Read Team Play Online

Authors: Bonnie Bryant

Team Play (4 page)

BOOK: Team Play
6.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Stevie told Starlight to walk and shortened the lunge line. When Lisa also reached them in the schooling ring, Stevie told them about her day.

“… It’s hard to believe all the things that are happening,” she finished, “but you know what? I’m really excited. I’ve always thought the hospital festival was boring and today I found out that it always
has
been boring. But Miss Fenton is sure I can make it more interesting.”

“You always have a way of making everything more interesting,”
Lisa said. “But how are you going to do it this time?”

Stevie’s eyes gleamed. “I’m not sure, you know, but I’m getting this idea, and you two can help me. See—”

“Oh, Stevie!” Max called. “I just called you at home. I want to talk to you for a minute, but I think your brother, Alex, wants to talk to you even more. Something about a bike?”

Stevie looked sheepishly at Alex’s bike propped up against the fence. “Mine’s broken,” she explained to her friends.

“Anyway, come on in here, will you?” Max asked.

Stevie handed Starlight’s lunge line to Carole. “I’ll see you in a few minutes.” She headed for Max’s office.

Veronica stopped her on her way. “Stevie,” she said, and Stevie steeled herself for something unpleasant. She was surprised at Veronica’s next words. “I just wanted to tell you that I admire you. You seem to be able to take on a lot without any worry. I know you’ll do a good job. If there’s anything I can do to help, just let me know, okay?”

Before Stevie could respond—and it would have been a long time before she could have said anything—Veronica turned and walked away into the tackroom.

Stevie thought about it as she walked to Max’s office.
What was the big deal here? After all, she was just going to be a friend to some boys and she had only committed herself to spending an afternoon doing something fun with some kids in the hospital. Why would Veronica want to be part of that? She was hardly the charitable type. Before Stevie could answer her own question, she arrived at her destination.

“At your service, Max,” Stevie announced, entering his office and taking a chair.

“I got the final schedule for the boys’ visit,” Max began. He consulted a piece of paper. “They get here on Thursday and leave late on Sunday. They will do one demonstration ride on Saturday and one on Sunday. I’d like you to think about what kinds of things you think would be fun and interesting for them to do. Then we can talk about it next week.”

“We don’t have to wait, Max,” Stevie said. “I’ve already thought about it and I made a list last night.” Stevie reached for the list in her back pocket, noting with pleasure the look of surprise on Max’s face.

“Here it is,” she said.

Max glanced at the list. He nodded. “This will do fine for the first six months of their visit, Stevie,” he said solemnly, returning it to her.

“I know, I know,” Stevie admitted. “There’s lots more there than they could possibly do, but I just thought they might like some choices, you know?”

“I know. And it’s okay. I think, however, that you can remove the tobogganing and the water slide from the list. I doubt we’ll have snow at this time of year, and I’m pretty certain it won’t be warm enough to swim.”

“Maybe they’d just like to see them?” Stevie suggested.

“Maybe they’d rather see the Washington Monument.”

“I guess.” Stevie was a little hurt that Max had complaints about her list.

“Don’t be upset,” he said quickly. “You’ve done a terrific job, Stevie. I knew you would, too. Nobody but you would have thought to suggest a riding picnic or a mock rodeo. That’s the reason I wanted you to volunteer, you know.”

“Thanks, Max,” she said.

Max cleared his throat. “There’s another rider here who seems to think that this kind of project is exactly what she ought to be in charge of.”

Stevie knew who he was talking about. “Actually, she just offered to help me in any way she could, but I think that means only if they’re rich enough or good-looking enough.” Then Stevie blushed. She didn’t mean to make catty remarks about Veronica to Max. And she felt strange talking about how good-looking boys were or weren’t with him. It was almost like talking about it with her father.

