Too Popular (Sweet Valley Jr. High No. 9)

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9780553486674: Too Popular (Sweet Valley Jr. High No. 9)

All Jessica wanted was for supercute Damon Ross to notice her. Did he? Of course not.

But Ronald Rheece, geek extraordinaire, noticed.

And he's been acting like he's her boyfriend--gross!

But nobody actually thinks he is, right? Right?!

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

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Damon

Reasons to try to ask Jessica Wakefield out again, even though the last time I failed miserably:

1. "Do or do not. There is no try."

2. I can't stop thinking about her.

3. I can't even think about trying to stop thinking about her.

4. She might say yes.


Jessica

I've almost made it, I thought in relief as I finished stuffing my books in my locker. Just two more seconds and I'll be out of here in time to escape a run-in with Ronald Rheece. Ronald is my locker partner--and not only is he a total dork, but he also has this giant crush on me. Every time he sees me, he gets all sweet and mushy and he talks so loudly. I'm really worried that one of these days someone will hear him and get the wrong idea. Because, believe me, there is no way that I would ever go out with Ronald.

I quickly threw everything I needed into my backpack and was about to head off when a scrap of paper slipped out of my English notebook and landed on the floor.

"Hey, Jessica, you dropped something!" Ronald appeared out of nowhere and lunged for the paper. Oh my God. I panicked, my heart starting to pound. It was the poem I'd written about Damon!

I gulped. "Uh . . . thanks," I told him, sticking out my hand to take the poem.

"Hey, wait," Ronald said, glancing at the paper as he picked it up. "Is this some kind of poem?" His eyes widened with interest as he read. "It's in your handwriting--did you write this?"

"Could you please give it back?" I asked sharply. I stretched my arm over to snatch the paper away, but Ronald held it out of my reach.

"But Jessica," he said, "this is really great!" His gaze shifted from the poem to me, and on his face was that adoring expression that made me cringe.

"Ronald, that's personal," I said through clenched teeth. I glanced around nervously, relieved that no one seemed to be watching us. Everyone was chattering and slamming their locker doors, rushing to get to class. If only I had come to get my books a few minutes earlier, I would have missed Ronald altogether.

"I didn't know you liked to write," Ronald continued. He peered at me with his puppy-dog eyes. (Maybe that sounds appealing, but it's not. They're just big and brown and, I don't know, wet looking.)

I inhaled deeply, trying to stay calm. So Ronald had seen the love poem I wrote for Damon. Yeah, okay, that was pretty embarrassing, but as long as I could just convince him to give it back to me before--

"'Silent Love,'" Ronald read. Out loud. Very out loud. "Your smile melts my heart . . ."

"Shut up!" I hissed. I lunged for the paper and grabbed it out of his hand, no longer caring about making a scene. Well, as long as that scene didn't involve my poem being broadcast throughout the halls of Sweet Valley Junior High.

Ronald gave me a puzzled look. "But Jessica, you should be proud of that. 'Your smile melts my heart, your voice makes it pound,'" he repeated, his voice still horribly loud. "I like that."

I knew Ronald was a genius, but I couldn't believe he'd actually memorized the stupid thing already. "Listen, I have to go--"

"'Your smile melts my heart . . .'" A high, mocking voice interrupted me. "Isn't that sweet? Jessica gave the dork a love poem."

I whirled around and saw Justin Campbell standing behind me with a big smirk on his face. His best friend, Matt Springmeier, was next to him, laughing and shaking his head.

I froze. I could see my life--or at least my social life--flash before my eyes. Justin and Matt are these really obnoxious guys who think the only way to have fun is to give other people a hard time. Justin had started calling me this annoying nickname, Lamefield, after he'd found out I was pretending my older brother was my boyfriend. That was back when Elizabeth and I had just started at SVJH after being rezoned from Sweet Valley Middle School and I had absolutely no friends. I thought having a high-school boyfriend would help me on the popularity front. But when Justin's crowd found out that Steven was really my brother, they made fun of me even more than they normally make fun of Ronald. That was a few months ago, and people were finally starting to forget about that whole thing. I'd even stopped thinking about it, now that I'd made some really cool friends like Bethel McCoy and Kristin Seltzer. But now it was coming back to haunt me.

