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DON'T GET IT TWISTEDA Del Rio Bay Clique Novel
By Paula Chase
DAFINA BOOKSCopyright © 2007 Paula Chase
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Frenzy
"Shorty, I want you to be my entourage." -Omarion, "Entourage"
R U down?
Mina Mooney stood, hunched over the back of the chair at her desk, staring at the three words on her monitor. Her stomach rumbled. From hunger or anxiety, Mina wasn't sure.
Two seconds ago, it was definitely hunger.
Sick of leftover turkey, mashed potatoes and all the other food they'd eaten on Thanksgiving and all yesterday, she'd been ravenous at the thought of sinking her teeth into something that wasn't stuffed or covered in gravy. When her mom burst into the room and plopped down on the bed, rousing Mina from a sound sleep with a tickle to the neck and a proposal that they cook a very un-Thanksgiving family breakfast, Mina had eagerly shaken off the early-if you could call ten-thirty A.M. early-morning haze fogging her head.
That was five minutes ago. Now ...
She wanted to be sure that she understood Craig Simpson's words correctly. He was asking her out. Wasn't he?
Mina swiveled the chair with her knee and let her butt hover over the seat in a half-sitting, half-standing stance. She scrolled the screen and read the short exchange again.
Bluedevils33: Ay what up?
BubbliMi: Nuthin' ready to go eat
Bluedevils33: O. U know 'bout the Frenzy?
Mina knew. It was all JZ had talked about the last two weeks since football season had ended. It was the big bash Coach Banner held for the varsity football team at his McMansion in Folger's Way, Del Rio Bay's ritziest neighborhood, to celebrate the season.
BubbliMi: yeah. heard they had strippers last year
Bluedevils33: LOL. whatever. people b x-ageratin! It's not that bad
BubbliMi: I figured ... but u never know! Y'all ballers can get out of control-ha ha
Bluedevils33: tru dat. But naw it ain't nothin' like that.
BubbliMi: I'll have 2 take ur word 4 it
Bluedevils33: No u can see 4 urself. u want 2 go w/me to the party?
And that was when Mina had shut down, unable to move, type, blink or breathe. It was while she was trying to come back to her senses that the last message came in ...
Bluedevils33: R U down?
Mina stared at the screen, letting the words sink in. She wanted to type "seriously?" but figured that sounded stupid.
She rested a knee on the chair, a big grin on her brown sugar face. Craig was finally asking her out. Exactly four weeks ago they had spent the night bumping, grinding and getting their dance on at a party Mina had given for her best friend, Lizzie. Since then she and Craig talked more at school than they had before and IM'ed when they were on-line at the same time, but nothing drastic had changed between them.
Now, he was asking her out. And not just any date-no movies or grabbing a slice at Rio's 'Ria, the hot hangout spot in Del Rio Bay. Craig was asking her to go with him to the annual Blue Devils' Football Frenzy. She ignored the images the word "frenzy" brought to mind and instead tried to picture the forty-member football team playing rowdy rounds of spades, Madden football or checkers.
JZ had already given her and the clique an earful about the Frenzy. Board games and Playstation were never mentioned.
JZ and a few other select junior varsity football players, those who were definitely making varsity next year, were invited to the Frenzy. JZ was the main reason the JV football team had gone on to win the county championship. The invite to the Frenzy was a not so subtle acknowledgment that next year's tryouts were only a formality. JZ's future place on the varsity food chain was set.
The only reason JZ wasn't on varsity football this season, as a freshman, was because of his father. He wanted sports second on JZ's priority list. But JZ was a die-hard athlete-football in the fall, basketball in the winter and track in spring to stay in shape. He trained like a pro, running several miles a day and lifting weights several times a week. Even if sports were second on JZ's schedule because Mr. Zimms said so, football and basketball were first in his every thought.
And being on JV had actually brightened JZ's star, not dulled it. The minute he'd stepped on the field in September, it was obvious to the coaches he was varsity material. They'd been drooling over the thought of having him move up ever since.
Now the varsity basketball coaches were going to get the chance the football team hadn't had, because when football season ended, JZ's dad had relented and agreed to let him try out for varsity. JZ made the team easily. The only "catch," if JZ's grades suffered even a little, his father was going hardcore and making JZ cut out the sports until next season. So all JZ talked about, lately, were basketball and the Frenzy.
According to JZ, the Frenzy was wild. Coach Banner basically let his "boys" have the run of the house for the night, no chaperons. JZ also mentioned nude foolishness in the hot tub and drinking, Real World high school edition.
Other than pointing out to JZ that she thought the details of the party were probably rumors or overexaggerated, Mina hadn't given the Frenzy much thought. Until now. Now she had an invitation from a varsity football hottie.
Was she down?
Mina wanted to type YES, all caps just so Craig would know how down she was.
She couldn't believe that only three letters stood between her and her first date with the guy she'd crushed on for months. Her first date, period.
It wasn't even eleven A.M. and this day was quickly moving toward best-day-ever status.
And to think, in her haste to throw down on some pancakes and bacon, she'd almost walked right by her computer without as much as a glance.
