The Phantom of New York Volume 1 – Peter and the Crown
by A.L. Janney
Genre: MG/YA Adventure
Release Date: December 2017
‘This is a story about vigilantes and magic.
About prophecy and hope.
About a boy and his hotel.
When twelve-year-old Peter Constantine wakes up in the Crown Hotel with a new identity, life is over as he knows it. But perhaps that’s not such a bad thing…
A dangerous man Peter only knows as “The Client” is after his family, so they’ve relocated to New York City. With help from unlikely friends living at the glamorous hotel, including the ghost on the tenth floor, Peter’s new life begins. Soon, however, he learns of a plot to destroy his new home, a plot only the Phantom can foil.
Peter and the Crown is the first book in the Phantom of New York series, an adventure for readers aged ten and up. If you like smart, funny characters and “can’t put it down” escapades, then you’ll love Alan Janney’s Phantom of New York series.’
Buy Links: Amazon | Audible
Chapter One – Peter’s New Home
Peter Constantine did not know he was moving to the Crown Hotel, not even on the night his mother woke him from a sound sleep and told him they had to leave. He stumbled from his twin bed and rubbed his bleary eyes as his mother dropped a heavy backpack onto his shoulders. It couldn’t be morning yet—he was too exhausted. His mother and father loaded two yellow taxi cabs with a dozen suitcases and duffle bags and set Peter between themselves in the back seat. The over-burdened taxis pulled away from their home in New Jersey and Peter returned to sleep, unaware he’d never see his house again.
He did not wake when, two hours later, his parents unloaded their luggage at a gas station and waited shivering until two police cars arrived. A kind officer carefully guided a sleepy Peter into the backseat. Again his mother and father loaded luggage and climbed in next to him, and off the police cars went, driving over the George Washington Bridge and plunging into the looming skyline of New York City.
“It’s not fair,” Peter’s mother said. “He didn’t get to say goodbye to his friends.”
“Nothing about this is fair.” Peter’s father yawned so big his jaw cracked. “But at least we’re safe.”
His mother tried not to cry. Peter murmured in his sleep, something about Batman, and shifted into a more comfortable position.
This late, the Crown Hotel was quiet. The two police cruisers parked under a vast red awning and the officers helped the Constantine family haul suitcases through the lobby, up one flight of stairs, and into a small apartment. Peter, who had never fully woken up, was placed onto a bed by his father and tucked in by his mother. The police officer shook his father’s hand and said, “They won’t find you here. Your family is safe.”
“I think you’re right. At least for a while.”
“Do you need anything else?” the officer asked.
“No. Thank you. You’ve been very good.”
“Are you sure? This is the last time you’ll see us.”
“I know. It’s for the best. Goodnight, officers.” His father closed the door behind them and stayed there for a full sixty seconds, eyes shut, and that was how Peter’s new life at the Crown began.
Peter woke the following morning and knew immediately something had changed. The pillow smelled funny and his cat Mr. Hippo wasn’t resting on his feet. He sat up and blinked. This room had no window. Where had his window gone? And his Justice League posters?
“Mom?” Peter set his feet down on the cold floor, except it wasn’t cold. This floor was carpeted, thick luxurious stuff that swallowed his toes. “Wow, oh my gosh.”
Peter’s mother, a pretty and dark-eyed woman named Jovanna, opened the door and hurried in. Her long brown hair was gathered into a bun.
“Yes, sweetheart, I’m here. Everything is okay. Quite a shock, I know, because this isn’t your bedroom, is it.”
“What’s going on? Where are we?” Peter asked curiously.
“We’re at a hotel.”
“At a hotel? We don’t go to hotels. Which hotel?”
“This hotel is called the Crown,” she said. She fussed with his thick black hair, something she did which Peter didn’t like but he was too stunned to pull away. “We came here in the middle of the night.”
“The middle of the night. Why?”
Peter’s mother hesitated. Her face held a pained expression that Peter wasn’t used to, and it made him nervous. “Let’s eat breakfast first. And if your father hasn’t returned by then, I’ll explain.”
“Where’d he go?”
