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Callie Vernon knows who her Prince Charming is: Easy Walsh. But when he discovered she and Tinsley Carmichael tried to get Jenny kicked out, Easy dumped her on the spot. Now Callie is dressing up as Cinderella in hopes of winning back his heart. Can she convince him she’s the one before the clock strikes midnight? Or will her glass slipper-and her heart-be permanently broken?
Everyone wants a fairytale ending. But there can only be one It Girl.
The sixth scandalous novel in the New York Times bestselling series about the naughty hijinx at an elite East Coast boarding school.
Copyright © 2008 by Alloy Entertainment
All rights reserved.
Little, Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
For more of your favorite series, go to www.HachetteBookGroup.com
First eBook Edition: June 2008
The Poppy name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group
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.
Cover design by Andrea C. Uva
Cover photograph by Roger Moenks
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
Betwixt by Tara Bray Smith
Poseur by Rachel Maude
A WAVERLY OWL CAN ALWAYS SEE THE RAINBOW AT THE END OF THE STORM.
Jenny Humphrey stepped confidently through the massive puddles in the long pebbled drive leading away from the Waverly Academy campus, water sloshing against her sturdy, three-seasons-ago hunter green J. Crew wellies. It has been raining nearly nonstop for the past few weeks, and Waverly's sprawling green lawns were strewn with brightly colored oak leaves that glistened with rain, forming a brilliant mosaic across the expansive grounds.
Jenny glanced to her left. A group of three girls in maroon nylon short shorts over black leggings and matching maroon Waverly waterproof windbreakers were jogging in her direction, led by Celine Colista, the senior co-captain of the field hockey team. She was, as always, unerringly glamorous looking, her black hair pulled into a sleek bun. The girls paused infront of Jenny, jogging in place, their white sneakers splattered with mud.
"What's up? Where're you rushing off to?" Celine pushed a wet strand of black hair behind her ear and smiled broadly at Jenny.
Jenny eyed the three girls and wondered if she, too, should start running regularly to keep in shape now that the field hockey season was almost over. Ugh. "Town." Jenny tilted her head in the direction of Rhinecliff's downtown, and a fat raindrop slid off the tip of her freckled, slightly upturned nose. "Of course I've waited till the last minute to think about a costume." Waverly's annual Halloween ball was tomorrow night, and over the past few days, costume discussions had reached a fever pitch.
Emmy Rosenblum, the willowy girl to Celine's right, leaned forward to stretch out a calf muscle, her dark, curly hair sliding into her face. "I'm sure you can find something cool at Next-to-New." The secondhand store was exactly where Jenny was heading. Not that she had too many choices in the two square blocks of Rhinecliff. Her other options were spending an obscene amount of money on a designer dress at Pimpernel's, or wearing a plastic Transformers costume from Rite Aid. When Emmy stood up, her face was flushed bright red, though her hair managed to slide back into place perfectly.
"Yeah, you're so cute and little—you could probably find some kind of fairy getup or something," Celine offered, eyeing Jenny up and down.
"Tinkerbell, maybe?" The third girl, a tall redhead Jenny didn't recognize, put her hands on her hips as she leaned backward to stretch a hamstring.
"That's a good idea." Jenny shifted the strap of her LeSportsac messenger bag, which was uncomfortably crushing her large chest, and tugged at the hem of her short black H&M-but-looks-like-Michael-Kors raincoat. "But I don't think pixies are supposed to, you know, have boobs like this?"
Celine, Emmy, and the girl Jenny didn't know burst into laughter before starting off in the other direction. "Good luck with the costume. And you should totally come running with us sometime," Celine offered, over her shoulder. "It's a bitch, but still kind of fun."
"Thanks for the invite," Jenny called as she watched their long legs dashing across campus. She'd be about eight miles behind, but still—it was nice to be invited.
