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Tensions are rising, rumors are flying, and pretty soon everyone is a suspect. Jenny is worried about her adorable, shaggy-haired new crush, Julian, whose lighter was found at the scene of the crime. Callie is afraid she and Easy will both get kicked out, because they were in the barn-together-when it caught fire. And Tinsley knows she’ll take the heat for organizing the wild party in the first place.Luckily she’s come up with a way to keep from getting in trouble: by blaming Jenny. Of course.
After all, Waverly’s girls always fight fire with fire. But watch out, ladies-in a battle like this, someone’s bound to get burned.
Copyright © 2007 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.
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First eBook Edition: November 2007
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. 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:
Bass Ackwards and Belly Up by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain
Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita
Haters by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
and keep your eye out for
Betwixt by Tara Bray Smith, coming October 2007
I've been lucky. I'll be lucky again.
A WAVERLY OWL ALWAYS TURNS A DEAF EAR TO GOSSIP.
The crisp smell of autumn at Waverly Academy had been replaced by the undeniable scent of smoke—and not the pleasant, leaf-burning kind. It was an acrid, nose-hair-tingling burned-hay stench that reminded Jenny Humphrey that someone had set the barn at the Miller farm ablaze at last night's Cinephiles party. Maybe it was an accident. Or maybe not.
Jenny pushed open the dining hall's heavy wooden door and made her way across the cavernous room toward the food line. It was a long walk in plain view of every packed table, and Jenny tried to focus on the morning sun pouring through the stained glass windows rather than on the whispers that reverberated off the cathedral-like ceilings. Waverly Owls were notorious gossips, but there was even more to talk about today than usual.
She filled her tray with special Saturday morning apple-cinnamon pancakes and maneuvered her way through the long oak tables toward the corner, where she spotted Alison Quentin's head of glossy black hair. A small blond girl was wedged in between Alison and Sage Francis. Jenny checked to see that her roommate, Callie, and her ex, Easy, weren't seated at the same table. After catching Callie and Easy together in the barn last night, she never wanted to see either of them again. If she hadn't shared that unexpected, unbelievably sweet kiss with Julian McCafferty right afterward, she might have skipped out on breakfast/Waverly/life altogether. Her stomach fluttered just thinking about it.
"New meat," came a voice from behind Jenny. She turned to see Celine Colista, the olive-skinned cocaptain of the field hockey team, gesturing toward the small blond girl sitting between Alison and Sage. She watered down some fresh-squeezed OJ and placed it on her tray. "They're around all week."
"Prospective students," Celine explained impatiently as they approached the table together. "We're not supposed to say pre-freshmen because it's, you know, sexist and all." Jenny and Celine set their trays down next to Alison.
Jenny leaned forward and smiled at the blond pre-frosh. The girl was even tinier up close. "Hi. I'm Jenny."
"I'm Chloe." The girl pushed up her black rectangular-framed Ralph Lauren glasses and nodded in Jenny's direction.
"She's following Alison around," Benny Cunningham announced loudly, leaning her elbows on the dark wooden table. She pushed her long, stick-straight brown hair away from her horsey but pretty face. "Where you from again, new meat?"
"Putney," Chloe answered timidly. She picked an invisible piece of lint off her pale blue J.Crew cable-knit sweater. "It's in Vermont."
With her pale skin and wide innocent blue eyes, Chloe looked like Dakota Fanning. It was hard for Jenny to imagine being mean to Dakota Fanning. "Vermont is really pretty," she offered, hoping to make the younger girl feel more comfortable. Jenny knew what it felt like to be the awkward new girl at Waverly. She cringed, remembering how clueless Old Jenny had been when she first arrived several weeks ago. But New Jenny sat at the coolest table in the dining hall, went to crazy parties in burning barns, and kissed adorable boys under the moonlight. Take that, Old Jenny.
Suddenly a cheer echoed off the high, sloping ceilings of the dining hall, and Jenny turned to see Heath Ferro standing at a nearby table, his arms thrown up in triumph. Sunlight glinted off his artfully tousled dirty-blond hair, and cracker crumbs spewed out of his mouth. He'd obviously just completed the saltine challenge, a feat much attempted in the Waverly dining hall: downing six of the super-dry crackers in less than a minute without drinking any water. Heath collected high fives from a group of guys gathered around him, including some pre pubescent ones. Jenny noticed then that there were at least a dozen prospectives scattered at various tables, all staying close to their assigned Owls, like city tourists too afraid to stray more than a few paces from their guides.
