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"Wow, Argentina," fourteen-year-old Riley Carlson murmured. "Can you believe Ms. D'Amico is moving there? Do you think there's even a remote possibility she'd invite us for a little vacation?"
"I wish," Riley's twin sister, Chloe, replied. "Then we'd have a reason to buy a bunch of new clothes. Sundresses, shorts, Capri pants, tankinis..."
"So true!" Riley agreed. Her sister was always thinking about clothes. Of course, Riley liked marathon shopping just as much as Chloe did. It must be a genetic thing, she thought. I mean, our parents are fashion designers, after all.
Riley and Chloe were freshmen at West Malibu High, and yesterday their ceramics teacher, Ms. D'Amico, had suddenly announced that she was moving to South America.
Now, on Saturday morning, Riley and Chloe were at the dining room table, lingering over breakfast and going over the school's list of elective classes. They were trying to pick out a last-minute replacement for ceramics.
Chloe slid the list across the table to Riley. "Let's go with something fun," she suggested. "How about environmental cleanup and conservation?"
Riley took a bite of cinnamon toast and frowned at the list. "I don't get it. What's so fun about that?"
"You've got to read between the lines." Chloe grinned. "'Environmental cleanup' means you go to the beach with your friends and pick up a few empty cans."
Riley laughed. She glanced out the window at the long stretch of beach just beyond their house. Theearly-morning sun shimmered on the water. A group of cute boys jogged by. Hmm, I wouldn't mind spending some extra time on the beach, she decided.
Riley heard high heels clattering briskly down the stairs. She turned and saw a blur of red disappear through the kitchen doorway. Hurricane Mom, she thought.
Their dog, Pepper, followed at Mom's heels, clearly expecting breakfast. Pepper had big brown eyes and white fur with a sprinkling of black here and there.
"Good morning, Mom!" Riley called out.
There was a noisy crash of pots and plates, Pepper began to bark, then, "Ow! Morning, girls!" Mom called.
Riley and Chloe exchanged a glance and shook their heads.
[Riley: So you're reading this and wondering what's the deal with our mom, right? Well, Mom's kind of intense. Totally busy all the time. And maybe a little distracted, too. She and our dad used to run their fashion design business together But Dad's kind of the opposite of my mom. A let's-play-it-by-ear kind of guy, you know? Very laid back. A few months ago they separated both personally and professionally. Now Mom and Dad actually get along. But Mom runs the business on her own, which means that she's even more stressed out and hyper than she normally is.]
Seconds later, Macy Carlson emerged from the kitchen. She had a cup of coffee in one hand, a Palm Pilot in the other, and a bagel wedged between her teeth. She was dressed in a formfitting red suit that complemented her brown eyes and short brown hair.
"How are you two doing this morning?" Mrs. Carlson asked. But with the bagel in her mouth, it came out, "Har are oo woo ooing is orning?"
"Put down the bagel, ma'am," Chloe said in her best police officer voice.
"Orry!" Mrs. Carlson slid into a chair at the head of the table. She set down her coffee cup and Palm Pilot, then plucked the bagel out of her teeth and balanced it on top of the coffee cup. "There, that's better. Sorry to be in such a rush," she said breathlessly, "but I have a model coming for a fitting in ten minutes. I've got a meeting at nine o'clock with the head buyer at Generation, then a photo shoot at ten. And then, let's see, there's some fashion-show benefit-lunch thing I have to go to. At noon or one. Or is that happening tomorrow?" She picked up her Palm Pilot and started punching buttons.
"Mom, slow down," Riley said. She poured her a glass of juice. "Here, have some mango juice. I think it's supposed to be calming or something."
"No time for calm," Mrs. Carlson said, jabbing at her Palm Pilot. "How are you girls, anyway? Getting ready for school? What's new? Fill me in."
"Mom, it's Saturday," Riley reminded her. She pointed to her pink pajama bottoms and matching tank top. "Didn't you notice that Chloe and I are still in our jams? We were just trying to decide on our new electives. Ms. D'Amico's moving away, so we have to come up with something to replace ceramics class by Monday."
Chloe held up the class list. "We were thinking environmental cleanup and conservation might be cool."
Mrs. Carlson nodded. "Uh-huh, sounds good. Just stay away from any toxic spills. You don't want to sprout an extra nose!" She let out a peal of laughter.
"Ew!" Chloe cried. She reached up and touched her nose.
Just then, the back door swung open and Tedi breezed in. Tedi was a model Mrs. Carlson often worked with. She was tall and thin, and had long black hair.
Without saying hello, Tedi made a beeline for the telephone, which was on the counter. She picked it up and began dialing. "Need the phone," she said without looking up. "Agent beeped while I was jogging."
Pepper burst out of the kitchen and started yelping. Riley leaned down to pet her. "It's okay. It's just Tedi," she whispered. Pepper stopped barking and sat at Riley's feet.
Riley checked out Tedi's outfit. The woman was wearing black jogging shorts with a beeper hooked to the waistband, a gray and white tank top...and high heels.
I must have missed that trend, Riley...
So Little Time #3: Too Good to Be True. Copyright © by Mary-Kate & Ash Olsen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.