London Phillips is keeping her billionaire boyfriend close--and her secrets closer--by pretending to play her mother's game. But the rules dramatically change when her ex-boo, Justice Banks, ends up in the arms of her best friend . . .
One lie too many cost spoiled Rich Montgomery her one true love. No problem--finding a new man is what she does best. But a certain bad boy's drama is more dangerous than she ever imagined . . .
Fresh out of rehab, teen star Heather Cummings has Hollywood High's newest hottie dead in her party-girl sights. And unexpected news could fulfill all her dreams--or shatter them for good. . .
Spencer Ellington wants revenge. And making alliances with her ex-frenemy and her biggest enemy is a small price to pay to expose everyone's dirty little deceptions--and conquer Hollywood High's powerful in-crowd once and for all. . .
"The girls and the secondary characters of Hollywood High are never shy of drama." --APOOO Book Club
About the Author
Amir Abrams is a regular dude with a dream. Born in Brooklyn, Amir has a thing for fresh kicks, fly whips, and all things Polo. For Amir, writing teen fiction was never something he imagined himself doing until he started working with Ni-Ni Simone on the Hollywood High series. In addition to the Hollywood High series, he also penned Crazy Love, The Girl of His Dreams, Caught Up, and Diva Rules. You can hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook at itsyaboyamir, or follow him on Twitter @ItsyaboyAmir.
Read an Excerpt
Put Your Diamonds Up
By NI-NI SIMONE, AMIR ABRAMS
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 Ni-Ni Simone and Amir Abrams
All rights reserved.
"Your body, beauty, and youth are your tickets to JL fame and fortune ..."
"Look into the camera, London," Luke Luppalozzi, a renowned photographer, cajoled as his camera clicked to life. I blinked my mother's voice out of my head. "Less stiff, more sass, London! Thrust your left hip ... Give me seductress, darling!"
You nasty perv! Sounds to me like you want slutty!
I was at a photo shoot for a new fragrance—Pink Heat—for some new Italian designer, standing on a seamless swoop of heavy white paper that stretched along the floor for what seemed like miles, from a roll anchored to a beam. I was wearing a pair of six-inch pink spike heels and a slinky pink dress. My sculpted, milk-chocolate shoulders were exposed, shimmering from the glow of the lights. My long, shapely legs were bare. Around my slender, elongated neck hung a five-carat pink diamond necklace, a gift from my mother. Hair and makeup people had been at the ready from the moment I'd stepped through the doors four hours ago.
My shoulder-length hair was curled into cascading ringlets. Long, thick lashes wrapped around my large brown eyes. My sumptuous lips glowed and pulsed, coated in hot pink lipstick and glossed to perfection.
On the outside, I was fiiiierce.
On the inside, I felt everything but. I felt like someone had rolled me in a whole bottle of Pepto-Bismol. And I'd become the big pink Amazon. Ugh.
God, I wanted to love my life. Wanted to love the excitement. Wanted to love that I was in Milan ... Italy, that is; among some of the world's elite fashion editors, being captured on film by renowned photographers for campaign and print ads—doing something most girls my age only dreamed of.
I wanted to love the fact that I was finally becoming the daughter that my well-coiffed, well-heeled, well-bred mother had always desired me to be. Flawless. Hair pinned, face painted, poised, and ready to take the fashion world by storm.
But right at the moment, I was too exhausted to care about any of that. My feet ached from wearing heels all day, standing in uncomfortable positions, being twisted and prodded to hold poses for the camera while gigantic industrial fans blew my hair this way and that.
Yes. I was a trendsetter.
Yes. I was a fashionista extraordinaire.
Yes. I was a lover of heels, handbags, and high fashion.
But on my terms. Not someone else's.
And, right now, at this very minute, this precise second, my mother defined everything about who I was. I wanted this for her. I wanted this for me, because she wanted this for me ... for herself. This was her life, her world. And she insisted ... no, demanded, expected, that I be a part of it. That I embrace my orchestrated destiny with grace and fervor and be forever swept into the glitz and glamour of it all.
