Finally, it was time for the party. In desperation, Candace has thrown together some cheesy poem, which she wrote in the waiting room at the hair salon. She copied the poem into a small but sturdy card she bought at a stationery store. She looked at it and sighed. "Great," she muttered to herself. "Stacey saved up the money to get Jeremy a new skateboard, Phineas and Ferb have a gigantic, high-tech card, and Suzy doesn't even need to but her precious older brother a gift since he loves her so much. And me, I have a lame card and a stupid poem. Oh, I'm going to be the laughing stock of the whole party!"
"Hey, Candace! Are you ready to go yet?" Linda came peeking in. "Phineas, Ferb, and Stacey are all waiting downstairs for you!"
The redheaded teen sighed. "Coming," she said.
On the car ride over to Jeremy's house, she looked down at her card one last time and sighed. Suddenly, Stacey looked over at her and saw the card. "Hey, what's that?" she asked.
"This? Oh, this is, um, just some spa brochure of my mom's. It was lying on the floor," she replied hurriedly.
Stacey shrugged. "Hm. Whatever." She started rambling about her skateboard for Jeremy. "Oh, Candace, Jeremy, is going to, like, love it! It's got these shiny gold wheels and everything! The box says it performs all the best tricks really well. It's too bad you didn't get him anything."
Candace sighed. The night was going to be so miserable.
"OK, kids, get out of the car!" Linda said as she pulled up to the Johnsons' house. As they stepped out, they could already hear speakers blasting in the backyard. The four kids walked in and rang the doorbell. And, of course, Suzy opened the door. "Hi, guys! The party is in the back. She took Phineas', Ferb's and Stacey's coats. As the three of them walked out to the back, Suzy grabbed Candace's arm.
"So, you actually decided to show up? Please tell me you didn't bother getting him a lame present."
"Um, no. I actually didn't," she said, hiding the card behind her back and crossing her fingers. Suzy saw it and grabbed for it.
"Are you kidding me? That's the present you're thinking about giving him?" She read the poem aloud. "Lots of people around us are average, useless folks, but you're much better, and don't make a fuss, because you're as silly as egg yolks!"
Candace hung her head. "Is it that bad?"
Suzy was about to say some rude comment about the cheesy poem, but then she stopped for a moment. She looked deep in thought.
Candace stared at her. "Suzy? Hello, you there? Say something!" Candace waved her arms in front of the little girl's face.
All of a sudden, a wide grin spread across Suzy's face. "You know, it is a pretty bad poem, coming from you. After all, you're just a person to Jeremy. But he adores me, and, well, if I gave him this poem, he'd love it! Hold on. Let me just go upstairs."
She went up, and came down in a few moments. In her hand was a piece of construction paper with red crayon on it.
"There we go," Suzy said. "If I put this with the rest of the gifts, he'll think that I wrote it, not you! He'll see you here and not think you have anything. And I will win this battle!"
Candace gave her a dirty look and walked down the hall to the backyard. She sat down on the patio and put her head in her hands. No one was able to get her up, not even Stacey, to dance with her when "Ready for the Bettys" came on.
"But Candace!" Stacey moaned, pulling her arm. "We helped write it, remember? It's only fair that we dance to it!"
Candace broke free from Stacey's grip and slumped down on the ground. "Whatever. Just call me when Jeremy opens his presents, OK?"
Stacey was slightly concerned, but she shrugged. "OK. Well, I'll do just that."
Candace was free for the next half hour. She wondered what would happen when Jeremy saw the card from Suzy. He would probably think it was adorable. His parents would probably love it, too. Worst, he would probably laugh at her for being too lazy to get him anything. She just hoped he didn't think it was because she didn't have the money. That would be more embarrassing than anything! Candace thought forlornly.
But on the other hand, Candace realized, having Suzy give him the poem would save her a lot more embarrassment. She knew Jeremy was going to be opening the presents in front of everyone, and she knew that absolutely no one would let her hear the end of it if they found out she wrote that poem.
"Hey, Candace! Ever think of joining the poetry club? We could probably use you, just so you could make us look less intimidating."
"Hey, Candace! Can you help me get the guy I want? I mean, I know since you're lovey-dovey all the time, I figured you could help me write him…maybe a love letter?"
Candace jumped suddenly. Stacey was tugging on her arm. "Candace, didn't you hear me? Jeremy is opening his presents now. You told me to get you when he did."
"Oh, yeah, I did," Candace said, snapping back to attention. She followed her best friend inside.
It was 9:30 by then. Since several people had to go home, there were only about twenty left—enough to fit in the Johnsons' living room.
Candace's embarrassment increased with each nice gift that Jeremy opened. He especially loved Stacey's skateboard. Candace groaned.
Finally, after about ten minutes, Jeremy finally noticed the card. He opened it, and read the poem aloud. Everyone thought it was cute, of course, since they all thought that Suzy wrote it. Everyone loved Suzy.
As Jeremy read aloud the last line of the poem, however, his face looked odd. Candace's lit up. Suzy was so busted!
"Well, I guess that's the last of the presents," Jeremy said. "Now that that's over, let's go back to the party!" he announced, that funny, confused look still plastered on his face.
