Never judge a book by its cover.
If you judged this book by its cover you would probably assume that it’s a mystery book, right?
If you suspected that, you’re wrong.
This is actually a love story. Well, my love story. And Jenny’s. And Thomas’. And Ada’s. And a few more people’s. And it takes place on the love story day itself:
Yeah, this whole book takes place on one day, so now you think it’ll be short and boring, right?
Again: Never judge a book by its cover.
Especially this one.
Madison was braiding.
String, that is. She was making bracelets to sell at school on Valentine’s Day, which was tomorrow.
PING! Her phone beeped.
She let go of the string and picked up her iPhone off of the table. She had gotten a text from her friend Jenny. ‘Sup? it read.
Nothing, she texted back.
U realize that Vday is in 40 sec, rite? Jenny replied.
Yea, Madison replied.
R u excited?
Bcuz I’m not in luv.
I understand i guess.
So u dont like NE1
see u 2moro then.
Madison now had a suspicion that Jenny was hiding something from her that had to do with liking someone.
And then the grandfather clock down the hallway chimed loudly. It was now officially Valentine’s Day.
Madison picked up her string again and started braiding. She tried her hardest to make herself believe that today was still the thirteenth of February, not the day of love.
She would never admit who she wanted to ask her out today.
She would never even admit that she liked someone. She was good at hiding it, because people just knew her as Madison: the nice, quiet kid who loves football and apple smoothies, not boys.
She wouldn’t admit anything.
She tied off the last bracelet and threw it into a pile of about 50 others.
At least there was one thing to keep her occupied with today.
Matt was typing.
He was working on a new story about today. Valentine’s Day.
He looked over at his clock. It was four in the morning. He could certainly not fall asleep now. He knew he would have to get up in two hours anyway. So he went back to typing, which got boring after about five minutes. He had been working on his story since midnight. That was definitely enough pages for today.
He clicked out of Word and went online, where he opened Buzz. 40 new messages were awaiting him (because he had not checked it at school, there were a lot of comments that he had missed).
He read through about thirty useless ones about brick tag, eyebrow dances, Caramelldansen, and tables pranks. And then the thirty-first popped up. It was from Jess, his girlfriend. He smiled. It read, Happy V-day every1! Cant wait for Matt and my dinner date tonight!
He clicked like and stared at his computer for a moment, thinking about her. Her profile picture looked back at him.
He couldn’t wait either.
Although, there was one other girl that caught his eye. She wasn’t incredibly pretty, but she was just so...nice....to EVERYONE! That was hard to do, Matt thought. He thought of her for a moment: her brunette shoulder-length hair and soft, grey eyes. He pictured the way she smiled at him at school, and how she had placed that bandage on his ankle when he had sprained it in third grade....
No. Stop. He had a girlfriend now. He couldn’t think that he might possibly like Ada Blackwin.
Jenny was waiting.
She was standing in front of the apartment building, looking at the parking lot. No sign of her mom yet.
This is not like her, Jenny thought. She’s a half an hour late to pick me up.
She shivered. Wearing nothing a white polo and a khaki skirt, not a jacket in sight, she was freezing in the October weather. She tried sticking her arms inside of her shirt, but that didn’t help. She pulled her arms out just as her mom came around the corner in her red Kia Soul. Jenny had always admired her mom’s style when it came to cars. Instead of a minivan, she had a bright and bold square car.
When she hopped in, she tried to ask her mom why she was late, but Maroon 5 was blasting so loud that Jenny’s mom couldn’t hear her.
“MOM!” she finally screamed louder than the music, and her voice cracked.
Her mom reached for the knob to turn the music down. “What? I couldn’t hear you,” she said.
“I asked you why you were late to pick me up,” Jenny said.
“Oh,” her mom said. “I was enjoying a nice organic all-natural smoothie with Mrs. Dolan across the street and I lost track of time, I guess. Oh, dear, Happy Valentine’s Day!”
Jenny sighed. “At six in the morning, mom? And thanks,” she said.
“It’s not bad to be an early riser, Jennifer,” she said, and her eyes shifted to Jenny’s bare arms.
Jenny’s mom sighed. “We have got to get you a new jacket,” she said. Jenny’s white jacket that she had gotten a few weeks ago had had organic orange juice spilled on it that was apparently permanently staining.
Jenny’s mother pulled out of the parking lot and around the corner, and turned onto the highway.
“Mom,” Jenny asked. “What time is it?”
“It’s 6:30, sweetie,” she said.
“Yes!” Jenny should, pulling her laptop out of its case. “They should be posted!”
“What?” Jenny’s mom asked.
“Our partners for that mini project that we’re doing tonight at six, remember?”
Jenny’s mom gasped. “I forgot about it completely! We have to get you all ready.... maybe you’ll agree to wear some more mascara than usual...”
