As the group gets ready to get back in the studio, Chanel goes on an all-carrot diet in hopes of shedding those pesky pounds. But when dizzy spells start striking her on the street, Chanel begins to wonder if carrots are enough to sustain a hungry Cheetah.
About the Author
Gregory has written for various magazines including Essence, More, Us Weekly, and Entertainment Weekly. In 1999 she penned the book series the Cheetah Girls. The books were adapted into a series of original movies by Disney Channel starting in 2003. She also wrote Catwalk and Catwalk: Strike a Pose.
Read an Excerpt
The Cheetah Girls, Book 14
By Deborah Gregory
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2005 Deborah Gregory
All rights reserved.
I don't mean to be tan molesto—sooo annoying—and ruin the puppy party for everybody. But all of a sudden I burst out crying like a whacked-out piñata that lost all its red hots. I'm sorry, but I just can't stop the tears, las lágrimas! Bubbles thinks I'm doing it on purpose. I can tell because her nostrils are flaring out. Her puffy cheeks are starting to fill up like she's going to turn into Puff the Magic Dragon and breathe fire on my frizzies any minute. But what do I have to celebrate, anyway? She's the one getting to keep the cutest poochie out of Buffy's litter. Es la verdad. It's true. Ragu is staring at me with his black little eyes and I just want to stuff him in my cheetah backpack and hit the door like a mad matador. Like Bubbles needs another white fluffy meatball—una otra. She already has Toto, who is the only star on the Upper East Side, where they live—especially now that he prances around in cheetah coats and hats (which I helped pick out, está bien?).
So what do I have? Okay, so I have the Cheetah Girls and I should be happy that I—poor pobrecita Chanel "Chuchie" Simmons—am one of the five wannabe divettes-in-training who are destined to sing and dance to peeps around the world, en todo el mundo. That's what Bubbles says, anyway, to anyone who will listen to her talk about our dreams. Well, right now, I wish someone would listen to me. I want my own puppy—ahora mismo! No, I take that back. I want five puppies—and to live in my own Cheetah castle too, so nobody, nadie, can tell me what to do ever again!
The Cheetah Girls, of course, are: my-super-bossy-best-friend Galleria "Bubbles" Garibaldi; the Texas Rangers Aquanette and Anginette Walker, who keep our backup vocals tan coolio; Dorinda "Do'Re Mi" Rogers, the best dancer in our crew; and last but not least, Chanel "Chuchie" Cuchifrita, Ballerina Simmons, the mushy señorita. (Just so you know, Cristalle is my Confirmation name because I'm Catholic—and Coco is my real middle name but I never use it.)
"Look at Toto, yo," heckles Dorinda, trying to make everybody forget about my piñata episode. All of a sudden, Toto flies into the living room from the kitchen like he just got shot out of a doggy cannon, then jumps on top of Ragu, humping him to the beat of a salsa conga drum. Ba.Da.Da.Da.Ba.Da.Da.Da. Now my tears are dripping on the fluffy cheetah carpet in the living room. How embarrassing!
"Toto looks so big next to Ragu," Angie says, popping on her gum.
"Supersize-me, that's Toto," Galleria riffs. "He's pound-for-pound pure smoochie pooch."
By now, you may be wondering what is up—por qué all this puppy talk? Well, here is the whole yappy soap opera: While the Cheetah Girls were in Hollywood performing in the New Talent Showcase for Def Duck Records, Galleria's dad (and my favorite godfather), Mr. Francobollo Garibaldi, let Toto hump Mrs. Brubaker's dog, Buffy. Qué pasó? That's right. Toto got Buffy pregnant. Not that Mrs. Brubaker noticed until Buffy started waddling in her apartment and tripped over her scary leather baby hippopotamus footstool. (Poor Buffy is not even allowed to go out for a walk because Mrs. Brubaker has her paper-trained.) Well, Mrs. Brubaker almost had a canary herself when she found out that Toto was the father of Buffy's litter. Then, just for spite, she wouldn't let Galleria have any of the puppies. Well, Galleria's mom, who is my godmother, la mía Madrina, and the Cheetah Girls manager, put a cheetah chompdown on the situation right away. That's right, Mrs. Dorothea Garibaldi filed a lawsuit in family court and—you guessed it—won half the litter in the custody battle!
