Authors: Hillary Homzie
Also by Hillary Homzie:
Things Are Gonna Get Ugly
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
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First Aladdin M!X edition March 2011
Copyright Â© 2011 by Hillary Homzie
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Designed by Lisa Vega
The text of this book was set in Adobe Caslon.
Manufactured in the United States of America 0211 OFF
10Â Â 9Â Â 8Â Â 7Â Â 6Â Â 5Â Â 4Â Â 3Â Â 2Â Â 1
Library of Congress Control Number 2010934261
ISBN 978-1-4424-0657-5 (pbk)
ISBN 978-1-4424-3034-1 (eBook)
To the dessert divas known as my writing group
First off, a huge thanks to my editors, Alyson Heller and Liesa Abrams, who really know how to brainstorm, how to inspire thoughtful revision, and to have fun. I feel bow-down lucky to have you on my side.
A huge shout-out goes to my agent, Sean McCarthy, for his attention to this book right from the start.
Thanks to Lisa Gottfried for our weekly babysitting swaps, which allowed me the space to complete this book.
I'm also so lucky to have fantastic early readers. Leslie Farwell, Jenny Pessereau, and Sherry Smith pumped me way up while lovingly delivering the truth. Steven Arvanites read
The Hot List
more than once and indulged me in many late night talks. The red licorice definitely helped! Alexandria LaFaye helped refine the beginning, while Rachel Rodriguez was an astute online critique partner, and Erin Dealey set me straight on the real deal in middle school.
Jonah, Ari, and Micah, thanks for your daily insights
into the secret life of boys. My husband, Matt, is another great reader, and the fourth of four boys (so he kind of knows boys), as well as meal-maker when deadlines approach. I love you all!
addie and I came up with the Hot List one morn
ing after a sleepover at my house. Lounging on my bed, we flipped through magazines, sucking down wild cherry Slurpees and pigging out on M&M's. All but the red ones. If you eat those, you have to tell the truth.
“If we're going to write up a hot list,” I said. “We should use something special.”
“Definitely,” said Maddie.
I bounced over to the door and closed it so it clicked all the way shut. Then I opened my desk drawer and pulled a pen out of my keepsake bin. “Here,” I said, holding up the pen. Two summers ago, Maddie got it for my tenth birthday. It was purple with little sparkles of gold.
“Perfect!” said Maddie. She tucked her chin-length hair behind her ears.
“Okay, I need those red ones now,” I said, pointing to the pile of M&M's.
Maddie divided them up. Eight for her and eight for me, and then she began counting. “One. Two. Three.” We both popped a couple into our mouths at the exact same moment. “It's truth time!” she shoutedâalthough her mouth was so full of little round candies, it sounded more like this: “mmmitsthtime!”
“I'll go first,” I said, bravely uncapping the glitter pen and sitting down on the shag rug carpet. “Then you. But no peeking until we're done.”
Hopping down off the bed, Maddie plopped down next to me.
“Move away,” I commanded.
Maddie didn't budge.
“Hello! Back on the bed, or go to the other side of the carpet.”
Maddie scooted back a little.
Finally, Maddie moved to the opposite edge of the carpet. “Sophie, you're paranoid. Don't you trust me?” She jumped up for a moment, pretended to peer at my paper, and then sat back down.
“Of course,” I said, smiling, as I quickly wrote down our top five names:
1) Hayden Carus
2) Matt James
3) Bear Arvanites
4) Tyson Blandes
5) Kirk Davies
“Thereâdone,” I said, folding up the paper. “Your turn.” I tossed the pen to Maddie, and she actually caught it. “Good catch.”
Maddie retucked her hair behind her ears and wrote down her hot list. Only she wrote in swirly, fancy letters. I was really proud of Maddie being so arty, but I got embarrassed for her when she did calligraphy at school. I didn't want the kids to think she was nerdy.
“Hurry up!” I said, nudging her leg with my foot.
“I'm almost done. Chill.” Suddenly, pricks of heat spiked up my neck. “Chill” was one of Nia Tate's favorite words. She wasn't my favorite person.
