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Gossip Girl: The Carlyles
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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around May 6, 2008. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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You know you love me,
Table of Contents
A Preview of Gossip Girl, Psycho Killer
I do desire we may be better strangers.
—William Shakespeare, As You Like It
topics / sightings / your e-mail / post a question
Surprised to hear from me? Don't be. Something's happened on the Upper East Side, and I can't keep quiet about it. There's a new threesome in town, and they're far too exquisite not to talk about.…
But first, I need to back up a little.
As we all know, this summer our beloved Avery Carlyle passed away. Benefactress extraordinaire, she gave away pieces of her fortune to museums, libraries, and parks the way other people donate last season's dresses to St. George's thrift shop. At seventeen, she made headlines dancing on tables at Elvis's first New York show. At twenty-one, she married (for the first time) and moved into the famous peach-colored town house on the corner of Sixty-first and Park. And at seventy, she still drank scotch and soda and was always surrounded by fresh-cut white peonies. Most important, she knew exactly how to get what she wanted—from husbands, society hostesses, heads of state, anyone. A woman after my own heart.
And why should you care? Keep your panties on, I'm getting to that. Avery Carlyle's wayward daughter, Edie—who ran away years ago to Nantucket to find herself through art—was called back to New York to sort through her mother's affairs. Judging by the bookcase of leather-bound journals (and the six annulled marriages) the elder Mrs. Carlyle left in her wake, that process may take a while. Which is why Edie recently shut down the Nantucket house and moved herself and her fatherless triplets into an infamous penthouse located on Seventy-second and Fifth.
Meet the Carlyles: O, ruggedly handsome, buff bod, golden blond hair, an ever-present Speedo… looks good so far. Then there's A, wheat blond hair, cobalt blue eyes, a fairy-tale goddess robed in Marni. And lastly B, which simply stands for Baby. Aw. But just how innocent is she?
Of course, our UES friends are up to some new tricks. There's J, last seen drinking Tanqueray gimlets on a yacht in Sagaponack. But why was she there, when she was supposed to be performing arabesques at the Paris Opera House? Did the pressure get to her, or was she just homesick for her tycoon-in-training boyfriend, J.P.… ? Don't forget the impeccably mannered R, swimming laps in the rooftop pool at Soho House while his mother filmed a piece on summer entertaining for her television show Tea with Lady Sterling. We all know Lady S can't wait to plan his fairy-tale wedding to longtime girlfriend, K, but will young love endure? Especially when K was seen in the confessional at St. Patrick's? They say confession is good for the soul.
What will the old crowd think of these three new additions to our fair island? I, for one, can't wait to see whether they sink or swim.…
So, my mom went to Constance Billard like a million years ago with the triplets' mom, and she told me the reason they moved here is because A slept with the entire island—boys and girls. And then B is, like, this crazy, brilliant genius who's mentally unstable and never washes her clothes. And O apparently swims up to Nantucket on the weekends in a Speedo. Is that true?
Interesting. From what I've seen, A looks pretty innocent. But we all know looks can be deceiving. We'll see how brilliantly B does in the city. As for O, Nantucket's a long way away, so I doubt he can swim that far. But if he can… I've got one word for you: endurance. Exactly what I look for in a man.
I just moved here and I love New York!!!!! Do you have any advice to make this year the best year ever?
All I can say is, be careful. Manhattan is a pretty small place itself, albeit much more fabulous than wherever you came from. No matter what you do, and no matter where you are, somebody is watching. And it's not going to be gossiped about in your high school cafeteria—in this town, it's bound to hit Page Six or Gawker. If you're interesting or important enough to be gossiped about, that is. One can only hope.
I bet you're just saying you deferred college because you didn't get in anywhere. Also, I heard that a certain monkey-owning dude never made it to West Point, and I think it's pretty mysterious that he's still here and so are you. Are you really a girl?? Or are you even a senior? I bet you're just some nerdy thirteen-year-old with no boobs, so people can't tell if you're a girl or a boy. I mean you're definitely not the real thing. Even the site looks different.