Peter nodded. This piece of information, finally, made sense. His father always went to work in the morning, at the accounting firm. Peter found fresh socks in the duffle bag beside his bed and followed his mother into the kitchen. This was a clean hotel, much cleaner than his house which had cat hair and Star Wars action figures in every corner. The carpet felt spongy and the walls looked washed and the kitchen was a brilliant white color. He sat at the small table near the kitchen and his mother brought him pancakes and syrup and orange juice. She sat down, clutched her blue robe tight, and watched him eat.
“Thank you,” Peter said.
“Isn’t this a pleasant hotel room?”
“I think this is the nicest place I’ve ever been! Look how shiny the refrigerator is.”
Peter’s mother didn’t respond and she continued making the sad face.
He asked, “Is there a window I can look out?”
“No, sweetheart…well, there’s one window in our bedroom but it must remain closed except in the case of an emergency. And it has no view, only of a wall.”
“Are we on a vacation? What about school?”
“I wish your father was here, so we could talk about this as a family,” she said. “But. I don’t know when he’ll return.”
“Talk about what?” Peter’s enthusiasm over the fancy hotel room dimmed. He set down his fork because his appetite had suddenly vanished. “Mom. Tell me.”
“Your father got a new job. He started today.”
“Oh. Okay, well, that’s not so bad. But why are we in a hotel?” Peter picked his fork up and ate another bite of pancake.
Jovanna said, “Because he works here now.”
“Dad works at a hotel? That’s so great!”
“Do you think?” she asked. “I’m glad to hear it. It’s one of the nicest hotels in the city. Very prestigious.”
“I can tell. That television is bigger than ours and even the bedrooms have carpet. Do we get cable?”
“I believe so,” she said.
“Wow! Cable television. We’ve never had cable.”
A telephone rang in the kitchen. It sounded different than Peter’s old phone, which rang with harsh clanging. This telephone kind of beeped like a spaceship, and it had a shorter cord. Jovanna answered and said, “Hello? Yes.” She paused to listen. “Oh goodness, I’m sorry to hear that. He’s not here right now, but I’m making a note and he’ll see it as soon as he returns. …Yes, he’s the new super. I’ve written your instructions down. …Yes, I promise he’ll see it. Thank you.” She hung up.
“Who was that? And Dad is a super?” Peter asked, and his eyes boggled. He didn’t know what a super was, but it couldn’t be bad. Only good things started with the word super. Superman. Superhero. Supernatural. Super Bowl. “What’s a super?”
“That was a lady who lives upstairs. She needs help with her sink. And the word super, in this case, is short for superintendent.”
“What’s a superintendent?” Peter asked.
“It means he helps the residents of the Crown if they need it. Like with sinks.”
“Like a handyman?”
“Dad can do that?” Peter finished the orange juice with a big gulp, and he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
“Of course. Your father is very handy.”
“But he’s a banker or something like that.”
“Yes, um…” She clutched her robe again and sat down. “Yes. But. Not at the moment. He’s going to be a super for a while. And. Well. We’ll live here.”
Peter gaped at his mom, bewildered. Those words didn’t make sense. People cannot live two places, everyone knew that. And Peter’s family already had a house, in a neighborhood with a playground.
“I don’t understand,” he said suspiciously. “People don’t live at hotels.”
“But not us! Who on earth lives in a hotel?”
“This hotel is special. Some people who work at the Crown also live here. Like us. This entire floor of the hotel is full of live-in workers.”
“We can’t live at a hotel. We have a house!”
“Yes, but didn’t you think it was too small?”
“So? It was ours!”
“Look how perfect everything is, sweetheart. Don’t you just love the carpet? And the kitchen appliances are top shelf, believe me.”
Peter felt as though a pressure was building inside of him, a ball of panic and anger. His mom made no sense. Where was his dad? He felt dizzy and the pancake inside his belly lurched. “What does the carpet have to do with it? We already have a place to live.”
At last, Peter’s father arrived. Manos was a handsome man with olive skin and a thin face and wavy black hair. He had kind eyes, and at once he saw the look of distress on Peter’s face. They met and hugged in the hallway. After a moment Jovanna joined them, and together the family cried.
About the Author
Winner of the 2016 National Indie Excellence Award!
You work hard.
I write adventures.
Let me entertain you.
My favorite adventurers: Ender, Frodo and Sam, Rand, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, Katniss, Spenser, Peter and Alicia and Amy (from The Passage), Jack Ryan, Dirk Pitt, and many others, including my two sons and my super hot wife.
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