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Welcome to New York City’s Upper East Side, where my friends and I live, go to school, play, and sleep-sometimes with each other. It’s a luxe life, but someone’s got to live it . . . until they die.
So begins Gossip Girl, Psycho Killer, a re-imagined and expanded slasher edition of the first groundbreaking Gossip Girl novel, featuring all new grisly scenes and over-the-top gore by #1 New York Times bestselling author Cecily von Ziegesar.
Just as in the original story, Serena returns from boarding school hoping to make amends with her BFF Blair Waldorf–things just haven’t been the same since Nate Archibald came between them. But here’s where our dark tale takes a turn: Serena decides that the only way for her to make things right with Blair is to eliminate Nate. If that means killing him, well, c’est la vie. Her attempted murder doesn’t go unnoticed by Blair, however, who isn’t about to let Serena kill whoever she wants-not when there’s Cyrus Rose and Chuck Bass and Titi Coates and everyone else who’s ever irritated Blair to get rid of first . . . .
American Psycho‘s Patrick Bateman has met his match in Manhattan’s newest, most fabulous trendsetting serial killers, Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen.
Table of Contents
Ever wondered what the lives of the chosen ones are really like? Well, I'm going to tell you, because I'm one of them. I'm not talking about models or actors, royalty or reality show stars, cult leaders or the undead. I'm talking about the people who are born to it—those of us who have everything anyone could possibly wish for and who take it all completely for granted. The ones who literally get away with murder.
Welcome to New York City's Upper East Side, where my friends and I live, and go to school, and play—and sometimes kill each other. We all live in huge apartments with our own bedrooms and bathrooms and phone lines. We have unlimited access to money, booze, antique weaponry, apocalyptic poisons, the best carpet cleaners, bespoke luggage, Town Cars, and whatever else we need. Our parents are rarely home, so we have tons of privacy and unlimited opportunities to commit outrageously messy crimes. We're smart, we've inherited classic good looks, we wear fantastic clothes, and we know how to party. Our shit still stinks, but you can't smell it because the penthouse is decontaminated hourly and then sprayed by the maid with a refreshing scent made exclusively for us by French perfumers.
It's a luxe life, but someone's got to live it… until they die.
Our apartments are all within walking distance of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue, and the single-sex private schools, like Constance Billard, which most of us go to. Even with a hangover and a charley horse from last night's killing spree, Fifth Avenue always looks so beautiful in the morning with the sunlight glimmering on the bobbing heads of the sexy St. Jude's School boys.
But something is rotten on Museum Mile….
B shooting daggers at her mother in a taxi in front of Barneys. N firing up a joint on the steps of the Met, his lacrosse stick at his feet. C spending a killing on new school shoes at Hermès. And a familiar, tall, eerily beautiful blond girl emerging from a New Haven–line train in Grand Central Terminal carrying a duffel bag large enough to stuff a body into, and a violin case, even though she doesn't play. Approximate age: seventeen. By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes. Could it be?S is back?!
THE GIRL WHO LEAVES FOR BOARDING SCHOOL, GETS KICKED OUT, AND COMES BACK TO HAUNT US, OR WORSE
Yes, S is back from boarding school. Her hair is longer, paler. Her blue eyes have the depth and mystery of a closet so full of skeletons the door won't close. She is wearing the same old fabulous clothes, now in rags from fending off bewitched boarding school boys and the stakelike icicles of long New England winters. This morning S's creepily jubilant laughter echoed off the steps of the Met, where we will no longer be able to enjoy a quick smoke and a cappuccino without seeing her waving to us with one of her victims' severed hands from the window of her parents' penthouse apartment across the street. She has picked up the habit of biting her fingernails bloody, which makes us wonder about her even more, and while we are all dying to ask her why she got kicked out of boarding school, we won't, because we'd really rather she stayed away. But S is definitely here to haunt us.
Just to be safe, we should all synchronize our watches, warn the doorman, change the locks, and keep a baseball bat or golf club handy. If we aren't careful, S is going to win over our teachers, wear that dress we couldn't fit into, eat the last olive, have sex in our parents' beds, spill Campari on our rugs, wrench out our brothers' and our boyfriends' hearts, strangle us in our sleep, and basically ruin our lives and piss us all off in a major way.
