Read 25 Roses Online

Authors: Stephanie Faris

25 Roses

BOOK: 25 Roses
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For my mother, Valerie Walton.

Everything I am today, I owe to you.

CHAPTER ONE

To: Stanton Middle School
From: Mia Hartley
This place could use a real-life Cupid.

I don’t ask for much on a Tuesday morning. A ride to school without listening to my big sister Kellie gabbing on the phone with her BFF, Margeaux. Maybe a few minutes where Mom actually listens to me instead of Kellie. Oh, and extra room in the backseat to set a box full of notecards to attach to chocolate roses so I don’t have to hold it in my lap all the way to school.

Unfortunately, none of those things were happening. My sister was doing the whole, “And then I said, and then she said” thing while my mom ignored my questions about dropping me off at school first. The cards in the box on my lap had to be filled out for our Valentine’s Day sale, which
was a huge deal in my school every year. I’d been selling roses for a week. Today was the last day.

Why did I have the box? Blame it on my desire to be liked. I signed up to help sell these because my BFF wanted to do it. And because if you did things like this, people knew who you were. It was nicer than being invisible, I figured.

Why was the box on my lap? Good question. Because my cheerleader-slash-homecoming-attendant-slash-most-popular-sophomore-at-Stanton-High-School sister had to have a place for her stupid science project. Which she’d probably get an A-plus-plus on because, in case it wasn’t obvious, she’s perfect—the golden child.

I, meanwhile, have never gotten a carnation, a rose, or even a pile of fake doody from a boy. Today my best friend, Ashleigh, and I would sell chocolate roses before school. Then tomorrow—Valentine’s Day—we’d hand those roses out in homeroom. That was when things would
really
get boring.

If this year was the same as last year, we’d take orders for cards, only to find they were all for the same eight people. But this year, instead of watching other people hand out the cards, it would be me and Ashleigh. We’d have to pass out roses to those same eight people while people like me,
Ashleigh, and most of the rest of seventh grade would be left sitting there, looking like nobodies.

“Mia!”

Kellie was yelling at me from the front seat. “What?” I asked loudly. If she was going to yell, I was going to yell too.

“You’ll be at the game Friday night, right?”

I frowned and wrinkled my nose. It was an automatic reaction to her “game requests.” If Kellie had been looking at me, she would have been mad. I went to six football games last fall because they were “big games.” Now it was basketball season, and a new round of “big games” was about to start. Gag.

“Friday night is movie night at Ashleigh’s,” I said. It wasn’t, but it would be. I just had to talk to Ashleigh about it.

“But it’s the biggest game of the year,” Kellie whined. “You’ll miss my back handspring.”

I’d seen Kellie’s back handspring. And her round-off. I’d also seen her back layout with half twist and every jump and split known to man. I had a pretty good feeling I knew what it looked like. Besides, after a while, all that showing off made it look like someone flopping across the gym floor to me.

“Sorry,” I said with a shrug. “I have a life too, you know.”

It was kind of a rude thing to say, but it felt really good.
A surge of adrenaline actually shot through my body when I said it. It was about time I tried to point that out to everyone because, even now, I would swear my parents think my world revolves around Kellie like theirs does.

“Mia!” Mom scolded. I’m not sure why she was whispering, since Kellie was sitting closer to her than I was. But the good news was, while my brain was working overtime trying to come up with a way to get out of this without apologizing, the car slowed to a stop and I realized we were in front of my school.

“What’s with that box?” Kellie asked. “Some supersecret spy stuff?”

I could tell she was being sarcastic, but I guess I deserved it after what I’d just said. “Valentine’s Day stuff.”

“For the roses,” Mom added. “Mia’s selling chocolate roses for Valentine’s Day.”

Kellie perked right up. “I did that once,” she said. “Ours were carnations in different colors.”

“White for friendship, red for love?” Mom asked. “We did that when I was in school.”

“What was yellow?” Kellie asked Mom. “I thought yellow was friendship.”

While they hashed that out, I opened the box and looked
inside. Stacks of cards, all ready to be filled out. We just had to sell them.

“Mia’s going to win a lock-in,” Mom announced.

I hadn’t been listening to the conversation, so I wasn’t sure how that had come up. I just kept going through my cards, making sure they were all stacked evenly.

“You mean one of those things where you spend the night in your school gym?” Kellie asked.

“This one will be at the Sportsplex,” I replied, feeling a little defensive. “There’s ice skating and pizza and all kinds of other stuff.”

The lock-in would be fun, but if anyone thought that was why I was fighting to sell more roses . . . wrong, wrong,
wrong
. Winning the lock-in would show everyone I could do something. I’d be something besides invisible for a change. I really, really wanted that.

“And Mia’s going to win,” Mom said.

“It runs in the family,” Kellie said. “Our seventh-grade class won a big pizza party–movie day when I was in charge of sales. It’s so easy to do. Tell the guys with girlfriends if they don’t buy flowers for them, their girlfriends will be mad.”

