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But the girls quickly discover that a quiet holiday is not in store for them. A cozy Thanksgiving dinner turns into a three-day party with a few of their classmates-and some irresistible mystery guests. Jenny meets Mr. Right but is determined not to fall in love for the fourth time this fall. Tinsley has her own holiday mission: to win back adorable freshman Julian McCafferty. And Callie is holding out for Easy . . . which is hard to do with a cute college boy following her around. Brett Messerschmidt is missing in action-forced to spend Thanksgiving in her family’s tacky Jersey McMansion. But drama’s on the menu at the dinner table. And maybe love too.
Forget turkey and stuffing. When you’re an It Girl, a holiday is just another
excuse to break out the bubbly.
Copyright © 2008 by Alloy Entertainment
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Little, Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
For more of your favorite series, go to www.pickapoppy.com
First eBook Edition: November 2008
The Poppy name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
The characters and events in this book are fi ctitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
it girl novels created by Cecily von Ziegesar:
The It Girl
If you like the it girl, you may also enjoy:
The Poseur series by Rachel Maude
The Secrets of My Hollywood Life series by Jen Calonita
Betwixt by Tara Bray Smith
Haters by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
Footfree and Fancyloose by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain
A WAVERLY OWL TAKES HER TUTORING DUTIES SERIOUSLY—REGARDLESS OF HOW SERIOUSLY HER TUTEE DOES.
It was unnaturally quiet in the main reading room in Sawyer Library on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving. Brett Messerschmidt rapped the edge of her stack of index cards against the grooved oak of the giant study table where she was parked. Latin texts and notebooks crammed with her elegant, backward-leaning penmanship were sprawled out in front of her, as if her backpack had exploded. Only a handful of students remained in the library, some with overstuffed duffels at their feet, waiting for their parents' Lexus SUVs to pull up and tote them off for a weekend of organic free-range turkey and HDTV.
Ever since Brett had come to Waverly Academy, she'd dreaded going back home to her parents' gaudy McMansion in Rumson, New Jersey, having decided that just about every aspect of suburban life in the Garden State was completely gauche. Maybe it was the nightmare she'd made of her personal life this past semester, but she could hardly bear to think about her dad's straight-from-the-can cranberry sauce, and how her mom always insisted on tackling the crowded Mall at Short Hills on Black Friday. The thought of sitting on a bench in the mall next to her mom, eating a buttery hot pretzel from Auntie Anne's, even with bags and bags of clothes from Betsey Johnson and Guess surrounding them, made Brett feel kind of gross.
The creak of the wooden chair opposite her brought her back to the present. Leaning precariously against the magazine shelf was a tall, dark-haired boy with an expression on his face that hovered between boredom and amusement. Brett narrowed her almond-shaped green eyes at him, trying to look at him objectively, as if she hadn't spent the past four weeks trying to make him memorize some Cicero—as if he wasn't a giant pain in her ass.
"Sebastian." Brett hooked an escaped lock of silky red hair behind her ear and tried to sound stern. She'd booked an appointment with her stylist on Saturday, grateful for the impending Thanksgiving weekend and the chance to go somewhere besides the Supercuts at the Rhinecliff Mall—not that anyone at Waverly actually went there. "Focus, please."
"You really want me to pay attention?" A ray of weak autumn sunlight landed on Sebastian's jawline, reminding Brett of how much this time of year depressed her. When you got out of your last class, it was already dark out. "Maybe next time you could wear something sexier instead of, I don't know, looking like Mrs. Birdsall." Mrs. Birdsall was the head librarian, whose uniform consisted of a black turtleneck and a long corduroy skirt, even in summer.
Brett glared at him. "I'm your tutor, sleazebag, not your Pussycat Doll." She tried not to let the comment bother her, coming from someone who judged how hot a girl was by how much skin she showed. She knew she looked attractive in her snug-fitting American Apparel black turtleneck and straight-leg black Calvin Klein jeans, a narrow red belt cinching her small waist. It was a look she'd planned out carefully, in case she ran into any college guys from Williams or Bard later on the Metro-North train down to Grand Central.
"You're not exactly focusing either," Sebastian grunted, touching his fingers to his thick dark hair, as if to make sure he'd used enough gel that morning. He had. "So what. Is. The. Big. Deal?" He emphasized his words by clanking the feet of his chair to the floor and staring straight at Brett. His long-sleeved white shirt looked like someone had stepped on it, the outline of his white wife-beater clearly visible underneath.
"The big deal," Brett sighed, wishing for the hundredth time that she could pull out a razor and shear off his shiny hair, "is that you're probably not going to graduate. That'll make a nice Christmas present for Mom and Dad, eh?"
