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“I only need some of it and I can explain.”

I was so angry I was shaking.  “It looks pretty obvious to me, Ivy.  First you crash my party and then you try and steal from me?  Like it isn’t enough to torture me at school every day?  You have to come to my house and ruin my weekends, too?”

“I don’t torture you,” she said.  “And the money is for Kermit.”

“You’re stealing money for your dog?” I asked.  “Well, that certainly clears things up.  What is it, credit card debt?  Poor guy.  I didn’t realize he was such a big spender.”

“Don’t be like this, Maggie.  I’m serious.  Kermit’s in trouble.”

Ivy pulled a small blue note card from her back pocket and handed it to me.  “I wanted to tell you, but I figured this would be easier.  And for the record -- I was going to pay you back.”

I grabbed the note.  The printing was so neat it almost looked typed.

Want to see Kermit again?  Bring $100 in an unmarked envelope to the dog beach in Prospect Park, tomorrow at noon.  Tape it to the nearest park bench and walk away.  Make sure you come alone.

“I don’t get it,” I said.

“Someone stole Kermit and they’re holding him for ransom,” she said.  “And no one else knows—not even Katie or Eve and especially not my parents, so you have to promise me you’ll keep quiet.”

I glanced at her skeptically.  “Is this a joke?”

“No, it’s serious.”  The way her voice broke, the way her whole posture seemed off—anxious really—made me believe her.  “And you can’t tell anyone.”

“I’m not promising a thing,” I said.  “But you’d still better explain.”

“Fine.”  Ivy huffed out a small breath in angry defeat.  “My parents are in England for two weeks, visiting my grandma because she’s sick and they left me with my other grandma and she was out with her bridge club, so I took Kermit to a stoop sale where I found this very cool top and then we passed Beacon’s Closet and I saw they got a new shipment of Lilly Pulitzer dresses and –” Ivy paused and looked me up and down.  “Beacon’s Closet is on Fifth Avenue.  They sell –”

“I know what Beacon’s Closet is.” 

“Just checking.”  She held up her hands, all fake innocent.