Read Just Kidding Online

Authors: Annie Bryant

Just Kidding

BOOK: Just Kidding
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We'd like to thank the experts who helped make
Just Kidding
possible, including: Rachel Simmons, the author of the
New York Times
bestseller
Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls
; Rob Nickel, president, Kid Innovation Canada; the Internet Keep Safe Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to giving parents, educators, and caregivers the information and tools that empower them to teach children the safe and healthy use of technology and the Internet; and Katelyn M. LeClerc, the Internet Safety Program Coordinator, Office of the Attorney General of Massachusetts.

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

ALADDIN MIX
An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

Copyright © 2007 by B*tween Productions, Inc.,
Home of the Beacon Street Girls.

Beacon Street Girls, KGirl, B*tween Productions, B*Street, and the characters Maeve, Avery, Charlotte, Isabel, Katani, Marty, Nick, Anna, Joline, and Happy Lucky Thingy are registered trademarks of B*tween Productions, Inc.

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

ALADDIN and related logo and ALADDIN MIX and related logo are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc

Library of Congress Control Number 2008935909

ISBN-13: 978-1-4169-9570-8
ISBN-10: 1-4169-9570-6

Visit us on the Web:
http://www.SimonandSchuster.com

Contents
Part One
The Break-up Heard
'Round the World

CHAPTER
1
The Late, Great Maeve Kaplan-Taylor

M
aeve scrunched up her favorite puffy pillow and rolled over. Suddenly, something seemed strange…very strange. Sunlight was peeking through the sides of the curtains and making funny lines on her bedspread, but the clock said 4:07 a.m. Since when was it ever sunny at 4 o'clock in the morning?

Maeve grabbed her pink leather watch off the nightstand and stared at the digital numbers. Her eyes widened. 8:20 a.m.! That couldn't be right! School would be starting in ten minutes. Normally slow-moving in the morning, Maeve shot out of bed. Her bedroom, the pink palace, was in chaos…books and clothes scattered everywhere. “Ouch!” she screamed as she stubbed her toe on the nightstand. Where was everybody?

“MOM!” Maeve shrieked. “I am soooo late! Where
are
you?” She began riffling through an abominably messy pile
of just-washed clothes. She finally found her favorite pair of jeans. Wiggling into them at super speed, she moaned out loud. Her guinea pigs, recently renamed Flora and Fauna, squeaked for some snacks. Maeve stumbled over to their cage and tossed in some fresh guinea pig pellets. “Flora and Fauna, I just
have
to get more organized,” she said as she gave them a scratch behind the ears.

Maeve heard a door swing open and quick footsteps in the hallway. “Oh, no!” cried her mother. “The power must have gone out! I'm going to jump in the shower. Maeve, Sam, get up, fast as you can!” Ms. Kaplan yelled down the hallway.

Maeve threw on a pink cable-knit sweater over her fitted white T. She furiously laced up her sneakers and bounced over to the mirror to scrunch gel into her mass of red curls. She spritzed body spray into the air and twirled into the mist…a trick she learned from her friend Katani's older sister Patrice. “Misting,” Patrice said, “is a total fragrance experience.” Swinging her book bag over her shoulder, Maeve grabbed her keys and backpack and rushed out of her bedroom, down the hall, and into the kitchen.

Maeve's eight-year-old brother, Sam, was calmly sitting at the kitchen table slurping down a huge bowl of his favorite crunch cereal. He was also reading a comic book and looking as if he didn't have a care in the world. He glanced up as Maeve dropped her bag right in front of him. She stared down at him and tapped her foot.

Then she breathed in deeply and let it out in a slow
whoosh
. Her new yoga instructor, Gail, had taught her the
power of deep breathing in stressful situations. “How come you're all ready to go?” Maeve asked Sam, her voice cracking.

“I always set my watch alarm for five minutes after my alarm clock. You know, in case something happens. Like the power goes out, or whatever. I was reading in this magazine that military dudes have to do that because they get in lots of trouble if they are late for—”

“SAM! WHY didn't you wake us up?!” Maeve simply could not believe that Sam was up and didn't wake them. She wanted to scream.

Sam, who looked a little embarrassed, answered, “Well I was going to but I guess I…forgot.”

“You
forgot
? WHAT—” Maeve was about to give Sam a piece of her mind but he looked so sheepish she stopped.
He's only eight after all
. Sam started reading chapter books when he was five, and he was such a math brainiac that Maeve sometimes forgot he was only in third grade.

“Uh, it's okay,” Maeve said generously. “I guess it's not your fault the power went out.”

Sam burped and pushed his chair back and brought his dirty dishes to the dishwasher, while Maeve grabbed all three of their brown-bag lunches from the fridge. “You know Sam, you're never going to get a girlfriend if you do gross things like that.” Sam grinned and ran out of the room.

Maeve glanced at her watch. “Mom, you better hurry! It's already eight twenty-six!” she shouted up the stairs. Her mom was supposed to be at work at 8:30, and she had to drop Sam off at the elementary school on her way.

Since their apartment was just down the street from Abigail Adams Junior High, Maeve usually walked to school. Today, it was going to have to be a run.

Ms. Kaplan raced down the stairs, cradling her boots in one arm and brushing her hair with the other. Sam came skidding back into the kitchen after her. She glanced at her children and smiled. “Oh good, you're all ready. You kids are quick. Let's get this train moving!”

Maeve's mom grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled a quick note. “Don't worry, hon. Give this to Mrs. Fields if you get caught coming in late.”

Maeve grabbed the note and gave her mom a quick hug before grabbing her coat. “See ya!” she called as she raced out the front door, her curls bouncing. Halfway to the crosswalk, Maeve stopped short and dug into her school bag. They were having an open-book social studies test that day, and she had a sinking feeling her textbook was sitting on the desk in her bedroom. “Ughhhh!” Maeve cried out loud. This had to be the most frustrating morning ever. She sprinted back to the apartment for take two.

Panting, Maeve waved to her mother and Sam, who were just getting into the car. “Forgot something!” she called as she swung open the front door. Thankfully, her social studies book was right on her desk. Maeve grabbed it and reversed direction at lightning speed. She pulled the door shut behind her and raced to the crosswalk for the second time in the past thirty seconds.

By the time she got to Abigail Adams Junior High, Maeve could see that the steps were empty and the busses
were gone.
Great
, Maeve thought.
Just great. I might as well go to the office and
ask
for a detention slip!

As soon as she opened the door to the school building, she knew she was in trouble. There wasn't a single person in the hallways, and everything was unnaturally quiet. Obviously, the bell had already rung. While Maeve loved dramatic entrances, she hated starting off the school day on the wrong foot by being late. It usually meant a whole bunch of terrible things were going to happen…like some teacher would be giving a surprise quiz and because you were late you had to take a seat in the back of the room. Or Anna and Joline, aka Queens of Mean, would make some major snide comment about what you were wearing and you would have to say something back. It was so annoying.

At least she had a tardy note. But when she reached into her pocket, she only pulled out her lip gloss. Maeve checked her other pockets, then her school bag, and then frantically did a 360-degree turn to see if the note was somewhere on the floor. She realized with horror that the note was gone. Somehow, somewhere, between the apartment and school, it had disappeared. She just knew it. Everything was going to be a big fat mess today.
Well
, Maeve thought,
there is nothing to do but go back and look for it
…otherwise she was tardy without an excuse, punishable by detention…and that would make the day a complete disaster. She took another deep yoga breath.
Maybe there is something to this yoga stuff
, she thought as she started to calm down. She was totally against yoga when her mother first suggested it, but when she heard her hip hop instructor say that most dancers
practiced yoga before performances, she thought she would give it a try. Now she found herself practicing her yoga postures in her spare time. She had taught Avery a few poses and Avery declared them “very cool.” Ave's favorite was “downward dog.” Big surprise. Avery loved dogs.