Jenny continued down the soggy drive. It was really hard to believe that almost exactly two weeks ago, she had been trudging down this very same path, duffel bag stuffed haphazardly with whatever contents of her dorm room hadn't fit into the boxes ready to be shipped back to her apartment in New York. Now, everything was different—epitomized by the fact that Celine Colista wanted Jenny to come running with her.
All it had required, she thought wryly, wiping the rain off her face with her already wet hand, was confessing to a crime she hadn't committed—and being willing to get expelled for it. She wasn't sure exactly why she'd confessed to starting the fire that had burned down the Miller farm. But in the pressure of the moment, back in Dean Marymount's office full of the Usual Suspects, it had felt like everyone—Tinsley and Callie, who were out to get her, of course, but really, more than that— had wanted her to get expelled. When Jenny's "confession" had come spilling out of her lips, it had seemed to her, at that moment, that the last place on earth she belonged was Waverly Academy, home of gorgeous trust-fund babies and effortlessly cool people who hated her.
But now—things had changed. Jenny knew she certainly looked like the exact same person she was two weeks ago— short, but in pretty decent shape from field hockey drills, and a little too busty for her own taste—and deep down she wasthe same. But everyone around her seemed to see her in a different light, like she was some kind of demigod for escaping expulsion. She felt kind of like one of those people at death's door, who travel down a long hallway toward "the light" only to get pushed back at the last second into their life.
And it was an even better life that it had been before.
She turned onto the main street of Rhinecliff, sidestepping a nanny hurriedly pushing an overloaded stroller down the sidewalk. As she jumped out of the way, she caught the eye of a cute, dark-haired boy sitting on a stool in the window of Coffee-Roasters. He gave her a curious half-grin as he took a sip from his oversize coffee mug, like he knew a secret about her.
Jenny's heart thumped as she continued down the sidewalk. Was that him?Could he have been her secret admirer? For the past few weeks, all she'd really been able to think about was the fact that someonehad bribed Mrs. Miller to tell Dean Mary-mount that the fire had most definitely not been started by one of the students, but by one of her cows.Mrs. Miller had been spotted at the Rhinecliff bank that same day, chatting about her extravagant plans to renovate the farm and build a brand-new guesthouse where the barn had been. And everyone knew no insurance settlement could have come that quickly.
So who on earth was it who wanted to make sure Jenny stayed at Waverly so badly? She had to know, and even though it was silly, she couldn't help sitting around with Brett, giggling and joking about who her "secret savior" could possibly be.
As she wandered down the streets of Rhinecliff, she was suddenly reminded of a trip here just a few weeks ago, window-shopping with Julian. A brief flash of—what? Something between sadness and regret passed over her. She'd tried not to think about him lately, and she'd been so busy it had actually worked. It just seemed like a million years ago that they'd been … whatever it was they were. If they'd been anything at all. But before she could think any more about it, she shoved all thoughts of Julian straight out of her mind. She wanted to be one hundred percent focused on the job at hand—finding a cute Halloween costume that wouldn't break the bank or make her look like a midget with stripper boobs.
A long string of chimes jangled loudly as Jenny pushed open the door of Next-to-New. A young woman in a white tank top and a red bandana tied around her hair looked up from the beat-up paperback she was reading behind the counter and nodded indifferently at Jenny. Jenny wiped her rubber boots on the scraggly brown doormat, trying to get every last drop of water off. The store was the exact opposite of Pimpernel's, the chichi boutique whose clothes were hung on the racks according to color, with only one of each dress, usually a size 0. Next-to-New looked like it had been stuffed with a thousand attics' worth of clothing. It reminded Jenny of wandering the aisles of the Greenwich Village street fairs, which hid all kinds of bargain treasures—and also tons of junk.
Jenny spotted a bright yellow-feathered chicken costume hanging from the ceiling, complete with orange strap-on beak. Great. With her luck, she'd probably end up wearing that to her first big Waverly gala. What would her secret admirer think of that? Cluck, cluck.She giggled to herself.
