ONE: PAPERCUT

Eight months ago, I was at my dingy house, staring up at the ceiling which had a poster of Adam Levine, contemplating whether or not I should take it down. The poster, despite it being a drool worthy spectacle, freaked me out especially at night when I was in my bed staring up... and having an unblinking, unmoving man leer at me.

The very next day, I took down the poster but a more important thing happened to me as well. My mother, dear Southern belle Ivory Winters, told Jenna and I that she was remarrying.

Of all the people in the city of fallen angels, she had to meet Birgin Arston while he just happened to be visiting one of his below the counter clients in the hospital where she worked.

Don't know who Birgin Arston is? Tsk, tsk, shame on you. Eh, it's OK, I didn't know him either until Mom hauled me on his private plane where I met him for the first time. But I have this very serious condition where I don't care for pop culture.

Anyway, I Googled him (thank God for Google!) on the plane when we were going to Scotland for the wedding. Apparently, he is some world renowned hot shot jeweller who designs jewellery for mega stars and even royalty; the queen of Monaco put Birgin on the map by wearing it in a royal procession eons ago. He's recently branching out to a new line of classy, elegant perfume. Born in London, England, Birgin Arston currently has 18 branches worldwide in New York, London, Tokyo, Dubai, LA, Paris, Madrid and Sydney to name a few. Known for his charitable gestures, he supports African labourers after getting heat from people after they watched 'Blood Diamond'. Birgin is also known to be an introvert full of ideas and helping birth Rebecca Angeline, Katherine Angelica and Weston Taylor "West", with his wife of twelve years who he divorced on the basis of irreconcilable differences.

His children, Becca and Katie are muses of the 'Angels' line (a collection of pure diamond accessories) and West is the muse for the 'East' line ('a spicy fragrance with the aromatic delight of exotic sex appeal'). The three were notorious in the party scene and have earned the title 'Social Jewels' after their nocturnal habits and sparkly inheritance but have matured ever so gracefully opting for occasional appearances. Now Becca and Katie are CEOs and public speakers of Arston and grace the covers of some magazine or other every season. The youngest brother has a four year contract with Guess? and is an international male model and even knows Taylor Fuchs and Mathias Cauridsen.

I Googled them as well. And Taylor and Mathias... Oh my God, all I can say is Google them.

After the very private wedding in Scotland, the Arstons and Bukharins were officially one big, irritating family as we touched American soil. But as soon as I got into the airport, I accidentally knocked into a teen with collagen filled lips and an intimidating gaze. She sneered at me then looked down at my shoes. She put her gigantic sunglasses on and said, "Ew, fake Prada."

After that, Becca and Katie hadn't let me dress myself for fear that I would get photographed by the paparazzi and people would go, "Oh, that's the Social Jewels' sister who wears fake Prada.' And of course, they were afraid that Prada was going to get angry and cut their endorsement deals.

Aside from the fact that I felt 3 inches high after that encounter, I am going to be starting private school with around half a thousand people like that. Complete with monkey suits.

I told Birgin that I was OK with staying at John B. Levering High School back at Watts or at least a public school which didn't cost a whooping 30 grand tuition fee. I did, after all, survived there when Birgin and my mother announced their engagement four months ago. But Birgin insisted that I should have a good education and Ashford Day Preparatory Institute could provide that. I pressed that Birgin didn't need to have the responsibility to spoil Jenna (who got transferred to UCLA) and I. But he just smiled and called me thoughtful.

But now, I was secretly cursing Birgin for doing this to me. I was dead scared and breakfast (my most important meal of the day) was not enjoyable as it kept making a reappearance in my mouth partly because of nerves and partly because I don't like cereal.

Jenna was in the kitchen with me but she wasn't eating. She doesn't appreciate the vitality of breakfast. Tears of diamonds trickled down her neck, forming a wreath of stars. Birgin gave one each to us as a sort of welcoming gift.

"Birgin is a genius," Jenna trilled, admiring the gift for the millionth time on every reflective surface. My dear sister loved herself a little too much. Her brown waves always imitated the fashion magazines. Her skin had an unnecessary fake tan (we live in sunny LA for Chrissakes!) on her usually fair skin.

