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ALSO BY TAMARA IRELAND STONE
Little Do We Know
Every Last Word
Time After Time
Time Between Us
Time and Time Again: A Collection
Copyright © 2019 by Tamara Ireland Stone
Designed by Phil Caminiti, Andrew Brozyna, and Mary Claire Cruz
Photographs and art by Andrew Brozyna • Alias Ching/Shutterstock • PureSolution/Shutterstock • CREATISTA/Shutterstock • Raisa Kanareva/Shutterstock • Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock • dourleak/Shutterstock • phloxii/Shutterstock • Andrej Sevkovskij/Shutterstock • ShotPrime Studio/Shutterstock • Jennie Book/Shutterstock • Lunatictm/Shutterstock • Zilu8/Shutterstock • Vladimir Sukhachev/Shutterstock • Fitria Ramli/Shutterstock
Cover art © 2019 by Jameela Wahlgren
Cover design by Mary Claire Cruz
All rights reserved. Published by Disney Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Disney Hyperion, 125 West End Avenue, New York, New York 10023.
Aidan, this one’s for you
Attention, teen coders! Want to spend your summer at Spyglass Games?
We’re looking for students in grades 6–12 to help create the company’s first teen hackathon!
Hackathons are “hacking marathons” that pit team against team in a weekend-long, beat-the-clock coding competition. Work together to create a game, mobile app, or even a robot—in just two days, totally from scratch—and you could win big cash (and big-time bragging rights)!
But first, we need your help creating the perfect summer program. As part of our exclusive development team, you’ll take part in your choice of three hackathon weekends, all held on our beautiful San Francisco campus, where you’ll share ideas and feedback that will help shape the Spyglass Teen Hackathon for years to come. Come take part in this truly unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Applicants must have at least two years of coding experience and demonstrate the ability to work quickly and collaboratively. Space is extremely limited. Good luck!
Allie leaned back against her headboard and adjusted the laptop in front of her. She scanned her application one more time to be sure she hadn’t missed anything.
Current Grade: 7
Coding Experience: 3 years, Games for Good Finalist
Most Recent Project (include link to demo): Click’d
Click’d. She loved her game, but she wished she had something more recent to share with the selection committee. Something they hadn’t already seen. Something they hadn’t already seen bomb so spectacularly.
She scrolled down to her essay and read it out loud. It sounded pretty good.
“What do you think, Bo?” Her dog opened one eye when he heard his name, but then closed it again. He snuggled in closer to her hip and tipped his head back so Allie could rub that spot under his chin.
“You’re right. I should just send it.”
The application wasn’t due until the end of the month, but she’d been working on it for weeks. Her mom and dad had both read her essay countless times, and so had her computer science teacher, Ms. Slade. There was no reason to wait. Nothing was going to change before it was due anyway.
She listened to the rain plinking against her bedroom window while her finger hovered over the SUBMIT button. She was about to click it, when her phone chirped. Bo jumped so high, his body practically left the bed.
She laughed as she reached for the phone and read the text.
Good day/bad day?
Allie and Courtney usually did good day/bad day right before they fell asleep at night, just like they used to when they were roommates at CodeGirls Camp the previous summer. But they’d been missing each other more than usual lately, and they seemed to be starting the routine earlier.
Scored a goal in soccer game today Went to a movie with my friends Spyglass sent me passes to Game On
She was waiting for Courtney to respond when the familiar FaceTime ring echoed in the room.
“You’re going to Game On Con?” Courtney stared at Allie wide-eyed. Her hair was piled on top of her head in a messy bun, and she was wearing her favorite SUNDAY FUNDAY T-shirt.
Allie sat up straighter. “Um . . . Yeah.”
“Game On Con. The Game On Con?”
“I’m pretty sure there’s only one of them.” Spyglass Games held it every January and people came from all over the world to attend, making downtown San Francisco heaven-on-earth for the gaming community. “Because of Click’d, I get to go for free and check out all the new games and stuff.”
