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Authors: Jo Whittemore

Odd Girl In

BOOK: Odd Girl In
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Front Page Face-Off

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.


Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division

1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

First Aladdin M!X edition March 2011

Copyright © 2011 by Jo Whittemore

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

ALADDIN is a trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc., and related logo is a registered trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

ALADDIN M!X and related logo are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc

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Designed by Ann Zeak

The text of this book was set in Garamond.

Manufactured in the United States of America 0211 OFF

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Library of Congress Control Number 2010933797

ISBN 978-1-4424-1284-2

ISBN 978-1-4424-1285-9 (eBook)

For my Sweethearts—Jessica and Tricia


Always for God, family, friends, and fans.

For my editor, Alyson Heller, who shares my sense of humor, twisted as it may be.

For my agent, Jenn Laughran, who always has the right words.

For my critique partner, Cheryl Peevyhouse, who knows my mind.

For Pat Bly, who throws me floaties, chocolates … whatever it takes.

For Julie Terry, who shares stories of book love and also, my passion for shoes.

For the Montgomery High School Class of '95, my support squad.

For the fabulous folks on the YANovelists listserv, who dispense ideas and advice so willingly.

And for my SCBWI crew, who span the globe and laugh at all the right places in my stories.

Chapter 1

ll I did was put a flaming bag of dog poop
on Mr. McGuire's porch.

He was
to stomp it out and get dog doo on his shoes, then maybe wave a wrinkly fist and yell Old People Gibberish. I'd seen it in the movies a hundred times.

Well, apparently Mr. McGuire hadn't been to the movies in a while. Instead of stomping, he attacked the fire with his newspaper. But since he was old and slow, he barely tapped the bag and the
caught on fire.

“Oh, crumb,” he muttered.

Mr. McGuire waved the paper around, but of course that only made the fire spread faster, until the flames were
bigger than his head. When I saw smoke coming from the wispy ends of his comb-over, I couldn't take it anymore.

I jumped up from my hiding spot and raced across the lawn. Once I reached Mr. McGuire, I knocked the paper out of his hand and patted the sparks out of his hair.

“There,” I said, panting and stomping on the bag. “Fire's out.”

Unfortunately, I kind of overlooked the burning newspaper that had landed on his porch sofa.

And that was how I discovered the flammability of wicker.

By the time I could act, the foam cushions on the sofa were already a charred black mass, and the frame was a miniature bonfire.

“Water, Alexis!” Mr. McGuire yelled at me. “We need water!”

I ran next door to my house and grabbed the garden hose. A few minutes later, the fire was gone, along with half of Mr. McGuire's porch sofa. I couldn't help feeling partly to blame. I also couldn't think of a way to fix the situation.

Finally, I said, “Hey, at least your house wasn't touched. That's lucky.”

“Lucky?” Mr. McGuire growled. “I lost a sofa
my newspaper! Before I'd even finished the crossword!”

“You can have
paper,” I offered. “My dad only likes the Jumble and he …” I trailed off when I realized Mr. McGuire was giving me the evil eye.

“Alexisss.” He hissed my name, pointing a gnarled finger. “
did this!”

“Um …” I started to back away, but Mr. McGuire gripped my arm.

“This is the last straw!” He shuffled toward my house, pulling me along while I tried to explain.

“It wasn't personal,” I said. “You're just the closest house, and I didn't want to carry a bag of dog logs down the street!”

Ignoring my explanations, he gave the bottom of our front door a swift kick. Then he howled in pain and glared at me. “
look at what you've done! I broke my toe!”

My eyes widened. “But you just—”

The door opened and Dad appeared, towering over both of us. “Mr. McGuire.” He frowned when he saw me. “Alex, what's going on?”

Mr. McGuire pushed his way in front of me. “Your daughter broke my toe and tried to light me on fire. That's what's going on, Professor Evins!”

To his credit, Dad merely frowned. “I'm sorry. How exactly did this happen?” He wrinkled his nose. “And
is that smell?”

“Oh! Sorry.” I stepped off the porch and dragged the bottoms of my shoes over the grass. “It was a Flaming #2. Parker bet I couldn't leave one on someone's doorstep.”

Dad groaned and called over his shoulder, “Parker! Get downstairs now! And bring Nick!” He smiled at Mr. McGuire. “Twins: If one's involved, the other can't be far behind.”

“Neither can their sister.” Mr. McGuire glowered at me. “She lit my sofa on fire!”

Dad held up a hand. “Wait…. I thought she tried to light
on fire.”

.” Mr. McGuire leaned toward Dad conspiratorially. “And when she couldn't succeed, she went after my furniture!”

I grabbed Dad's arm. “It was totally an accident. I swear.”

I explained what happened, and Dad walked out onto our porch to see for himself. It only took one glance at Mr. McGuire's sofa skeleton for Dad's eyebrows to raise into his hairline.

“That sofa cost six hundred dollars,” said Mr. McGuire. “I expect you to pay for it.”

Dad made a choking sound in the back of his throat and nodded. “That's … understandable. I'll have a check for you tomorrow.”

Mr. McGuire shook his head. “Not good enough! I
you send your rotten kids to one of those child labor camps. Or a sweatshop.” He sneered at me. “How would you like to make sneakers for a dime an hour?”

I looked up at Dad, who gave the slightest shake of his head. “Mr. McGuire, the punishment will fit the crime. I can assure you. And I want to apologize for what happened, as do my children.” He turned to Nick and Parker, who had been staring daggers at me from the staircase. “
of them.”

My brothers were high school freshmen and
being called children, but the tone in Dad's voice meant there was no arguing.

“Sorry, Mr. McGuire,” said Nick.

“We apologize,” added Parker.

Dad nodded at me, and I sighed. “I'm sorry too.”

Mr. McGuire's mouth moved for a moment, like he wanted to say something else, but he just grunted and walked away.

“Have my money tomorrow!” he finally managed.

We watched him totter up his sidewalk, and I turned to Dad with a grateful smile.

He didn't smile back.

“My office.
,” he said, including my brothers in his ominous gaze.

Bowing my head, I followed him through the house. Nick and Parker fell into step behind us, and Parker pushed me so that I almost stumbled into Dad.

“Nice going, pyromaniac,” he said. “Can't you follow simple instructions?”

“I don't know.” I glared at him. “Tell me to push you off the roof and let's see what happens.”

BOOK: Odd Girl In
13.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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