"Those arrogant jackasses at UCLA are going to hurl when they seem me now," Jenna continued conceitedly.

Despite her being the oldest, she's incredibly spoilt and babied. Maybe it's because my mother promises her the moon –and the moon ain't cheap –but Jenna has turned out to be a spoilt, manipulative drama queen.

I don't want to say that Jenna and I are complete opposites, for fear of sounding horrible cliché, but we are extremely different in more ways than one. For example, I call Jenna's clothes stripper trash outfits and she calls mind 'blind virgin librarian' clothes. Jenna's hair is dark and mysterious with tanned skin, I have bronze hair and pasty skin. She's got doe eyes the colour of glistening Caribbean seas, I got stuck with eyes the colour of mud.

But before you think badly about Jenna, I'll tell you that she isn't all that bad.

Call me stupid or whatever, but you know those things in your head that filter out nonsense and stops you from doing things on impulse and tells your right from wrong? The thing called common sense? Yeah, I was born without it. I have very bad judgement. I pick fights with big, affiliated guys. I climb over neighbours' fences just to see if their Rottweiler is really dangerous or if it was just a victim of stereotyping. Jenna helps me out of the sticky situations. She's my Jiminy Cricket.

"And you wonder why you don't have friends," I said. She spat out a retort but I ignored her.

Katie appeared from nowhere and jumped on the island, accidentally knocking my bowl of Lucky Charms.

Neither of us made a move to wipe away the milk and Lucky Charm stains because we were too stubborn and lazy.

Becca and Katie were identical twins to the point that if they shaved their heads, had no make-up and wore the same clothes, they would look like mirror images. They had the same fluffy blonde hair and clear blue eyes. Both had bodies that looked like they should permanently be on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Becca and Katie opted for glamorous casual. The former had a bright yellow peasant top with boot cut jeans and beads around her neck; the latter had a casual T with a short black skirt and sunglasses perched on her blonde head.

I learned that the only way to differentiate them was to look at how they dressed. Becca chooses looser boho-chic, hippie inspired clothes in bright colours and fun prints like bohemian paisley or spring flowers and butterflies or crazy swirls. Katie, on the other hand, chooses any and all colours which enhance the fact that her boobs and butt are perfect. Usually, she shows off her skin and focuses more on accessories than patterns, looking urban and street.

Becca was on the phone, screaming at the person on the other line who obviously had bad reception, while wiping the milk.

Katie raised her blonde brow as she looked at what I was wearing.

I was wearing the standardized Ashford Day Preparatory Institute uniform. A light blue polo shirt with dark blue collars and buttons and a white fleece skirt with a dark blue line going across it an inch from the hem. Since the 'Ew, fake Prada' incident, the Social Jewels ordered my uniform for me. But the skirt was too tight so I secretly ordered another one.

The stupid school didn't have stock for my size and so now I'm stuck with a tiny shirt that every time I lifted my arm, the shirt would rise and a huge skirt that I couldn't roll up or pin because it would be obvious. Long story short, it looked as if my shirt was trying to suffocate me while my shirt was trying to drown me.

But Becca looked at me and grimaced, still on the phone. She yanked the headband from my hair and bunched my hair away from my face with her clip loosely letting a few of my bronze tendrils to cascade down my face. She was still screaming into the mouthpiece though. Unfortunately, my ear was there as she shouted, "PETE! I can't friggin hear you, speak up! I SAID I CAN'T HEAR YOU!... I SAID-"

Katie held out her wrists mechanically as if Becca told her to. Without even looking, Becca took the obsidian bracelet off of her writs as if it had always been there. The way that those two flowed together was so eerie, acting without missing a beat, so rehearsed. Their twin telepathy freaks me out.

I cupped the thousand dollar bracelet that Becca had slipped on my wrist. Did they really expect me to wear this much money on my arm alone? If I wore this at 'ol John B., my fellow classmates would probably chop off my hand without thinking twice. "I can't possibly-"

"The obsidian goes with your skin. Plus, the kids at Ashford Day will now know that you're an Arston, or at least associated with us," Katie answered for Becca.