“Mom!” Jenny said. “It’s just a school activity! No need to get fancy!” Jenny felt that her mom wanted everything to be pretty all of the time. Just for school, Jenny had to curl her hair, wear makeup, and wear earrings that had to have at least three layers of dangles.
“I know, sweetie, but there’s never an excuse to not look your best,” she said.
Jenny opened her computer and turned it on. She got onto Safari with no problem (for some reason, her computer could connect to a Wi-Fi network almost anywhere) and opened up her school page. The names were posted on the front page.
“Here they are!” Jenny said. “Let’s see…ta ta ta…aw…” Jenny felt like her whole shop was shutting down. She clenched her fists.
“What’s wrong?” Jenny’s mom asked.
“I’m paired with James,” she said.
James was angry.
For one thing, he was riding on a crowded city bus with no one to talk to.
Another thing: he was missing a shoe.
Another thing: he was partners with Jenny.
Jenny was his enemy. She had accidentally spread rumors that he had picked his nose in fourth grade (which so wasn’t true!), and they had been enemies ever since. They hadn’t even spoken a word to each other in almost three years. And there was that little thing haunting him about her....
He couldn’t work with her. It would end in an all-out fight.
And he might be kicked out of the group.
Stop it, James, he thought. You might jinx it.
The bus came to a halt outside of the school. “All students of Ashton Middle School may exit the bus at this time,” said the voice over the intercom.
James and two other people stood up. One was Thomas, James’ best friend (who James had not even realized was on the bus). He had dark hair that hid one eye and a pale complexion. The other was a girl with very long brown hair and green eyes. Madison.
Thomas walked over to James. “Guess what?” he said.
“What?” James said. “No...let me guess....um.....nah, I got nothing.”
Thomas smiled. “I think I’m going to ask Madison out today,” he said, his eyes shifting, probably making sure that she was not still on the bus.
“Good luck with that, man,” James said.
Thomas raised his eyebrows. “Are you saying that you think she’ll turn me down?” he said.
James shrugged. Thomas playfully punched him in the arm.
“So,” Thomas said. “What’s up with you?” They stepped off the bus and onto the pavement.
James looked down. “I’m missing a shoe,” he said.
“That’s interesting,” Thomas said, smiling. “Come on! It’s Valentine’s Day! Why aren’t you happy?”
“Because Valentine’s Day isn’t a day to be happy about,” James said. “It’s a day to have happy couples make you envious.”
“Ah,” Thomas said, a smile coming across his face. “You like someone, then?” He nudged James with his elbow.
James shrugged. “I guess,” he mumbled.
“Come on,” Thomas said. “Tell Thomas. Please?”
James mumbled something so low that neither of them could understand it.
“What?” Thomas asked.
“Jenny,” he whispered.
Ada was thinking.
She was the only one in homeroom that Friday morning, Valentine’s Day. Stuffed inside her jeans and jacket pockets were 34 homemade valentines that she was ready to hand out to her friends.
She had already stuck one inside of Matt’s locker, along with a fake rose that she had bought on her way home from school at the dollar store. She hoped that when he looked at it, he would recognize her handwriting and ask her out...
...and they would live happily ever after.
But it probably wouldn’t happen.
But there was still a chance that it would.
Her thoughts were broken by the sound of someone knocking on her desk. She opened her eyes and saw that many more kids had come in. How long had she been thinking? And then she looked up, and there was Matt and Jess.
Oh, how Ada hated Jess.
And it wasn’t just because she was dating Matt....
No, wait. It was.
“Hi, Ada,” Matt said. Jess scowled behind him. Ada looked down a little and started crying on the inside when she saw their hands interlocked.
“Hello,” Ada said softly. She hoped that she wasn’t blushing.
“What’s up?” he asked.
She shrugged. “Happy Valentine’s Day,” she said.
“Yeah, I guess. Listen, Jess and I came here because she wants to give you a valentine.”
Ada raised her eyes in suspicion. Why would Jess want to give her a valentine.
Jess smiled (which Ada could tell was totally fake) and pulled a pink card out of her pocket and handed it to Ada.
“Thanks,” Ada said, doing her best to look happy. She tried so hard to be nice to everyone...but that was really hard to do when it came to Jess.
“Okay, see you around!” Matt said, smiling. And then he and Jess walked out of the room, still holding hands.
Ada looked back at the pink card. It had one silver heart on the front of it. She opened it up. Inside were five words in neat handwriting:
Back off Matt. He’s mine.
She could feel a tear sliding down her cheek.
And then Matt appeared in the door. “By the way, I got an annonymous valentine today. Do you know who it’s from by any chance?”
Ada wanted to tell him so bad that it was her, but instead she said, “No.”
And then Matt shrugged and disappeared, and Ada buried her face in her hands and let the tears pour out.