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Authors: Catherine R. Daly

Flower Feud

BOOK: Flower Feud
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Petal Pushers

Flower Feud

Catherine R. Daly

To Ozy and the Biscuit, who make it all possible.

With gratitude for the wonderfully thorough
copyediting skills of Susan Jeffers Casel.

And special thanks to designer Yaffa Jaskoll,
art director Steve Scott, and artist Bella Pilar
for the totally gorgeous book covers!

Chapter One

“Delphinium Bloom?” called out my homeroom teacher, Ms. Rumble.

I raised my hand, wishing for the millionth time that my parents had given me a more basic first name. Sure, delphiniums are these beautiful, bluish purple flowers. But most kids in my town of Elwood Falls, New Hampshire, don’t know that. Which is why I prefer to go by Del.

Ms. Rumble was taking attendance before the morning’s announcements. As she went down the list of names, I opened my history folder and looked over my homework assignment on the Civil War. I was glad it was Friday, and I’d have two days off from learning about the Union and the Confederacy.

I glanced up just as Ms. Rumble got to Sammy Washington. He’s a bit of a smart aleck, so he answered
with a “Yo,” which earned him a frown from Ms. Rumble. But then we were done, and just in time.

The loudspeaker came on, and the assistant principal’s voice rang out. Yada yada yada. Yearbooks would be on sale in the cafeteria starting next week. Final exams would begin June 18. And lockers would need to be cleared out by June 21.

I only half listened. I had already preordered a yearbook, and the dates for locker clean out and finals were marked on my calendar. And yes, in case you were wondering, I
do
know that my organized ways may seem a bit excessive. My family doesn’t call me “Detail Del” for nothing. I choose to take it as a compliment. (Do I really have a choice?)

But then the principal said something that made me sit up with, not with interest, but with another feeling — dread.

“And now,” he said, “we have a special announcement from seventh-grade student council representative, Ashley Edwards.”

Ashley Edwards is my number one enemy. And she’s the worst kind of all — the one you
used
to be best friends with. Okay, that was all the way back in preschool, so any info she might have to use against me is of the “she spilled
grape juice all over her Barney T-shirt when she was three and a half and cried for an hour” variety, but you get the picture. These days she is super mean and the two of us barely speak, except when she’s making fun of me.

I stared up at the loudspeaker with a frown and nervously ran my hand through my wavy, shoulder-length, light brown hair. Whatever Ashley had to say, it couldn’t be good. The rest of my classmates seemed interested, however. A hush had fallen over the classroom. Ashley is pretty and wears trendy clothes and people seem to like her. Or pretend to like her because she’s popular. I’m never quite sure how these things work.

Ashley’s annoyingly chipper voice came through loud and clear.

“Fellow students of Sarah Josepha Hale Middle School, I have some very exciting news to share with each and every one of you,” she began. I rolled my eyes. What a drama queen! “As you all probably know, it is prom season — the most exciting and fun time for high schoolers. Well, why should
they
have all the fun? So I had a fab idea — a
middle school
prom!”

Middle school prom!
I thought.
What
an awful
idea.
I
looked around at my fellow students. Surely they realized how silly this was …

“OMG!” cried Alice Ambrose, who sat a couple of seats ahead of me. “What a great idea!”

Everyone else started grinning and nodding. I rolled my eyes. What were my classmates
thinking?
They had all been to our last school dance — a Valentine’s Day event called Have a Heart. Boys on one side of the gym, girls on the other. Ice-cold pizzas congealing in their boxes and bottles of flat soda. To add insult to injury, the music had been provided via iPod by one of the teachers who was obsessed with the Beach Boys. It was a middle school dance, not a fiftieth reunion! My best friend, Becky, and I were so bored we called our parents to pick us up early. Seriously underwhelming.

But apparently everyone except me was suffering from a case of Bad Middle School Dance Amnesia.

Ashley continued. “The theme is A Night in the Tropics, so the gym will be decorated to look like a gorgeous tropical island. And yes, I know what you’re wondering,” she added with a laugh. “You
are
going to need a date! So ask out your crush from gym class or that cutie from science lab. Buy a gorgeous gown, rent the coolest tux, and show up at seven
o’clock on Saturday, June ninth for the best dance that Sarah Josepha Hale Middle School has ever seen!” She paused, then added, “If I do say so myself!”

I could feel myself fuming. I knew “Your crush from gym class” was a direct reference to Hamilton Baldwin, the new boy in school.

Some people meet cute. Hamilton and I met totally awkward, one day in the hallway as I was picking spinach out of my teeth. Hamilton is tall, with longish, sandy-colored hair, and these deep blue eyes. And he’s really sweet and funny. We’re friends. (My boy-crazy friend Heather may say otherwise, but that’s all it is.) Still, knowing that Ashley Edwards was angling to take Hamilton to the Moronic Middle School Prom made me mad. Just a little.

“Thank you, Ashley,” said the assistant principal. “And I’d like to add that tickets will be on sale from any student council representative.”

The loudspeaker shut off with a crackle and everyone started talking excitedly, about what they were going to wear and who they might ask.

I saw Rachel Lebowitz turn around in her seat so quickly her long straight brown hair nearly whipped Mike
Michaels in the face. (That’s his name, I’m not making it up.) She was grinning. “How cool is that!” she cried. “A middle school prom! Can you believe it?”

I shook my head. Rachel was one of Ashley’s handmaidens.
Of course
she thought the prom was the greatest thing since strawberry lip gloss.

It was just like Ashley to rush things. Why wait till high school to have a prom like everyone else? This was the girl who got her first French manicure when she was in preschool. So it made sense. But why was everyone else falling for it?

Then the bell rang for second period and I gathered up my books and headed to history class. I didn’t give the dance another thought until lunchtime.