"Can Ragu go outside and play yet?" Dorinda asks, hypnotized by Ragu's eyes too.
"No way, Do', he has to get his shots first," Bubbles says, picking up Ragu and holding him in her arms like he is a baby she just delivered! "My little baby waby has the cutest little pawsy wawsy!" Bubbles coos in singsong fashion like a cuckoo bird.
Ay, por favor, please don't let Bubbles run and grab her Kitty Kat notebook so she can start scribbling lyrics for a new Cheetah Girls song—because that lyric is whack-a-doodle-do. Qué terrible! Okay, so maybe I am un poco celosa—a little jealous. Who do I have waiting for me at home? Nobody, nadie, but my Snuggly Wiggly stuffed pooch that my Abuela Florita gave me for Christmas last year as a joke because she knows how much I want a dog. (Mamí won't let me have one because she says she's allergic to them, but Abuela says it isn't true. Mamí is just being selfish.) Of course, I also live with my ten-year-old brother, Pucci the gadget boy. (Pucci is always glued to some stupid computer game, except when he's bothering me or sneaking into my room to steal things when I'm not home.) Even Pucci has a pet, though—an African pygmy hedgehog named Mr. Cuckoo. Bubbles and I bought Mr. Pygmy for Pucci's last birthday (but Pucci thought of the stupid name all by himself). Gracias gooseness, Pucci is over Daddy's house a lot these days. The place where Pucci is taking karate lessons is uptown, near Daddy's, so he doesn't have to bother me all the time.
"Toto, stop trying to smother him with your rumpshaker!" Galleria screams, grabbing Toto off Ragu. She never yelled at Toto like that before. From the way she is treating him already, I can tell Ragu is gonna be the new Prince Pooch on 67th Street.
"I can't believe Kadeesha had the nerve to tell us what peeps are saying at school about us," Dorinda blurts out, obviously still upset about the latest Cheetah Girls Telemundo soap opera. Now there is a rumor going around our school, Fashion Industries East, that the uptown crews think the Cheetah Girls are corny and are a bunch of powder puff wannabes because we lost the Apollo Amateur Hour contest to those way-too-crispy rappers Stak Chedda. They don't know the truth—that the Cheetah Girls should have won that contest.
Aqua and Angie throw each other a look. And I know what that look means. Because they are twins, they can read each other's minds. Suddenly Aqua blurts out, "We didn't want to say nothing, y'all, but that rumor ain't just at your school."
"Yeah," adds Angie, "everybody at our school is saying the same thing."
"Well, when we get our record deal—let's see what everybody will have to say about our street 'cred,' then," Bubbles says, poking her mouth out like she does when she's really angry.
Aqua and Angie look at each other, puzzled. Sometimes the twins don't understand when we talk because they are from Houston and have their own way of saying things.
"I heard that," Dorinda says, nodding her head. "If we didn't have street cred then Def Duck Records wouldn't even be trying to nibble at our kibble and bits."
Now Angie and Aqua burst out laughing, but I didn't. I don't think it's funny that everything Dorinda and Bubbles say now has to do with dogs!
Uncle Franco, who has been in the kitchen making us dinner, bursts into the living room. "How are my amaretto cookies?" Uncle Franco asks, beaming at Aqua and Angie, who look like twin pumpkins holding a puppy. But they just stare back at Uncle Franco, giving him that dumbfounded look they do so well, then Angie quickly blurts out, "We didn't get any."
"No, cara, the two of you are my amaretto cookies!" he says, laughing loudly like he always does, moving his hands around a lot, then giving them both a bear hug. Uncle Franco, my godfather, is from Bologna, Italy. He always talks with his hands (and sometimes his feet too). "I haven't seen you—ah, since the Mariah Carey concert—insomma, anyway, you girls aren't fighting anymore, no?"