"Well in that case, you should take it off then," Jenna spat coldly.

I wouldn't say that the Arstons have warmed up to me but they sure like me a hell of a lot better than they like Jenna.

Katie narrowed her eyes to Jenna. Her eyes almost popped out of her skull when she saw the wreath on my sister's neck. "I don't fight with children," Katie said through gritted teeth.

Pfft. They were only six years apart.

"Afraid you'll lose?" she shot back dryly.

To prove her point, she ignored Jenna. Instead, she looked at the time then turned to me. "Are you ready to go?" she asked, forcing her voice to be steady.

"Why don't I start the car?" I suggested hastily in case Jenna was going to shoot something. Let me tell you one thing about Jenna: she hates it when people ignore her. In my haste, I tripped over the leg of the chair and fell flat on my face.

Oh my God, pain... No one made a move to help me. Urgh, bitches.

Becca rolled he eyes and pocketed the phone. "Just come on, Gemma." Becca sneered at Jenna. "Katie, stop talking to this little gold digger. You might lose brain cells."

"Yeah, we all know how precious and rare they are!" I really hate Jenna sometimes.

Katie was looking at me calculatingly the snatched kitchen scissors from a drawer.

I eeped. "What the hell are you going to do with that?" I squeaked from the ground. God, it hurt to move.

She gestured me over with her free hand, she gripped the scissors menacingly. All she needed was a hockey mask!

"I think I'm late for school," I declared.

I got up, looking undignified while I held on to my skirt so that it wouldn't fall. I grabbed my bag and followed Becca and Katie.

Mom and Birgin told the very reluctant Social Jewels to drive me to school every day so that we could 'bond' and because I couldn't drive. (Mom's afraid that I might try to drive over water thinking that I won't drown if I go fast enough or something like that.) They even snatched Rhys Moore (family friend, nice guy, my new best buddy) out of nowhere and tried to convince Birgin to let him drive me instead; but my step father was persistent.

West ran when Plan A failed. When he came back, he announced that he was going to Africa to do a photoshoot for Gap. The twins call him practically everyday to screw him over for escaping the horrible ordeal of staying with the 'gold digger and her brats'.

Jenna and I may be brats but my mother is not a gold digger. She works as an intern at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and is as soft as cream cheese. (God, I love that stuff!) My father died when I was ten of Sarcodosis –an immune system disorder –and ever since then, Mom was determined to finish school with a medical degree.

"Gemma," Becca interrupted my thoughts. We were in her VW Bug. She looked at me through the rearview mirror. "Don't make any plans for today. We're going to buy you a new wardrobe. God knows that you have nothing presentable to wear much less a dress for tomorrow night's party."

I frowned. "What party?" I hate parties. It's just an excuse for men to drone on about business and sports while ladies gossip and gripe about who did what or wore what or put what in food.

"Geez, pick up a magazine, Gemma!" Katie exclaimed.

I crossed my arms in annoyance and leaned back.

The Bug smelled summery, like sandalwood and orange peel. I was taking deep, unhealthy breaths while the twins talked between themselves about some party that Birgin said they couldn't attend tomorrow night but they were going to sneak out anyway.

We passed by tall palm trees and obnoxious houses and I could swear that I saw Jessica Simpson pass by.

We stopped in front of a red brick building with tall white columns with matching window sills and a white cement reef above the door. Erected on the lawn was a marble statue of a dignified man with a large collar which screamed 60s. A brass plaque was underneath it.

'Come through our pristine doors and find that great knowledge is a privilege for only the worthiest of men. Power, dignity, friendship' –Aloysius Ashford.

"Aw crap," Becca muttered, hands planted firmly on the steering wheel. "That's Shavonne O'Shea." Her crystalline blue eyes were staring at a group of people who were talking by the statue, sitting on the base of the statue and looking the part of snobby children.

I craned my neck to look at the group of students in identical uniforms. There were three girls from the group of seven. "Who?"

The twins turned to look at me like I had just asked them something stupid like whether they liked Jenna. "Do you live under a rock or something?" Katie asked indignantly.

