Chapter One Only

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Pen held her breath and punched the Enter key on her laptop. A notification popped up on the screen. Your website is now live. A slow, guilt-ridden smile spread over her face. No boring summer days spent cleaning house for Abuela or wandering Abuelito's dusty museum. It didn't matter that she and Quin had to spend the summer with their grandparents. Pen didn't need to find adventure. Now, adventure would come to them.

Pen read over her own words glowing on the computer screen.

P and Q, International Agents of Intrigue

Are you searching for an archeological wonder? A stolen painting? Do you have questions concerning items of antiquity?

Hire P and Q for all your ancient and modern investigations.

We are now accepting inquiries for Mexico City.

There. She'd done it. International investigators shouldn't have to be told where to spend the summer by their mother.


The bathroom door connecting Pen and Quin's rooms creaked open. Her twin brother wandered into the room and flipped the light on. She flinched, shading her eyes from the glare.

"Quintus!" she shouted and rubbed her eyes, trying to adjust.

"Why do you have to sit in the dark like some psycho stalker?" Quin asked. He circumnavigated a pile of t-shirts on the floor. Pen's purple suitcase lay open on her bed, its only contents a soccer ball and Quin's New England Revolution jersey. He picked his jersey up and held it in front of her face.

"This is mine. I've been looking for it all evening while I packed."

Pen pushed the jersey away. "I'm busy."

"You realize we're leaving tomorrow morning, right?" he asked.

Their mother had sent them upstairs after dinner with strict instructions to pack—instructions she had ignored. She would wait until the last minute and force Mamá to realize that sending them to their grandparents for the summer wasn't fair. Not when everyone else in the family got to do what they wanted.

Pen turned from the computer and gave Quin a look that would strip the paint off any of his artwork. "Have I forgotten we're being shipped to Mexico to be babysat all summer? What do you think?"

Her brother pushed her empty purple suitcase off the foot of her bed and sat down. He removed his glasses and polished them, something he always did when he was thinking about what to say. Pen sighed. She shouldn't be angry with Quin. None of this was his fault.

"What are you working on, anyway?" He put his glasses on and leaned over to stare at the laptop screen.

She spun the chair around and faced her twin. His curly hair—that Mamá complained was too long—stuck up as usual, and their mother's chocolate eyes blinked rapidly behind the black frames. They sat askew on his nose, out of whack from their last soccer game at the end of the school year.

Quin was the goalkeeper for St. Mary's Saints, their school soccer team. He'd grown several inches this year. She hardly let on to how much that irritated her as she'd always been taller than her twin. Pen was a forward and only one of two girls on the team, a fact she was extremely proud of.

She caught sight of the gleaming gold medal pinned to the wall beside her bed. They'd played the championship game only last weekend. Her brother had made a fantastic diving save only seconds from the end of the game to preserve St. Mary's perfect record and win the title. Michael Blalock, the other forward on the team, hugged Pen when the game was over. Her face warmed thinking about that hug. Then she remembered she wouldn't be at soccer camp with Michael this summer. Instead, she'd spend it with her twin brother stuck in their grandparents' old house in Mexico City.

Well, it wouldn't be boring if she had anything to say about it. And she needed Quin on board with her idea. Every good investigator had a partner.

She scooted the chair over and he joined her, squatting down at the desk so he could view the laptop.

Pen examined the webpage again while she waited for her brother's reaction. She'd shamelessly used his artwork to decorate both sides of the page. Vivid drawings of the Parthenon, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall, and other famous sites the twins had visited jumped to life. In the center, a black screen held a few bold words in white.

P and Q, International Agents of Intrigue

A textbox for contact information sat beneath the writing. Seconds ticked by, and Quin

still hadn't said anything.

"Well?" Pen finally broke the silence. "What do you think?" She bit her lip, dreading his answer. He sometimes hated her ideas. Okay, most of the time.

"It's fantastic."

She kicked her feet onto the desktop and leaned back, flattered at the admiration in his voice. Then she caught the frown on his face. "But what?"

"But, we can't be international agents. We're twelve."

"So?" she protested. "You know art, I know technology, and we both know a lot about history and archeology and all kinds of stuff."

"Thanks to Kostas."

"Of course." Pen waved this comment away. She was still mad at their Greek tutor for breaking his leg two weeks ago on an archeological dig. That's what caused this whole summer with the abuelos in the first place. Usually, the twins spent their summers with Kostas, following their mother around to her dig sites.

Pen swung her legs off the desk, scattering a stack of books across the room. She ignored them. "I didn't want to include too much information, you know, to avoid—"

"Dad and Archie," Quin added. He collected the books and returned them to the overcrowded desk.

"Exactamente," she said, then realized she'd answered in Spanish. She'd already have to use it all summer.

"Now what?" he asked.

She crisscrossed her legs in the computer chair and rested her chin on her hands. "We wait."

They both stared at the screen as if a request would magically appear with the wave of a wand. Nothing happened.

"Well, someone has to contact us first. They'll probably send an email." She clicked the laptop closed.

Quin nodded, but he gave her a doubtful look. "I'm going to finish packing." He pointed at the empty suitcase and the pile of clothes on her floor. "International investigators or not, we still have to get on a plane to Mexico tomorrow."

"I know." She sighed.

He grabbed his jersey and went back to his room. Pen spun all the way around in her chair and thunked her Sambas on the floor to stop herself. She stared at the laptop, but she didn't open it. Probably, no one would look at the website. No one would hire them. She'd spend the entire summer dusting Abuela's already pristine bookshelves and learning how to make the perfect tortilla.

Pen grabbed some clothes off her floor and threw them into her suitcase. She added her worn copies of her Alex Rider books. If she had nothing else to do, she could read about Alex's adventures again.

But maybe, just maybe, someone in Mexico had a mystery that needed solving. She knew she and Quin were the international agents to do it.

You've reached the end of published parts.

⏰ Last updated: Mar 17, 2019 ⏰

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