Hope has to practice self-defense moves in secret. They’re one more thing on the “Not Now” list—all the things Mom won’t talk about. Things like Dad, Grandma, and Hope’s nightmares. But when Mom goes missing after Hope inherits an ancient book, Hope must brave her now all too real nightmares, figure out the book’s secrets and perfect her moves. If not, she’ll lose Mom forever.
Hope had a bad feeling. This new move just might turn into a worst-case scenario. And she couldn’t let that happen. Mom couldn’t catch her practicing. Not tonight.
She squinted at the diagram in The Smart Kids’ Guide to Evasive Maneuvers and Mental Combat. The double-cartwheel fancy high-kick seemed more like dancing than fighting.
“Remember to keep your eyes off the ground,” Michelle said.
Hope shifted uncomfortably. If she got it wrong, it wouldn’t just be her eyes on the ground. “A move like this needs balance and leverage against an opponent. And it needs rhythm.” She peeked at her best friend to see if Michelle could tell Hope was stalling and met Michelle’s signature smirk.
“Stop freaking out,” Michelle urged, putting on her practiced fighting sneer. “Is Carl ready?”
“Yes.” Hope eyed Carl warily. “But —”
“Go already!” Michelle bounced on her toes.
“Okay,” Hope huffed. Self-defense guru rule number one: Face every threat. Even if the threat is humiliation. She put the Guide down, brought her arms up, and launched.
A shadow shifted near the window and Hope’s first cartwheel wobbled but she continued the move. She was going to make it! But on the second cartwheel, her foot caught the edge of the desk, which sent her tumbling to the floor, missing Carl completely.
“Ow,” Hope groaned, shooting a quick glance back at the window. Had she seen something?