Lacey's Crush (Sweet Valley Jr. High No. 6)

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9780553486650: Lacey's Crush (Sweet Valley Jr. High No. 6)
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Look out, Jr. High.  Lacey's looking for love!

Lacey doesn't care if her stupid high school boyfriend dumped her.  She only liked him because he had a car, anyway.

Besides, she's already scoped someone else out.  All she has to do is get Jessica Wakefield out of the way and Damon Ross will be all hers.

Take that, ex-boyfriend!

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Lacey

"You're up early. " my dad commented when I came downstairs and slouched in the kitchen doorway. Gathered around the white Formica table were my dad, my stepmother, Victoria, and my half sister, Penelope. All dressed in their tennis whites, eating poached eggs. A painful sight first thing in the morning, believe me. They were so clean and white and perky. It was blinding.

Actually, it was almost noon. But it was early for me. I usually wait until they're gone before I get up on Saturdays. It keeps me sane.

"Where are you going?" Victoria demanded as I did a 180-degree turn. "Don't you want any brunch?"

Brunch with the family? Don't tempt me.

"Out," I answered, heading for the front door.

"When we're finished with our lessons at the club, we need you to watch Penelope for a while," Victoria called back. "We're going to an art gallery."

How cultured. Victoria is a real art head. Apparently she has great taste.

"Did you hear that, Lacey?" my dad bellowed. I leaned against the front door, my hand on the door handle, waiting until they were through so I could go. "We'll drop her off about two o'clock," he added.

Outside I heard the familiar rumble of Gel's car. He beeped the horn, and I winced, hoping Victoria hadn't noticed. I mean, Gel can be pretty tacky sometimes. And I really did not need a lecture on my taste in boyfriends just then.

"Are you done?" I yelled out to my dad.

"There's no need for that tone . . . ," he answered.

But I was already out the door.

"This car is so gross," I said to Gel as I got in. I had to push aside a stack of comics, an empty soda can, and a half-empty bag of sour-cream-and-onion potato chips just to sit down. "So, what's the big deal?" I asked, slamming the rust-encrusted door.

Gel had called me that morning to see if I wanted to go to Vito's Pizza for lunch. It's not that I mind getting out of the house--obviously. It's just that Gel has never asked me to lunch, ever. In fact, since we've been going out, he's hardly asked me anything other than, "Got a light?"

"Got a light?" Gel asked as he backed out of our driveway.

I handed him my Bic and fumbled in my purse for my own cigarettes.

Squeak. I jumped. A little blue rubber bunny stared up at me.

One of Penelope's favorite things is to hide her toys in my bag and "surprise" me. She is such a pest.

I took the lighter out of Gel's hands and snagged one of his cigarettes since I couldn't find mine. I didn't light up until we'd made it to the comer, though. My dad and Victoria have enough to complain about. They didn't need to see me smoking.

"I'm beat. " Gel sighed, resting his head against the seat back.

Gel was making conversation? I hope he doesn't pull a brain muscle.

Really. Gel is so thick sometimes, he forgets where he's going. Luckily I'm there to remind him.

"Vito's is that way," I pointed out as Gel turned right down the wrong street. "You should've kept going straight. "

Gel shrugged and ashed out the open window. "I wanted to finish this smoke," he said, glancing at me.

I shrugged back. I didn't care how far out of the way we went. I wouldn't care if we drove right out of Sweet Valley. In fact, I wished we would. But that would be too imaginative for Gel--he never surprised me.

No wonder Gel and I never have lunch together--I was getting bored already. As soon as we were done at Vito's, I'd call Kristin to come over while I baby-sat. That way I wouldn't have to suffer the torture solo. Kristin would help me out. That's what best friends are for.
Jessica

"Does my hair look okay?" I asked Elizabeth on the way to Vito's. She was meeting her friends Anna Wang and Salvador del Valle, and I was meeting Kristin Seltzer.

"Elizabeth?" But she kept on walking, her neat blond hair hanging straight down her back, ignoring me.

Useless! Sometimes my twin sister is just useless. I stomped past her until I was in front of a shop window that I could use as a mirror.

I met Elizabeth's gaze in the reflection. "Would you relax?" she said. "You look great. You always do. Come on."

I smiled. She was right--I did look great. Sisters are the best.

I'm not usually self-conscious, but you never know who you might bump into at Vito's.

Vito's is the place to be on Saturday. I knew I'd see a lot of people from school there, and I wanted to make a good impression.

