Read an Excerpt
Alexis the Icing on the Cupcake
My ankles were freezing.
It was a cold and rainy morning, even though it was almost Memorial Day, and the weather was a little fluky: hot and muggy one day, chilly and cool the next. So maybe that explained my cold ankles. But the rest of me wasn’t chilly. My ankles felt . . . bare, despite the fact I had on long pants. I stretched out my foot at the breakfast table and looked down. Wait, why was there suddenly so much ankle showing from the bottom of my pant leg? These pants weren’t capris! Had they shrunk?
I stood up and shimmied the pants down a little so that they covered more of my ankles. My older sister, Dylan, gave me a glance over her teapot and then looked back at what she was reading. Now my ankles were covered, but my pants were riding too low for comfort. They were practically falling off my hips, actually.
“Argh!” I cried in frustration.
“What’s the matter, Lexi?” asked Dylan in a slightly annoyed tone. “I’m trying to have a peaceful morning here.” Dylan’s been trying to be all mature these days, drinking tea and acting really patient and calm no matter what the situation. She took this relaxation and meditation class, and now she goes around telling us that the house has to be her “Zen place.”
“My pants don’t fit!” I cried very un-Zenlike. “And they’re not that old! I just bought them with Grandma over spring break!”
Dylan rolled her eyes. “You must’ve shrunk them. You’re supposed to line dry cotton pants like that.”
“I do!” I protested. “Always!”
Dylan thought for a minute, then she sighed and shook her head. “Then it could only be one thing,” she said, returning to the fascinating back of the cereal box.
I guess she wasn’t going to tell me unless I asked. And I really, really didn’t want to ask. But the suspense was killing me.
Dylan sighed again, as if it was all so obvious and I was such a nitwit. “Hello? Growth spurt!”
“You grew! Happens all the time. That’s why they call it ‘growing up.’” She shook her head.
“But that fast?”
She nodded. “It can happen overnight sometimes. You come down in the morning and suddenly you can see things on the top shelf of the fridge that you’d swear you couldn’t see when you went to bed the night before.”
“Really?” I walked over to the fridge and opened it. I glanced around the top shelf: yogurt, pickles, mustard . . . Wait, had that temperature dial always been back there? I knew I’d never seen it before because I would have had some fun tweaking it to see if different temperatures saved us money or made things icy. Had the fridge really come like that? I didn’t dare ask Dylan.
Feeling slightly freaked out, I shut the door and stood with my back to it, hands still on the handle.
There was no doubt about it.
I had grown.
“So what should I do?” I asked Dylan.
I gestured helplessly at my naked ankles.
Dylan stood up to wash her cup in the sink. “Buy new pants,” she said.
Before I could go to school, I had to change my pants, but I had to try on two other pairs before I found one that fit. At school I ran into my best friend, Emma Taylor, on the way to my locker.
“I grew,” I said, falling into step beside her.
“I know,” she agreed.
I stopped dead in my tracks. “Wait! Really? You could tell?”
Emma stopped too and nodded. “Uh-huh. I have to look up at you more when I talk to you now.”
“Well, when were you going to tell me?”
Emma laughed and started walking again. “Seriously, Lexi? You need me to tell you that you grew?”
“I don’t know. I mean, it’s not like I noticed it myself.” I unlocked my locker and was startled to see how packed my top shelf was. “Ugh. This locker is a pit. I need to clean this thing out!”
Emma laughed again. “See? Suddenly, you can see stuff that’s high up. Maybe you could check the top shelf in my locker and see if my mouth guard for soccer is up there.”
I laughed. “What, now I’m renting out my height?”
She giggled. “You could!”
“What, for locker cleanouts?”
“Yeah, you could charge. . . .”
My money-making senses tingled a little. I do have a head for business. Could I earn cash by cleaning out lockers? Probably. The bigger question is, would I want to? A thought for another day.
Speaking of money . . . “Hey, are we meeting today?” I asked. Our Cupcake Club usually meets on Fridays at lunch to plan out upcoming jobs and experiment with new recipes, as well as bake for our regular customers and any weekend jobs we might have lined up. Plus, we always get together at Friday lunch and bring cupcakes; it’s a delicious tradition.
