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Authors: Kristina Springer

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BOOK: Just Your Average Princess
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I look at the people sitting on either side of the aisle as Milan pulls me to the front. There's the Spinelli family. The twins see me and point. I wave with my free hand. And oh wow, Dilly did come. She was supposed to babysit her little brothers today. She's sitting with Sara. Sara is staring at my hair in horror. All her work destroyed. I reach up and touch one of my pigtails. “I'm sorry,” I mouth to her. We're almost to the stairs and I see the middle school librarian in one of the chairs on my left. Everyone in town really is here. And yikes, my parents have spotted us. But I wouldn't say they look mad. Surprised maybe.

Milan starts to ascend the stairs and I plant my feet firmly. Well, as firmly as I can. “No,” I say. “I'm not going up there. Look at me, Milan.”

Milan looks at my overalls and pale pink T-shirt and shrugs. “You're the one who put that on. Let's go.” She gives one last big tug and I half fall, half walk up the stairs onto the stage.

The contestants are giving me puzzled looks and I bite my bottom lip. I can't explain why I'm up onstage ruining their big moment right now. The most I can do is try to sneak off. Milan's grasp on me has loosened and I make a break for the back of the stage.

“Not so fast,” she says, looping an arm through mine and pulling me into the line of girls with her. “Sorry, Mayor,” she says. “You can continue.”

The mayor is standing in the center of the stage with the microphone poised under his chin. He's giving us a strange look. “Um, okay,” he says, and turns to face the crowd. “Let's get on with announcing Pumpkin Princess, then.”

I turn sideways and try to hide myself partially behind Milan. I don't know what Milan is doing, but I feel completely ridiculous up here in front of the town like this.

“We have carefully tabulated the votes, and this year's Pumpkin Princess is—” the mayor begins.

“Hold it,” Milan shouts out, and walks up to the mayor. “I'm sorry, Mayor, I guess I was lying before when I said you should continue. I have to say something.” She pulls the microphone from his unresisting hand. I think he's in shock. The people in the audience are probably thinking it's typical Hollywood bad behavior to do something so rude as interrupt the crowning of Pumpkin Princess.

I look at it as my cue to get the heck off the stage. I start for the back of the stage again when Milan's voice booms over the speaker system.

“Jamie Edwards, you stop right there.”

Aw geez. Did she have to do that? I turn around and face the audience again. I try to smile.

“I'd like to officially drop out of the Pumpkin Princess contest,” Milan announces, and there are several gasps in the audience. “I know, I know,” she continues. “Only minutes ago I told you how much of an honor it would be for me to represent your town. And I wasn't lying about that, it would be a
huge
honor. I've come to love Average. But”—she takes a deep breath—“there's someone who loves Average even more. I don't deserve to represent your town. If you want someone who is hardworking, and true, and confident in herself, someone who
is
Average, Illinois, then you want my cousin Jamie Edwards.” Milan swings her arms out in my direction.

Oh my God. I'm so touched! And embarrassed. And minorly horrified. But mostly touched. I can't believe she just did that. I feel tears spring to my eyes and I can hear the audience cheering. I walk to Milan and give her a big hug. “Thanks, Milan. That's the nicest thing you've ever said about me,” I whisper in her ear.

“I mean it,” she whispers back.

The mayor steps up to Milan and plucks the microphone out of her hand. “Done now?” he asks. He looks irritated. I don't think he liked Milan's interruption too much.

Milan nods and puts a confident arm around my shoulder.

“Like I was saying before, this year's Pumpkin Princess winner is…”

I hold my breath.

“Molly Jenkins.”

My eyebrows shoot up. Oh! Molly! She's perfect.

“What? The girl with the unibrow?” Milan says a bit too loudly.

“Milan!” I scold.

Milan gives me a sheepish look. “I mean, yay.”

I can't help it, I start to giggle. And Milan joins me. I can't believe for even a second either of us thought I could be crowned Pumpkin Princess after not even participating in the contest and charging up here at the end in my work clothes. It's ridiculous.

The mayor looks at us and I bite the insides of my cheeks to keep from laughing. Milan and I watch as he places the green rhinestone stem on top of Molly's head and the crowd claps. I scan the audience until I see Molly's mom, and her brothers and sisters bouncing up and down in their seats clapping for their big sis, and I wave at them.

When it's over, Milan and I head for the steps. On the way down from the stage Milan says, “Hey, Jamie, you want to go throw corn at people?”

I smile. “Not just now. I'm off to get one of those fancy lattes.”

 

25

Best latte ever. It'll become “our drink.” We'll serve lattes at our wedding. Years from now I'll be sitting at the kitchen table with our grandchildren, telling the story of how we went for lattes on our very first date. I'll show them the plastic coffee stirrer that I've saved all these years and they'll aw at their romantic ol' gran.

Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself. But it was a darn good coffee. I ordered the large so Danny and I could spend as much time as possible together and I tried my hardest not to do or say anything lame. Well, except for one small thing. I did mention that YouTube video of the cat that can sing “La Bamba” and after I said it I thought, “Wow, I could have come up with something much better to talk about.” But he said it sounded interesting and he'd definitely check it out. So maybe it wasn't the lamest thing ever. And he
is
picking me up to go to the cineplex in half an hour for our second official date.