Against the back wall were racks and racks chock-full of long, vintage-looking dresses, worn once by Waverly Owls before being abandoned for the next great thing. Jenny made a beeline for them. She ran her hands over the silky, delicate fabrics, expertly twisting the tags to scan the size. A pale pink flapper dress with a plunging neckline caught her eye and she gently extracted it, holding it against her body and wondering if it would make her boobs look indecent.
"That's hot," Rifat Jones squealed as she stepped out of the tiny dressing room in a pair of brown suede bell-bottoms and a sparkly gold halter top that was straight out of Studio 54. "Is it for the party?"
Jenny stared down at the pink dress. It looked like something a cotton candy machine had spat out. "I think it's a little too … bright for me." She squeezed it back onto the rack and continued to page through the dresses.
"I'm going for the disco queen look." Rifat touched her slim hips and looked down at the strip of flat stomach that the halter top exposed. "But it's not like I'm out to win or anything."
"Win what?" Thumbing through the rack, Jenny spotted a one-shouldered off-white dress, one of those dresses that looked so perfect on a hanger, it was destined to look terrible when you tried it on. Jenny had a sudden flash of herself dressed as Cleopatra—she'd actually been "cast" as Cleopatra when Miss Rose had asked all her students to read parts in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. (All the other female parts were maids or pushy wives while she got to be the sexpot—not bad.) The dress was kind of togalike, and she could easily imagine the Egyptian queen dressing up in the latest styles from Rome. Jenny scooted into the dressing room next to Rifat's, hooking the hanger over the door and kicking her damp LeSportsac to the corner.
"Best costume." Rifat's voice drifted over the red fabric divider as Jenny quickly stripped off her raincoat and flung her clothes onto the stool. She held her breath, hoping that her run of good luck would continue and the dress would fit perfectly. "They do it at the end of the Halloween party every year. It's a pretty big deal—the winner gets a crown and everything."
"Funny." Jenny stepped through the dress with her bare feet, and she slid her right arm through the armhole, gingerly pulling it up. She jiggled the zipper along the side a little, trying not to snag the fabric, clasping it in place at her armpit with the tiny hook. There was no mirror inside the dressing room, so she drew back the fabric curtain and stepped into the store.
Rifat had changed back into dark jeans and a thick marbled wool turtleneck. She stared at Jenny. "Shit, Jenny."
"What a hottie!" Alison Quentin appeared out of nowhere, arms loaded with swingy prom-type dresses as she moved toward the dressing rooms. "You look like a movie star."
Jenny was too busy examining her image in the gold-rimmed three-way mirror to register Rifat's and Alison's words. The dress fit like a dream. A thin braid of gold swept right beneath Jenny's breasts, lifting them slightly. Although the neckline was modest, the dress swept down at the sides and was almost completely backless. Jenny peered over her shoulder at her reflection, trying to decide if she was the kind of girl who could wear a backless dress. She put a hand on her hip and twirled around. She had to admit that her bare shoulder looked, even with her pale, slightly freckled skin, pretty sexy. "Do you think I could do a kind of Egyptian-Cleopatra thing?"
"Oh, totally," Rifat gushed. "You know, I've got this gold cobra arm bracelet that would look awesome with that."
"Really?" Jenny grinned and twisted her hair up off her neck, letting the curly tendrils just skim her bare shoulder. It was almost too easy. After all the stress and anxiety she'd been through since setting foot on campus, it felt as though the boarding school gods had finally smiled on her.
"You're going to give Tinsley a run for her money."
She turned abruptly back to Rifat. "What do you mean?" Just hearing the name cast a pall over her glowing mood. Over the last two weeks, the only downer had been the thought that Tinsley Carmichael hated her so much she would actually scheme to get her kicked out of Waverly. The thought that Julian had hooked up with Tinsley didn't help. Nor did the fact that Callie, Jenny's own roommate, had been in on the scheme. Last week, after Advanced Portraiture, Easy Walsh had pulled her aside and told her, gently, that he'd found out Callie had worked with Tinsley to set Jenny up and make her appear guilty of starting the fire. It was one thing to know that Tinsley Carmichael hated her—but even after all their ups and downs, Jenny was crushed to know that Callie had turned against her so completely.
