Read by Michal Friedman
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Table of Contents
A Sneak Peek of The Daughters Break the Rules
A Sneak Peek of Rules of Summer
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Lizzie Summers stood where she usually did when she was out with her mother—off to the side, hidden in the crowd, safely out of frame—and watched the world's most famous supermodel drive the paparazzi crazy.
With her shoulders thrown back, her back slightly arched, and one manicured hand placed jauntily on her hip, Lizzie's mother pivoted left and right, her multimillion-dollar smile so bright it could blind people. Today it was even brighter than usual, because Plenty magazine had decided to kick off Fall Fashion Week with a luncheon in her honor. But like most Fashion Week events, there were about fifteen minutes of frantic picture-taking before anything really got started.
"Katia!" someone yelled.
"You're beautiful!" someone screamed.
Lizzie looked out the window of the Mandarin Oriental's private dining room, down at the green domes of trees in Central Park and beyond, at the elegant and crowded skyline of Fifth Avenue, and sighed. Um, yeah, she thought. She's beautiful. Understatement of the century.
Her mother, Katia Summers, wasn't just beautiful. One fashion designer (Galliano? Gaultier? Lizzie couldn't remember) had called Katia "walking proof of God." And if her mother's twenty-year career as a supermodel was any indication, everyone else thought so, too.
As Katia's only child, Lizzie had logged more hours of her life looking at her mother in person than just about anyone, and even she had to agree: her mom was Seriously, Jaw-Droppingly, Is-That-Humanly-Possible Gorgeous. Day or night. Made-up or fresh-faced. Bedhead or updo. No matter how few hours of sleep she'd had or how annoyed Lizzie was with her, Katia Summers was never not breathtaking. And if beauty was really the sum of a person's parts, then each of Katia's parts was almost perfect. There were the eyes that famously changed color, from turquoise to green to an exotic indigo-purple, depending on her mood; the glacial cheekbones that made the lower half of her face a perfect V; her naturally pillowy lips and the trademark pout, caused by a small overbite her parents had never fixed. There was the thick, extension-free blond hair that fell in waves to the middle of her back, and her lean but voluptuous body. Yes, Lizzie would think, as she looked at her mom across the breakfast table or in the elevator—perfect.
Katia was so perfect that at thirty-seven, when most other models had already hung up their Manolos, she was still in peak demand. She starred in the ad campaigns of at least one A-list designer each season, did spreads in the biggest issues of Harper's Bazaar, W, and every country's edition of Vogue, served as the face of L'Ete cosmetics, and once a year graced the cover of GQ or Details, covered by nothing but a macramé bikini bottom and her own strategically placed hands. And now she was about to make the career leap that only a precious few supermodels could even attempt, let alone pull off. She would go from supermodel to super-mogul. Clothes, perfume, housewares—Katia would design it all. Katia Coquette—a "French-inspired" (read: extra-sexy) lingerie line—was just the beginning. And from the sight of the press clamoring to take her photo and the fashionistas watching Katia with approval, Katia Coquette looked like it was going to be a huge hit.
Checking her watch, Lizzie walked over to the open bar.
It was already past noon, and she'd told her best friends, Carina and Hudson, that she'd meet them by one. School started tomorrow, which meant that today they would grab something from Pinkberry, stroll through the West Village, and catch up on their summers—their last-day-of-summer ritual. Since nursery school, Hudson and Carina had been her best friends. Lizzie thought of them as the Brita filters for her life. If something happened to her, good or bad, she passed it through them, and when it came out the other side, she would almost always feel better. Lizzie thought it was because the three of them had one huge thing in common: they each knew what it was like to have a life divided up into two parts: public, and private. They'd even made up their own rules for how to deal with it.
She leaned on the edge of the bar and slipped one throbbing foot out of her mom's four-inch Christian Louboutin gold peep-toes. She knew that Louboutins were supposedly the best shoes in the world, but they pinched her feet and crunched her toes. She much preferred her thick-soled, extremely-comfortable, eighty-five-dollar Steve Madden platforms, but Katia had vetoed them for these kinds of events.
"Ahhh," she said, stretching her toes. Nearby a bartender sliced lemons on a cutting board.
"Feet hurt?" he asked. He looked like he was in his early twenties, and had one of those little patches of hair on his chin.
"I don't know how people wear these things," she said.
The bartender nodded but his gaze traveled over to where Katia was still surrounded by cameras.
