Now You See Me...

Chapter One

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Now Dinah-the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob-went out to look over the daughters of the land. Schechem, son of Hamor the Hivvite, the prince of the land, saw her. He took her, and he lay with her, and violated her. He became deeply attached to Dinah, daughter of Jacob. He loved the maiden and spoke to the maiden's heart. -- Genesis 34:1-3

Chapter One

On a Sunday morning in November, a day before the Monday Hadassah Bailor never came home, her alarm rang at five-fifty. She shut off the alarm within seconds, but her older sister, Aliza, who had returned late from a date, groaned, "C'mon, Dass," even before she saw the clock radio's green liquid crystal numbers, eerily bright in the dark room. Like cat's eyes, Aliza would say, though that was probably an afterthought inspired by the Harry Potter novel lying on the nightstand between the two beds.

Aliza jammed a pillow over her head. Later, with some prodding, when insignificant details assumed urgency, she remembered hearing the splash of water as Hadassah, using the white plastic tub and two-handled laver that she'd kept at her bedside for most of her eighteen years, rinsed her hands and eyes before she murmured her waking prayers. Also with some prodding, Aliza was able to recall the hum of the computer and the staccato clicking of Hadassah's fingernails on the keyboard, and the muffled drone behind the closed door of the bathroom, where Hadassah dried her long curly strawberry-blond hair, which she liked to wear loose but had secured with a black velvet scrunchy.

At seven-forty Hadassah roused her three younger brothers. She helped Yonatan, the seven-year-old, find a tennis shoe and a yarmulke, both wedged between the bunk bed and the wall. While they dressed, she put snacks into brown paper bags (she almost forgot to decorate Yonatan's with a smiley face) and handed the bags to the boys as they tore out the side door to their waiting carpool.

Hadassah put on a buttery yellow, cable-knit hooded sweater and a gray wool skirt that revealed a few inches of slim legs encased in gray tights too warm for what promised to be an unseasonably balmy day. After prayers and breakfast (two rice cakes, sliced red pepper, a glass of nonfat milk), she returned to her computer, muting the volume in deference to her sister's restless tossing. Two hours later she shut the computer and went downstairs. She had slipped her black backpack, heavy with books, over her black quilted jacket and was hoisting the strap of her overnight bag, which, if anyone had checked, was packed with more than her school uniform and a change of underwear, when her mother, one hand stifling a yawn, padded into the kitchen.

Nechama Bailor didn't think her daughter had seemed different that morning. "In a rush, maybe," she said on reflection, "but teenage girls are always like that, aren't they?" Nechama was almost certain Hadassah had kissed her good-bye.

"Dassie always kisses me before she leaves," the mother said, using the present tense from habit and hope and touching her cheek gingerly, as though she didn't want to disturb the airy brush of her daughter's lips.


Now You See Me, the fourth Molly Blume mystery, is a Ballantine trade paperback original ($13.95).

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