In 1949 a special Valentine’s Day dance in small-town Nebraska teaches thirteen-year-old Addie about real love
Kids in Addie’s seventh-grade class are starting to exchange rings and go steady, but Addie hates all that mush. When she grows up, she plans to be a real artist in New York City and never get married.
Addie’s best friend is Carla Mae Carter, whose family lives next door. Addie’s worst friend, for as long as she can remember, has been annoying Tanya Smithers, who plans on becoming a ballet dancer. She’s always twirling around or striking a dramatic pose to remind everyone how talented she is. Addie definitely does not have a crush on Billy Wild, even if he is tall and cute and has dark, curly hair and blue eyes. She’s way too busy with her art for such silliness. Anyway, Tanya likes Billy—and they can have each other as far as Addie is concerned.
But after Christmas break, the seventh-grade class gets a new teacher, Mr. Davenport, who has movie-star looks and studied art in college and even takes a special interest in Addie’s paintings. Addie starts to notice a strange feeling in her stomach when she’s around the handsome young teacher. Is this what love feels like? Is this what all the other girls have been giggling about? Addie suddenly starts to care about wearing dresses instead of jeans and getting her hairstyle just right.
Will Addie get her moment with Mr. Davenport at the Valentine’s Day dance? Or will her true king of hearts be someone in her class—someone she never expected?
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Addie and the King of Hearts
The Addie Mills Stories, Book Four
By Gail Rock
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1976 Gail Rock
All rights reserved.
We were milling around the seventh-grade classroom that morning, laughing and talking. For once, almost all of us had been early. It was the first day back in school after the Christmas-New Year's holiday, and there was a lot of talk about what we all got for Christmas, and about the fantastic blizzards that had been smothering Nebraska that winter.
The main topic of conversation, however, was speculation about the new teacher we would meet that morning. Miss Collins, who had started teaching our class that fall, had decided to get married over the holidays. All the other girls thought that was very romantic, but I just thought it was stupid. Lots of the kids in our class were starting to exchange rings and "go steady," and I hated all that mush. The whole idea made me laugh. I planned to grow up and be an artist and never get married.
I was sitting on top of my desk talking to my best friend, Carla Mae Carter. Carla Mae and her big family lived next door to my dad and grandmother and me, and we had been friends for years. My worst friend, Tanya Smithers, came hurrying through the door. Tanya had been my worst friend ever since I could remember. We annoyed each other a lot, but we continued to be a part of the same group. There were only 1,500 people in the town of Clear River, so sometimes you didn't have a big choice of friends. Tanya planned to be a famous ballet dancer when she grew up, and she was always twirling around on her toes or striking some dramatic pose to remind us all of how talented she was.
"Here comes Pavlova," said Carla Mae when she saw Tanya coming toward us.
"If she tells me one more time that she got new ballet shoes for Christmas, I'll scream!" I said.
"Addie! Carla Mae!" Tanya said to us breathlessly. "Guess what I just heard when I went by the principal's office?"
"The principal got new ballet shoes for Christmas?" I asked sarcastically.
Carla Mae snickered.
"No, you idiots!" said Tanya. "Listen to me! We're getting a man teacher to replace Miss Collins!"
"What?" said Carla Mae. "You've gotta be kidding!"
"A man!" I said. "Yuck! That's awful!"
"We've never had a man teacher," said Carla Mae. "There aren't any in the whole school!"
"I don't believe it!" I said.
"I'm telling you it's true!" said Tanya, annoyed. "The principal says he's going to be here in a few minutes."
The rumor spread around the room as others overheard our conversation.
"Oh, ugh!" I said. "He'll probably be an old grouch."
"Tanya, what does he look like?" Carla Mae asked.
"I don't know," Tanya answered. "I didn't see him. But I heard his name. It's Davenport."
"Like the sofa?" asked Carla Mae.
"He's probably covered with horsehair," I said, laughing. "He's probably a million years old with a beard and warts!"
I got up and hobbled around as though I were an old man with a cane, and everybody laughed.
