Madison, Aimee, and Fiona are invited to celebrate Lindsay’s birthday in New York City! Bright lights, fancy restaurants, shopping—Lindsay’s fabulous aunt Mimi will make it a weekend no one will forget. But Lindsay is having a rough time dealing with her parents’ divorce and isn’t in the celebrating spirit. Maddie knows all about being in the middle of the Big D. Can she help Lindsay see the light when her family situation seems a bit dark? It’ll take a lot of BFF love to help Lindsay enjoy her special day.
About the Author
Author Laura Dower has a lot in common with Madison Finn: They’re both only children and they both love dogs, the color orange, and books! Laura has written more than ninety kids’ books to date, including twenty-five in the series From the Files of Madison Finn. Her other books include the new Palace Puppies series and For Girls Only, a guide to girl stuff. When she’s not writing, Laura loves to garden, sing (loudly), and volunteer as a scout leader for her daughter and two sons. She and her family live in New York. Want to be keypals? Drop her a note at www.lauradower.com.
Read an Excerpt
All That Glitters
From the Files of Madison Finn, Book 20
By Laura Dower
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2005 Laura Dower
All rights reserved.
"Your office looks like a train wreck," Madison mumbled as she handed Mom a stack of empty file folders. "How do you expect me to keep my room clean when you leave stuff all over your room?"
"Honey bear, you know I've been busy," Mom grumbled. "I've got a big business trip coming up, and there's paperwork and hours of video to log ..."
"Busy? Mom, you never let me get away with that excuse," Madison said.
Madison's pug, Phineas T. Finn, let out a loud yawn and started to snort as if he were about to sneeze but couldn't quite do it.
"Look!" Mom chuckled. "Even Phin thinks you're being unreasonable."
Madison couldn't help laughing. Phin's little snorts came fast and furious until he finally let out one big doggy sneeze. Spray flew everywhere.
"Phinnie!" Madison cried. "Gross! I wish I could teach you how to blow your nose into a tissue."
Mom handed Madison a pile of books from her shelf. "Do you want these?" she asked. Madison realized she was holding a stack of old Nancy Drew books. Mom had collected them as a child. Some of the bindings were cracked. The pages had yellowed and torn in places. But Madison didn't mind folded-over corners on pages or even handwriting inside a book. She believed that books weren't really good unless they'd been read a hundred times at least.
"Maybe I'll reorganize my bookshelves this afternoon," Madison mused.
"Why don't you take Phin for a walk instead?" Mom suggested. The dog wagged his tail, readying himself for sneeze number two. "Get out of the house for a while. Go over to Aimee's house and play with Blossom."
Aimee Gillespie was one of Madison's best friends at Far Hills Junior High —and a fellow dog owner. Aimee's basset hound, Blossom, and Madison's Phin were like dog best friends, if there were such a thing.
"I can't meet Aimee. She's at dance class today," Madison said.
But Madison agreed that getting outside was a good idea—with or without her friend. She grabbed one of Phin's rawhide chews and a rope toy. Phin's collar clinked as Madison attached the leash and tugged him toward the front door.
"We can go over to Far Hills Park," Madison announced as she pulled on her jacket. "We haven't checked out the dog run yet."
"Great idea!" Mom said.
Madison loved the fact that the town had finally erected a special fence around a section of the park and marked it RESERVED FOR DOGS. It was covered with patches of grass and dirt where dogs could run and sniff and play long games of fetch. It was also a place where dog owners could go and hang out together.
En route to the park, Phin trotted along, pug nose in the air, stopping only to sniff at the occasional hydrant or mailbox. He knew what was coming; Phin loved nothing better than the company of other dogs.
As they turned in to the park, heading toward the dog run, a loose hound dog let out a wild howl. Madison recognized the pooch from the neighborhood. His name was Red, and his owner was also a volunteer at the Far Hills Animal Shelter, where Madison sometimes worked after school. When he saw Madison, Red's owner gave a huge wave.
