The box crouching behind the Danish pastries could only mean one thing: the Pink Lemonade Brigade was back in town.
Mira’s mother hadn’t finished setting the table yet, but the box covered with yellow paper and a gauzy white and bold pink ribbon was all the proof she needed. It wouldn’t be long before the table would be filled with cucumber sandwiches, fancy cakes, and a tall glass pitcher of pink lemonade.
“Mom,” Mira called, gripping the strap of her backpack. “I think I’m going to stop at the library on the way home. There’s, uh, a thing I want to—” She glared at the lacy white tablecloth. No matter how hard she tried to lie, she could never stretch the truth beyond trailing off vaguely and hoping the other person followed what she couldn’t say.
“Is it due soon?” her mother asked, polishing a teacup as she entered the dining room. “Because I’m going to need you home right after school otherwise.”
Mira rubbed the back of her leg with her foot, then shifted her weight from side to side as she tried to come up with a plausible excuse that didn’t fall under lying. Even if she’d had the constitutional ability to speak a lie, her mother’s intense gray stare would burn anything but the complete truth to smoldering ash. There was a reason the sales people at the kiosks in the mall gave them a wide berth.
“The leaves are turning and I want to add to my collection.” She gave her mother a wan smile, promising herself that she’d scour the entire forest behind their house if it got her out of meeting with the Pink Lemonade Brigade this year.
Her mother placed the teacup—another oddity out of the plethora of weird the Pink Lemonade Brigade always inspired—she’d been polishing on the table and pulled another out of her pocket.