I So Don't Do Famous, page 1
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Text copyright © 2011 by Barbara Summy
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
I so don’t do famous / by Barrie Summy. — 1st ed.
Summary: When thirteen-year-old Sherry Baldwin’s essay wins a magazine contest, she, her father, and best friend Junie go to Hollywood, where she helps her ghost-detective mother and another ghost investigate a series of burglaries.
[1. Ghosts—Fiction. 2. Mothers and daughters—Fiction. 3. Fathers and daughters—Fiction. 4. Celebrities—Fiction. 5. Burglary—Fiction. 6. Mystery and detective stories.] I. Title. II. Title: I so do not do famous.
Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.
For the late Florence Moyer,
whose inspiration lives on
Über thank-yous …
to the very talented (and also fun!) Wendy Loggia; the remarkable Rachel Vater; the hardworking team at Delacorte Press, including Beverly Horowitz, Marci Senders, Krista Vitola and Heather Lockwood Hughes.
to Kelly Hayes and Kathy Krevat for all their input and for believing in Sherry—although I know there were days they got sick of her!
to my cyber and sometimes real-life friends Misty Simon, Maureen McGowan, Alli Sinclair, Danita Cahill and Kathy Holmes. Will we ever be all together in the same room?
to Detective Sergeant Joe Bulkowski for his expert knowledge of all things police and for being so generous with said knowledge, even when texted late at night. Any errors are mine. An additional thank-you for the great fingerprinting presentation!
to Susan Patron, an authority on Hollywood and a very nice person. Once again, any errors are mine.
to Tatiana Garcia, who let me use her magnificent name for the Hollywood Police Department detective in this story. In real life, Tatiana loves Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, has a ponytail and is smart enough to solve the mystery by chapter five. Any negative characteristics associated with Detective Garcia are figments of my imagination.
to all my friends and family who allowed me to borrow and, in many cases, mix and match their names. A shout-out to Cameron Williams for being such a good sport and a great suspect.
finally, to Mark, Stan, Stephen, Drew and Claire. I love you guys.
About the Author
Girlfriends. The mall. Clothes shopping.
Life doesn’t get much better.
The food court is noisy and echoey. A ribbon of sun streams in from the skylight and bounces off the plastic lid of my soda. My elbow brushes against the mountain of shopping bags piled on the plastic seat next to me.
“Who has money left?” Brianna swishes a fry through a puddle of ketchup.
Junie wrinkles her nose to push up her glasses. “Probably only Sherry. She’s the best shopper.”
“Like twenty dollars,” I say. I’m an expert bargain hunter. I have to be, given that I probably get the measliest allowance of any thirteen-year-old in Phoenix. “But I’m really tempted to go back to Trendy’s for that red swimsuit cover-up. It’s only the end of July, and I could definitely use it around the pool.”
“I wish I could wear red.” Junie sighs. “But with this hair”—she hooks a few carroty strands behind her ear—“and these freckles”—she points to her face—“my color options are severely limited.”
Junie’s always been fixated on math and science and earning large quantities of As. She even got the award for the highest GPA last month at our seventh-grade end-of-the-year assembly. Recently, though, she branched out to my world of makeup, clothes and guys. Yay!
“At least you’re not stuck with an oblong-shaped face. The next thing I spend money on is a haircut. Up to here.” Brianna holds her hands flat at the level of her chin. “Saguaro Middle School counts on the eighth-grade girls to set the standard for fashion and beauty. No way I’m showing up looking like a horse.”
“I’m growing my hair out,” Junie says. “I’m totally broke.”
“Too bad you two don’t have a regular summer babysitting job like me.” Brianna tilts the fries container in my direction. “I always have money coming in.”
I grab a fry and peek at Junie, whose lips turn up in the teeniest smile. Because we’ve been best friends since beginner swimming lessons years ago, we can pretty much read each other’s minds. Yes, we’re polar opposites in that she’s all studious and grade-oriented, while I’m a social butterfly and middle-school fashionista. But I still know exactly what that little smile means: You may have money, Brianna Barnes, but we have love. And it’s true. The bulk of the bags perched next to me are evidence of Brianna’s steady income. But no height of shopping bags equals the amount of fun Junie and I are having chilling with Nick and Josh.
Josh Morton. Just thinking that name warms up my insides like a bowl of my stepmother’s (aka The Ruler’s) spicy lentil soup. Josh and I have been together for a little over four glorious months. He’s a water polo player with the cutest chlorine-bleached hair and Lake Havasu blue eyes. He’s crazy for music and video games and me. Josh goes to McDowell High School in the fall, which makes me frown because we won’t be passing each other on campus anymore. Still, I’ll be dating a high school guy!
