Wuthering High (Bard Academy Series #1)by Cara Lockwood
Fifteen-year-old Mia is not exactly thrilled when she gets the news that her parents are shipping her off to boarding school. It's not like she did anything that bad all she did was wreck her dad's car and max out her step mum's credit cards. So, off she goes, from Chicago to Bard Academy, an exclusive prep school that treats troubled teenagers with a… See more details below
Fifteen-year-old Mia is not exactly thrilled when she gets the news that her parents are shipping her off to boarding school. It's not like she did anything that bad all she did was wreck her dad's car and max out her step mum's credit cards. So, off she goes, from Chicago to Bard Academy, an exclusive prep school that treats troubled teenagers with a healthy dose of higher learning and old-fashioned discipline. But all is not what it seems at this educational institute, and Mia and her classmates soon discover that the teachers are actually ghosts, stuck in limbo, some of them famous authors who died before their time, including Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, and Charlotte Bronte. And what's even more disturbing is that not all the ghosts have good intentions. Mia and her friends must stop one evil instructor's plan to bring down the school and the entire student body with it.
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Okay, I confess.
I did, sort of, on purpose, steal Carmen's credit card (Carmen = stepmom, but I refuse to call her anything with "mom" in the title, as she's only twenty-four and can't take care of a pet goldfish, much less be any kind of mother figure). And I did, kind of, intentionally, charge up a thousand dollars' worth of push-up bras. But, technically, my dad said I could use Carmen's credit card for emergencies, and since my social life hinges on my ability to fill out a shirt, it was an emergency. I mean, if I was an SAT analogy, I'd be flat : board; boobs : me.
And yes, it's true that I did total my dad's new BMW convertible. Although "totaled" is a strong word for spilling Diet Coke in my lap and accidentally jumping the curb and running into a tree. I wouldn't have been driving at all (I only have my learner's permit) except that my little sister, Lindsay, called me on my mobile hysterical because she'd pissed off some two-hundred-pound girl bully and needed to be picked up from school since she'd been too scared to ride the bus. Mom couldn't get Lindsay because she was at her standing Botox appointment, and Carmen (Anti-Mom) couldn't be bothered, since she was too busy spending my college fund at Neiman Marcus.
And let's face it, I did Dad a favor. He looked ridiculous driving that cherry-red two-seater BMW. He's bald, for God's sake. He looked like every other pathetic midlife-crisis victim.
And, finally, I'll admit, it is true that I came home drunk the night before my PSAT exam, and overslept the test. This was entirely Tyler's fault (Tyler is a cute but disreputable quarterback of the junior varsity football team who I went with for a brief time before I came to my senses). He's been trying to get into my Paul Frank panties since the summer before freshman year, and he spiked my drink with Everclear in the hopes of robbing me of my virginity. I'd heard the bad rumors about Tyler, but chose to ignore them. I shouldn't have. BTW, he got what he deserved: a front seat full of Redbull and Everclear vomit. It's my hope that he'll be cleaning chunks out of the leather interior of his Toyota Forerunner for weeks. Since him, I've been on a guyatus (hiatus from guys).
So -- given the mitigating circumstances -- you'd think that I would be given a little slack. After all, I'm fifteen. Aren't I supposed to be making mistakes? Isn't that what the teen years are for? I can't be perfect all the time.
So what do my parents do? They don't ground me. No. That would be me getting off too easy, Dad says. And even when I try to pit Mom against Dad (for the last five years since their divorce, I've gotten very, very good at this), it doesn't work. For the first time in my parents' lives, they actually agree on something.
They're going to send me to a school for juvenile delinquents.
Me! I've barely done anything wrong, and I'm going to be going to school with a bunch of drug-using degenerates. How did this happen? I think Mom has been watching too many episodes of Ricki Lake, where drill sergeants yell at pregnant teenagers.
It's ridiculous. Beyond ridiculous.
I am not a delinquent. I've had very bad luck, but I'm not bad. At least, not yet. Everyone knows that when good people go to prison they end up becoming bad while they're there. Either that, or they get stabbed with a homemade knife in the shower. I'm not that innocent. I've seen episodes of Prison Break.
Granted, I'm not going to prison.
I'm going to a place called Bard Academy in some Nowheresville Island off the coast of Maine. I don't care if that is where great lobsters come from. I don't want to live there. The brochure for Bard Academy says, and I quote, "a home for troubled and misguided teens set on its own private island, guarded by the Atlantic Ocean, and accessible only by ferry, where our students probe the classics in a solid academic tradition."
