Eloise Undercover by Sarah Baker

Since the accident, Angela has been alone.
When she is invited on holiday with her cousins,
it is her chance to be part of a family again if she
promises to behave herself. But secrets lie in the walls
of the crumbling French holiday home and the
forbidden rooms draw Angela in.

Soon night-time footsteps, flickering candlelight and
shadows in windows lead her to a boy who needs her
help. To save him Angela must discover the truth about
what happened in the house all those years ago… and
face the terrible secret of her own past.

Read an extract:
Chapter Fifteen

I yawned as I cycled along the country lane. My stomach rumbled and yesterday’s clothes felt itchy. I wished I’d had time to change and wash, but if I hadn’t left in a hurry, Amma would have stopped me, and she’d probably never have let me out of the house again. She probably never would anyway, once I got back… so I had to make this count. I felt bad about disobeying her, but I had to try if
there was even just the slightest chance I could find out where Father was.
The sun was up early and warmed my arms and legs. The road ran straight ahead between two banks of overgrown grass that had turned yellow with the heat. There was no breeze. Everything was as still as a painting. Today would be hot. Up ahead the sky was a faint blue with slashes of pink like silk ribbons trailing across it. The bicycle chain clicked and whirred in the quiet.
After ten minutes I passed the track that turned off to Maddie’s house, feeling a pang like a stitch in my side that she wasn’t there any more. I cycled on till the road made its curve round to the right and then the left to sweep up to the big house.
‘Halt! ’
My hands grabbed the brakes and my feet hopped off the pedals. The wooden gate to the house, which normally sat wide open, was shut and next to it squatted a brand-new wooden hut, just big enough for a person to stand up in.
I stumbled forward, running and pulling the handlebars upright at the same time to stop the baskets tumbling off.
A soldier stepped out and reached for his gun, but when he saw me properly he relaxed, rubbing his eyes and yawning instead.
I gulped.
‘I have a delivery,’ I said, my voice managing to sound more confident than I felt.
He looked at the baskets, waved me past and was already stepping back into his hut and sitting down again as I wheeled the bicycle up to the gate.
The bolt was stiff and I looked behind me for some help, but the guard had shut his door. I used both hands to pull it. The gate squeaked open as I rolled the bicycle through. I thought about leaving it open like it used to be, then remembered the guard’s eager gun, changed my mind and bolted it shut.
The road felt longer, and was now full of holes – some so large I had to wheel around them – and loose chippings that crunched under my shoes. The grass either side was bleached grey and was as stiff as straw.
Only the old trees were the same – black and gnarled like old fingers, upturned claws that looked as if they’d been burnt. Albert had told me they’d always been like that, but they seemed more sinister now. Sweat began to slip down my back, pooling under my arms as I forced my feet onwards.
I stopped at the end of the road to the big house. In front of eight huge trucks, grey-green with thick wheels caked in mud from where they’d churned the fields and trailed across the gravel. There were soldiers too. A couple were unloading crates from the truck closest to me. Another one sat revving his engine and shouting to a soldier who was looking inside the bonnet.
I gulped, gripped the handlebars and pushed the bicycle towards the house.
It too had changed since I’d last been here.
It still looked as if it was leaning towards me, and the shutters across the top two floors were closed tight, except the one on the far left, which hung by its corner. The bottom ones were open and pinned back, but the flower beds and the two tubs with bright red plants that stood on either side of the huge wooden front door had gone.
That wasn’t the worst bit.
The double front door was shut and above it was a flag – red with a white circle and the strange black cross with feet – the same one all the soldiers wore on their arms. I felt goosebumps prickle along the back of mine.
I looked off to the left where a thin, worn path led round the back of the house and beyond, to Maddie’s home.
The knot in my stomach tightened.
I pushed on towards the front door instead. The flag hung lopsided, curled under to one side and limp in the heat. I snorted, glad it wasn’t straight.
I rested my bicycle against the wall then climbed the three steps to the door feeling as if every single soldier’s eyes were on my back.
If this had been a few months ago, by the time I’d reached the house, Albert would be rushing out towards me, or he’d have started a game of chase and I’d have to run like mad to stay ahead. Or Maddie would be skipping round the side of the house or sitting in the tall grass. She’d pop her head up and I’d find her on a checked blanket, her feet bare. We’d share my book, lying
back in the grass, taking it in turns to hold it in front of the sun, trying to solve the clues before Monsieur X did.
I sighed. I missed her. I missed them both.
I stared up at the house. Perhaps there was more than one secret to discover today.
The lock on the front door clicked open and my heart began to race. I thought of the Kommandant and ran over my plan in my head. I was only delivering bread, and asking after Albert. Completely normal, not suspicious at all. I took a breath, ready to speak, then as the door creaked wide, my words failed and I stumbled back down the three steps to the gravel. The shadow of the door followed me, spreading like a pool of icy water.
I heard a cough. Who was it? Who was there?

.

.

SB author pic.
Hello. I’m a children’s author. My first book, Through the Mirror Door, was published by Catnip Books on 7th July, 2016.

I used to work in film as a story editor where I did an awful lot of script and book reading (yay). I’ve also worked for Aardman Features and the Bermuda Film Festival and I’ve been a writer and blogger for vintage fashion magazines. You can read some of my pieces here.)

Once up on a time I used to review books, but now when I’m not writing, I’m usually reading. I currently live in a book fort in London with my son.

@bysarahbaker
www.bysarahbaker.com

You can read about Sarah’s Favourite Children’s Books by clicking this link HERE

 

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