Read Between Us Online

Authors: Cari Simmons

Between Us




Go to mall with Olivia and check out what seventh and eighth graders are wearing. Then shop!

Start getting up at time you need to get up for school. No oversleeping. (Walking in late—yikes.)

Practice on combination lock.

Study map of school.

Organize school supplies.

Buy mints for locker.

When School Starts

Eat breakfast so stomach won't grumble.

Meet one person you didn't go to elementary school with.

Smile at people (but not like an insane clown girl).

Write down assignments.

Find out about clubs.

Remind Oh to use a straw so she won't spill!


“I'm not sure you get to check off number seven,” Olivia told her best friend.

“Why?” Bailey protested. Her fingers were itching to check off the last item on her Epic First Week list.

“How relaxed can you be if you have to have a list that tells you to be relaxed?” Olivia asked.

“Have you forgotten who you're talking to?” Bailey exclaimed, her voice rising. “Lists make me more relaxed than anything.”

Olivia shook her head, setting her dark brown curls bouncing. “I just wanted to see how unrelaxed you'd get if you thought you'd have to leave something unchecked. You should have heard yourself squeak. It was like a mouse on helium.”

“You're bad,” Bailey told her, trying not to laugh. “A bad, bad friend.” Bailey made an extrabig check next to number seven.

“Just trying to help you impulsify a little. You might
miss something good if you're always looking at a list,” Olivia told her.

Bailey and Olivia were so different. Oh didn't like to plan. She didn't even like basic rules, such as using words that were actually in the dictionary.

“I can impulsify!” Bailey looked around, trying to think of a way to prove it. “Look! I'm . . . I'm
-ing in pub-
.” She warbled the last few words, and didn't care that a couple of people turned around and stared at her.

Olivia gave a laugh that turned into a snort. “I can't believe you did that. I was horrifyingly close to spraying blueberry soda out of my nose.”

“It would have been your own fault,” Bailey teased. She took a sip of her raspberry drink. She and Olivia always went to Emmy's for Italian sodas when they had something to celebrate, and completing their first week of middle school was definitely what Olivia would call whoop-whoop worthy.

As different as they were, the two of them had been friends since the second grade. Somehow Bailey's love of planning and Olivia's willingness to try anything were a perfect combination. No matter how much time they spent together, they always wanted to be together more.

Bailey could probably fill a whole notebook with all the ways Olivia was an awesome friend. Her birthday was coming up in about a month. Maybe Bailey would make that list as part of her present. Olivia couldn't have a problem with a list like that!

“So next week at school, we should—” Bailey was interrupted by her cell clucking. She'd let Olivia set the ringtones. She checked it.

need you home. big news!

Bailey showed the text to Olivia. “I wonder what's up,” Olivia said.

“Could be anything,” Bailey answered. “Remember that text that said I had to get home ASAP, and it was because the first rosebud of the year was opening on one of her bushes?”

“That was cool. I love your mom,” Olivia told her.

“Do you want to come with me?” Bailey asked. “Oh, wait. You can't. You've got karate.” Olivia kept trying new sports to see if there was one where her klutziness wasn't a problem. Last year she'd taken dance. Kind of a disaster.

Olivia jumped up so fast she almost tipped over her chair. “I've got karate! I forgot!”

Bailey checked the time on her phone. “You're good. You have twenty-four minutes.”

“Text me and tell me what the big news is,” Olivia said as Bailey slid her notebook into her backpack.

“I will,” Bailey promised.

“I'm home!” Bailey called as she opened the front door. She loved living so close to downtown, the whole street and a half of it. She could walk from Main Street to home in less than ten minutes. “So what's up?”

“Come sit with me in the kitchen,” her mother called back.

Bailey's stomach clenched a little. Her mom sounded sort of upset. This didn't seem like it was going to be happy news, like the first rose of the season. She hurried into the kitchen and sat down.

“Are you hungry?” her mom asked.

Her mother didn't usually bother asking that. It's not as if Bailey didn't know where the hummus and veggies, her favorite after-school snack, were. Was she stalling? Bailey's stomach got a little tighter.

Bailey shook her head. “I had a piece of lemon cake at Emmy's.” When her mother didn't say anything for a few seconds, Bailey added, “I got your text.”

