Payton and Emma left a trail of chaos in their wake when they "traded faces" just for fun. This time they'll switch places to help each other and their friends out of a ginormous mess! Payton is helping out on the middle school musical while Emma puts her brains to use by tutoring--more like "twotoring"--identical twin boys. But when the boys turn out to be double trouble, Payton and Emma's worlds collide and lead to more middle-school mix-ups and mayhem. In the end, Payton and Emma realize that no matter what, they have each other's backs (as well as faces).
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January 01, 2010
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Excerpt from Take Two by Julia DeVillers
MIDDLE SCHOOL AFTER LAST PERIOD
Cell phone! Oh, no, my cell phone was ringing!
I opened my tote bag and scrounged around in a panic. I felt my brush and mirror. My raspberry lip gloss. Ouch, sharp pencil.
And phew, my cell phone. I changed the ringer to vibrate. And not a moment too soon because the principal was walking toward us...toward us...and, whew. She walked right by us.
My phone went bzzzzt.
"Good job, Payton," my twin sister, Emma, muttered. "Aren't we in enough trouble without you breaking the nocell-phones-on-during-school rule, too?"
Why yes. Yes, we were in enough trouble. Considering we were on our way to after-school detention.
"Plus, we are only allowed to use our cell phones for emergencies. We're already grounded. We don't need to get in any more trouble." Emma went on and on and on...
I sighed as I walked down the hall. We passed a WELCOME, GECKOS! poster that was peeling off the wall. Someone had drawn a mustache and earrings on the gecko, the school mascot.
Only a little more than a week ago, I'd been so psyched to be at this new school. My own locker! New people! Cute guys! Different teachers! Switching classes!
But then, we had switched more than classes. We had switched places. And the whole identical twins trading places thing? Hadn't worked out so well for us.
We passed two boys walking the other way. One turned around and laughed.
"Hey, look!" he said. "It's those TV twins!"
They both laughed.
My face flamed red with embarrassment. The whole weekend I'd tried to prepare myself for that kind of comment. It had been a seriously long day.
"I wonder if they know who is who today," his friend called out loudly, obviously so we could hear him.
"Who is whom," Emma muttered as she walked next to me, lugging her ginormous backpack.
I rolled my eyes at her.
"What?" Emma said. "If they're going to be insulting, they could at least be grammatically correct."
And then she turned around to call to the boys.
"It's whom! W-H-O-M!"
"Oh my gosh," I said, grabbing her backpack strap and dragging her around the corner. "Shush!"
"But he was being inaccurate," she protested. "And he was trying to make us look silly, but I showed him, didn't I? Ha! Did you see the look of embarrassment on his face after I pointed out his error?"
Augh! He wasn't embarrassed about his grammar, he was embarrassed for my sister. Emma was so entirely clueless sometimes.
"Just let it go," I moaned. "Isn't it bad enough that we're known as the identical twins who switched places, fooled everyone until they were busted, and were filmed making complete idiots of themselves in front of the entire school last week?"
" 'Who' is a subjective pronoun," Emma muttered. "Duh."
Even though last week was only our first week in our new school, we were already kind of famous. But not in a good way. Being called the "TV twins" sounded cool, until you knew the whole story. We hadn't been on real TV, just the school videocast shown live on a humongous screen at our first pep rally. When, unknown to us at the time, we were on camera arguing about Emma being a boring brainiac. And about me not doing so great at hanging out with popular people. Basically, in front of our entire school, we had a fight and called each other superficial, shallow, selfish, dumb and...Let's just say we totally embarrassed ourselves.
"I wish we could start middle school over again," I said. "We need a do-over."
"Tell me about it," Emma agreed. "I'm going to detention. Me! Emma 'The Brain' Mills! I've only stayed after for mathletes, a spelling bee, or to help the sixth-grade math teacher understand our honors homework. But detention?"
"It was your idea to switch places," I reminded her.