"Hey, Candace! Can I talk to you a moment?" Jeremy asked. He looked pained.
Suddenly, Candace lost all hope that Jeremy knew what she was talking about. "Don't say it," she said. "You're mad at me because I didn't but you a good present, right?"
Jeremy just smiled. "You wrote that poem, didn't you?" he asked. "I know you did. I know Suzy wasn't there the day you came over to help me bake cookies for the bake sale and…"
"You started making the eggs talk to each other?" Candace finished. She remembered the day clearly. It was several months ago, and Suzy was at Mindy's. Candace had come over to help with a school bake sale that was going on that week; she and Jeremy were in charge of baking the cookies. They had to bake for a while, and while the two kids were waiting, Jeremy randomly picked up a couple of eggs and made them start talking to each other. He and Candace had thought it was hilarious. She had subconsciously put an inside joke into her poem!
Candace giggled. "Um…yeah. Suzy stole it from me when I walked in the door. She's always trying to sabotage my time with you, you know?"
Jeremy thought for a moment. "Yeah, I noticed. It's kind of sad, actually. She doesn't get a lot of attention at home, because our parents are always working, so she relies on me instead. But I probably should have a talk with her when it comes to hanging out with other people. She's not the center of my world." If anything, I want you to be.
Jeremy gulped. You can do it! Keep going! he told himself. "I like you a lot, Candace." Almost there…
"You do? Like a girlfriend?" Candace blurted out, then turned as red as her hair.
Jeremy grinned. "Yeah, like a girlfriend. Exactly like that. So, um…"
"Do you want to go out with me on Saturday?" Candace asked suddenly.
Jeremy frowned suddenly. "I'll talk to Suzy about it first, but sure." He smiled. "I'm just going to make sure she has plans. She certainly won't ruin our date if I can help it."
Candace breathed a sigh of relief. "Thanks, Jeremy," she said.
"Don't mention it. Now, I'm going to go give Suzy a lecture. You just go enjoy the rest of the party, all right?"
"Will do!" Candace exclaimed. She then ran outside to dance with the remaining party guests.
Meanwhile, Jeremy walked upstairs to Suzy's room, where his little sister was contentedly brushing her doll's hair.
"Hi, Suzy! How's it going?" Jeremy asked.
"It's going good," Suzy said. She decided to kick up the cuteness level a bit. "Did you like my poem?" she asked.
Jeremy groaned. Lecturing his way-too-adorable, attention-and-affection-lacking sister was going to be just a little bit harder than he thought, but he pushed himself through it.
"I know you didn't write that poem, Suzy."
Suzy turned slightly pale, but she didn't lose that innocent face. "What do you mean, Jeremy?"
"I know you stole Candace's poem and made me think that you wrote it. Do you know that doing that is wrong?"
Suzy ignored his last comment. "What? Now, who told you that?" she asked. "Was it Candace?" She shook her head. "That girl never tells the truth," she said, mentally coming up with yet another torture device for the evil redheaded teen.
Jeremy shook his head. "Well, when I asked Candace, she did confirm it, but I figured it out on my own. Suzy, do you know what Candace was talking about when she wrote the thing in the poem about silly egg yolks?"
Suzy paused. "No…I guess I don't. What was she talking about?"
"Well, it's a long story. But long story short, it was an inside joke. Looks like you didn't plan your revenge very carefully now, don't you agree?"
Hearing Jeremy say that her idea was bad and careless made her madder than being caught itself. "What? But I have lots of good ideas. See?"
She reached out from under her bed and pulled out her portfolio filled with diagrams and schemes for destroying Candace's life. "Here's the one where I made her mess up on the rollerblading tournament thing, and the time where I put a whoopee cushion on her chair when she came over for dinner, and…" She stopped suddenly, realizing what she was doing. "I mean…yeah, it wasn't very well thought out."
Jeremy's eyes were wide as he looked through the folder. He had no idea just how mean Suzy had been.
"How come you did this, Suzy?" Jeremy asked gently, but her was actually furious. "Candace is a nice girl."
Even at this point, Suzy still kept her charm. "Well, I didn't want you hanging out with Candace. She's not your favorite little girl, is she?" Her eyes filled with fake terror at the thought of not being Jeremy's "favorite" girl anymore.
Jeremy sighed. Suzy, I'm allowed to care about more than one person. You're my little sister, and she's my girlfriend. That's right, she's my girlfriend now. We're going out to dinner on Saturday, and you are going to stay here. Is that understood?"
Suzy nodded. "Yes, I understand," she said. "I'm sorry I got jealous. I love you, but I know you can love Candace, too. I'll stop trying to keep you away from her," she insisted, and threw her whole portfolio in the trash to prove it.
Jeremy grinned. "That's great to know, Suzy. And hey, we'll still spend time together on Friday night, OK?"
"All right! I can't wait!"
Jeremy nodded and closed the door.
Suzy grinned evilly. "Maybe I won't try to keep her away from Jeremy, but I can still embarrass her, anyway!"
She took out a fresh piece of paper. At the top of it, she wrote: "OPERATION: Baby Pictures."