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Some Like It HotThe A-List #6
By Zoey Dean
Little Brown For Young ReadersCopyright © 2006 17th Street Productions, an Alloy, Inc. company
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSkirt So Short It Looked Like a Loincloth
"Prom, Anna?" Cammie Sheppard asked disdainfully, shaking her trademark strawberry-blond curls off her forehead with a swift motion made perfect by experience. "Seriously, you want to go to the Beverly Hills High School prom?"
Anna Percy-an inch taller than Cammie at five foot eight, with the classic features of a girl whose ancestors had come over on the Mayflower (they practically had) and the razor-cut shiny straight blond hair of girls who'd been done personally by Raymond at his new salon on Rodeo Drive-glanced up from the small brown vial of an amber essential oil she'd been holding beneath her nose. "We're seniors. Why not?"
Cammie flashed Anna a look of pure scorn. "Because compared to the parties I have already been to and/or given, a high school prom is about as exciting as a square dance in Sacramento."
"I'll second that," Sam Sharpe agreed, as she uncorked a small vial of essence of English rose that the well-coiffed and just as well-face-lifted saleswoman had suggested she try. "We can do something else that weekend. How about we take my father's jet to his house in Maui?"
Though Anna's family was easily as well offas her friend Sam's, and probably richer than Sam's and Cammie's combined, she still hadn't gotten completely used to how easily the two of them were willing to be extravagant. Back in New York City, before she'd moved to Los Angeles, Anna had certainly gone on lavish vacations, lived in a coveted Upper East Side town house, had a spacious walk-in closet full of great clothes, and been well aware of how fortunate she was to have been born to this life. But the conspicuous consumption of Los Angeles was somehow ... different.
Anna, Sam, and Sam's friend Cammie had stopped at the Scent Bar in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles as part of a project to help raise money for DIS-Drama in Schools, an after-school drama program in the least fortunate L.A. neighborhoods. Everyone in Hollywood had a cause, either because they were truly philanthropic or because it made them look like they were. DIS was the pet project of a former raven-haired child actress now in her twenties, who'd recently exploded from flat-chested to Pamela Anderson territory-the tabloids cried, "Implants!" but she claimed a late adolescence. That actress had asked Sam's father, Jackson Sharpe-"America's Most Beloved Action Hero"-to be part of her new campaign. The idea was that a star would create a limited edition of a scent with his or her name on it; the perfume or cologne would be auctioned on eBay, and all proceeds would go to DIS.
The blossoming-in more ways than one-young actress had asked her young showbiz friends to participate. As "Action Jackson" Sharpe was staring down middle age and the very real possibility of post hipdom loomed on the horizon, he'd readily agreed to participate. But since he was on location for his newest movie, Ben-Hur (a remake of the often-remade classic set in the Roman Empire-Jackson was not just starring in it, he was directing it), he'd asked his assistant Kiki to do the honors for him.
Sam, though, had decreed that she'd do it instead. She'd wanted to check out Scent Bar. Plus, as she explained to Anna, if she smelled the actress Jena Malone's signature scent on one more girl at Beverly Hills High School, she was personally going to spray her with some vile Jungle Gardenia knockoff you could buy from a street vendor near the Staples Center.
Anna had been curious to come, even if Cammie had been invited too (they didn't get along, to put it mildly). Scent Bar was a one-of-a-kind boutique, where you couldn't get through the door without an appointment, and to get a good appointment, it definitely helped to be the daughter of America's top action hero. The place looked more like a well-appointed living room than a store. It had white upholstered chairs that circled a central, low-slung metal table, and a spare white counter for the resident saleswoman/perfume expert; there was even a sound system for which the clientele could choose from thousands of MP3s. Sam had allowed Anna to choose, and she'd selected some piano variations by the French composer and pianist Erik Satie.
"Ugh." Sam recoiled from the pungent odor wafting from yet another bottle of essential oil. "I had a nanny who wore this shit." She passed the vial to Cammie. "Remember?"
