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The Clique #13: My Little Phony
By Harrison, Lisi
PoppyCopyright © 2010 Harrison, Lisi
All right reserved.
Friday, December 5th
“I love getting stoned,” Massie Block sighed happily from one of the three massage tables set up in her family’s barn-spa. Heated stones lay on her back, radiating warmth through her entire body like she’d just downed three soy caramel lattes.
“If we were in school right now, we’d be in third-period French,” Kristen Gregory mumbled through the face hole in her massage table. The stones lined her spine like stegosaurus plates.
“J’adore snow days,” trilled Alicia Rivera, lying on her back at the end of the row, her long, dark brown hair fanned out behind her head. Her masseuse, Amber, spritzed her with Evian mineral water.
“Oui, oui,” Kristen agreed.
“Woof!” Bean chimed in from her own mini massage bed.
“Tatiana, how do you say ‘snow day’ in Russian?” Massie asked innocently.
“Shhhhh,” hissed Tatiana. “Talking eees naht relaaacksing. Jash theenk abut a bee-yoo-ti-ful snoh-flok.”
Tatiana claimed to be “frahmm RAH-shah,” but Massie had a feeling her accent was about as real as Heidi Pratt’s new body. Not that it mattered. Her hands were pure gold. And with all those rocks lined up on her back, Massie felt like the black diamond stretch bracelet on her Christmas list: relaxed, beautiful, and almost a million bucks.
Massie turned her head to look out the barn’s sophisticated yet rustic plate-glass windows. It had snowed more than two feet the night before. The patios were dusted with shimmery powder, and the trees sparkled in the early December sun. It looked as though the MAC fairy had sprinkled pearly White Frost eye shadow over the entire Block estate and then blown it a kiss with her Sugarrimmed Dazzleglass–coated lips.
“CLAAAAAAAAAAAAIRE!” Layne Abeley’s gravelly voice boomed from outside.
“AHHHHH! I’ve been hit!”
Outside, a body slammed against the barn wall, and the spa shook. A high-pitched giggle followed.
“Eh-ma-annoying!” Massie flipped over, her heated stones tumbling to the floor. Her ex-BFF, Claire Lyons, had been squealing and giggling with her new friends all afternoon. Leave it to Claire to find the only ninth-grade girls who thought snowball fights were more fun than high school gossip. It was a total waste of an upgrade.
“Eeeen-hayel the soo-theeng ah-rom-ah,” Tatiana instructed, guiding Massie back down to the table and replacing the rocks. Spicy steam startled Massie’s pores as the masseuse kneaded the tension from her shoulders. But it was a lost cause. No amount of eucalyptus-infused steam could ease the pain of Claire ditching the Pretty Committee for Layme Abeley and two fourteen-year-old theater geeks.
Suddenly, the barn’s wooden door flew open. Dylan Marvil rushed in, along with an arctic blast of air. Snowflakes speckled the back of her black cashmere coat like dandruff. Her white-mittened hands grasped the handles of a dozen brightly colored shopping bags, and her cheeks were as red as her hair.
“Where’ve you been?” Alicia sat up, pressing a fluffy green towel against her C-cups.
“Shooooooooooooooppping!” Dylan burped. She set down a cardboard tray full of venti Starbucks hot chocolates and wiped her brown-stache with the back of her mitten. A cocoa-colored skid mark cut across the cashmere. “Ooops!” she shrugged. “Good thing I got a new pair. I cleaned out Neiman’s, Juicy, and Michael Kors. Snow-day shopping is the best.”
“Point-t-t-t,” Alicia agreed through chattering teeth.
Massie pressed a button on a sleek silver remote. A second later, the electric fire in the stone fireplace ignited.
Dylan tossed her stained mittens into the hungry flames and then shook her crimson locks.
“Nice lice, Dyl!” Kristen cackled. Alicia snickered, her freshly manicured toes dangling just above the heated tile floor.
As Dylan whirled back toward them, her Brazilian blowout whipped around her face. “Don’t even joke! When Megan Lambert got lice, her friends scattered like roaches in a Raid storm.” She stuck her butt out to warm it in the fire’s glow.
“Nyyyetttttt!” Tatiana let out a yelp as one of the rocks bounced against her toe. “Off! Off!” she insisted, waving Kristen and Alicia to their feet. With a grimace, she nodded at the other masseuses, who quickly folded up their tables, packed up their oils, picked up their rocks, and followed her out into the cold afternoon.
“Danke very much,” Massie called after them sweetly, putting on a fluffy white robe.
The three women responded by slamming the barn door shut.
“Isn’t danke German?” Kristen giggled.
“Oh, whatevs,” Massie shrugged. “They dan-kare.” She padded over to Dylan’s pile of bags and pulled out a baby blue cashmere hat with earflaps and tassels. It looked like something Kuh-laire would wear. With a wince, she dropped it back in the bag. “You really did buy everything.”
“I maxed out my card,” Dylan admitted. “But it was totally worth it. I got open-toed booties in faux leopard and faux cheetah.”