First of all, it's called a makeover! Get with the program. Second, I'm flattered that my continued presence is spawning conspiracy theories. Sorry to disappoint, but I am as feminine as they come, without a pet monkey in sight. My age? As the venerable elder Avery Carlyle would say: A real lady never tells.
This just in, from the newbies: O running in Central Park, without a shirt. Does he own any shirts? Let's hope not… ! A trying on a silver sequined YSL minidress in the dressing room of Bergdorf's. Didn't anyone tell her Constance has a dress code… ? And her brunette sister, B, in FAO Schwarz, clinging to a guy in a barn-red Nantucket High hoodie, putting stuffed animals in inappropriate poses and taking pictures. Is that what they do for fun where they're from?
Okay, ladies and gents, you all probably have to go back-to-school shopping—or, for those of you who've headed off to college, read Ovid and chug a PBR in your new eight-by-ten dorm room. But don't worry; I'll be here, drinking a glass of Sancerre in the corner booth of Balthazar, reporting on what you're missing. It's the dawn of a new era on the Upper East Side, and with these three in town, I just know it's going to be another wild and wicked year…
You know you love me,
Welcome to the Jungle
Baby Carlyle woke up to the sound of garbage trucks beeping loudly as they backed up Fifth Avenue. She rubbed her puffy eyelids and set her bare feet on the red bricks of her family's new terrace, pulling her boyfriend's red Nantucket High sweatshirt close to her skinny frame.
Even though they were all the way on the top floor, sixteen stories above Seventy-second and Fifth, she could hear the loud noises of the city coming to life below. It was so different from her home in Siaconset, Nantucket, better known as Sconset, where she used to fall asleep on the beach with her boyfriend, Tom Devlin. His parents ran a small bed-and-breakfast, and he and his brother had lived in a guest cottage on the beach since they were thirteen. He'd surprised Baby with a visit to New York over the weekend, but he'd left last night. When she couldn't sleep, Baby had dragged a quilt onto the terrace's hammock.
Sleeping alfresco? How… au naturel.
Baby shuffled through the sliding French doors and into the cavernous apartment she was now expected to call home. The series of large, cream-colored rooms, with their gleaming hardwood floors and ornate marble details, was the opposite of comfortable. She dragged the Frette duvet behind her, mopping the spotless floors as she wound her way to her sister Avery's bedroom.
Avery's golden-blond hair was strewn across her pale pink pillow, and her snores sounded like a broken teakettle. Baby pounced on the bed.
"Hey!" Avery sat up and pulled the strap of her white Cosabella tank top up on one tanned shoulder. Her long blond hair was matted and her blue eyes were bleary, but she still looked regally beautiful, just like their grandmother had been. Just like Baby wasn't.
"It's morning," Baby announced, bouncing up and down on her knees like a four-year-old high on Honey Smacks. She was trying to sound perky, but her whole body felt heavy. It wasn't just that her whole family had uprooted themselves from Nantucket last week, it was that New York City had never felt—would never feel—like home.
When Baby was born, her emergence had surprised her mother and the midwife, who thought Edie was only having twins. While her brother and sister were named for their maternal grand-parents, the unexpected third child had simply been called Baby on her birth certificate. The name stuck. Whenever Baby had come to New York to visit her grandmother, it was clear from Grandmother Avery's sighs that while twins were acceptable, three was an unruly number of children, especially for a single mother like Edie to handle. Baby was always too messy, too loud, too much for Grandmother Avery, too much for New York.
Now, Baby wondered if she might have been right. Everything, from the boxy rooms in the apartment to the grid of New York City streets, was about confinement and order. She bounced on her sister's bed some more. Avery groaned sleepily.
"Come on, wake up!" Baby urged, even though it was barely ten, and Avery always liked to sleep in.
