Lucy Doesn't Wear Pink (Faithgirlz!: The Lucy Series #1)by Nancy N. Rue
Meet Lucy Rooney, a motherless tomboy with an inquisitive mind, a strong will, and a straight-forward approach, who knows every inch of the small and dusty New Mexico town in which she lives with her blind father. She is constantly searching for the “why” in everything. Sometimes it helps answer her questions, and sometimes it just gets her into trouble… See more details below
Meet Lucy Rooney, a motherless tomboy with an inquisitive mind, a strong will, and a straight-forward approach, who knows every inch of the small and dusty New Mexico town in which she lives with her blind father. She is constantly searching for the “why” in everything. Sometimes it helps answer her questions, and sometimes it just gets her into trouble.
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Lucy Doesn't Wear PinkFaithgirlz! / A Lucy Novel
By Nancy Rue
ZONDERKIDZCopyright © 2012 Nancy Rue
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLucy wrote, "Reasons Why I Hate Aunt Karen," then she stopped and rolled the pen up and down between her palms. Dad always said "hate" wasn't a people-verb. It was a thing-verb. It was okay to hate jalapeno peppers in your scrambled eggs, which she did, and rock music that sounded like soda cans tumbling in a clothes dryer, which Dad did. It wasn't okay to hate human beings. Even Osama bin Laden. Or Aunt Karen.
Lucy drew a squiggly line through her words and wrote below them,
Reasons Why I Wish Aunt Karen Would Move to Australia:
Dad would say that was fine. Not that she was going to read it to him. Or anybody else. This was extreme-private stuff.
Lucy scowled at the page. The scribble messed it up, and she wanted to be so careful writing in this book. Anything to do with Aunt Karen made her mess up worse than usual. She would have to put that on the list of reasons. But she started with,
~ Because Australia is as far away from me and Dad and Los Suenos, New Mexico, as she can get.
~ Because she probably wishes our cats would move there.
The very round, coal-colored kitty on Lucy's pillow raised her head and oozed out a fat meow.
"Don't worry, Lollipop," Lucy said. "You're not going anywhere."
The cat gave Lucy a long, doubtful look before she winked her eyes shut, but she continued her nap with her head still up, as if she wanted to be ready to leap into the blue-and-yellow toy chest that Lucy kept propped open with a wooden spoon—for just such occasions—should the cat carrier, or Aunt Karen, appear.
Lucy leaned against her giant stuffed soccer ball, propped her feet on the blue-tile windowsill above Lollipop, and went back to the list of reasons.
~ Because she wants me to learn to give myself a manicure.
She looked down at her gnawed-to-the-quick fingernails and snorted out loud.
~ Because she says a ponytail isn't a real hairstyle.
Lucy flipped hers so it play-slapped at the sides of her face. She could see its blondeness out of the corners of her eyes. Yellow and thick and straight like her mom's had been. Not all weird and chopped-off and sticking out the way Aunt Karen's did. That was supposed to be a "style."
Lollipop's legs startled straight, and her claws sunk into Lucy's faded blue-and-yellow plaid pillowcase. She sprang to the window-sill—in the slow-motion way her chunky body insisted on —and pressed whisker-close to the glass. Lucy crawled to the headboard and leaned on it to peer out.
Granada Street was Saturday-afternoon-in-January quiet. Even J.J.'s house across the road looked as if it were trying to nap behind the stacks of firewood and tangle of rusted lawn mowers and pieces of cars piled around it. Dad asked Lucy just the other day if the Clucks still had everything but the kitchen sink in their yard. She reported that now there actually was a kitchen sink out there.
But there were no doors banging or Cluck family members yelling, which was what usually made Lollipop switch her tail like she was doing now. Unless the kitty saw something in the spider shadows of the cottonwood trees on the road, there was nothing going on out there.
At least it wasn't Aunt Karen already.
Lucy sank back onto the bed on her stomach, legs in a thoughtful kick. She pulled the top of her sweatshirt over her nose and mouth and wrote,
~ Because she says clean jeans and a shirt with no writing on it don't count as Sunday clothes.
Aunt Karen said on the phone she was bringing Christmas presents.