"She's gorgeous," he said, almost slicing off a finger. "She's even hotter in person."
Lizzie looked over at her mom, still posing. She couldn't resist. "That's my mom," she said.
The bartender's mouth opened as he looked back. "That's your mom?" he asked in disbelief.
Lizzie smiled. Nobody ever believed her. "Yep," she said.
"Really?" the bartender asked. "It's just you guys don't really look anything…"
Before he could finish his sentence, Lizzie heard her mother's voice calling from across the room.
"Lizzie! Honey! Come take a picture!"
Lizzie turned around. Her mother was waving one golden, perfectly toned arm in what looked to be her direction.
"Come on!" Katia yelled. "Take a picture!"
Here we go again, Lizzie thought. Every time she went to an official function with her mom, she wound up getting roped into a photo session. Couldn't Katia have mercy on her, just once?
"Come on, Lizzie!" Katia mouthed over the din of the clicking cameras. "Just a couple!"
The crowd of skinny, pale fashion editors craned their heads to get a look at Lizzie. There was no getting out of this. She slipped her foot back in the shoe and hobbled over to her mom, wishing that her father, Bernard, could have been Katia's date to this instead. But somehow he always seemed to be on deadline for his column for the New York Times. It was kind of annoying.
When she reached her, Katia draped her slender arm around Lizzie's waist, and pulled her in tight. "My daughter!" she announced to the crowd.
Lizzie faced the collection of black, vacant cameras lenses in front of her. For a long few seconds, nothing happened. Finally, there was one weak flash. Then another. And then another.
"Can we have just a few more with you, Katia?" someone yelled. "Just you?"
"Yes, Katia, just you!"
"Hey, Mom," Lizzie whispered into her mother's ear. "Can I go meet my friends now?"
Katia squeezed Lizzie's waist and removed her arm. "Of course," she whispered.
"Congratulations," Lizzie whispered back.
Her mom patted her on the back and turned back to the cameras. Lizzie was free.
As she walked out of the room, she felt her shoulders relax and her breath come back. Being at these kinds of things always made her tense. In a few minutes, she'd be on the subway, hurtling downtown toward her friends, and she could forget all of this. But the same question gnawed at her, for what was probably the billionth time, as her heels clicked on the smooth marble floor of the hotel lobby and the mortification of the photo op slowly wore off: Did her mom really not know what her own daughter looked like?
There was a time when the paparazzi had wanted to take Lizzie's picture, back when she and her mother had been the Sexy Supermodel and her Adorable Kid. When Lizzie was little, the photographers had followed her and her mom everywhere: to nursery school, to the park, to FAO Schwarz.
But then Lizzie got older. And Lizzie changed from the Adorable Kid to the Awkward Teenager. While Katia stayed the Sexy Supermodel.
Actually, awkward was putting it kindly. She was Different. Unusual. Odd.
Or, as Hudson and Carina liked to put it: striking.
"Like what Uma Thurman probably looked like, until she got pretty," Hudson would say.
But Uma Thurman didn't have hazel eyes that were so enormous they seemed to bug out of her face. Or a long, meandering nose that faked left and went right. Or straight, thick eyebrows that were as flat and furry as a Sesame Street character's, even when they were plucked. And Uma Thurman certainly didn't have bright, curly red hair that was the texture of Brillo and turned into a bush anytime the temperature went above eighty degrees.
And most importantly, Uma Thurman had not been expected to be beautiful. Who expected the daughters of Buddhism professors to turn into Hollywood actresses? But the only daughter of Katia Summers, otherwise known as "Walking Proof of God," was expected to at least be cute. And that wasn't quite what had happened.
Lizzie liked to think that her weird looks meant she could avoid the paparazzi. If she were out with her mom, and they got surrounded coming out of a café or Starbucks, clearly she could stay on the sidelines and none of the photographers would mind. But that wasn't how Katia saw it. Every chance she got, she wanted Lizzie in the photo. Lizzie figured that she was either oblivious to the fact she had a weird-looking kid or trying to prove a point. But how could a supermodel think that looks didn't matter? As she walked down into the stifling heat of the subway station, Lizzie decided that maybe her mom was just oblivious. Which was worse.
