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The Mystery at Hollywood

Christina, Grant, Mimi and Papa fly into Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, CA and visit glamorous Hollywood. They become involved in a mystery searching for a glittery rhinestone. They tour all of Hollywood’s famous tourist attractions, experience California cuisine, and an earthquake in this action packed mystery. They run into a few strange characters like an obnoxious Lucy impersonator, a menacing Spiderman, and a mysterious guide at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.

Christina, Grant, Mimi and Papa fly into Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, CA and visit glamorous Hollywood. They become involved in a mystery searching for a glittery rhinestone. They tour all of Hollywood’s famous tourist attractions, experience California cuisine, and an earthquake in this action packed mystery. They run into a few strange characters like an obnoxious Lucy impersonator, a menacing Spiderman, and a mysterious guide at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.

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REAL KIDS • REAL PLACES<br />

AMERICA’S NATIONAL MYSTERY BOOK SERIES<br />

TM<br />

<br />

One Famous<br />

Sign!<br />

One Movie<br />

Star!<br />

One Scary<br />

Earthquake!<br />

One Glittery<br />

Rhinestone!<br />

One Mammoth<br />

Fossil!<br />

CAROLE MARSH


<strong>The</strong> <strong>Mystery</strong><br />

<strong>at</strong><br />

<strong>Hollywood</strong><br />

3


Copyright ©2011 Carole Marsh/Gallopade Intern<strong>at</strong>ional/Peachtree City, GA<br />

All rights reserved.<br />

First Edition<br />

Ebook edition Copyright ©2011<br />

Carole Marsh Mysteries and its skull colophon are the property of Carole Marsh and<br />

Gallopade Intern<strong>at</strong>ional.<br />

Published by Gallopade Intern<strong>at</strong>ional/Carole Marsh Books. Printed in the United St<strong>at</strong>es<br />

of America.<br />

Editor: Janice Baker<br />

Assistant Editor: Sherri Smith Brown<br />

Cover Design: John Hanson<br />

Content Design: Randolyn Friedlander<br />

Photo Credits: Shutterstock.com<br />

Gallopade Intern<strong>at</strong>ional is introducing SAT words th<strong>at</strong> kids need to know in each<br />

new book th<strong>at</strong> we publish. <strong>The</strong> SAT words are bold in the story. Look for each<br />

word in the special SAT glossary. Happy Learning!<br />

Gallopade is proud to be a member and supporter of these educ<strong>at</strong>ional organiz<strong>at</strong>ions<br />

and associ<strong>at</strong>ions:<br />

American Booksellers Associ<strong>at</strong>ion<br />

American Library Associ<strong>at</strong>ion<br />

Intern<strong>at</strong>ional Reading Associ<strong>at</strong>ion<br />

N<strong>at</strong>ional Associ<strong>at</strong>ion for Gifted Children<br />

<strong>The</strong> N<strong>at</strong>ional School Supply and Equipment Associ<strong>at</strong>ion<br />

<strong>The</strong> N<strong>at</strong>ional Council for the Social Studies<br />

Museum Store Associ<strong>at</strong>ion<br />

Associ<strong>at</strong>ion of Partners for Public Lands<br />

Associ<strong>at</strong>ion of Booksellers for Children<br />

Associ<strong>at</strong>ion for the Study of African American Life and History<br />

N<strong>at</strong>ional Alliance of Black School Educ<strong>at</strong>ors<br />

This book is a complete work of fiction. All events are fictionalized, and although the names<br />

of real people are used, their characteriz<strong>at</strong>ion in this book is fiction. All <strong>at</strong>tractions, product<br />

names, or other works mentioned in this book are trademarks of their respective owners and<br />

the names and images used in this book are strictly for editorial purposes; no commercial<br />

claims to their use is claimed by the author or publisher.<br />

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this public<strong>at</strong>ion may be<br />

reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by<br />

any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior<br />

written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.<br />

<strong>The</strong> scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means<br />

without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only<br />

authorized electronic editions and do not particip<strong>at</strong>e in or encourage electronic piracy of<br />

copyrightable m<strong>at</strong>erials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreci<strong>at</strong>ed.<br />

