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Just Between Us

Just Between Us

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Just Between Us

99 pages
1 hour
Mar 3, 2015


An incurable gossip tries to learn how to keep secrets to herself

Sometimes Cass just can’t help herself. Tell her something personal, even something embarrassing, and before you know it, the whole school will have heard. It’s not that Cass doesn’t want to keep secrets—she just doesn’t know how. After her bad habit lands her in a fight with one of her friends, Cass asks her family for help. Mom proposes a psychological experiment. Every time Cass manages to keep a secret, she’ll get a dollar—and a lesson worth far more than that.
It’s easy at first, but pretty soon Cass is so full of gossip, she feels like she’s going to burst. When an earth-shattering secret traps her in the middle of her two best friends, she learns that sometimes it’s more important not to keep your mouth shut.

Mar 3, 2015

About the author

Susan Beth Pfeffer is the author of many books for teens, including the New York Times best-selling novel Life As We Knew It, which was nominated for several state awards, and its companion books, The Dead and the Gone, This World We Live In, and The Shade of the Moon. She lives in Middletown, New York.

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Just Between Us - Susan Beth Pfeffer


Chapter One

I’m never going to speak to you again, Cass Miller! my best friend, Jenny, screamed at me. No matter how often you apologize!

So I apologized. I’m sorry, Jenny, I said. I didn’t know Laura would tell everybody.

But you shouldn’t have told Laura in the first place! Jenny cried. I told you that in confidence. It was a secret. Why did you tell that big-mouth anyway?

Because it was interesting, I said. We were standing outside in the playground. School had ended a few minutes before, and already, thanks to Laura and her big mouth, everybody knew Jenny had just bought her first bra. Besides, you didn’t tell me it was a secret. How was I to know?

Interesting? Jenny said. What was so interesting about—she lowered her voice almost to a whisper, but it sounded like a scream to me anyway—about my buying a bra.

Because your mother doesn’t wear one, I said patiently. You see, Laura was telling me about her older sister and how she wants to be a cheerleader, only her father won’t let her unless she wears a bra. So naturally that made me think of you and how worried you were that your mother wouldn’t let you buy one because she doesn’t believe in them.

You told Laura that my mother doesn’t wear a bra!

I never knew anybody could screech so softly. It’s okay, I said. Laura’s sister doesn’t, either. Sometimes my mother doesn’t. In the summer. You know.

All I know is you have an even bigger mouth than Laura, Jenny said.

I do not, I said indignantly. I only told Laura. She’s the one who told everybody else.

But you should have known she would, Jenny said. Honestly, Cass, I tell you a very personal secret and you blab it to Laura and she blabs it to the whole world. And then you look at me like you’re Little Miss Innocent. It drives me crazy when you do that!

So I looked down at the ground and tried not to feel innocent. I still couldn’t understand why Jenny should be so mad at me when it was all Laura’s fault. Or at least mostly her fault.

Jenny’s forgiven me a lot in the years we’ve been friends, so I just waited for her to forgive me again. Instead she looked at me and said, I don’t even know why I bother.

Bother? I said.

With you, she said. You’ll never learn how to keep a secret.

I can keep secrets, I said. If you tell me it’s a secret, I don’t tell anybody. But you didn’t tell me not to tell Laura.

I thought you’d have enough brains to know that on your own, Jenny said. I guess I should have known better. You can’t keep anything to yourself. You tell the world the most personal things about people.

I do not tell the world, I said, but this time I was looking at the ground seriously. I only told Laura. If you’d just said it was a secret …

Well, we won’t have to worry about it, Jenny said. Because from now on I’m not telling you anything. At least nothing that counts. Not until I think you know how to keep a secret, and that’ll probably be never. She turned around and started to walk away.

I’ll learn how! I cried after her, but if she heard me, she didn’t show it. Instead she walked out of the playground and away from me.

What was that all about? Robin asked.

I really liked Robin. She had started school with us in September, and we became friends real fast. Even though I’d only known her a month, I felt like she was my second-best friend. After Jenny—if Jenny was still my friend at all, after what I’d said.

Jenny’s mad at me, I said. Really mad this time.

Robin looked at me. She’d never said so, but I didn’t think she liked Jenny very much. Jenny sure didn’t like Robin—maybe because I liked her—but I never told Robin that. Just realizing I’d kept that secret made me feel a little better. Jenny was wrong. I didn’t tell the world everything.

Did you do something wrong? Robin asked.

Sort of, I said. I guess so.

Did you apologize? Robin asked.

I tried, I said. But she wouldn’t listen. She says I can’t keep a secret. And I can. Really.

I believe you, Robin said.

You shouldn’t, I said with a sigh. Jenny’s right. I can’t keep secrets. I never could. It’s just that some things are so interesting, and if people don’t tell me they’re secrets, I just know everybody else would be interested, too, so I tell them. I always have and it always gets me in trouble. Last year I told my Uncle Herb what Mom said about Aunt Rhoda, and boy, was he mad. But Mom was even madder. That kind of thing. It happens to me all the time.

Have you tried to do something about it? Robin asked.

Do something? I asked. What can I do?

I don’t know, she said. But maybe your parents could think of something. Whenever I have a problem like that, I talk it over with my parents. Sometimes they come up with real good ideas.

They do want to help, I said. Mom said she’d do anything if it would help me learn how to keep secrets. Actually Mom had said she didn’t know what she’d do if I didn’t learn how to keep them, but that was just another way of saying it.

Then talk to them, Robin said. Let me know what they come up with.

I will, I said, and felt better already. Mom was majoring in psychology, after all. And that meant taking care of problems of the mind—she’d told me so. Keeping secrets, or not keeping them, was a problem of my mind, all right. Maybe Robin was right, and she would be able to come up with a solution. And then Jenny would forgive me and we’d be friends again. Who knew? Maybe even Uncle Herb would forgive me.

So that night at supper, I brought up the subject. I didn’t tell the whole story exactly (Jenny would have killed me if I’d told my big brother, Billy, about the bra), but I let everybody know enough so they could try to come up with solutions.

You’re crazy, Billy said. That’s Billy’s solution to everything.

I don’t know, Dad said. Dad’s an assistant vice-president at Wonderworks Waterworks, Inc., and he knows the answers to all kinds of things, but never to my problems. He’s real good talking about swimming pools, though.

You’re serious about this? Mom asked me. She was getting a glint in her eyes.

I’m serious, I said.

Because it’s much better if problems like this can be cured during childhood, she said.

Cass is always going to be crazy, Billy said. Childhood has nothing to do with that.

Shut up, Billy, Dad said. Your sister has a problem, and she’s come to us for help.

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