"Let's not talk about my parents," he said, sitting up straight in his chair. His dark, almost black eyes stared back at Brett with arrogance. "I'm going to graduate, so don't get your panties in a bunch."
Brett snorted. "What makes you think so?" She eyed him. The smell of Drakkar Noir permeated their immediate area and she was just thankful that the library had all but emptied. Mrs. Birdsall had already locked the doors to the upper floors—apparently afraid that some horny Owls would try to hole up in the library over the long weekend, desecrating the sacred study spaces.
"Because…" Sebastian grinned, leaning forward, revealing a small chip in his bottom incisor that always surprised Brett. Why hadn't he ever gotten it fixed? "I've got you."
Brett felt a surge of electricity—part annoyance, part something else—flow through her body. "Look. I'm not doing this for my own personal satisfaction."
"I know something about personal satisfaction, if you're interested."
He was just lucky there was no one around, or she'd have had to reach across their open Latin books and slap him. Hard.
"I've got you, babe," he began singing. He snapped his fi ngers as he hummed the rest of the song.
Brett forced herself to refrain from smiling at his lame joke. The fact was, he wasn't taking their tutoring sessions seriously enough, and whether or not he wanted to acknowledge it, he was in real danger of failing out of Waverly. She tapped her cranberry-colored nails (Madame Butterfly by Nars) against the white cover of her closed Mac iBook. They still hadn't gotten to half of the things she'd wanted to cover today.
Sebastian rubbed his hand over his face, looking as if he were as exasperated with Brett as she was with him. "Look, why don't we get out of here? Grab a cup of coffee or something, and you can tell me the real reason you act like you have a stick up your ass all the time."
Brett pressed her eyes closed, thinking of the million other places she'd rather be than wasting her time in the library with Sebastian. Unfortunately, the one she'd been trying not to think about was the easiest one to imagine—cuddled next to Jeremiah Mortimer, her on-again-off-again boyfriend, in front of a roaring fi re in his family's Colorado ski lodge, sipping homemade hot chocolate out of oversize ceramic cups. Or maybe, in between rounds of Pictionary, listening to his perfectly tasteful New England blue-blood parents tell the story of how they met. The images mocked her, painful reminders of what she could have had if she'd just been a little smarter.
Because, unfortunately, thanks to her little experimental fling with Kara Whalen while she and Jeremiah had been on a temporary break, and her subsequent lying about it, they were now permanently off.
Sebastian's phone vibrated against the wooden table. He snatched it up and frowned at the screen. He answered in a low whisper, "Dude, I thought I told you never to call me here."
Brett crossed her arms across her chest and stared at the magazines on the shelf behind Sebastian. She was tempted to snatch a copy of the The New Yorker to read on the train ride home, but she'd already picked up a People magazine at the drugstore in town, and right now the idea of reading about other people's problems was far more appealing. So much for impressing the college boys.
Before she could slap the table to remind Sebastian that they were studying, and that cell phones on campus—especially in the library—were strictly forbidden, her own phone vibrated in her quilted black Zac Posen tote with a new text message. She snatched it out and was surprised to see the name Bree light up under the tiny envelope. She'd be seeing her sister in a matter of hours—she couldn't wait to change into her hot pink Juicy Couture sweats and veg out in front of the big-screen TV in their media room with Bree. And maybe vent about Jeremiah and how much her life sucked now.
Guess who's coming to dinner? the text read. Brett texted back, Who? even though she suspected the answer before it popped up on the tiny screen: Wil ly . Brianna could talk of little else but the great Willy Cooper the Third since they'd met a few months ago while sitting at adjacent tables at the Waverly Inn. At first, Brett had been curious to meet him, but the more Bree told her about him, the more he sounded like a tool. He was a Yale grad, a Wharton MBA, working on Wall Street for one of the biggest investment banks, and hadn't taken a vacation in the three years he'd been there. Except, apparently, to spend Thanksgiving with the Messerschmidts. Brett hoped he didn't mind sitting on the couch and watching MTV marathons all day.
The phone chimed again. And his parents. Brett stared at the three words, her stomach dropping to the floor. Guess she'd really be sharing Bree this weekend. She wanted to text back, All the way from Greenwich?? but resisted. Instead, she shut her phone off, eyeing Sebastian, who was still laughing loudly into his phone, oblivious of the fact that Mrs. Birdsall was shooting him daggers from the front desk. Brett tapped an invisible watch on her wrist and bugged her eyes at him. He held up his finger and nodded.
