Ambition (Private Series #7)

Ambition (Private Series #7)

4.7 164
by Kate Brian
     
 

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The higher you climb, the farther you have to fall....

Reed Brennan knew being elected president of exclusive Billings Hall would change her life. What she didn't count on was being dumped by her boyfriend, Josh Hollis, or being held responsible for a fire that destroyed Easton Academy's oldest building.

And now the administration

Overview


Ï»¿

The higher you climb, the farther you have to fall....

Reed Brennan knew being elected president of exclusive Billings Hall would change her life. What she didn't count on was being dumped by her boyfriend, Josh Hollis, or being held responsible for a fire that destroyed Easton Academy's oldest building.

And now the administration wants to shut Billings down. Forever.

As president, it's up to Reed to save Billings Hall. What better way to win over the head­master than to host a glam fund-raising event in New York City? Everyone needs a date, and the newly single Reed is the most eligible girl on campus. All of Easton's hottest boys are angling to take her out, and for once, Reed's biggest problem is which one to choose.

Reed has never felt so popular or powerful -- until the police start asking questions about Cheyenne Martin's death. Excited party buzz quickly turns to whispered rumors and dark moods, and one thing becomes clear: There is someone who wants to see Billings, and Reed, go down. And they will do anything to make it happen.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416598602
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
05/06/2008
Series:
Kate Brian's Private Series , #7
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
165,660
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Ambition


  • I sat in the front row of folding chairs in the Great Room of Mitchell Hall and stared at the gray, unfeeling faces that hovered over the long table before me. The gray faces that would decide my fate. Our fate.

    The fate of Billings House.

    They were all against us. I could feel it, right in the pit of my gut—this torturous sensation like some large rodent was kicking in my stomach, gnawing greedily at my heart and lungs. And as if the vociferous organ-muncher wasn’t enough, I was also in pain. Real pain. My lungs were raw from inhaling tons of smoke in the underground tunnel outside Gwendolyn Hall, the remnants of the charred building still billowing plumes into the air at the edge of Easton Academy’s campus. My face hurt as if it had been repeatedly and mercilessly slapped. My head was being intermittently pierced by an invisible ice pick. My eyes were so dry that every time I blinked, my lids stuck to them for one brief, excruciating moment before popping wide open again. I tried not to close them, but that just made them drier.

    This was my punishment, my penance for last night. For sneaking out and going to the Legacy instead of staying home with Josh. For downing all those frothy pink drinks. For hooking up with my best friend’s boyfriend. For breaking the heart of the guy I loved. The only guy I had ever truly loved.

    Josh was behind me somewhere in the expectant crowd. The whole school had gathered to hear what would become of Billings. The anticipation in the air was so thick I could feel its warmth on my neck.

    Or maybe that was just Constance Talbot’s panicked breathing. Either way, my heart started to pound as Headmaster Cromwell finished listing the grievances against Billings. I had already lost Josh. I couldn’t lose Billings. Not now. Billings House was my home. I needed my home.

    “These infractions are grievous,” Headmaster Cromwell said. His white hair was perfectly coiffed, his square jaw as imperious as ever, but under the harsh fluorescents I could see every crag in his face, every wrinkle. He lifted a page of stark white paper and read from it. “Hazing, initiation ceremonies, fighting, ignoring curfew on several occasions—”

    “But that wasn’t us. That was all Cheyenne,” London Simmons complained under her breath, as if she and most of the rest of my friends hadn’t gone right along with all of it. London sat a few seats to my left, next to Vienna Clark, to whom she was always attached at the hip. They wore matching black suits as if they were attending a funeral. Although no decent person would ever show that much cleavage at a funeral.

    “Ignoring my strict mandate to remain on campus the night of Sunday, October thirty-first,” Cromwell continued. “And, most egregious, destruction of school property.” He laid the paper down and laced his fingers together on top of it. “Destruction of one of the oldest buildings on this campus,” he reiterated, looking me dead in the eye.

    Me. Of course me. President of Billings. Two days ago, most people in this room would have said that as president of the most sought-after dorm on campus, I was the most blessed of the blessed. Today I was the most loathed of the loathed. It wasn’t like I’d pulled a crazy Mrs. Rochester and run through Gwendolyn with a lit torch, cackling as I burned the place to the ground. The fire had been a result of London and Vienna’s toking tour of Easton. Someone had left a burning joint behind, and it hadn’t been me. But even as my cheeks stung at the unfairness of being singled out, I realized the situation was dire. When our crimes were compiled that way, they sounded really, really awful.

    “Like we were the only ones at Gwendolyn,” Noelle Lange said under her breath. For all her partying the night before, Noelle looked as perfect as ever in a crisp white shirt and gray wide-leg pants, her long brown hair pulled back in a tortoiseshell headband. In jeans and a black cashmere sweater she had given me a few weeks back, I felt troll-like in her presence. I wriggled back in my seat and endeavored to sit up straight. Endeavored to meet Cromwell’s cool stare with my own.

    “Headmaster Cromwell?” London blurted, standing up in her four-inch heels. “I just want to point out that we weren’t the only ones there last night,” she said, glancing at Noelle for backup. “I mean, the guys were there too, and—”

    “I don’t believe I opened the floor to comments, Miss Simmons,” Headmaster Cromwell said, leaning so close to his microphone that his voice blasted through the suspended corner speakers like the voice of God. London let out a yip of surprise and sat right back down.

    “Now, where was I?”

    As Cromwell sifted through his papers, Constance leaned in close to my ear from behind. “Whit talked to his grandmother, and she said they’re going to deal with the other students individually, but since our whole dorm was there, they’re viewing it as an overarching house problem and they’re going to, quote, ‘deal with Billings accordingly.’”

    Whit was Walt Whittaker, Constance’s older boyfriend, whose grandmother sat on the Easton board, which meant she was one of the gray faces judging us. But right then the diminutive old woman looked like she was starting to doze off at the far end of the table. My life was on the line and she was catnapping. Real nice. Meanwhile, Susan Llewelyn, the Billings alumna who sat on the board—the woman who had sent us to the secret passage in Gwendolyn Hall—was nowhere to be found. Her seat at the table was empty.

    “I am S.N.S.,” Portia Ahronian said, rolling her big green eyes. “So not surprised,” she clarified. “The Crom has been trying to find a way to get rid of us from D-one. He may be acting all stern and appalled, but you know he’s L.O.T.I.”

    Headmaster Cromwell cleared his throat loudly.

    “Well, with a list of infractions this long, a vote seems superfluous,” Cromwell said. “But the school bylaws dictate that we must vote. So, the directive on the table is this: Shall the board of directors hereby dissolve Billings House and redistribute its members throughout the remaining girls’ dormitories? Yay or nay? All those in favor—”

    My pulse pounded in my temples, my eyes, my throat. They were going to do it. They were going to take our home away.

    “This isn’t happening,” Rose Sakowitz mumbled.

    “They can’t close Billings. I just got in,” Lorna Gross whined.

    Sabine DuLac leaned forward, grasping the back of my chair. “Do something,” she whispered urgently. “Reed, you have to do something.”

    “Wait!” I was on my feet. My voice reverberated off the high ceiling of the Great Room, the largest gathering space on campus aside from the cafeteria and the chapel. Dead silence enveloped the room as everyone gaped at me. Dead silence as hundreds of faces blurred before my heavy, hungover eyes.

    “Yes, Miss Brennan?” Headmaster Cromwell said, his upper lip curled in distaste.

    At least he hadn’t used his godlike voice to cut me down too. That was something. Unfortunately, I had no idea what I was going to say next.

    “This . . . this isn’t fair,” I stated, sounding unresolved, even to myself. My querulous words were met with snickers around the room. I hadn’t meant to whine, but whine I had. I took a deep breath and tried again. “With all due respect, Headmaster Cromwell, you haven’t given us a chance,” I said, trying for a more authoritative tone.

    I saw a few people sit forward in their seats, intrigued, including towheaded freshman Amberly Carmichael and her friends, who had a vested interest in keeping Billings open. Noelle and I had, after all, promised that they would get in to the house their junior year if they caused a diversion so we could sneak off campus the night before, and they had come through. From what I’d heard, they had staged the most convincing and violent catfight in the history of Easton, drawing security personnel and Headmaster Cromwell to their dorm, right when we needed them to.

    “Haven’t I?” Cromwell sniffed and looked down at his all-important papers. “I believe you and your housemates have had plenty of chances.”

    His dismissive attitude shot right under my skin, and I felt a surge of adrenaline take over.