Allie wasn’t about to tell her about the personal meet-and-greet with the CEO, Naomi Ryan. Or how she’d planned to use that time to try to land a spot in the summer hackathon program. Courtney couldn’t know about Hackathon. Not yet.
“Nathan’s going, too,” she said.
Nathan got an even sweeter deal than Allie had. He’d been invited to be onstage during Naomi Ryan’s keynote and attend some swanky dinner thing with the development team.
“But you don’t even play video games!”
“Sure I do.”
Courtney let out a huff. “Name one game you play.”
Allie thought about it. She had an old Nintendo DS around her room somewhere, but she hadn’t turned it on in years. Besides, she knew that wouldn’t count. Courtney was talking about real games, like the ones she played every day after school with her online friends.
Courtney didn’t give Allie time to reply. “You’re so lucky. Stuff like this happens right in your backyard, all the time. Nothing cool ever happens in Phoenix.”
“You have more sun,” Allie tried.
“Ha! You can have it. I mean, come on . . . it’s January. Right now, it’s snowing in half the country, but it’s seventy-five degrees here. Seventy-five degrees, Allie. That’s just not natural!”
Courtney had one of those loud, contagious laughs. Hearing her now reminded Allie of those days in the computer lab over the summer. Courtney’s giggle would turn into a full-on belly laugh, and that would make Allie laugh, and then Maya would hear them, and she’d start laughing. That would trigger Kaiya and Li at the next station, and soon everyone in the Fishbowl would be wiping their eyes and trying to catch their breaths, and no one but Courtney and Allie would even know what was so funny in the first place.
“Well, it’s been raining for four days straight here in San Francisco,” Allie said. “So if you need a break from all that horrible sunshine, you can always come here.”
Courtney flopped back onto her bed and lifted the phone high in the air. “Don’t tempt me. I’d be there in a heartbeat. And I’ll gladly take one of those Game On tickets off your hands.”
And then they both got quiet. Courtney stared up at Allie’s face on her screen. Allie stared back at Courtney.
“Actually . . .” Allie said slowly, watching the idea start coming to life in her mind. “They did tell me to give my extra pass to a friend.”
Courtney rested her hand on her chest. “Last time I checked, I was your friend.”
“You are most definitely my friend.” Allie threw her feet to the floor and tapped her toes on her carpet. “Come visit me for the weekend!”
“Sure! We’ll go to Game On and then I can spend the rest of the weekend showing you San Francisco! We’ll walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, and visit Alcatraz, and go to the top of Coit Tower. We’ll do all the things we couldn’t do when you were here for camp last summer.”
Allie’s parents would be so excited. They loved acting like tourists in their own city.
“We’ll get hot chocolate at my favorite place in North Beach,” Allie continued. “And you can meet Maddie, Emma, and Zoe—they are so tired of hearing me talk about you—and you can finally meet Nathan!”
Courtney was on her feet now. She must have been dancing around her room because all Allie could see were bookshelves, her desk, her bed, and her window, all blurring by.
“Allie!” Courtney stopped moving. “That’s only two weeks away!”
“Well, today is Sunday, and you’d have to get here on a Friday, so technically it’s only twelve days from now.”
“Twelve days!” Courtney yelled.
“Twelve sleeps!” Allie added.
Allie pictured Courtney walking through the airport security gates, beaming at her from the top of the escalator. She couldn’t wait to throw her arms around Courtney’s neck and pull her into the tightest hug she’d ever given her.
“Will your parents say yes?” Courtney asked.
“Sure! I mean, I think so! The conference is free, and you’re only one state away . . . the flight couldn’t be that expensive. And they know how much I miss you!” Allie was talking so fast she had to stop to catch her breath. “Your parents will say yes, too, right?”
“Of course they will!”