"Later, man." He closed the phone, dropping it into the pocket of the backpack at his feet. "Sorry. It was important."
"Yeah, it sounded important," she said rudely, tearing a list of vocabulary words from her spiral notebook and pushing it over to Sebastian.
"Hey, you were on your phone, too," he chirped angrily, snatching the paper away.
"Yeah, waiting for you to get off yours." Brett was grateful to be snapping at Sebastian, because she could do it on autopilot. It kept the tears of frustration from springing to her eyes. Were strangers really going to be invading her house for Thanksgiving? If there was ever a year where she needed some peaceful time to rejuvenate herself, this was it. Now she'd have to hole up in her room with some DVDs if she was going to get any peace. She envisioned herself cross-legged on her down comforter, the snow blanketing New Jersey while she ate her Thanksgiving dinner off a plate in her lap, forking a cold piece of greasy turkey and smearing it through her mother's cheddar mashed potatoes, while the discussion of the stock market wafted up to her from the dining room.
Mrs. Birdsall switched off a bank of fluorescent lights and half the library went dark. Brett glanced up at the clock on the wall and jumped out of her chair. "Shit," she muttered, frantically stuffing her notebooks into her tote and throwing on her short black DKNY coat. How had it gotten to be so late? The whole save-Sebastian project was doomed from the start, so why keep up the charade of even trying? "I'm going to be late for my train. You're on your own."
"Happy Thanksgiving, huh?" he called out after her. Brett wrapped her yellow plaid L.A.M.B. scarf around her neck and pulled on her black leather gloves. She pushed open the double doors to the library and stepped out into the darkening, snow-filled afternoon, too absorbed in nightmarish visions of the Coopers of Greenwich to say goodbye.
RyanReynolds: Did I just see you step into an effing Fiat? Wtf?
BennyCunningham: Guess Daddy's having a midlife crisis. Did you catch the toupee?
RyanReynolds: Spotted that rug from across the common! U know what comes next: a new Mommy Dearest.
BennyCunningham: Nah, they want what's best for the kids. Besides, they have an Understanding.
RyanReynolds: Meaning everyone's bringing a date to T-day?
BennyCunningham: U got it.
RyanReynolds: Can I come?
BennyCunningham: You couldn't handle us. Ta-ta!
LonBaruzza: Anyone got a wishbone? I have a fucking fabulous wish.
LonBaruzza: At the train station now, watching Tinsley, Callie, and Jenny huddle together in the cold. Wishing they were naked.
AlanStGirard: That'd be a sight. Where's Brett? Need a little redhead mixed in to have it all.
LonBaruzza: My fav thing about those chicks is that any sec a catfight could break out….
AlanStGirard: Take a pic if it happens, bro. Happy vacation!!
A WAVERLY OWL KNOWS HOW TO TAKE CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM—EVEN WHEN IT HURTS.
Blue twilight hung over the crowded Metro-North station. The platform was crammed with Waverly students carrying duffel bags full of dirty laundry, eager to catch the last train out of Rhinecliff for the city—and away from the pressures of Waverly Academy for a few short, precious days. Jenny Humphrey let her own overstuffed pink L.L. Bean duffel bag drop to the ground next to Tinsley Carmichael and Callie Vernon, whose slim figures were covered by thick wool coats as they camped on one of the few benches under the awning of the station, their Louis Vuitton and Prada bags scattered at their feet.
"Is it coming yet?" Callie whimpered at Jenny before tucking her chin back under her baby blue pashmina. In her matching blue cable-knit cap and gloves, and her camel-hair coat, she looked like a preppy snow bunny. "I'm going to freeze to death."
Tinsley wrapped an arm around Callie, one of her fur-lined driving gloves squeezing Callie's left shoulder. "If you didn't freeze to death in the backwoods of Maine, you're probably not going to freeze to death on the Rhinecliff train platform," she scoffed affectionately, dusting snowflakes off her vintage gray Chanel belted trench coat.
"I might as well." Callie sniffed, her pretty lips curled into the despairing frown that had been on her face ever since Easy Walsh, the love of her life, had been kicked out of Waverly—for good. Like a knight in shining armor, he'd rented a plane and come to rescue her from the Maine boot camp/rehab facility her mother had banished her to. His heroism, and their happiness, hadn't lasted long. Dean Marymount had been there when they got off the plane at the Rhinecliff airport, waiting to tell Easy that he had violated his probation by leaving campus. Immediately, he'd expelled Easy. "It's not like I'm ever going to see my boyfriend again anyway."