I'll be watching closely. I'll be watching all of us as we drop like flies. It's going to be a wild and wicked year. I can smell it.
like most killer stories, it started at a party
"I watched Dexter reruns all morning in my room so I wouldn't have to eat breakfast with them," Blair Waldorf told her two best friends and Constance Billard School classmates, Kati Farkas and Isabel Coates. "My mother cooked him a piece of fried liver. I didn't even know she knew how to use the stove."
Blair tucked her long, dark brown hair behind her ears and swigged her mother's fine vintage scotch from the crystal tumbler in her hand. She was already on her second glass and planned on drinking several more. Anything to ward off the murderous rage that threatened to overcome her. Her forehead got all wrinkly and unattractive when she was mad.
"Which episodes did you watch?" Isabel asked, removing a stray strand of hair from Blair's black cashmere cardigan.
"Who cares?" Blair said, stamping her foot. She wore her new black ballet flats—very bow tie proper preppy, which she could get away with because in an instant she could change her mind, smudge her lipstick, tease her hair, and put on her trashy, pointed, knee-high boots and that murderously short metallic skirt her mother hated. Poof: escaped convict meets rock star sex kitten.
"The point is, I was trapped in my room all morning because they were busy having a gross romantic breakfast in their matching red silk bathrobes. They didn't even take showers." Blair took another gulp of her drink. The only way to tolerate the thought of her mother sleeping with that man was to get drunk, very drunk, and imagine them both dying from the Mad Cow bacteria in their fried liver.
Luckily, Blair and her friends came from the kind of families for whom drinking was as commonplace as a bloody nose or a surgical scar. Their parents believed in the quasi-European idea that the more access kids have to alcohol, the less likely they are to abuse it. So Blair and her friends could drink whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, as long as they maintained their grades and their looks and didn't embarrass themselves or the family by puking in public, pissing their pants, or ranting in the streets. The same thing went for everything else, like sex or drugs or murder—as long as you kept up appearances, you were all right.
But keep your panties on. That's coming later.
The man Blair was so upset about was Cyrus Rose, her mother's new boyfriend. At that very moment Cyrus Rose was standing on the other side of the living room, greeting the dinner guests. He looked like someone who might help you pick out shoes at Saks—bald, except for a small, bushy mustache, his fat stomach barely hidden in a shiny blue double-breasted suit—or someone you'd pay to finish off that filthy rich great-aunt who refused to die. He jingled the change in his pocket incessantly, and when he removed his jacket, there were big, nasty sweat marks on his underarms. He had a loud laugh and was very sweet to Blair's mother. But he wasn't Blair's father. Last year Blair's father had run off to France with another man, who could have been a very handsome psychopath for all Blair knew.
Although the private-label wine they produce at their chateau is excellent.
Of course none of that was Cyrus Rose's fault, but that didn't matter to Blair. As far as she was concerned, Cyrus Rose was a completely annoying, fat loser who deserved to die—by strangulation perhaps, after getting his bulbous neck stuck in the cord of his horrible red silk bathrobe.
But not tonight. Tonight Blair was going to have to tolerate Cyrus Rose, because her mother's dinner party was in his honor, and all the Waldorfs' family friends were there to meet him: the blue-blooded Basses and their sons, Chuck and Donald; the tragic widower Mr. Farkas and his daughter, Kati; the 1980s slasher film producer Arthur Coates, his grave-digging wife, Titi, and their daughters, Isabel, Regina, and Camilla; dead English royalty offspring Patty and Roger Scott Tompkinson and their son, Jeremy (who hadn't actually shown his face, but was probably just getting high in the maid's bathroom); Captain "Kill or Be Killed" Archibald, his wife, Mrs. Archibald, and their son, Nate. The only ones still missing were Mr. and Mrs. van der Woodsen, whose teenage daughter, Serena, and son, Erik, were both away at school.