"So, did you hear the latest?" Sage leaned forward in her chair, her aqua blue eyes shining. She pulled up the sleeves of her Elie Tahari midnight blue tunic sweater, as if spreading gossip would entail getting her hands dirty.
"What?" Jenny asked as she forked a piece of pancake and swished it through a puddle of pure New England maple syrup. She wore her favorite Earl jeans and a black turtleneck from the Gap that she'd had since eighth grade. She was underdressed compared to Sage and Benny, but that was only because girls at Waverly used almost any activity as an excuse for a fashion show.
"They found a lighter in the barn." Benny grinned mischievously. Her white teeth matched her white Vince double-gauze tee, making her look like an advertisement for Crest White-strips. Though given her multimillion-dollar trust fund, it was probably due to professional whitening. "It had a student's initials on it. Julian McCafferty's."
Jenny put the forkful of pancake down on her plate. Julian?
"I heard it was some guys from St. Lucius," Celine said in a half whisper, leaning forward and tucking a lock of black hair behind her ear. "But I also heard it was that skeezy Dan guy, Heath's liquor store connection?" She ran her tongue across her front teeth, finally dislodging the spinach from her omelet that had been stuck there the whole meal. "Oh, and Simone said it was some townie pyro who didn't get into Waverly."
"Juicy," Alison chimed in. She took a sip of her orange juice, seemingly unfazed by the idea that there might be a jealous Rhinecliff local lashing out at Waverly students.
"I heard there were some people smoking in the barn," Chloe piped up helpfully. She stabbed at a slice of French toast.
"Where did you hear that?" Jenny managed to ask. Last night, she'd confronted Callie about the fact that she and Easy had been smoking in the barn right before it went up in flames, but she wasn't sure anyone else knew. Callie had retorted that Jenny probably set the barn on fire out of jealousy. She knew Callie was just being defensive and melodramatic, but she was still angry about it. If the rest of Waverly found out that Callie and Easy had been smoking in the barn—well, Jenny wasn't going to stop that rumor from spreading. She honestly wouldn't be sorry to see them go. It would serve them right for being such . . . horny jerks.
"Yeah. And who was smoking?" Benny demanded, looking at Chloe with interest for the first time. "You've only been here like an hour. How would you even know?"
"I just heard it." Chloe shrugged, seemingly unfazed by the elder girl's aggressive stare. "I can't remember where." She looked around the dining hall and then added, "Is there powdered sugar anywhere?"
Jenny didn't know why she'd been worried about Chloe. She was going to be fine.
"I heard it was Easy and Callie," Sage offered quietly, pushing her tray of half-eaten food toward the center of the table. She pulled her flaxen hair back into a loose ponytail. "We all saw them coming from the barn . . . and you know they both smoke." She shrugged, leaving everyone else to put the pieces together.
"Who smokes?" Ryan Reynolds demanded as he crashed his heavily laden tray down on their table, his full Coke glass sloshing onto his plate of food. Jenny recoiled. Soda at breakfast? Gross. He scooted the chair closer to Sage and perched his head on his hand, waiting for her to continue.
"Uh, me." Sage's pale cheeks turned pink. "And, like, half the campus."
"Tell me something I don't know." Ryan tried to grab a piece of Sage's long, butter-blond hair, but she squealed and squirmed out of his reach. "Has anybody seen Callie this morning?" he asked. Jenny looked at Ryan curiously, trying to figure out what was different about him this morning. He looked . . . more responsible, somehow, which was the last word that usually came to mind when describing Ryan Reynolds. She quickly realized it was because she'd never seen him wear glasses before. Given that his dad invented soft contact lenses, he was probably never in short supply of those. "I need to copy her Latin homework."
"Stables," Benny replied instantly, shoveling a mouthful of bacon. "With Eaaasssssyyyyy."
"What would they be doing in a stable?" Chloe asked innocently.
