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Authors: Trudi Trueit

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“Nice catch,” said Breck, dropping his hand.

“You too,” I said, my cheeks getting warm. I held up the bag of candy. “You want to split them?”

Breck jumped down a row and scooted in between Liezel and me.

Don't think I didn't see the look that passed between Liezel and Fawn when I poured a few jelly beans into Breck's hands, which, by the way, weren't at all what I'd expected. They weren't dirty or crusty or covered with warts. They looked normal. Nice.

“When do you get to start painting the mural?” Breck asked me.

“In a couple of weeks. We have to wait for the scaffolding. Do you want to help?”

“Sure.”

“I've never done anything so big before, but Mrs. Wyndham says she'll help me figure out the scale.” I popped a jelly bean in my mouth. “I hope when we're all done, everybody likes it.”

Looking at his feet, Breck said, in a voice so low I almost missed it, “What's not to like?”

I was glad I didn't miss it.

The cheerleaders had finished catapulting candy into the crowd. Mrs. Gisborne was walking to the microphone at the far end of the gym, where six empty chairs had been placed in a row.

“What's holding Waffles on?” I asked, squinting.

Liezel leaned forward. “Are those yellow daisies?”

“They look like pieces of Swiss cheese?” said Fawn.

“Or mini waffles,” said Breck.

That made us laugh.

It seemed only logical that Waffles the wiglet was being held on by waffles, the barrettes.

“Good afternoon, students,” said Mrs. Gisborne, trying to juggle her notes and the microphone in the same hand. “I am pleased to announce your nominees for this year's fall court. In alphabetical order, let's welcome Évian James, Stockholm Ingebrittson, Dijon Randle, Venice Wasserman, and Renata Zickelfoos.”

Truffle had been nominated for fall court too; however, she'd been disqualified as part of her punishment for stealing Dijon's crown. Fortunately, Truffle had immediately confessed when she'd been confronted with the evidence. She'd also said she hadn't meant to get Adair into trouble. She'd acted out of anger.
Needing a quick place to stash the tiara, she'd found Adair's locker, well, handy. Still, you couldn't overlook the fact that Truffle didn't admit anything until she'd gotten caught, which was pretty slimy. I guess she was afraid of being kicked off the cheer squad. She
should
have been kicked off too, in my opinion. However, her parents made a big stink over it, and even brought in their attorney, so Truffle got to remain a Big Mess cheerleader. Didn't it just figure?

Everybody clapped as the girls came out in a line and stood next to their chairs. Wearing identical cheer outfits, Évian, Stocklifter, Dijon, and Venice looked like quadruplets. But it was Renata who stole the spotlight. She had on a cherry-red T-shirt dress with three-quarter-inch lace sleeves, black sandals, and a chunky, red bracelet. Her reddish-brown hair was pulled back into a sleek, straight ponytail. Renata looked like a high-fashion model!

I nudged Fawn to tell her “good job.”

“It was her idea,” she said, shrugging. “She wanted to stand out.”

Parker let out a whistle. “Go, Renata!”

Renata waved sheepishly to the crowd.

“It's my privilege to announce your princesses and
queen,” said Mrs. Gisborne. Behind her, Adair and the cheerleaders stood next to a table with three crowns and three bouquets of white roses. Alan Dwyer was kneeling off to one side, taking photos for the newspaper and yearbook.

I crossed all my fingers and all my toes. Closing my eyes, I prayed with every corpuscle of my being.

Oh please, oh please, oh please, let her win something! She doesn't have to be queen, but let her be a princess.

I opened one eye to discover Liezel and Fawn were doing the same thing.

Mrs. Gisborne opened the envelope. “Your first princess is . . .”

Oh please, oh please, oh please . . .

“Évian James.”

My heart slipped. There was only one princess spot left. We applauded as Adair put a crown on Évian's head—a
fake
crown. Cadence handed her a bouquet. Évian seemed surprised—glad, but surprised.

Mrs. Gisborne ripped open the second envelope. “And your other fall princess is . . .”

I rocked back and forth.

Oh please, oh please, oh please . . .

“Renata Zickelfoos.”

We leaped into the air, screaming and hugging and stomping and screaming some more! Renata looked like Mrs. Gisborne had just zapped her with a stun gun, but she managed to remain upright long enough for Adair to pin the crown to her head. Renata was crushing her roses to her chest, as if she feared someone might try to take them away.