Max chuckled. “Well, I couldn’t get any financial
statements, but if you want to know how good-looking the boys are, The Equestrian Exchange—that’s the organization that’s sponsoring this visit—sent me some pictures of them. I have them here—” He shuffled through the papers on his desk.“—somewhere.” He shuffled some more. “Oh, here they are.” Max looked at the pictures before handing them over to Stevie. “On second thought, I think you’d better
not
show these to that other rider we were talking about. I suspect she might suddenly try to become your best friend.”

Stevie took the pictures from him. Max was right. These guys were definitely good-looking.

“Of course, the pictures might be touched up. The boys might not be as good-looking in real life,” Max teased.

With a straight face, Stevie told him, “The looks of a rider don’t matter. It’s skill that counts!”

“You’re right, Stevie,” Max said seriously. “But, of course, that’s only when he’s on the horse. Now, when a rider is off his horse, the ‘looks’ issue becomes a little more important, doesn’t it?”

“Maybe to somebody like Veronica diAngelo, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ll be pleased to escort these guys anywhere, anytime, on horseback, or otherwise.”

Max laughed. “Good. Now, here’s their schedule. I’ll be picking them up at the airport on the Thursday. You can come with me. I’ll take the eight-passenger van.”
Max had quite a bit more to say, but Stevie found her mind wandering a bit. She folded the schedule and put it in her pocket along with her list of activities. She couldn’t wait to get back to Carole and Lisa to let them know how cute the boys were—and how jealous Veronica was going to be!

At last Max finished talking.

“Okay, thanks, Max. I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said on her way out of his office.

Carole and Lisa were grooming Starlight when Stevie joined them. Automatically, she picked up a brush and joined in. One of the good things about horses was that they were big enough so that three best friends could groom one of them together. Starlight seemed to love the attention.

“Max just gave me the schedule for the Italian boys,” Stevie announced. “I saw their pictures. Veronica is going to scream when she sees them. She’s going to be so jealous!”

She filled her friends in on what Max had said and told them about some of the fun things she had in mind for them. She left out the tobogganing and water slide ideas.

“A picnic! I love it!” Carole exclaimed. “Oh, it’s going to be a wonderful four days!”

“It definitely is,” Stevie agreed. “Especially since a certain Veronica diAngelo is going to be furious and jealous every single minute of those four days!”

“Imagine Veronica being jealous of you—and us,” Lisa added. “It’s going to be great.”

“I’m not so sure,” Carole said. “Veronica isn’t the type to be jealous and not do anything about it. The girl will act, believe me. I don’t know what she’ll do, but it’ll be something, and it’ll be something bad.”

Stevie shook her head. “I don’t think so. Look, if she tries anything, she’ll just get in hot water with Max. I don’t think she wants to do that, do you?”

“I don’t think Max is going to be her target. I think Stevie is her target,” Carole said ominously.

“Oh, phooey,” Stevie said. “Who cares about dumb old Veronica?”

The question hung in the air.

Mrs. Reg, Max’s mother, came over to Starlight’s stall. “Oh, there you are, Stevie,” she said. “You just got a phone call. It was your brother, Alex. Something about a bicycle? It wasn’t too clear, but he said that if he didn’t get it back right away, some picture of somebody named Phil was going to disappear.”

“He
wouldn’t
!” Stevie cried.

“I don’t know about that,” Mrs. Reg said. “But he didn’t seem awfully happy.”

“Talk to you later!” Stevie said. She tossed Starlight’s brush into his grooming bucket and ran for Alex’s bike. She got on and began pumping as hard as she could to get home as fast as possible. She couldn’t let Alex rip up
her picture of Phil! Brothers were just awful. Why did she have to have three of them?

It didn’t really occur to Stevie that this situation was partly her fault, and that she’d been asking for trouble when she took her brother’s bike without asking.

If he lays one dirty mitt on that picture
, she thought grimly,
I’ll

I’ll tell every girl in his class what a gross person he really is … and
 …

It also didn’t occur to Stevie that the thoughts that were running through her head weren’t exactly appropriate for a person who had recently discovered the joys of doing things for others. Her thoughts were decidedly uncharitable.