“Yup,” said Emma. “We have our lunch meeting, obviously, and then after school we’re on for baking. Mia can come now that she’ll be at her mom’s this weekend. Let’s do it at my house.”
“Great. I brought the ledger and everything, just in case we were able to meet. I’ll see you later in the cafeteria,” I said, and we headed off to our classes. Down the hall, I stopped for a quick gulp of water at the fountain.
I swear, I’ve never noticed how low that thing is. It’s, like, elementary school–size! They should really have it raised.
“Lexxxiiiiii!” called Mia from our table in the corner. I cringed a little and glanced around to see if anyone else had heard her call me that. It’s not that I really mind if my family or my very closest friends call me “Lexi” in private. It’s just that lately it has been rubbing me the wrong way. It sounds babyish, and I don’t want it to spread. And also, just secretly, it does bug me a teeny, tiny bit when Mia and Katie call me “Lexi” because it’s really my childhood nickname from before I knew them. Like, they don’t really have the right to call me that. But whatever.
I crossed the lunchroom with my tray and went to sit beside Mia.
“What’s up?” asked Mia. “Cute pants. Haven’t seen those before.”
Mia is a major fashionista (her mom is a professional stylist) so I always pay close attention to her fashion advice.
“Seriously? Do you like these pants?” I asked, looking down. “I’ve had them for a while, but they were always too big. Now they fit. They cover my ankles, anyway.” I shrugged.
“Definitely cute. My faves are your pale pink ones, though.”
I sighed and picked up a forkful of chili. “They shrank. Or, actually, I grew. They don’t fit anymore already!”
“Can’t you get them shortened a little more and wear them as capris?” she asked. “They’d be cute with a white sleeveless blouse.”
I chewed my chili and thought about it. “Maybe. The thing is . . . I don’t look so good in cropped pants.”
“Oh, come on! With those long, thin legs of yours, you’d look good in anything,” said Mia.
I couldn’t help but smile a little, since a compliment from Mia means a lot. “Thanks. I’m not sure that’s true, but whatever.”
“Oh please, I’d kill to be tall and thin like you.” At that point in the conversation, Emma and Katie joined us. I did feel a little better after what Mia said about my figure, even though I was still frustrated about my wardrobe.
“Hey, listen, we got a good order over the weekend from my neighbor,” said Katie. “Remember Mrs. Dreher who had the baby shower? She’s having a summer kick-off barbecue slash pool party next Sunday, and she wants us to bake six dozen ‘beachy’ cupcakes for her.”
“Great!” I said. “Did you quote her a price or should I follow up?”
Katie smiled. “I gave her a ballpark price and said our CFO would follow up with an e-mail once we knew for sure what we were baking.”
“Excellent.” I nodded happily. I love it when our business runs like a well-oiled machine.
Mia started brainstorming. “Remember those cool pool cupcakes we did for the swim team fundraiser? Maybe we should do those again?”
“Oh, but remember how the frosting melted on those when it got hot in the indoor pool area?” reminded Emma. “We wouldn’t want that to happen if it’s a hot day for the barbecue.”
I groaned at the memory. That swim team episode had almost been a major catastrophe. We’d almost ended up losing money, which is something I hate!
“Let’s do something with light brown sugar around the edges—like fake sand?” suggested Katie.
“Ooh, that’s good!” agreed Mia.
Emma’s eyes sparkled suddenly. “I think we need a field trip!” she said. “Let’s go to the beach!”
“Yes!” exclaimed Mia. “When?”
Emma shrugged and looked around at all of us. “This weekend?”
I thought about my schedule. We have exams next week, and I have a big paper due. Of course, I’ve been studying, so I’m in pretty good shape for the tests. And I’m more than halfway done with the paper. Plus, I have the rest of it mapped out. I knew Mom and Dad would be okay with the plan. “I’m up for it!” I said.
Everyone agreed. We’d go tomorrow, providing all the parents said it was okay, and we’d still have Sunday for homework.
“Yay!” said Katie, clapping her hands. “I can wear my new swimsuit!”
Hmm. Mentally, I scanned my closet to think about what I’d wear. I guess I wouldn’t know until I went home and tried things on. I was not looking forward to it.