Bubbles throws Uncle Franco a little smirk because she didn't know that he knew about the slippery Eddie Lizard situation. (Madrina must have told him.) Eddie Lizard is this really cute boy who goes to Drinka Champagne Conservatory, where we take our vocal and dance classes on Saturdays. Let's just say both Galleria and Aqua liked the same creepy crawler who turned out to be a snake in the grass. (Every time the phone rings, though, Bubbles jumps up because she secretly hopes Lizard will call, but he doesn't.)
Uncle Franco runs into the kitchen and comes back with the only thing Aqua and Angie love more than horror movies—food. "I got the mozzarella from the Ottamanelli Market this morning—just for my two amaretto cookies!" Uncle Franco says, standing over them with a serving tray filled with his fresh-out-of-the-oven chunky cheese balls. "E buono, no?"
Now my mouth is watering too, but I can't eat. I feel so fat now that I have my crutches off and I haven't exercised for four weeks. (I broke my ankle at an audition for the Ballet Hispánico school. It was qué terrible!) I have secretly been on my own carrot diet. (I mean, if they were good enough for Bugs Bunny, then they are good enough for me. Tee-hee-hee.)
"I'm surprised Galleria hasn't invited the whole neighborhood over for a puppy parade," Madrina shouts from the dining room table. I guess I'm mad because Bubbles called Aqua and Angie over today to join the puppy party and show off Ragu. She didn't even ask me if it was okay to give the twins the last puppy. I know Mamí won't let me have one, but she could have asked me, right? "Chanel, come on, darling, could you please stop crying. Come take some cheetah tissues for your issues—and perk up for round two."
I ignore Madrina because I am too busy watching Aqua as she takes the first bite out of Uncle Franco's chunky cheese ball. Ay, qué delicioso, if Aqua and Angie could take a bite out of crime like they do those cheese balls, New York would be the safest place in todo el mundo! Uncle Franco always fries his cheese balls just right—they never get too soggy or too burnt. It's a secret recipe he got from his mother.
"Gimme one, Daddy!" Galleria teases as Uncle Franco dances around with the tray
"Darling, I can't believe you're eating one—you always complain about the melted mozzarella getting stuck in your braces," Madrina says, beaming.
"Yeah, well, I'm practicing!" Galleria says, smiling and showing off her metal mouth. "I can't wait till Monday. I'm gonna be in there like swimwear!" After school on Monday, Bubbles is getting her braces off. She gets to have everything. No more braces—and a puppy too.
"Here, Galleria, take mine!" Aqua squeals in delight. Looking at these two lovebirds, you would never know that Aqua and Bubbles were still chomping on the beef jerky about Eddie Lizard—before Mrs. Brubaker came over and surrendered the puppies.
As if reading my mind, which Bubbles does all the time, she blurts out to Aqua and Angie, "I can't believe your dad is letting you keep a pooch, smooch," but darts her eyes over at me. "He must still be under that spell Abala Shaballa put on him because he sure is awfully 'howdy doody' these days!"
It was lucky for Mr. Walker that we even knew Doktor Lizard (he's Eddie Lizard's dad and the first hoodoo practitioner we ever met). But, if it wasn't for me, the twins would have never found out that their daddy was under a spell in the first place. See, Esmeralda, the Spanish housekeeper from the apartment next door, was with the twins when they found their dad unconscious in bed surrounded by brujería—witchcraft—potions. They couldn't understand what Esmeralda was trying to tell them because she doesn't speak English, so the twins hopped on the cell phone so I could translate. Doktor Lizard came right to the hospital and saved Mr. Walker from that terrible hexarama drama. But judging from the way the twins are acting now, you wouldn't even know that I helped. Es verdad, it's true. They don't seem grateful at all. All they care about is their new puppy—and how many cheese balls they can stuff in their mouths. (Aqua is up to five and Angie has devoured four!)
