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The first time I knew I wasn't like all the other 2,500 weekdays in Nova was while sitting on the steps of Power Academy holding my boy — er, friend, that just happened to be a boy — Logan's hand.
We'd just teleported from a metal bus jungle gym on the other side of town and landed here.
"Did that just really happen?"
"Yes," Logan answered, his hand still wrapped around mine.
My eyes widened. "But how did I just ..."
"Teleport?" he asked through a chuckle.
My cheeks burned for two reasons. One — I'd just teleported like a Tuesday. Two — what I expected to happen when Logan told me to close my eyes and count to three was a kiss — my first real kiss. Thank goodness Logan wasn't a mind-reading Thursday who could see that thought in my head. It'd be totally embarrassing if that was the case.
"It's okay, Poppy." Logan smirked and squeezed my trembling hand. He turned his head, and a few strands of hair fell into his eyes. This time, I used my Monday power to push them out of his face, and when I did, a pink color dotted his cheeks.
I bit the side of my lip. Gosh he's so cute.
I couldn't be distracted from the enormity of what just happened though.
"So what do you think this means?" he asked.
I shook my head. It was virtually impossible to know what this meant. One minute I was simply a telekinetic Monday and a telepathic Thursday, and now, all of a sudden, I could teleport like a Tuesday. Did I teleport myself? Or did Logan make me teleport? I was just getting used to having two weekday powers, to being a cusper. Things just went from weird to weirder in a matter of seconds.
"But how is that even possible?"
Logan looked behind us to Power Academy and the new Nova Power Corporation connected to it.
"Oh," I sighed. Mark Masters had revealed to us that we weren't born with our magical weekday powers, but they were given to us, injected into us, when we were born. With so many unanswered questions swimming around in my head, I suddenly wished I was just a normal Monday with only one weekday power. Then I could have avoided the whole stolen Pickle situation and the even worse Mayor Masters' cusp experimentation thing we uncovered. "What do we do now?" I asked.
Logan let go of my hand and pushed his fingers through his hair. "These powers — they are what they are, and I don't think there's anything we can do about it," he huffed. "I mean, we tried to find out more."
He was right. After we learned the truth about our powers, we'd asked both my dad and Headmistress Larriby about what it all means more times than we could count, so there was no use attempting any more. They knew just as much as we did — nothing. Or at least they said they knew nothing. But there was no harm in asking, right?
"There's another reason I wanted to bring you here." Logan swallowed hard. "Alone."
He leaned in closer to me; his face was just inches from mine. My heart beat harder and harder until he reached a hand into his back pocket. As he straightened and passed me a folded-up sheet of paper, I let out the breath I held.
No first kiss today.
"What's this?" I asked.
"Just open it," he said quietly as his eyes burned into the piece of paper in my hands. He sniffed and then turned away.
The paper cracked as I uncrinkled it open.
Our Dearest Logan,
If you're reading this, it means your grandfather and grandmother have left this world. I'm sure you have many unanswered questions about what happened to us, but know we love you more than anything. One day we hope to return to Nova, but until it's safe, know that you are always on our minds.
With love, Mom and Dad
"Oh. My. Gosh. Logan? But your grandparents are still alive." Way to go, Miss Obvious. I added quickly, "Then how did you get that?"
He shrugged. "Gram and Pop don't know I found it."
I grabbed the letter again and inspected it closer. "You know what this means?"
He smiled and brushed a hand across his cheek. "My parents are still alive."CHAPTER 2
One month later
It was the first day of seventh grade at Nova Middle School. I walked into Mr. Salmon's class and smiled. It had been too long since I stepped foot in his room. Ninety days to be exact — the entire summer. And was it ever a summer to remember.
"Hey, Poppy!" one of my best friends (and former enemy) Ellie Preston said, tossing her pink purse on the floor and sitting down next to me. "Did you see Mark yet?" Her big brown eyes widened.
"Not yet." I rolled my eyes. "It is only first period, Ellie."
I had to admit, I was just as excited to see Mark as anybody else. His mom, Mayor Masters, was locked up in Nova Power Prison, and no one had heard from him over the summer. I had called his phone and stopped by his house over the last few weeks a gazillion times, but he never answered. I guess he needed time to process everything alone.
The last time we'd all seen Mark Masters was at Power Academy. We'd found him pale, disoriented, and exhausted from the weird science experiments his mentally unstable mother had performed on him in an attempt to give him weekday powers. So sad.
"I know. The saddest," Ellie added, reading the thought right out of my mind.
Oh, Ellie. Some things never changed.
"Have any of you seen Mark?" a voice asked from behind me.
This time Ellie rolled her eyes. I turned around and almost knocked my face on a giant cowboy hat. "Hi, Sam," I said.
Sam took off his hat to reveal curly red hair just like my own. He set it on top of Ellie's purse. Of course he couldn't let that huge thing get dirty.
"I actually heard Mark might have to take sixth grade all over again because of everything that went down." Ellie pointed a finger to the chair on her right.