Benny and Celine laughed knowingly. "Rolling and jumping in the hay!" Celine snorted gleefully. She took off her Waverly field hockey zip-up sweatshirt, revealing a tight black T-shirt underneath, and Ryan immediately stole a sideways glance at her chest.
"Let's hope they don't set it on fire, too." Sage laughed. Chloe looked perplexed but didn't say anything, lowering her eyes to her French toast instead.
Jenny stood up from the table and mumbled something about an upset stomach, her fluffy pancakes practically untouched. She grabbed her cell and headed for the door.
Five minutes later, she stood on the gray stone steps of the dining hall, waiting for Julian. As soon as she'd gotten up from the table she'd texted him, asking him to meet her. If he was in trouble, she needed to warn him right away.
And of course, she didn't exactly mind having an excuse to see him again.
Rumors about the fire swirled around her head. Could Dan the Liquor Man really have had anything to do with it, besides supplying a bunch of rowdy kids with booze? Was it possible some crazy townie hated Waverly kids enough to try to set them on fire? And what was Julian's lighter doing in the barn? He'd lost it, hadn't he? She thought she remembered him saying something about losing it . . . and he couldn't really have started the fire, because he'd been with her, kissing her so sweetly outside the barn and making her forget all about Easy and Callie and what she'd just seen. Another thought occurred to Jenny then: Could Easy and Callie have started it? She pictured them lying together in the hay, laughing and smoking and being careless as ever. They might have been careless about her feelings, but surely they weren't arsonists. Just liars. She shook her head, her brunette curls swinging like thick vines. No matter how hard she tried to shake the thought away, Jenny kept coming to the same conclusion: She was just a blip on Easy's radar, a distraction in between breaking up with Callie and getting back together with her.
She spun around to see Julian's grinning face. He tugged the zipper of his faded gray Everlast hoodie up to his chin.
"Hey," Jenny replied, a wave of pleasure washing over her at the sight of the tall, shaggy-haired freshman. She took a step toward him and craned her neck to look into his warm brown eyes. She wanted to kick herself for wearing her flat navy Keds with the little butterflies on them. If she was going to spend more time with Julian in the future, she'd need to wear her tallest Michael Kors wedges.
"Did you eat already?" He hopped off the last step and landed with a thud in front of her. His shaggy brown-blond hair fluttered around his face. He looked like a golden retriever who'd found his tennis ball. But in a hot-boy sort of way.
"Yeah," Jenny lied. After hearing all those rumors, eating had been out of the question. Even now, her stomach was still doing somersaults—but in a different way now.
"Wanna go up Hopkins Hill?" Julian asked, nodding toward the bluffs behind her. She wondered if he was thinking about their kiss last night, too. He had to be thinking about it, right?
"Let's go," she replied gamely.
They started up the path through the woods to the bluffs. The crash of plates in the dining hall kitchen was slowly replaced by the chirping of birds and the soft, wind-in-the-forest sounds Jenny was still getting used to after spending her entire life in New York City. The soles of their sneakers padded against the dry leaves on the path.
They reached a small clearing, and Julian came to a stop. His soft brown eyes landed on her lips, and Jenny blushed. Was he going to kiss her again? she wondered. "Did you and Callie talk?"
Jenny felt her face grow hot at the memory of confronting Callie last night. She'd been furious—not that Callie and Easy were together again, but that Callie had lied to her about it and pretended they were all buddy-buddy. Really, she and Easy were probably laughing at her while they snuggled naked in the barn and smoked cigarettes and set the whole place on fire. "Yeah, sort of. I mean, I don't really know."
"It's cool." Julian crouched down, plucked a brilliant red oak leaf from the path, and held it out to Jenny as if it were a flower. She giggled and took the leaf from him, letting her hand brush against his. "You don't have to go into it. I just wondered if you guys figured it out." He shrugged his sloping shoulders gently and Jenny noticed he was wearing a very familiar outfit: black Tretorns, dark-wash True Religion jeans with fist-size holes in the knees, and a black T-shirt underneath his hoodie.
"Have you been up all night?" she asked.
He rubbed his hand against the back of his neck, kicking his toes against the dirt path. "Do I smell?" He lowered his voice a little, as if someone might overhear.