Junie and Nick are newer to the couples scene. I’ve always had a bit of a problem with Nick and his nerdiness and sarcasm, but we’re getting along better now.
My cell phone rings. A number I don’t recognize is on the screen. My index finger hovers over the
Brianna rolls her eyes. “Just answer it.”
“Hello,” I say.
“Hi,” says a female voice. “I’m looking for Sherlock Holmes Baldwin.”
“This is Dear Elle from Hollywood Girl magazine.”
My heart stops. Dear Elle? The love advice columnist who knows anything and everything about relationships? From the magazine I read without fail every month?
“Hello? Are you there?” Dear Elle asks.
My heart is still in jammed mode, but my vocal cords kick into gear. “I am,” I say in a raspy, nervous voice.
“Well, Sherlock, I’m calling to say congratulations! Your essay on true love won first place in the Hollywood Girl contest.”
Emotion bubbles from the tips of my fuchsia-painted toenails through my legs, swirls around my stomach and my chest, then rushes up my throat to my mouth, where it bursts forth in a big scream.
Both Junie and Brianna jump up from their side of the table and dash to me. “What is it? What’s going on?”
My hands flutter and flap in the air. “I won. I won. I won.”
“That’s right,” Dear Elle says. “You won a week in Hollywood for you, your legal guardian and a friend. All paid for by the magazine. Also, there will be a special dinner at the Roosevelt Hotel, honoring you and various magazine employees.”
“I won. I won. I won.” I can’t seem to turn myself off.
“I’ll need to go over the details with your legal guardian,” Dear Elle says.
I take a deep breath and manage to give her my home phone number. Before disconnecting, Dear Elle compliments me on my essay and my understanding of true love. She explains that the essay and my photo will be in the next issue and posted even sooner on the magazine’s website.
“I’m looking forward to meeting you!” she says, clicking off.
“My essay on true love won first place in the Hollywood Girl contest!” I blurt out to my friends.
“Awesome!” Junie says.
“I can’t believe I was just talking to Dear Elle. I just can’t believe it.” My hands are a flapping blur.
The people at the table next to us pick up their trays and move.
“So, you’re like a love expert?” Brianna says. “Tell me something from your essay.”
“Like what? It’s five hundred words long.” I chew on my lip. “How about this?” I clear my throat. “ ‘Love shows up when you least expect it. Like a pop quiz.’ ”
“Ooooh, that’s heavy,” Brianna says.
“Thank you.” My hands settle on the table.
“Too bad you didn’t think to ask Dear Elle about your relationship with Josh,” Brianna says. “Perfect opportunity. You wouldn’t have to wait for the answer to be published.”
“What?” I stare at her. Brianna has a way of tossing stuff into a conversation like she’s throwing a ball through a window. “Why would I have questions about Josh?”
“I vaguely remember reading about the contest when I borrowed a stack of your magazines.” Junie sips her drink. “What’s the prize again?”
“A trip to Hollywood for a week! For me, a parent and a friend! And I get to go to an awards dinner with Dear Elle!”
“A trip to Hollywood!” Junie’s eyes flash with excitement.
“I wonder what diamond she’ll wear at the dinner.” Brianna pops another fry in her mouth.
“I wish I’d asked her that,” I say. Dear Elle always wears a diamond when she’s out in public because a diamond is the universal symbol for true love, and she’s the ambassador.
“Who’ll take you?” Junie asks. “The Ruler or your dad?”
“The Ruler, I’m assuming. In a million years, I can’t see my dad missing work for Hollywood and an award about true love.”
“Too bad you can’t take two friends.” Brianna stares down at her nails, picking at the polish. “Anyway, I committed to this dumb babysitting job, and it goes the whole way to the end of August.”
“For me”— Junie’s face is flushed—“the Hollywood trip is perfect timing. Stars! Fame! Fortune!” She holds her hands up, framing each word.
I nod, waiting for her to make sense.
“Exactly what the students want to read,” Junie says. “Exactly.”
“What students?” Brianna and I ask together.
“At school.” Junie picks up her deep-fried cheese on a stick. “Where I’m the new editor of the online paper.” She waves the cheese. “I’ll kick off the school year with stories and photos from our trip to Hollywood. I’ll research L.A., Hollywood, Beverly Hills, celebrities, tourist attractions, trivia! I’ll know everything there is to know before we leave! This will be the strongest September our paper has ever seen!”