But who I was was all back in California—six thousand forty-five-point-four miles; twelve hours and thirty-three minutes away. In La-La Land. At Hollywood High Academy, my elite private school, where I hadn't been for the last week or so in order to appease my mother's need to have me on the runway. God strike me for parting my lips and admitting this part, but ... I'd rather be back at school with the Pampered Princesses—the "It Girls" of Hollywood High than be here with a bunch of snotty models.
Jeezus, the world must really be coming to an end for me to openly admit to missing the likes of Heather and Spencer! It must be the flashing lights! Yeah, that has to be it.
Yeah, we didn't always get along. And yeah, we fought. And yeah, most times I disliked Heather Cummings, the teen-star junkie; even looked down on her. She was the queen of trashy. Leopard prints and pounds of slut paint on her face. But, minus the fortune, she had fame. Everyone knew who Wu-Wu Tanner was. The fun-loving, animal-print wearing suburban teenager Heather had once played on the number one hit television show in America. But thanks to her druggie behavior and showing up strung out on the set, her show was canceled. And it's been downhill for Heather ever since. Still, like it or not, she had star power. What was left of it, that is. But I digress.
Anhoo yeah, I despised that dizzy-dumb, scatterbrain chick Spencer, the spoiled bratty daughter of the messy media mogul, Kitty Ellington. But she had heart. She had guts. And she was crazier than bat shit. And thanks to me, she'd gotten her face smacked off right in the middle of finance class when I convinced Rich that it was Spencer who'd stabbed her in the back and told her boo Knox that she'd had an abortion when she'd already lied and told him that she'd miscarried. It didn't take much coercion. Rich wasn't the sharpest knife in the cutlery drawer either. And she was as slutty as Spencer. No, no ... she was sluttier. Still, she was my bestie. And sharing her with that floor-mop Spencer was not an option.
And what my mother failed to understand was, I needed to get back to my life at Hollywood High to ensure Rich and Spencer stayed enemies. Before Rich, who had the attention span of a bobblehead, went back to cavorting with my nemesis.
And speaking of Rich, why the hell hadn't I heard from her in two days? I called her four times. Sent her six text messages. And nothing! That was soooooo not good! It was an omen. I knew she'd wait until I got thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean to show her true two-faced ways. And her lack of regard for me and our friendship said one of three things: She was either somewhere chained to some boy's bed with her legs up in her famous V-split, or hiding out at some seedy ranch for sexaholics, or she was back in the manicured clutches of Spencer.
God, I couldn't stand that trampola. Everyone knew her mouth was a used condom, thanks to the viral video of her sucking down watermelon shots in the girl's lounge at school with one of Rich's many boyfriends. But being here, away from my life in Hollywood, was more torturous than being friends with Spencer and Heather. So I'd take being around those two over the likes of the majority of the models I was surrounded by. And that really spoke volumes, considering my contempt for the two of them.
I was besieged by the likes of the living dead, pony-stepping the runways. A gaggle of models who recklessly eyeballed me and mumbled snide remarks under their collagen-plumped lips every chance they got about me receiving preferential treatment because I was the daughter of Jade Obi, one of the world's beloved international supermodels. Whatever!
They had no clue as to what life was like living with their role model, their adored idol. My mother.
Sure, being the daughter of a famous supermodel came with the advantages of a lavish lifestyle. I lived a privileged life. And being young, beautiful, and rich always made me a target. For the paparazzi. For the haters. And for my mother's ridicule.
She was imperious. She was controlling. She was rigid. She was—when I wasn't who she expected me to be—my worst nightmare. "You're definitely not ugly. And you're far from old-looking, yet. Thank God you have my genes. But, fat ... mmmph. You're well on your way ...
Diet is everything in this industry, London ..."
And dieting I have done. For the last two-and-a-half years, she'd been monitoring my weight, measuring my inches, weighing my food portions, counting my caloric intake, keeping it all in a leather-bound journal, browbeating me to no end until I'd finally lost the fifteen extra pounds she required of me to be runway ready. Now weighing in at one-hundred-and-ten pounds, I had arrived. I'd made it back in front of the flashbulbs popping all around me. It didn't matter to her how I lost the weight as long as it was gone. Buried. To never return for as long as we both shall live. Amen. Amen. Amen.
