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"Okay, when did I get so hideous?" Jessica Wakefield groaned. She leaned in toward her bedroom mirror as her twin sister, Elizabeth, rolled her eyes. "Seriously, Liz, it's like somebody snuck into my room last night and whacked me with the ugly stick."
"Yeah. That happened," Elizabeth said, digging through a pile of clothes on Jessica's bed.
"I'm totally serious!" Jessica protested. "First of all, I gained, like, five pounds since last week-all in my hips and butt," she said, turning around and craning her neck to see her rear view in the mirror. Her perfect-size-four rear view. "And I hate my hair. I mean, that new shampoo I bought did none of the things it was supposed to do. I'm all split ends and frizz."
"Uh-huh," Liz said disinterestedly.
"Plus I've got a zit! A huge one! Look at this thing, Liz! It's the zit that ate Sweet Valley!"
Jessica got right up in her sister's face.
"You're right, Jess," Liz said flatly. "You're completely deformed. You should definitely stay home from school today."
Jessica's face crumpled and she collapsed face-first on her unmade bed. "You suck."
"What? I'm just agreeing with you."
"Fine. Just leave me here to rot. I'm not fit for normal society."
Elizabeth laughed and pulled her sister back up, maneuvering her in front of the mirror, where they stood side by side. With their shoulder-length blond hair, blue-green eyes, and perfect California tans, Elizabeth and Jessica were exact duplicates of one another, down to the tiny dimples in their left cheeks when they smiled. Each wore a gold lavaliere around her neck-matching presents from their parents on their sixteenth birthday last June. The only way anyone who didn't know them very well could tell them apart was by the tiny beauty mark on Elizabeth's right shoulder. Those who did know them well knew that Elizabeth's style was more sophisticated and preppy, while Jessica's was up-to-the-minute trendy. Plus Elizabeth always wore a watch, while Jessica did not. Time was never a problem for Jessica. She always felt that things didn't really start until she arrived.
"Look at me," Elizabeth said to her twin, who did as she was told. "Now look at you." Jessica did. "If you're hideous, then I'm hideous too. Are you calling me hideous?"
Jessica's brow knitted. "You're a freak, you know that?"
"Yeah. A freak who can't find her new white sweater," Elizabeth said, returning to her search. "Where did you say you put it?"
Jessica hadn't said. Because she'd worn it without asking and spilled marinara sauce down the front, then forgotten to wash it right away. The stain had set, and now the sweater was ruined beyond all hope. She was just opening her mouth to plead ignorance when the phone rang.
"I got it!" she cried, grabbing the phone from her bedside table. "Hello?"
She took the phone out into the hallway to avoid her sister's growing impatience. Why didn't the girl just give up already and wear something else? Liz could be so stubborn sometimes.
"Hey, Liz? Or is this Jessica?" a boy's voice asked.
"It's Jessica," she replied. Hmmm. A call from a guy before the first school bell had rung. Her day was looking up already.
"Oh, hey, Jess. It's Todd."
Todd Wilkins? Even better. Todd was one of the most coveted guys in school. Tall, dark, and yum.
"Hey. What's up?" she asked, leaning back against the wall with a smile. Jessica had never really considered Todd before, but hey, if he was calling her, maybe he deserved a spare thought. Or two.
"Not much. Is Liz there?" he asked.
Instantly, the smile was gone. He was calling for Liz? The star wide receiver of the football team, captain of the basketball team, a shoo-in for best-looking and most popular, was calling for her brainiac sister? What was this, some kind of reality-show prank?
"Actually, she's kind of busy right now," Jessica said, taking a few steps away from her bedroom. "Spell-checking her latest marathon paper, of course. Such a nerd. So, how's the team? I saw that insane catch you made at practice the other day. ESPN highlight reel all the way."
Get him talking about himself, Jessica thought. Guys love that.
"You saw that?" The blush was evident in Todd's voice. Jessica glowed with triumph.
"Are you kidding? I practically missed my dismount because of it," Jessica told him. "Didn't you hear me cheering? I stopped practice and everything." It also couldn't hurt to remind him that she was captain of the cheerleading squad that went all out to support him every week.
"Thanks. That's . . . uh . . . thanks," Todd stammered.
"Can't wait for the first game," Jessica said happily. She just loved to make guys nervous. "I bet you'll have college scouts coming out for you in no time."
"I don't know about that, but thanks," Todd said humbly.
Jessica smiled. Sometimes she was so good she could hardly believe it herself. Two seconds of flattery and the guy had forgotten all about Liz. Boys were so predictable.
"Anyway, do you think you could see if Liz is free yet?" he asked.
Jessica frowned. Okay, maybe not totally predictable. "Oh, you know what? She just got in the shower."
"I could wait," Todd said hopefully.
Jessica forced a laugh. "Are you kidding? She'll be in there forever. Liz takes the longest showers." Big lie. Jessica was actually the hot-water hog of the family. In fact, Elizabeth usually had to take short showers because the hot water stopped half a minute in, thanks to Jessica.
Todd took a deep breath. "All right, then. I guess I'll just . . . talk to her later. Could you tell her I called?"
"No problem!" Jessica said. "See you in school!"
"Yeah. See ya."
Jessica hung up the phone and rolled her eyes. Todd Wilkins calling for Liz? What a joke. Elizabeth probably didn't even know Todd existed. She was way too serious for a gorgeous athlete like him.
"Who was that?" Elizabeth asked when Jessica traipsed back into her room. She had two neatly folded piles of Jessica's clothes in front of her now-clothes that had been strewn all over the room five minutes ago.
"Todd Wilkins," Jessica replied, tossing the phone onto her bed. "I don't know why he didn't call my cell. I'm sure he has the number."
Elizabeth paused midfold. "Todd called you?"
"Yeah. Guess he just couldn't wait another half hour to talk to me in school," Jessica said with a shrug, turning toward her reflection again.
"Oh." Elizabeth attacked another mountain of clothes, tearing through them like a tornado.
"Liz? What's wrong?" Jessica asked, staring at her sister in the mirror. She was whipping clothes at the bed as if they'd somehow offended her.
"What's wrong is I wish you'd stop taking my stuff without asking," Elizabeth blurted out.
Jessica rolled her eyes as she turned around. "So borrow something of mine if you want. I have white sweaters too, you know."
"That's not the point," Elizabeth said, irritated.
"Then what is the point?" Jessica asked.
"The point is . . . ," Elizabeth said, looking around at the mess. "The point is . . ." Finally, her shoulders slumped. She took a deep breath and sighed. "Just forget it. I'll wear something else."
She turned and walked out of Jessica's room, stepping over a pile of stuff on the way out the door. Jessica shook her head at her sister's back as she went. Liz really was way too possessive of her things.
Todd Wilkins. Huh, Jessica thought. We would look pretty hot together.
With one last fluff of her hair and a quick, appreciative glance at her reflection-hideousness forgotten-Jessica grabbed her books and headed downstairs for breakfast. There was nothing that put her in a good mood faster than the thought of a brand-new conquest.