Lizzie swiped her MetroCard in the turnstile and dashed down the steps to the waiting train. As the doors closed, she found a seat and pulled The Great Gatsby from her bag. She wanted to finish it before tomorrow, even though Gatsby was summer reading for the tenth grade, not the ninth, at the Chadwick School. But her taste in books had always been a little advanced. She'd learned to read at three, tackled the first two Harry Potters by six, and begun writing stories at eight. She'd been writing ever since and this summer she'd attended the exclusive Barnstable Writer's Workshop out on Cape Cod for six weeks. There a writer had kept talking about Fitzgerald, and Lizzie had been embarrassed that she'd never read him before. Now she didn't want the book to end. There were paragraphs that were so beautiful that she read them over and over. One day, she hoped, she would be able to write a quarter as good as Fitzgerald. Or maybe a tenth.
At Bleecker Street, she got off the subway and limped up the steps to the sidewalk. Her aching feet wobbled in the Louboutins, and it was all she could do not to fall on her face as she walked past sienna-colored brownstones with flowerboxes in the windows, and plate-glass storefronts of bakeries and coffee shops. She loved the West Village—it always reminded her of an earlier New York, when the city was filled with artists and writers and before that, horses and carriages. Now the streets were dotted with fancy clothing boutiques and sushi joints, and filled with NYU students back from summer break, carrying shopping bags from Bed, Bath & Beyond. One day, when she was a famous writer she'd live down here, she thought, just as she turned the corner and saw the blue and green facade of the Promised Land. Otherwise known as Pinkberry.
She threw the glass door open and rushed inside, toward the table in the corner where two girls, one petite and blond, one taller and black-haired, sat waiting for her.
"Lizzie!" shrieked the blond girl as she leaped out of her chair. Carina Jurgensen threw her tan arms around Lizzie as if she hadn't seen her in years. "Oh my God, hi!" she said, jumping up and down on her flip-flops, as her blond ponytail swung back and forth. "I missed you, Lizbutt!"
"I missed you, too, C," she said, returning Carina's frantic hug as best she could. "And you're so tan."
"And you're so tall," Carina said admiringly, letting her go. "Pretty soon I'm gonna feel like a midget around you, I swear." Her cocoa-brown eyes were wide and electrically alive. Sometimes Lizzie thought Carina was more alive than anyone she'd ever met.
"Oh my God, that dress is to die for," said Lizzie's other best friend, Hudson Jones, as she stood up and hugged her, too. Wavy black curls framed her heart-shaped face, and her green eyes sparkled. "Is that Margiela?" she asked in her soft, gentle voice, looking at Lizzie's dress.
"It's my mom's," Lizzie said. "And it barely fits."
"Then have some Pinkberry," Carina said as they sat down. She pushed a tub of pomegranate yogurt with mochi across the table. "Here, got you your favorite."
Carina Jurgensen had lived her entire life in New York, but at first glance she looked like a surfer girl from the north shore of Oahu. Petite but athletic, with sunstreaked hair that never faded and a sprinkling of freckles on her button nose, Carina actually did surf, and snowboard, and climb mountains, and anything else that allowed her to be outdoors. She was fearless. Ever since they'd been little, Carina had been the first of them to do anything scary—whether it was Rollerblading straight down a hill in Central Park on a crowded Sunday, or flirting with the guys at St. Brendan's. Because she was unable to sit still for longer than a few minutes, Carina didn't like to spend a lot of time in front of the mirror, and she was so pretty she didn't need to. Her favorite season was summer, and her favorite summer look was what she wore today: shorts, a T-shirt with cut-off sleeves, and camouflage-patterned flip-flops. Guys tended to find Carina Jurgensen completely adorable, though she usually didn't notice.
"I so need this," Lizzie said, digging into her yogurt. "It's a gazillion degrees outside."
"Yeah, but Hudson's still cold," Carina joked, nodding at their friend.
"No I'm not," Hudson argued, pulling her deconstructed fringed wrap closer around herself. "I'm just being sun-savvy."
If Carina was the beach-blond surfer girl, then Hudson Jones was the sophisticated urban hippie-chick. She was beautiful, with French toast–colored skin and dazzling green eyes, courtesy of her mom's Afro-Caribbean heritage and her dad's French-Irish background, and she had the slender build and perfect posture of a girl who'd studied dance all of her life. Hudson was also incredibly stylish. Under her wrap, she wore a silk coral-colored tunic dotted with sequins, gladiator sandals with crisscross straps that traveled up to her knees, gigantic silver hoops, and a one-of-a-kind multicolored woven bag that she'd picked up in Buenos Aires. On Hudson, it all managed to look perfect.