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1<br />

Hot Winds and<br />

Shaky Ground!<br />

Bump!<br />

Bump! Bump!<br />

“Yikes!” cried Grant from his se<strong>at</strong> in<br />

the <strong>Mystery</strong> Girl. “My lemonade’s spilled<br />

everywhere!”<br />

“Nice landing, Papa!” said Christina,<br />

handing her little brother some paper towels<br />

and chuckling. “Too bad I can’t say the same<br />

for you, Grant!” She closed her book and<br />

placed it in her pink, flowery backpack.<br />

“Guess wh<strong>at</strong>?” said Grant. “Papa<br />

landed right in the middle of a bunch of<br />

mountains!” He pressed his sticky hands<br />

against the window. “Wow, look <strong>at</strong> ‘em!”<br />

Papa grinned. He expertly taxied the<br />

little red and white plane down the runway of<br />

the Bob Hope Airport. “We’re here!” he<br />

announced.<br />

11


“Papa’s an ace pilot,” said his wife, Mimi,<br />

p<strong>at</strong>ting his hand. “And isn’t it a beautiful day in<br />

sunny California?”<br />

“Yep,” Papa replied, winking <strong>at</strong> Mimi.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> Santa Ana winds have cleared out most<br />

of the smog—just for us, I think!”<br />

“Wh<strong>at</strong> are Santawins?” asked Grant,<br />

screwing up his face. “Did Santa win<br />

something?”<br />

Papa laughed his big, booming laugh.<br />

“Usually winds blow from the west to the east,<br />

but Santa Ana winds blow the opposite way,” he<br />

explained. “<strong>The</strong>y’re dry and warm winds. <strong>The</strong>y<br />

blow out of the desert st<strong>at</strong>es, across Southern<br />

California, and out to the Pacific Ocean. <strong>The</strong>y<br />

push all the fog and smog out to the ocean.<br />

Th<strong>at</strong>’s one reason it’s so clear today.”<br />

“Did you say smog?” asked Grant.<br />

“Wh<strong>at</strong>’s th<strong>at</strong>?”<br />

“Smog is the dirty-looking haze th<strong>at</strong><br />

hangs over a city,” explained Papa. “It’s a<br />

combin<strong>at</strong>ion of smoke and fog. Th<strong>at</strong>’s why it’s<br />

called ‘smog.’”<br />

“Don’t the Santa Ana winds cause fires<br />

sometimes?” asked Christina. “I remember<br />

12


learning th<strong>at</strong> when we studied we<strong>at</strong>her in<br />

science class.”<br />

“Yep,” said Papa. “In the summer, they<br />

can be hot and dangerous. <strong>The</strong>y can stir up<br />

fires in these mountains. And the fires spread<br />

like lightning because the winds are so strong.”<br />

“A lot of people say th<strong>at</strong> when the Santa<br />

Ana winds blow, people act a little crazy.<br />

Anything can happen,” said Mimi in a deep,<br />

mysterious tone.<br />

Christina grinned <strong>at</strong> her lively<br />

grandmother who was always looking for a<br />

mystery. After all, Mimi was Carole Marsh,<br />

the famous writer of children’s mystery<br />

stories. Papa flew their plane, the <strong>Mystery</strong><br />

Girl, all over the world so Mimi could research<br />

her novels. Many times Christina and Grant<br />

traveled along with their grandparents.<br />

“Do you think you’ll find a mystery to<br />

write while we’re here?” asked Christina.<br />

“You never know,” said Mimi,<br />

smoothing her short blond hair. Her blue eyes<br />

twinkled. “But right now, I just want to<br />

concentr<strong>at</strong>e on the screenwriting workshop<br />

I’m going to.”<br />

13


“Papa, are you going to stay with us<br />

while Mimi learns how to write a movie?”<br />

asked Grant.<br />

Papa turned his plane toward a small<br />

hangar <strong>at</strong> the airport. “No, I’m going to be<br />

right by her side,” he replied. “I’ll be fetching<br />

her coffee and snacks while she concentr<strong>at</strong>es!”<br />

Mimi winked <strong>at</strong> Papa. She slipped into<br />

one of her favorite red swe<strong>at</strong>ers and buttoned<br />

it up.<br />

“Grant, you and Christina are going to<br />

hang out with Brianna and Jeremy Reyes,” she<br />

said. “<strong>The</strong>ir mother, Elizabeth, is the manager<br />

of the <strong>Hollywood</strong> Roosevelt. Th<strong>at</strong>’s where<br />

we’re staying. <strong>The</strong>y live right <strong>at</strong> the hotel and<br />