"What time is it?" Avery sat up in bed and rubbed her eyes. She couldn't believe she and Baby were related. Baby was always doing ridiculous things, like teaching their dog, Chance, to communicate by blinking. It was as if she were perpetually stoned. But even though her boyfriend was a raging stoner, Baby had never been into drugs.
It doesn't really sound like she needs them.
"It's after ten," Baby lied. "Want to go outside? It's really pretty," she cajoled. Avery took in Baby's tangled long brown hair and puffy brown eyes, and knew immediately that she'd been crying over her loser boyfriend all night. Back in Nantucket, Avery had done everything possible to avoid Tom, but this past weekend it had been impossible to escape his grossness, from the stained white Gap athletic socks he'd ball up and give to their cat, Rothko, to play with, to the one time she had caught him doing bong hits on the terrace wearing only a pair of Santa-print boxers. She knew Baby liked that he was authentic, but did authentic have to mean appalling?
Short answer? No.
"Fine, I'll come outside." Avery pulled herself out from under her six-hundred-thread-count Italian cotton sheets and walked barefoot onto the terrace, and Baby followed. Avery squinted in the bright sunlight. Below her, the wide street was empty except for an occasional sleek black town car whooshing down the avenue. Beyond the street was the lush expanse of Central Park, where Avery could just barely make out the tangled maze of paths winding through its greenery.
The two sisters sat together, swinging in the hammock and looking over the other landscaped Fifth Avenue terraces and balconies, deserted save for the occasional rooftop gardener. Avery sighed in contentment. Up here, she felt like the queen of the Upper East Side, which was exactly what she was born to be.
Is that right?
"Hey." Their brother, Owen, six foot two and shirtless, stepped onto the terrace carrying a carton of orange juice and a bottle of champagne, wearing only a black Speedo bathing suit. Avery rolled her eyes at her swimming-obsessed brother, who could easily drink anyone under the table and then beat them in a 10K.
"Mimosa anyone?" He took a swig of orange juice from the carton and grinned at Avery's repulsed grimace. Baby shook her head sadly as her tangled hair brushed against her shoulder blades. Always tiny, Baby now looked absolutely fragile. Her messy brown hair had already lost the honey highlights that always showed up during the first weeks of a Nantucket summer.
"What's up?" he asked his sisters companionably.
"Nothing," Avery and Baby answered at the same time.
Owen sighed. His sisters had been so much easier to understand when they were ten, before they'd started acting all coy and mysterious.
He took a swig of orange juice, wondering if he'd ever understand girls. If they weren't so irresistible in general, he might have given them up and become a monk. Case in point: The only reason he was up so early was the semi-pornographic dream that had forced him out of bed and on an unsuccessful hunt for a pool.
Dream about whom? Details, please.
He placed the unopened bottle of champagne in a large, daisy-filled planter and took another swig of OJ before squeezing into the hammock next to his sisters. He glanced down at the mass of trees, not believing how small Central Park seemed. From up here, everything looked miniature. Not like Nantucket, where the expanse of dark ocean went on forever. Sconset was the nearest point in the country to Portugal and Spain, and Owen always wondered how long it would take him to swim there.
"Helloooooo!" The sound of their mother's voice and the jangling of her handcrafted turquoise and silver bracelets carried out onto the terrace from inside. Edie Carlyle appeared in the doorway. She wore a flowy blue-patterned Donna Karan sundress, and her normally blond-streaked-with-gray bob had been knotted into a hundred tiny braids. She looked more like a scared porcupine than a resident of Manhattan's most exclusive zip code.
"I'm so glad you're all here," she began breathily. "I need your opinion on something. Come, it's inside." She gestured toward the foyer, her chunky bracelets clanking against each other.
Avery giggled as Owen dutifully slid off the hammock and padded into the apartment, following Edie's long stride. For the past week, Owen had been acting as Edie's de facto art advisor. He had been to an opening almost every night, usually in an overcrowded, patchouli-drenched gallery in Brooklyn or Queens, where he'd drunk warm chardonnay and pretended to know what he was talking about.