Phin pulled hard on his leash, and as they reached the gate to the dog run, Madison unclipped it so he could run free. He dodged a barking Labrador retriever and sniffed his way over toward a white fluffy dog, probably a Maltese.
"Fluffy!" the dog's owner called out, looking terrified.
"It's okay, you don't have to worry. Phinnie's a good dog," Madison reassured the woman.
Phin and Fluffy stepped around each other, noses sniffing madly, whiskers twitching, ears wiggling. It was like some kind of mating dance.
"Finnster! Finnster! Over here!"
Madison jerked her head around. Finnster was one of her many nicknames. Actually, it was a special name given to her by Hart Jones, one of her seventh-grade classmates. And right now, Hart was there. He was walking along one of the pathways through the park with another one of Madison's guy friends, Drew Maxwell.
Madison's heart skipped a beat. She and Hart had been "in like" this year, doing their own version of a mating dance. First they'd pretend to be cool about their relationship, and then they'd act like good friends, and then finally they would admit that yes, they really, really did want to go on a real date together. Of course, nothing had happened yet in the date department. Her friends were growing impatient with their behavior. Everyone knew about the mutual crush and wondered why Madison and Hart didn't just act more like a couple.
But for whatever reason, they didn't. Madison figured they were both a little scared. After all, it was scary to like someone that much. It was scary to hear Hart calling her name in the middle of the park, too.
"Finnster! What's up?" Hart's voice boomed again.
Madison shrugged and gave the two boys a wide smile. They came closer toward her, arms swinging. They each carried a pair of black skates. Hart had two hockey sticks with him, too.
Madison pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. Were her lips chapped? Was she wearing something cute? She glanced down at her purple sweatpants and sneakers.
"Are you here with Phin?" Drew asked, leaning over the dog-run fence. No one could enter the area without a dog, so the boys stayed on the other side.
"Yeah, I'm here with Phinnie," Madison said meekly. She pointed in the direction of Phin, who was still playing with Fluffy. "We went for a long walk. I was helping my mom clean out the office, and ... well, you probably don't care what I was doing."
"Sure we care," Hart said. He leaned the hockey sticks against the fence. "We saw you from the path."
"We were over at the rink," Drew said.
"Yeah, I figured," Madison said, nodding at the skates and sticks.
"Duh," Hart said. "Of course."
"I was going to call you today, Maddie," Drew said.
"Call me?" Madison repeated.
"I invited everyone over to my house this afternoon; sort of a last-minute thing. We thought of it when we were playing hockey. Want to come?"
"Yeah," Hart said. He shoved his hands in his pockets. "I'll be there," he added cheerily.
Madison didn't know how to answer. It was one of those scary moments. If she had been honest with herself—and with everyone else, especially Hart—she would have jumped right over the dog-run fence, fallen into Hart's arms, and declared, "You'll be there? Well, let's go right now!"
Instead, she rocked from one foot to the other and briefly glanced back over at Phin, who had moved from Fluffy to a sheepdog five times his size. Phin's curlicue tail was wagging, so Madison left him alone. With his tail still moving, Phin ran over to a pair of dachshunds.
"Well?" Drew asked expectantly. Madison had still not responded to his invitation.
"Well ... okay," Madison replied. "I just have to take Phin home and my Mom can drive me over."
Hart's face lit up. "Cool!" he said, clapping his hands.
"Come over around four," Drew said. "My mom will probably order pizzas or something if you want to stay for supper. And we can watch a movie, too."
Drew Maxwell's family had their very own screening room. They were one of the wealthiest families in Far Hills; their house also had a giant pool, tennis court, and about a dozen bedrooms. Drew's parents basically let him do whatever he wanted, and he loved having his friends over for parties or study sessions.
"I'll call you if my mom says no for some reason," Madison said.
"She won't say no," Hart said.
"Okay," Madison giggled. "So I'll see you later, then."