Suddenly Jimmy Walsh shot a paper airplane across the room at us and I grabbed it in midflight, making a spectacular catch. I was good at that sort of thing.
"That's Billy Wild's New Year's resolution!" Jimmy shouted to me.
"It is not!" shouted Billy from across the room. "He made it up! It's his!"
Everybody was always teasing me about liking Billy Wild, and I always insisted I didn't. I had to admit he was tall and handsome—rk curly hair and blue eyes-and that he was one of the smartest boys in the class, and good at sports. But that didn't mean I liked him any more than anyone else. He was forever strutting around in his cowboy boots, showing off. We had known each other for years and we still always seemed to be arguing about something, so I didn't see how anyone could say I liked him.
I unfolded the paper airplane and read it to myself, then burst out laughing.
"OK, attention, everybody!" I shouted, running to the front of the classroom. "Here's Billy Wild's New Year's resolution!"
"It is not!" he shouted again.
Everyone was laughing, and I climbed up on top of the teacher's desk to read it aloud.
"Dated January 1, 1949," I read. "I, Billy Wild, resolve for 1949 to kiss every girl in the seventh-grade class."
Everyone screamed with laughter, and Billy's face got bright red.
"It's not mine!" he shouted.
"That's one resolution you'll never keep!" I shouted, and folded the airplane, then shot it back in his direction.
Suddenly everyone stopped laughing and the room fell quiet. I couldn't imagine what was happening; and then I realized that they were all looking at something behind me. I turned.
There standing just inside the door was a tall, blond, handsome, young man. For a moment I thought I must have seen him in the movies; then I realized that he looked a bit like Alan Ladd. Of course he had to be the new teacher. And he had found me standing on his desk, flying paper airplanes!
I stood there frozen. Miss Collins would have dragged me to the principal's office. He just smiled. He had a wonderful smile and crinkly blue eyes. I thought he was the most handsome man I had ever seen. I suddenly realized I was still standing on top of his desk.
"May I help you down?" he said to me.
He extended his hand and helped me down as the class snickered behind me. I was numb with embarrassment, both at being found on top of his desk and at the way he looked. He was so attractive that I felt I should look away.
"Won't you have a seat?" he said, and I sheepishly went back to my desk. I knew I should say something to him, but I was tongue-tied. That was not at all like me.
"My name is Douglas Davenport," he said to the class, "and I'm your new teacher." He turned to the board and wrote his name there.
Carla Mae, who sat behind me, leaned forward and whispered to me.
"Is he gorgeous? I don't believe it!"
I didn't say anything. I was still speechless.
Tanya leaned over to join in the conversation from her desk across the aisle.
"He is an absolute doll!" she said.
Mr. Davenport turned back to the class and noticed a watercolor hanging on the wall near his desk.
"Did someone in the class do this painting?" he asked.
I opened my mouth, but no sound came out.
Carla Mae spoke up behind me.
"Addie Mills did it," she said, pointing to me. "She's the best artist in the class."
"Oh, the paper airplane pilot," Mr. Davenport said, smiling at me again.
Everyone laughed, and my face burned.
He was still smiling at me.
"Well, Addie," he said. "I can tell you're very talented. Studying art is one of my hobbies. I'll have to talk to you more about that."
Carla Mae swooned behind me and whispered, "You lucky dog!"
I just sat there staring at Mr. Davenport and feeling strange.
In the next few weeks we all got to know Mr. Davenport better, and it was soon clear that he was to be one of the most popular teachers our class had ever had.
All the girls agreed that he was an absolute dish, and though the boys thought we were ridiculous for gushing about him, they liked him a lot, too. We discovered that he was only twenty-four years old, that he drove a tan Chevrolet convertible coupe with white sidewall tires, and that he wore neat, tweedy suits and incredible argyle socks, and smoked a pipe. We spent hours discussing these little details about him, and I collected this information more avidly than anyone, though I never let on.
The strange feeling that had stricken me when I first saw Mr. Davenport still lingered whenever I would talk with him. I talked with him often. I felt I had much more in common with him than the other kids in the class. Somehow I was more grown-up than they were, and I was able to talk to him about all kinds of things that the others just weren't interested in.