"Galleria, you're a mess," Angie says, smirking, nodding, and popping cheese balls through her juicy lips.
"We can't believe it either!" Aqua sighs, popping a cheese ball into her mouth. "He is usually so strict about everything, especially who comes into our house making a mess."
"Well, there won't be any mess. This is one dog who will be walking the streets of New York by four months, 'cuz we know Daddy ain't gonna stand for all that paper- training too long!" Angie pipes in.
"Dag on, let me hold her now, Aqua!" Angie squeals, trying to get her paws on their new puppy. She plops the puppy in her lap like the animal is a ham-and-cheese sandwich on her plate she's about to devour.
"Daddy said we have to keep her in our room," Aqua announces to her, handing over the new prize to her twin sister. "And he is not going to walk her—ever—so we have to really work out our schedule now."
I can't believe my ears. I just want to scream, Parate, already! Stop it, please. Well, I guess the secret is really out—we all know now who really is the strictest parent in our bunch. Mine. Es verdad—it's true—Juanita Domingo Simmons wins the grand prize!
"Where is your mother now, Chanel?" Angie asks gingerly, because I guess she is tired of pretending that I am not there.
"With Mr. Tycoon," I mumble under my breath. "I think they went to Nobu." Call me on my celly-jelly if you need me. That's what she told me when she went to meet him. Hah! She's never there when I need her. I can picture Mamí at Nobu now—wearing one of my too-tight tops and giggling like a schoolgirl and sucking up sushi with Mr. Tycoon, cooing, "Oh, I couldn't—okay, just one more." Mamí is always borrowing clothes from me without asking. I mean, I know she's trying to impress Mr. Tycoon with how hip and coolio she is. But what about what I want? No, we never talk about that. All we talk about is what Mamí wants: Mamí wants me be a fashion buyer instead of a singer. Mamí wants me to stay at home and not see Papi's girlfriend, Princess Pamela, because she thinks she's a witch—una bruja. (It is not true. Princess Pamela was born with a veil over her eye, which means she has the gift of sight. She is a psychic.) Mamí wants me to pick out clothes for her to wear and she doesn't want me to have a dog because she is allergic to them.
"Chanel, darling, we've put out an APB police bulletin for Juanita—as soon as we hear from her, I'll give her my drill. If it worked on that sourpuss in family court, maybe it'll work wonders with Juanita and she'll let you have a puppy. After all, it seems she has found a "lapdog" in the likes of Mr. Tycoon, so maybe she can spread a few milk biscuits around," Madrina says, chuckling, trying to make me feel better. However, I start crying a waterfall of tears until Madrina adds, sighing, "I appreciate the free carpet cleaning Chanel, but you really didn't have to!"
"But there aren't any more puppies!" I blurt out, my mouth trembling.
"Oh, don't you worry, I promise you this—if Juanita says you can have a puppy, then I will get one more from Mrs. Brubaker—if I have to hang her from her overplucked eyebrows myself."
"Whatever you say, Madrina," I mumble, still looking down at the carpet.
"Oh, come on, Chanel, this was supposed to be fun for you girls—if I didn't know better I'd think I was at a wake for the death of miniskirts."
"Chanel, come on, help us name our dog," Aqua says, laying on that Southern drawl like she does when she's trying to be super nice, but then she opens her eyes wide because she realizes that she shouldn't have said anything.
I don't want to name her stupid dog, está bien?
"You did a dope job naming my puppy," Dorinda says, trying to be nice.
Yo no lo creo, I can't believe it—even Dorinda's foster mom said she could keep one of the puppies. So what, she let me name him Nobu after Mamí's favorite restaurant. I hate sushi! Oh, but Nobu is sooo cute. He looks almost identical to Ragu, but he has an even cuter little nose.
Excerpted from Bow-wow Wow! by Deborah Gregory. Copyright © 2005 Deborah Gregory. 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.
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