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The Cheerleading Squad is the forty-sixth chapter of The Gift of a Best Friend. It was first published on June 9th, 2017.

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Chapter

Annabeth's POV

It’s been almost a year since that attack from that hellhound at my dad’s house.

We actually tried to work it out with each other again a couple months ago, but Savanna wasn’t so willing that time. We argued, she and Dad argued, then me and Dad . . . I left again and went back to live with Jasmine and her family.

I practically hate my dad now, but I still kept his college ring on my camp necklace. I, for some reason, wasn’t mad enough to get rid of it, though I felt like I was.

Currently, Jasmine and I are at school.

Jasmine is very insistent when it comes to me. I mean, I know she always has been since we became best friends, but she’s even more insistent when we’re at school. Especially since we’ve started middle school.

Jasmine insists that we have our lockers right next to each other’s; that we have the exact same classes at the exact same time together; that we’re always sitting right next to each other; and that we’re always automatic partners on any project we have to do. No exceptions.

She makes everyone, even the principal, accept that. If they don’t, well, it hasn’t happened because everyone’s smart enough not to cross her and does whatever she says. It’s probably because she really intimidates them, which is the first thing she likes to do to get what she wants.

Yeah, it’s controlling and manipulating, but it’s also annoying and funny, and I’m probably the only one that thinks that.

Jasmine doesn’t want to be mean, she’s just looking out for me, since most of the kids at school don’t like me, for reasons I don’t quite understand.

I act like I don’t like it because I can take care of myself, but I do appreciate knowing that somebody cares about me enough to not even want to have any other friend, nor about making enemies for my sake.

But I’m not the only person she protects.

Like the way it seems to be in every school, there always has to be at least one bully. Jasmine hates bullies.

Whenever she sees a kid beating on another kid, she stops him by usually grabbing his arm, twisting it behind his back, and pushing him against the lockers. Then she gives him a threat and he usually listens to her.

Whenever anybody wants to do something bad to someone else, and they’re in the process of doing it, they stop and back away when Jasmine’s in the room. But she’s not stupid and gives them her wrath.

She does the same thing at camp, though the demigods there aren’t as intimidated by her. But they would much rather fight a monster than her.

The boys are afraid of her and do whatever they can to not make her mad. The girls, on the other hand, aren’t as smart.

It was lunch time, and Jasmine and I were sitting at our table in the cafeteria near the windows, eating our homemade lunches. Then the cheerleaders came over.

I hated them.

There were four of them, and they were all sisters. One of them was the oldest and the head cheerleader, Chelsea, and she was held back a year or two.

Her sisters were triplets. We nicknamed them the flower girls because each of their names are flowers. They looked similar to each other and followed their oldest sister around like she was their queen, but more like her slaves.

And the worst part about them? They’re all blondes.

Why is that bad? Because I’m blonde.

Why does hair color matter? Well, they’re the dumbest, most narcissistic (at least of each other), meanest girls in school. What does hair color have to do with that? I said that they’re really dumb, and most people think that it’s just because their blondes and that all blondes are stupid. And since I’m a blonde, most people think I’m stupid too and don’t take me seriously.

That makes me really mad. But not as mad as Jasmine. She had golden-brown hair and is always taken seriously. I wished my hair was just like hers so that I would be taken more seriously too.

The cheerleader-sisters came toward us.

“Hey, Jasmine,” Chelsea greeted, ignoring me.

“Hi, Chelsea,” she replied. “What do you want?”

“My sisters and I want you to come sit with us at our table.”

“Can Annabeth come?”

Chelsea narrowed her eyes at me, clearly not wanting me to sit with her. That’s something we both agreed on.

I turned away from her and focused on my sandwich.

“Does she have to come?” Chelsea asked.

“If you want me to come,” Jasmine replied.

Chelsea sneered at me. “It’s not worth it.”

“Fine. Now go away.”

“All right. Just one more thing.”

“What?”

“We’re having cheerleading try-outs this week. You should try out.”

“Thanks, but no thanks.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“Don’t you want to become a dancer someday?”

Jasmine hesitated.

Uh-oh.

Jasmine loves to dance. She does it all the time, even at school.

“Yes,” she said. “But what does that have to do with cheering?”

“It’s like dancing,” Chelsea explained. “Another form of it mixed with gymnastics, which you also do, right?”

“Right.”

“So you’ll think about it?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Great. We hope to see you at the try-outs. Tootles.”

The cheerleading sisters walked away and sat down at their table in the center of the cafeteria.

Jasmine pushed away her sandwich and crossed her arms on the table.

It was obvious what she was thinking, and I tried not to be mad.

“You can go sit with them if you want,” I told her.

“And leave you here alone?” she replied. “Hell no. We’re best friends, and best friends don’t leave each other alone.”