The boys grabbed their stuff and headed back toward the path. Just then, Phinnie darted between Madison's legs. He was being chased by three other dogs. Madison felt her feet go out from under her. She briefly flew up into the air, knocked into the side of the fence, and landed on her butt—right on the cold, hard dirt.
"Oh, my!" From across the dog run, Fluffy's owner ran over to Madison, arms flailing. "Are you all right?"
Red's owner ran over, too, to offer his helping hand.
Madison rubbed her backside and stood up. She felt a little wobbly, but nothing seemed broken or bruised. She glanced at the spot where Drew and Hart had been. Happily, her crush had not witnessed her pratfall. She kindly thanked the other dog owners and reattached Phin's leash. It was time to go.
The walk home from the dog run seemed to take forever. When Madison and Phin finally reached the front porch of their home on Blueberry Street, Phin was panting from all of his afternoon activity. Madison was panting a little, too, in expectation. A get-together at Drew's was about to turn her boring Saturday into something extraordinary.
Mom said it was fine to go over to Drew's house for movies and dinner. She would drop Madison off and pick her up afterward.
"Who else is going?" Mom asked. "What about Fiona and Chet?"
Fiona Waters and her twin brother, Chet, were other friends of Madison's from school and the neighborhood. They lived only a few streets away. Mom wanted to offer everyone a ride.
Madison shrugged at Mom's questions. "Drew said everyone was going. I mean, I guess Aimee won't be there, because of Dance. But let me call Fiona and see what's up."
Fiona's phone rang and rang. Her answering machine wasn't working, and no one picked up.
I wonder where she is, Madison thought. She guessed that maybe Chet, Fiona, and Egg, Madison's best guy friend and Fiona's "boyfriend," were already on their way to Drew's house. That meant she needed to hurry up.
Madison raced up to her bedroom to change out of the sweatpants into a more festive outfit. She pulled on three different T-shirts before deciding upon a pink one with little rhinestones on it in the shape of a heart. She tucked the shirt into a pair of jeans with a thick belt and topped it off with a snug pink sweater. It looked like a short cardigan from the pages of some fashion magazine, but it was actually a sweater that Madison's Gramma Helen had knitted for her that fall. Each button was in the shape of a flower, carved out of mother-of-pearl. Madison finished the outfit with a pair of dark pink stretch cable socks and some clogs. Then she applied her favorite strawberry-kiwi lip gloss.
"Don't you look gorgeous!" Mom said as Madison pulled her jacket on over the sweater and shirt.
Madison grinned. "I'd better," she said.
"Oh, I see," Mom said. She understood. "Hart's going to be there, isn't he?"
Madison blushed. "Yes."
"At least all your friends will be there, too, so you won't have to get too nervous or embarrassed," Mom said, stroking Madison's now-pink cheek. "I know that one of these days he'll pop the question."
"Mom!" Madison cried.
"You know what I mean," Mom said.
Phin let out another snort and sneeze as they walked through the back door and headed for the car. Mom had been right about Madison's nerves. When Madison bent down to lift Phin into the backseat for the drive over to Drew's house, she nearly dropped him. It was a talking-about-Hart aftershock. Lately, that topic of conversation had been making Madison extra twitchy.
After the drive across town to Drew's megamansion, however, Madison tried to get her twitches in check. She rang the doorbell and took a deep, deep breath, just in case Hart answered the door.
"You're here!" Drew cried in a very loud voice. Music blared in the background.
"Wow, some party," Madison said. "Is everyone here?"
"You bet," Drew said. "Mom's making cheddar-cheese popcorn and milk shakes for us."
"Sounds good," Madison said. She knew Fiona would be into that menu. Fiona ate anything. Aimee, on the other hand, ate like a rabbit. She wouldn't pig out on anything but tofu, salad, or granola. The Gillespies were health nuts.
Madison followed Drew inside and down a set of stairs to the screening room.
"Everyone's waiting," he said as he opened the door. The music sounded even louder from there.
Madison adjusted the waistband of her jeans. Even though she liked the low-rider style, sometimes the pants slipped a little too far down. She wriggled around in an attempt to get comfortable. It would be so nice to grab Fiona's hand and let go of all of her nervousness.