Blair's mother was famous for her dinner parties, and this was the first since her infamous divorce. The Waldorf penthouse had been expensively redecorated that summer in bruised reds and molten browns, and it was full of impressive antiques and artwork cleverly scavenged by her decorator from the estates of recently deceased art collectors before they went to auction. In the center of the dining room table was an enormous silver bowl full of white lilies, petrified scarab beetles, and desiccated pussy willows. Gold-leafed place cards lay on every red-lacquered plate. In the kitchen, Myrtle, the cook, was whisper-shouting Ozzy Osbourne songs to the soufflé, and the sloppy Irish maid, Esther, hadn't dropped her famous blood pudding and Ritz cracker canapés down anyone's dress yet, thank goodness.
Blair was the one getting sloppy. And if Cyrus Rose didn't stop harassing Nate, her boyfriend, she was going to have to go over there, spill her scotch all over his tacky Italian loafers, and bludgeon him to death with her empty tumbler. Not that she'd ever actually kill anyone, but it was fun to imagine it.
"You and Blair have been going out a long time, am I right?" Cyrus said, punching Nate in the arm. He was trying to get the kid to loosen up a little. All these Upper East Side kids were wound way too tight.
Hence the high mortality rate.
"You sleep with her yet?" Cyrus asked.
Nate turned redder than the gore smeared on a butcher's apron. "Well, we've known each other practically since we were born," he stuttered. "But we've only been going out for like, a year. We don't want to ruin it by, you know, rushing, before we're ready?" Nate was just spitting back the line that Blair always gave him when he asked her if she was ready to do it or not. But he was talking to his girlfriend's mother's boyfriend. What was he supposed to say? "Dude, if I had my way we'd be doing it right now"?
"Absolutely," Cyrus Rose said. He clasped Nate's shoulder with a red, meaty hand. Around his fleshy wrist was one of those gold Cartier cuff bracelets—very popular in the 1980s and not so popular now—that you screw on permanently and never take off, unless you cut off your own arm.
Or someone cuts it off for you.
"Let me give you some advice," Cyrus told Nate, as if Nate had a choice. "Don't listen to a word that girl says. Girls like surprises. They want you to keep things interesting. Know what I mean?"
Nate nodded, frowning. He tried to remember the last time he'd surprised Blair. The only thing that came to mind was the time he'd brought her an ice cream cone when he picked her up at her tennis lesson. That had been over a month ago, and it was a pretty lame surprise by any standard. At this rate he and Blair might never have sex.
Nate was one of those boys you look at, and while you're looking at them you know they're thinking, That girl can't take her eyes off me, I'm so hot. Although he didn't act at all conceited about it. He couldn't help being hot—he was born that way. Poor guy.
That night Nate was wearing the moss green cashmere V-neck sweater Blair had given him last Easter, when her father had taken them skiing in Sun Valley for a week. Secretly, Blair had sewn a tiny gold heart pendant inside one of the sweater's sleeves, so that Nate would always be wearing her heart on his sleeve. Blair liked to think of herself as a hopeless romantic in the style of old movie actresses like Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice, Sissy Spacek in Carrie, or Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. She was always coming up with plot twists for the movie she was starring in at the moment. And usually someone wound up dead.
C'est la vie.
"I love you," Blair had told Nate breathily when she gave him the sweater.
"Me too," Nate had said back, although he wasn't exactly sure if it was true.
When he put on the sweater, it looked so good on him that Blair wanted to howl like a werewolf, rip off all her clothes, and jump him. But it seemed unattractive to scream in the heat of the moment—more Janet Leigh in Psycho than Marilyn in Some Like It Hot—so Blair kept quiet, trying to remain fragile and baby bird–like in Nate's arms. They kissed for a long time, their cheeks hot and cold at the same time from being out on the slopes all day. Nate twined his fingers in Blair's hair and pulled her down on the hotel bed. Blair put her arms above her head and let Nate begin to undress her, until she realized where this was all heading, and that it wasn't a movie after all—it was real. So, like the well-trained, civilized girl she was supposed to be, she sat up and made Nate stop.
She'd kept on making him stop right on up until today. Only two nights ago, Nate had come over after a party with a half-drunk flask of brandy in his pocket, gotten into bed with her, and murmured, "I want you, Blair." Once again, Blair had wanted to scream bloody murder, jump on top of him, and smother him with kisses. But she resisted. Nate fell asleep, snoring softly, and Blair lay down next to him, imagining they were the stars in a movie in which they were married and he had a drinking problem and possibly a multiple personality disorder, but she would stand by him always and love him forever, even if he occasionally spoke in tongues and wet the bed.
