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:: #23 The Pretender
:: Book Overview

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Narrator: Tobias

Cover Morph: Tobias to Rabbit

Release Date: October 1998

Cover Quote: Tobias is about to discover the secrets of his past...

Plot Summary: Someone's looking for Tobias. Someone who says she's his long-lost cousin. Tobias isn't sure the person is telling the truth. But she's really nice, and knows a lot about him. And what she tells Tobias definitely gets his attention.

It seems a lawyer has discovered Tobias's father's last will and testament. So, Tobias needs to attend the reading. His "cousin" even offers to go along. But something just doesn't feel quite right. That's when Tobias, the other Animorphs, and Ax decide to do a little checking on this "cousin." And what they discover will change the rest of Tobias's life....

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:: Sample Chapter

My birthday. When was my birthday? This month?

What month were we in?

I Ieft the office and walked to the convenience store. Ax and Marco studiously avoided noticing me. Ax's human morph face was smeared with something I could only hope was chocolate.

I didn't even look at them. No nod, no wink, nothing. If we were being followed the slightest thing would give us away.

The signal for "danger" was me going to the donut display and looking inside. The signal for "okay" was me picking up a Mounds bar and putting it back down.

I toyed with the Mounds bar. The guy at the counter said, "You gonna buy that?"

Ax and Marco left. I went to the newspaper rack. I checked the date. The month. Yes, that was my birth month. Today was the twenty-second.

My birthday was...the twenty-fifth! Yes. That was it. Probably.

I waited till Marco and Ax were clear then I went outside. I blinked at the sun and almost flapped my wings.

My father! My father was not my father? There was some "real" father somewhere. Also dead or gone?

That was a lot of coincidence. And some long-lost cousin showing up within days of when this "father's" will was supposed to be read to me?

Way too much coincidence.

I started walking. I was heading to the nearby park to demorph at a spot we'd chosen in advance.

Halfway there, I heard Jake's thought-speak voice in my head. <I think you're being followed. A big guy in a suit.>

I didn't wonder too much where Jake was. In the sky somewhere. Up flying free.

We had planned for this. I glanced across the street and saw a Speedy Muffler King and an Applebee's. I headed for the Applebee's.

Across traffic. Trotting, like I'd suddenly realized I was hungry.

<Yep. He's following you,> Jake reported.

In the front door of Applebee's. Fast, fast toward the men's room before my tail could catch sight of me again.

Then a quick cut left, past the bathroom, into the kitchen.

Waiters and waitresses were running around, pushing, laughing, yelling. The cooks were banging pots. I pushed past the dishwasher, looking for the back door.

"Hey, if you're looking for the bathroom..." someone called out as I blew past.

Out the back door. I broke into a run. There was a residential street of small homes behind the restaurant. Down a connecting alley and I cut right again, heading once more for the park.

I wasn't too worried. Someone might think he could follow me without being noticed. But I had eyes in the sky watching over me.

<You lost him,> Jake reported.

I trotted on toward the park. They had a covered but open kind of restroom thing. You know, with a roof, only the walls didn't go all the way up?

I found an empty stall and waited.

<Tobias, you're clear,> Cassie said.

I demorphed. Back to hawk. I flew up and out of the stall, up away from humans and back into the blue sky.

Only then did it hit me full force: Someone wanted me. Family. Wanted to take care of me.

Unless, of course, what they really wanted was to learn my secrets.

And then kill me.

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