Stevie pedaled as fast and as hard as she could. She knew it was a good thing that the roads were empty because she wasn’t being careful at all. She wasn’t paying anywhere near enough attention to things as they whizzed past her. The only thing she noticed, in fact, was a poster with a girl on it that somebody had put up on a lamppost near Fenton Hall.

Alex was standing on the Lakes’s front lawn when Stevie arrived.

“About time!” he said. “You had no right—”

“You didn’t hurt the picture, did you?” Stevie interrupted.

“No, but next time I will.”

“Sorry,” she said, handing him the bike.

“Stevie, phone for you!” her older brother Chad called out the upstairs window. “Some guy named Phil. That’s the one you’re trying to dump, isn’t it? Should I tell him you’re on a date or something?”

Since Chad was yelling loud enough for all of downtown Willow Creek to hear what he was saying, Stevie figured that Phil had probably heard him, too. One of the nice things about Phil was that he understood when things like this happened, because he had as many sisters as she had brothers.

Stevie was glad now that she’d rushed home. Otherwise, she might have missed Phil’s call. She wanted to tell him about everything that was going to happen. She reached for the phone and paused. On second thought, she decided, she didn’t have to tell him everything. Phil probably didn’t need to know how good-looking the Italian boys were.

S
TEVIE GOT AN
early start for school the next morning.
After all
, she told herself,
a person who is turning over a new leaf shouldn’t be following a lot of bad habits
. She also knew that she wouldn’t get away with being late two mornings in a row!

It was a lovely spring morning. The forsythia was in bloom and the fruit trees in people’s yards were beginning to bud. The air was clean and fresh. A cool breeze brushed through Stevie’s hair. She took a deep breath and gazed up at the clear blue sky. It was a wonderful morning to be alive. Even the fact that she was going to school couldn’t ruin it.

Stevie sighed happily. The sky was beautiful. The pale green leaves beginning to appear on the trees were beautiful.
The busy birds, flitting from branch to branch, were beautiful. The roofs of the houses, the windows, the porches, were beautiful.
Everything is beautiful
, she thought,
even the telephone pole with the
—Stevie stopped abruptly.

There it was again, the poster with the girl on it. There was something very familiar about the girl, too. Stevie squinted and walked over to it. The first thing that became clear to her were the words: FOR PRESIDENT. The next thing that became very clear was that somebody had made a bad mistake. There, in front of her, in black and white, was a picture of her. The poster proclaimed that she, Stevie Lake, was running for president of Fenton Hall Middle School.

“No way,” she told her likeness on the telephone pole. The picture didn’t answer.

Stevie felt a sudden chill, and it wasn’t from the morning air. Something very peculiar was going on. She’d decided to turn over a new leaf, not an entire tree! She took a deep breath and read the entire poster from beginning to end.

FOR PRESIDENT

[then came her picture]
STEVIE LAKE
of
Fenton Hall Middle School
A Young Girl with a Big Heart!
Voluntary Chairman of Children’s Hospital Festival
Elected Chairman of Fenton Hall Spring Fair
Go with the Best
A Vote for Stevie Is a Vote for Students!
Debates: Saturday the 28th
Election: Monday the 30th

Stevie could hardly believe what she was reading. The office of the President of the Middle School usually went to somebody with really terrific grades who spent a lot of time in the principal’s office talking about school projects. Stevie didn’t have terrific grades and, although she spent a lot of time in the principal’s office, most of it had to do with things she had to promise never to do again!

The President of the Middle School was a person who dedicated his or her time to good projects. The President was the kind of person who cared when somebody whispered in assembly. The President was the kind of person who was always ready to help somebody else, whether it was collecting canned goods for the homeless or giving a student advice on how to get along with a teacher or arranging with the phys. ed. department to have basketballs available for games after lunch.

BOOK: Team Play
6.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Space Between by Kate Canterbary
Love Her Madly by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith
Black Hats by Patrick Culhane
The Great Good Summer by Liz Garton Scanlon
Finding Kate Huntley by Theresa Ragan
Elmer and the Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett