by Veronica Bartles
Release Date: 03/25/14
Sixteen-year-old Andi is tired of being a second-class sibling to perfect sister Laina. There in Laina's shadow, Andi's only noticeable feature is her pretty awesome hair. And even that is eclipsed by Laina's perfect everything else.
When Andi’s crush asks her to fix him up with Laina, Andi decides enough is enough and devises a twelve-step program to wrangle the spotlight away from Laina. After all, great hair must count for something.
Step 1: Admit she’s powerless to change her perfect sister, and accept that her life really, really sucks. OK, maybe that's two steps in one.
Step 4: Make a list of her good qualities besides great hair. There have got to be at least three good qualities, right?
Step 7: Demand attention for more than just her shortcomings, and break out of her shell. Easier said that done, but worth the effort in the long-run.
When a stolen kiss from her crush ends in disaster, Andi finds that her prince isn’t as charming as she'd hoped, and realizes she may need a new program--perhaps with less steps!
As cracks in Laina’s flawless façade begin to show, the sisters work together to find a spotlight big enough for both to shine.
The scent of buttered popcorn fills the air, and my mouth waters as I step into line with Summer and Emily to buy our tickets for Fiero Furious. I don’t see Jarod or his friends, but the movie starts in ten minutes. They’re probably already inside.
“Hey, Andi. What’s up?” Dave appears in line behind me.
“Are you following me now?” I take a half-step away from him, carefully maneuvering so that Emily stands as a buffer between us.
He laughs and points to the long line forming behind him. “I guess, if getting in line behind you means I’m following you, then I’m guilty as charged. But so are about thirty other people.”
I cross my arms and turn my back on him. “Whatever. I just think it’s awfully coincidental that you happen to show up right after we get in line.”
“You’re right. I planned it. Because it’s completely unbelievable that two random people could both want to go to the movies. On a Friday night. At the only good theater in town.”
“Hey, Dave, what’s up?” Summer asks, giving me her patented, exaggerated eye roll. I can practically hear her thoughts screaming at me. What are you so afraid of? Dave’s harmless. It’s not like he’s going to attack you right here in the middle of the mall. But she wasn’t there when Dave tried to kiss me in the coat closet after recess in fourth grade. She’d be freaked out too if some guy had been flirting with her nonstop since they were nine years old, even though she kept telling him she wasn’t interested.
Dave is totally following me. I’d bet anything that he was listening to our conversation in the cafeteria. I bet he doesn’t even like race car movies, and he’s only here because he wanted a chance to “accidentally” run into me. And if Summer can’t see what a creepy stalker he is, I’ll just have to prove it.
I give Dave a million-megawatt smile. “What movie are you going to see?”
He blushes and points to a little boy who’s probably about four years old hiding behind his leg. “My aunt and uncle are visiting, and I promised my cousin I’d take him to see Ninja Unicorn Strikes Back. He’s a little shy, so my aunt always worries that he isn’t socialized enough. Not sure that hanging out with his old cousin counts, but he’s a cool kid, so it’s all good. What are you here for?”
Very clever. Of course he’d choose a different movie, so he could pretend to be all innocent. And I have to give him bonus points for bringing along a decoy kid. I bend down and wave at the cute, little mini-Dave. “You like ninja unicorns?”
The little boy nods solemnly and releases his death grip on Dave’s pant leg.
I glance at Dave and then smile at the kid. “How long did Dave make you wait around for us to show up before you got into line?” That’s one thing Dave didn’t count on. Kids always tell the truth. He is so busted.
The little boy smiles and pats my cheek. “You have lots and lots of freckles,” he says.
I stand up quickly and cover my face with my hands. Summer and Emily are laughing so hard they’re practically rolling on the floor. “Well, it was nice meeting you,” I say and shuffle forward as the line slowly advances, leaving my friends to fend for themselves.
Dave scoops the demon kid up and closes the gap between us. “We think your freckles are adorable.” He hugs the kid. “Don’t we?”
The little boy nods. “I like freckles.”
About the Author
As the second of eight children and the mother of four, Veronica Bartles is no stranger to the ups and downs of sibling relationships. (She was sandwiched between the gorgeous-and-
insanely-popular older sister and the too-adorable-for-words younger sister.) She uses this insight to write stories about siblings who mostly love each other, even while they’re driving one another crazy. When she isn’t writing or getting lost in the pages of her newest favorite book, Veronica enjoys knitting fabulous bags and jewelry out of recycled plastic bags and old VHS tapes, sky diving (though she hasn’t actually tried that yet), and inventing the world’s most delectable cookie recipes. TWELVE STEPS is Veronica Bartles's first novel.
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