Allie ran to her desk and sat down in her chair. She propped the phone up next to her keyboard and opened a browser to one of the online ticketing services. She entered the data into the empty fields:
To: San Francisco
Allie hit ENTER. The icon spun in place as the system told her it was searching for the lowest price. Courtney flopped down in her denim beanbag chair, chewing nervously on her fingernail while she waited. Times and flight numbers began filling the screen. There was a celebratory sound as the “fabulous fare” landed at the top.
Allie gulped. She stared in disbelief for a long moment. And then she angled her phone so Courtney could see the screen.
“Four hundred dollars! Seriously?”
“Seriously,” Allie said.
“How could it be four hundred dollars? It’s, like, a two-hour flight. Search it again.”
Allie searched it again. Same spinning icon. Same “fabulous fare.” Same lump in her throat.
They’d been so excited about it being less than two weeks away, but that was the problem. Allie searched dates further into the future, and sure enough, those tickets were half the price.
“It’s too soon.” Allie fell back in her chair, feeling totally deflated.
“Do you have any money?” Courtney asked.
Allie shook her head. “None. I spent it all on Christmas presents.”
“Same here. I found five bucks in my backpack the other day, but that’s all I’ve got.”
“Maybe our parents will split it?”
Courtney laughed again, but this time, there was nothing funny or contagious about it. “Yeah, right.”
“It can’t hurt to ask,” Allie said. “I’ll tell them I’ll do extra jobs. I’ll mow the lawn and give Bo a bath.”
“I’ll wash the car and babysit my little brother for free,” Courtney said.
“They have to say yes.”
Courtney got serious again. “I have to go to Game On, Allie. I need to get out of here. I need rain, and you, and thousands of nerdy gamers like me, and—”
“Allie! Dinner!” her mom called from the bottom of the stairs.
Bo knew that word. He ran straight for her bedroom door and sat there, tail wagging, waiting for Allie to open it so he could follow the smells that led to the kitchen.
“Wish me luck.” Allie gave the phone screen a fist bump.
“Luck,” Courtney said, bumping her back.
“There you are.” Allie’s dad wiped his hands on a kitchen towel. “I thought I was going to have to stand outside your bedroom door holding this pizza box to coax you out.”
Allie closed her eyes, took a big inhale. “You ordered pizza?” They always had pizza on Fridays, but on Sundays, her parents usually cooked dinner together.
“We decided we were too cold and hungry to cook.” Her mom folded her arms across her chest and shivered. Her hair was still wet from sitting in the rain during Allie’s soccer game that afternoon. “We spent the day getting drenched in the stands. We figured we all deserved pizza.”
“And no dishes,” her dad added as he filled three glasses with water and set them on the table.
Allie could practically taste the cheese melting in her mouth. It was the perfect addition to the fire going in the living room and the sound of the raindrops against the kitchen windows. She hadn’t realized how hungry she was, but now she reached for a slice and took a huge bite.
“What are you working on up there?” her dad asked. “Big test tomorrow?”
Allie shook her head. “No. I’m done with homework. I was talking with Courtney.”
“Of course,” her mom said. “How often do you two talk each day?”
“I don’t know. A bunch. I don’t really keep count.”
They texted all the time and they FaceTimed each other even more. Courtney had volleyball practice after school, but she always called Allie the second she got home. They’d chat while they were doing homework, and sometimes, if they weren’t too tired, right after Allie got home from soccer practice. And that didn’t even include their good day/bad day text exchanges, which they never, ever missed, even if they were exhausted. They were on a 162-day streak.
“We were just talking about how much we miss each other,” Allie tried to keep her voice light and casual. “And you know, she’s not that far away. We were thinking maybe she could come visit?”
“Of course. We’d love that,” her mom said.
“She’s welcome any time,” her dad added. “Maybe she could come for spring break?”
“Actually . . .” Allie rested her elbows on the table. “We were thinking she could come for Game On?”
Her mom took a bite of pizza. Her dad popped a forkful of salad into his mouth. It was silent while they chewed.