"Shavonne O'Shea is a wannabe model. Her mother owns 'Lemon', the super fab magazine, and Shavonne is almost always on the cover," Becca explained. "She calls herself a model. A pain int he goddamn ass is what she is."

"Urgh," Katie agreed, crumpling her nose. "We did a shoot with her once. Rolling Stones, I think..." Katie snorted. "Good luck with that girl. You're going to need it."

"Oh," I said simply.

These two were probably being bitches by trying to scare me. I mean, I highly doubt that life here would be like some unbearable, soppy teen TV show like the OC or One Tree Hill or Gossip Girl. Please, the producers of those shows exaggerate way too much so that there will be a lot of unrealistic drama whose sole purpose is to boost up ratings so that the rich will become richer. I hate those shows. It gives people ideas. Normal teens aren't that smart or bothered enough to come up with complicated twists in real life. Whatever it is, it can suck really bad especially if you're at the bottom of the food chain.

The twins noted my disbelief. "Shavonne O'Shea is also the same girl who saw you with the fake Prada pumps."

Oh crap. What were the friggin odds that the same girl was going to be in my school?

Becca and Katie exchanged a worried look. Becca suddenly leaped to the back, grabbing my satchel and transferring my books of her Birkin. Katie suddenly whipped out the kitchen scissors. Alarmed, I tried to make a run for it but Katie grabbed a handful of my skirt and snipped, and with one swift movement, my skirt was torn in the middle. She yanked it off of me, leaving me in my granny underwear, shirt and sneakers.

I yelled.

"Jesus Christ, Gemma, we're buying you a whole new set of underwear and bra today," Becca sneered. She looked closer. "And we're going to do something today called a bikini wax."

I crossed my legs and blushed furiously. I wasn't going to open my legs for anyone!

"Shit," Katie said, holding up my skirt. "OK, obviously I didn't think this through."

"How are you going to sew that back together?" I squeaked, my voice so high pitched that my own ears hurt.

"Obviously I didn't think this through," Katie repeated snappily.

"Why the hell did you do that, you insane mad woman?! How do you think I'm going to school now? If we go back now, I won't make it in time for-"

"Shut up," seethed Becca, stopping my squeaky tirade. Her hands flew to her hair and immediately took out all the flexible U shaped hair pins. Becca took the skirt from Katie and the scissors.

Katie raised an eyebrow sceptically. "That'll work?"

"Hairspray."

"Hairspray?"

"Just get it out of the bag!"

"There's a draft!" I cried suddenly, with my legs still crossed.

Becca glared at me, but only half heartedly. She jutted her chin out to me. "Do her face," she said to Katie.

Katie grinned menacingly. She opened a small compact powder and attacked my eyelids.

"Hey, get your hands away!" I protested, trying to swat Katie's hands off my face. It amazed me at the speed they were going, like annoying little gnats that you wanted to step on. With cleats. Made of fire.

Katie hit me on the head with the compact. "Stay still or I'll gorge your eyes out." I complied and shut my eyes. "Look, you irritating little bug, image is everything to us, kay? Since you're going to be representing us from now on, you have to look like you're up for being an Arston. Whether Becca or West or I like it or not, you're an Arston now."

"No one's going to care about how I look like! I'm not even blood related to you guys," I muttered as something chilly and slimy was swathed on my lips. Yuck. I hate lip gloss. They taste like crap. The flavoured ones taste like sickly sweet fruits and chemicals and the non flavoured ones taste like chemicals without the sickly sweet fruits. They're so disgustingly sticky and get all over your face and hair.

Becca and Katie scoffed in perfect unison. "Do you know how potentially dangerous it was when you had those fake Prada shoes on? I like Prada. They give us free things. I don't want to jeopardize that privilege because of a mistake you made," Becca murmured into the skirt, concentrating hard.

"Besides, we hate that Shavonne bitch. We want you to give her hell," Katie coaxed, applying shadow to my cheekbones. "That little skank told People that we got breast implants."

I looked at my reflection in the rear view mirror. I looked like a vampire. Not the 'scary, goth inspired' vampire; I looked like I came out of the pages of Twilight. I looked pretty darned good if I do say so myself. My dad was Russian so I inherited his Slavic cheekbones. Katie outlined my eyes so they looked not dull and my lips were red.