I folded my paper in half and then in quarters, as Maddie continued to craft her perfect letters. I finished my Slurpee, and checked Maddie's to see if there was any left in hers, which, as usual, there wasn't.
“Okay,” said Maddie. “I'm done.”
She folded her paper and turned it into an origami bird.
“I bet you put Mr. Roma first.”
“How did you guess? He's soooo hot. I love his bushy mustache.” Mr. Roma is the head custodian, and he loves to sing heavy metalâtype songs when he mops. “All right,” she said. “Let's read each other's list, one at a time.”
“Okay,” I said.
She raised her eyebrows up and down. “I'm reading yours first.”
I shook my head. “No way!”
“Okay, fine. Be a wimp. Here.” She tossed me her list/ perfect-looking crane.
“It's sooo cute. I feel bad about ruining it.”
Maddie shrugged. “It's okay, Soph. I'll make you another one just like it, with real origami paper.”
“Okay, in that case â¦” I tore open the bird so I could read Maddie's list.
1) Auggie Martin
2) Tyler Finkel
3) Nick Hyde
4) Bear Arvanites
5) Matt James
“Aha!” I yelled. “Square pulled in the number one spot.” Square was our special code name for Auggie because he had kind of a big, square-shaped head. “I knew you still liked him!” She had been crushing on him for a solid year, although she claimed to be over her Auggie phase.
Maddie shrugged apologetically. “I just couldn't put anyone else as number one. It's his freckles.” She tapped her own freckles on her nose. “It means we're connected.”
“But what's up with Tyler?” I asked. “He loves to talk. I thought you didn't like chatty guys.”
“I don't. But he's kind of funny.” Then Maddie motioned at me. “Okay, your turn,” said Maddie. “Hand it over.”
I reluctantly tossed over the hot list.
Maddie smiled so her brown eyes crinkled, then she gazed down at my list. Suddenly, she peeped her eyes over the edge of the paper. “Of course, Hayden's first.”
“Blue,” I corrected. Blue was our special code name for Hayden.
As if my dad had an antenna for something private going on, I heard him clomping down the hall, back from his bike ride. I quickly grabbed the lists and sparkly pen and stuck them in my pocket. Before I could sit down, he peeked his head into my bedroom. “Hi, girls.”
“Hi, Mr. Fanuchi!” said Maddie.
Stretching his arm behind his head, I noticed how
baggy Dad's shirt looked. That was because he'd been working out a lot ever since he started dating a bunch. “So what's going on, you two?” he asked.
“Nothing,” I said.
“Nothing?” His gaze wandered down to the red truth M&M's. “Nothing. I see.” Dad grinned. “Well, nothing looks like fun. And since you're busy doing nothing, Soph, would you walk Rusty. Remember? I'm going out for lunch.”
Ugh. He was going out on a date with Mrs. Tate, who worked as a math teacher at our school and happened to be the mom of Nia, the CEO of the popular group.
I was about to say,
Do I have to?
, when I heard the hot lists in my pocket making a crinkling sound. I had to get those lists out of my house and destroyed. My dad is a very nosy person and has been known to inspect my garbage.
“Okay, we'll walk Rusty! I'll get his leash.” I grabbed Maddie's hand and pulled her up, eager to get out of the room and far away from the house. “We really do need fresh air.”
Maddie's eyebrows shot up in a questioning look, while Dad smiled. “I'm liking your attitude,” he said. Now that I was a seventh grader, Dad loved to talk about my attitude. Either he liked it or he felt the need to compliment me on it.
“Be back in forty-five minutes,” continued Dad. “Before I leave to go on my date.”
“Sure,” I said, continuing to hold Maddie's hand as we tore down the hall and out of the house. We hadn't gotten too far down the block when I realized that Maddie wasn't keeping up the pace. After Rusty and I leaped over a stream of water from my neighbor's sprinkler, I turned back to Maddie. “C'mon, jump!”
But Maddie stood completely still, staring at a text message on her phone.
It had to be Heather Lopez or Nicole Eisenberg. We ate lunch with them five out of five, but on weekends, they did their thing and we did ours. “Is it Heather or Nicole?” I asked.
Maddie shook her head. “Nia.”