The cafeteria was serving chicken fingers, which always puts me in a good mood. Especially if they don’t run out of honey-mustard sauce before I get there. Not taking any chances, I didn’t even drop off my books, and went straight to the cafeteria line. I noticed that I was three people behind Hamilton, who was wearing a denim workshirt with a small hole on the shoulder. He balanced two orders of chicken fingers on his tray. The boy has a huge appetite.

I grabbed three containers of sauce, just to be safe, then placed my food on top of my books. I carefully approached the table where I sit every day with my four closest friends. Jessica Wu, spacey and funny (sometimes on purpose, sometimes not), was dressed in a ruffly shirt and leggings, her short, black hair spiking up adorably. Amy Arthur, with her reddish brown hair and rectangular, black glasses, was wearing jeans with deep cuffs and a pink-and-red striped T-shirt. Amy can keep a secret like nobody’s business. Heather Hanson, with her dimples and corkscrew dirty-blonde curls, looks like a princess in a storybook. But she’s tougher than she appears. And last but not least, there was Becky Davis, my very best friend. Tall and slim, Becky looks like a model but doesn’t know it. She has jet-black shoulder-length curls, big brown eyes, and flawless, dark brown skin.

Becky gave me a distracted wave as she flipped through one of her notebooks.

“Hey, guys,” I said. I put my tray down and settled myself onto a stool.

“Can you believe it?” squealed Heather.

“Believe what?” I asked, intrigued. I glanced at my friends.

I hadn’t seen Amy look so happy since the day her sister and her cheerleader friends had taken her to see the last Harry Potter movie and hadn’t made Amy sit all by herself in the first row, like they usually did.

“The middle school prom, of course!” Amy said.

“Oh, that,” I sighed. I hadn’t thought my friends would get sucked into the madness, too.

“Yes, that,” said Heather. “You mean, you’re not totally excited about it?” She looked shocked.

I picked up a chicken finger and dunked it.

“Not really,” I said, taking a bite. Mmm — crispy deliciousness.

“I don’t think Ms. Studious over here is excited, either,” said Jessica, pointing a thumb over at Becky. My BFF was studying her notes intently as she ate her favorite lunch — her mom’s homemade chicken salad on whole wheat with the crusts cut off.

Becky glanced up and smiled at me. “Hey, Del,” she said. “Rumor is Ms. Herbert might give a pop quiz this afternoon.”

I nodded sympathetically and swallowed. I was glad someone besides me wasn’t taken in by this stupid prom idea of Ashley’s.

“You guys!” Amy sputtered. She looked from me to Becky, exasperated. “Do you have any idea how awesome this is? Amber has been talking about nothing but the prom for weeks. So I already know
everything
— where to go to get the best dresses, the coolest shoes, the prettiest jewelry.” She looked around at us. “She’s a varsity cheerleader you know. Co-captain.”

We all hid our smiles. Amy is very proud of her popular big sister and mentions this thrilling piece of information every chance she gets.

I shook my head. “How is this dance going to be any different than all the others?” I asked. “Except of course that we’ll be all dressed up while we’re bored to tears?”

“What do you mean?” asked Jessica.

“Anyone remember Have a Heart?” I asked pointedly.

Jessica made a face. “That
was
lame,” she said.

Heather shook her head. “I think this one might be different,” she said. “Ashley may be mean, but I bet she knows how to throw a great party.”

I shrugged. “Won’t we have time for fancy proms when we’re in high school?”

A look of disappointment crossed Heather’s face. Then suddenly she grinned and turned to Amy. “Can you ask Amber where to get the best prom …
flowers?”
she asked, looking right at me as she said the last word.

Amy cocked her head. “Sure!” she said. She thought for a moment. “Funny, she’s talked about everything
but
prom flowers. I wonder why.”

“Flowers?” I said, perking right up.

Heather laughed. “I knew that would get your attention.”

My family owns a flower shop. It used to be the only flower shop in town (more on that later) and was called Flowers on Fairfield (more to come on
that,
too). My grandparents used to run the store and it had always been my refuge from my messy, disorganized house. But then Gran and Gramps decided to move to Florida and leave the store in my parents’ hands. It’s been a tricky transition, but we’re trying to make it work.

So the fact that we now had a middle school prom in addition to a regular prom to sell flowers for
was
an exciting prospect.

“Maybe I spoke too quickly,” I said, barely able to suppress my grin. “A Night in the Tropics actually sounds pretty amazing to me. Bring on the corsages!”

I thought about all the extra business the store would get. I was glad tomorrow was Saturday, when I worked all day at the store. Mom and Dad were going to be psyched to hear the news.

“So I can count on you all to get your prom flowers from us, right?” I asked my friends.

“Of course!” said Jessica.

Amy suddenly looked nervous. “But what if … nobody asks us? Can we still go?”

Heather shook her curls. “That’s impossible!” she said. “We’ll have dates. All of us.” She bit her lip. “I think.”

“I don’t see why we can’t just go stag,” I said. “That means alone,” I explained, anticipating Jessica’s question.

“I don’t know,” said Jessica. “Ashley
did
say you need dates.” She frowned. “Do you think one of us should ask Ashley if it’s okay to go … stag?”

“Don’t look at me,” I said. “I’m certainly not asking her. I’m not even sure I’m going to this stupid prom.”

Becky finally glanced up from her notebook, looking confused. “Did you say
prom
?” she asked. “What’s going on?”

“Oh, Becky!” cried Heather and Amy in unison.

I patted my friend on the hand. Only Becky could get so caught up in studying she totally missed what was apparently the most exciting news of the school year.

No wonder we’re best friends!

BOOK: Flower Feud
13.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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