“That’s only two weeks away,” her mom finally said as she reached for her water glass.
“I know, but Courtney has always wanted to go to Game On, and I have two free tickets, and of all my friends, she’d love it most, and she’s never been to San Francisco. She was here for CodeGirls camp last summer, but we spent the whole time on the Fuller University campus, so that doesn’t really count. We were miles away from the best stuff. She never even saw the ocean. Or Alcatraz. Or the Golden Gate Bridge.” Allie knew she was rambling. She stopped to take a breath. And a bite. Because the pizza was just sitting there under her nose, and it smelled delicious, and her stomach was grumbling.
“You’ve already looked into flights, haven’t you?” her mom asked.
“How much is the ticket?”
“Four hundred dollars,” she said quietly.
Her parent’s eyebrows shot up in unison.
“Four hundred dollars?” her dad repeated.
“From Phoenix?” her mom asked.
“That’s ridiculous,” her dad said.
“Well, last-minute fares are always overpriced. Remember that trip to Denver I had to take last month?” Her mom let out a huff. “Outrageous.”
Allie’s dad looked at her. “That’s out of the question.”
Her mom took another bite. “Clearly.”
And then it got quiet again.
Allie approached with caution. “What if you split the cost with her parents?”
Her mom started to talk, and Allie could tell she was going to say no, so she didn’t give her a chance. “I’ll do extra chores. You don’t have to give me my allowance for a month. I’ll do anything!”
“You make five dollars a week, Allie. Last time I checked, that adds up to twenty dollars a month.”
“Fine, you can keep my allowance for the rest of the school year! I don’t need anything.”
Her parents exchanged a glance.
“Why is this suddenly so important to you?” her mom asked.
Allie didn’t know how to explain it. It wasn’t as if Courtney was a better friend than Emma, Maddie, and Zoe, but it was different. Courtney understood Allie in a way no one else did. It wasn’t just that they both loved coding; it was more than that.
It was the way they worked together in the lab all summer, late into the night, sharing sodas and gummy worms, making up inside jokes, cracking up at everything and nothing at all. And it was the way they cheered each other on when the program got tough, when they wanted to give up, when one of them didn’t think she could take the pressure any more, and the other one convinced her she was stronger, tougher, and smarter than she thought she was. Neither one ever had to ask for the other’s help. It was like they each had a sixth sense. And, as silly as it may have seemed to anyone else, it was the way they landed on each other’s Click’d leaderboard in that number one spot, out of all twenty CodeGirls. That meant something neither one of them could explain. They started out strangers, but after everything they’d been through, it was as if Click’d knew they were meant to be friends all along.
But none of that really answered her mom’s question about why it was suddenly so important. That was something else entirely.
“What if I get picked for Hackathon?” Allie asked. “Then I won’t be going to CodeGirls Camp with Courtney this summer. If she comes to Game On, at least I can tell her in person that I applied.”
Allie thought about the application, complete and just waiting to be submitted. It was a long shot; Spyglass was only taking forty kids—ten middle schoolers and thirty high school students—and the company was selecting them from all over the state.
The chances of her going were slim to none. Her chances were even worse since she hadn’t developed anything since Click’d. And her chances were worser than worse since the Spyglass CEO, Naomi Ryan, was personally involved in the internship selection process, and she only knew Allie one way: the kid who bombed at the Games for Good competition four months earlier.
“Look,” her mom said, snapping Allie back to reality. “We know how much you and Courtney miss each other. And we’d love to have her come visit—we really would—but let’s do it in a month or so. You save your money, let her save her portion, and buy a ticket in advance. Then I bet round-trip will cost closer to two hundred bucks.”
“Maybe even one-fifty,” her dad added.
“You two can totally save that.”
They nodded at each other. Then looked back at Allie again.
“We’ll make you a deal,” her mom said. “You two pay for her plane ticket and we’ll cover everything while she’s here. Museums, Alcatraz, the works. We’ll take her anywhere she wants to go. All you have to do is cover the flight.”