"No." She giggled. He actually smelled kind of nice, like pine trees. Or maybe it was just because they were in the woods. "But you're wearing the same clothes as last night."
"Yeah, I actually walked home." Julian hitched up the sagging waist of his jeans. His boxers were light green with tiny white sheep printed on them. Jenny blushed at the sight of them. "There's a shortcut through the gulley behind the Miller farm," he explained.
"Oh," she said simply, as if that explained it. Walking around all night by yourself? Boys were so weird. When she'd been with Easy, he'd painted in his special spot deep in the woods. And back home, whenever she'd walk through Sheep Meadow, it was littered with boys smoking joints and communing with the closest thing to nature New York could provide. Or maybe they just wanted to get buzzed. Jenny leaned against a mossy tree trunk, trying to act casual under Julian's steady gaze. She didn't care if she was getting her clothes a little dirty. He was worth it.
His eyes traced her lips. "The whole sky was lit red and white and blue from the lights on the police cars and fire trucks," he added. "It was actually sort of cool." Jenny smiled at his boyish enthusiasm. She loved the idea of him taking off on a whim, making his way through the woods in the dead of night, replaying their kiss in his mind as he walked.
"Julian," she began, "have you seen your lighter recently?"
A strange look crossed his face. She could tell he'd already heard it had been found.
"You can just tell Dean Marymount you lost it," she went on. When she first saw him that night in Dumbarton—hiding in the broom closet—he'd been looking for his Zippo. At least, that's what he'd said. "If you tell them the truth, there's no way you'll get kicked out."
Julian just shrugged and stared at something over Jenny's head. She hoped a tarantula wasn't crawling down the tree, about to make a nest in her curls. "I'm not too worried," he finally answered. He took a step closer to Jenny, planting his hands against the tree trunk on either side of her so that she was trapped. Not that she minded. "I've got the cutest alibi on campus." A grin curled the sides of his mouth.
Jenny immediately lost her train of thought, distracted again by the memory of their lips pressed together, alone in the dark. And a moment later, it was more than just a memory.
To: Waverly Academy
Date: Saturday, October 12, 10:15 A.M.
Subject: Prospective Students
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
As you're probably aware, we have a number of prospective students visiting our campus this weekend. These visits are an important chance for prospective students to get a taste for Waverly Academy, and I trust everyone has been making the prospectives feel welcome. Thank you to all those Owls who have graciously taken on the role of host. Prospectives will be on campus until Wednesday in order to sit in on two full days of classes, so please continue your hospitality for the duration of their stay.
A special formal dinner will take place Monday night in the dining hall in honor of the prospective students. Dress according to code.
I also trust that the behavior of students over the next few days will be more restrained than it has been in the past few weeks.
RyanReynolds: You and Kara, huh? So that's why we've never hooked up!
BrettMesserschmidt: No. That would be because I hate you.
Date: Saturday, October 12, 11:08 A.M.
Subject: You okay?
I know you're still not talking to me, but I heard about the fire at the Miller farm and I wanted to make sure you were okay. I heard some other stuff, too, but don't worry, I don't believe a word of it—I know you. And I know you're probably pretty upset that there are people talking about you or whatever. Let me know if you want to talk or anything.
Anyway, hope you're well.
AlisonQuentin: Hey sexy. Whatcha up to?
AlanStGirard: Think I'll stay in bed all day. Too much drama for me.
AlisonQuentin: You hear about Julian's Zippo? He doesn't act like a pyro.
AlanStGirard: Yeah, but I also heard Tinsley was hanging around the barn.
AlisonQuentin: Thought guys liked girls w/ a wild side?
AlanStGirard: Wild yes, pyro no.
AlisonQuentin: In that case, meet me at the gazebo this afternoon. I'll show you wild.
AlanStGirard: For that, I'll get out of bed. Or maybe you'd like to join me?
A WAVERLY OWL NEVER DOUBTS HER CHOSEN COURSE OF ACTION.
Brett Messerschmidt stared at the cover of her Latin textbook, the old Flaming Lips song "She Don't Use Jelly" blasting from her iPod dock. The Doric columns on the cover stared back at her, and she wished she could close her eyes and transport herself back in time. Ancient Rome. The 1920s. Woodstock. Pompeii. Anywhere but Waverly Academy, circa now.