At Sweet Valley Middle School, I was popular. In fact, I would have ruled the school this year. Except that over the summer they decided to rezone our school district, and Elizabeth and I were transferred to Sweet Valley Junior High.

Since then, I haven't exactly been queen of the social scene.

I wanted that to change.

We walked into Yito's, and I glanced around. I didn't see Kristin anywhere. But I saw Lacey Frells sitting in a booth near the window with her boyfriend, Gel. (He's in high school. I mean, can you get much cooler?)

Lacey is Kristin's best friend, and she's beyond cool. Too cool to even care about popularity. Too cool to care if you like her or not. But so cool that being seen with her is kind of an honor.

But Lacey and I hadn't exactly gotten off on the right foot.

Okay, she hates me. But that's another story.

Lacey was holding an unlit cigarette. Probably annoyed that she couldn't smoke inside. She squinted at me. I bit my lip.

Kristin hadn't said anything about Lacey joining us. But maybe I was supposed to assume that she was. I gave Lacey a couple of seconds to signal me. But she just gave me this level stare.

My palms were getting sweaty. I didn't know what to do.

Elizabeth must have seen my problem. "There's Anna and Salvador," she said softly. "Want to sit with us until Kristin gets here?"

I really didn't want to sit with them. Salvador always makes these obnoxious wisecracks, and Anna is just the opposite--serious and intense Already Salvador had two straws up his nose, as if he was trying to get a laugh out of Anna. But she just twirled her long black hair between her fingers and stuck out her tongue at him. Why Elizabeth couldn't seem to get enough of those two was beyond me.

Fortunately that's when Kristin came cruising in the door.

"Have fun, you guys," Elizabeth said as she went to sit down with her friends.

"Hi, Jessica. Sorry I'm late," Kristin said breathlessly. She flashed me a smile warm enough to break the weirdness barrier. "Come on. Let's sit down," she added.

I followed Kristin through the restaurant. But when she stopped at Lacey and Gel's booth, I stood slightly apart. I didn't know whether Kristin was planning to sit down with them or not.

"Hey, Lace! How ya doing, Gel?" Kristin said.

Lacey and Gel gazed at us for a few moments. Like they were too cool to recognize us right away. "Hi," both of them finally managed.

Kristin looked a little surprised. After all, she is Lacey's best friend. She was probably used to being greeted in a slightly more friendly way.

Lacey gave me a pointed glare, then looked at Kristin and lifted her brows as if to say, "What's this all about?"

Suddenly I realized what was going on. Lacey hadn't known that Kristin and I were having lunch together. And she wasn't happy about it.

I saw Kristin's face tighten a little. But she ignored the chill in the air. "Well, see you guys later. "

We hunted around for a booth, but all the booths on Lacey's side of the restaurant were full.

"Come on," Kristin said. "Let's see if there's one on the other side. "

"Okay," I chirped, trying to keep the mood light.

As soon as we plopped down in an empty booth in the corner, Kristin leaned forward and swiped her blond curls out of her eyes.

"So," she said, her blue eyes shining. "How are we going to get you and Damon Ross together?"

I blushed.

Da-mon is this incredibly gorgeous guy in our class. Brown hair. Blue eyes. Built like a football player--although he wasn't on any teams at school. I had a huge crush on him, but I had absolutely no idea how he felt about me.

"I don't know," I said eagerly. "I keep looking for him, you know, after track practice--like, hanging around the gym or at the mall. He's just never there. "

"I wonder what he does," Kristin mused. "He came in halfway through last year. So no one really knows that much about him. And he hardly talks to anyone either. "

"Tell me about it," I agreed. I'd been trying to talk to Damon for weeks, but something always got in the way. Usually it was my own tongue.

"Maybe he's a snob," Kristin suggested.

I thought about this. Damon a snob?

But what about the time when Damon had silently rescued me from those jerks who were trying to squirt shaving cream in my locker?

Or the time he'd helped me get Lacey's sister's toy rabbit back from some guys playing keep away with it at the mall (while Lacey stood idly by)?

Not too long ago, I'd found a note in my locker wishing me luck at a track meet. "Run fast as a rabbit," it had said. The letter could have been from anybody, and the rabbit reference might have been completely coincidental. But I was pretty sure the note was from Damon.

Damon might be totally aloof, but he was no snob.

"I don't think so," I disagreed, shaking my head. "Maybe he's just really shy. "

"He's the mystery man,

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