"I--It's for English," I stammered. I glanced up at Justin's bright green eyes, the ones I actually thought were cute when I first met him. Now they just made me want to gag. "It's just an English assignment," I repeated slowly, forcing myself to breathe. I stuffed the paper into my backpack, then slung the bag over my shoulder.

"Look at that," Justin teased. He was standing pretty close to me, and I noticed that his breath smelled really bad. I struggled not to wrinkle my nose in disgust. "You wrote a poem about your dorky boyfriend," Justin went on. "Isn't that romantic?"

I felt my cheeks heat up. Then I stole a glance at Ronald and cringed inwardly at the hopeful light I saw in his eyes.

"He's not my boyfriend," I mumbled nervously. I had to get away from them--from all of them, including lovesick Ronald. "Excuse me, but I have somewhere to be," I said stiffly. I spun around and started to walk briskly toward algebra class.

I groaned softly as I heard Justin's footsteps behind me.  Didn't the stupid bully have anything better to do than follow me around?

"So your secret is finally out," Justin said as he reached my side. "Rheece the Geek and Lamefield are a hot item."

My worst nightmare was happening--it was just like the beginning of school all over again.

"Don't worry," Justin continued. "We won't tell anyone about you and the dork, Lamefield."

I shuddered as the sound of that nickname sent a terrifying chill down my back.

He laughed loudly, then turned and stalked off in the other direction, leaving me standing there in the middle of the hallway. I took a deep breath, then kept walking to my classroom, avoiding the gaze of everyone I passed.

My hands shook a little as I sank into my seat and pulled my backpack onto the desk in front of me.

I looked around as the classroom started to fill up. People were talking softly to one another as they got settled. I was relieved to find that no one was paying any attention to me.

This isn't a big deal, I tried to reassure myself. Justin and Matt will forget about it. I mean, no one would actually believe that I wrote a love poem for Ronald Rheece, right?

Thank goodness Damon hadn't been around. If he thought Ronald and I were a couple, then he'd never ask me out.

As if he's ever going to anyway, I thought in frustration.

At least no one knew that poem was actually for Damon. I couldn't even imagine what I would do if Damon found out. He won't, I thought. Nobody will find out about the poem, and nobody will think Ronald is my boyfriend.

All I had to do was go into major avoid-Ronald mode. The whole stupid rumor would be over in a second as long as I made sure I was never, ever seen with him.




Bethel

"Twenty-six. twenty-seven, twenty-eight." I stuck the pen in the top of the clipboard and set it down on the cafeteria table. "I still need twenty-two more signatures by tomorrow, Jess." I chewed my lip nervously. "I'll never make it."

"Yeah, sure," Jessica answered distractedly. She swirled her straw around in the full cup of soda that she'd been staring into and not drinking for the last twenty minutes. I'd never seen Jessica like this at lunch before. Usually she's ravenous and bursting to tell me the latest news.

"Okay," I said, leaning back and crossing my arms over my chest. "Is there a reason why you haven't listened to a word I've said?"

Jessica's face flushed, and she glanced at me apologetically At least she'd heard that comment.

"I'm sorry, Bethel," she said hurriedly, pressing her fingertips into her temples. A strand of blond hair fell over her face, and she pushed it back behind her ear. "I think it's great that you're running for class president. It's--I'm just tired." She frowned, then stirred her straw around again.

"But do you think I have a chance to actually win?" I asked anxiously, sitting forward. "I mean, what about this petition that all the class-president candidates have to fill up? I still need so many signatures."

Jessica stared across the table at me, her blue-green eyes finally focusing on my face. "Bethel, you work so hard," she said sincerely. "And you're, like, the smartest person I know . . . except for my sister, obviously."

"Don't forget Ronald Rheece," I added. "He's taking high-school classes already."

Jessica winced. "Let's not talk about him," she said.

I raised an eyebrow. "More problems with your wacky locker partner?" I teased.

She looked straight down at the table, tracing the plastic pattern with her finger. "You're gonna think it's stupid," she muttered.

I bit back a smile. Jessica cared way more about what other people thought than I did, and sometimes she did get upset over some pretty silly stuff. Still, I wouldn't be friends with Jessica if I hadn't learned that she had a lot more to her than what's on the surface. And she had the biggest heart, even if she didn't realize it. I'd never gotten over the time she'd taken my side ...

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