The expansive, wood-paneled rooms of the penthouse that had once probably housed toile Louis XIV revival chaises and Chippendale tables were now barren except for a few castoffs Edie had found through her extensive network of artist friends. Avery had immediately ordered a whole ultramodern look from Jonathan Adler and Celerie Kempbell, but the furniture hadn't yet arrived. In the interim, Edie had managed to find a moth-eaten orange couch to place in the center of the living room. Rothko was furiously scratching at it, his favorite new activity since moving to New York. Most of the Carlyles' pets—three dogs, six cats, one goat, and two turtles—had been left in Nantucket. Rothko was probably lonely.
Not for long. Sitting next to Rothko was a two-foot-high plaster chinchilla, painted aquamarine and covered in bubble wrap.
"What do you think?" Edie asked, her blue eyes twinkling. "A man was selling it for fifty cents on the street down in Red Hook when I was coming home last night from a performance. This is authentic, New York City found art," she added rapturously.
"I'm out of here," Avery announced, backing away from the plaster sculpture as if it were contaminated. "Baby and I are going to Barneys," she decided, locking eyes with her sister and willing her to say yes. Baby had been moping around in Tom's stupid sweatshirt all weekend. It had to stop.
Baby shook her head, pulling the red sweatshirt tighter against her body. She actually kind of liked the chinchilla. It looked just as out of place in the ornate apartment as she felt. "I have plans," she lied. She'd decide what those plans were just as soon as she was out of her family's sight.
Owen gazed at the statue. One of the chinchilla's heavily lidded eyes looked like it was winking at him. He really needed to get out of the house.
"I, uh, need to pick up some swim stuff." He vaguely remembered getting an e-mail saying he needed to pick up his uniform from the team captain at St. Jude's before school started tomorrow. "I should probably get to it."
"Okay," Edie trilled, as Avery, Owen, and Baby scattered to opposite ends of the apartment. School started tomorrow. It was the dawn of a new era.
Edie tenderly carried the chinchilla sculpture into her art studio. "Have fun on your last day of freedom!" she called, her voice echoing off the walls of the apartment.
Like they don't always find a way to have fun?
The Best Things in Life Are Free
Avery couldn't help grinning to herself as she emerged from the apartment building and started walking south down Fifth. It was only ten o'clock in the morning, but the streets were already buzzing with tourists and families. The late August heat was laced with a cool breeze that made her shiver in anticipation. She couldn't wait to see the trees flanking the avenue turn brilliant orange, red, and yellow. She couldn't wait to snuggle up in a cashmere Burberry coat and sip hot chocolate on one of the benches lining the austere stone walls surrounding Central Park. She couldn't wait until tomorrow, when she would start school at Manhattan's exclusive Constance Billard School for Girls and her life would finally begin.
She turned onto Madison, pausing at the large plate-glass windows of the Calvin Klein boutique on the corner of Sixty-second Street to take in her reflection. With her long, wheat-colored blond hair wrapped in a Pucci print headscarf and a peony pink Diane von Furstenberg sleeveless wrap dress hugging her athletic frame, she looked like any Upper East Sider out for a stroll. In Nantucket, where fleece was party attire and a party was drinking a six-pack of Molson on Sconset beach, Avery had always been out of her element. But this year it was all going to be different. Finally, she was right where she belonged.
Avery tore herself away from the shop window and continued to walk down Madison. Just past Sixty-first Street she reached the door to Barneys and smiled exultantly as the dapper, black-suited doorman held it open. She breathed deeply as she entered, the achingly familiar scent of Creed Fleurissimo hitting her along with the AC. It had been her grandmother's favorite perfume, and Avery could practically feel the elder Avery's spirit steering her away from an oversize apple green Marc Jacobs bag and toward the true designer purses.