I’ve never heard Junie talk so fast. Or with so many exclamation points.
I watch while she nibbles along the edge of her cheese. I am not feeling good about what I’m going to say next. I’m feeling a little guilty. Maybe even a lot guilty. But Junie is a good friend. Surely she’ll understand where I’m coming from. If not today, then tomorrow.
“Junie”—I reach across the table and place a hand on her shoulder—“the essay is actually about true love. Not true friendship.” I take a deep breath. “When you look at it that way, don’t you think this would be the coolest, most romantic trip to take with Josh?”
Up in my bedroom, I flip open the lid of my aquarium and sprinkle in fish food. My two beautiful bala sharks, Cindy and Prince, zip to the flakes. Their scales glitter and gleam. They’re happy and well fed and in love. Sometimes I envy their simple life.
My chest feels tight, like a huge rock is squishing it. At the mall, when I said I was taking Josh to Hollywood, Junie’s face turned white and splotchy. Even Brianna lost her chattiness.
I called Josh while I was walking home, but he didn’t pick up. I didn’t leave a message, because I want to hear his reaction to the big news. I’m guessing polo practice ran over. Josh is already working out with the high school team. He doesn’t miss a chance to stay late to help clean up the deck. He’s trying hard to make a good impression on the coach.
I flop down on my bed. Lying on my stomach, my chin resting on crossed elbows, I text him.
I stare at the fish. “Maybe Josh’s phone is charging,” I say to Cindy as she whisks by. “He’s bad about letting the battery run down.” Her scales gleam and glisten. “What should I do?”
With a flick of her almost translucent tail, she chases Prince through the little castle at the bottom of the tank. I can tell she’s thinking what I’m thinking.
Call his house phone.
“Hello?” Vicki, Josh’s mom, answers. She’s a hairdresser with hip highlights, the best nails and a talent for walking in three-inch-high heels. She’s super friendly and gabby.
“Hi, it’s me. Sherry, that is.” And then my words trip all over themselves in a hurry to let the world know about my amazing prize. “I just won a trip to Hollywood! By entering an essay I wrote!”
“Cool beans!” Vicki says. “Does Josh know?”
“Let me give you to him. He’s right next to me. That is so exciting, Sherry.” Her voice fades a little, but I can still hear her clearly. “Josh, stop playing games on your phone. It’s Sherry with great news.”
“Yeah?” he says.
In that one word, I can tell Josh isn’t in a great mood. I’m very in tune with people and their emotions. This is probably what helped me write an intelligent, intuitive essay on love. Lucky for Josh, I have the news that will completely change his mood.
“Are you sitting down?” I ask. “You will not believe this.”
“What?” Josh says.
“So, I wrote
“Wow,” Josh says. “Congrats.”
“Guess what the prize is?” But I’m too excited to wait for his guess and barrel on. “You. Me. Hollywood. Palm trees. The Walk of Fame. The wax museum.” I pause for a breath. “Well, all that and The Ruler, too.”
“We need to leave in about a week. To be there for the awards dinner,” I say. “We are going to have the most fabulous time!”
“I don’t know, Sherry—”
I stop him right there because I have a bad feeling, like too much of The Ruler’s heavy, bricklike wheat bread is digesting in my stomach. I don’t want Josh to say anything about how it might be impossibly tough to talk our parents into the trip. No. That kind of negative thinking is better left in your head and not given a voice in the outside world.
“Josh,” I say, “let’s meet at Jazzed-Up Juice and come up with a strategy for getting our parents on board. My treat.”
Good thing I hung on to that twenty dollars.
I brush my hair, reapply lip gloss and walk back to the mall. Over the years, it’s like I’ve worn my own personal path from our front door to the entrance of the Phoenix Mall.
Once inside the big glass doors, I head to Jazzed-Up Juice. It’s a smallish restaurant close to Video World and across from the food court. Pretty popular with the middle-school crowd, it’s sort of our date place. Josh and I have shared gallons of smoothies here. We even have our table, in the back corner.
Josh beat me, probably because he skateboarded over. He’s already seated, drumming his fingers on the tabletop, staring off into space.
Just watching him, my heart expands until it’s bumping against my rib cage.
He looks up. His azure Camel’s Breath band T-shirt picks up the blue in his eyes. He sees me. And offers up a wan smile. Yikes. He really is in a crummy mood. I wonder if something went down at polo. Well, one thing’s for sure. He’ll be feeling way better in a few minutes. Most problems in life can be fixed with a smoothie, my sense of humor and a trip to California.
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