Don't worry, Renata. They're all yours.

When we'd finished cheering, I had lost most of my hearing and all of my voice. I also noticed that, somehow, my hand was in Breck's hand. I wasn't quite sure how it had happened. But he didn't let go. And so I didn't either. It could work out, a relationship between a Somebody and a Nobody, right?

A few minutes later Dijon was crowned fall queen. Naturally. Some things never change.

But some things do.

I have the evidence to prove it.

There's a photograph hanging in my locker of Dijon, Évian, and Renata standing shoulder to shoulder in the gym, proudly wearing their crowns and holding their white roses. The headline above them reads “Fall Court Reigns Supreme.” Next to that photo is a picture of Liezel, singing and playing her guitar at the fall dance.
It's a little out of focus and a little dark, but the look of joy on her face is unmistakable. She was, as Liezel herself is fond of saying, a girl in the clouds. Beneath Liezel is a close-up of Adair at the first football game of the year. She is waving her pom-poms and, if I'm not mistaken, doing that hideous barking cheer that still haunts me in my sleep. That's not the only thing that haunts me. One day I'll tell Adair how she got on cheer staff in the first place. After she's been a cheerleader for a long, long time and I know she'll forgive me, I'll tell her. Someday.

Now whenever anyone insists it's impossible for things to change, I take them on a tour of the kingdom of Big Mess. First, we stop at my locker for a look at my photo collage of miracles. Then we stroll past Dijon's beauty board, which is still up, though the messages are a bit different these days. Finally, we head to the cafeteria to see my faces on the big wall. That usually does the trick.

Poof!

I've been giving that tour a lot lately.

Well, I couldn't very well stop with Renata, could I? Once you've seen row after row after row of nice, neat, never-make-trouble Nobodies, there's no turning back.
Not counting the five of us, there are 127 Nobodies in the eighth grade alone. I know because we stayed up late at Fawn's sleepover counting every single one.

Good thing my dad and I found a house this week. It has a big front porch.

One hundred and twenty-seven Nobodies.

I—we—have a long way to go.

TRUDI TRUEIT
knew she'd found her
life's passion after writing (and directing) her first play in the fourth grade.
Since then she's been a newspaper journalist, a television news reporter-anchor,
and a public relations specialist, and she's now a children's book author.
Trudi has published more than eighty fiction and nonfiction titles for young readers.
She lives in Everett, Washington, with her husband and two cats (one feisty calico and
one enormous ragdoll). Visit her website at
www.truditrueit.com
.

ALADDIN M!X
Simon & Schuster, New York
Cover designed by
Jessica Handelman
Cover illustration copyright © 2012 by Suzanne
Sales
Ages 9-13

Meet the author,
watch videos, and get extras at
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GET IN THE M!X!

HAVE YOU READ ALL THE M!X BOOKS?

TRAUMA QUEEN

THE HOT LIST

SOLVING ZOE

JUST ANOTHER DAY IN MY INSANELY REAL LIFE

THIS IS ME FROM NOW ON

FRONT PAGE FACE-OFF

D IS FOR DRAMA

ODD GIRL IN

SEEING CINDERELLA

RUBY'S SLIPPERS

NICE AND MEAN

THE SECRET IDENTITY OF DEVON DELANEY

DEVON DELANEY SHOULD TOTALLY KNOW BETTER

FOUR TRUTHS AND A LIE

RULES FOR SECRET KEEPING

JUST ADD MAGIC

TRADING FACES

TAKE TWO

DOUBLE FEATURE

CLASS FAVORITE

TOTAL KNOCKOUT

BFF BREAKUP

COMMERCIAL BREAKS #1: FAMOUS FOR THIRTY SECONDS

COMMERCIAL BREAKS #2: PICTURE PERFECT

COMMERCIAL BREAKS #3: DRAMATIC PAUSE

CANTERWOOD CREST SERIES

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to
historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names,
characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and
any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely
coincidental.

ALADDIN M!X

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division

1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com

First Aladdin M!X edition September 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Trudi Strain Trueit

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

ALADDIN is a trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc., and related
logo is a registered trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

ALADDIN M!X and related logo are registered trademarks of Simon &
Schuster, Inc.

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Designed by Karina Granda

Library of Congress Control Number 2012936751

ISBN 978-1-4424-4154-5
ISBN 978-1-4424-4155-2 (eBook)

BOOK: Stealing Popular
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