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The Takeover

Book #4 of Fearless Series
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About The Book

Better Nate than Ever meets Love Sugar Magic in this fourth and final novel in the Fearless middle grade series from Hamilton and Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez about a young thespian and emerging influencer whose social media gets hacked.

Twelve-year-old April DaSilva loves performing—and connecting with fans on her social media accounts. Thanks to her role in the hit Broadway show Our Time, she is close to reaching a huge follower milestone. In celebration, she’s hosting a contest: three lucky followers will win a special backstage tour and tickets to the show.

April feels on top of the world, but her brother isn’t so thrilled about her attention always being glued to a screen. His warnings don’t bother April. What’s wrong with wanting more followers and likes? When meet and greet day arrives, the Squad helps make the event special. All goes without a hitch until April attempts to log into her social media…it’s gone. Her previous posts have been erased, and a new one that April didn’t make pops up. It’s even worse than she thought…she’s been hacked.

The Squad tries to uncover the culprit while April becomes a puppet of her stolen account—desperately trying to keep up with the public appearances promised in her name until she can reclaim ownership of the online presence she’s worked so hard for. But she suddenly has much more to worry about when it’s announced that the entire Squad has outgrown their roles in Our Time and may soon be replaced…


Chapter One: #Birthday4Thewin One #BIRTHDAY4THEWIN
April DaSilva stood in the heartbeat of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. She planted her feet directly in the center of the gleaming atrium and breathed in the museum air. April admired all that surrounded her. The arched stained-glass windows and milky marbled statues. Wooden benches to sit, observe, and rest, along with a growing line of those who waited for sushi and sandwiches in the nearby cafeteria.

Her thirteenth birthday, at the marvelous venue, ticked on. April tuned out the hubbub and chatter of the art-admiring crowd. Her eyes became glued to the screen of her phone.

“One,” April DaSilva inhaled.

“Hundred,” she exhaled.

“Thousand followers!” April screamed at the notification. “This is the best birthday present ever!” She gripped the device tighter, afraid it would slip and break on the tile floor. Sweat built in the palm of her hand from the excitement that buzzed off her phone. April beamed at her screen as the phone chimed.

This is legit happening! she thought, remembering the moment she signed up for her Insta account and all the time she spent increasing her number of followers. April had been intentional when it came to connecting with her fans. Reaching her follower goal was one of the best gifts she could receive on this day, her birthday.


The phone buzzed.

Bzzt! Bzzt!

A golden Diana, with stone hair pulled away from her face, hovered diagonal to April, smack in the middle of the Met. The statue’s arrow was pointed, aimed, and ready to strike, while one bare foot dangled off the ledge upon which she stood. Diana was lifted on the ball of her other foot, poised to take off in search of her next target.

“Excuse me! Coming through!” shouted the voice of a young girl in overalls and a Barbie T-shirt. “I said move it!” She maneuvered through the crowd with her parents following. The kid’s hair was cut rough above her shoulders. It was clear the child had accomplished the task all by herself.

“We want to take a picture!” she screamed as she posed herself beside April in a position that matched the towering goddess statue.

“Of course, happy to take a picture with you!” April smiled and held out her phone, ready to click and snap and post and tag, until the kid raised her two unruly eyebrows and mouth into a scowl.

“Not you. I was talking to the statue. I’ve never seen you before in my life,” said the kid as she motioned for her parents to snap the pic. “Why are you dressed like that?”

April stepped aside and looked down at her OOTD, aka outfit of the day. She tapped her phone and followed back her one hundred thousandth fan, who only had a wink emoji for an Insta profile.

Everyone knows me, she thought. Right?

For April’s thirteenth birthday, her brown hair was styled in loose curls that flowed beneath a bejeweled lime-green-and-lavender crown. This matched the studded earrings hooped into her earlobes. April’s skirt glistened as she tilted her face and aimed her phone at a shimmering line of sunlight that found its way through the Met’s atrium window.

Snap. Click. April uploaded the pic.

With April’s theme of A Star Is Born, her mother, Linda, was dressed in a feathered gown that swept at her feet as she watched April grin into her phone. Her father, Benjamin, was done up in a dashing deep blue tuxedo. He stared on while April’s brother, Auggie, in jeans and a T-shirt, rested his palm on the edge of the roped-off cake table.

Auggie, against his wishes, had been assigned to “supervise the cake.” He was to make sure no passerby nabbed a bite of April’s dessert. But the fourteen-year-old couldn’t care less who took a swipe of icing or stuffed their face with the fluff of yellow sponge.

Auggie sucked in his breath and blew it out, causing a tuft of hair to lift and fall on his forehead. His eyebrows bunched, furious. He pinched his rose-gold bracelet, plated with the initials A & A. The thin wristlet matched what April had sworn she would always wear the day Auggie gifted her a bracelet that matched his. That was years ago. April hadn’t worn the bracelet since.

Family and friends stood around the museum space, waiting for April’s attention to be recaptured not by her phone but by them. The friends included Monica Garcia, Relly Morton, and Hudson Patel, April’s fellow members of the Squad in their Broadway musical at the Ethel Merman Theater, Our Time.

“You think she remembers we’re here?” asked Hudson, who had created a hat stacked with faux pastel macarons as part of his extravagant outfit. Hudson eyed the towered cake, which seemed to become lonelier the longer no one walked over to the sweet treat to eat.