“And it will be warmer,” her dad added with an encouraging lilt in his voice. “No one wants to visit San Francisco in January anyway!”
Allie was just about to tell them how Courtney was dying to escape the sun and the desert heat, when her mom reached over and patted her dad’s hand. And Allie didn’t say a word, because it wouldn’t have mattered.
That hand-patting thing was a show of solidarity.
It was their silent way of saying they agreed with each other.
And it meant one important thing: This conversation was over.
Allie pushed her plate away. “May I be excused?”
Her mom raised an eyebrow, first at the half-eaten pizza, and then at Allie. “Don’t be mad at us.”
She wasn’t mad. She was disappointed. And she was having a hard time hiding it.
As she was leaving the kitchen, she heard her mom’s voice behind her. “If you want Courtney to visit so badly, figure out a way to get her here.”
They couldn’t see her roll her eyes as she left with Bo right on her heels, like he always was.
Inside her room, she flopped down on her bed and FaceTimed Courtney. When she answered, the look on her face said it all.
“No?” Allie guessed.
“Same.” Allie sucked in a breath. “My mom said you’re welcome to come, but we have to figure out a way to get you here ourselves. So, I don’t know, maybe you’ll sprout wings in your sleep tonight.”
“Yeah, I’m sure that’ll happen. Hey, and if not, maybe I’ll stumble on a secret teleportation device or something. There’s this suspicious-looking shack behind the cafeteria that I’ve been meaning to check out. Could be a portal.”
“Who knows? It’s possible.”
“As possible as me sprouting wings in my sleep.”
Then Allie’s phone chirped. She read the screen.
Did you finish math?
I’m stumped on #12
“I’ve gotta go,” Allie said to Courtney. “Maddie has a homework question.”
“Okay. Tell her I said hi,” Courtney said.
“I will. And I’ll ask her if she has any ideas for us.”
But Maddie didn’t. And after they started a group chat to discuss it, neither did Emma or Zoe. Her best friends promised to think about it, but it seemed impossible, and by the time Allie crawled into bed that night, she felt frustrated beyond belief.
Allie was about to drift off to sleep, when her phone buzzed. She groaned as she rolled to one side, reached for it on the nightstand, and peeled one eye open.
We didn’t finish good day/bad day!
Allie blinked fast, trying to force herself to wake up. She had to reply. She couldn’t break their streak.
I got to level 26 in Destination Earth My room is only 80 degrees right now Thinking of visiting you made me SO happy
You live too far away Summer is too far away I can’t wait to be your roommate again!
Allie felt a pang of guilt, but she pushed it down. The hackathon wasn’t going to happen anyway. Chances were, she’d be spending the summer with Courtney. What was the point of telling her about the application?
She had already recapped her good day, so she went straight to her bad day list:
Being far away from your best friend sucks I’m all out of gummy worms I’m not going to Game On without you!
Allie wanted that last one to be true. But she was totally out of ideas.
Allie rested her lunch tray against her hip and scanned the quad. She took a deep inhale. The rain had left everything feeling clean and new, but she was glad the sun was out again.
She walked toward her friends, all gathered around their table underneath the big oak tree. Maddie and Chris were sitting next to each other on one side, and Zoe and Emma were across from them. Zoe scooted over to make room next to her, and Allie squeezed in.
“Missed you on the bus this morning,” Zoe said as she popped a chip in her mouth. “Where were you?”
“My dad had a meeting downtown, so he dropped me off on the way.” Allie ripped into her sandwich wrapper. She’d started to take a bite, when she realized Zoe was staring at her.
“What?” Allie asked.
Zoe leaned in closer. “I don’t think I was the only one who missed you.”
Marcus? she mouthed, feeling the blood rush to her chest and her cheeks and the tips of her ears.
“Why? Did he say something?”
- On Sale
- Feb 4, 2020
- Page Count
- 336 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers