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Authors: Laura Dower

Just Visiting

BOOK: Just Visiting
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Just Visiting
From the Files of Madison Finn, Book 9
Laura Dower

For Myles Joseph, our little peanut

Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Mad Chat Words

Madison’s Computer Tip

Preview:
Give and Take

About the Author

Chapter 1

M
ADISON FOLDED A PIECE
of pink construction paper into a fan. Waving it at her face, she tried to concentrate on her new computer file.

It wasn’t easy.

Summer So Far

Rude Awakening:

I don’t mind it when vacation is too hot to handle. But who made it eighty degrees in my bedroom?

Pant. Pant. Pant. Pant.

Her dog, Phin, sprawled with his paws stretched out on her bedroom floor. Even he needed to cool off.

“Hang in there, Phinnie,” Madison said, scratching the top of his head to calm him down. But he scooted under the bed, tail wagging and tongue flapping.

Pant. Pant. Pant. Pant.

“Mom!” Madison yelled, rising from the desk chair in her bedroom and walking over to the staircase. “MO-O-O-O-OM!”

School wasn’t the only thing out for summer.

The Finn cooling system was out, too.

Mom appeared at the bottom of the stairs, wiping her hands on a towel. “How many times do I have to say this,” she started to lecture. “I don’t want you screaming at me from upstairs. Please come find me if you want to talk.”

“Mom, I’m absolutely
dying
in my room,” Madison moaned, still fanning her face. “It’s like an oven up here. Even Phinnie’s hot.”

“I told you the AC repairman will be coming over as soon as he can,” Mom explained. “Why don’t you bring your laptop downstairs? It’s much cooler down here in the kitchen.”

Madison didn’t feel like moving anywhere, especially not to the kitchen. That was no place to write in her files! She needed to be in her own room with her own stuff. She turned back toward her room and opened the window a crack.

The laptop cursor was blinking, so she started to type again.

Although I am suffering from broken-air-conditioner heatstroke right now, I’ll live. After all, we got out of school almost a week ago and it is AWESOME to have all this free time again.

Since the last day of school my BFFs and I have been talking a lot. Aimee is going to dance camp soon like she does every summer, but luckily she has a few more weeks at home. Fiona goes to soccer camp right after the Fourth of July.

On our first summer weekend together, Fiona had a sleepover in her backyard & that was wicked nice. Her dad got this hiking tent and we set it up outside. No bugs could get in, which was a good thing. I really, REALLY hate mosquitoes. We sat up half the night, eating marshmallows and talking in the dark, mostly about boys—of course! But I have decided that I won’t EVER reveal my crush on Hart Jones, not even to them even though they are my BFFs. I’m just not ready to admit out loud that I like him. What if he finds out?

While we were at Fiona’s, another cool thing happened. Aimee dragged the three of us outside the tent to look at stars and the sky was all speckled and beautiful. We stood there in the moonlight while she pointed out all the constellations.

I’m getting VERY jazzed about the upcoming Fourth of July celebration in Far Hills. It’s supposed to be the biggest one ever.

I am soooo there. We ALL will be there. Even Hart. I hope.

Madison sat back in her chair and sighed. She felt sweatier than sweaty. As she sat there fanning herself, the computer’s sleep function clicked on automatically. A brand-new screen saver appeared.

Glug. Glug. Glug. Glug.

Earlier in the day, Madison had downloaded a special summer screen saver program that featured bright tropical fish. The screen made noises as fish swam across the screen: underwater bubbles bubbled, water splashed, and the fish went
glug.
It was a little like the home page on her favorite website, TweenBlurt.com.

Madison clicked the space bar on the keyboard. A window appeared that said: “
WHAT IS YOUR PASSWORD
?” She entered her supersecret password, logged online, and went immediately into her personal e-mailbox. One piece of mail was waiting there, sent by someone very important: Madison’s keypal Bigwheels. Madison knew that Bigwheels wasn’t writing from her home computer. Her whole family was on a summer road trip down the West Coast of the USA.

Madison wondered: If her parents hadn’t gotten divorced, then would
she
be traveling in a camper across the country, too, instead of sitting here in a steamy bedroom?

The phone rang twice. Mom picked it up downstairs. Madison could barely hear her mumbling into the receiver.

