The Boyfriend Thief - By Shana Norris

Chapter 1

If there was one thing I hated more than anything else in this world, it was Giant Hot Dog Day. The late April sun beat down on me, heat radiating from the sizzling sidewalk as I stood outside Diggity Dog House in a big red hot dog costume complete with two zigzags of mustard and ketchup snaking up my stomach and enclosed in a fluffy pillow of bun.

The costume always smelled suspiciously like sweaty, fungus-infected feet, and the current heat wave settled over Willowbrook made it much worse. I tried to breathe through my mouth as much as possible when inside the hot dog to spare my nose from the fumes. Seeing anything through the screen mesh over the small hole in front of my face was nearly impossible. The only good thing about this was that anyone standing outside the costume was unable to see who was inside, so at least the cheerleaders I vaguely recognized as sophomores from my school didn’t know who exactly it was they laughed at. I gave them my best wave with my puffy white gloved hand as they passed into the diner, causing them to giggle even harder.

I really, really hated Giant Hot Dog Day.

“Look, Bailey,” a woman said, clutching the hand of a boy who didn’t look more than three. She pointed at me and grinned down at him. “It’s Bob the hot dog!”

The kids of Willowbrook loved the giant hot dog. When you were forced to live far away from Disney World or Six Flags or any place that might have cute and cuddly mascots walking around, a giant hot dog worked to fill the void.

“Hot dog!” the boy cried, giving me a drooly grin.

I patted him on the head and turned around to continue my mascot duties.

But the little boy wasn’t done with me yet. “Dance!”

Oh, no. Not happening, kid. I’d wear the costume, but there was no way I would do the Hot Diggity Shuffle. Not on the corner of Hawkins and Main Streets in one hundred degree heat for everyone in town to see.


I raised the roof with my arms a bit, hoping that might appease him. I attempted some telepathy with his mom. You’re starving for a Diggity Dog Loaded Special, I sent the silent message her way. Go inside the restaurant and leave me to my misery in peace.

Apparently telepathy wasn’t my strong suit. The mom and the boy remained where they stood on the sidewalk in front of me.

“Dance! Dance! Dance!” the boy ordered, stamping his feet.

That kid could really screech for someone barely three feet tall. If he kept this up, my manager Mr. Throckmorton would come outside to see what was going on and then I’d get written up for not doing the shuffle. Again. I was on dangerous territory already because I had received two strikes against me in the last month. One for sneaking a milkshake to my best friend Molly five minutes after ten and the second for forgetting my hot dog hat at home on a day I was supposed to run the register.

There were only three Unbreakable Rules at Diggity Dog House:

Number 1: Closing time was at exactly ten o’clock. Not one minute after. Ten on the dot.

Number 2: All counter attendants must wear the hat featuring a big plastic hot dog across the forehead at all times during their shift.

Number 3: Bob the Hot Dog has to do the Hot Diggity Shuffle whenever asked.

“Okay, okay,” I growled. The shuffle was this stupid dance Mr. Throckmorton made up involving a kind of tap dance move—step, step, shuffle, step, shuffle, repeat—while swinging your arms from side to side. And then for the finale, you jumped around and shook your bun at your audience.

Totally humiliating.

But the little boy loved it. He grinned wide and clapped his pudgy hands.

Just as I jumped around to shake my bun to the little boy’s screeching laughter, a voice shouted, “Look out! Runaway shopping cart coming through!”

Being encased in a bun of foam made sudden movements impossible. I managed to see a blur of blue and gray before something slammed into my hip, sending me flying backward. I landed flat on my back on the sidewalk.

Getting up in giant foam hot dog was also impossible. I flailed back and forth, trying to work up enough momentum to flip myself over.

This must be what it felt like to be a turtle.

Someone grabbed my arm and pulled me into a sitting position. “Are you okay?” a vaguely