"It won't be soccer cleats or a new seat for my dirt bike, I can guarantee you that," Lucy said to Lollipop. "You wait—it'll be some flowered dress." Whatever it was, it would make her feel like she was wearing sandpaper.
Lollipop rolled off the sill and burrowed herself between Lucy's pillows. Lucy didn't blame her. Aunt Karen hadn't even arrived yet and she was ready to hide under the pillows too. She set the book carefully on the bedspread and grabbed her soccer ball—the real one—between her feet and stretched her denim-clad legs in the air.
What was wrong with jeans and sweatshirts and tennis shoes in winter, and shorts and T-shirts and bare feet in summer? Nobody but Aunt Karen seemed to care what Lucy wore, but she couldn't come from El Paso without bringing skirts and bracelets and hair bows.
Lucy lowered the ball to the pillow beside Lollipop, sat straight up, and wrote one more thing—
~ I wish Aunt Karen would move to Australia because she is nothing like my mother. Nothing.
She let the book sigh shut and smoothed her hands over its cover. Pale green with gold leaves she could feel under her fingertips. And gold letters too, which said, A WOMAN'S BOOK OF LISTS—not curly and girly, but clear and strong.
Lucy pulled the book to her nose and breathed in. In spite of how long it must have been in the box in the storage shed, it still smelled like Kit Kat bars and lavender soap, and it made Lucy sure her mom could be right outside her door, wanting to know if Lucy was finished with the book for now because she wanted to write in it too.
Lollipop's head came up again. She tumbled from the bed to the floor and skidded on the buttercream ceramic tiles as she scrambled for the chest. The wooden spoon went out as Lollipop went in, and the lid came down with a resounding slam.
That could mean only one of two things. Either Aunt Karen was pulling into the driveway—which couldn't be because she was never, ever early—or ...
Lucy crawled to the window again and slid it open this time, letting in a blast of cold air that dried out her nostrils in one sniff. With it came what anyone else would have thought was the beyond-annoying sound of a Chihuahua begging for food.
"Pizza delivery," the voice said.
Lucy settled her elbows on the windowsill. "What kind of toppings?"
"Um ... applesauce?"
"What?" Lucy said.
A dark ponytail surfaced to the window like a periscope on a submarine.
"Whatever," the Chihuahua voice yelped. "I've been out here for ten hours."
"No, you haven't, Januarie." Lucy watched as a round face came into view, chapped-red and puffing air. "Probably more like ten seconds."
Januarie stood up to her full short-for-an-eight-year-old height and clamped her hands, plump as muffins, on the outside stucco sill. "I have to come in," she said. "I have a you-know-what pizza."
"A message from J.J.?" Lucy said.
"Shhh!" Januarie sprayed the sill, her hands, and the front of Lucy's sweatshirt. "We're supposed to talk in code!"
"'You-know-what' is not 'code,'" Lucy said.
"I forgot what it's supposed to be. Artichoke?"
"You might as well just say it."
"I will if you let me in."
Januarie inched her knee up the cream-colored adobe wall, but Lucy shook her head. "Not that way—use the back door."
The moon face plumped into a pout. "I feel more like a spy when I climb in the window."
Lucy didn't have the heart to tell her it had been several pounds since Januarie had been able to squeeze through there. J.J. and Januarie's mom had made a lot of her funnel cakes for Christmas, and Lucy suspected Januarie had scarfed down more than her share.
"Back door," Lucy said as she slid the window toward Januarie's turning-blue fingers. "My dad will want to say hi."
And she hoped he'd take his time with it. As soon as Januarie disappeared, whining, from the glass, Lucy scanned her room for a place to hide the Book of Lists. Since she'd discovered it yesterday in the storage shed, there hadn't been any need to conceal it, but Januarie had what J.J. called "a serious nose problem," especially when it came to anything that belonged to Lucy.
Lucy dove for the toy chest, but the tiny, pitiful mews coming from that direction changed her mind. Januarie always squeezed Lollipop like she was trying to get toothpaste from a tube. As soon as she heard the kitty, Januarie would go right for her.
"Hey, Januarie-February-June-or-July," she heard her dad say from the kitchen.