“Ohhh,” Alicia whine-pouted. “I’m faux jealous.” Her shoulders were covered with spiderweb-like indentations from lying down on the massage table. “I can’t buy anything right now. My parents told me they would send me to the Spanish Riviera for a week if I didn’t shop from Thanksgiving to Christmas.” She buried her nose inside Dylan’s Saks bag and inhaled a Ralph Lauren sweater-coat. “Ahhhh! It’s better than new puppy smell.”
Bean lifted her little black head and growled.
“She was only kidding, B,” Massie assured her pup, applying a coat of Pineapple Spice Glossip Girl to the pug’s mouth. The pug licked it off and then sneezed. “My parents would never shop-block me.”
“Must be nice,” Kristen said with a frown.
“It is,” Massie beamed.
Three snowballs hit the windows, slithering down the glass like snot. A peal of high-pitched laughter followed the barrage. Kristen and Alicia threw on thick robes, and the four girls raced to the windows.
Claire, dressed in a My Little Pony cap and a bright red puffy coat, was pelting snowballs at Layne and their new friends—a willowy blonde and a petite brunette.
“They’re ruining my snow!” Massie stared at the once pristine yard, which was now covered with LBR boot prints.
“Cheap footwear leaves the most horrible tracks,” Dylan sighed. “Like the abdominal snowman.”
“You mean abominable snowman,” Kristen corrected.
Dylan pinched some snow off her fluffy hood and dropped it onto Kristen’s head. “Takes one to know one.”
“Ew, lice!” Alicia giggled, pointing at Kristen’s scalp. “Let’s go before we catch it,” she joked, backing away.
Massie drew an X on the foggy window, her finger squeaking on the pane. “It’s too bad we can’t give Claire lice. Maybe her ah-nnoying friends would leave.”
The girls jumped back as another round of snowballs smacked into the barn.
Todd dashed in front of the window and bowed, proud to claim responsibility for the latest round.
Massie whipped her iPhone out of her robe pocket. “Unless…”
“Is there a lice app?” Kristen asked, twisting her damp hair into a sloppy bun.
“I wish,” Massie smirked, her breath clouding the window as she coaxed her brain into constructing the ultimate plan—a plan that would accomplish her sinister goal without implicating her sinister mind. Seven breath clouds later, she had it. And sent an urgent text to Claire’s younger brother.
Massie: Come 2 the barn ay-sap. Impt.
The message had been sent. Seconds later, Todd and his best friend, Tiny Nathan, appeared in the doorway. Todd looked like a freckled Buzz Lightyear in his puffy white-and-green snowsuit. Nathan resembled a poo in his three-sizes-too-big brown snow pants and matching hooded coat.
Todd sniffled. “You wanna join our team?” He pulled off his hood. His orange hair was spiked with sweat. “We’re called Big Balls.”
Nathan giggled. And then Todd giggled. And then Nathan giggled some more.
“No, this is nawt about joining your—”
Massie’s iPhone buzzed.
Kristen: ??? R U doing?
Alicia: ??? Does this have 2 do w lice?
Dylan: Ha! Big balls.
Massie: Quit bugging me. Trust me.
Massie reached for the pack of Mango Surf–flavored Orbit sticking out of Dylan’s purse and popped a piece in her mouth. She bit down, recalling the satisfying flavor that squishing the competition usually left in her mouth. “I just learned a new massage technique that I’m dying to try on someone. It’s supposed to increase scalp circulation and prevent hair from sweating.” Massie waved away the imaginary smell coming from Todd’s head.
Alicia and Kristen exchanged confused looks. Dylan snatched the pack of gum out of Massie’s hand and stuffed four pieces in her mouth.
“Why didn’t you try it out on Kristen, then?” Tiny Nathan pointed out.
Dylan blew her a glossy you’re welcome kiss.
Todd’s eyes darted between the two girls in confusion.
“So whaddaya say?” Massie asked Todd, putting the attention back where it belonged. “Wanna give it a try?”
“Oh. Okay.” Todd hopped up onto the couch and lay down. Tiny Nathan promptly pulled out his cell phone and started angling for a photo.
Kristen shrugged her athletic shoulders. Alicia finger-combed her dark locks to glossy perfection. And Dylan peeled a flattened gum-bubble off the tip of her nose.
Massie’s friends were the best that Octavian Country Day had to offer. Still, without Claire she felt emptier than Beyoncé after the forty-day master cleanse. But when betas defected to other crews, alphas didn’t beg them to come back. They drove the betas further away. And if a little brother got hurt in the process, so be it.
“Here I go.” Massie held her breath, stuck her hand into Todd’s matted locks, and gingerly began rubbing his head. Who knew when he’d last washed it? She made a mental note to Purell before eating.
“I can feel it working,” Todd muttered into the ecru linen cushion. After a few minutes, his breath became regular and heavy.
Kristen inched closer to Massie and mouthed, What are you doing?
Watch, Massie mouthed back. Then she fake-coughed and “accidentally” spit her gum onto Todd’s head. It disappeared inside a mass of red curls.
“Oh no!” she cried, quickly working the wad into his hair. “My gum!”
Todd’s head popped up. “Whhhaa?”
Tiny Nathan looked up from his phone and burst out laughing.
