Can the bonds of FRIENDSHIP overcome all odds?
The Code
Home Sweet Home?
When Dylan and Bethany reached Bethany’s house, there was a dark black car sitting in the driveway.
Bethany’s breath caught in her throat. “Dylan,” she breathed, “I don’t recognize that car...”
Dylan cocked his head at the license plate.
He smiled. “I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”
Bethany shrugged. “But how do I get Sapphire inside without my parents seeing her?”
Dylan thought for a moment. “We need to create a distraction.”
“Okay, like what?”
Dylan looked around for any ideas. “Do you have a back door?”
Bethany nodded. “Yeah, but it’s sealed shut because we never use it.”
“Well then, here’s what we need to do. Somehow, we need to distract your parents long enough, keep them away from the front door, so you can sneak Sapphire in.”
Bethany looked down at her little dragon. Sapphire was busy observing a grasshopper climb about in the grass. “Okay, what do you have in mind?”
Dylan thought long and hard. “Didn’t you say you had a garden shed?”
Mr. and Mrs. Jones were seated on the living room couch, heavy in conversation with Bethany’s aunt Silvia, who was visiting from Canada.
“Where did you say that daughter of yours was?” Aunt Silvia asked.
Mrs. Jones shrugged. “Oh, she’s probably out and about the town with her new friend, Dylan. She’s rather fond of him.”
Aunt Silvia sighed. “Well, I suppose kids will be kids. I did want to see her, though.”
Mr. Jones smiled. “Well, I suspect she’ll be back soon. She never misses dinner.”
Just then, the doorbell rang. Mr. Jones stood up. “Excuse me,” he said as he made his way to the front door. “I ought to see who that is.” Mr. Jones reached the door and pulled it open.
“Hello sir.” Dylan greeted.
Mr. Jones made no attempt to hide his surprise. “Dylan!” he exclaimed. “What an unexpected surprise!” He turned back to his wife. “Honey, it’s Dylan!”
Not much later, and Mrs. Jones joined him at the door. “Well hello Dylan.” She smiled. “What brings you here?”
“I’m sorry to bother you folks on a Sunday afternoon, but I’ve been hearing a lot of ruckus from your shed out back, and I was a little concerned. Were you aware of that?”
Mr. and Mrs. Jones looked at each other. “No,” Mr. Jones answered, “we weren’t aware of any ruckus.”
“I don’t mean to intrude, but I feel it might be a good idea to check it out, don’t you think?”
Mrs. Jones nodded. “That’s a great idea, Dylan.” She turned to her husband. “Let’s go see. It might be the raccoons again.”
And the three of them left the house to go investigate the shed.
Bethany and Sapphire watched from deep in the hedge. When her parents were far enough into the backyard, she bolted from the hedge, Sapphire wrapped up in her jacket, to the open front door. Once inside, she took a deep breath of relief and let shifted Sapphire out of her jacket and into the crook of her elbow. She began to walk swiftly to the staircase, keeping her feet as silent as possible. When she was at the base of the steps, she heard a light voice call out to her.
Mr. Jones was the first to reach the shed. He found the door slightly ajar. “Dylan,” he asked. “Did you open the shed?”
Dylan shook his head. “No sir. I only heard the noise. I didn’t investigate.”
Mr. Jones pushed the door the rest of the way open and flicked on the light. There were broken pot shards scattered about the floor, and potting soil coating the windowsill. The rake was tipped over, and the lawnmower had been pushed slightly to the side.
Mrs. Jones pushed past her husband and looked around. “Well, something’s been in here, alright.” She walked over to the bicycles lined up on the wall. “Whatever it was popped my front tire.”
Mr. Jones frowned. “And whatever it was is long gone by now.” He slowly picked up the rake and rested it against the wall again. “It certainly made quite a mess.”
“Would you like some help cleaning it up?” Dylan offered politely.
Mr. Jones smiled. “Well, if you’re willing...”
Bethany froze. No one was supposed to be in the house. She spun around to the living room and saw a heavyset, middle aged woman sitting in the lazy boy, staring at her.
The lady smiled as she looked Bethany over. “Hello, Bethany. I’m your aunt Silvia, your father’s sister.”
Bethany nodded nervously. “Hello.” She started up the steps, but her aunt stopped her.
“Just a minute!”
Bethany cringed as her aunt slowly stood up. Her eyes slowly drifted to Bethany’s arms, and she blinked. “What’s that you’re holding?”
Bethany’s heart began to race. “It’s, uh, it’s my...”
Aunt Silvia slowly began in Bethany’s direction.
Bethany looked around frantically. She couldn’t let her aunt see Sapphire. Too many people had seen her already. When Aunt Silvia was no more than ten feet away, something inside Bethany snapped, and she raced up the stairs, her aunt’s calls fading underneath her.
“Well, I think that’s it.” Mr. Jones looked over the shed and beamed. “Good as new.”
Dylan smiled and wiped his hands on his pants, leaving several dirt steaks down his thighs. “It looks swell!”
Mrs. Jones patted Dylan in the back. “Thanks for your help, young man. It’s just a shame that Bethany didn’t meet you earlier. We could of used you when the basement flooded!”
Dylan laughed. “It’s no problem.” He looked about the shed one last time, then excused himself. “Well, my stomach tells me it’s about dinner time, so I think I’ll take off.”
“That’s fine,” Mr. Jones consented. “Thanks again for your help!”
Dylan waved goodbye and left the shed. As he was walking to the sidewalk, he glanced over at the house. He hoped she had gotten Sapphire inside without any trouble.
Bethany rushed into her room and slammed the door behind her. She yanked open her closet and hurriedly placed Sapphire inside. “Now, you stay put this time, you hear?”
The she pulled the closet doors shut and hurried back downstairs to stop her aunt from investigating.
When Bethany reached the bottom of the steps, she met Aunt Silvia, who had a rather perplexed look plastered on her face.
“Bethany, what on earth did you run off like that for?”
Bethany took a deep breath. Her mind was racing. What could she say? “Oh, I’m terribly sorry Aunt Silvia. I really had to go to the bathroom,” she lied, “and I just couldn’t hold it any longer!” She forced a laugh.
Aunt Silvia’s face relaxed and she managed a chuckle. “Oh, that’s perfectly fine, my dear. Next time just say something!”
“Oh, I will.”
“What was that you were holding?” Aunt Silvia asked.
“Oh, that thing?” Bethany gulped. “That was, uh, a present I had to pick up for a friend. It’s her birthday tomorrow.”
Aunt Silvia’s face lit up. “Oh, that is so sweet!”
Suddenly, Mr. and Mrs. Jones came through the front door. They looked over at Aunt Silvia and smiled apologetically. “Sorry, sis,” Mr. Jones began. “Something got into the shed.” Then his eyes jumped to Bethany. “Oh, you’re back!”
Bethany nodded.
“Where have you been all day, young lady?” Mrs. Jones demanded.
“I went downtown with Dylan,” she replied slowly. “I was picking up a birthday present for a friend.”
Mrs. Jones raised her eyebrows. “Well, that’s fine. Just make sure you let your father and I know first next time, okay?”
“Okay mom, can do!”
Mr. and Mrs. Jones sat back down in the living room, and Aunt
Silvia sat across from them. Bethany started towards the stairs, but her father stopped her.
“Bethany, your aunt came all the way from Canada to see us today. Why don’t you stay downstairs?”
Bethany could tell from her father’s voice that that wasn’t a suggestion. Bethany reluctantly joined her family in the living room, but her thoughts weren’t on the conversation. She was thinking about Sapphire.
What was going to happen now?

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