they’ll show you around <strong>Hollywood</strong>. It should<br />

be very exciting because next week is the<br />

Academy Awards ceremony!”<br />

“A C<strong>at</strong> or Me Awards?” said Grant.<br />

“Th<strong>at</strong>’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard!”<br />

“Academy Awards,” said Christina,<br />

slightly annoyed with her little brother. “<strong>The</strong>y<br />

are a really big deal!”<br />

“Academy Awards are awards presented<br />

to the best movies and actors of the year,” said<br />

14


Mimi. “<strong>The</strong> award is a gold st<strong>at</strong>uette of a<br />

person they call ‘Oscar’!”<br />

“Oscar?” repe<strong>at</strong>ed Grant. He shrugged<br />

his shoulders and shook his head. “An award<br />

they call ‘Oscar’! Th<strong>at</strong>’s even weirder!”<br />

“It’s not weird here in <strong>Hollywood</strong>!”<br />

replied Mimi. “Anyway, everyone is preparing<br />

for all the celebrities to arrive. <strong>The</strong>y are<br />

glitzing it up in <strong>Hollywood</strong>!” Mimi clapped her<br />

hands, making her rhinestone bangles jingle<br />

on her wrists.<br />

“Mimi loves her movies,” said Papa. He<br />

pushed back his black cowboy h<strong>at</strong> and<br />

unbuckled his se<strong>at</strong> belt.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>y’ll be rolling out the red carpet for<br />

us, won’t they Mimi?” cried Christina. She<br />

tossed her stick-straight, chestnut-brown hair<br />

and struck a movie star pose.<br />

Christina loved movies as much as her<br />

grandma. <strong>The</strong> idea of visiting <strong>Hollywood</strong><br />

excited her.<br />

“Hurray for <strong>Hollywood</strong>,” sang Mimi,<br />

closing up her red handbag and stepping out of<br />

the plane. “Th<strong>at</strong> screwy, ballyhooey<br />

<strong>Hollywood</strong>!” She threw her arms out wide.<br />

15


Christina slung her backpack over her<br />

shoulder. She followed Mimi out of the plane.<br />

“Hooray for <strong>Hollywood</strong>!” she sang back.<br />

“Where you’re terrific if you’re even good!”<br />

<strong>The</strong> two locked arms and danced down<br />

the <strong>Mystery</strong> Girl’s steel stairway.<br />

“We really need to learn all the words<br />

to th<strong>at</strong> song,” said Mimi. <strong>The</strong> wind whipped<br />

her short blond hair around her face.<br />

Grant followed closely behind the duo.<br />

“Oh, man, I got my iPod all sticky!” he said,<br />

pouting. He turned on the music device and<br />

shoved it into his pocket. “I wish we could go<br />

to Disneyland while we’re here.” He plopped<br />

his blue ball cap onto his unruly blond hair and<br />

stuck ear buds into his ears.<br />

Christina lifted up one ear bud. In a<br />

deep, low voice she said, “You never know<br />

wh<strong>at</strong>’s going to happen. After all, the<br />

Santawins are blowing!”<br />

Grant frowned <strong>at</strong> her as the group<br />

walked toward the airport terminal.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>y filmed scenes from Indiana Jones<br />

