Excerpts

 

Sneak Peek at Book 2 More Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child —Watch Out Hollywood!!!!

Chapter 1

Nirvana, Baby

 

Here’s why I believe in second chances:

Yesterday, I was running for my life. Hiding from the cops. Everyone hated me. It was over. Everything I’d hoped for. And by the way, I’m not lying. If there’s one thing you should know about me, Charlie C. Cooper, I don’t lie. I might be a lot of things, but I’m no liar.

Anyway, as I was saying, there I was hiding in the Houdini tunnels with Marta the Farta like a couple of dirty rats while the police and Principal Pickler hunted us down like dogs.

And today Marta’s safe and I am a hero. No joke. My face is literally splashed all over the TV.

You’re probably asking yourselves how could such a super cool, smart, fashion forward, tech genius such as myself be hunted down like a rat?

Well, I’ll tell you. It’s because my no-good, super jealous and totally spoiled ex-friend Trixie wanted us gone. She wanted Marta off the school gym team and me off the planet Earth. And she’s the kind of girl who will do whatever it takes to get what she wants. So when she found out the secret we’d been hiding—that Marta’s mom was really dead and she was living alone—she called the Cops, Child Services and, of course, Principal Pickler to get us expelled. And it looked like she was going to get her way. Until my last minute plan came through– Marta’s aunt arrived from Romania to take care of her. Trixie got kicked out. Her sidekick Babette got a big fat dose of therapy. And me—I was off the hook. I was also off the couch and out of the doghouse. No more therapy for this girl. I was cured in the eyes of the world.

The press got hold of the story and ran with it. Love those guys.

And here we are. One day after the whole thing went down and I’m waking up to a wall of lightbulbs and cameras lined up along the fence outside my house calling my name, chanting it like a roar.

“Charlie!”

“Charlie!”

“Charlie!”

Okay, fine. They aren’t really chanting, but you get my drift, right? They’re waiting. For me. Charlie. And I am so ready. I put together an outfit no one will forget. My signature blue Dr. Martens, fishnet tights, black tutu, and, of course, my Guns N’ Roses vintage sweatshirt with faux sweat rings. I tease the hair, stick tons of black butterfly sequin barrettes in, put a tiny bit of my sister’s mascara on, and bam! A star is about to be born.

There’s a knock at the front door; I run to answer it.

“Yo! Charlie! CNN.” They snap my picture. “LA Times. Over here, Charlie!”

People magazine,” someone yells. “Can you tell our readers what it feels like to be a hero?”

“A hero?” Now that’s a first.

“Show us where it happened, Charlie.”

“ABC here,” a camera with the biggest microphone ever is suddenly in my face, “is it really true you found Houdini’s lost tunnels?”

I take the key from my pocket, “follow me.”

The TV people call me selfless. They call me a true friend. They say I risked my life to help Marta, whose mom had died. Finally I’m being seen for the person I want to be instead of the person I was. A bully, yeah that’s right. I can admit it now. I, Charlie C. Cooper was a bully. But those days are gone. And lucky for me, Chad Newman, my major agent from Endeavor, is by my side, reminding me of the bright spot at the end of the tunnel. “We’re gonna make you a star, Charlie Cooper, a star.”

At the end of the press conference, right around lunchtime, Chad announces that we have offers on the table from ABC Family, Nick, and possibly even HBO, all begging to sign me. And by Sunday morning, my face is plastered across every paper in LA with the headlines:

But I’m taken. I’ve signed with Chad. And if there’s one thing you should know about me it’s that I’m as loyal as the school day is long.

Now I can almost bet that come Monday morning, I will be the most popular kid in Happy Canyon School. And we’re not talking empty popularity, like the girls who are popular because their boobs are bigger than most of the moms’ or because their dads drive cars that cost more than a house. I’m talking sustainable popularity. My Indian friend Jai says it’s the only kind of popularity that means anything, because it means something. I have no idea what exactly, but who cares, right? all that pain and suffering has finally paid off.

To go with my new self, I need a new outfit, of course—

“Charlie?” Mom calls up from the kitchen. “Chad’s on the phone. He sounds crazed.”

I throw on my Led Zeppelin tank top, black skirt, and boots, and am about to walk out, when I hear Felix in the hallway, bouncing off the walls. “Charlie’s gonna be famous, Charlie’s gonna be famous.”

I’m feeling warm and fuzzy all over.

“Charlie! Get down here now!” Mom yells again.