Sam followed her cue and sat in it. I chuckled inside. Ellie had him trained as well I as I had Pickle trained. Oh, how I loved my furry little friend.
Two girls bumped my shoulders as they passed me, taking the last two desks behind us. They hovered over our shoulders, staring at us like we were performing animals in a circus act.
"So are you reading our minds right now?" Hope, a powerless Sunday asked, her face suddenly appearing between Ellie and me.
Ellie's head snapped toward Hope and her hair hit a girl named Margo across the face. We are just normal people, Ellie said in her head using her mean-girl voice. "Having two powers doesn't make us much different than anyone else," she then said aloud.
You'd think Ellie would love people knowing we were cusp kids since she basked in being the center of attention, but for some reason, she was having a hard time with it. I, surprisingly enough, was getting used to all the stares and questions.
After Mayor Masters let the cusper cat out of the bag (right before she was thrown into prison), me, Ellie, Logan, and Sam became the talk of the town. And Mark too, of course. It was as if Mayor Masters wanted people to make a fuss over our extra powers. Random people would stop my mom and me while shopping at the grocery store to ask me to use both of my powers — telekinesis and telepathy. Of course, we never entertained their silly requests. It was none of their business if I could indeed move things without touching them and read minds. They just had to trust what they'd read in the Nova City Public Opinion. That some of us were cuspers — born on the cusp of two weekdays, giving us two powers.
Not only that, but old friends of my parents began "stopping by" for visits because, "It's been so long," they'd say. But I knew better than that. They wanted to see if it was true. If there really were people with more than one weekday power in our quaint little town of Nova. If only they knew the rest of the story ... how we all really got those powers.
How they got their own weekday powers.
I glanced at the clock in the back of Mr. Salmon's room and frowned. It was so like Logan to be late and then suddenly show up out of now her —
"I saw that frown before I appeared. And what were you just thinking?" Logan asked, a huge smile on his face.
"Late as usual," I shot right back at him and then smirked. "But I'm happy you're here now."
To my right, Hope and Margo attempted to coax a Monday trick out of Ellie. A Friday named Lauren jumped in as well. "Can't you just show us?" Lauren asked, crouching in the aisle next to Ellie. "Mr. Salmon's not even paying attention."
She was right. Mr. Salmon was busy at his desk creating the seating chart. On the first day of school while we're literally sitting in his classroom? Way to wait until the last minute, Mr. Fish.
Margo tapped Ellie's shoulder. "I mean, just move this pencil with your mind. That's all!"
I smirked. "Okay." I whizzed a pencil eraser through the air so it smacked Margo's finger. She pulled her hand away from Ellie's shoulder.
"Ouch! You didn't have to do that!" Margo snarked.
Ellie, queen of the cold shoulder, ignored their pleas. I remembered back to two years ago when that cold shoulder would have been directed at me. We had come so far in our friendship.
"We have." Ellie smiled.
"Okay, okay, everyone. Settle down," Mr. Salmon said, standing with his shoulders rounded forward. At the exact same moment, somebody, presumably a Monday, sent a whoosh of wind in his direction. The furry, gray toupee atop his bald head lifted in the front. Mr. Salmon's hand shot up to the top of his head. A grimace crossed his face as he smoothed the furry madness back down. "Who did that?" he shouted. The entire class giggled. Eventually though, Mr. Salmon's gaze landed on me.
I put my hands up in surrender. "Not me!"
Mr. Salmon narrowed his eyes. He didn't believe me.
"I swear!" I crossed my fingers over my heart.
"I'd hoped to get off to a good start this year, Miss Mayberry." Mr. Salmon grabbed a stack of papers and began passing them out. "Welcome to Algebra one," he said, slapping a syllabus on my desk and then giving me the stink-eye through a pair of thick-framed, black glasses. Before he moved down the row, he leaned over me and whispered harshly, "You do not want to mess with me." Ugh. It was just my luck to have my least favorite teacher for math again this year.
While Mr. Salmon was distracted passing out the first-day-of-school paperwork, Logan used the time to talk to me.
"So," Logan sighed, "have you seen Mark yet?"
Although Logan, Ellie, Sam, and I seemed to be the center of attention to all the students in Mr. Salmon's first period class, to the four of us, Mark was the sun in our universe.
"Not yet," I whispered.
"I think I might be making some progress with him," Logan said.
As if on cue, the classroom door creaked open, and in walked the former nose-picking king of Nova himself.
The mutterings and whispers came to a halt; this was the epitome of pin-drop silence.
Mr. Salmon cleared his throat. "Nice of you to join us, Mr. Masters," he said through a chuckle, trying to break the obvious tension. But his comment and slight laugh made it even more awkward. For being tardy to class, Mr. Salmon would have assigned anyone else a detention, but it seemed everyone, including our toupee-wearing teacher, cut Mark a break. Poor kid had been through enough, so the sympathy was totally deserved.
Mark shuffled to his seat on the other side of Logan.
Out of the corner of my eye I caught Mark lean to his right. He whispered in Logan's ear. "I'll do it," he said.
