Read A Whole Lot of Lucky Online

Authors: Danette Haworth,Cara Shores

A Whole Lot of Lucky

Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

List of Things I Need

Acknowledgments

Also by Danette Haworth

For Michelle, and all the adventures we had
that Mom still doesn't know about

Chapter 1

I didn't do it.

I am innocent.

I know convicts say that even when they're guilty, but I'm telling you the truth. At 3:05 today, I didn't mean to push Amanda on her bike so hard that she sailed off the curb and fell splat on the road in the pickup line after school. Thank God Mrs. McCrory had just paid the garage to tune up her Honda. That van stops on a dime now (and hardly even came close to hitting Amanda).

If you're the type of person who judges people guilty instead of presuming them innocent, you should put this book down and walk away. Don't even look back. But if you're still reading this—and I know you are because there you are and here I am—then you're the type of person who likes to know the truth, and that's just what I'm going to tell you.

“How do you like my new bike?” Amanda had asked, running her fingers along the pink, thickly padded seat. “It's got twelve speeds.” She'd made a special trip to my house Sunday afternoon. Her shiny blond hair was still pinned back on either side in her church barrettes, but she'd changed from her dress into capris and a green top. Usually, I rode to her house after church, so that's how I knew she was showing off. A new bike—it wasn't even her birthday.

I stepped out from the chilly shadow of the house into the warm brightness of the day. Florida sunshine is at its best in February. Your feet feel like blocks of ice in the morning, but your toes are sticking out of sandals by lunch. The air is light and sends ribbons of sunshine through your window, inviting you to come outside and play.

Amanda stood by me as I took in the glittery seat, the tangle of wires that allowed for speed and braking, and the rainbow-colored monkeys she'd already clipped to the spokes. The frame was pink and white with black lightning striking the sides. “Nice,” I said. “Can I ride it?”

Her gaze flitted over to our garage. Bougainvillea vines crept up the outside of it and wove green tendrils through the fraying net of the basketball hoop. Huge bunches of purpley-pink explosions hid the thin white paint of the cinder blocks. Occasionally, Dad cut the branches with his hedge trimmers, but those vines
ran wild at night, growing an extra foot for each one Dad lopped off.

My bike leaned inside the openmouthed garage.

“I don't know,” Amanda said and glanced down at her new wheels. She wrapped her fists around the snow-white handgrips. “It
is
brand-new, you know.”

Just for your information, that right there was a direct insult to my bike. Mom bought it for me at a garage sale last summer after talking the guy down to three dollars.
You can't beat three dollars,
she'd said when I complained about it being a boy's bike and tomato red, which is my least favorite color next to orange. When we got the bike home, it took me half a roll of duct tape to hold the stuffing in the seat.

Amanda's new touring bike and its wide chrome handlebars shone between us, a gleaming beacon of coolness. Compared to mine—well, let's face it, that would be like comparing Disney World to the carnival that sets up the same Tilt-a-Whirl and sorry old Scrambler every fall.

“I'll give you a dollar,” I said, fingering the hem of my jean shorts.

She bit her bottom lip. Sunlight glanced off her cheekbone as she angled her face away from me. “A dollar and a pack of Smarties.”

She probably thought she was driving a hard bargain. I found the dollar on the road today and Smarties aren't even my favorite.

“How far can I ride it?”

She scrunched her lips. Her answer would make or break the deal and she knew it. “The DeCamps' house and back.”

The DeCamps' house—two blocks and one orange grove away. The girl who lived there was our age but went to a private school so we hardly ever saw her. I thought over the deal, stepped up to the bike, and pushed down on the seat.

Amanda whisked my hand away. Shrugging, she said, “Sorry.”

I clucked my tongue and touched the handlebars just to annoy her. Two blocks and one orange grove. “Okay,” I said and trudged into the house, returning with my payment.

As I got on the bike, she started jabbering.

“Be careful with it! Don't change any of the speeds. I know you're not used to hand brakes so don't pinch them and no skidding!”

I cocked my foot on the pedal and pushed off.

“Don't ride in the gravel!” she yelled. “Watch out for glass in the gutter! Stay on the right side of the road!” I swear, if I had my own phone, she'd be a bug in my ear, calling out more do's and don'ts.

My hair fluttered in the wind as I rode away from her and all her henpecking. Trees raised their limbs as if cheering me on. A squirrel peeked up from acorn hunting as I passed. This bike glided—unlike my bike, which
rasped like a cat with a hairball while you pedaled, announcing your journey to everyone you passed.

I rode her brand-new, not-her-birthday bike straight down Crape Myrtle Road and I felt like a princess with all the shiny chrome and whatnot when I reached the corner the DeCamps live on. Everyone knows they're rich. Only rich kids go to private school. I'll bet Emily DeCamp gets a new bike whenever the old one looks dirty.