Cammie sniffed and grimaced. "She was from Sweden or something. We were what, eleven? She hooked up with that actor who did all those guest spots on Friends."
"And lived in that asshole producer's guesthouse-the one who jumped from ICM to CAA and then to your dad's agency," Sam added, nodding.
Anna barely followed this Hollywood shorthand. Unlike Sam and Cammie, Anna had neither been born in Beverly Hills nor had show business in her blood. In fact, she'd been in Los Angeles for barely five months, having moved from the Upper East Side of Manhattan to live with her father and finish her senior year at Beverly Hills High School before going back east to Yale the next year.
There were a lot of reasons that she'd made this huge change in her life, but the biggest one was that she wanted to reinvent herself. The box into which Anna had been born and bred was a confining one of old money and privilege. She wanted to push boundaries, to have new experiences, to stop being the proverbial literature-devouring, well-mannered-and worst of all, predictable-good girl.
Anna caught sight of her reflection in the stark, mirrored wall at the rear of the perfumery. She was slender, with the carriage of a girl who had spent many hours toiling in ballet classes. Her wheat-blond hair fell straight to her shoulders, brushing the white eyelet of her Valentino halter top. With it she wore ancient khakis-she couldn't remember when or where she'd purchased them-and Chanel leather cutout ballet flats.
Five-karat antique diamond studs inherited from her great-grandmother adorned her ears. She wore a touch of Stila lip gloss and some brown Yves Saint Laurent mascara but was otherwise makeup-free. She'd heard others say she resembled Gwyneth Paltrow, but that wasn't what Anna saw. All she saw was a traditional looking girl who screamed, "I'm safe!"
Her gaze slid to Sam, who had the pampered air of the semifamous teen daughter of a very famous movie star who made the most of her better-than-average-but by Beverly Hills standards less-than-average-looks. Her perfectly made-up brown eyes were the color of rich chocolate and sparkled with intelligence; her glossy, shoulder-length chestnut hair was perfectly streaked with varying shades of butterscotch highlights. Her golden tan, sprayed on weekly at B2V Salon, was flawless. Her outfit, a citron Follies tank top with a braided leather neckline and high-rise Joe's Muse jeans (because low-risers were so last year-and thank God, because she was sure her ass looked like a relief map of Colorado in them) were as expensive as they looked. Sam's jeans were two sizes larger than her tank top. In her Beverly Hills neighborhood, this fact alone could have been the kiss of death. Her perceived bodily deficits colored everything she said, did, and thought-no one was harder on Sam's appearance than Sam. That said, Sam was by far the smartest person Anna had met since she'd come to California. Anna liked her a lot.
Then there was Cammie, aka Walking Sex. Cammie was thin but also curvy in every right place ever dreamed up by mankind. Her hair fell in strawberry blond ringlets past her shoulders. Luminous honey-colored eyes were lined with Shiseido black eyeliner and mascara, her pouty lips slicked with Nars lipstick in Masai. Cammie always showed as much creamy skin as possible. At the moment, she wore a sequined Purple Aqua bikini under a transparent pale pink silk Pia Hallstrom peasant top, plus a pair of Joe's jeans. The jeans were how-low-can-you-go (and screw the fact that the fashion rags were saying low rise was over-Cammie didn't follow fashion, she created it).
In Anna's experience, whenever she was anywhere with Cammie, the eyes of every male in the vicinity gravitated to Cammie like tourists to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Even Ben used to-
Anna winced. She definitely did not want to think about Cammie with her boyfriend, Ben Birnbaum. They'd been a couple the year before. Mental pictures of the two of them together made the normally sane and dependable Anna a little bit crazy. Sane and dependable, she feared, could not compete with luscious. And Cammie was luscious.
Ben and Cammie had been together before Anna had first come to California. Today, she'd be seeing him again for the first time in three months; he was finally home from Princeton for the summer.