<strong>at</strong> this airport,” announced Mimi, “as well as<br />

one of my favorite old movies—Giant. When I<br />

16


was a girl, I adored one of the actors in it. His<br />

name was—oh, my!”<br />

RUMMMMMMMBLE! Suddenly, the<br />

ground started to shake!<br />

“Whoooooa!” yelled Grant. He yanked<br />

out his ear buds and grabbed hold of Christina.<br />

“Wh<strong>at</strong>’s going on?!”<br />

“It’s a little ol’ earthquake,” responded<br />

Papa. “Welcome to California!”<br />

17


2<br />

Tar Stuck!<br />

“Don’t worry, Grant. It was just a<br />

tremor,” said Papa, driving their red rental car<br />

along the crowded California freeway.<br />

“Earthquakes happen all the time in California.<br />

<strong>The</strong> folks who live here probably didn’t even<br />

notice it.”<br />

“Exactly wh<strong>at</strong> is an earthquake?” asked<br />

Grant.<br />

“We studied earthquakes last year <strong>at</strong><br />

school,” said Christina. “My science teacher<br />

said an earthquake is wh<strong>at</strong> happens when the<br />

earth suddenly releases energy. <strong>The</strong> earth<br />

shifts and cre<strong>at</strong>es waves of energy th<strong>at</strong> vibr<strong>at</strong>e<br />

through the earth’s crust. She said vibr<strong>at</strong>ions<br />

move out from the earthquake’s center just like<br />

ripples do when you drop a pebble into w<strong>at</strong>er.”<br />

19


“Hey, I know wh<strong>at</strong> th<strong>at</strong> looks like!” said<br />

Grant. “I throw stuff into puddles all the time.”<br />

“<strong>The</strong> closer you are to the center of the<br />

earthquake,” added Christina, “the more you<br />

feel the vibr<strong>at</strong>ion.”<br />

“I read th<strong>at</strong> there are about half a<br />

million earthquakes in the world each year,”<br />

said Papa. “Most of them can’t even be felt,<br />

and only about 100 do any kind of damage.”<br />

“OK, kids,” said Mimi, changing the<br />

subject. “Papa and I have a surprise for you.<br />

We’re going to a special place called the ‘La<br />

Brea Tar Pits’!”<br />

“Wh<strong>at</strong> did you say?” cried Grant. “Lab<br />

pits?”<br />

“La Brea Tar Pits,” said Papa slowly.<br />

“Brea in Spanish means ‘tar.’”<br />

“Yuck! Tar pits! We’re going to pits<br />

filled with tar?” asked Grant, scrunching up<br />

his nose.<br />

“Come on!” said Mimi as Papa stopped<br />

the car in the parking lot. “You’ll be amazed.<br />

Let’s go see some wooly mammoth fossils!”<br />

A massive mastodon skeleton with long,<br />

saber-like tusks greeted Papa, Mimi, Christina,<br />

20


and Grant when they stepped inside the<br />

George C. Page Museum <strong>at</strong> the La Brea Tar<br />

Pits. Beside it, a giant, ground sloth skeleton<br />

reared up on its hind legs.<br />

“Yikes!” yelled Grant. “I’m glad they’re<br />

not alive!”<br />

Papa chuckled. “So this is wh<strong>at</strong><br />

Southern California was like before freeways<br />

and movie stars!” he said.<br />

Mimi perched her rhinestone reading<br />

glasses on her nose. “This is very<br />

interesting,” she said. “It says tar has been<br />

seeping up from the ground right here for tens<br />

of thousands of years. W<strong>at</strong>er would cover it.<br />

When prehistoric animals came to drink the<br />

w<strong>at</strong>er, they got stuck in the tar and sank. <strong>The</strong><br />

tar preserved their bones.”<br />

“Uggghhh!” shrieked Grant. “Th<strong>at</strong>’s<br />

awful!”<br />

“Those poor animals!” cried Christina.<br />

She gazed <strong>at</strong> the skeleton of a huge Columbian<br />

mammoth th<strong>at</strong> had been found in the pits and<br />

reconstructed in the museum.<br />

Just then, Grant backed into the fangs<br />

of a saber-toothed c<strong>at</strong> skeleton. “Yyeeeooow!”<br />

he yelled. He rubbed his bottom and gave the<br />

21


c<strong>at</strong> a disgusted look. Suddenly, a spacious,<br />

glass-enclosed room in the museum caught<br />

Grant’s eye. “Wh<strong>at</strong> are those people doing in<br />

th<strong>at</strong> giant fishbowl?”<br />

“It says here th<strong>at</strong> they’re cleaning and<br />

c<strong>at</strong>aloguing the fossils found in the tar,” said<br />

Papa, reading a sign.<br />

Just then, a slender, red-haired girl in a<br />

white lab co<strong>at</strong> waved from inside the room.<br />

She walked out to greet them. “How do you<br />

like our museum?” she asked.<br />

“It’s cool!” replied Christina.<br />

<strong>The</strong> girl laughed and said, “Th<strong>at</strong>’s wh<strong>at</strong><br />