"How was your mom's thing?" Hudson asked, taking a small bite of her green tea yogurt with blueberries. Hudson was always going for the healthy option.
"Good, but she roped me into a photo op again. When is she gonna get that nobody—nobody—wants to take my picture?"
"Lizzie, stop," Hudson said in a cautious voice. Lizzie's looks were well-covered territory among the three of them and she knew that her friends were tired of talking about it.
"No, you guys know I don't care, I just wish she saw it," Lizzie said. "Anyway, Carina. How was Outward Bound?"
"So, so, so incredible," Carina said, shaking her head as she wolfed down her yogurt. "Colorado is the most perfect place on earth. But I didn't take a shower for almost a month. You guys shoulda seen me. I was covered in dirt. It was awesome."
"What'd your dad say when he saw you covered in dirt?" Hudson asked.
Carina grinned. "That I'd wasted a summer. What'd you think?"
Carina's father, Karl Jurgensen, was a workaholic. He was also one of the richest men in the world. Metronome Media, his empire of fat glossy lifestyle and fashion magazines, newspapers, cable news channels, and social-networking sites spanned continents and employed thousands of people. He was building what he hoped would be the biggest streamed-entertainment site in the world, with every television series, reality show, or movie available on one user-friendly website. Karl had so much money that he'd also become one of the country's biggest philanthropists, donating millions to fight poverty and world hunger. With his charismatic personality and dashing looks, Karl was one of the most eligible bachelors in New York, if not the world. He'd divorced Carina's mother when Carina was in the fifth grade and since then Carina had lived alone with him in a palatial penthouse on Fifty-Seventh Street.
Most of the time the two of them managed to get along. But Karl's impatience with his free-spirited daughter could set off a violent explosion between the two of them, and by the end of the school year, Carina and the Jurg, as she called her dad, usually weren't speaking. Which was why she spent every summer as far from him and New York as possible, climbing mountains in Colorado or learning how to scuba dive.
"How was your dad's party this year?" Hudson asked.
Carina shrugged. "Pretty good, I guess," she said. "He thinks he raised two million." Every year around Labor Day, Karl, or the Jurg, turned his Montauk estate into an amusement park to raise money for charity. There were roller coasters, spinning teacups, fireworks displays, and even an underwater submarine ride in one of his lakes. A ticket to "Jurgensenland" cost a thousand dollars and a dinner table for the ball at the end of the evening cost ten thousand.
"And how was the end of the tour?" Lizzie asked Hudson.
"Crazy," Hudson sighed. "Thirty cities in forty-five days. I don't know how my mom does it. By the ninth day I was exhausted."
"Any Holla drama?" Carina asked, getting right to the point.
Hudson rolled her eyes. "There was this guy from Rolling Stone on the tour with us, doing the usual article on 'Holla Jones and her Unstoppable Career,' and he asked me how old my mom was. I was so jet-lagged, I told him the truth: thirty-seven. And when it got back to my mom, she freaked out. As if three extra years were that big a deal." Hudson stood up and placed her half-empty carton into the trash can. "Moral of the story? Don't ever talk to the press. Even when they're, like, living with you day and night."
Hudson's mother, Holla Jones, was a pop star. Her multi-octave voice and radio-friendly hits had made her a star at nineteen, and now she was an icon. Year after year, through a combination of touring, cutting-edge album production, and an iron will, she reached the top of the Billboard charts. But the iron will had lately become a problem. It related to everything: her daily, three-hour workouts with a personal trainer; her strictly organic vegetarian diet; and her relationships, which were usually over before they began. Hudson's dad was a case in point. He'd been a backup dancer on one of Holla's first tours—and then promptly disappeared the moment the tour ended, scared off by Holla's fearsome discipline.
Hudson and Holla's bond was fierce, almost sisterly, and Lizzie often admired it. But it also made her a little nervous. Hudson had inherited her mother's voice, her looks, and her presence, and now was about to record her own album. But where Holla was all fast beats, flashy costumes, and high-energy pop, Hudson was soulful, slow, and a smoky torch. Unfortunately, Holla wasn't so aware of the distinction.
"Any cute dancers?" Carina asked as they walked out onto the street.
"Uh, no," Hudson said. "They were all on the other team."