The DeCamps' lawn rolled over their property with thick crowded sprouts of shag carpet grass. Most of our February yards looked like straw, but the DeCamps' yard was green, green, green. The grass was so thick you had to step up to walk on it, but don't do it because it'll hold your footprint as evidence until Mrs. DeCamp sees what you've done and will probably yell at you.

It had taken me only a minute or so to ride this far. That's how good Amanda's bike was. The road ahead urged me on, flashing its shiny rocks at me and lying flat to make itself more appealing. The rays of the sun stroked my back and lit on my freckles, and boy, if the breeze wasn't fluttering honeysuckle breath right under my nose.

I regretted, for a moment, being an upright citizen.

I turned the handlebars and glimpsed Amanda, who watched me like a hawk from the distance.

“What happened to your old bike?” someone said.

“Aagh!” I was so startled that the front wheel jagged
against a rock, I lost my balance, and almost pitched off the bike. I glared at the source of the voice. Emily DeCamp, sitting all hoity-toity on the brick stairs of her front porch. Righting the bike, I said, “I didn't see you.”

She pushed her glasses up her nose. “I didn't want you to see me.”

I hadn't considered that.

She stared at me. “Your hair is auburn.”

My right hand automatically smoothed my hair. “It's titian,” I said. Like Nancy Drew's hair, starting with book twenty-five,
The Ghost of Blackwood Hall.

Emily DeCamp blinked. Then she scribbled something into a composition book. Her dark springy hair fell in front of her as she wrote, like a curtain when the show is over.

“Well …” I paused, put one foot on the pedal. “Bye.”

“Bye,” she said, not looking up.

As I rode back, I couldn't enjoy the sight of the last few oranges holding on to their branches or the speed of the bike because Amanda's eyes held me in their green tractor beam. She grabbed the bike before I even got off it. “Did you fall back there?” she asked.

“No, I'm okay.”

Her eyebrows knitted together as she inspected one side of the bike, then the other. “You dented the fender.”

“No, I didn't!”

If you've ever seen a perfectly nice blue sky morph into dark, sobby rain clouds, then you know what
Amanda's face looked like right then. “You did, too,” she said. “I saw you fall!”

“I didn't fall!”

“That dent wasn't there before.”

“Well, I didn't do it.” I leaned to see the damage, but she jerked the bike away from me. I said, “Pipe down.” I'd heard that on an old TV show and used it whenever I could.

One corner of her mouth hitched up. Her eyes glistened. Well, who could blame her? It
was
a brand-new bike. Gently, I ran my hand over the rear fender and, yes, there was a dent, but there's no way I did it. Curling my fingers under the fender, I pushed the metal up as hard as I could.

“You're going to break it!” But she didn't stop me.

Pop!
The fender snapped into shape.

Amanda gasped. She crouched beside me, rubbed the fender, and smiled. “You fixed it!”

“It wasn't broken.”

She shrugged. Sliding onto the cushy seat, she gestured toward the rear wheel. “Come on,” she said. “Ride on the pegs.”

“I'll get my bike.”

“No! Ride the pegs—I promise I'll go fast!” She twisted her hand around the grip, pretending to accelerate. “You can ride
your
bike later.”

Well! I believe I was offended. I started to assemble my face into the correct features for the occasion, but
then I said to myself,
Self, you know you want to ride that bike, so just get on it already,
and then I did.

Hoisting myself up, I planted my hands on Amanda's shoulders, and she shoved off. We were still whooping and laughing as we passed Emily DeCamp, whose face flitted up like a sparrow's, cocking her head at the noise.

* * *

Amanda showed me the chalk outline in the garage that marked the parking spot for her new bike. “If Matthew leaves his skateboard or his bat or any of his stuff in my spot, he's in big trouble.”

Matthew was three years older than us—a ninth grader,
high school!
—and a slob who got away with everything. Amanda had to wash dishes, do laundry, and help with the dusting, but all Matthew did was mow the lawn on the riding lawn mower. Now I ask you, is that even a chore?

I will admit—and this is secret—but Matthew also took out the trash, trimmed the bushes, and washed the cars, so he wasn't really a big, fat slob, but Amanda is my very best friend and I have to be on her side. (Matthew's not even fat.)

Amanda rolled the bike exactly into the center of its parking spot and booted the kickstand. She blew pollen specks off the seat. She polished the chrome with the hem of her shirt. She squeezed the tires to see if they
needed more air. She couldn't have pampered that bike more lovingly if it were a dog.

We took off our shoes at the back door. I loved their house. Their mom read decorating magazines and tore out pictures from them.
Inspiration,
she'd say. Then Amanda and I had to tell her what we liked about the room in the picture and what we didn't like and next thing you know, Mrs. Burns was painting or putting up wallpaper or some such.

Takes money to do that,
my mom says whenever I try to make little suggestions to her for our house.
We don't have the kind of income Mr. and Mrs. Burns do.
Behind my back, Mom refers to Amanda's mom as “Lady Burns.”

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