“That was your father!” Mom yelled up a moment later. “Surprise! He’s late.”

Dad was always late to pick up Madison for their weekly dinners. But Madison didn’t mind it—as long as he showed up. Tonight they had made plans to go to their favorite barbecue restaurant together, just the two of them. His girlfriend, Stephanie, had a conflict and couldn’t make it. Madison was momentarily disappointed that it wouldn’t be
three
for dinner, but decided not to get upset.

It was summer, and she was supposed to be cooling off, not heating up.

She clicked
OPEN
on her keyboard. Madison could read Bigwheels’s e-mail from the road while she waited for Dad.

From: Bigwheels

To: MadFinn

Subject: I LOVE SUMMER!!!

Date: Thurs 26 June 2:46 PM

Happy vacation! Aren’t you glad school is OVER? What’s up with you?

We’re in OREGON now! I am not sure what the name of the town is. I have to send you an e-postcard. My mom is trying to help me figure out how to download it.

We left Washington two days ago and have been stopping along the coastline. It is pretty. We have a special camper and everything. My sister and I have bunk beds and there’s even a TV set inside. Have you ever gone on a trip like this? We are driving all the way through this state and then down to northern California, to drive right over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Did you ever go shopping for that new bathing suit? Isn’t the day at the lake coming up soon? How is Hart? And what are you doing for the Fourth of July? We’re going to find fireworks somewhere. We’d better!

Yours till the road trips, Bigwheels, aka Victoria

p.s. I can still get e-mails here even though I am not home. So K-I-T (that means WRITE)!

Just as Madison was about to type a response, Mom came dashing into her room. Dad had called again. He’d be there in ten short minutes.

Madison disconnected her laptop, crumpled up her makeshift pink fan, and went downstairs. It was better to wait outside than inside her warm bedroom. The breeze was picking up.

On the Finn porch, Mom had installed a wooden swing seat, and Madison collapsed into its puffy blue cushions. Their house had a western view, so she leaned backward to see if the sun might set while she waited. The whole sky was turning a washed-out yellow, but summer dusk was hours away.

After a few moments, Mom came outside and sat down beside her.

“Did you see Aimee and Fiona today?” Mom asked.

“Nah, but we talked on the phone. Why?” Madison asked back.

“Oh, I don’t know. You haven’t seen them in a few days and … well, I just don’t want this to be a summer of you sleeping late and staying inside on the computer all day—”

“Mom,” Madison said, interrupting. “What are you talking about? I get out. I walk Phinnie. I’ve been over to the animal clinic—”

“Once,”
Mom cut her off. “Now, we just went and bought you that nice new swimsuit. I think you should use it. Aren’t you and your friends going to the lake soon? Should we have made camp plans for you?”

Madison made a grouchy face. Ever since the “Big D,” her parents’ divorce, Mom was overly worried about everything Madison did and did not do.

“I’m superfine the way I am,” Madison said. “Besides, the Fourth of July is coming up, and we’re going to help the parks department with the setup. They ask for junior-high volunteers. That way we all see fireworks up close.”

“Well,” Mom continued. “We need to talk about the Fourth of July.”

Silently Madison dragged her feet along the ground so the swing moved back and forth. She had a sneaking suspicion that she did not want to hear the next part of what Mom had to say.

Mom kept talking. “Unfortunately, I have to work on an important business presentation next week—and then I have to fly out and present it—”

“Like when?” Madison asked.

“Well … around the Fourth of July,” Mom replied. “It’s bad timing, I know…”

“Bad timing? IT’S AWFUL!” Madison blurted, her face swelling up pink. “I can’t miss the Fourth of July.”

“Maddie … honey bear…” Mom said, reaching out for Madison’s arm, but Madison pulled away.

“Just because you have work, why do I have to leave, too? When were you going to tell me? Can I at least stay with Daddy?” Madison asked three questions all at once.

Mom shook her head. “No, I checked—your father has a business commitment on the other coast that he can’t avoid. And I asked Aimee’s mom if you could sleep over with them, but they have several guests coming from out of town, too. Oh, Maddie, it’s just one of those things. I’m sorry.”

Madison’s face was all puffy.

“You don’t understand, Mom,” Madison said. Her knees locked and the swing stopped. “This is the most important Fourth of July ever… in my whole entire life. I can’t miss it.”

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