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Cathy Hopkins - [Mates, Dates 04]

 

Mates, Dates, and
Sleepover Secrets

 

Cathy Hopkins

(Book 4 of
 
“The Mates, Dates” series)

 

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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

 

 

Big thanks to Brenda, ]ude, Margot
and the team at Piccadilly.

And Rosemary Bromley at Juvenilia.
Big ta to Steve Lovering

for all his support and getting to
know TJ as well as I did. And

to Phil (The Path) Howard Jones for
his bizarre emails which

inspired the voice of Hannah. To
Steve Denhamfor his input

on magazine layouts. To Richard (Not
So Scary Dad) Jeffrey.

To Stephen Jeffrey for traipsing
round Battersea Dogs’ Home

with me. And last but not least,
thanks to the A team: ]enni

Hertzburg, Becca Crewe, Rachel
Hopkins and Grace O’Malley. And seeing as I’ve turned into Gwyneth Paltrow

when she got her Oscar I’d

better mention my mum and dad,
family, friends,

the postman, the milkman, my cats
and God.

(Did I leave anybody out?)

 

 
C h a p t e r
 
1

Noola
the Alien Girl

 

Contents
-
Next

 

‘We are the champions,
we are the champions’
sang some Stupid Boy outside the window of the
girls’ changing-room.

‘How sad is that?’
asked Melanie Jones as she rubbed strawberry-scented body lotion on to her
legs. ‘We beat them three weeks running and they win
once
and think
they’re it.’

‘Yeah,’ I said as I
pulled my hair back and plaited it. ‘Today,’ I said, raising my voice so that
Stupid Boy could hear outside, ‘was a mere blip in our team’s otherwise
excellent performance.’

‘Yay,’ chorused the
rest of our team who were in various states of undress after the football
match.

‘You woz rubbish,’
shouted Stupid Boy.

I shoved my stuff into
my sports bag and stepped outside into the dazzling June sunshine. There was
Stupid Boy - namely Will Evans, goalie from the boys’ team.

‘You talking to me?’ I
asked.

Will tried to square
up to me, which was difficult seeing as I’m five foot seven and he’s a squirt
at five foot four.

‘Yeah,’ he said to my
nose.

‘In that case, would
you mind using the correct grammar? It’s you
were
rubbish, not you
woz.’

Will went red as the
group of lads around him sniggered.

He stuck his tongue
out at me.

‘Oh,’ I yawned. ‘Like
I’m
really
scared now.’

By now, most of the
girls’ team had finished changing and had come out to see what was happening.
It was always the same. Every Saturday, after the match, the games continued
off the pitch. Often with the girls bombing the boys with balloons swollen with
water from the changing-room taps.

I picked up my bag to
go home. I’d got bored with it all in the last few weeks. I was sure there had
to be a better way to get a boy’s attention than splattering him with water.

Anyway, it was
Saturday and that meant lunch with Mum and Dad. Dad insists that we eat
together as ‘a family’ on the rare occasions that he’s not working. What
family? I think. It’s not like I have hundreds of brothers and sisters. Only
Marie who’s twenty-six and left home to live in Southampton years ago and Paul
who’s twenty-one and been away studying in Bristol.

‘Oi, Watts,’ called
Will.

‘The name’s TJ,
actually,’ I said, turning back.

‘TJ? What kind of name
is that?’ sniggered Mark, one of the other boys on the team. ‘TJ.
TJ
!

I tried to think of
something clever to say. ‘It’s
my
kind of name,’ I said, for want of
anything better.

I didn’t want to get
into the real reason. I’d never hear the end of it. My full name is Theresa
Joanne Watts. Like, yeah. How dull and girlie is that? But Paul has called me
TJ since I was a baby and it stuck. Much better than Theresa Joanne. But I
wasn’t going to explain all this to the nerdie boys from St Joseph’s High. If
they knew I hated my real name, then that’s what I’d be called for ever.

‘OK then,
TJ
.
You and me,’ said Will, pointing at a picnic table by the football pitch. ‘Over
there. Arm-wrestling.’

Now this was tempting.
Arm-wrestling was my major talent.

I took a quick look at
my watch. I had time.

‘OK, Evans. Prepare to
die.’