Becca shook the can of hairspray and sprayed the skirt.

I spluttered as the whole car reeked of the hairspray. I bet Al Gore's Green senses were tingling.

She handed me the skirt. Becca bit her lip. Her hair was a little out of place because she didn't have her pins in her hair. She fluffed her hair so it looked perfect again. "Er, don't move too much, or bend. And be careful or you might get lockjaw."

I slipped on the skirt and winced as one of the pins scratched my thigh. Well, at least it fit. Barely. I looked like a freaking tramp. Gasp. I looked like them! If I stretched, you could see my midriff. If I bent, you could see my butt. I looked like a porn star in granny panties. Or a hooker/mistress who attracts men with old lady fetishes.

I took the Birkin and took a deep breath before opening the door. The twins stepped out of the car with the kind of grace only dancers could attain with years of practice and experience. I merely stomped out of the car with as much grace as a drowning elephant.

Slamming the door and fumbling with the strap of Becca's Birkin, the Jewels cast me an exasperated look then averted their eyes to my worn sneakers and sighed.

"Well, we can't ask for too much," Becca reminded Katie.

A soft breeze fluttered through my tiny skirt. I don't know how Becca managed to hold up my skirt with hair pins and hairspray but it worked. My hands immediately flew to my seven inch skirt.

Katie nudged me with her finger. "Act normal and for the love of God, try to refrain from doing anything stupid."

I creased my brow in worry. What could I possibly do on my first day of school? Get into a fight with the school thug? Give Shavonne O'Shea a swirly? I'm not saying that I didn't dare do it. I'm just not going to. If they're nice.

Becca and Katie smiled warmly at me. "Good luck," they said.

I rushed to the school before they cruised away. I wasn't really causing much of a stir but a few people were nudging each other and pointing at me.

"Fresh meat."

"Who's that?"

"I saw her come out of the car with the Social Jewels."

"Oh. D'you think she's important?"

"Nah. She's probably a step sister."

I whipped my head around to scout out who had said that.

Was that how I was going to be remembered as? 'Step sister'? I mean, I didn't even have a 'the' to my title. It sounded way more official if I had a 'the'. 'The step sister' sounds much more dignified than a nonchalant and offhanded 'step sister'. It makes me seem like I'm insignificant. It doesn't even matter if it's true. It's about respect!

The halls were a creamy yellow, pale and calm. Glass cabinets and gleaming display cases held neat crisp certificates and ribbons and lustrous championship cups. There were pictures of various students doing fun activities and some cute, candid photos of people walking in the halls, sleeping in class and laughing and hugging. After seeing two dozen of these photos, I recognized a few people from prior pictures.

The students' works were posted up as well. And they didn't have those crappy, crummy ones either –these were actually worth looking at.

The school seemed nice enough. It was nothing like John B. There were no metal detectors nor were there any police cars or officers sitting around near the chicken wire gates or graffiti or vandalism of any kind.

The line of achievements was broken by a door which read 'Headmaster's office' in gold letters. I twisted the brass knob.

I sat on one of the vinyl couches, staring at the fat receptionist behind the computer.

The room was in neutral colours with splashes of colour in the midst of the white and rustic browns. The fan revolved overhead without making calming humming sounds. Everything was so straight and perfect that it came off as cold and untouched. It's like a twilight zone for personality. I think. To tell you the truth, I haven't watched that movie.

"Can I help you?" the fat receptionist asked politely.

"New student Gemma Bukharin," I said as stiff as cardboard.

The fat man nodded and spoke softly in a little machine. He turned back to his computer, clicking way too many times for him to be doing actually work.

The frosted door opened. A tall and broad man thundered into the room. He was Asian with wisps of grey in his black hair and a pair of no rimmed rectangular glasses. He seemed like a no nonsense type of person, like a, 'if I see you bend the rules. You're going to commit suicide because it's easier than dealing with me'. He scared the freaking crap out of me!

I immediately stood up, clearly intimidated. Then I felt like an idiot because I realized that it was unnecessary. The receptionist didn't even tear his eyes away from his game. The headmaster didn't smile kindly at my anxiety but looked straight at me, leaving me more petrified than before.

