"... I think she said she was going to Claire's house to study. Is it OK if my friend Alex comes in for a few minutes? I want to show him some baseball cards I have in a box in the attic. It will only be for a few minutes, Mom."
ALEX?! OMG!, Sis thinks. She has a major crush on Alex! Though of course (being shy) she never said anything to him. How did Tom even find out? Cassandra must have told him! OMG OMG OMG!
"Would Alex like to stay for supper? It's almost ready. About ten or fifteen minutes," she hears Mom asking.
"Gee, that will be great!"
"OK then. Well, I'm going out to the herb garden to get some fresh sage."
She hears the backdoor open and close, and then the sound of someone coming up into the attic.
"You're really going to like this," she hears Tom say from the foot of the ladder. "You only have about five minutes, ten minutes tops, to make out. I'm going back to the kitchen and keep a lookout for Mom coming back. When I give the signal, come back downstairs. You can untie her if you want, or leave her for after supper....up to you."
Tom watches Alex disappear into the attic, and sings to himself, "Don't solicit for your sister, it's not nice / Unless you get a fair percentage of her price!...."