An excerpt from
Shadow Moon


He's Baack!

It was Thursday afternoon. Mercedes, Manny and I had just tumbled out of the school bus and were walking down Uncle Sid's driveway. Mercedes stopped in her tracks and let out an ear-splitting scream; so shrill, so piercing, that Patti, the school bus driver, scrambled out of the bus and ran down the driveway, waving a giant crowbar. "What? What?"

By then I'd spotted Junior's car parked next to the trailer. I told Patti, "It's nothing. Mercedes gets a little excited when Junior's in town."

Mercedes, in fact, was sprinting toward her house, no doubt to collect every ambulatory member of her extended family so Junior could autograph their body parts. Manny just grinned and shook his head.

Patti inhaled sharply. "Junior's here?" She fluffed her blond ponytail, gazing back and forth between Junior's car and the school bus, like she was trying to choose which way to run. Finally, she sighed and waved her crowbar in farewell. Before she headed for the bus, she said, "Tell Junior I said, 'hey.'" I promised I would.

As I approached, Junior stepped out of the car and leaned against it, arms folded across his chest. My plan was to scurry down the driveway and pull him inside the trailer, before the clamoring hordes descended. But then I hear Mama Trujillo shriek, which, by the way, was an exact replica of her daughter's, only louder, higher and longer. Mama was one of Junior's biggest fans. I couldn't help but smile as she tore out of Uncle Sid's house, apron flapping, chattering a mile a minute in Spanish.

Junior moved away from the car, opened his arms wide and wrapped her up in a big hug. Since my plan was already screwed, I slowed to a stroll. Turned out to be a good decision. Otherwise, I'd have been trampled by the rest of the Trujillo family, including Grandma Maria Anna Lucita.

I stood at the edge of the crowd, while Junior flashed his famous smile and wrote his name on arms, necks, hands, ankles and Mama's apron. After dropping a kiss atop Grandma's snowy, white head, he caught my eye and mouthed the word, "Help."

Mercedes was over the moon. She clapped her hands and jumped up and down. "Okay, okay, we get it. You want to be alone." She added something in Spanish that caused Junior to grin and the rest of the crowd to burst into raucous laughter.

I narrowed my eyes at Mercedes and asked Junior, "What did she say?"

Junior gave me a wink and saluted the crowd. "See ya later, amigos."

Once I got him inside, I shut the door and slipped out of my backpack and coat.

Junior placed his hands on my shoulders and said, simply, "Emerson."

"Hi," I said softly. "I'm glad you're home."