I knew that I understood Mr. Davenport better than anyone in the class, because I was going to be an artist when I grew up and he was particularly interested in art. He had been in Paris at the end of the war and had brought back some French art books that he loaned me now and then. I couldn't read the texts because they were in French, but I pored over the paintings for hours and tried to copy some of the artists' styles with my own paints at home. Then I would discuss the paintings with Mr. Davenport, and he always seemed very pleased that he had somebody to talk to who understood art as well as he did. He encouraged me to continue my studies in art, and I knew there was a special bond between us, even if he was eleven years older than I.
By the end of January I realized that I was spending a lot of my time either talking to Mr. Davenport or thinking of a reason to talk to him—or just thinking of him for no reason at all.
I studied art more feverishly than ever so we would have something to discuss. I learned that he liked poetry, so I dug up a copy of Robert Browning that someone had once given me. I had looked at it scornfully when I first got it and had never opened it. I had thought love poems were disgusting. Now I studied them carefully, trying to find an appropriate verse to discuss with Mr. Davenport.
My grandmother wondered why I was sitting around the house all the time, reading and "mooning about," as she called it, rather than going out with the girls. I couldn't explain it, but I just wanted to be alone. I stopped wearing jeans all the time and, for the first time in my life, worried about how my clothes looked. I stood in front of the mirror, wondering how I could look older.
My father threatened to take my favorite record and grind it up for fertilizer if I didn't stop playing it over and over. I told him he had no romance in his soul.CHAPTER 2
By early february, only five weeks after I had first met Mr. Davenport, I realized that he had become the most important person in my life. My after-school chats with him were the highlights of my days, no matter how much teasing about being "teacher's pet" I had to take from the other kids. They didn't understand the real reason for my interest in him. I never discussed it with anyone, which was unusual for me because I usually said exactly what I thought about everything. This was different. I knew I had to keep it to myself.
One February afternoon I sat impatiently at my desk, watching Mr. Davenport write our English assignment on the blackboard. I wasn't paying much attention to what he was saying, because it was almost time to dismiss school for the day and I was rehearsing what I would say when I went up to his desk after class. I was returning one of the art books he had loaned to me, and I wanted to say something intelligent about the French Impressionists.
Instead of writing down the assignment, I was drawing a sketch of him in my notebook. My notebook was almost full of sketches of him and endless pages with his name written over and over in different styles of handwriting. I had never let anyone else see it. They could tease me about Billy Wild, but not about this.
The 3:30 bell finally rang, and I sat there, tightly clutching Mr. Davenport's book and waiting for everyone else to clear out so I could have a private talk with him. It was just my luck that everyone was hanging around in the classroom. Our big seventh-grade Valentine's Dance was the next week, and everybody was gossiping about it and buying tickets from the kids who were assigned to sell them.
Just as Carla Mae and Tanya came over to talk to me, I saw Mr. Davenport get up from his desk and head for the door.
"Mr. Davenport," I called, getting quickly out of my seat.
"Be right back, Addie," he said, and went out the door.
"Mr. Davenport, Mr. Davenport, sweetie," said Tanya in her ickiest voice, mocking me.
"Oh shut up, Smithers," I said.
"Don't tell me you're borrowing his books again!" said Carla Mae, grabbing at the art book. "You should get a library card from him!"
Sometimes I wondered why she was my best friend.
"Don't maul that book!" I said, grabbing it back from her. "This is a very rare volume, and practically irreplaceable!"
"Well, la-de-da!" said Tanya. "Why don't you hire a bodyguard?"
"I wouldn't expect you to understand," I said. "You don't know anything about art."
"Ha!" Tanya said. "You're not half as interested in art as you are in Mr. Davenport."
"Yeah," said Carla Mae. "She's been slaving away for weeks creating the world's most gorgeous valentine for him."
"I have not!" I said hotly. "How do you know who I'm going to give it to?"
"Who else?" asked Tanya.