Her stomach did a loop-the-loop in anticipation. There had been such a strange but powerful connection between the two of them right from the very start. They'd actually met on Anna's airline flight to Los Angeles; Ben had impetuously invited her to Jackson
Sharpe's wedding that very evening-her first in Los Angeles-at the Griffith Observatory. The night had been so wonderful, until Ben basically abandoned her at a marina after a midnight cruise. He'd later offered an excuse, but Anna had been slow to forgive. Only when Ben had shown up in Las Vegas a couple of months ago when he knew Anna would be there did their relationship get back on track, and only then when they'd vowed to be honest with each other.
"How's it going, ladies?" the saleswoman asked. She had gorgeous red hair and a thick Irish accent-Anna guessed that she was in her late thirties, though in L.A. it was impossible to tell anyone's real age, because nearly everyone had work done. If you hadn't had work done, people assumed you had anyway, which meant that if you were in your late thirties and looked like you were late thirties, everyone assumed you were really forty-five. She was petite in black capris and a sleeveless turtleneck; she had doe eyes, thin lips, and wore her lovely long mane in a retro French twist.
"We want to create something better than Clive Christian No. 1," Cammie announced, crossing her legs for emphasis.
"Ah, what could be better than Clive Christian?" the saleswoman rhapsodized. "Two thousand dollars an ounce. Spicy citrus top notes, bergamot, orris root, cardamom-"
"Excuse me," Cammie interrupted, getting up from her white chair to put her hands on Sam's shoulders. "Talk to them, because I'm meeting my boyfriend in, like, five minutes. Don't forget, you're dealing with Jackson Sharpe's daughter." She kissed Sam's cheek. "It was real." With an emotionless wave at Anna, she took off, a slew of boutique shopping bags in hand.
"Don't say it," Sam warned Anna, even as the saleswoman stood by. "She gives new meaning to the term self-centered." Anna smiled. "You took the words right out of my mouth."
She couldn't be mad at Sam for inviting Cammie, because she understood about their friendship. It went back to their childhoods. Anna's best friend from New York, Cynthia Baltres, sometimes rubbed people the wrong way too. Yet there was something deeply important about their history-something special and precious about having a friend who knew you since before you could even write your own name.
Whether it was Anna and Cyn or Sam and Cammie, it was the same timeless thing.
A half hour later, with the assistance of Miss Ireland, 1985, Sam and Anna had created the Jackson Sharpe signature scent-lavender, lemon, and marzipan. Miss Ireland, 1985, explained that Scent Bar's favorite lab would mix some samples, send them over to the Sharpe estate for Jackson's final approval, and then create a limited batch for the charity auction.
"I like it a lot," Anna told her. She sniffed the back of her wrist again. "Are you going to save a vial for Eduardo?"
"The guy's halfway around the world," Sam reminded Anna, as she signed a few papers that the saleswoman had given her. "He doesn't need me to give him cologne."
Sam had recently returned from a long weekend in Paris, visiting Eduardo Munoz at the Sorbonne. She'd first met him on a winter vacation with Anna to Mexico; Eduardo had been taken with Sam immediately. She'd been wary, though, assuming that any hot guy who paid attention to her had an angle-that he either wanted a role in a Jackson Sharpe movie or had just written the perfect Jackson Sharpe vehicle.
As it turned out, Eduardo was from Peru and neither knew nor cared who Sam was; he'd simply found her beautiful and charming. He loved her ample curves as much as she hated them, which was really, really hard for Sam to accept.
"Didn't you have a good time in France?" Anna asked, as they pushed out of Scent Bar and turned south on La Brea, a broad boulevard that twenty years ago had been gritty and industrial but now was well into gentrification, with pricey boutiques and just-as-pricey restaurants in between the hardware stores and restaurant-supply dealers.
Sam stopped to inspect a turquoise Elegantly Waisted leather belt by Selma Blair in a shop window. "Would that belt give me hippo hips?"
"I take it you don't want to discuss it."
"Selma is married to Ahmet Zappa, did you know that? Fifty-fifty they'll be divorced by Christmas."