"How do you always know it's me?" Januarie said—so loud she might as well have been right outside Lucy's door. Lucy hated it when people did that with her father.
"Nobody walks like you do," Dad said.
"Really?" Januarie said.
Good. They were going to have a conversation. Lucy could always count on Januarie for that. She stuck the book under her sweatshirt and looked around again. She could put it in the corner behind the oversize rocking horse, but every time Aunt Karen came, she talked about how it was time to get rid of the "baby toys." The fact that Lucy's own mom had painted him didn't seem to make any difference to her.
She could put it in the fireplace, since Dad wouldn't let her have a fire in there anyway—but that was where she'd just stashed her stuffed animals when she was doing her Aunt Karen tidying. Their bear heads and bunny tails and lamb noses poked indignantly in all directions. If she put one more thing in there, they might stage a mutiny. Maybe she'd just conceal it on the bookshelf with the books she never read—No, too obvious.
"I gotta go talk to Lucy," Januarie half-shouted.
"I'm sure she knows you're here," Dad half-shouted back. Lucy heard him chuckle, and she heard Januarie's baby-elephant footfalls coming down the wide hallway. No wonder Dad knew her walk.
As the clumping neared her door, Lucy yanked open the underwear drawer in her dresser and thrust the book inside. It wasn't the place of honor she wanted, but it would have to do for now. She was just slamming it shut when the door was flung open and Januarie barged right on in, black eyes already gleaming toward the chest of drawers.
"Januarie," Lucy said, leaning against it, "when are you going to get it that my dad is blind, not deaf?"
"Huh?" Januarie said.
Lucy moved toward the rocking chair—as far away from the underwear drawer as she could get—and scooped up the school binder she hadn't touched since she'd flung it there on December 15th. "You don't have to yell when you talk to him. He can hear just fine." She chucked the binder under the bed.
"Never mind." Lucy held out her hand. "Give it."
"The message from J.J."
"Shhhhh!" Januarie shoved the door closed and leaned on it as if she and Lucy were about to be attacked by a pack of coyotes. "I remembered the code."
Lucy forced herself not to roll her eyes. It had to be hard to be eight, wanting to be like the eleven-year-olds. Besides, Januarie had been annoying at least since she was three, when Lucy first met her. J.J. said she was born that way.
"Okay," Lucy said. "What is it?"
"The pizza has anchovies."
That meant Januarie brought a message from J.J. Du-uh! Lucy sighed and held out her hand. Januarie dug into the pockets of her denim overalls, no easy feat since they fit her like another skin, and pulled out a rolled-up piece of a take-out pizza menu.
"He taped it closed," she said, a sure indication that she had been thwarted in her attempt to read it before she gave it to Lucy. She held it as if she were considering adding something more to the ritual of handing it over. Lucy took the opportunity to snatch it from her and shove it into the front pocket of her sweatshirt.
"Aren't you going to read it?" Januarie's voice curled into a puppy-whine.
"Later," Lucy said.
"J.J. said it's urgent!"
"You want a candy cane?"
Januarie looked torn. Lucy thought she shouldn't consider being a spy when she grew up. She could always be persuaded with food.
"Hey, Luce?" Dad called. "We need to go over a few things before Aunt Karen gets here."
Januarie's face lit up like a luminary. "Your Aunt Karen's coming?"
"Yeah," Lucy said, and for the moment, she was thankful. "You might want to go home and put on a hair bow or something."
"I want to show her my new coat! Did you know I got a new coat for Christmas?"
"I've seen it twelve times," Lucy said. "You've worn it every day since."
Januarie lowered her voice, spy-like. "I couldn't wear it today. It's too obvious."
"Yeah, it's hard to be inconspicuous in that color green," Lucy said as she ushered Januarie by the elbow to the door.
"Incon ... what?"
"Grab a candy cane on your way out. They're in the—"
"—basket by the front door. I know."
Of course she did.
When Januarie was gone, Lucy used her pen to slit the tape and unrolled the paper. Several letters and words were highlighted with a yellow marker, which at the moment annoyed Lucy almost as much as Januarie herself. She didn't have that much time.
"You coming, Luce?" Dad called.
"Be right there, Dad."