We took up our
positions opposite each other at the table and both put our arms out, elbows
down. A small crowd soon gathered round as we grasped hands.

‘Ready,’ said Mark,
‘steady, GO.’

I strained to keep my
lower arm upright as we began to arm-wrestle.

‘Come 0n,TJ,’ cried
the girls. ‘Come on, Will,’ cried the boys.

‘Hey TJ, there’s a guy
looking for you outside the boys’ changing-room,’ said Dave, the boys’ team
captain as he came out to join us.

‘Nice try,’ I said,
not looking up. I wasn’t going to break my concentration for the oldest trick
in the book. Plus, Dave was A Bit Of A Hunk and I usually said or did something
stupid when one of his super species was around. I made myself focus. The crowd
around was beginning to get excited as I kept my arm firm and Will’s started to
weaken.

‘Show him. TJ,’ said
one of the girls. I could feel my strength wavering as Will fought back and my
arm wobbled. Then I summoned every ounce of energy and
slam
, Will’s
arm was on the table.

‘Hurrah,’ cheered the
girls, then began singing.‘
We
are the champions.
We
are the
champions. Champions, the champions, champions of Europe.’


Stupid
girls,’ said Will, rubbing his hand and going to unlock his bike. ‘Anyway, we
won the footie and that’s what really counts. So there.’

‘Oh, grow up,’ I
called, as I walked away. ‘There really is someone looking for you, TJ,’ said
Dave, catching up with me and putting his hand on my shoulder. As I turned and
looked into his denim-blue eyes, my stomach went all fluttery.

‘I didn’t say it to
distract you. Over there, see?’ he continued. ‘Hippie guy with dark hair and an
earring.’

I looked to where he
pointed and there was my brother Paul, a short distance away.


Nihingyah’
,
I said to Dave, who looked at me quizzically. I shrugged and turned back
towards my brother, who gave me a wave. No point in explaining, I thought, as I
made my way over to Paul. Dave would never understand how I get taken over by
Noola the Alien Girl when confronted by Boy Babes. She doesn’t know many words.
Mainly ones like
uhyuh, yunewee
and
nihingyah
, which I think
means, ‘oh, yeah’ and ‘thanks’, in alien-speak.

‘Hey, TJ,’ said Paul,
giving me a hug.

‘Hey,’ I said and hugged
him back.

‘Bit old for you,
isn’t he?’ taunted Will, as he rode past on his bike.

‘Get a life, you
perv,’ I said, as I linked with Paul and drew him away from the crowds. ‘He’s
my
brother’

Paul grinned and
looked back at Will. ‘Looks like I’m interrupting something.’

‘As if.’

‘Come on, you can tell
me. Someone special?’

‘Only the local
pond-life,’ I said. ‘You home for lunch?’

‘Yeah,’ sighed Paul
and ran his fingers through his hair. ‘Bad vibes. Thought I’d escape awhile and
come and find you.’

‘Scary Dad still mad
with you?’

Paul nodded. ‘And
some. The way he goes on, anyone would think I’d committed a murder rather than
dropped out of university. But you know how he is.’

Boy, did I know! Night
and day, me and Mum had to listen to him going on… and on… Paul has ruined his
life. Paul has spoilt the opportunity of a lifetime. Paul has wasted his
talent. If only Paul were more like Marie. He was always a dreamer. He had it
too easy. What’s to become of him? Where did we go wrong? On and on and
on
.

See, Dad’s a bigwig
hospital consultant. Mum’s a GP. Even my sister, Marie, is a doctor. Plan was,
Paul was to join the club, follow in the family footsteps sort of thing. Only
he never wanted to. He wanted to be a musician. He went along with the doctor
bit. Got good grades. Got into medical school. Did a year. Did a self-awareness
type weekend in London. Saw the light or something. Dropped out of college.
Grew his hair. Started spouting self-help jargon. Got into alternative medicine
and rejected pretty well everything Dad stands for. Oops. Dad mad. Mum sad.

Me though, I’m glad.
Not that he’s having a hard time, of course. I feel sorry for him getting all
the stick from Dad, but Dad’s got me lined up to be a doctor as well. Ew, no
thanks. Way too much blood. I want to be a writer, so I’m hoping all this with
Paul will pave the way for my eventual fall from grace.

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