"Howdy, you!" a voice chirped as soon as the door flew open. It was Elaine, a friend (actually, a girlfriend) of Drew's from down the street. She didn't attend FHJH, but sometimes she came to Drew's parties or met Madison and her friends at the town pool or at Freeze Palace, one of their favorite hangouts.
Madison said hello to Elaine and then glanced around the room, looking for other guests.
But there were none.
"Drew ... wait ..." Madison stammered. "I thought ... I thought you said this was a party ..."
"It is a party!" a new voice said.
Madison turned to see Hart standing there. Her stomach flip-flopped. Was this some kind of setup? What was this?
"Good thing we ran into you in the park," Hart said.
"Good thing," Madison replied, still unsure about what was going on. Where was the "everyone" that Drew had mentioned? Had they all conveniently canceled at the last minute? Had anyone else ever even been invited?
"You have to come inside and see something," Hart said. He reached out and touched Madison's shoulder when he spoke. She thought her legs would turn to jelly.
"Look!" Hart cried. "Just look at Drew's Room of Things. It's amazing!"
"He's a collector," Elaine said. She was now standing next to them. "Drew's mother just bought him an entire set of figurines for Star Wars and The Hobbit."
"Really?" Madison said, still unsteady and now very unsure about what was going on. She wanted to run. Or call Mom. Or scream?
All of a sudden the tinkling sound of classical music filled the air.
"What is that?" Hart asked Drew.
"New doorbell," Drew replied.
"What happened to the old doorbell?" Madison asked.
"Mom wanted one that played Mozart. You know how she is," Drew explained.
"Drew! Darling!" Drew's mother's voice called out from upstairs. "Your company has arrived!"
Madison felt a great sense of relief. Everyone really was there now. She wasn't trapped in the middle of some secret double date.
She heard Egg's voice; he was making an obnoxious crack. Walter "Egg" Diaz often went out of his way to be obnoxious. Madison hoped that Egg's arrival meant that Fiona had arrived, too. Sure enough, a few moments later, Fiona bounded down the stairs and into the screening room.
The two BFFs embraced.
Moments later, Dan Ginsburg, another friend from both school and the animal clinic, arrived. He'd made a new playlist with a few top-ten tunes, and Drew synched Dan's iPod up to his megamansion's digital sound system immediately.
Everyone started goofing around, moving their hips and clapping to the music. Hart stood across from Madison, a wide smile on his face.
Madison felt as if they were at a fifth-grade school dance. She leaned back against the wall.
Where was Fiona?
She could feel the drumbeat of Drew's speakers.
Boom, boom, boom.
Inside her chest, Madison's heart was making the exact same noise.CHAPTER 2
Subject: Trouble with Hart?
Date: Sat 5 Dec 9:12 PM
OK. I just spent Sat. afternoon w/Hart--the supposed crush of my life (yeah, well, in my dreams)--and here's the deal: he was paying attention to me the ENTIRE time--and everyone witnessed it--and he even held my hand at one point--and I still have NO idea what's really going on between us. Did today really happen?
I should get it--well, him--by now. I mean I went over to my friend Drew's place expecting a zillion people and then the only person there other than Drew and his gf Elaine was Hart. Duh. And then Drew was falling all over Elaine with this incredibly doofy laugh and grabbing for her hands, while Hart and I just stood there LA LA LA. And when all the other people finally arrived, the only place to sit was practically on Hart's lap. They fixed it that way, I could tell. And then we all ate pizza and Hart asked me if he could try a bite of mine, which was kind of gross but kind of romantic in a sharing way. And then Drew's mom put in one of his new DVDs and turned the lights down in their screening room (my mom would never have approved of that) but there I was again sitting with the one and only Hart practically knee to knee--I swear--my knee touching his knee. Touching!
Excerpted from All That Glitters by Laura Dower. Copyright © 2005 Laura Dower. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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