I pick up my dark eyeliner pencil and line my right eye again, trying to make it look more like the left. Hmm. Looks pretty straight, I think. Corner to corner at least. This wearing makeup thing isn't so bad once you get used to it.

Milan walks into my bedroom and flops onto my bed. “Excited about your date?” she asks. I smile at her. Things have been going good with us. I wouldn't say they're perfect. She still has her snippy moments and I'm sure I still have my annoying moments for her. But we're both trying and so far it's been really nice.

“Borderline delirious,” I reply, and she laughs. Pumpkin season technically ended this week, but Milan is still living with us. Mom talked to Uncle Jack and Aunt Annabelle and they said that Milan could stay with us for the rest of the school year. Yep, Milan Woods is now attending Average High School. And loving it! And not that I'd ever tell Milan this but I'm loving it too. I'm going to get to see what it's like to have a sister after all.

“You two do make a sweet couple,” she says.

I blush. I think we make a sweet couple too.

“You're not going to do your eyes like that, are you?” she asks suddenly, and I shake my head. Though I totally planned on leaving my eyes exactly like I have them. She sighs. “Here, let me help.” She heads for the pile of makeup on my desk and pauses in front of my window to peer out.

“Paparazzi?” I ask sympathetically. They sure have been driving Milan nuts the last couple of weeks since they discovered she was living here with us.

She nods. “They're thinning out though. Only a couple of them are hanging around still. And they'll get bored soon enough. Soon as the next Hollywood celebrity gains ten pounds or the next sex scandal hits.”

I think about her dad's affair with that young actress and wonder if she's thinking about it too. It hasn't hit the papers yet, but it's likely only a matter of time. I wonder if she's furious with her dad or worried about her mom. If she misses one or both of them or if she misses home and her friends. But she doesn't seem to want to talk about it yet. Any of it. She hasn't even mentioned her parents once actually. Not since she found out that she could stay with us. I'm sure she's dealing with everything as best as she can and when she's ready to talk I'll be here.

Milan wipes my face with a makeup-removal pad and redoes my makeup from top to bottom. I think she's being a bit dramatic—my makeup wasn't that bad. I thought I had a good handle on the blush, personally. But if it makes her happy I'll let her show me again how to do it.

She puts the finishing touches on my lips, a quick swipe with a glittery gloss—for lips that beg to be kissed, she tells me, and I can feel my cheeks flush again. I'd
love
to kiss Danny but I'm not sure we're there yet.

I hear Danny's truck rolling up outside and I stand and tug at the bottom of my sweater. “Do I look all right?” I ask Milan.

I see her eyes narrow like she's about to say something like “Yeah, for a country girl,” but she presses her lips into a smile instead. “Yeah, you look great. Have a wonderful night.”

I walk out to the living room to meet Danny, and see my mom standing at the door talking to him. I don't see Dad anywhere though. He must be holed up in his office. He probably can't even bear to think of me dating, let alone get the visual.

“You have her back at a decent time now, okay, Danny?” Mom says, trying to look serious.

“Promise,” Danny says, and nods.

He holds the screen door open for me to pass by him and we head for his truck. My right hand fidgets with the purse strap on my shoulder. I've never carried a purse before and it feels weird. But Milan said I had to bring one so I have someplace to put my lip gloss in case I need to reapply. Which I hope I don't. It's hard keeping it in the lines on my lips. She also said I had to stop carrying my cell phone in my back pocket and that I should put it in my purse too. She said no one looks good with a lumpy butt. And I guess I'd have to agree with that.

We walk silently down the gravel driveway to his truck, our feet kicking up rocks with each step. I'm about to ask him what movie he wants to see tonight when I feel his hand slip into mine. And I think my heart may explode. His hand is large and warm and a little rough with calluses from the work he does, but I don't care. It could feel like grade-fifty sandpaper and I wouldn't mind one bit. It's perfect. I glance up at him and he looks down at me and smiles. And I go for it. I'm not sure where it comes from but I tug him toward me, step up on my tiptoes, and kiss him. And he kisses me back. All these years of waiting and I've finally decided I don't have to wait anymore.

Acknowledgments

If I could, I would give a green rhinestone stem to the following people:

Janine O'Malley, my fabulous editor

Kerry Sparks and Elizabeth Fisher, my awesome agents

Deena Lipomi and Mandy Morgan, my fantastic critique partners

And to my wonderful family and friends for their continuous love and support

Thanks, guys!

Also by Kristina Springer

My Fake Boyfriend Is Better Than Yours

The Espressologist

 

Copyright © 2011 by Kristina Springer

All rights reserved

First edition, 2011

macteenbooks.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Springer, Kristina.

Just your average princess / Kristina Springer.

    p.    cm.

Summary: Working in her family's pumpkin patch every year, seventeen-year-old Jamie has dreamed of two things—dating co-worker Danny and being crowned Pumpkin Princess—but her beautiful and famous cousin Milan's visit may squash all of her hopes.

ISBN: 978-0-374-36150-1

[1.  Interpersonal relations—Fiction.   2.  Pumpkins—Fiction.   3.  Cousins—Fiction.   4.  Farm life—Illinois—Fiction.   5.  Illinois—Fiction.]   I.  Title.

PZ7.S7684575Jus 2011

[Fic]—dc22

2010036250

eISBN: 978-1-4299-6986-4

BOOK: Just Your Average Princess
12.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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