"Because you needed me to help save your reputation after you embarrassed yourself in front of your so-called friends," Emma shot back. "And look where that got us. Right into the principal's office and detention and being grounded."
Ugh. My sister was right. It seemed like a good idea at the time, switching places. Emma and I looked so much alike, we'd thought we could get away with it -- and that it would be a minor break from our normal lives, which hadn't been going so great.
"Detention! I think I'm going to hyperventilate. No, worse, I'm going to pass out," Emma was muttering while unzipping her hoodie.
"Emma! Your sweatshirt!" I whispered, trying not to attract any more attention from people passing by.
"What? All this stress is making me hot," Emma said, starting to pull off her sweatshirt.
"Emma, look at what you're wearing," I said, tilting my head toward her T-shirt so she'd get the picture. It said BEE THE BEST SPELLER IN SIXTH GRADE! It was bright yellow and had a freakish-looking bee wearing a crown on its head. She'd worn that thing all last year and it still made my eyes bleed.
With Emma's newfound sort-of sense of style, I knew even she would be embarrassed by it. I smiled at the thought of Emma having even a small sense of style. Up until last week, Emma's idea of style was to throw on sweats, tie her hair up in a ponytail, and wear a T-shirt from one of her gajillion competitions, advertising her brilliance. Even for the first day of school!
But I'd wanted to start the school year looking trendy and cool. So I'd spent the summer in camp doing chores for this girl, Ashlynn, who would pay me in her designer clothes. I called them my "Summer Slave clothes."
The designer clothes had impressed this popular girl Sydney and given me temporary access to popularity. But very temporary, because then I'd totally embarrassed myself. Emma had stepped in to save me and we'd switched places. She helped me redeem myself with Sydney and her friends.
It worked for a couple days and then? Twin Fail.
But one good thing? Emma had discovered that looking comfortable and cute wasn't such a bad thing. I waited as she opened her mouth to thank me for saving her from being seen in that T-shirt in public.
"Please tell me you're not concerned with what I'm wearing right now or how I look?" Emma hissed at me.
Well, I was. Kind of. Her hair was really disastrous, since taking off the sweatshirt had caused a static attack. I reached into my tote bag and scrounged around. Mirror, lip gloss, ouch! Sharp pencil. Yeesh. And then there it was, my brush.
"That is the least of our problems right now," Emma said. "I can't believe you are even thinking about my appearance!"
I quickly dropped the brush back into the tote bag.
"Besides, this is the perfect shirt to wear," Emma muttered. "It will remind Mrs. Case that I am the Spelling Bee Champion and not someone who gets in Big Trouble."
Well, at least it would be harder to mix us up, with Emma's static-head and goofy T-shirt. My hair was still looking good even after a bad day. My brownish blond, shiny hair was my best feature. Emma also had brownish blond hair, but it was a teeny bit less shiny than mine.
And I was pleased with my outfit today. I'd spent a lot of time choosing it. Since it was our first day back after our horrible humiliation, I wanted to make sure that when people pointed and stared at me at least I looked cute.
I was wearing:
? A blue long-sleeved shirt
(Summer Slave clothes)
? A lighter blue tank
(From when Emma had gone on a shopping spree for me)
? Bracelet with the P on it
(Mine. I was done wearing Ashlynn's too-big shoes with their too-high heels.)
I noticed my sneaker was untied. Oh, shoot. That's all I would need, to embarrass myself by tripping over my shoelace. I bent down to tie it, and didn't notice someone rounding the corner until a white sneaker practically kicked me in the head.
"Hey!" I yelped. And looked up into the face of Sydney.
"Oh, it's just the twins," Sydney said dismissively, looking down at me and then at Emma.
Ugh. It's The Sydney. She was wearing a green-and-yellow Geckos cheerleading uniform and holding pom-poms that were at my eye level. She obviously noticed that, too, and shook them so they swatted me in the face. I stood up quickly and stepped back.
"I can't believe you twins!" Following Sydney, as always, was her friend Cashmere. "You guys could have injured Sydney, and that would be a disaster. Sydney is going to cheerleading practice."
