Michelle, Cassie, and Mandy threw a frisbee during lunch recess. "You know what's funny," Michelle considered aloud. "I missed the bus this morning. D.J. was all ready to leave for her college classes. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been early enough to help." She leaped to catch the frisbee, and popped it into the air. She grabbed it with one hand as it fell.
"Cool catch," Cassie told her. "With all those people in your house, you would have come on time, I'm sure."
"Yeah, maybe. Anyway, I was thinking. How about we let him join our secret club." Michelle threw the frisbee to Mandy.
Mandy caught and threw as she spoke. "Great idea. Just one problem. We don't have a secret club."
"Unless it's so secret, we don't know about it," quipped Cassie.
"We can make one," noted Michelle. Her eyes widened. The frisbee whizzed over her head. Before she ran to get it, Rachel began walking toward them.
"Oh, yeah, did you guys see Rachel?" Michelle asked. She then ran to get the frisbee.
The other girls glanced at her. "Cool clothes," Mandy remarked. "Except she looks like a crayon."
Rachel strolled up to Michelle. She threw back her head. Her incredibly long brown hair shook as she did this. "Hey, I bet you didn't notice my gorgeous outfit. This is the best in fashion."
Michelle stopped to examine her. "So, is a crayon company paying you to put their name on your shirt," Michelle wondered.
Cassie chuckled. "Yeah. With ‘hot pink' written down one pant leg."
Michelle laughed. She knew such jokes didn't hurt Rachel. Not like they would have that new kid. Besides, Rachel brought jokes upon herself by bragging about her wealth, her talent, or in this case, her clothes. That boy couldn't help how he looked.
Rachel chuckled and shook her head. "You think you're so funny." She said she got the idea from her sitter. "My mom's busy this week. And, the lady who usually watches me can't. So, my mom had to stoop to hiring someone. Our au pair has a bad case of the flu." She pretended to sound sorry while talking down to them. "Oops, I forgot. You wouldn't know what an au pair is." The sitter wasn't really a professional. Rachel liked to call her au pair, though. It was just another way for her to sound better than Michelle and her friends.
"I know what au pair means," Michelle said casually. "You need a pair of sitters. One for yourself, and one for your huge ego."
Cassie and Mandy clapped hard. "That's the comeback of the week," shouted Mandy.
"Maybe of the year," Cassie complimented her.
Michelle beamed. "That more than makes up for the trap I set for myself earlier."
"Ho, ho, ho," Rachel said sarcastically. "It just so happens I spoke with Lewis, while you were practicing wisecracks."
Michelle shot Rachel a puzzled look. "Who's Lewis?"
"That new kid," Rachel explained. She explained that as they walked to lunch, she'd asked the hall monitor where he was. She'd spoken to him as they were going out to recess.
Michelle scratched her strawberry blonde hair. Something wasn't making sense. "Rachel Tilly apologized without being told to? But, why?"
Michelle raised her eyebrows and leaned forward a little. Rachel told them she'd used the excuse that she wanted to say she was sorry. After all, she had been one of the teasers. That's how she found Lewis. She then invited him to join her club.
"How could Rachel have stolen our idea? I just had it a minute ago."
"What club is that," Mandy inquired, genuinely curious.
"I told my sitter all about me. I told her about the dog shows, the dance competitions, and all my other awards. She said I could pass for a Junior Flamingo," boasted Rachel. She walked away proudly. She quickly glanced back at Michelle. "I know you'll never be in such a cool club."
Cassie and Mandy glanced at Michelle. Their friend appeared distracted. "Hey," Cassie remarked. She noticed Michelle was lost in thought. She tapped her on the shoulder. "Was that really Rachel?"
"Probably," muttered Michelle. She racked her brain. "Flamingo? Why does that sound familiar?"
Mandy gazed at her friend. "You look troubled."
"Guys..." Michelle couldn't decide how to continue. She considered where she might have heard that term. Could it be something one of her older sisters mentioned? She wasn't sure. She only sensed an uneasy feeling. "Does Flamingo mean anything to you?"
Cassie spoke first. "Yeah. Tacky lawn ornaments." The girls giggled.
"I don't think I've heard of them. Other than the bird," Mandy confessed.
A soccer ball gone astray bonked Michelle in the head. "Ow." She rubbed the back of her head while Mandy threw the ball toward the players.
Cassie asked if she was awake now. "I know Rachel being nice is..." She struggled to describe it. "Well...it's really weird. But, maybe that sitter had an impact on her."
Mandy concurred. "Maybe she saw someone watching her because she liked it for a change. Not because it was her job."
"That could be true," Michelle admitted. However, as she told Mandy, "there's just something about that word. And..." She pursed her lips. "I don't know."
She shook her head and exhaled deeply. D.J. had made the honor roll in high school. There were clubs for very bright, gifted students. Could part of such a club involve helping others? The Flamingoes might be a club of people who won lots of awards.
"Maybe I worry too much. My dad's awfully protective. Maybe I'm taking after him."
Even if she was, she wanted to ask Stephanie or D.J. about it. Something seemed strange. And, she felt Lewis needed another friend besides Rachel.
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