Lucy took the paper with her as she left her room and padded down the bright Navajo rug that led to the kitchen like the Yellow Brick Road. Pepperoni and Sausage—that meant "Meet me"—she got that much. Extra Cheese—"bikes"—she put that together.
She looked for the key word—and there it was. Jalapeno. That stood for "escape." J.J. and his codes.
Lucy stuffed the paper back into her pocket and bounced between the always-wide-open wood doors to the kitchen in a whole new mood. Dad sat at the tile-topped table by the window, holding the mug with the howling coyote on it. There was just enough sun to make a silhouette of his sharp triangle nose and his squared-off chin. He tilted his salt-and-pepper-crew-cut head in her direction and smiled—like nobody else in the world did. Lucy wondered sometimes if God smiled that way, because it made a room seem filled with sunlight. It happened a lot, like maybe Dad was trying to brighten the dark space where he always had to be.
"You're happy today," Dad said. He slanted in the chair, creaking the wood, and moved the coyote cup to his lips. "Did you get a pizza delivery?"
Lucy snorted. "You heard her."
"So did everyone in Tularosa County. What's on the menu today?"
"Bike riding with J.J.?" Lucy said.
"Let's go through the checklist first. How are we doing on the dishes?"
Lucy went to the sink and picked up the upside-down bean pot. She wiped off a small blob with her sleeve and said, "You did good. I'll finish putting them away." She used her foot to push aside one of the curtains with the big red checks that acted as cabinet doors and slid the pot onto its shelf.
"Check," Dad said. "Did I get all the laundry folded?"
"Yes, and I put it away."
"Thank you. I took the trash out and emptied Marmalade's litter box."
"I don't get why he can't go potty outside like the other cats." Lucy wrinkled her nose. "He stinks up the place. Even my backpack smells like him."
Dad put his coffee-free hand to his lap where an orange ball of a cat slept. That was what Marmalade did most of the time. Except when he was eating, which was the other most of the time.
"Is that everything?" Dad said.
Lucy consulted the chart hanging on the side of the refrigerator. Across the top were the chores, written in Lucy letters and also punched out in little braille bubbles so Dad could feel them with his fingers. Along the side were the dates, also in words and braille. Each of the squares they formed was outlined in braid Lucy had glued on. Dad had put fuzzy snowflake stickers in his squares, because it was January, and Lucy now applied her snowmen ones.
"All the boxes are filled," she said. "I'll just finish up the dishes."
As she crossed to the sink, her father lowered his cup carefully to the table. "Do I dare ask how your room looks?"
"That's not on the chart." Lucy picked up a handful of silverware from the drainer and let it clatter into its slots in the drawer. Her good mood was flattening.
"I know it's not on the chart," he said. "I usually leave that up to you."
There was a "but" in the air.
"Luce," Dad said.
He centered his eyes somewhere along the line of happy tiles that bordered the ceiling.
Lucy passed a fake-mouse cat toy across the floor with her toe so he wouldn't trip over it. "My room looks better than it usually does."
One side of Dad's mouth went up. "What's Aunt Karen going to say?"
"She's going to say it needs to be more girly."
He chuckled. "Okay. Go have fun on your bike ride, but be back by three thirty so we can make our famous MexiBurgers for Aunt K. Put your watch on."
"Man," Lucy said.
There was another chuckle as Lucy rode the rug to her room and straightened it with her foot when she got there. Her dad had been blind for four years, and she still hadn't figured out how he knew stuff like that. It would be so easy to be late and say she didn't know what time it was—as if she couldn't tell by the shadows on the mountains anyway.
"It seems like you'd get away with so much, having a blind dad," J.J. said whenever Lucy got in trouble.
"Ha," she always said to him.
"Zip your coat," Dad said as she returned with her watch and grabbed her fuzzy-lined jean jacket off the peg by the back door.
She poked her arms into the sleeves and said, "Okay."
"I don't hear it."
"Love you," Dad said.
Lucy gave him a wet kiss on the forehead. "Love you more."
"Loved you first," he said.
Excerpted from Lucy Doesn't Wear Pink by Nancy Rue Copyright © 2012 by Nancy Rue. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERKIDZ. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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