I smiled. It was annoying when she says that kind of stuff, but kind of nice, too. “Do you want to join their squad?”

Jasmine looked at the table. “I don’t know. I do kind of like how their cheers are similar to dance moves, but I didn’t really think it was dancing until they told me it was. But I am thinking about it now.”

I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but I didn’t feel good.

She wants to cheer with the meanest girls in school, who she doesn’t like because of that, all so that she can dance in short skirts. Yeah, she likes skirts, but not short ones.

“I’ll be right back,” I said. “I need to use the bathroom.”

“Ok,” Jasmine replied. “Hurry back.”

I stood up from my chair and slung my backpack over my shoulder, and I headed to the bathroom. I didn’t really need to go, it was just the only place at school where Jasmine lets me go without her. She doesn’t want us to be that close, which is just fine with me.

I went to the sink and washed the grease from my sandwich off my hands.

Then the bitches came in.

“Well, if it isn’t the freak,” Chelsea said.

I sighed. “What do you want?”

She had her sisters surround me and she stood in the middle.

“I want you to stay away from Jasmine,” she said.

I stared at her. “Are you kidding? She’s my friend, and I’m her adopted sister. We live together and share the same room.”

“Really?” Lily asked. “That’s so cool.”

“Totally,” her triplet sister, Daisy agreed.

“Does she let you borrow her clothes?” Iris asked. “Brings you backstage at her mom’s concerts?”

“Umm, yes,” I replied. “Though I don’t like to really wear any of her clothes.”

The flower sisters gasped, like it was the most terrible thing they’ve ever heard.

“See, girls,” Chelsea said. “She’s not even worthy enough to be her friend. Much less her sister.”

“Worthy?” I laughed.

“Jasmine is a celebrity.”

“She’s the daughter of a celebrity. She’s not one herself.”

“Only because you keep holding her back from making a name for herself.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are. And it’s cute how you think you’re the innocent one here. You don’t deserve to be a part of that family with your flat, dull hair, dull clothes, dull shoes, and cracked fingernails.”

“Yeah, because that’s what being a family is all about.”

“Exactly. I’m glad you understand.”

And she clearly doesn’t understand sarcasm, even though she speaks that way herself half the time.

“Jasmine wants to become a professional dancer,” Chelsea continued. “And she needs a friend that’ll support her in that.”

“I support her,” I argued.

“Yeah, keep telling yourself that, Annie Bell.”

“Annabeth.”

“Whatever. You’re a fake smart girl, and you don’t have any taste in anything. Especially not in being pretty.”

“I don’t want to be pretty.

“You’re such a freak. And I’m going to make sure Jasmine knows that too.”

“Good luck trying.”

She smiled. “Thank you. Tootles.”

She walked out of the bathroom, and her sisters followed her.

I faced the mirror above the sink and thought about what Chelsea said to me.

Was she right? Did I deserve Jasmine as my friend?

I know I shouldn’t listen to her, but I couldn’t help but wonder if she was right.

Jasmine’s done a lot for me, but what have I done for her? Tolerate her? Did things with her that she had to force me to do? That may be true, but I do care about her, like she cares about me. I do support her with her dancing, even though she forces me to dance with her.

Chelsea said that she’s going to make Jasmine see that I don’t deserve to be her friend, but I know she won’t listen. She defends me all the time.

She won’t ever believe that. Right?


Jasmine’s POV

School went normally for the rest of that day.

Annabeth and I went to gymnastics and did a lot of flips and balanced on the balance beam. But while we were there, I couldn’t help but think about what Chelsea said to me earlier, how cheerleading was like dancing and doing gymnastics.

I love dancing, and I do it every day. It’s my dream. I’d do anything if it means I can dance. I’m even trying to fight both with my weapons and hands and feet while dancing.

I was thinking about it all day, and I made a decision.


Later that night, after dinner, I practiced cheering in my room.

I cheered my last name. You know, give me an “S,” give me an “A,” give me a “T,” ex cetera, ex cetera. I also cheered our team name, the Wolves.

After practicing for a while, Annabeth entered the room.

“Uh, hey,” she said.

“Hi,” I replied.

“What are you doing?”

“Practicing my cheers.”

“Oh. So you’re going to try out?”

I nodded. “Yeah. I want to give it a try.”

“Ok . . . .”

I noticed the tone in her voice change, sounding kind of sad and angry. Her body language expressed that too.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

Annabeth sat down on my bed. “Nothing’s wrong.”

“Are you sure?”

She nodded. “Yes. Why do you ask?”

“You’re acting kind of mad. Do you not want me to try-out?”

“No, it’s not that.”

“Then what, Annabeth?”

“It’s just . . . it’s them.”

I knew who she was referring to.

I sighed and sat down next to her. “I know. But I’m not going to let them get in the way of this.”