"I don't know who either of those people are, Sam."
"Sam! Oh, Sammy!"
Across the street, Anna saw two brunette girls frantically waving in their direction. One of them was actually jumping up and down to get Sam's attention. When the light changed, they ran across La Brea like a pair of Olympic sprinters.
"Merde." Sam reached in her bag for her new Maui Jim polarized sunglasses and slipped them on as the light changed and the two girls trotted across the street and up onto the sidewalk. "Jasmine Eckels and Ophelia Berman. Battle stations, battle stations. Prepare for the attack of the prom weenies."
"Attack of the what?"
"Sam!" The shorter of the two girls squealed and threw her arms around Sam as if Sam were her long lost sister; then she shook Anna's hand. "Hi, I'm Jazz- short for Jasmine. And this is Fee-short for Ophelia."
"My parents met doing Hamlet at the Utah Shakespearean Festival," Fee explained to Anna, rolling her eyes. "I always have to explain my name. Anyway, it's better than 'Oaf.' I've seen you around school."
Anna smiled politely. She'd seen them, too, but they weren't in any of her classes. They were both cute but plump. Jazz's eyes were quite close together-it seemed like she'd spackled on a fair amount of makeup to compensate. Her clothes, too, pushed the outer limits of good taste-a short plaid Catholic-schoolgirl skirt fastened with an oversize silver safety pin, a shrunken sleeveless Cardin cashmere shell, and white thigh-high boots. Fee, on the other hand, was quite tall and angular. She wore a red silk shirt unbuttoned and knotted under her bust, about two dozen beaded necklaces, ditto on the bracelets, and a skirt so short it was approaching a loincloth.
"It's so cool running into you, Sam!" Jazz gushed.
"Because I was going to call you tonight. About prom! Did you hear that Fee and I are co-chairmen?"
"You betcha." Sam shifted the strap of her white with-gold-grommets Hermes bag to her other shoulder and didn't even try to muster false enthusiasm.
"This prom is going to be the most amazing ever," Fee cried. "We're doing it at the Bel Air Grand Hotel. Isn't that totally awesome?"
"No, it's totally old," Sam replied.
Jazz nodded eagerly. "Old Hollywood. Sinatra, Clark Gable, Jane Fonda-"
"Exactly," Sam interrupted. "No one under the age of, like, death goes there."
Both girls laughed heartily as if Sam had just cracked the world's funniest joke. Then they all had to wait a moment as a dozen noisy Harleys, all piloted by bare-chested gay guys with pierced nipples, roared past. The pause apparently gave Jazz and Fee the chance to recharge their "perky" batteries.
"It's going to be so cool, I swear," Jazz insisted. She grabbed Sam's hand and held on for dear life. "You're coming, right?"
Sam stared pointedly at Jazz's viselike grip; the girl hastily withdrew her hand. "Sorry," Jazz apologized, then geared up for her next frontal assault. "This is our high school's fiftieth prom since 1946-they didn't have them during Vietnam-and I'm sure you wouldn't miss it. Neither would Cammie or your other friends, like Parker and Krishna and Blu-"
"And Dee Young of course, if she becomes more mentally healthy," Fee put in. "I heard about what happened in Las Vegas. Yikes! I am so planning on visiting her."
Dee Young was Sam's other longtime best friend. Dee had always been a bit ... off, and then when they'd all been in Vegas, she had a nervous breakdown.
Currently she was an in-patient at the Ojai Psychiatric Institute, diagnosed as bipolar. Sam had told Anna that Dee was improving, but her release date was uncertain.
"How about you cut the bullshit, Fee," Sam suggested coldly. "You barely know her."
"You had to bring up Dee, didn't you?" Jazz hissed at Fee. "I told you not to." She took a deep breath and fixed her gaze on Sam. "So, prom?"
Excerpted from Some Like It Hot by Zoey Dean Copyright © 2006 by 17th Street Productions, an Alloy, Inc. company . Excerpted by permission.
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