Blair wasn't trying to be a tease; she just wasn't ready. She and Nate had barely seen each other at all over the summer because she had gone to that horrible boot camp of a tennis school in North Carolina where she had tried to poison everyone's Kool-Aid, and Nate had gone sailing with his father off the coast of Maine. Blair wanted to make sure that after spending the whole summer apart they still loved each other as much as ever. She'd wanted to wait to have sex until her seventeenth birthday next month.
But now she was through with waiting.
Nate was looking better than ever. The moss green sweater had turned his eyes a dark, sparkling green, and his wavy brown hair was streaked with golden blond from his summer on the ocean. And, just like that, Blair knew she was ready. She took another sip of her scotch and cocked her fingers around the glass tumbler as if she were firing a shiny .38 caliber pistol.
If only she could take Cyrus out of the picture—bam! And everyone else at the party for that matter—bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Then she and Nate could do it right there in the living room, naked, with the whole damned penthouse to themselves, save for the corpses.
She finished her drink and set the tumbler down on a marble side table with such force that both the glass and the marble cracked.
Oh, yes. She was definitely ready.
the end justifies the means
"Keep the change," Serena van der Woodsen called as she stepped out of a cab on the corner of Lexington Avenue and Eighty-fourth Street, three blocks from the Archibalds' townhouse. The trip uptown from Grand Central had gone too quickly. She needed some fresh air, and she certainly didn't need to be spotted right in front of Nate's house. Not today. Of course, anyone who mattered was already at Eleanor Waldorf's autumn soiree. Besides, no one would believe their eyes if they saw Serena van der Woodsen here, on the Upper East Side, when she was supposed to be away at boarding school.
Her scuffed brown Ralph Lauren lace-up paddock boots were silent on the sidewalk as she made her way toward the townhouse, a pair of huge tortoiseshell Céline sunglasses masking her enormous navy blue eyes. A bicyclist paused to let her pass. Park Avenue wasn't as wide as she remembered, and the tulips in the median were long gone. A bored doorman glared accusingly at her as she turned the corner, the green awning above him casting a gloomy shadow across her path. Soon the iron gates of Nate Archibald's stately limestone townhouse loomed before her. Serena tightened the belt of the translucent brown plaid plastic Burberry trench coat she'd purchased from Bluefly.com in case things got messy—the only item of clothing she'd ever bought online, off-season, and at a discount—took a deep breath, and rang the bell.
No answer. She rang it again and waited. Again, no answer. It was after five o'clock. Hopefully Lourdes and Angel—the couple who served as the Archibalds' housekeepers, cooks, gardeners, handymen, manicurists, hairdressers, masseurs, chimneysweeps, exterminators, launderers, tailors, EMTs, and answering service—-had gone home.
Serena donned her taupe cashmere-lined goatskin Sermoneta gloves and dug the key out of her eelskin Dolce & Gabbana Harpoon microhobo—the key Nate had given her the summer before last, when everything had gone so very wrong, or so very right, depending on whose side you were on. The gate creaked open and a black squirrel streaked out of the green hedgerow bordering the walk. Oh, the irony! She just happened to have enough squirrel poison in her bag to kill an entire army of black squirrels. Are the black ones the juveniles? she wondered aimlessly, as if trying to distract herself from the true nature of her break-in.
Which is? We're all dying to know.
The black and white tiles of the foyer gleamed with clean familiarity. Growing up, Serena had spent almost as much time at Nate's house as she had in her own home. Serena and Blair and Nate—always an inseparable, precocious trio. In first grade they'd doused each other with the garden hose out back. In third grade they'd practiced kissing, determined to get it right before they were all cursed with braces or retainers. In fifth grade they'd stolen half the bottles in the liquor cabinet and mixed cocktails from a recipe book Blair had shoplifted from the Corner Bookstore.
