The Sweetheart Deal excerpt

  • Grades: 3–5

Skyler Hanson's palms were sweating.

Mortified, she wiped them off on her green plaid miniskirt, hoping no one at Fashion Club had noticed. Today’s fashionista outfit—black newsboy cap, enormous hoop earrings, above-the-knee white socks—was meant to attract attention. Right now, though, she wanted to hide.

She dreaded making speeches. Getting up in front of thirty girls was not her idea of fun. Sometimes she secretly wondered if she even fit in with the club. She took it more seriously than others, somehow. She brushed the thought away; of course she fit in—she was one of the leading members!

Luckily, no one was looking at Skyler. Everyone was too busy flaunting the charm bracelets and college-girl blazers they’d scored over Christmas break. It was the first meeting of the new year.

“Did everyone have a fab vacay?” Ashleigh Carr, the club president, didn’t wait for an answer. In her pin-striped vest, white blouse, and boyfriend trousers, Ashleigh looked like she should be in a Ralph Lauren ad, not a classroom at Longbrook Middle School. Her audience hung on every word.

“As you all know, I’m graduating this year, so we’ll need a seventh grader to replace me as club president.” Ashleigh brushed back a strand of long, brown hair. “Voting isn’t until March, but today we’ll meet the candidates.”

Skyler swallowed.

Fashion Club president was her dream.

Maya Benitez leaned forward, dripping with brooches, pearls, and gold chains. “No one could replace you, Ashleigh. You’re a legend.”

Ashleigh always had people kissing up to her. It wasn’t just that her family had moved to Longwood, a Chicago suburb, from California. It was the way she carried herself, tossed her hair back, and wore clothes special-ordered from a Beverly Hills boutique. She even inspired the best rumors: Ashleigh was kicked out of prep school fro a class prank; she and her friends had inspired a TV show about rich kids; a teen pop star had a crush on her.

“Let’s hear it for Ashleigh,” Maya continued, starting a round of applause. Skyler’s best friend, Julia, rolled her eyes.

“She is the coolest girl at Longbrook,” Skyler reminded Julia.

“Maybe, but you’ll be an even better president.” Julia clipped a baby barrette into her short, brown hair. Skyler loved Julia’s kooky fashion sense—the way she mixed thrift-shop finds with designer pieces. Today she wore a blue embroidered Mexican dress and white go-go boots.

“Who wants to give the first campaign pitch?” Ashleigh looked around. A redhead in a frilly headband stood up and walked to the front of the room.

“My name is Blake Tuttle,” she said. “And I’m running on an aromatherapy platform.”

Skyler and Julia exchanged glances. Blake was a space cadet.

“Girls today have to struggle with a very important question.” Blake paused dramatically. “What’s my signature scent?”

Her voice rose. “Honey and gardenia? Lime and cedar? Autumn leaves?”

Blake’s eyes got misty. “Getting dressed doesn’t stop with your clothes. The scent of change is in the air! Vote for Blake!”

  • Subjects:
    Middle School, Friends and Friendship
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