Avery walked through the luxury handbag department, rever-ently touching the crocodile skin and soft leathers. Her eyes stopped on a cognac-colored Givenchy satchel, and she felt her stomach flutter. Its gold buckles reminded her of the antique chest she'd left behind in Nantucket. She'd always imagined some ancient blue-blooded great-aunt had lost the trunk in the Atlantic when her ship sank on her honeymoon, only for it to be recovered by a bearded lobsterman years after her romantic death. Avery had a habit of making things far more romantic than they actually were.
Well, that's way better than sucking your thumb and biting your nails.
"Exquisite piece." Avery heard a smooth voice over her shoulder. She turned around and took in the saleslady behind her. She was in her mid-forties, with gray-streaked hair pulled back into a sleek bun.
"It's beautiful," Avery agreed, wishing the saleslady would disappear. She wanted this moment to be pure: a moment between her and the purse.
And the imaginary lobsterman?
"Limited edition," the saleslady noted. Her name tag read NATALIE. "It was actually claimed, but we never heard back from the buyer.… Would you be interested?" Natalie raised her perfectly plucked eyebrows.
Avery nodded, transfixed. She glanced at the price tag—four thousand dollars. But she hadn't really bought that much since she had arrived in New York, and wasn't that what Edie's new accountant, Alan, was for? Besides, as Grandmother Avery had once reminded her when she'd admired a particular vintage Hermès Kelly bag in her namesake's extensive collection: Handbags never die. Men do. This bag was forever.
"I'll take it," she said confidently, her just-manicured petal pink fingernails reaching for the supple leather straps.
"Oh, there you are!"
Avery and Natalie turned in unison to see a willowy girl with cascading auburn hair and a freckled complexion sweep across the marble floor. Avery paused, transfixed. Even in a fluttery white Milly sundress with enormous D&G sunglasses perched on her head, the girl looked exactly like the ballerina in the Degas painting hanging in Grandmother Avery's library. "I came to pick up my bag. So sorry I didn't get your messages—I was in Sagaponack. My cell phone service is awful out there." She sighed deeply, as if a weak cell phone signal in the Hamptons were the most monumental handicap.
"Thanks again for holding it." The girl grabbed the satchel from Avery's hands, as if Avery's job had been to hold it for her. Avery narrowed her eyes as she firmly grasped the bag's strap.
"You must be Jack Laurent." Natalie pressed her lips into a tight line as she turned to the girl. "Unfortunately, because we do have a release policy and we have someone interested, I'm afraid that we'll have to put you back on the waiting list."
Avery smiled a too bad smile at the girl, feeling giddy. No one at Constance Billard could possibly have this bag. It seemed all the more valuable now that she saw how in demand it was. Avery tugged on the handle, but the girl made no effort to loosen her grip.
"I can see why you need a new bag." Jack glanced pointedly at Avery's worn Louis Vuitton Speedy purse. It had been her thirteenth-birthday present from her grandmother, and it was well loved, as Grandmother Avery would have put it. "There are some outside you might be interested in."
Avery narrowed her blue eyes at the girl and gripped the cognac-colored bag's shoulder strap. Outside? As in, the tacky knockoffs hocked by vendors on the street? She was speechless.
"Now that that's settled," Jack went on, tightening her grasp around the Givenchy's straps, "can we please take care of this?" she ordered Natalie haughtily, her green eyes flashing.
Natalie drew herself up to her full height of five foot two. She stood comically between the two girls, who faced each other eye to eye five inches above her head. "That's the only one we have," she began authoritatively. "It's a limited edition and rather fragile, so I'm sure you both will be able to work something out." She reached for their fingers, trying to pry them from the bag's leather handles.
"I don't think that will be necessary," Avery said, giving the purse a sharp tug that surprised Jack. She stumbled forward, losing her grip. Take that, bitch, Avery smirked.