Pushing her sunglasses up onto the crown of her head, Serena mounted the elegant red-carpeted staircase and trotted up to the second floor. She paused in the doorway of the master bedroom, so gilded and nautical with its Louis XVI décor, porthole-shaped skylight over the bed, and red, blue, and gold Persian carpet that had been rescued from the Titanic. Looking up, the sky was a torpid turquoise sea. October was weird like that.
Serena continued down the hall and up a narrower staircase to Nate's private floor. There were his boxers on the bathroom tile where he'd left them. There was the rumpled plaid quilt lying askew on his bed. There were his model sailboats and the picture of him and Serena and Blair on the beach behind Blair's house up in Newport. Nate's eyes glittered greener than the ocean behind them. Blair was laughing. Serena studied her own face. She'd had freckles then, and an easy smile. Could she still smile like that?
With a gloved hand she grasped the sleeve of the heather gray Abercrombie & Fitch sweatshirt Nate had worn to play lacrosse that morning and held it to her nose, breathing in the heady soap and sweat scent of him. Nate, her Nate. Blair's Nate.
Again she stared at the photograph. Her carefree twelve-year-old arms were wound around Nate and Blair's shoulders as they laughed. Tiny, happy dimples creased her freckled cheeks. She blinked, and then, just like that, Nate was gone. She'd vanished him from the picture. All she saw was herself and Blair, the two girls. Nate was just a tiny speck, drifting and dissolving as he floated out to sea.
Still wearing her gloves, Serena dropped her bag on the desk and removed the giant syringe she'd procured from the groundsman's shed up at Hanover. Two skulls with Xs through them and the word POISON were emblazoned on the oversized syringe in large black capital letters. She'd smuggled the syringe into the city in a violin case stolen from a Hanover sophomore who used to play first string in the school's orchestra—before he went snowboarding with Serena and had to be air-lifted to the hospital with a fractured jaw, a severed tongue, a punctured lung, and two shattered wrists.
Serena opened Nate's sock drawer and rooted around until she found the pair of balled-up neon yellow polyester Adidas soccer socks where he kept his stash of pot.
"What a loser," she could hear Blair scoff at Nate, her voice pregnant with love and longing. "I might finally do it with you if it wasn't for those horrible neon things."
Serena held the marijuana-stuffed socks in one hand and thrust the needle of the syringe into them with the other. The socks grew steadily heavier as they swelled with poison.
Nate's tiny sailboat alarm clock ticked quietly. The silence in the house was excruciating.
Serena had always hated silence, and her time at Hanover Academy in New Hampshire had been full of it. Sure, she'd met some okay people up there, but as soon as she got close to someone, something always happened to spoil it.
There was Jude, for instance. Sweet Jude. One sunny autumn Saturday he'd taken her apple picking at a hilly farm a few miles from campus. It was very romantic. But when they reached the arbor of shiny green Granny Smith apples, she'd thought of Nate. How Nate loved to snack on the crisp, tart flesh of a Granny Smith. How the green skin of his favorite apples matched the green irises of his eyes. Jude's eyes were a dull gray, not gorgeous green. Jude's hair was thin and straight and auburn, not thick and wavy and golden brown. Jude was from Massachusetts, not Manhattan. And although the apple picking stick in his hand resembled a lacrosse stick, Jude simply wasn't Nate. So Serena had rammed the stick down Jude's throat, catching his tongue and epiglottis in the little metal basket meant for catching apples and killing him instantly.
Then there was Milos from Milan. He'd taken Serena sailing. Big mistake. Milos was still missing, his shark-eaten body floating to and fro in the icy waters between Cape Cod and the Bay of Fundy, in Canada.
Sexy Soren, captain of the ski team, had built her a snowman, just like the snowmen she and Nate used to make in the garden behind Nate's townhouse. When she finally made it back to her dorm, the bloody snowman was wearing Soren's head.
Nate was the only sailor in her life, the only builder of snowmen, the only apple-loving boy. Oh, how she missed him. How she missed New York. The thought of Blair and Nate together in Manhattan without her made her want to kill her roommate, the dean, and everyone else at Hanover.