I frowned. I didn’t know very many guys with girlfriends. Even if I did, that wouldn’t work. Even in seventh
grade, Kellie had been drop-dead gorgeous. All she had to do was walk up to a boy and he’d buy all the flowers she had.

“I’ll have to give that a try,” I said. “Thanks.”

“Get your friends to buy roses for you,” Kellie said, spinning around to look at me. “I got five roses in each color. That made us
so
much money. It works. Try it.”

I stared at her for a long moment. As annoying as Kellie’s perfectness was, she was a supergood sister. How could I ever be mad at her? Plus, she seemed to have no idea that I was a total loser compared to her. She always seemed to think I should be able to do whatever she did. It was annoying—and it made me feel bad for being annoyed.

Thankfully, Mom had pulled up in front of the school by then. The good news was, Mom actually had been listening when I asked to be dropped off first.

“Gotta go,” I said, reaching for the door handle and jumping out, balancing the box under one arm as I closed the door. I took off for the school so fast my backpack bounced against my back in an almost painful way.

CHAPTER TWO

To: Ashleigh
From: Mia
Let’s sell some roses!

I slowed down as I made my way through the front door of school, but I still walked quickly, making a beeline for the cafeteria. Our table was directly facing the eighth-grade table, so we could see they weren’t selling many either. Each grade sold only to their own grade. The class that sold the most roses won.

“Hey, hey, hey,” Ashleigh said as I dropped down next to her. Besides possibly winning the day for my grade, the only good thing about all this rose-selling stuff was being able to do it with my BFF. Everyone in seventh grade was excited that we’d win a lock-in if we sold more roses than the other grades. If we won, I’d be the talk of the school.

Ashleigh, being the BFF she was, had agreed to suffer with me to help me out. She didn’t really get my obsession with winning, but I was grateful she was there.

“Hey.” My voice had much less enthusiasm than hers.

“What did Kellie do this time?” Ashleigh asked immediately.

“Kellie has a big game Friday night,” I said, deciding to skip over the part where she told me how great she was at selling flowers. Ashleigh and I shared a look. That was the awesome thing about a BFF who had been your BFF for, like,
ever
. You knew each other’s histories. You got things without having to spend an hour and a half explaining them. It saved a lot of time.

“Let me guess,” Ashleigh said. “She’s being crowned best cheerleader ever in the history of cheerleading.”

“She learned new ways to show off,” I said, shrugging. “So you’re having movie night.”

Ashleigh looked over at me, her eyes widening by the second. “I am?” Then, after thinking about it a second, she nodded. “Oh. So you can get out of going to the game.”

“Exactly.”

“Exactly what?”

That was Alex’s voice, coming from behind us. Alex was
my BMFF (best
male
friend forever). He was the only one who’d go to the trouble of finding us before school.

“Looky who showed up to help,” Ashleigh said, knowing full well he had no intention of helping. He thought all this stuff was silly.

Or at least he pretended he did.

I tilted my head to the side a little and eyed Alex suspiciously. He’d changed recently, and I couldn’t put my finger on how. He used to hang out with us all the time, cutting up and punching me in the arm every time he got the chance. Now he was always acting all “cool,” like he was suddenly better than us.

Alex picked up my notepad and started reading the names on it.

“Hey.” I reached up and snatched the notepad out of his hand. “No peeking. Those are top secret.”

He grabbed a chair and scooted it over before plopping down on it. He was sitting in the chair backward for some reason, but I knew if I asked him why, he’d just shrug and say one word:
Because
.

“Did you hang the sign?” I asked Ashleigh. We had another fifteen minutes before class. If she hadn’t hung the sign near the seventh-grade lockers, I’d have to do something
super soon. The three of us were sitting at a table in the huge cafeteria all alone.

“Yes,” Ashleigh said. “Maybe I should send myself a rose.”

She picked up the foil-covered chocolate rose we’d set out as a sample. It looked just like a real rose, with a green stem and red foil at the top. Only beneath that red foil was chocolate.

“It sucks to sit there, watching everyone else get roses,” she added.

I watched Ashleigh’s face. She looked like she didn’t care, but I knew she did. We all did. And that was why this whole thing really stunk, possible lock-in or not. It would never be fun because it would never be fair.

“Warning, warning,” Alex said softly. We both looked at him. He was staring straight ahead, where the girl I wanted to see less than anyone else in the whole universe was walking toward us. Kaylee Hooper.

I looked up to see her staring down at me. Tall and thin with a perfect nose and straight, even teeth, Kaylee was the seventh grader everyone wanted to be like. She even had a dimple on the right side of her mouth when she smiled, just like Jennifer Lawrence. I liked to think of her as Kellie 2.0.

Oh, and in case I forgot to mention it—right after I volunteered
to sell roses, Kaylee reminded us, very loudly, that last year the sixth graders sold more chocolate roses in the history of chocolate roses themselves. We got a new computer in the computer lab
and
a pizza party, which was last year’s prize. I never really thought all of that stuff could have come from selling one-dollar roses, but whatever. Maybe Kaylee put extra money in to pay for the computer and pizza party. She was head of the committee last year, so it would have made her look good.

BOOK: 25 Roses
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