If only Heath had been the one responsible for spilling the beans about her and Kara to the whole world, she could've been angry instead of upset. She wanted to take it out on someone, anyone. Anyone but Kara, even though it was, technically, all Kara's fault for telling Callie they'd been hooking up in secret. She toyed with the idea of being mad at Callie for being a lightweight with a penchant for drunken gossip, but that didn't exactly satisfy her, either.
She leaned back in her uncomfortable wooden desk chair, pressing her vertebrae against the hard wooden slats. She really liked Kara, but were they, like, a couple now? Would that make them Waverly's token lesbian couple? She envisioned a Waverly tour guide leading a flock of prospective students and their parents around campus and pointing at Brett's window. "Welcome to Dumbarton, proud home of Waverly's only lesbians!"
She let her forehead rest against the cool surface of her desk, her hands gripping the short red pigtails she'd put her hair into that morning. She felt like Pippi Longstocking, except Pippi probably didn't kiss girls. At least Tinsley had the decency to be gone. Brett had dragged her exhausted body out of bed this morning to be greeted by a pleasantly empty room, only a trace of Tinsley's Yves St. Laurent Baby Doll hanging in the air.
"Hello?" Kara Whalen's face peeked through the doorway. A pair of tortoiseshell cat-eye glasses magnified her wide hazel eyes as they nervously scanned the room. Her light brown hair just grazed her shoulders. "Tinsley around?"
"She's out." Brett sat up in her chair and twisted a pigtail around her finger.
Kara looked relieved. "I thought I heard her out on the quad." She sat gingerly down on Brett's bed, wearing a fitted gray NYU T-shirt that hugged her curves, and a pair of faded jeans.
"I've never seen you wear glasses before." Brett pushed her Latin textbook away from her and turned toward Kara. "Very sexy-librarian." She felt her face flush. Did she have to say sexy?
"Thanks." Kara grinned and straightened the red bobby pin that was holding a lock of her silky brown hair away from her face. It reminded Brett of when she was little and used paper clips to hold back her dolls' hair. "All the smoke made my eyes sting. I couldn't get my contacts in this morning."
Brett nodded. She didn't want to think about last night anymore. She'd spent her first two years at Waverly afraid that everyone would find out she was the daughter of a plastic surgeon and grew up in a tacky McMansion in Jersey. Now her gold-plated, leopard-print past didn't even seem like a big deal anymore. She smoothed out the wrinkles in her white Theory peasant shirt. There had been a fire. She had a girlfriend. Her past was the least of her worries.
"I didn't see you at breakfast." Kara picked up a copy of Absinthe, Waverly's art magazine, from Brett's night table and flipped through the pages. Brett rarely ever read the magazine, but it was delivered in all of the students' mailboxes, and she sort of liked to keep it around. She thought maybe it made her seem edgy, in a good way. But given recent events, she'd probably never need to convince anyone she was edgy again. Kara peeked at Brett over the top of her glasses.
Brett stood up and stretched. Her bare toes dug into the soft, mint green chenille rug. She'd purposely skipped breakfast, hoping to avoid all the rumors swirling in the dining hall. She was sort of amazed that Kara had wandered right into the lion's den. "Did I miss anything?"
"Apple-cinnamon pancakes." Kara studied the art section, flipping through the portfolio of abstract paintings. She smiled weakly at Brett.
"Did you find out anything more about the fire?" Brett asked. She was still standing in the middle of the room and wasn't sure whether or not to sit down on the bed next to Kara. She would've sat down on Tinsley's bed, except for the fact that (a) Tinsley was a raging bitch and (b) it was awkwardly far away. As soon as they'd been assigned to Dumbarton 121, Tinsley and Brett had pushed their beds to opposite ends of the room. She'd even considered hanging her baby blue seersucker-print Frette sheets from the ceiling to further divide the space.
"It's all everyone is talking about." Kara dropped the magazine on the bed and crossed her legs daintily. "People won't shut up about Easy and Callie. Oh, and they found a lighter in the remains, with that guy Julian McCafferty's initials on it. And some people think it was Tinsley who started it. Or the liquor store owner. I don't know. It could have been anyone."
- On Sale
- Nov 16, 2008
- Page Count
- 256 pages