Callie shifted her body miserably on the bench. It was just so ridiculous—he'd broken the rules to come to save her life, not to, like, smoke weed and play Xbox. Dean Marymount could have been a little more sympathetic, but no, he had to be a super-hardass and prove to the world that he was actually in charge. And why did Easy's father have to go and enroll him in some super-strict military school somewhere in Tennessee or West Virginia or some other hillbilly state? Easy was on total lockdown, as the school didn't allow phone calls or e-mails. Word had leaked back to her that he was now a Blue Ridge cadet, but that's all she knew. It was as if people were reluctant to speak his name out loud since he'd vanished. All her calls and texts had gone unanswered, until finally she got the message saying his voice mail was full. His Waverly e-mail was disabled, and his Yahoo! account had been closed. Her desperate Where are you? e-mails bounced back immediately after she clicked send, the dreaded Mailer-Daemon instant replies sitting in her inbox for weeks before she could bring herself to delete them.
It scared her that she had absolutely no idea what his days were even like. Or if he thought of her. Everything on the plane back from Maine had seemed so perfect—her Prince Charming really had come to save her. But her stomach dropped even thinking about how awful Dean Marymount had been out on the tarmac, salivating at his chance to tear apart their happily-ever-after.
"Cheer up," Jenny pleaded, rubbing her striped Gap cotton mittens together like she was trying to start a fi re. "You're on vacation, remember?" Jenny looked typically adorable and happy standing there in her tiny red peacoat and mittens. As her roommate, Callie was continually amazed that she managed to keep her energy level consistently at "perky" without a steady stream of espresso in her veins.
"Okay, I'll try. Except they say that Thanksgiving is the worst holiday to travel on, ever, and I'm going to be fighting crowds of cranky holiday travelers at JFK." Callie pressed her gloved fingertips to her temples, already exhausted at the thought of the journey ahead of her: train to Grand Central, cab to JFK, flight to Atlanta, only to have to do the reverse in a matter of days. She hated Thanksgiving. Just another excuse for her mother to drag her back into the South and play Martha Stewart and try to stuff her full of greasy biscuits and turkey gravy. And after the whole accidentally-sending-her-to-rehab-and-almost-getting-her-killed thing, the whole trip seemed about as appealing as a plate of dog food.
Tinsley raised a dark eyebrow at Jenny, rolling her violet eyes conspiratorially.
Jenny winked back at Tinsley, then turned again to Callie. "At least she splurged for first class for you," Jenny pointed out, still trying to cheer Callie up. She'd never flown first class in her life and imagined it was heavenly.
Jenny kicked at a clump of snow on the ground and glanced at the tracks again. It was still almost impossible for her to believe that Tinsley Carmichael was capable of shooting her something other than death glares. Or that she would be trying to cheer Callie up. After all, just a few weeks ago, Tinsley and Callie had plotted to get Jenny blamed for the fi re that burned down the barn at Miller's Farm—and it had worked, with Jenny facing expulsion. But since then, everything had changed. Unbeknownst to Jenny, Callie had paid off Mrs. Miller to blame the fi re on her cows, not a careless Waverly student. Callie's mother, thinking the giant check Callie wrote had something to do with a drug problem, shipped Callie off to a rehab facility in Maine. As soon as Jenny found the payment stub in Callie's dresser drawer, she realized that her savior was not Drew, the hot senior with whom she'd been locking lips, but her roommate. Then Jenny had run into Tinsley, who'd just received a frantic e-mail from Callie begging someone to save her from her rehab hell, and the two of them had borrowed Drew's roommate Sebastian's car. Which, unfortunately, had died on the highway in Maine before they could get to Callie. Jenny and Tinsley were forced to spend the night huddled together for warmth—not exactly something Jenny had imagined could have any positive results. But that first morning when they woke up and discovered they'd actually been parked on the edge of a country club the whole time, Tinsley had insisted on treating them to a gourmet breakfast of egg-white omelets and fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice.
And things had been different ever since. They weren't friends, yet, exactly, but whatever they were, Jenny would take it.
Tinsley tossed her head, her long, almost black locks falling into place dramatically against her dove gray coat. She leaned back against the bench and stretched her long legs out in front of her, crossing her black Sigerson Morrison boots at the ankle. "Cal, honey, you really need to get laid."
Callie gave a tiny shriek and pressed her hands to her ears. "I can't believe you just said that."
Tinsley shot Jenny another glance, and Jenny grinned back. She was just…happy.
