“It’s so CUTE!” Lexi squealed right beside me as we sped our way toward the adorable puppy that just walked in through the door.

img_0183I couldn’t believe my eyes. This was the surprise Connor had gone with Jackson and Amy to pick up?

img_0184“Connor picked her out,” Amy noted, watching the puppy looking quite uncomfortable in Lexi’s embrace. “But she’s everyone’s responsibility. That means you all have to decide which jobs you want to do: feed her, bathe her, walk her, play with her…”

img_0185Connor picking a puppy out? That was a soft side I would’ve never guessed he had.

“What’s her name?” I inquired, dying to pet her.

“Coconut!” Lexi exclaimed as she looked at the adorable puppy’s dog tag. “Oh, it’s perfect for her! I think she loves me – hey, where are you going, Coco?”

All of the sudden, Coconut locked eyes with me. Gaze fixed on mine, she bounded over to my outstretched hand as I crouched down and sat on the floor.

“Nope,” I laughed as I was immediately showered with puppy kisses. “She loves me. And I absolutely love her!”

Oh, if I knew what that love would cost me.


“Do you really think we’ll make more money than Connor and his lemonade stand will?” Emma asked that next Saturday.

“Of course we will,” I assured confidently, studying our lemonade stand with its plastic red cups and small lemonade pitcher. My confidence may or may not have fizzled as I looked at the small stand. This doesn’t look very impressive, I realized.

But Connor didn’t have any such friend to help him, no matter what he told Jackson and Amy. There’s wasn’t anybody to team up with against all three of us – we were bound to make more money than him.

But I had bigger plans than just raising more money for the FCA than Connor. That was nothing compared to my plans of revenge.

I glanced at Connor, who was trudging off to who knows where with his bag of lemonade stand supplies.

Is making more money all Connor has in mind to continue the war with? I wondered as a car whizzed by. Surely not – surely this was absolutely petty compared to what had planned. This is just the beginning, I concluded. Connor has something horrible planned for sure. But since it’s three against one, I’m sure we’ll overcome. And my plans of revenge will trump anything Connor has in mind.

Unfortunately, that was the biggest understatement I had ever made in my entire life.

I looked down at our little puppy, who was undaunted by the world around her and very intelligent. She looked up at me adorably, and I smiled, the dark musings about Connor fading away.

“Welcome to The FCA Lemonade Stand! Oh – hi, Parris! Don’t you live right around the corner?” Lexi’s cheerful voice caused me to look up from Coconut and at our first customer, who was actually one of our nearby neighbors.

“Yup! Mom saw your lemonade stand as she drove by and let me walk over and get some for her and I while she makes dinner. Daddy is on a business trip, so it’s girl time for a little while. Anyways,” the sweet, talkative little girl, Parris, smiled. “May I please have two cups of lemonade?”

“Of course!” Lexi responded, reaching for the pitcher.

“Cute dog!” Parris exclaimed.

“Want to pet it?” I offered.

“Nah, my mom’s highly allergic,” Parris shrugged. “I better not come home with hands that have petted dog. Thanks anyway!”

“Here you go!” Lexi handed Parris her two cups. “That will be one dollar. Would you like to make an additional donation to the Foster Care Act?”

Parris handed over one dollar and then cocked her head. “My mommy only gave me enough money to buy the lemonade, so I don’t think so. Sorry.”

“That’s fine!” Lexi smiled quickly. “All profits we make go to them anyway, even if you don’t donate.”

“Cool!” Parris grinned as she turned away. “Bye, guys! Good luck!”

“Bye!” I called after her, waving.

“Can I take the next customer?” I turned to Lexi and asked. “I can totally get them to donate to the FCA.”

Lexi raised an eyebrow. “Sure, I guess. Just don’t be too pushy. We want the word spread about our lemonade stand to be positive.”

“Pushy?” I scoffed. “Who, me?”

“Hello!” I waved excitedly when a woman with her little child came walking by. “Would you like to buy some lemonade and support the Foster Care Act?’

“No thanks,” the woman rudely politely refused as she kept walking past.

“But-“ I began to call after her, then Lexi stopped me.

“It’s alright, Issa. We’re not going to get everyone who passes by.”

“Alright,” I sighed. “But I hope we get more customers who will actually donate to the FCA.”

“Me, too,” Lexi agreed, and quiet Emma nodded.

“I hope others think it’s still hot enough for lemonade, even if fall is coming soon,” I sighed, hoping someone else would show up already. I looked up to the sky and noticed the dark clouds and cool breeze. If it rained, our lemonade stand plans would be ruined!

“Look, here’s another customer,” Emma whispered as a teenaged girl, on the way to a fancy gathering by the looks of her pretty dress, came walking up to us.

“The FCA?” The teenager smiled. “One of my friends volunteered over the summer to that organization! I’ll take a cup of lemonade, please. And I’d like to donate fifteen dollars.”

I was blown away! I hadn’t said a word and we already had a fifteen dollar donation. From a teenager!

“Thank you so much!” I beamed, handing her the lemonade and accepting the teenager’s money.

“Good luck!” She called, waving as she walked off and the sun reappeared behind the clouds.

“Thanks!” all three of us responded in unison, waving as well.

“It’s a small start, for sure,” I sighed to my friends. “But we’ll get more, I’m sure of it.”

Emma gave me a sweet smile. “Of course we will.”

Customers came and went, and when the time came for our lemonade stand to close, I counted up the money.

“Good news, guys!” I exclaimed excitedly. “Today we’ve made a total of – Coconut!

All of the sudden I heard a loud bark (which was quite ferocious, coming from such a little pup) from Coconut, and in a flash I saw her speed off toward a squirrel darting across the street.

“Coconut!” I screeched, dashing after her once I had made sure there were no cars coming. “Get back here!”

Before she caught the squirrel, I caught her.

Snatching Coconut up in my arms, I scolded, “You naughty pup!”

It was hard to stay mad at her for long, though, as she showered me with those adorable puppy kisses again.

“Phew! You got her!” Emma smiled as she and Lexi caught up to me. Coconut grinned happily at the sight of Emma – she loved Emma, too. I had to admit, she did have a way with animals.

“Okay, don’t chase any more squirrels, Coco,” I told the pup, still holding her as we walked back to the lemonade stand.

“Alright, the total is…” I began to announce after setting Coconut down and picking up the money bag again.

But the money was gone!

“The money is gone!” I gasped. “There used to be sixty-five dollars right here, but now it’s nowhere!”

(That white line on Issa’s forehead isn’t something weird. Those are actual raindrops!)

“Did Connor take it?” Lexi wondered as it began to sprinkle.

img_0224I whirled around, my frizzy curls being tossed over my shoulder as I scoured the surrounding area for any sign of Connor, and my friends followed my example.

img_0227But he was nowhere to be found.

“Alright,” I demanded, furrowing my eyebrows and looking at my friends. I didn’t want to believe it, but anyone and everyone was a suspect.

“Which one of you took it?”

Both girls looked at the other. It could have been any random passerby, but since they weren’t willing to confess, I had to make the next statement as raindrops splattered on my arm.

“If a passerby didn’t take it…

“…There is a traitor in our midst.”

I’m sorry. I just had to add more action. ? Oh, don’t worry! The drama only builds as the next parts play out. ? ;)

I hope you don’t get confused – we’ve got the war between Connor and Issa and raising money for the FCA, but a puppy and a mysterious spy obviously on Connor’s side come in only recently. How does it all tie in to the finale?

Well, you’ll have to wait and see! ;)

Who spotted the spy in the other photos beside the last one?