Alison pulled back the curtain to the dressing room Rifat had left and flung her dresses inside. She unwrapped a thin flowered scarf from around her neck. "Tinsley won the costume competition last year—and the year before, too. And freshmen never win."
Rifat nodded. "It's pretty much a popularity contest. She's always been kind of a shoo-in."
Alison grinned and snapped her flowered scarf so that it hit Jenny in the waist. "Until now."
Jenny gave herself one last, long look in the mirror. Normally, she would have suspected it of being a skinny mirror, that she couldn't possibly look as good in real life as she did in its image. But she felt like she could finally tell her ever-present neuroses to shut up. She looked good. She felt good.
And it would feel even better to put Tinsley Carmichael in her place.
AlisonQuentin: Going with gangsta or Nixon?
AlanStGirard: Tough call. Who would U get naked w?
AlisoriQuentin: Nixon's got the power thing going on ….
AlanStGirard: Then call me Mr. President.
AlisonQuentin: Just saw J's costume—totally hot.
AlanStGirard: Poor Julian—he really fucked that up!
AlisonQuentin: Did U hear what he did? Jenny won't talk.
AlanStGirard: Nah, he just plays dumb.
AlisonQuentin: Maybe that was the problem.
JennyHumphrey: I'm thinking Cleopatra. Too much?
BrettMesserschmitt: Flaunt it, babe. Your secret admirer will take one look at you and finally come out of hiding!strong
JennyHumphrey: We can always hope ….
A WAVERLY ADVISER HAS HER OWLS' BEST INTERESTS AT HEART.
Brett Messerschmitt kicked the pointy toe of her black Sigerson Morrison ankle boot against the leg of Mrs. Horniman's desk, trying not to be irritated that her adviser had summoned her to her office and then failed to be present. A steaming cup of coffee sat on the paper-covered desk, the only evidence of a recent human presence. Brett slunk into an uncomfortable wooden chair and proceeded to wait.
The sound of heels clicking echoed down the hallway, and Mrs. Horniman's pear-shaped body appeared in the doorway, her salt-and-pepper gray bob swinging. "Good afternoon," she said courteously as she plopped down behind her desk, her wooden chair groaning under her weight. "So sorry I'm late." She pulled her white satin blouse away from her chest and fanned it, indicating a large, coffee-tinted wet spot. "Beverage mishap."
"No problem," Brett answered automatically, straightening in her chair. Waverlies couldn't resist the temptation to make fun of Mrs. Horniman's name, sometimes speculating as to what her maiden name had been—Fuckmeister, Screwsalot—but in reality, she was one of the best advisers. She also taught all the mandatory college prep seminars, and knew exactly how to get her students into the most exclusive colleges. And everyone liked her tell-it-like-it-is attitude, even those who wondered out loud whether her husband lived up to his name in bed.
Mrs. Horniman pushed her rolling desk chair backward and twisted the rod hanging from the blinds. Rays of late-afternoon light slanted across her desk. "How are you?" she asked earnestly, resting her elbows on her desk and leaning forward to look at Brett. She peered over the rims of her round red plastic glasses that looked like something an eighties news anchor would wear.
Brett felt her tongue loosening, and had to fight the urge to spill out everything that had been going on with her, as if Horniman were her therapist instead of her adviser. Instead, she nodded. "Fine, thank you." She glanced across the teak bookshelves full of college guides rendered outdated by the Internet, the pair of crystal doves cooing at each other on top of the desk, the handmade globe in its hardwood cradle in the corner. Mrs. Horniman was known to spin the globe during her you-can-go-anywhere-in-the-world speech she recited with passion the first time she sat down with a new advisee.
Mrs. Horniman leaned back in her chair and pushed her red-framed glasses up on her nose. "I know that you've … ah … run into some bad luck lately."