Then my older sister Penelope, the do-gooder, throws open my door. “Exploitation is so lame. And you, my little sister, are being exploited.”

For some reason she’s always right there, just waiting to yuck my yum. “Can you move, please?”

“No.”

Sadly, it’s their room too. So embarrassing. The three of us—as in THREE— share one room, which I’m pretty sure is against the Geneva Convention. The next mansion that Dad gets hired to restore better have five bedrooms, or I’m out.

“Get a life, Pen.” I pop one last delicious raspberry-filled See’s candy on my tongue and suck the filling right out. “Here, kid.” I hand Felix a chocolate, push Pen out of the way with one finger, and take the stairs fast and hard.

I grab the phone, feeling confident and ready for whatever else my wonderful life wants to toss my way, and run back up to my room for some privacy. “Hey, Chad, what’s happening?” Did I mention that Chad’s from William Morris ? WME for those in the know? He represents the best of the best. People with last names like Cruz and Pitt. He’s got more teeth than a shark, and his eyelids didn’t close once during our meeting yesterday. A very good sign.

“Hey, star.” Chad is smooth as silk. “Just heard ABC Family is casting for a new series called Off the Beam.”

Did he just say series?

“Great title, don’t you think? It’s about a perfect team of girls who will do whatever it takes to be the best.”

Sounds like middle school.

“And then there’s the one kid who can’t get on the team, the girl they all laugh at, pick on. That’s you.”

I’m speechless.

“Charlie, it’s a great role. This kid is funny and smart, but she’s a troublemaker. She’s the star of the show.”

Hold on. “Did you say star?”

“I did.”

“You ever watch that show Make It or Break It?”

“I don’t watch TV. I stream French movies.”

“Well, it’s a show about a group of gymnasts who all want to be the best on the team and they’ll do anything to get there. They’re ruthless.” He says it like a yummy desert. “It’s like watching a bunch of cute kittens in pink leotards clawing each other’s eyes out.”

You’d play the little sister villain. You know, messing up their hair, putting food coloring in their shampoo, that kind of stuff.”

“Pranks?” Are you kidding me? I basically wouldn’t have to act. “I’d be perfect. Where do I sign?”

“Hold on—” he yanks me back from my moment of true happiness. “If you don’t know the basics of gymnastics. They aren’t interested.”

What? All you need to do is look at me to know it ain’t happening. I lift my T-shirt, stand sideways and check out the tummy in the mirror. Not exactly gymnast material. I suck it in, basically stop breathing. Better.

“They want your friend to come in, too. She’s good at gymnastics, right?”

“Whoa, wait, what friend? I don’t have any friends.”

He thinks this is hysterical. “The girl you hid in the tunnels. Got the aunt on a plane, you know…what’s her name, kinda weird looking—”

“Marta.” I close my eyes with a feeling of dread. Not Marta. I just totally took care of Marta. She’s set. For life.

True fact:

Can this be about me, just me, for once?

“Exactly.” He snaps. “What’s her number?”

No, no, no! I pace my floor. I look out at my statue of Harry.

“Charlie?”

My future passes in front of my eyes. It’s the old fork in the road, people. If I don’t give him her number. I see:

  • ME, as the star of the show. Limo and driver, people kissing my butt, cameras following my every move.

  • But if I tell him the truth and give it to him, I see:

Marta taking over as star gymnast on my new hit show, wanted by both Hollywood and the US Olympic team. Her teeth bleached and her clothes covered in rhinestones. Loved and adored by all. And me, forgotten as usual.

I look at Houdini. He’s looking right back at me. What would he do? What would Mr. Harry Houdini do? I pause, I pace, I really think about it. The answer is obvious. Of course he’d do it. Of course he’d lie. And let’s be honest, it’s not really a lie, ‘cuz like I said, I’m no liar. It’s more of a WHITE LIE. And who doesn’t white lie? White lies are as common as words—like when people ask you how you’re doing and you say, fine, when you’re not fine—that’s a white lie. This town is built on them.

“I need your friend’s number,” Chad’s pushing hard. “They want to see her just in case, as a backup. You know what I mean?”

Once again, the two versions of my life pass before my eyes. If they see Marta and me together, they’ll choose her.

“Come on, kid, don’t have all day.” Chad barks.

And then I do it.

I lie.

Not a big lie.

Not a lie that will hurt anyone.

Just a small little lie

that will help me.

I deserve a little help sometimes too, don’t I?

Don’t I?