The last few weeks hadn't exactly been easy for her, after learning that Drew, the guy she was totally falling for, had tried to completely deceive her by letting her believe—and even telling her straight out—that he was the one who had saved her from expulsion. But it was all a lie—Callie was the one who'd saved her, and Drew was just trying to, well…use her. Jenny had tried to avoid him as much as possible, but Waverly was a small school, and every time she spotted a guy in a lacrosse jacket, she turned and walked the other way—fast.
On the plus side, she felt a new appreciation for Callie, her true savior. Jenny and Callie had spent many nights in the upstairs common room, eating popcorn in their pajamas and watching movies from Dumbarton Hall's extensive DVD collection. Sometimes Tinsley would even join them, making fun of their chick flick choices, though Jenny had a feeling she secretly enjoyed a good cheesy romantic comedy even more than the black-and-white foreign films she always chose.
"I can't wait for some turkey," Jenny spoke up, dreamily staring into space. She was headed back home, back to New York, back to her dad, back to their sprawling Upper West Side apartment with the super-high ceilings and the peeling paint. Thanksgiving meant cozy mornings on the sofa, shuffling through old records on his vintage record player while her brother Dan spent the whole day in the patched-up leather recliner reading a fat book. She was bummed that Dan couldn't make it this year—he'd decided to build houses in Spokane with Habitat for Humanity—but he'd promised to make it up to her at Christmas.
"I can't wait to see our place again." Tinsley squeezed Cal-lie's skinny knee in an effort to distract her from her mopey thoughts. "They've been renovating the apartment for months, trying to get it all done for my break." She'd spent the last few weeks imagining improvements to her parents' oak-paneled Gramercy Park penthouse. She hoped they hadn't touched the chandelier in the library, which made her think of a waterfall of tumbling diamonds over her when she sat under it. Thanksgiving at the Carmichaels' was always a grand affair. In previous years she'd met painters and models and artists and writers, including Sofia Coppola, who had turned up one Thanks giving with a gorgeous male model years younger than she. It made Tinsley want to be a world-famous filmmaker one day.
Tinsley wouldn't have admitted it to anyone, but she actually kind of missed her parents. She couldn't wait to lie in her queen-size bed all morning, the smell of turkey wafting into the room, before dragging herself out of bed to help her mom and Judit, the cook, fill the Limoges bowls with delicious roasted vegetables and gourmet cheeses. Then she'd scamper off to her bathroom—ohmigod, a bathroom all to herself again!—and pamper herself, and finally step, freshly scrubbed and exfoliated, into the dark green Missoni dress that looked like the one Keira Knightly wore in Atonement. She would sip wine with the adults, and maybe one of them would have brought their sexy young son, home from Stanford, for Tinsley to entertain herself with after the adults got boring. Yes, it was going to be an excellent break.
A rumbling in the distance brought everyone to their feet. Cigarettes were stubbed out under well-heeled shoes and the air filled with excited chatter and last-minute goodbyes. Tinsley and Callie hurriedly gathered up their bags and the three girls made their way to the edge of the platform in a pack. The train screeched to a halt at the station as everyone jostled for position near the doors. "I can't ride facing backwards!" someone cried out desperately, sending the three of them into giggles.
The doors opened with a whoosh and Jenny and Tinsley and Callie boarded the train. "Wait, where's Brett?" Jenny asked, glancing over her shoulder at the throng of people pushing onto the train.
"Is she catching this one?" Tinsley asked, her eyes narrowing. She'd allowed Jenny to rise in the ranks of her approval, but Brett was another story. Her moody roommate had only been moodier since Jeremiah dumped her after finding out she'd temporarily been a lesbian, and even if Tinsley felt a little bit sorry for her former friend, Brett had made no effort to make things up to Tinsley.
Callie leaned back, searching the compartment. "I saw her in the library with Sebastian earlier."
"She's going to miss the train," Jenny said, alarm clouding her face.
"Grab those four seats," Tinsley instructed, pointing at an open quad of chairs in the middle of the train. "Hey, those are ours," she called out to two skinny freshman guys who froze in the aisle. At the sight of Tinsley, they gallantly stepped aside. "Thanks, boys." She tossed them an appreciative smile over her shoulder as she hoisted her bag into the overhead and slid into the window seat. Callie took the one opposite her.
Jenny dropped into the aisle seat and glanced around, expecting to find a frazzled Brett bounding down the aisle at any moment.
Instead, she caught sight of sandy-haired Drew, who jostled onto the train with a couple of senior guys, all chuckling about something. Immediately, Jenny's stomach dropped. Surely they were talking about her, and how Drew had almost persuaded her to lose her virginity to him.
- On Sale
- Nov 3, 2008
- Page Count
- 272 pages