    “No, sir, we have not,” I replied firmly, earning a few surprised murmurs from my peers. They couldn’t believe I was standing up to Cromwell like this. Honestly, neither could I, but I kept going. “I’m the first to admit that things at Billings have been pretty terrible this year. But in case you’ve forgotten, one of our best friends just died. And yeah, okay, maybe we’re having a hard time dealing with that right now, but Billings has been an asset to this school in the past and it will be again. You just have to give us a chance to prove it.”

    My friends in the front two rows all sat up a bit straighter, held their heads a bit higher. A flutter of pride tickled my chest. My speech was working. On them, at least.

    “And how, exactly, are you going to do that?” Headmaster Cromwell asked, leaning his weight on his forearms as he eyed me expectantly.

    Oh. Right. I should have had a “how” ready here. I turned to look at the Billings Girls, widening my eyes in desperation and praying one of them had an answer. Noelle cleared her throat and brought her hand down to her side where she surreptitiously rubbed her fingers together.

    Money. Of course. Money talked around here. Louder than just about anything else. But how much money? I knew what a lot of cash was to me—a scholarship student from a lower-middle-class family with one car and two mortgages—but how many zeros did I need to add to impress people who paid for plastic surgery for their dogs and had personal chefs to toast their French bread?

    “We’ll hold a fund-raiser,” I announced. “Billings will pledge to raise . . . one million dollars for Easton.”

    Gasps and whispered filled the room.

    “If we succeed, Billings stays as is,” I continued, on firmer footing now. “If we fail, you can do what you want with us.”

    Cromwell’s sharp blue eyes narrowed. He covered his microphone with one hand and turned to whisper to the gentleman next to him. Soon the whole board was playing a game of telephone, each whispering to the next and on down the line. Finally, their comments made it back to Cromwell and he cleared his throat. I held my breath. Everyone in the room held their breath.

    Slowly, Cromwell leaned toward the microphone. It was impossible to read his expression. Possibly because he had only one—annoyed.

    Please. Please don’t take this away from me. Not now.

    “Make it five million, Miss Brennan,” he said with a small but devilish smile, “and you have a deal.”

    “Yes!” someone behind me cheered. The room erupted in conversation and squeaking chairs, but all I could see was that number. Five million. A huge number. An impossible number.

    “We can do that, no problem,” Vienna said, clapping her hands happily.

    “Silence!” Headmaster Cromwell’s voice boomed through the speakers once more.

    He got his silence.

    “There is one stipulation,” he said, looking at the Billings section. “This five million dollars must be raised, not gleaned from your trust funds or borrowed from your parents. You must actually raise it, and you must raise it in one month’s time. I will also be contacting the Billings alumni and making it clear to them that they are not to help you with the preparations for whatever you conjure up. This fundraiser will be planned by you and paid for by you, and any profit will be fairly earned. Is that understood?”

    Suddenly, my friends were no longer cheering. I turned to look at them. They couldn’t back out on me now. I’d gotten us a reprieve. I’d taken a stand. Please don’t make me look like an idiot now.

    Portia glanced at the Twin Cities. Vienna whispered something over her shoulder to Shelby Wordsworth. Rose bent in conversation with Tiffany Goulbourne and Astrid Chou. Everyone conferred while I stood there and waited. Finally, they all faced forward and Portia nodded confidently. I faced the board, looked Cromwell in the eye, and smiled.

    “Done.”

  • Meet the Author


    Kate Brian is the author of the NY Times and USA Today best-selling Private series and it's spin-off series, Privilege. She has also written many other books for teens including Sweet 16 and Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys.

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    Ambition (Private Series #7) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 163 reviews.
    TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
    Surprises and secrets continue to bloom at Easton Academy, but the Girls in Billings Hall should be used to the unexpected.

    After the death of Cheyenne Martin, the Billings' Girls are continuing to recuperate and move on with their lives. Their first mission was to elect their newest president and it's no surprise that Reed is the chosen one. From the death of Thomas to discovering what some of the girls at Billings are really like, Reed is just the choice, since she does know how to handle what gets thrown at her. Of course, whenever you are at the top, there is someone to bring you down.

    You don't have to wait too long for trouble to surround Billings Hall. The death of Cheyenne has not been solved and the police want to get all the answers they can. The interrogation happens when the girls are planning a special event that will help them get on the headmaster's good side. Even though she is Josh-less, Reed isn't finding it too hard to find a date. Choosing one can be a little difficult, since she needs someone who can grab Josh's attention and his emotions.

    Her feelings for Josh have not yet evaporated, especially since he is one of the reasons why she came back to Easton. And her little incident with Dash is still under wraps, but as we all know, nothing stays a secret forever.