I think too! I’m K<strong>at</strong>e Butler. I’m a<br />

paleontologist, which means I study animal<br />

and plant fossils. I grew up visiting these tar<br />

pits. Now, I work here excav<strong>at</strong>ing the site. We<br />

dig out new fossils every day. It’s the best job<br />

in the world!”<br />

“Wh<strong>at</strong>’s a fossil?” asked Grant.<br />

“A fossil is the remains or impression of<br />

a prehistoric organism th<strong>at</strong> has been<br />

preserved over the ages,” said K<strong>at</strong>e. “Fossils<br />

are usually found in rocks. But here, the<br />

fossils are found in the tar pits th<strong>at</strong> are just<br />

22


outside. This has been going on for centuries.<br />

In fact, birds, small animals, plants, and insects<br />

still get trapped in the tar pits.”<br />

“<strong>The</strong>y’re still getting stuck out there?”<br />

cried Grant, pointing outside.<br />

“Unfortun<strong>at</strong>ely, yes,” answered K<strong>at</strong>e.<br />

“So all these animals lived right here<br />

during the Ice Age?” asked Christina.<br />

“Th<strong>at</strong>’s right,” said K<strong>at</strong>e. “I saw you<br />

looking <strong>at</strong> Zed, our mammoth, over there. We<br />

also have giant ground sloths and sabertoothed<br />

c<strong>at</strong>s.”<br />

“Grant met one of those c<strong>at</strong>s already,”<br />

said Papa, chuckling.<br />

“We even have one human skull<br />

preserved,” said K<strong>at</strong>e. “She’s a prehistoric<br />

woman whose skull was crushed, and then she<br />

was thrown into the pit.”<br />

“How terrible!” exclaimed Mimi.<br />

“Yes,” agreed K<strong>at</strong>e. “People call it Los<br />

Angeles’s first homicide! And then there are<br />

microfossils, like wood and plant remnants<br />

and insects. We have more than three<br />

million fossils.”<br />

23


“It’s funny to think about prehistoric<br />

animals roaming around where all these<br />

skyscrapers stand now,” said Papa.<br />

“It is,” said K<strong>at</strong>e. “Because of these tar<br />

pits, we know a lot about wh<strong>at</strong> went on right<br />

here in Los Angeles in prehistoric times.”<br />

“Ms. Butler, have you ever been in an<br />

earthquake?” asked Grant, wringing his hands.<br />

“Oh sure, I hardly notice them<br />

anymore,” she said, putting on her sunglasses.<br />

“I have to get out to the pits now. Be sure to<br />

go out and look <strong>at</strong> them. You will be amazed!”<br />

<strong>The</strong> group finished their tour of the<br />

museum and took K<strong>at</strong>e Butler’s advice.<br />

“Whoa, it smells bad out here!” said<br />

Grant, wrinkling his nose.<br />

“Th<strong>at</strong>’s the smell of tar,” said Mimi. “It<br />

still seeps from the ground out here. Be<br />

careful not to step in any. It’s tough to get off.”<br />

“Look <strong>at</strong> the elephants stuck in the tar!”<br />

yelled Grant.<br />

“Those are the mammoths,” said<br />

Christina. She gazed <strong>at</strong> the life-sized models<br />