But the more Serena thought about it, the more she came to understand that three was not a good number. Before Nate showed up in kindergarten, she and Blair had been the inseparable-since-birth twosome, the pair. In preschool, they'd cut their hands with corkscrews and made a blood sister pact. Their friendship wasn't supposed to die, not ever. And they were meant to be together—stopping for scones at Sant Ambroeus on their walk to school and buying the same undies at Barneys—not separated by miles and miles of pretty New England roads. Because without Blair, she was just another beautiful, angry, misunderstood girl.
Try merciless killer freak?
All she'd thought about all year was how to repair their friendship. Eventually it became clear how much easier things would be if Nate were out of the picture—literally. Math wasn't Serena's best subject, but it didn't take a genius to figure out that Nate was the constant variable that fucked everything up:
let Nate = x
sx + b = guilt and shame that drove her away in the first place
s + bx = sorrow, rage, murder, and more guilt and shame
s + b = 1 + 1
Thus, x must die.
The notion of eliminating Nate altogether first occurred to Serena last spring, during her Concepts in Political Philosophy class. The class spent an entire week discussing consequentialism. Machiavelli, John Stuart Mill, Henry Kissinger. The theory went like this: Improving the lives of the people was the final goal, regardless of how that goal was achieved. A good outcome was a good outcome, no matter how that outcome was attained.
Or who had to die in the process.
The way Serena had come to see it, Nate was the only obstacle. Once he was eliminated, both she and Blair would be happy again. Everything could go back to the way it used to be. They would cut class and lie on their backs in Sheep Meadow in Central Park, watching the clouds drift by overhead. They'd stay up all night dancing in their underwear. They'd watch The Hunger—that oddly addictive classic vampire movie starring David Bowie and Susan Sarandon when they were young and beautiful—and Cat People, another good one. They'd get their nails done at J. Sisters together, ordering Waldorf salads from the Waldorf Hotel to the pedicure station just to be super-cheesy because they'd make their appointments under the name Waldorf. Everyone would secretly or not-so-secretly be jealous of them, but they'd both pretend not to notice because they didn't need anyone else when they had each other.
The poison was all gone. Serena withdrew the needle, tucked the syringe back into her bag, and tossed the heavy, balled-up pair of yellow socks back into the drawer. There. Now all Nate had to do was pack a nice big bong hit, smoke it up, and…
She'd asked the groundskeeper at Hanover how he kept the school's rodent population under control. He explained in detail how he injected piles of leaves with poison and burned them at nighttime. When the squirrels and rats and moles and groundhogs inhaled the smoke, the poison triggered a sudden rush of blood to the head, causing the vermin's eyeballs to explode.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Best not to think about that, Serena scolded herself as she made her way downstairs, across the gleaming foyer, and out the front gate.
It was dark out now. Yellow taxis zoomed up and down Park Avenue, ferrying Upper East Siders to their various dining appointments. Fuck walking. Serena raised her hand to flag one down. She couldn't wait to see Blair again.
An occupied cab pulled to a stop directly in front of her. The passenger door opened and a boy she knew well—Jeremy Scott Tompkinson, one of Nate's St. Jude's friends—stumbled out. Jeremy's parents were cousins of James Hewitt, the polo player who'd had a dalliance with Princess Diana and who was thought to be Prince Harry's real father. They'd come to America after an insurance scandal involving a string of dead polo ponies and a fire at their home in Kent, and had never looked back. Jeremy was a cross between Mick Jagger (skinny, full lips, long hair in his eyes) and Jerry Garcia (perpetually stoned).
"Yo Serena jeez whatcha doing back hope ya didn't get kicked outta boarding school aren't you hot in that coat with those gloves on it's like seventy degrees tonight," Jeremy wheezed. It was safe to presume that he was already high, hence his lack of punctuation.
"Hello." Serena clutched her bag to her chest, afraid he might catch a glimpse of the poisonous syringe. If only she'd bought the regular-sized hobo instead of this stupid microhobo. "May I take this cab?"
Jeremy stepped aside and she ducked into the backseat. He slammed the door closed behind her, swaying in his oversized khaki pants. His rock star haircut had grown out over the summer into something halfway between a mullet and a Sally Hershberger shag.
"You're really freaking hot," he told her with a stoned leer through the open window. "I just have a quick errand to run, otherwise I'd like, take you out on the town or something."
- On Sale
- Oct 3, 2011
- Page Count
- 320 pages