As Maeve started toward the door, she saw Mr. Clauson, the school janitor, toss a big garbage bag he'd obviously just filled outside into the giant trash bin. Maeve realized that there was a good chance her note was somewhere in that pile.

Nope
. Maeve shook her head and grimaced.
Yoga or no yoga, there is no way that I am rooting through garbage to find that note! That's simply too much to ask of a movie star in training. Who even knows what else is in there?
Maeve shuddered at the thought.
I'd rather take detention!

Ms. Rodriguez, her homeroom teacher, was pretty cool about most things. Maeve crossed her fingers and hoped that if she explained how awful the morning had been so far, maybe Ms. R would give her a break. Right now, it was her only chance. She began practicing her speech. “Ms. R it was a total tragedy. The power went off, my mother overslept, and my genius brother was occupied with reading comic books and plotting the destruction of the Western world….”

She was feeling pretty confident when a sudden burst of laughter from the direction of the gym startled her. It was the first sound she'd heard since coming into the building, and she wondered what was going on. Late or not, she just had to check it out. Maeve walked up to the gym door and peered inside, her deep blue eyes widening at what she saw.

To her surprise, there were no students at all in the gym. On the other hand, every teacher in the school was there. Mrs. Fields was handing out oversized T-shirts to each teacher. Maeve scrunched up her eyes and looked closely. Every T-shirt directly related to each teacher's specialty. There was a big trombone on Ms. Ciara's T-shirt—which made sense, since Ms. C taught music. Ms. Rodriguez taught English, so her T-shirt had a big dictionary on the front. Mr. Sherman, who taught pre-algebra and had earned the nickname “The Crow,” had on a shirt that said “X + 128 = 150.”

Figures
, Maeve thought.
He'll probably make me go to the board and solve that problem in class today. Why ruin a good T-shirt with a math problem?
Math was Maeve's worst subject, and the Crow was her least favorite teacher in the world. Nothing he did seemed funny to her. Suddenly, all the teachers clustered around Mrs. Fields and Mr. Lewis, the band director. Mr. Lewis wore a T-shirt over his full band uniform, and he was lightly tapping on a huge bass drum he'd strapped to his chest.

What in the world was going on? It looked like the teachers were getting ready to put on a performance of
The Music Man
! Maeve loved that movie, especially when she was young. She had always nagged her father to run it for her at the Beacon Street Movie House, which he owned. She loved to sing along with Robert Preston and Ron Howard, who was really cute when he was little. Now he was a big-time director….

Suddenly Mrs. Fields blew her whistle.
Oh my gosh!
Maeve put her hand over her mouth. She realized what all this weirdness was
really
about. It had nothing to do with
The Music Man
. It was the moment she and her classmates had been waiting for all year. It was finally about to happen, and she, Maeve Kaplan-Taylor,
was the only kid in the entire school who knew it
. She was the star witness.

I am the messenger of totally good tidings
, Maeve thought as she sped toward homeroom, clutching her bag. She didn't even want to pause to sling the bag over her shoulder. She had to be the one to break the news. It was just
too
terribly exciting!

“Hey, everybody,” she called out as she burst through the door of Ms. R's room. “I have the biggest news! You're not gonna believe it, but it's finally—”

Before she could get the words out, the PA system crackled to life with the sound of the Abigail Adams fight song on full blast.

Maeve joined in the final words of the refrain in her perky soprano voice, “Abigail Adams hearts unite!”

“Students, please take your seats!” Mrs. Fields ordered over the loudspeaker. Maeve plopped into her seat, a huge smile on her face. The principal continued, “The biggest, the baddest, the most spectacular, the most fabulous week at Abigail Adams Junior High is about to begin!”

There was no need for that announcement, because everyone in the classroom could hear the rhythmic thumping of the big bass drum and the parade of teachers marching down the hall. The students sat straight in their seats. More attentive than they usually were at that time of the morning, they waited with shining eyes, listening to the glorious thump of that drum bringing Spirit Week closer and closer to their classroom door.

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