of prehistoric animals sitting in or near the tar<br />

pits. She thought about wh<strong>at</strong> it was like for the<br />

24


poor cre<strong>at</strong>ures stuck in the tar. On the other<br />

side of the pit, she noticed K<strong>at</strong>e Butler talking<br />

to another visitor. It would be fun to work here<br />

and piece together a mammoth skeleton! It<br />

would be like working a huge puzzle.<br />

“Whooooaaaa!” Grant screamed<br />

suddenly.<br />

Christina spun around to see Grant fl<strong>at</strong><br />

on his bottom, eyeing a tear in his pants.<br />

“I’m sorry, Mimi,” he said. “I think I<br />

got a little tar on my knees.”<br />

“Th<strong>at</strong>’s all right,” said Mimi. “We’ll find<br />

something to wipe it off with. I’m sure this<br />

happens all the time.” She and Papa hurried<br />

into the museum.<br />

“Christina, guess wh<strong>at</strong>? I found<br />

something cool,” Grant whispered to<br />

Christina. “I was picking it up when I slipped.<br />

I don’t see any tar on it. It looks old.” He<br />

handed her a small case with sparkling<br />

rhinestones on it.<br />

“Wow, th<strong>at</strong>’s so pretty,” Christina<br />

commented. As she opened it, a thin piece of<br />

parchment fell out. Written in purple ink were<br />

the words:<br />

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Many years ago, I took<br />

a jewel buried bene<strong>at</strong>h the<br />

<strong>Hollywood</strong> Sign. Please<br />

return it so I can rest<br />

in peace.<br />

“Wh<strong>at</strong>’s it mean?” asked Grant.<br />

“I don’t know,” said Christina. “But it<br />

sounds like someone needs help!”<br />

26


3<br />

Walking the Red<br />

Carpet<br />

<strong>The</strong> red-co<strong>at</strong>ed doorman smiled broadly<br />

and opened the heavy glass doors of the<br />

<strong>Hollywood</strong> Roosevelt Hotel.<br />

Christina gasped! A lush crimson<br />

carpet stretched the length of the Spanishstyle<br />

lobby. A life-sized sculpture of silent<br />

screen star Charlie Chaplin lounged in a chair.<br />

Stylishly dressed guests sipped drinks from<br />

sparkling crystal glasses.<br />

Christina spotted elegant arched<br />

windows and black iron chandeliers. A<br />

fountain bubbled in the center of the lobby.<br />

Tall potted palm trees dotted the room. A<br />

smiling woman in a long black gown played a<br />

baby grand piano in the corner.<br />

27


“Now, this is <strong>Hollywood</strong>!” said Mimi,<br />

stepping onto the red carpet. “And there’s my<br />

friend Elizabeth!”<br />

Soon, Mimi, Papa, Christina, and Grant<br />

were busily ch<strong>at</strong>ting with Elizabeth Reyes and<br />

her two children.<br />

“Brianna and Jeremy have read all your<br />

books, Mimi,” said Elizabeth. “<strong>The</strong>y’re so<br />

happy to meet Christina and Grant!”<br />

Brianna’s brown eyes sparkled. “You’ve<br />

picked the most exciting time to visit<br />

<strong>Hollywood</strong>,” she said. “<strong>The</strong> Academy Awards<br />