Headmaster Mori put his hands behind his back and sternly looked at me with his black eyes. "Ms. Bukharin, I sincerely hope that you are able to uphold the good morals and reputation of this school. I assure you that if you forgo the rules and regulations of the school then you will be punished fairly. Here at Ashford Day, we prune out all the people who are deemed unfit to uphold the name of this school," he said assertively.

"Sh-sure," I stuttered involuntarily. "I do well with rules and I –er –am honoured that I can prove to you that I can hold these standards." I felt like swallowing the words as soon as they stumbled out of my mouth. I clawed Becca's Birkin in embarrassment, imagining that it was my throat.

The receptionist coughed violently, covering up for his guffaws. Even Headmaster Mori looked like he was fighting a terribly painful grin.

The fat receptionist, whom I now hate because he keeps giving me these condescending looks, gave me my schedule.


I had been worrying all along about the people in the school that I totally forgot about the extremely tough education that was at least ten steps ahead of me. I mean, what the hell is iambic pentameter?! And the books they use are thicker than my arm! No wonder these girls were skinny. They could be heavy weight champions with all the books they had to lug about.

"You look like you need help," Rhys mocked, emphasising that he had nothing to carry while I had a Mount Everest sized stack to carry.

I glared at him from the corner of my eye. "People like you go to hell."

He chuckled and took some of my books with ease.

I huffed. Here I was, struggling with my mountain of books and he could just swipe off the two thickest books without batting an eyelash. Stupid, fit boy. "Thanks."

"The guys have made a bet, you know? About you," he said tentatively.

I shot my gaze up to meet his hazel eyes that had flicks of green near his irises. Rhys was tall with a head of sandy hair. He had very strong features. His smile was as all American as apple pie and football. He looked exactly that, though –all American boy next door, albeit much hotter than your average neighbour. (Actually, he really is my neighbour. And he's got an infinity pool.) But Rhys wasn't American at all. He's half British, half Irish. But I think my heritage of Russian and American is much cooler than his.

"What is it about?" I asked testily. I remembered that the boys here were leering at me more than the boys in my school normally would but I just assumed that they were just excited that there was a new girl around school.

He bit his lip nervously, looking like he wanted to hit himself with my geography book for blurting it out. "Er, why don't I tell you in the car, where you won't make a scene."

Preppy bodies were pushing and shoving to get through to the beacon of freedom that was the door. I was just about to shove my elbow in the face of the next person that touches my butt.

"Rhys, just spit it out," I said warily.

"They're making polls to see who the first one to bed you will be."

I froze. What?! That was utterly offensive!

"Well, if you're going to play the part of the hot girl, you're going to have to prepare for the consequences," Rhys joked, shrugging. He pulled my arm out of the doors and into the fresh Californian air. I really love this state sometimes.

It pains me to say that I can get very distracted very easily and it is almost effortless to sway my opinion. I grinned at Rhys. "And what did you do to defend my honour? Somewhere along the lines of beating them up? Brandishing a sword around with your hair billowing in the wind, mightily telling the boys off for dishonouring me and comparing me to common trash?"

Rhys snorted in amusement. "No, actually, we chugged back a few beers and laughed at your expense."

I looked at him, mock offended. "Really, people like you go to hell."

Rhys suddenly shifted the books on one hand (how the hell could he do that so easily?) and shoved his other hand in his pocket. He flipped out his mobile and read the message. He frowned and sighed in exasperation. "Sorry Gemma. I'll be right back."

He handed me my books and left me with the precarious pile.

Books in one hand and the other clasped tightly on the back of my skirt, I climbed down the stairs slowly.

I felt someone graze my thigh. A small squeeze told me that it was no accident either. I spun around to face the pervert and the target for my elbow.

Three people were sitting around the bottom of the banister. One of them was a huge boy. He was so huge that my head only reached his chest. He had broad shoulders and reminded me of a bear. His dark, curly hair was the only thing friendly about it. Everything else about him from his black eyes to untrustworthy stubble to his large hands was suspicious and dangerous.