I am not troubled, nor misguided. If anyone needs to go to delinquent boarding school, it's my dad. He changes wives more often than he changes shoes. And don't get me started on Mom. She's a total basket case. She doesn't date. She doesn't even go out, so I'm not quite sure why she's obsessed with looking young, except that I fear she's holding on to some vague hope that Dad will take her back. Why she would want that, I have no idea.
So, I'm being exiled to some form of Alcatraz for juveniles in the Atlantic. This is what I get for saving my dad from getting a melanoma on his scalp and for coming to the rescue of my ungrateful sister. It's the last time I do a good deed.
"You hate me, don't you? You do. You hate me," Mom says, as she stands in my bedroom watching me pack. I'm taking my time folding my clothes because a) I don't want to go, and b) I want to wring the last bit of anxiety out of the moment for Mom's sake. If I draw this out, then she's liable to start feeling sadness and regret, and she might just decide I shouldn't go. At this point, breaking Mom might be my only chance of salvation.
I can tell that Mom is feeling guilty, even though she's just had a Botox injection, so the only expression she can convey with her numbed face is slight confusion. It's a little unnerving. Sort of like talking to a mannequin.
"I don't hate you," I say, trying to be calm and composed. I'm the adult here, after all, even if I am the one who's being sent off to a school one thousand miles away. I was the shoulder Mom cried on when Dad left her five years ago for his secretary. He's divorced and remarried since then, and Mom has been on maybe two dates. I love Mom, I do. But her neediness sometimes is a bit scary.
"It was your dad's idea," Mom pleads with me. Of course it's Dad's doing. Mom would never have had the guts to send me off, but Dad's a different story. He's been trying to disown me pretty much since I started talking and could talk back to him.
"Well, we both know Dad makes bad decisions. Why do you still let him boss you around?"
"I don't let him boss me," she says.
"You didn't even ask him if he'd pay for your Botox. You should. He gave you those worry lines."
Mom reflexively touches her face.
"You're right," she says.
I'm just about to reel Mom in, when we're interrupted by the appearance of my little sister, Lindsay. She's wearing a pair of jeans and her new purple push-up bra from Victoria's Secret.
Lindsay, age thirteen, is a 34B, which is a full cup size bigger than me, since I barely fill out an A cup. It's a bit embarrassing when your younger sister wears a bigger bra than you do. I'm not sure what my chest is waiting for, perhaps an engraved invitation. Apparently, my breasts are like diva pop stars and like to be fashionably late. When they arrive, I imagine they'll also come with a list of outrageous demands, like that they'll only tolerate blessed Kabbalah water, white Bentleys, and green M&M's.
To make matters worse, Lindsay spreads her arms wide and cries, "Tah-dah!," as if she just pulled her boobs out of a black magician's hat. Show off.
"My baby's first Victoria's Secret bra," Mom cries, turning her attention to Lindsay. "My baby is all grown up."
Although Mom's face doesn't change expression, I hear a slight crack in her voice, the telltale sign of an impending emotional breakdown.
Mom is going through the early stages of meno-pause and is extremely emotional these days. I recently caught her crying in front of a Cingular One ad. It's embarrassing.
"Lindsay, put some clothes on," I say. Seriously, sometimes I feel like the only responsible adult around here. What is Mom thinking? "Since when is it okay to parade around in your underwear?"
"Miranda -- this is a revolutionary new bra," Lindsay informs me. "The patent is pending!"
"You don't even know what a patent is," I snap.
Lindsay sticks her tongue out at me. I glance down at Lindsay's jeans and notice the strap of a matching purple thong sticking out from her jeans.
"A thong!" I cry.
Mom didn't let me wear one of those until a month ago. And that was only after I wrote a two-page essay on the devastating effects of panty lines on my self-esteem. "She's too young to wear a thong!"
"You wear them all the time," Lindsay points out.
"I'm two years older. Mom? Really." I cross my arms to show my disapproval. Mom just wipes a tear from her eye and then tries to hug us both. I squirm away. With Premenopausal Mom, you never know when you're going to be blindsided with a hug. Last week, she wanted a hug in public in the middle of the cereal aisle at the grocery store. Thanks to my quick reflexes, I avoided PPDA (Parental Public Display of Affection), and Mom got an armful of Special K.
Lindsay, however, isn't as quick as I am, and she gets the full force of Mom's bear hug. I smirk at her, while she makes a face over Mom's shoulder. There are some benefits to being older. Better reflexes.