"Too bad," Carina said, making a beeline for a jewelry stand set up on the street. "I was too stinky to even think of hooking up with anyone on that mountain, even though this one guy was really hot," she said, holding up a pair of dangly coin earrings to her ears. "What do you guys think? Cheap or cool?"
"Cheap," Lizzie said.
"And do you really need them?" asked Hudson.
"Whatever, they're ten bucks," Carina said, producing a bill from the back pocket of her shorts and handing it to the man in the Rastafarian cap behind the table. Despite her granola tendencies, Carina liked to spend money. And her dad gave her plenty.
"Speaking of hot guys," Hudson murmured, staring at something up the street. "Look at him."
Lizzie turned and followed Hudson's gaze. Walking out of the southern end of Washington Square Park, fists in the pockets of his jeans, white iPod wires trailing from his ears, was a very hot guy. An alarmingly hot guy. He was so cute that Lizzie could only look at him in small, bite-sized glimpses. Large blue eyes. Chiseled face. Straight brown hair that was a little shaggy over his forehead. Full, pink lips.
"Wow," Carina muttered. "Now that is a hot college guy."
But Lizzie could tell he was younger than that. And then she realized there was something familiar about his walk. It was a loping, easy stroll, as if he was totally in his own world and in absolutely no hurry. "Oh my God," Lizzie said when it hit her. "That's Todd Piedmont."
"What?" Carina asked, awestruck. "The guy from your building?"
"Didn't he move to London?" Hudson asked. "Like, three years ago?"
"Maybe he's back for a visit," Lizzie replied.
"Is that what happens when people move to London?" Carina wondered. "They become total hotties?"
"Go say hi." Hudson grabbed Lizzie's arm and gave her a nudge.
"Yeah," Carina seconded. "Before he gets back on a plane and never comes back."
"You guys were BFF," Hudson pointed out.
"Yeah, when we were six."
As she watched her old neighbor reach the curb, she tried to wrap her brain around the fact that this was the same boy she'd bossed around, played with, and once made cry. But whoever it was, she was just happy to be wearing a pretty dress and peep-toe heels, even if they did kill her feet.
As two kids the same age living three floors apart, she and Todd Piedmont had trick-or-treated together, sledded in Central Park, ran around the lobby on rainy days, or just rode the elevators for hours, pushing buttons for their tolerant neighbors. Todd's parents, Jack and Julia, were almost as glamorous as her parents. Jack was the head of an investment bank and did triathlons on the weekends, and had a rugged self-confidence that made women giggly and other men very quiet. Julia was an elegant, dark-haired beauty who worked as a contributing editor at Vogue. They seemed completely in love.
But Todd could be a little moody. Sometimes he'd disappear into his room with a book for hours, even when Lizzie was at his house. He could also get his feelings hurt easily, like when Lizzie poured his favorite kind of grape juice down the garbage disposal and he burst into tears. (It didn't help that she was at least half a foot taller than him.) In fifth grade Todd went to an all-boys school, St. Brendan's, and started hanging out more with the boys in his class. And when he did see her, Todd acted weird. He'd ignore her in the lobby, or barely mumble a hello if she ran into him on the street.
"Todd!" his mother would say, in front of Lizzie and her mom. "What's happened to your manners?" "Hi," he'd sullenly say, and then make a beeline for the elevator.
The next year, when Lizzie and Todd were almost twelve, his family decided to move to London. Lizzie was relieved. No more awkward moments in the elevator. No more Todd weirdness.
But then Todd did something really strange.
It was at the Piedmonts' going-away party. Todd and Lizzie were hanging out by themselves, as usual, in the kitchen, while the grown-ups mingled in the living room. They stood in the kitchen in awkward silence, eating red velvet cupcakes. Suddenly Todd grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her to him. She felt his damp lips press against her mouth for an instant, and when it was over, her cupcake was on the tile floor, frosting-side down. Then her parents came in to say they were leaving, and that was the last time she ever saw him. His parting gift to her had been that quick, sloppy first kiss.
Now as she watched Todd come toward her, she wondered if that kiss had been so sloppy after all.
"Come on, you're gonna miss him!" Hudson said, giving her a slight push. "Go!"
Lizzie took a wobbly step forward on her Louboutins. The good thing about looking like a Sesame Street character, she thought, was that people usually remembered you. She limped toward him, and was just a few feet away when Todd yanked the iPod wires out of his ears.
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