A girl was right across from him. She was a chesty person with a Laura Croft type body. She had long dark gold curls and sharp blue eyes. Her skin was typically LA –tanned, flawless and smooth.

The boy who squeezed my thigh had a cocky smirk and a confident stance. He was sitting on the steps, legs apart in a very masculine fashion. "Hey sweetheart. New around here? I can show you around. I'll get you nice and comfortable right here on my lap."

The bet. Urgh. Insensitive jerk! I am not a piece of meat!

I took a step back. He laughed at the tentativeness so clearly written on my face. The girl rolled her eyes while the bear grinned in amusement. "Yeah right. I'm new, not blind," I said confidently, although it would have worked so much better if he was ugly, or in the least average. "Why don't you bond with your hand?" I suggested as if I was really giving him advice.

The bear couldn't help the grin etching into his face.

The other boy crinkled his nose. "I like 'em fiesty." He winked at me. "Well, if decide that you want to have a little fun, call me."

I stifled the urge to roll my eyes but inevitably lost. I snorted very in a very unladylike way and left. If I wasn't going to open my legs for a bikini waxer, I sure as hell wasn't going to do a V with my legs for some over confident, cocky jerk.

I waited by Rhys' Toyota, dumping my books on the shiny red paint. I wonder if I made a dent.

The door suddenly opened, almost giving me a heart attack. "Who are you?" a girl asked. A cigarette was in her mouth and her skirt was riding low on her hips as her hem was high; like her skirt was racing to her crotch. Her skin was the same hue as mocha and her hair was short with black ringlets. Her eyes were big and confident looking as they looked at me with heavy lids, almost in a condescending way. Smoke emitted from Rhys' Toyota followed by a blast of Korn's Coming Undone.

"Rhys' friend," I said ambiguously. I just couldn't stand cockiness right now. All these fat headed kids needed a slap in the face.

The girl raised her eyebrow and took a drag from her cigarette. "Let me guess, you heard the Shavonne O'Shea was attending this school and you just had to come here?" she drawled.

"Let me guess, you're Shavonne O'Shea's ex-bitch?" I shot back.

She smirked and took another drag. "Actually, she was my bitch. You smoke?" She extended a pack to me.

I shook my head. "Smoking kills," I said lamely. I frowned. Why on earth had I said that? Honestly, I think my brain switches off sometimes just to piss me off.

She chuckled. "That's the point." She flicked the cigarette to the ground and smothered it with her foot. She blew a train of smoke from her plump lips. "I'm Shazzy." She smiled this time; her smile wasn't superior this time, it was sincere though slightly ironic.

"Gemma," I said, putting my guard up when I should have clearly done it five minutes ago.

"I know," she said. She handed me a magazine. The magazine was flipped to page with several small articles. She pointed to a blue article at the bottom. "The Social Jewels, huh?" She threw the cigarette to the ground and stepped on it. "I bet your mother is really excited to have a whole jewellery line after her," she said sarcastically.

I ignored her and picked up the magazine. I read through the article. There was a picture of my mom and I at the wedding in Scotland. To the left was a short three paragraphs about a party tomorrow night at Arston in the LA branch. Apparently, this was a big deal.

"Oh," was all I said. Well, that was new.

"You sound like this is your first time hearing this," she said lazily. The way she was looking at me with those heavily lidded eyes intimidated me. She exuded effortless confidence. She didn't look proud or cocky. She was just bitter and cynical. I could deal with that.

"Because it is," I said coolly.

She smirked and looked a little to my left. "Oh look, one of Shavonne's boy toys has gone astray from the pack." Shazzy jerked her chin forwards.

I looked round and found Rhys jogging to us. The sunlight danced in his hair and he was smiling so wholeheartedly that it made both Shazzy and I smile. "You're one of Shavonne's boy toys?" I asked sceptically.

Rhys scoffed at Shazzy, a smile still on his face. "Must you tell the new girl bad things about me already?" he asked. He handed me my books and I gratefully took it from him. I avoided taking my books away from the hood of the car for fear that I actually made a dent and didn't want to expose it to Rhys just yet.