Besides, it's about time Lindsay took one for the team. She's benefited from all my hard lobbying efforts to house-train the 'rents. Case in point: my hunger strike to wear lip gloss in eighth grade, the protracted negotiations to let us watch the TBS version of Sex and the City, and now the thong essays. At this rate, Lindsay will never have to learn to do anything for herself, since I'm always doing all the work. She doesn't even have to work to have cleavage like I do. I need two rolls of Charmin's double ply to get the hint of cleavage. Lindsay just went to sleep one night and woke up the next morning as Pamela Anderson. Life is not fair.
Lindsay sticks her tongue out at me behind Mom's back. I squint at her. She's gloating over the fact that she's ruined my last reprieve. She'll live to regret it. With me gone, there will be no one to blame when she does something bad, like breaking another of Mom's Staffordshire dogs. Besides, one week alone with hug-crazy Mom and Lindsay will be begging her to let me come home.
Since Lindsay ruins my chances of a night-before reprieve, I set Plan B into motion. Plan B involves me dredging out the waterworks on the car ride to the airport, which I know Mom won't be able to resist. I put some Visine in my purse for a quick-change act.
Plan B is thwarted, however, when Dad and Carmen (Secretary #2 who became Wife #3 -- my dad doesn't even bother to be creative with his adultery) show up the next morning in their new black Range Rover. With Dad alone I might have had a chance. But Carmen is immune to tears, and even so, I'd never cry in front of her. It would be like admitting defeat.
They emerge from the car arguing about whose fault it is that they're late. They've only been married two months and they're already fighting. I would be gloating, except for the fact that I'm about to be sent off to Siberia and no one seems to care. Mom is dry-eyed when she hugs me. Lindsay smiles and points down at her feet. She's wearing a pair of my Steve Maddens. She's going to stretch them out with her extra-wide Fred Flintstone feet.
"Stay out of my closet," I mouth to her as I duck into Dad's backseat. She just sticks out her tongue at me in defiance and then mouths, "Try and stop me," as Dad backs out of the driveway.
"Nice car," I say to Dad, meaning the opposite. The leather interior smells so strongly of new car, I feel a little nauseous. I can't believe Dad bought a Range Rover when just three months ago he told Mom he wanted to reduce his child-support payments. "I thought that Consumer Reports ranked Range Rovers as the car that breaks down the most."
I don't know if this is true, but I remember Tyler saying something about it. Back when I cared what he said, before he assaulted me.
Dad's eyes flick to mine in the rearview mirror. He frowns at me. "You're the reason I had to buy a new car in the first place."
I scoff. "How about a Honda? Mom has an Accord that's ten years old."
Dad turns a little red. He doesn't like it when I point out that we're poor. "Young lady, this is why you're on your way to Bard Academy," he says.
"Why? Because I tell you the truth?"
"I can't believe you let her talk to you like that," Carmen says, as if it's any of her business.
At the airport, Carmen stays in the car. She's still not talking to me because of the credit card incident. She says she hasn't lived down the embarrassment of having her credit card denied at Saks Fifth Avenue. Never mind that she charged ten thousand dollars' worth of purchases the month before, which meant that my one grand put the card over its maximum.
But, naturally, I'm the bad guy. I get it.
Dad, whose parenting skills have pretty much been limited to giving me lectures whenever I do something wrong, starts in on his "this hurts me more than it hurts you" lecture, the one he's been using since I was four and he'd sit me in the corner for time-outs. I can almost repeat it, word for word.
"Now, I know you think we're punishing you. But this is for your own good," Dad says as we're standing together inside the lobby of the airport. Carmen is outside in the car, pouting. Dad will probably have to buy her a few more thousand dollars' worth of Tiffany jewelry for him to be back in her good graces. Probably only a semester's worth of tuition or so.
"One day you'll realize that we're doing this because we care about you. This hurts us more than it hurts you."
This would be a moving speech, except that Dad is looking at his watch while he makes it. He's late for his tee time at the club. Honestly, I don't get any respect around here. This is my life we're talking about, and Dad is worried about getting to the putting green.
Dad is the opposite of Mom. Where Mom will blindside you with PPDA in the grocery store, Dad goes to great lengths to avoid PPDA in any context. The closest he'll get to actually hugging you is grabbing you in a side hug that he'll quickly turn into a headlock. As if he is saying, "I didn't mean to hug you -- I want to wrestle," which is somehow less embarrassing, he thinks. I hate it, though. He always manages to mess up my hair.
He does this now, in fact. He puts his hand on my head and gives it a rough rub, like I'm a dog.
"You'll do great there, kiddo. I know you will," he says.
I walk toward the metal detectors and the security line. I turn around to see if Dad is still there, but he's already gone.
It's official. My life blows.
Copyright © 2006 by Cara Lockwood
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