Thank goodness she'd logged on to see if Kelly had sent a message confirming whether she could come over later and hang over at JZ's with the rest of the clique. Mina was anxious for the six of them to get together. They'd squeezed in only a few IMs and phone calls over the weeklong break. Mina didn't mind family time, but five straight days of it was enough. She was ready to kick it with her friends, especially now that she had something more interesting to share than an account of her family's insanely competitive game of Trivial Pursuit on Thanksgiving night.
Mina's head turned toward the loud clanging of pots and pans coming from downstairs, her attention slipping, just for a second, from the three words on the screen. She tipped over to her bedroom door, leaned her head out of the room and waited on her mother's call asking for (requiring) help cooking breakfast. When it didn't come, Mina scurried back over to the desk and sat down, her heart pounding and her hunger completely forgotten.
The loud tinkle of another IM from Craig rang out.
Bluedevils33: Yo, Mina u there?
BubbliMi: Sorry! Listening out 4 my mom ... I'm supposed to be downstairs cooking
Bluedevils33: Word. I let u go if u answer me. U down w/the Frenzy?
This time Mina didn't think. She typed, quickly.
BubbliMi: Mos' def!!
Bluedevils33: Cool. U be @ the Ria tonite?
BubbliMi: Trying to be. Not sure tho'
Bluedevils33: I can give u a ride if u want
The thought of being in the car with Craig made Mina's heart race. Everything was moving so fast.
BubbliMi: Naw I'm cool. If I go it'll be w/my girls. I see u there if we go.
Bluedevils33: Aight. Later
BubbliMi: C U
Mina stared at the conversation on the screen, reading over it quickly again and again. It felt like a dream. If her heart wasn't practically beating out of her chest, she would swear she was still sleeping.
"Mi-naaa!" her mother called from downstairs. "What's taking you so long?"
Smiling like an idiot, Mina closed out the IM box and signed off. She stood up and jogged down the hall to the bathroom. If Craig could see her now, bed head and stank morning breath, he'd run screaming in the other direction. She laughed out loud at her fuzzyheaded image in the bathroom mirror.
Stank breath and all, she had a date!
She had a DATE ... and one problem. Her parents didn't allow her to date yet.
Mariah and Jackson Mooney's Guide to Dating
"There's no need to argue, parents just don't understand." -Lil Romeo, Nick Cannon & 3LW, "Parents Just Don't Understand"
Thoughts of her parents' dating rules wouldn't dampen Mina's excitement. And her parents had plenty of rules.
Mariah and Jackson Mooney's Guide to Dating included the following little lovelies:
* First and foremost, no solo dating until age fifteen. (That was going to be a tough one to battle.)
* For group dates, there must be at least six other people going. As far as Mina was concerned, going to the movies with six or eight other people wasn't a date but a field trip.
* Mariah and Jack must KNOW the parents of each person on the date.
* This was Mina's favorite; absolutely no car dating until age fifteen, i.e., parental drop-offs only. (It was why Mina had quickly turned down Craig's offer for a ride to Rio's 'Ria.)
* If the "date" takes place at a party, the 'rents must first speak to someone who is chaperoning the party before giving approval.
Mina bounced happily down the stairs, the rules swirling in her head. As she walked into the kitchen, Mina convinced herself she had a solid argument against each one:
First, this wasn't a solo date because JZ would be there (even if the last thing on his mind, that night, would be keeping up with Mina).
It was a group date, sort of. Couldn't she count the forty other people and their dates (if they brought any) as a group? She was sure to know a few other girls there.
Okay, so she couldn't do squat about her parents knowing everyone else's parents. That rule was just ridiculous. Not that she was going to tell them that, but ...
As far as car dating, at this point, if her parents let her go, she didn't care if they dropped her off. Maybe she could get them to drop her off down the street from the house or over at Kelly's and she'd walk to Coach Banner's house. Mina didn't know how far Kelly lived from the coach, but they lived in the same neighborhood.
Talking to the chaperons ... Well, if it came to it, she'd have her parents talk to Coach Banner. Not sure how. It wasn't as though she had his number or anything. But where there's a will there's a way and all that jazz.
Mina's resolve wilted a little. Maybe the arguments against the rules weren't so solid ... but they were all she had.
"Morning, Mom," Mina chirped. She stood by her mom's side at the stove. A mix of hickory and seasoned salt floated toward her nose, making her stomach growl. "Still need help?"
Mariah Mooney looked up from flipping a pancake, her large round eyes narrowed in mock anger. She put her hand on her hip. "I thought we were fixing this breakfast together?"
Mina giggled. "Sorry. I was checking to see if Kelly was coming over today. I'll help."
She put her hand out, and her mom quickly relinquished her pancake-flipping duties, then moved on to the grill where bacon popped quietly.
"Where's Daddy?" Mina scooped a pancake, peeking at its underside to test its brownness. The pancake needed a few more seconds.