    It's up to Reed to figure everything out and make things better. But if all of her secrets are revealed, and the ones she can turn to are betrayed, once she finds the answer to all of the problems, it may well be that no one will be there to help her get through it. Let's just hope Reed can fight these next obstacles before she gets knocked off her high horse.

    As always, Kate Brian does a fantastic job continuing the series with even more suspense and fresh story lines. Reed continues to be a strong character and the Billings' Girls continue to be scandalous. With an ending that will make your jaw drop, fans of the previous novels will be satisfied with this next installment, and still yearn for more.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    oh my god. the first time that i read these books was like three months ago, and ever since then i have been reading them all. i cant believe how talented Kate Brian is. I absolutely adore these books. they are all drama. not bad drama, good, exiting drama. it is a combination of drama+action+heart breakers+love. i love the books. have i mentioned that they are the best? :) PS: the Clique is so cool, childish drama, but cool
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I STILL LOVE THOMAS!!! (no offence to Josh - he sounds great aswell)
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I LOVE this series!! I can't get enough of it, I finished Ambition like the third day I had it, which makes me mad because the next book dosen't come out till December!!!:-( Bohoo All these books kept me sitting at the edge of my seat!! I can't wait to see what happens with Reed and Josh they totally need to get back together. (Reed if you don't want Josh I'll take him he sounds nice, athletic,and cool!LOL)Someone has to give Ivy what she deserves, she is so mean I can't believe Josh would date her! I can't wait any longer for the next book and Kate Brian is doing a spin-off, but the books are about what happend with Arianna Osgood I bet it's going to be great I so wanna know what happend to that crazy girl! I'm reading the series again because I can't get enough of it! I reccomend this sereies to everyone, you will love it!! I'm such a fan of these books I sorta feel like I'm a Easton Academy student! Go Reed you rock!!!! :-)
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    How can you not love these books? I finished #6 the day I got it and re-read all of the series. The thing is, she talks about that red scar on noelle in 2 books, i wish kate brian would tell us where it came from!
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    What will happen next? I cannot belive the last book! I mean for real who would think of her! Reed did such a good job with some help of some new and old friends. I will cry when the last one of the series cause we all oviouly know that Kate is going to leave in mystory thinking that cannot be the end. When I get a new book from the private series you better not mess with me or you might end up missing a limb. My soccer girls and boys know not to mess with me when I am reading to go to a game. It kinda relaxs me and gets me hypped for the next game. This series actually got me playing soccer know.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Oh my gosh! How can i put how amazing these books are into words?!?! I absolutely LOVE THEM!! I had read the Clique and decided to try these and read the first 3 in 2 days each and didnt want to finish the 4th 'cause i was waiting for the 5th to come out' because i didnt want it to end!! I thing that all of the original Billings Girls should come back 'except for Arianna- ofcourse' And i cant wait for all of the rest of these books to come out!!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is a great book
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Willowfur lunged at the golden-brown tom, pinning him under her weight. As he struggled, Willowfur raked her claws down from his muzzle to tail-tip, opening him up. Blod flowed freely around him, forming a pool, and his eyes glazed lifelessly into the sky, darkening as his body convusled. His agonizing yowl was cut off as the lights in his eyes flickered out and his body went limp. He was dead. Willowfur curled her lips back into a snarl. "One less flea-bag to deal with," she snarled. The black tabby tom stared at her. "Y-you killed him!" he shrieked. Willowfur grunted. "And I'm ready to murder more...." The black tabby tom stared at her. Willowfur hissed, before lashing out at the black tabby apprentice. He leaped around with equal force and put a full blow into a swipe. Willowfur stood there, as the tom leaped at her. But she flung herself forward, colliding into the apprentice. Willowfur threw him into a tree, winding him. As he regained his strength, he launched out at her again, pinning her down this time. "You killed an innocent cat!" he yowled. Willowfur hissed and reversed this, pinning him down. She raked her claws across his shoulder to flank. He scorched his claws across Willowfur's face, blood flowing freely from her wounds. Willowfur stumbled back, the tom hurling himself ontop of her. But she threw herself on his back and clenched her jaw on his throat, causing blood to flow from his throat and chest.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love the book/series, but has anyone else noticed all of the errors? From grammar,spelling characters names,and just things like saying ivy had blue eyes like arriana but then describing them as coal black, it just really bugged me.
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Its reed + noelle no reed nolle
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