13-year-old Beatrice Peppercorn's heart's desires are to finish her final year in middle school, win the heart of her cutie pie crush, and take home the trophy for the spelling competition. Simple, right? Not when Beatrice's arch nemesis gets in her way and a new kid arrives--turning her world upside down.
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middle grade fiction
When hair dye goes wrong, falsies escape during pep rallies, and friends turn to the dark side, Beatrice's 8th-grade year can only be saved by grape bubblegum kisses.
"Oh man," I whispered, staring at myself in the mirror. "What was I thinking?" Strands of wet, purple hair covered my trembling hands, and more lay in the sink. I closed my eyes and prayed for this to be a bad dream, then slowly opened them. "Oh. My. Gawd. Mom's going to kill me!"
It had seemed so easy: mix chemicals, apply, wait, and then rinse. Four steps, only four steps. How'd I mess up?
I leaned against the sink, knocking a hand mirror onto the floor. The sound of shattering glass ricocheted against the tile floor. "Crap!"
"Bea," Mom yelled. My heart stopped beating. "Beatrice, what did you break?"
I grabbed the hair color box and stuffed the gloves and empty bottles inside. My mother's footsteps pounded up the stairs. The bathroom air thickened around me.
"Uh...I knocked over the hand mirror." I leaned against the closed door.
"Be careful cleaning it up."
At the sound of her heels tapping down the wood stairs, I breathed a sigh of relief.
After carefully picking up the broken glass, I conditioned and rinsed my hair. I surveyed the damage. Gawd, I'd qualified for Idiot of the Year. My eyes watered as I gently removed the clumps of hair from the sink, wrapped them up in a paper towel, and discreetly stuffed them in an empty tissue box. Choking back a sob, I stomped it all down with my foot, squishing my failure deeper into the trash can.
First, I should've known not to put anything in my hair that smelled like the ammonia Mom used to mop the kitchen floor. Second, the "For Professional Use Only" typed in bold letters should've warned me.
The doorbell rang as I glared back at my reflection.
"Bea," Mom hollered, "Shannan's here."
I cracked the bathroom door. "Tell her to come on up." My yell was followed by her footsteps on the stairs.
"Hey, Bebe, where are you?" Shannan said in the hallway.
"I'm in the bathroom. Get in here, hurry."
"Ew! No way, girl."
"I'm not using it." I opened the door. "I have to show you my hair," I whispered.
Shannan saw me, and her eyes got three times bigger. "Whoa!"
"Shh, before my mom comes up here."
"What did you do to your hair?"
"I tried to color it."
"Why would you try to do it yourself?"
As my best friend since sixth grade, she should know why. "Because I'm a dork," I said. "Yesterday, while Mom and I were out shopping at the mall, I saw Mitzie in that really expensive salon getting highlights, and I got jealous."
Shannan slapped her forehead and sighed.
"When we left the mall, we went to the grocery store, and I noticed a beauty supply place next to it. So, while mom shopped, I snuck over and bought the kits.”
Shannan straightened up. "Kits." She glanced into the trash can, stared at the two smashed boxes and then glared at me. "Why did you buy two?"
"I couldn't decide which color I wanted. After I tried the first one, it was too light. So I used the second one, and that's when disaster struck. It turned purple and started falling out."
Shannan's mouth formed an O as her eyes glazed over. "All of this because of Mitzie."
I nodded, and my bottom lip quivered.