Mina's mom paced between the bacon and a pan of fried potatoes. She shook her head. "Still in the bed." She grabbed another spatula from a nearby drawer and stirred the potatoes around. "If I had known a Mooney un-Thanksgiving breakfast meant me cooking by my lonesome, I would have never suggested it."
Mina leaned over and kissed her mom's cheek. "Forgive me?"
Mariah smiled. "No. But thanks for gracing me with your presence, Miss Social Butterfly. So can Kelly join you guys today?"
Mina frowned. In all the excitement of Craig IM'ing her, as far as she'd gotten was opening the inbox. She'd never actually looked at the new messages.
"Probably," Mina said, rushing on and ignoring her mom's perplexed expression. "Hey, Ma, remember Craig Simpson?"
Mariah chuckled. "Oh, you mean the boy you refused to introduce to me and Daddy at your party?"
A slice of regret cut through Mina. Now she wished she had been more assertive about introducing Craig to her parents. They were sticklers for "knowing" her friends. Even though her mom had heard Craig's name mentioned a few times since the school year started, when he showed up at the party for Lizzie, Mina hadn't wanted Craig to think she was singling him out for a grand introduction. It had felt too formal. Instead, she'd flipped the whole "group" concept on her parents and waited until Craig and a few other guys from the football team were upstairs getting a drink before introducing all of them to her parents. It had seemed like a good idea at the time.
"I didn't refuse," Mina reminded her mom. She flipped two pancakes and took a step back from the stove so she could face her mom. "I just didn't want Craig thinking that I was going all girlfriend on him. I did finally introduce y'all."
"Un-huh. To him and about four other guys." Mariah shrugged. "For the few minutes I talked to him he seemed like a nice guy."
"I couldn't risk Daddy asking him a million questions. It would have been too embarrassing," Mina said. Her face grew hot just thinking about it.
"Oh, Lord, Mina." Mariah rolled her eyes. "God forbid, your dad asks the guy's last name, where he lives, who his parents are ..."
"Exactly!" Mina shook her head. "We were dancing together not running off to Vegas."
Mina's mother laughed hard. "Girl, where do you get all that drama from?" She smiled, lighting up her golden brown face, but tried to sound serious. "Alright. Well, what about him?" She moved the pan of potatoes off the burner and covered them before moving back to the bacon.
"Well ..." Mina stepped back over to the pancakes, slipping them out of the pan and onto a plate.
"Hold on, sweetie," her mom said. She peeked around the corner of the kitchen and called out, "Jack! Breakfast is almost ready!" She popped back around and faced Mina. "Sorry. Now, what about Craig?"
Mina's words rushed out in a stream. "Heaskedmeout."
Mina watched her mom's eyes crinkle the way they did when she was happy. Maybe she had a chance.
"Really?" Mariah smiled.
"Yes," Mina gushed. "Ma, Craig is like ... Do you know how many girls would love to go out with him?! And he asked me. I mean, I was hoping he would. I thought he would after the party. But he didn't. He-"
"Slow down, baby girl." Mariah chuckled. She slid the bacon onto a plate, tore a paper towel off a roll and dabbed at the grease on each slice. "Okay, I get it. You really like this guy, even though you didn't want to introduce him. Guess you're ashamed of the parental units."
Mina rolled her eyes. "Ma, parental units? Okay, please come back to the new millennium."
Mariah carried a bottle of syrup and tub of butter over to the table. "Sorr-eee." She leaned against the counter, arms folded, smile still tugging at her mouth. "Just teasing. I'm glad he asked you out. It's exciting, huh?"
Mina's head nodded in an eager bobble.
"First dates are exciting. And he's nice looking from what I remember," her mom said.
"Understatement of the year," Mina said. She turned the stove off and dropped the pan into the sink, which had water waiting. The pan sizzled as she exclaimed, "Mom, he's FINE!"
Mariah's voice turned serious and professional. "Un-huh. Well, where is this date? And when would it be?"
Mina knew that voice. It meant the preliminary nice-nice chitchat was out of the way and the rules were coming. Scared her mother would see the worry on her face, Mina focused on the dishwater as she washed out the pan.
"It's a um ... party," she said. "The varsity football team's annual end-of-the-season party. It's in two weeks."
"Well, you know how Daddy and I feel about-"
"It wouldn't just be me and Craig, Ma. JZ will be there," Mina sputtered. She rinsed the pan, dropped it on the rack to dry and wiped her hands on a towel.
"Okay. Anyone else we know? And how were you planning to get there?" Her mother's questions poured nonstop. "Who throws this party? It's a team party, which means lots of people you don't know. Who else besides Craig and JZ do you know? I mean really know?"
"Coach Banner has the party for the team," Mina mumbled. She fiddled with the towel, for once wishing she had another dish to wash to keep herself from looking at her mom. "You and Daddy could drop me off or I could ride with JZ. And I'm sure I'll know other girls there."
"Do parents chaperon?"
"I'm not sure. I mean, Craig didn't go into all that," Mina said.
Excerpted from DON'T GET IT TWISTED by Paula Chase Copyright © 2007 by Paula Chase. Excerpted by permission.
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