“And for a fact, I know we lost April the second she hit her follower goal. She’s been aiming to get to one hundred thousand for ages,” said Relly Morton. He wore a velvet tux with a golden tie on the level of Broadway and television star Billy Porter. Relly looked at Monica and waited for her response.

“Um, guys, she’s been waiting for this moment the second we were all cast in the show. Plus, it’s her cumpleaños. On her birthday, April has the right to do what she wants.”

April cleared her throat and swiped her hair out of her face. “This is the best birthday ever!” she said with glee.

“Is it really? Because your guests are waiting, and the cake is getting melty, and can we get this over with already?” said her brother. April ignored him.

Know-it-all, your voice sounds like a wail, she thought.

Now April gripped her phone tighter. She spun a swift twirl, then hit an attitude, the most difficult of ballet moves, which occurred precisely seven times in act two of her and the Squad’s Broadway show. April began to bounce up and down on the balls of her feet. After the notification, she could not keep still.

“This occasion calls for a special announcement,” April chimed into her phone. Those there for her birthday celebration watched and waited as April tapped the screen once again. A red light fluttered until it stayed on, signifying that she was live.

“One hundred thousandth follower, here’s a massive April DaSilva congratulations to you! You just won two free tickets to Our Time, a meet and greet with the cast, and backstage passes to my show”—April glanced at the Squad, then back at her phone—“I mean our show, Our Time! For the four hundredth performance this upcoming Saturday, November second!”


Bzzt! Bzzt!


Bzzt! Bzzt!

April’s phone rang with notifications. New followers and more likes. An influx of red and pink hearts and a few fuming, angry faces from the people who had not won.

“Lucky winner—I’ll send you the deets after I finish my party,” April said as she tapped her phone again, but instead of putting it away, she gripped the buttons on the side and pressed them down, snapping a screenshot.

“Hashtag Lucky Winner! Hashtag Broadway for the Win! Hashtag Our Time Flex! Hashtag My Birthday Is Your Birthday! Hashtag—”

“Enough with the hashtags!” Auggie shouted from beside the cake. April could have sworn she saw the stand wobble and shake, also startled by Auggie’s words. Silence cascaded from one museum wall to the next, one sunshiny window to the other. All eyes gravitated toward April’s older brother.

“Auggie, what on earth has gotten into you?” asked Mrs. DaSilva. April noticed a flash of red spread across their mother’s face. A mix of fury and embarrassment.

“Maybe it’s too much cake. Is it too much cake? I know we should have gone one layer shorter. Should we have gone one layer shorter? Could be all the sugar. Is it all the sugar?” asked their dad.

The room was so still, April swore she heard the lingering remnants of Auggie’s yell bounce off the statues poised around the room. That was until Auggie turned on his heel and angrily took off toward the exit. April’s eyes followed her brother as he moved through the museum, past the towering Diana, down the hall adorned with armor, until he was out of everyone’s sight. By this moment, Auggie was sure to be stomping down the Met’s grand staircase.

“Happy birthday?” said Relly. He did not intend for the words to come out as a question.

“To yoooou!” Hudson chimed, adding a lingering ooo to the “you.”

“Are you okay, April?” Monica asked. Her voice was sweet and bold, a singsong echo that matched the talent of the infamous Ethel Merman.

“Happy birthday to you,” sang her mother and father, followed by the rest of the decked-out party crowd. April let her face spread into a smile, trying to forget all about how her brother had just stormed out on the biggest day she’d had in thirteen years, besides being cast as Froggie in Our Time.

“This calls for a redo. We didn’t even light this thing!” Mrs. DaSilva laughed, and the crowd followed, a burst of giggles and ahahas and hehehes.

April’s mother lit thirteen candles on the stacked cake. The flames danced and twirled, whirled and swooped as the party crowd and passersby let their breath flow in unison to “Happy Birthday.” The way the flickering candlelight moved reminded April of the attitude spin she’d done moments ago, next to Diana and the fussy kid, before her brother stormed out.

“One hundred thousand followers.” April’s eyes lit up with the flames.

While the crowd sang, April held up her phone once again. This time she snapped a picture, not of herself, but of the family and friends, the cake, and gifts. Then she turned the camera around and angled her phone back toward the cake with her face centered in the frame. April sucked in her breath and blew. The candle flames faded.

“Hashtag Thank You for Coming!” said April as she posted the party pic to her Instagram, the same platform she used to host the lucky winner giveaway.

But as April looked at the photo in her feed, she wished the one person missing had at least stayed for the photo op.

About The Author

Ted Ely

Mandy Gonzalez has thrilled audiences on Broadway, lit up the screen on television, been published in Harvard Business Review, and started a social movement. She recently starred as Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton on Broadway and appeared in Madam Secretary as recurring character Lucy Knox and is known for originating the role of Nina Rosario in the Tony Award­­–winning show, In the Heights. Mandy’s debut album, Fearless, reached #13 on the iTunes pop charts. Mandy is also an author—having published a widely cited article in the Harvard Business Review on how to overcome one’s fear of public speaking. Most dear to her heart, Mandy is the proud founder of #FearlessSquad—a social media movement for inclusiveness and belonging. The movement connects millions of people around the world, encourages them to be their best selves, and helps them empower each other.

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