are next week!”<br />

“Is th<strong>at</strong> a famous movie star over by the<br />

piano?” asked Christina excitedly.<br />

“We’re not supposed to discuss our<br />

guests. But, yes, it is!” whispered Brianna,<br />

shaking her brown curls up and down.<br />

“Brianna and Jeremy will show you to<br />

your rooms,” said Elizabeth. “<strong>The</strong>n we’ll meet<br />

for lunch and take a tour of the hotel.”<br />

“Th<strong>at</strong> sounds gre<strong>at</strong>,” said Papa. He<br />

rocked back on his cowboy boots and gazed <strong>at</strong><br />

the stenciled ceiling. “Th<strong>at</strong>’s some fancy artwork<br />

up there! I’m looking forward to th<strong>at</strong> tour.”<br />

28


On the ninth floor, Brianna unlocked<br />

the door to suite #928. Grant bounded into<br />

the room. “Awwwwesome!” he yelled. “Look,<br />

we each have our own chair. Our names are on<br />

the back!” He flipped around a black<br />

director’s chair with GRANT embroidered in<br />

bold block letters.<br />

Mimi examined the artwork and old<br />

photographs hanging on the walls. “Th<strong>at</strong>’s a<br />

wonderful scent,” she said, smelling a vase of<br />

multicolored flowers.<br />

Christina peeked into the blue and<br />

white tiled b<strong>at</strong>hroom. Four thick, white<br />

b<strong>at</strong>hrobes hung on hooks. Mounds of white,<br />

fluffy towels and fragrant soaps covered the<br />

granite countertop.<br />

Grant opened the small refriger<strong>at</strong>or.<br />

“Are these for us?” he cried, staring <strong>at</strong> stacks<br />

of drinks and tasty snacks. “Are they FREE?”<br />

“<strong>The</strong>y’re all for you!” said Jeremy.<br />

Grant flung his arms straight up in the<br />

air. “Touchdown!” he yelled. “Look <strong>at</strong> this<br />

gigantic fl<strong>at</strong> screen TV!”<br />

Papa strolled out to the balcony<br />

overlooking the pool. He stretched out his<br />

long frame onto a green chaise lounge.<br />

29


“Grant, you and I could just stay here in the<br />

room,” he said. “We would have the time of<br />

our lives!”<br />

“Ooooh, look wh<strong>at</strong> I found,” said Mimi.<br />

She lifted the lid off a box of candy and bit into<br />

a chocol<strong>at</strong>e raspberry truffle.<br />

Brianna and Jeremy beamed. <strong>The</strong>y were<br />

happy th<strong>at</strong> their new friends liked the room.<br />

“Mama just texted me. She’s reserved<br />

a table for lunch,” said Jeremy.<br />

“Let’s go,” said Papa. “I could e<strong>at</strong> a<br />

horse!”<br />

At the hotel restaurant, Mimi studied the<br />

menu. “I want something with avocado,” she<br />

said. “Artichokes and garlic would be good too!”<br />

“Who does Artie choke?” asked Grant.<br />

He giggled <strong>at</strong> his own joke.<br />

“Those are all vegetables th<strong>at</strong> grow in<br />

California,” said Mimi. “I think you should try<br />

a little of each, Grant.”<br />

“No, no, I can’t e<strong>at</strong> a vegetable. I’d<br />

choke! Get it?” Grant grabbed his neck with<br />

his hands and made gagging sounds.<br />

Lemonade dribbled from his mouth.<br />

Christina sighed and turned to Brianna.<br />

“How long have you lived here?” she asked.<br />

30


“We moved into the hotel when Mom<br />

became manager,” said Brianna. “But we’ve<br />

lived in <strong>Hollywood</strong> all our lives. Our gre<strong>at</strong><br />

grandmother started working in this hotel<br />

when it was built in 1927. She was the head<br />

housekeeper. Our f<strong>at</strong>her is an architect. He<br />

worked on the restor<strong>at</strong>ion.”<br />

“Th<strong>at</strong>’s interesting,” said Papa. “I’d like<br />

to hear about th<strong>at</strong>.”<br />

“He’ll be here tonight,” said Brianna.<br />

“Have you been in an earthquake?”<br />

asked Grant nervously.<br />

“Oh, sure, those happen all the time,”<br />

replied Jeremy. “It’s pretty scary when the<br />

ground shakes!”<br />

Just then, Christina remembered the<br />

jeweled case in her pocket. She turned to<br />

Brianna and said, “Can you see the <strong>Hollywood</strong><br />

Sign from here?”<br />

Brianna laughed. “You can see the<br />

<strong>Hollywood</strong> Sign from just about anywhere<br />

around here,” she replied.<br />

“Can you get up close to it?” asked<br />

Christina.<br />

“Pretty close,” Brianna replied.<br />

31


Christina felt a sudden urge to get to<br />

the sign as soon as possible. “Can you take us<br />

there tomorrow morning?” she asked.<br />

“Sure, we’ll take you anywhere you want<br />

to go!” said Brianna cheerfully. “We’re your<br />

priv<strong>at</strong>e guides to <strong>Hollywood</strong>!”<br />

Christina fingered the jeweled case<br />

deep in her pocket. She shot Grant a serious<br />

look. Without speaking, Grant understood the<br />

mission. Poker-faced, he nodded yes.<br />

32

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