. What did Dan mean?

If only Mum could see inside my head – the thoughts spinning round. But I know on the outside I must look exactly the same as I always do. Nothing shows. No one knows.

He must have been joking. If he was involved then wouldn’t we have heard something? Wouldn’t he be a suspect? Even so, I wish I could tell someone. Just so they can know what he’s like. Just in case.

If he was confessing, then he knew he was telling the one person who would keep his secret safe. Maybe he thinks I don’t even understand what he says. I just want to know for sure. Because if Dan is a murderer, and he finds out Sarah is cheating on him . . .

I can’t sleep at all, waiting to know that Sarah is safely back. My room is downstairs, but at the back of the house, and I listen for the sound of the front door. Finally I hear her come in, but I’m facing away from my bedside clock so can’t see the time. Maybe she’ll come in to turn me – I have to be turned in the night so I don’t get sore from being in one position. Yes. I can hear her footsteps.

She’s breathing quite fast and her hands aren’t as gentle as usual. She catches my eye in the dimmed light, and sees that I’m awake. I will her to tell me what happened. Sometimes Sarah seems to read my mind. That’s one of the things I love about her.

‘That wasn’t the best evening of my life,’ she whispers.

I wait eagerly for more. She sits down on the edge of the bed.

‘I can’t believe Dan turned up! That glove thing was just an excuse, don’t you think? He’s getting so serious – he said he couldn’t bear to be apart from me.’ She laughs. ‘I sat in his car with my fingers crossed that he wouldn’t think something was wrong. Then he wanted to actually come into the cinema with me, but luckily it was really hard to park so he couldn’t.’

She runs her hand through her hair. Only Sarah would get herself into this situation.

‘I was scared he might hang around so I texted Richard from the loos to say I’d be late and waited ten minutes before I even dared walk to the pub! You’ve gotta laugh, Jem.’

Sarah is not taking this seriously at all. At least it sounds like Dan didn’t catch her out.

‘When I got there,’ she continues, ‘Richard looked so pleased to see me. I just couldn’t do it to him.’

My heart sinks. Sarah is fidgeting and looks excited about something. Has she changed her mind and decided she wants to be with Richard after all?

‘Jem, he’s only gone and booked tickets for us to see Glowlight next month! It’ll be amazing!’ She gives me a sheepish look. ‘Is it really bad if I keep going out with him until then?’

Glowlight! Well, it’s not great to use him for his tickets, but it is Glowlight. Maybe I’d do the same . . . No, this is wrong. Sarah needs to break up with Richard!

‘Perhaps we could just go to the concert as friends,’ she continues. ‘But I don’t think Richard would like that. I know Dan wouldn’t.’

She sighs and smooths my duvet down.

‘I’m such a coward, Jem.’

I don’t know what I’d do if I were Sarah – though I’d like to think I wouldn’t get myself into such a mess in the first place.


When the minibus drops me back from school on Monday, Mum tells me we have visitors. She pushes my wheelchair into the kitchen, where Mr and Mrs Blake are drinking tea. Paula and Mum have known each other for years, but more to say hello in the street than as actual friends. I remember her coming to Mum a few times when Ryan was young and playing up, asking Mum for advice. I think there was a time when she even hoped Mum would foster him.

Since Ryan died Mum’s tried to be supportive, and Paula’s been round here a few times. Graeme – Mr Blake – doesn’t usually come with her, though.

Paula says hi to me and smiles, but her grief is clear in the deep lines on her face and her drooping eyes. Graeme shuffles awkwardly and taps the rim of his mug with his finger. I can tell that I make him uncomfortable. I notice he’s kept his black outdoor jacket on while Paula has taken off her coat. He’s clearly hoping not to be here long.

‘I know he was no angel,’ Paula is saying to Mum, ‘but I was so hard on him – always nagging, criticising, going on at him to change. The last thing I said to him was, “Get out and don’t come back!” Can you believe it? That’s what I said!’

She bursts into tears.

Graeme touches her shoulder and shuffles awkwardly again.

Mum hands Paula a tissue.

‘I know,’ says Mum, ‘but you could never have known what would happen. You were trying to set boundaries. He knew you loved him. He knew that’s why you kept on at him.’

‘Do you really think so?’ Paula sobs.

When we were little, Ryan used to stick his tongue out at me if he passed me in the street. Then when he got a bit older, he called me ‘Spaz’ or ‘Spazzie’ or worse things. He even spat at me once.

I don’t miss Ryan, but obviously I feel horrible for Paula. Ryan was a loser, but he was still her son – and Graeme’s.

I look at Graeme. He’s like a block of stone.

Paula sips her tea. ‘I can’t bear the thought that the monster who did it is walking around free. I might pass him in the street and never know.’

Dan’s face comes into my mind. Yes, you might, I think. He was here – he was here in this house, I want to tell Paula. A sound comes out of my mouth, a strained gurgle. Paula glances at me and quickly away again.

I wish I could tell them what he said. Just in case. I don’t know if Dan and Ryan even knew each other. They’re very different. And Dan doesn’t seem like he’d be involved with drugs and gangs and stuff. Or maybe he’s just good at hiding it. ‘We’d better be off,’ Graeme says gruffly.

Paula turns and gives him a bewildered look as if to say, ‘Off where? Off for what? What is there to be off for?’

But she pulls herself up from the chair and Graeme helps her on with her coat.

‘At least the Crimewatch thing might help,’ I hear Mum say, as she sees them out. ‘Let’s just hope someone calls in and the police get a lead.’

So Ryan’s murder is going to be on Crimewatch ! Maybe that will make everything clear. I hope Mum and Dad will let me watch it. I’ve never seen it, but I know about it – how they reconstruct crimes, and people watching can phone up if they know anything. Maybe there will be some clue that will tell me if Dan really did it – and if he did, then Sarah or Mum or Dad or someone else watching will surely realise it was him.


Sarah greets me when the minibus drops me back from school on Tuesday, with a smile even bigger than her usual cheerful one.

‘Ooh, Jem! A letter’s come from your sister!Your mum hasn’t opened it. She’s waiting for you. But I hope she’ll show me later! I’m dying to know what she’s said.’

Sarah wheels me into the kitchen, announcing ‘Jemma’s home!’ to Mum. She doesn’t go – I think she’s hoping Mum will let her stay.

‘Thanks, Sarah,’ says Mum.

Sarah shoots me a pretend annoyed look and leaves, closing the door after her.

We sit at the kitchen table and Mum carefully opens the white envelope.

My heart thuds.

‘Are you ready for this?’ Mum asks.

She puts the letter down so I can see it.

Dear Jemma,’ she reads. ‘I didn’t know you existed until a few months ago. I found some papers in a drawer that were about me. One of them had your name on it under mine. My name is Jodi and I am your sister! 

Mum pauses and looks up at me, before continuing.

In fact, more than that, Jemma. We are twins! 

Twins? Mum never told me that.