Before Jack could regain her balance, Avery strode quickly away across the marble floor of Barneys, clutching the satchel protectively against her chest, like a football player headed for the end zone. She'd gotten there first, and she was going to leave here first, with the bag that was rightfully hers. Only ten yards separated her from the exit. Unable to help herself, she turned around to glare at Jack victoriously. It was the Carlyle equivalent of a touchdown dance. The girl's pale freckled face was drained of its perfect tan and her green eyes looked more confused than angry. Avery grinned, feeling giddy. But all of a sudden, a hideous buzzing sound erupted around her. She looked around in annoyance but couldn't see where the buzzing was coming from. Not daring to hesitate, she continued to walk, feeling a surge of victory.
"Excuse me, miss?" A burly security guard appeared in front of her. His name tag read KNOWLEDGE. Avery looked up in confusion. She tried to sidestep him, but he moved his bulk in front of her with ease.
She's not the first girl to make a run for it in Barneys!
"Give me the bag, baby girl, and it'll all be over," Knowledge said gently and quietly, holding on to Avery's thin arm. She could feel his gold-ringed fingers make an indentation on her tan skin.
"I was going to pay for it," she insisted, trying not to sound desperate. Wordlessly, she handed him the bag as her blue eyes widened in shock. Could they really think she was trying to steal it?
Natalie joined them, whisking the purse out of Knowledge's hands. Avery felt red splotches begin to form on her chest and face, which always happened when she was upset, a precursor to tears.
"I really think they should have an age limit for some floors, don't you?" Avery overheard one white-haired lady say loudly to her female friend with overly teased red hair, wearing a leopard print Norma Kamali shirtdress. Avery suddenly felt like she was five years old.
"I was going to pay for it," she repeated loudly. "The checkout counter wasn't clearly-marked." Even as she said it, she cringed. Checkout counter? She sounded like she had taken a wrong turn at Target.
She shook her head, trying to appear supremely irritated and reached into her own LV-monogrammed purse. She would pull her brand-new black AmEx out of her red and green striped Gucci wallet. Then everyone would see it was all an unfortunate mistake and apologize and give her loads of complimentary products for the inconvenience.
"Luckily, the exit is well marked," Natalie replied icily. She was enjoying this, Avery realized. She lowered her voice. "Don't worry. We're not going to call your parents." And with that, Natalie whirled around on her black Prada pumps and walked back to Jack, who was waiting with a steely smirk on her irritatingly freckled face.
"I just had to have it for the first day of school," Jack cooed dramatically. She took the purse in her hands, examining it as if to make sure Avery hadn't dirtied it with her sticky fingers.
"Your shopping trip is over, honey." Knowledge's soft voice interrupted her awful reverie, as two more security guards escorted her out a side entrance onto Sixty-first Street.
The door closed with a thud.
Avery's faced burned. She half expected an angry Barneys mob to follow her as she scurried away, but instead two thirtysomething women pushed their black, tanklike Bugaboo strollers past her, chatting about nursery schools. White-gloved doormen stood outside rows of luxury apartment buildings. A red double-decker bus headed toward Central Park. Avery felt her heartbeat slow down. No one had a clue who she was or what had just happened. She readjusted her headscarf and crossed the street with her chin held high. This wasn't Nantucket, where everything was broadcast until infinity. This was New York, a city of more than eight million people, where Avery could do whatever she wanted to do—be whoever she wanted to be. So what if she hadn't gotten the Givenchy satchel? She still had the new patent leather Louboutin slingbacks she'd bought yesterday and her lucky pearls from Grandmother Avery. She could probably go back to Barneys tomorrow and no one would recognize her.
As she crossed Fifth, a cute guy in a gray Riverside Prep T-shirt and a Yankees cap jogged by, smiling at her. She smiled broadly back, batting her carefully mascaraed eyelashes. Tomorrow, Avery Carlyle would begin her brand-new life at her brand-new school and Jack Laurent would be a distant memory—some bitchy diva who had stolen her purse, never to be heard from again.
Maybe. The thing is, New York is a big city, but Manhattan is a very small island.…
- On Sale
- May 6, 2008
- Page Count
- 256 pages