“Right. Right.” Her mom straightened the napkins in the wooden holder. They were already perfectly straight.

Bailey was starting to wish she hadn't had the cake and soda. It didn't feel as if there was room for them in her stomach anymore. “Mom, please tell me what's going on.”

Her mother must have heard the worry in Bailey's voice, because she smiled, crinkles appearing at the corners of her green eyes, the same green as Bailey's own. “It's nothing bad. Well, not bad for us.” She pulled in a breath. “Your aunt Caitlin and your cousin Hannah are moving to Concord. They're going to be staying with your grandparents until they find a place of their own.”

Bailey zoomed in on the important thing her mother hadn't said. “Just Aunt Caitlin and Hannah? Not Uncle Ethan?”

Her mother let out a long sigh. “They've decided to divorce,” she explained. “They've been talking about it for a while. Now that the decision's made, Caitlin wants—well, a little cooling-down time. She doesn't know if she wants to live here in North Carolina permanently, but she wants to come for a bit. At least for the school year. She doesn't want Hannah to have to change schools twice in one year. She's had to change so many times already, with all the moving your uncle Ethan does in the military.”

“I'd hate that,” Bailey admitted. Starting middle school had made her a little nervous and a lot excited. But changing schools all the time? With all new people at every school? “Horrible” was the only word for it.

Her mother nodded. “Just starting at a new school in a new town is going to be hard enough, especially with her parents splitting up. And it's all happening so fast. Aunt Caitlin and Hannah will be here next Saturday.”

“Wow.” Bailey thought that having her parents living in different states would feel like the world getting pulled out from under her feet. Especially if she had to handle it without Olivia nearby. “Poor Hannah.”

“You'll help her out, won't you?” her mother asked. “You have so many friends, and you know all the fun stuff to do in town. Even though Hannah's had to change schools a lot, her mom said she still finds it sort of scary.”

“Definitely,” Bailey answered. “I don't know everyone at school anymore, though. There are kids from other elementary schools, and some of my friends from Northeast Elementary are at different places.” It had been strange to walk into classes this week and not recognize all the faces.

“You'll still have lots of people to introduce Hannah to. It's so great the two of you are in the same grade,”
her mother said. “I gave Aunt Caitlin your schedule. She's going to talk to the principal and see if she can get Hannah into some of the same classes.”

“Cool,” Bailey answered. “I'm trying to remember when the last time I even saw Hannah was.”

“I was just thinking about that,” her mother replied. “She and her parents came here for Christmas when you were both toddlers. The next time we saw them was four years ago, that time we went to Texas when your uncle was stationed at Fort Bliss.”

My uncle who isn't going to be my uncle anymore,
Bailey thought.
That's so weird.

“I kind of remember. That's where they had that huge lizard in a cage at the gas station. It looked like it was covered with red and orange beads,” Bailey asked.

“The Gila monster? That's what you remember?” Her mother laughed. “Yes, that was the place. Don't you remember Hannah at all?”

“I remember playing minigolf with her,” Bailey answered.

almost forgotten that part!” her mother exclaimed. “You both somehow decided it was a lot more fun to hit the balls into the water than into the holes.”

That brought the day back a little more clearly. She remembered being mad because Hannah had grabbed the red ball after Bailey had called it. But they'd had fun splashing around in the fountains to retrieve their balls whenever they “accidentally” whacked them into the water.

Her mother's cell rang. She glanced at it. “That's your aunt again. I can tell her that you'll help Hannah fit in and introduce her to everybody, right? It will make both of them feel better.”

“I promise,” Bailey said. Her mother smiled at her as she picked up the phone.

Bailey headed to her bedroom. There were no phones allowed in the dojo where Olivia took karate lessons, but there was enough time to text her before she had to go in.

my cousin's moving here. going to r school.

Olivia texted back.

No wonder Olivia didn't know who she was talking about. Hannah was Bailey's cousin and Bailey had seen her only once—well, once that she remembered. Bailey typed in a response.

hannah. our grade. all i know.

here 4ever?
Olivia texted.

not sure. parents getting divorce.

Olivia texted.

mom wants me 2 be her friend. so you have 2 2.

kk. if she's cool,
Olivia answered.

She added a
before Bailey could answer.

she's my cuz,
Bailey texted.
gotta b cool. ;)

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