Bad luck. That was a nice way to put it. Brett's whole junior year so far had been a string of bad luck—starting with falling for Eric Dalton, DC adviser and male bimbo, dumping her sweet boyfriend Jeremiah Mortimer, getting wrapped up in a few too many illicit parties, gaining notoriety as the only bisexual prefect in Waverly history, being present at the burning of a barn … Eep. Once Brett started to really think about it, she felt panic rising in her chest. What if Mrs. Horniman told her that she'd made such a disaster of her junior year, there was no way she'd get into Brown?
Brett stared down at her chipped pale blue Hard Candy nail polish. "I guess that's a fairly accurate assessment."
"But, other than that …" The boxy black phone on Mrs. Horniman's desk rang and she pressed a button to silence it. "How is your semester going?"
Brett shrugged, the panic mounting. "Okay, I guess." She had forgotten, apparently, that as a junior, she was supposed to be thinking about her college applications, preparing for her SATs, and expanding her repertoire of extracurriculars. If she was serious about Brown—or Berkeley or Swarthmore or any of her other top choices—she needed to get her act together and stay out of trouble. And she needed Mrs. Horniman on her side.
Mrs. Horniman folded her hands on her desk and locked her motherly gaze on Brett. "I want you to know," she started, tilting her head to the side, her gray-brown hair falling to her shoulders, "that despite your recent … escapades … you're still one of Waverly's best students. The faculty here are always surprised to hear your name associated with the low-level mayhem that inevitably occurs when teenagers live together in close quarters."
Brett smiled at that summation of all the troublemaking that went on at Waverly, and smoothed out the crease in her pinstripe wool Theory trousers, nodding a small thanks. She blushed at the thought of teachers talking about her in private.
"Look, I remember what it was like at your age, though when I went to Waverly things were less … conspicuous, let's say." Mrs. Horniman leaned back in her chair and gazed fondly at the picture frame on her desk. Its back was facing Brett. "What I'm trying to say is, everyone here, including me, holds you in high regard."
Brett took a deep breath, feeling instantly soothed. Okay, so she hadn't messed her life up irreparably. The last two weeks at Waverly had been anxiety-inducing—the whole fire drama witch hunt followed by Jenny's near expulsion, coupled with her own personal turmoil, had frazzled Brett's nerves. She was still getting used to guys she hardly knew asking her to hang out just because they knew she'd kissed a girl—it was weird. But Brett suddenly felt safe and free in the cocoon of Mrs. Horniman's office, like things were going to start to come together for her again.
"Thank you," Brett said earnestly. "I appreciate you saying that."
"You're welcome," Mrs. Horniman replied, smiling. Brett noticed a reddish lipstick stain on her left incisor. "Remember that I'm always here. You can always come to me with anything, be it school-related or otherwise. Don't forget that."
"I won't," Brett promised. She gripped the sides of the chair, about to stand up and make her way back to the library, feeling ready to hit the SAT prep books now.
"And to prove that I'm not just whistling Dixie …" Mrs. Horniman continued. Brett relaxed her arms and covered the attempted exit by rubbing the sleeves of her pink-and-black striped L.A.M.B. puff-sleeve mock turtleneck. "I'm going to ask for your help."
"Sure, anything." Brett nodded eagerly, excited at the thought of working on some new project for Mrs. Horniman that would bring her back into the administration's good graces. Help out with the college fair? Not a problem. Help design a new college prep course syllabus? Sure thing.
"One of my senior advisees is in danger of not graduating." Mrs. Horniman opened a manila folder on her desk that had been sitting there throughout the meeting, and Brett wondered if that was the whole reason she'd been called here. "He's a … well, I hate the world troubled—it's so overused, especially in my line of work. Let's just say that he needs someone to get his studies on track. You up for it?"