"I can't help it. There are just too many bad things about you to share," Shazzy smirked. Her smirk twisted into a genuine smile that brightened her whole face. She looked really pretty; like sunshine and daffodils pretty. "Joking, Rhys. You're still as desirable and sexy as any other normal boy."

I giggled as she insulted and complemented him at the same time.

Rhys opened one of the car doors. "Were you smoking in my car again? After I told you not to?"

Shazzy was about to say something but was cut off.

"Rhys, what are you doing with the terrorist and her pet?" Shavonne suddenly materialized behind Rhys. Her dainty arms were akimbo. She had chopped off her red hair and replaced it with platinum blonde pixie cut. Now she looked cutting edge and ready to make waves. Urgh, just the touch of the gossip magazine made me start talking like I read that crap.

"Oh, Shavonne! Thanks, you know how I love it when you insult me and my culture. Your ignorance makes me all fuzzy deep inside," Shazzy spat mockingly.

Shavonne gave her a mock pitying look. Then her green eyes darted to me. "Ew, get a plastic surgeon. Your ears are huge."

"Ew, get a better plastic surgeon, you nose is melting," I said, borrowing her bitch-face tone.

Maybe it was hanging around Shazzy too long, or maybe it was Becca's Birkin (I'm pretty sure it was the Birkin), or the fact that I'm in a private school with a bunch of other stuck up jackasses, but I would have never thought of a comeback on the spot. I would have jumped in excitement but Shavonne would spit out something about my sanity and I would think of a plausible retort three hours from now. My luck worked like that. It was unexpected then when I start to rely on it, it would leave me looking like an idiot.

"Good one," Shazzy chuckled as if Shavonne wasn't there at all. "Always target her fake nose and her stupidity. She's got nothing else to offer, anyway."

Shavonne narrowed her eyes threateningly at me. My cold expression didn't falter and I was thankful for that. "Watch it," she said lamely. She turned to Rhys in a 'you better follow me or else' way. She turned her head dramatically, probably because she forgot that she had no hair to flip. Idiot.

Thankfully, Rhys didn't follow her. "Be careful, Gemma. Shevy is more dangerous than she lets on."

Shazzy rolled her eyes. "Spoken like a true bitch, Rhys." She crossed her arms in front of her chest and leaned back on the Toyota.

"I didn't go with her now, did I?" he laughed, extending his arms. He looked back at Shavonne and sighed. "Shavonne's literally got a lot of henchmen that could kill you."

I rolled my eyes. "Right," I said sarcastically. One look at Shazzy and Rhys' serious faces made me almost choke on my drink. "What?!"

"Her family is affiliated," Rhys answered my question. "They're quite popular in the black market."

Eep! Dangerous bitch! And I practically friggin spat on her shoes! Excuse me, her real Prada shoes. "Stay away from the high class gangsters. Got it."

Rhys removed my books from the hood of his car. "Who put the dent in my car?!"


I hate looking like a mythical creature. I scare away little children (not friggin kidding!) and people stare at me as if I'm foing to unleash my fangs on them. Screw the fangs; if one more pre teen pushes me into the sunglight to see if I glitter, I'm going to punch them in the gut.

By the eighth department store, I figured that the twins enjoyed dressing me like a paper doll, or Barbie. By the tenth department store, I found that they bought me a wardrobe for the whole year. At the nineteenth department store, my brain suddenly told me to run away when the Jewels reminded me of my 5 o'clock appointment with the bikini waxer.

I popped into a Etro and prayed to God that I didn't see their blonde heads amongst the racks of clothes. I wasn't looking at where I was going as I rushed to the stairs; I was too preoccupied with scouting for the Jewels. That was how my shirt got snagged on something and I was thrown to the ground in the middle of an expensive floor.

Yes, it was a very undignified position -on your back, throbbing skull, on the floor of a posh retail store. I looked up. But it was totally worth it.


A/N: Yay, I'm done with my first fic that I will hopefully be able to go through with. Anyway, review and tell me what you think about my story! Songs that I like listening to for this chapter:

good vibrations- gym class heroes

she wants to move- nerd

lifestyles of the rich and famous- good charlotte

beverly hills- weezer

diamonds are forever- christina milian feat. kanye west