"Yes," I whispered to myself.
We all wanted to see Mark Masters today. But Logan had more of a reason than any of us. Only Mark could get us into the Nova Power Prison to see his mother. Mayor Masters knew about the whole origin of our powers, so maybe she knew something about Logan's parents too. This was our chance to find out if that was true.
* * *
"So when did we turn into some mystery-solving foursome?" Ellie asked. It was the end of the school day, and we sat inside Novalicious discussing the next steps in our plan to find Logan's parents.
The secret letter Logan found from them laid in the middle of the table. It was the first time Ellie and Sam had the chance to read it.
"Do your grandparents even know you found this?" Sam held the note to his nose.
"Where are your glasses?" Ellie asked him.
Sam shrugged. "Forgot them in band."
Logan took a sip of his milkshake, and a vanilla mustache coated his upper lip. I used my Monday power to smack a napkin on his forehead. It fell to the table below as Logan laughed. "Gram and Pop have no idea." He wiped the ice cream away. "In fact, they don't notice much of anything." Logan sighed, and his lips curved down. Both of his grandparents were getting up there in age, so things were definitely becoming slower for them. "Which means ..." Logan sat up straight, "it shouldn't be too hard to sneak out and head to Nova Power Prison with Mark."
"You can't do it alone, though," I said through a smirk. "I plan on telling Mom and Dad I have to study for the Algebra quiz tonight."
Mr. Salmon told us that he was giving us an "announced pop-quiz" — whatever that meant. I mean, it's not like it could be a true pop-quiz then. And on the second day of school? Unbelievable!
"So what's the plan?" Ellie asked.
"Mark's meeting us in front of the prison at six o'clock sharp, and we'll go from there."
Since they only allow direct relatives of inmates to visit Nova Power Prison, we needed Mark to bring us with him as guests.
"Aww, man." Ellie frowned. "Mom and Dad actually want to have a family dinner tonight, so I can't come."
Even though we'd miss Ellie, I knew her parents' acceptance was important to her. In fact, she'd do pretty much anything to win her mom's approval.
"And I have karate tonight," Sam chimed in.
Of course he did. "What aren't you involved in?" I teased. I looked to Logan. "So I guess it's just us." I pushed on his shoulder. "Six o'clock sharp, Mr. Late."
* * *
I glanced down at my rhinestoned purple phone to see that it was exactly six on the dot. And surprise, surprise, there was no sign of Logan. Or Mark.
The phone vibrated in my hand.
Ellie: Good luck, Poppy!
Poppy: Thanks :)
I tucked the phone into the back pocket of my skinny jeans. It had been just about two years since the totally accidental headband incident with Ellie. That was the first time I ever used my Monday power, and I had smashed Ellie's favorite hair accessory on the board in Mrs. Flanagan's classroom. Back then, Ellie and I were the opposite of friends. Frenemies was even a generous way to describe our relationship. If it weren't for that first summer at Power Academy, we might actually still be arch nemeses. For life.
I grabbed my phone again and looked at the home screen. 6:07. I huffed, "This is totally —"
"Ridiculous?" Logan took the word right out my mouth as he appeared in front of me.
"I like you, but you need to stop doing that!" I nudged his shoulder. That was the second time I'd nudged him in one day — the whole flirting thing was something I was still getting used to. I blushed. Logan stepped closer to me, and his hand wrapped around my wrist. My face grew warmer.
"Let's have a look." He pulled my hand up to his face, my cell phone facing him. "Six oh eight," he huffed.
We looked around the parking lot, but there was no sign of Mark whatsoever. Maybe he got cold feet. It was a lot to ask of him — bringing us with him to visit his mother who he hadn't spoken to in months. But he did kind of owe us. If we hadn't broken into Nova Power Corporation to find him last summer, then who knows what else his mother had in store for him. I shivered at the thought of needles, test tubes, and cold, sterile rooms with chilly, metal tables and even colder metal chairs.
"Hey. There he is," Logan said, pointing above my head. I spun around to see a slouching Mark Masters walking down a hill.
"It's really cool of him to do this," I said.
Logan scratched the back of his head. "I hope it works." Mark caught up to us. "Thanks again, man," Logan said, shaking Mark's hand. I giggled inside at his formality.
Mark stepped toward the prison entrance and then suddenly stopped.
"What's wrong?" Logan asked.
Mark took a few steps backward. "I'm not really sure this is a good idea," he said, shaking his head.
Sadness swept over Logan's face. Mark was our only lead, even if a small one, to finding out what exactly happened to Logan's parents. We had to get in.
"Mark," I spoke cautiously, "we just need to see her for a few minutes. No more." I smiled. "Promise." I made the cross-my-heart motion with my finger.
I'm more afraid for me, Mark thought in return, his scared eyes meeting mine. Mark hadn't been into the prison — not even once — to visit his mother. This poor boy had been through so much already; was this worth bringing back all those memories for him?(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Poppy Mayberry, A New Day"
Copyright © 2018 Jennie K. Brown.
Excerpted by permission of Month9Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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