I stared at the diary in Marla's hand.

'Did you read it?' I asked nervously.

Marla gave me her most severe look. 'Laura, I may be your mother's best friend, but I don't think that gives me the right to read her private diary, do you?' She stressed the word private as if she thought I might not have associated it with Mum's diary before.

I didn't answer. She'd caught me with the diary and she knew I'd read it.

Now she was working really hard at trying to make me feel guilty.

'I realise your mother left for the airport a whole ten minutes ago, but, believe it or not, I haven't yet seized the opportunity to search through all her personal things. I suppose by your standards that's a bit slow, is it? I mean, there might be some more diaries, or some interesting letters we could read!'

I squirmed, despite not really feeling guilty. Marla can be very sarcastic when she's cross. This time though, she had no right to be cross. Not with me anyway.

'It's all Mum's fault,' I said defensively. 'If she'd told me the truth in the first place I wouldn't have had to go and read her stupid diary. I wish I hadn't read it anyway. It's . . . It's . . . HORRIBLE!'

I heard myself make an awful choking sound as I burst into tears.

'Laura, what are you talking about?'