"Your other true love, Billy Wild!" said Carla Mae.
"Oh, you've gotta be kidding!" I said. "Yuck! I wouldn't give him the time of day ... let alone a valentine."
"Oh, yeah?" said Carla Mae. "I bet you go to the Valentine's Dance with him."
"Yeah, you always go everywhere with him," said Tanya.
"Well who else is there in this dumb class?" I said, sounding disgusted. "I can't help it if he always asks me to everything."
"Oh come on," said Carla Mae. "After Mr. Davenport, Billy Wild is your second favorite."
"That's what you think!" I said. "I just may not go with him this time."
"Well, who else will you go with?" asked Tanya. "I hope you're not waiting for Mr. Davenport to ask you for a date!"
"Yeah," laughed Carla Mae. "You could wait forever! He's a bit old for you."
"I'm not waiting for anybody to ask me for a date!" I said. "And for your information, Mr. Davenport is only eleven years older than us. That's not so much.... When we graduate from high school we'll be eighteen, and he'll only be twenty-nine."
"Twenty-nine!" said Carla Mae. "Yuck! That's so old! I wouldn't want to go out with somebody who's an ancient twenty- nine!" I knew my father had been ten years older than my mother, and I closed my ears to Carla Mae's remarks. Though my mother had died a few months after I was born and I had never really known her, my grandmother had told me many times about the wonderful marriage my parents had. I had been thinking of the difference in their ages a lot lately when I thought of Mr. Davenport.
I longed to be grown up. Thirteen was such an awful age—so clumsy. I knew I was no longer a child, but at thirteen people didn't treat me like a grown-up either. Some days I felt like the kid I had always been, playing outdoors in jeans and sweatshirt, flinging myself into every game, my braids flying. Other days I longed to be sophisticated, with beautiful clothes and hair, and sit in elegant rooms and have serious conversations.
I never seemed to be able to look right. I hated my glasses but had to wear them all the time. I knew I was too old for pigtails but didn't quite know how else to do my hair. I suddenly felt my clothes were wrong, and that my arms and legs were too long for the rest of my skinny body. I hated being thirteen.
I wanted to be seventeen or eighteen so I could meet Mr. Davenport on his own level and call him "Douglas" and go to Omaha and have dinner with him in the Cottonwood Room at the Blackstone Hotel and discuss the paintings in the Joslyn Art Museum. Anything but be caught at the terrible in-between age of thirteen. Even fourteen would have been better. After all, Juliet had been fourteen, and Romeo took her seriously.
Just then I saw Billy Wild coming toward us, and Tanya and Carla Mae giggled.
"Oh, here he comes, the Number Two in your life, Billy Wild!" said Carla Mae when she saw him.
"Let's go," said Tanya. "The two lovebirds probably want to be alone."
"Shut up, you guys!" I said.
As he came up to my desk, Tanya said, "Hi, Billy," in a high, silly voice. Then she and Carla Mae giggled and headed for the door.
Billy waited until they left.
"Going up to Cole's for a coke?" he asked.
"Maybe later," I said. "I have some things to do here first."
"I'll wait for you," he said.
"Don't bother," I said. "It might take me a while."
"That's OK," he said. "There's something I wanna ask you ..."
"Listen," I interrupted, impatient that he wasn't getting the hint. "I have to talk to Mr. Davenport, and I'd like some privacy. So why don't you just go ahead without me?"
"What's so private between you and Davenport?" he asked, annoyed.
"None of your business!" I said.
"Well, how long is it going to take?" he asked.
"It's hard to say," I said, sounding mysterious. "So why don't you just run along?"
That made him angry.
"Well, why don't you stop making goo-goo eyes at Mr. Davenport?"
"That," I said coolly, "is a disgusting remark."
"Ooooo! Mr. Davenport," he said mockingly. "You're so cute!"
"Immature!" I said.
"Yeah," he said. "I know you like older men...."
"I know five-year-olds who are more sophisticated and grown-up than you are!"
Excerpted from Addie and the King of Hearts by Gail Rock. Copyright © 1976 Gail Rock. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.