Tutoring? Brett's heart sank. She'd always been one of the smarter kids in class, and so she was used to teachers relying on her to help out the other students who weren't exactly getting it. But she never understood why it was her responsibility to teach someone to conjugate French verbs, or whatever—it wasn't like she was the one getting paid. And now? Her adviser wanted her to save a lazy senior from flunking out? Brett guessed that the kid's parents were of more concern to Waverly than the senior himself—she knew from experience that rich kids couldn't flunk out of Waverly. They could be kicked out, for sure, and occasionally asked to take leaves of absence, but they rarely flunked out—and she guessed that her new mentee must be in the super-loaded category.
But one look at the shelves filled with college catalogs, many of them to places Brett had never heard of, was enough to remind Brett that a little kissing up couldn't hurt.
"Absolutely," Brett replied, knowing she had no choice. "Tell me what I can do."
"I think he'll really respond to you—you both have, ah, similar backgrounds," Mrs. Horniman added, shuffling a few papers in the file before looking up at Brett.
Brett tried to parse the meaning of this cryptic message and waited for Mrs. Horniman to explain further—maybe his father was a filthy rich plastic surgeon, too? His mother a Teacup Chihuahua collector? But she didn't and Brett shrugged it off as Mrs. Horniman just trying to sell her on the idea. She handed a robin's egg blue index card to Brett across the table. It read SEBASTIAN VALENTI, along with all of his contact information, in pencil. As if he could be easily erased if he failed.
Or if Brett did. As she stood, she glimpsed the front of the picture on Mrs. Horniman's desk, the one she kept glancing down at with a smile. It was a photo of Mr. Horniman, in his polo shirt and khakis, leaning on a golf club on a luscious green lawn somewhere with palm trees. The picture could've been taken by anyone, she supposed, but somehow she could tell it had been taken by Mrs. Horniman. How else to account for the look on her husband's face as she snapped the picture? Was that what love looked like?
Brett stared at the picture as she swung the strap of her Prada backpack over her shoulder, thinking of Jeremiah. All of her betrayals lunged at her at once: cheating on Jeremiah with Mr. Dalton, then dumping Jeremiah when she found out he'd slept with Elizabeth—even though they'd been broken up when it happened—and then the thing with Kara, which had clearly had more to do with her than with Jeremiah. Brett rubbed her fingertips against her temples. She wouldn't take herself back if she were Jeremiah. He'd have to be crazy.
"And," Mrs. Horniman added, her green eyes twinkling deviously, "the experience will look great on your résumé."
Brett nodded and forced a smile as she let herself out of Mrs. Horniman's office. At least now she had a project, one that would help her forget about Jeremiah and the gaping hole he'd left in her life.
A project named Sebastian Valenti.
To: AnitaAndrews@waveriy.edu; BrandonBuchanan@waverly.edu; MayurDeshmukh@waverly.edu; HeathFerro@waverly.edu; SageFrancis@waverly.edu; JasonGreenberg@waverly.edu; EmilyJenkins@waverly.edu; MatthewSpeiser@waverly.edu; KaraWhalen@waverly.edu
Date: Wednesday, October 30, 4:45 P.M.
Subject College Preparatory Seminar
As you all know, every college application requires a recommendation from your guidance counselor. But before I can send you off into the wild blue yonder with my seal of approval, you know you must complete my four-week college preparatory seminar. Trust me—it's for your own good, as I will coach you, prep you, guide you, and steer you in the right direction—toward Princeton, Harvard, the Sorbonne, or wherever you'd like to go.
Three P.M. tomorrow. My room in Hopkins Hall. Come with open minds.
Date: Wednesday, October 30, 5:15 P.M.
As you may know, I'm currently the junior class prefect and Mrs. Horniman gave me your e-mail and mentioned that you could use a little help with your academic performance. I would be happy to help you out in whatever way I can.
Are you free to meet in the library after class tomorrow? Mrs. Horniman told me you have a big Advanced Latin test next week and I can help you study for it. If not, I'll be at the Monster Mash Bash tomorrow night, dressed as Daphne (from Scooby-Doo). Feel free to come up and introduce yourself, and we can find a suitable time to meet.
- On Sale
- Nov 16, 2008
- Page Count
- 304 pages