Massie widened her eyes in what she hoped looked like horror—and innocence. “Ehmagawd. I’m sooo sorry.”
Todd stuck his hand up and felt his sticky, artificially flavored Mango Surf–encrusted locks. “I’ve been gummed!”
Kristen and Dylan snorted back giggles. Alicia tightened the belt of her robe.
“It’s almost the same color as your hair. Maybe you should just leave it,” Tiny Nathan suggested. “You could stick stuff to it, like paper clips and things.”
Todd felt around the back of his head for the gum clump. “True.”
Massie shook her head vigorously. “No, no, no. We can’t leave it there. It’s dangerous. It can”—her eyes landed on Tiny Nathan—“stunt a person’s growth.”
In a flash, Todd sat up. His gummy hair stood up from his head like the Statue of Liberty’s crown.
“Ooookay,” Massie sighed. “There’s really only one thing to do.” She padded to the spa bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet. Inside was the silver-plated electric razor her dad kept in the cedar-planked room. She clutched it in her Essie Mint Candy Apple–manicured hands and returned to the main room, where Kristen, Alicia, and Dylan had settled on the couch, watching Todd like he was a monkey at the zoo.
“Now, not everyone can pull off the bald look. But you have such great bone structure….” She held up the shaver and slid the button up to HIGH. The buzzing sound filled the room.
Todd stared at it, wide-eyed. “You want to shave my head?”
“No,” Massie nodded seriously. “I have to.”
The PC gasped. Todd’s mouth hung slightly slack. Tiny Nathan took out his cell phone and pressed RECORD.
“Think about it. Bald men are so…” She looked at her friends for help.
“Hawt!” Alicia added quickly. “Like, look at Bruce Willis.”
“Isn’t he dead?” Dylan asked.
“Britney Spears did it,” Kristen pointed out.
“So did Mr. Potato Head!” Dylan added helpfully.
Massie clicked to the Mirror app on her iPhone and held it up for Todd. “Think about how tough you’ll look.”
“And I’ll be so much more aerodynamic!”
Tiny Nathan ran over and gave Todd a high five. “We can beat our luge time!”
Massie’s high-glossed lips curved into a Cheshire cat grin. She held the buzzing shaver out in front of her. “Ready?”
Bean darted under the couch.
Todd nodded and sat down on a bamboo stool.
Kristen’s jaw dropped.
Dylan let out a shocked belch.
Alicia twirled her diamond studs at top speed.
With one last glance at her friends, Massie lowered the blade. A tendril of bright red hair fluttered to the floor like an autumn leaf. And then another, and another. The buzzing blades mowed easily through the orange glob of gum. She carved a path right down the middle of his scalp. Then she made another path right next it, first on the left, and then another on the right. More and more hair dropped down onto Todd’s skinny shoulders and then onto the camel-colored leather massage table.
“Looks like a motocross track,” Tiny Nathan marveled, lifting his camera.
Alicia covered her eyes.
Massie pictured each tuft of hair as one of Claire’s new friends. And with each strand she lopped off, she felt more and more like the Queen of Hearts, cutting off traitors’ heads in the name of control.
Todd hopped off the stool and hurried toward the mirror opposite the fireplace. He sucked in his cheeks, unzipped his snowsuit, and popped the insulated collar. “You’re right,” he nodded at his reflection. “I do have a beautifully shaped skull.” He winked at his reflection, then rubbed the top of his head.
The Pretty Committee giggled into their eucalyptus-scented palms. They weren’t privy to the intricate details of Massie’s plan but were entertained by its execution nonetheless.
“Let’s hit that luge course again!” shouted Tiny Nathan. He punched his tiny fist in the air.
“Wait!” Massie stopped Todd by the door. “It’s too cold to go out without hair.” She reached into one of Dylan’s shopping bags and took out the baby blue cashmere Claire hat.
“Hey,” Dylan protested.
Massie silenced her with a glare. Then she tore off the tag with her teeth, put the hat on Todd’s head, and pulled the flaps over his ears. “Perfect. I actually got it for Kuh-laire. So make sure you give it to her when you’re done.”
Todd nodded that he would, the tassels bouncing around his chin. Massie picked up Dylan’s tray of hot chocolates and handed them to him. “Take these, too, for her friends.”
“Hey!” Dylan hissed. “Why are you doing that?”
“I’ll get you another hat,” Massie whisper-promised.
“I’m talking about the hot chocolates,” Dylan frowned.
“Let it go,” Massie narrowed her amber-colored eyes, arched one expertly plucked eyebrow, and peered out the window. Outside, Claire and her friends were innocently tending to an ill-proportioned snowman. A snowman that, thanks to Massie’s ingenuity, would be on the Block Estate longer than they ever would. Because now, it was only a matter of time….
She opened the barn door and sent Todd and Tiny Nathan back into the cold. The Pretty Committee shrank from the sudden chill that swept in, but Massie faced the freezing temperature, heated by the promise of victory. A promise that warmed her more than a back loaded with hot rocks ever could.
CURRENT STATE OF THE UNION
Excerpted from The Clique #13: My Little Phony by Harrison, Lisi Copyright © 2010 by Harrison, Lisi. Excerpted by permission.
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