Book Excerpts

Star-Crossed excerpt

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

The last-period bell jangled through the halls of McKinley Middle School, signaling the end of the school day. A second later, the doors of the classrooms burst open, and kids flooded the halls, talking and laughing.

Abby Waterman was spinning the combination on her locker when her best friend, Chelsea Rinaldi, cam hurrying up to her, her lips pursed in a secretive smile.

"I know that look," Abby said, her long blond hair swinging over one shoulder as she turned to study her friends. "You just saw Nathan again."

Chelsea's lips stretched into a full grin that showed her deep dimples. "He looked at me for, like, three full seconds," she told Abby. "That's the third time today!

"It must be true love," Abby teased. Nathan Butcher was a seventh grader, and Chelsea had been crushing on him for almost the whole school year.

"Hey, can you come with me for a minute?" Chelsea asked Abby. "I have something I need to check."

"Now?" said Abby, putting her books into her locker. "But I have to get to track practice."

"It’ll only take a second," Chelsea told her. "You're my best friend. I need moral support."

"Okay, I guess I have a little time," Abby said with a smile. Sometimes she still couldn't believe how lucky she was to have a best friend like Chelsea. When Abby had started sixth grade back in September, she hadn't known a soul. She and Abby was usually up for new things, the first day of school had been terrifying. McKinley was much much bigger than her old school, and most of the kids seemed to already know each other. She'd been afraid she wouldn'’t have any friends—much less one as pretty and popular as Chelsea.

But her locker was right next to Chelsea's, and right away Chelsea had taken Abby under her wing. Chelsea had an instinct for how things worked in middle school, maybe because she had an older sister who'd already been through McKinley. From the beginning, Chelsea had known which tables to sit at in the cafeteria, which teachers would believe you if you said your computer ate your homework, and how to dress so you looked cool without seeming like you were trying. Abby could still remember Chelsea's first-day outfit: black Capri pants, a sleeveless striped shirt, and a cute red headband in her dark curly hair. It had looked fresh and casual, without seeming too trendy. Abby had shown up in baggy jeans, a T-shirt, and her favorite beat-up Converse low-tops. But with Chelsea's help, she’d updated her wardrobe—she still wore the sneakers, but now she paired them with stylish jeans and cute tops.

"So where are we going?" Abby asked as they walked down the hall together.

"The library," Chelsea told her.

"The library? No wonder you wanted moral support," Abby joked. Studying wasn't exactly Chelsea's thing. She was more into the three G's—Gossip, Guys, and lip Gloss—than the three R's.

The library was quiet and empty. The librarian, sorting books behind her desk, was the only person in sight. Chelsea walked right past her, making a beeline for the computers in the back of the room.

"What are you looking up?" Abby asked as they sat down in front of one of the monitors.

"My horoscope," Chelsea told her. "I didn't get a chance to check it this morning. We were late leaving for school, and Mom was on my case."

"Your horoscope?" Abby looked at her in surprise. "You really believe in that stuff?

"Totally." Chelsea was busy typing in a Web address. A moment later, a Web site came up. Little gold moons and stars floated across a deep-blue background. Across the top in scrolling gold letters it read: MIZ ASTRID BRINGS THE STARS DIRECT 2 U!

Chelsea clicked on an icon of a little ram's head. "I can't look," she said, covering her eyes. "You read it to me."

Abby didn't get what all the drama was about but she leaned over and read, "'Aries (March 21-April 20). You should have lots of mental focus today. If you’re falling behind in something, now's the time to buckle down and get to work."

"That's it?" Chelsea uncovered her eyes and read the page herself. "What a lame horoscope," she said with a sigh.

"What did you think it was going to say?" Abby asked.

"I was hoping it would say something about Nathan. After we connected in the hall today, I thought maybe today's the day! But all this is telling me is that I'd better do my math homework tonight."

"How do you get that?" Abby asked, scanning the horoscope once more.

"I'm falling behind in math," Chelsea explained. "I've already missed three homework assignments."

"Oops," Abby said. That was one big difference between her and Chelsea—Abby always did her homework. "Well, you probably should get caught up," she told her friend. "But I wouldn't worry about your horoscope. I've heard this stuff is all just a bunch of baloney."

"It is not!" Chelsea gasped, her brown eyes widening. "I swear my horoscope comes true almost every day. Like yesterday, it said 'You may have trouble with an authority figure.' And then last night my mom totally got on my case about cleaning up my room!"

  • Subjects:
    Literature, Literature Appreciation
  • Skills:
    Reading
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