“Well, good luck,” Annabeth said, though she didn’t really sound like she meant it.

I took it anyway. “Thanks.”


A few days later came the cheerleading try-outs.

Each of the sisters was judging, though it was really just Chelsea.

Annabeth, Luke, and our family came to watch me, mostly because, since they’re the Wolves and Shillow’s a wolf, I wanted her to do it with me. She happily agreed.

I got myself some pom-poms and I put one on Shillow’s head, and small ones on her paws. We did a little extra practice while we waited our turn.

There were about ten to fifteen girls trying out, even some guys.

Most of them sucked, and Chelsea agreed.

Shillow and I were last.

“Of course,” Chelsea said. “Always save the best for last.”

“Uh, thanks, Chelsea,” I replied.

“Well, someone seems to have a crush on you,” Shillow muttered to me as we walked on stage.

I laughed.

“You can do it, Jasmine!” Luke shouted to me from his seat.

“God, I hope so,” I muttered back.

Shillow and I got ready on stage. Chelsea played the music.

Shillow and I faced each other. The main thing we were trying to do was have her copy me.

We started by cheering the team name, then a couple flips. Shillow took a solo turn, doing her own flips and tricks. Then I did a solo one, doing a few flips myself, jumps in the air and doing a split, and finally ending with doing a handstand, Shillow putting a large hoop between my feet, she jumping through it while doing a flip and landing on her feet.

I threw the hoop, she caught it in her mouth, and I stood back on my feet and did a pose. Shillow did too.

The cheerleading sisters gave me a standing ovation. My family did too, except for Annabeth. She was just clapping half-heartedly with a frown on her face.

That hurt me. Did she not like it? I decided not to dwell on it right now.

“Bravo!” Chelsea said. “Amazing, as I knew it would be.”

I smiled. “Thank you. So does that mean I’m in?”

“Of course. Welcome to the team, Jasmine Saturday.”

“Yes!”

Shillow barked happily and my family cheered, too. A bit too much if you ask me. I mean, it’s not like I won an award or something.

“But you’re not the only one who won a place on the team,” Chelsea continued. “Shillow, how would you like to be our real new mascot?”

Her eyes widened. “Really? Me?”

“Yes, you silly doggy.”

“I would be honored to be your mascot. As long as I don’t have to wear any kind of costume.”

We all laughed.

Chelsea gave us our own uniforms and pom-poms, and then our schedules for practices. We accepted them graciously.

This was the best day ever!


After we got home, I put my stuff in my room, then I dragged Annabeth in there with me and closed both the doors.

“What’s wrong,” I asked her.

“What do you mean?” she asked back, acting innocent.

“You know damn well what I mean, Annabeth. I saw the look on your face after I tried out, and you didn’t look happy. Did you not like it?”

“No. I loved it, Jasmine. You and Shillow did a good job.”

“Then what?”

“It’s just . . .” She faltered.

“What?” I asked. “It’s just what?”

Annabeth opened her mouth to say something, but closed it and shook her head. “Nothing.”

“It’s clearly not nothing, Annabeth. Tell me what.”

“It really is nothing, Jasmine. Nothing that you need to worry about.”

“We’re best friends. Best friends worry about each other, and whatever they’re worried about too. Now tell me what.”

Annabeth considered it for a moment but shook her head again. “Never mind.”

“Annabeth.”

She went to her side of our room and closed the curtains.

I thought over why she was acting this way, and I could only think of one thing.

“It’s Chelsea and her sisters, isn’t it?” I asked.

Annabeth poked her head out through the curtains. “Yeah.”

I sighed. “I know. But they loved me, and I need to give this a chance. Who knows, maybe we all can be good friends and cheer together.”

“Uh, no way is that ever going to happen.”

“What, exactly? Us all being friends, or cheerleading together?”

“Both. But mostly the cheering, because there’s no way you’re ever going to get me to do that.”

“Are you sure, because I get you to do a lot of things that you originally don’t like to do.”

“Not that.”

I smiled mischievously. “We’ll see about that.”

We both laughed.

“I’ll try to get them to like you,” I said.

“I don’t think they ever will,” Annabeth replied. “And I don’t want to like them.”

“I know. But maybe we just misunderstand each other.”

“No, I think we understand each other. But I’m sorry if I made you think that I didn’t like your tryout because I really did. I just don’t like that you’re going to be around them more often now. And I know that this is the next step for you as a dancer.”

I smiled. “Thank you, Annabeth. I know it is too.”

I gave her a hug.

We went about the rest of our night.


So this is the start of Jasmine and Annabeth beginning to slowly become the girls I just adore so much. They're no longer the cute little innocent girls they have been up until now. You'll see what I mean as this story goes on.

How do you guys think this is going to go with the cheerleading sisters?

Please review here.

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