Sydney was cheerleading? Since when?
"Didn't you hear?" Cashmere asked after seeing the look on my face. "Sydney's on cheer squad! Daphne Yee broke her ankle, and Serra Potter moved to California. Sydney was the second alternate! Everyone knows she should have made it in the first place."
"Oh, Cashmere." Sydney giggled and faked a modest smile. "Let's go. Can't be late for cheerleading practice!"
Sydney did a Rah! move with her arms. I could hear Cashmere's voice as they sauntered down the hall. "Did you see Twin #2's outfit? It was sooo cute. I so want those jeans."
"Shut it, Cashmere," Sydney growled, and they walked on down the hall.
"Ugh, I don't appreciate being called Twin #2. Cashmere and Sydney obviously know my name is Payton," I grumbled. Sydney and Cashmere had ignored me completely all day. Well, except for giggling and whispering about me.
"Of course they do, because they were your FBFs," Emma said cheerfully.
"BFFs," I said, glaring at her. "How come you can win spelling bees but you can't remember three letters in a row? And speaking of, can you please cover up that hideous shirt?"
Not that I cared what Sydney thought about Emma's style anymore. Of course I didn't. Not even a little bit.
"This shirt is more rare than one of your designer fashions," Emma said pointedly. "Not everyone can win a spelling bee."
And then she stopped walking. And pointed to a door that said DETENTION.
Emma started to hyperventilate. Loudly.
"I can't! I can't go in a detention room!" Emma gasped. "Won't somebody stop this madness!?"
She was totally having a panic attack!
"Emma!" I pushed her toward the door. "Chill out! Do your breathing thing!"
Emma always did some breathing relaxation thing before her big competitions. It helped calm her down. I'd see her pacing the halls before the spelling bee or whatever we'resmarter-than-you genius contest she was in.
"Relaxing, cleansing breaths," she muttered. "In through the nose. Out through the mouth. Slow, deep breaths."
She closed her eyes and started breathing slowly and deeply. And loudly.
"Nose in, mouth out," I coached her.
"There are those twins," a girl's voice said. "Oh my gosh, are they talking to each other in a secret twin language?"
I looked in the detention room to see two girls staring at Emma and me in fascination.
"Yeah, I heard twins talk to each other in their own language, but I've never seen it before," another girl's voice said. "Spooky."
"We're breathing, okay?" I snapped. "Even twins breathe! Yeesh!"
The girls looked startled.
"We have to go in there," I said to Emma gently. "Just take a little baby step and -- "
"Excuse me!" A boy was walking quickly down the hall toward us. "Are you Payton and Emma Mills?"
"Yes." I sighed. "Yes, we're the identical embarrassing twins from TV. Yes, we switched places and it didn't go well. Yes, my hair is lighter and Emma's a little taller."
"Uh..." The boy looked slightly confused. "I just have a message to give you from the guidance counselor."
Oh. I took the note and read it aloud. " 'You are excused from detention today. Please go to the guidance office.' Signed, Counselor Case."
"Follow me," the boy said.
Emma's eyes lit up as she backed away from the detention room.
"Excuse me, you know what this is about?" I asked the boy.
"I don't know." He shrugged. "All I know is that Counselor Case was complaining about troublemaker twins and they are going to be in So. Much. Trouble."
Emma and I looked at each other and gulped. We walked in silence down the hall, not looking at each other the entire way, and into the guidance office.
A dark-haired woman was sitting behind a desk. When she saw us, she stood up and gestured for us to take a seat.
"I'm Counselor Case," she said. "Please sit down."
Emma and I sat down. We gave each other a worried look.
"I'm afraid this is a sticky situation," the counselor said. "Twin issues are challenging. It must be hard to be identical twins and feel constantly compared to each other. You must feel like you have to stand out to have your own identity. And sometimes, that can lead to trouble. Big trouble."
And then she got up suddenly and left the room.