"The sooner you can get this god-awful weight off and we can get you back on the runway and onto the covers of all the fashion magazines where you belong ... You were born to be in front of the camera ..."
Still, some of the models I'd seen since being here looked like crack whores in couture. Many of them stood over six feet tall. They were needle thin with sunken cheeks and protruding collarbones, speed racing off of caffeine and nicotine. Most of them, ice queens, shot daggers of icicles at me as I was led through the sea of miserable haters to my next photo shoot. From what I've overheard while waiting for casting calls among models vying for the same shoot, campaign, etc., many of them were snorting lines of coke and popping uppers to stay wafer-thin and to keep up with the grueling hours that went along with being a high-fashion print-ad model.
"Oh, my darling London. I am so proud of you!" My mother had bubbled over with joy in the backseat of the stretch Benz during the ride over here at six o'clock this morning. "You are going to be the next hottest thing. Sei bella, mia cara Londra!" She beamed as she stroked the side of my face, telling me how beautiful I was. "You are absolutely perfect."
I almost wanted to laugh at the absurdity of that word. Perfect. The perfect oxymoron, if I'd ever heard one. There was nothing perfect about me. Nothing perfect about this world I'd been thrust into.
No. There was definitely nothing perfect about this life.
If it were, I'd be pencil thin instead of curvy like a dangerously winding hillside. I'd have ant-size breasts instead of the melon-sized jugs that fit perfectly in a 34 C-cup. I'd have the derriere of a wood plank instead of a bouncy booty that snapped necks and had a mind of its own, commanding attention without much effort.
"For the love of God, London, why did you have to ruin your body ... You just had to go and screw up everything I've worked for ... No one wants a fat, ugly, old-looking girl on their runway ..."
While most models craved bee-stung lips, mine were already naturally plump, ripe, and kissable. Although they hadn't been kissed in two weeks. Still, my beauty was a blessing and a curse. A double-edged sword.
I'd been longing for the day my mother would look at me with the same pride beaming in her eyes as she did when I was a preteen on the runway. Before the sudden weight gain. Before the setback, as my mother called it. Before the swell of my breasts and the roundness of my hips morphed my body into that of an Amazon. A statuesque brick house.
I was thirteen when I first graced the cover of Vogue Italia. Seven months later, I was swelling like an angry river, bursting out of my size zero, quickly ballooning to a size four, then six, then eight.
"You're nothing now. You'll never be anything ... At the rate you're going, you'll never make it on the runway. You'll only be good enough to shake and bounce for rap videos ..."
Those were more of her cutting words to me, on many occasions. That is how she viewed me. That is how she felt about me. And although I knew she loved me, I also knew that love, her love, came with unrelenting conditions. And most times with unbearable consequences.
No, there was no room for imperfection when you had a mother like Jade Obi Phillips, who expected nothing less than perfection. The perfect P's, according to my mother, were: Poise. Posture. Position. Then tack on the perfect image, the perfect body, the perfect skin, the perfect set of teeth, the perfect partner, and the perfect station in life. Follow this mantra, and you were guaranteed the perfect life, according to the world of Jade.
Yes, my mother loved me. But she'd always love the perfect me more ...
"London, darling ... smile ..." My mother's voice drifted over toward me as the photographer tried to have me flash a toothy grin with my head slightly tilted to the right while one foot was lifted off the floor in back of me. Her tone was light and airy but laced with a tinge of attitude as she stood behind the photographer, like a backseat driver, trying to coax me, coach me, and get on my last damn nerve.
I forced a tight smile. I felt a headache pounding its way into the center of my forehead. But I had to get through this. Had to get this finished, the sooner the better. "Blow a kiss into the camera ... Hold the bottle up closer to your cheek ... Give me attitude ... Now lick your lips and give me Pink Heat, doll ..."
I cringed. Doll? How cheesy!
The photographer, speaking in his thick Italian-accented English, was dangerously handsome for a man in his thirties. Tanned and built like an Adonis. But he was a horny toad who winked and licked his lips on the sly every chance he got! I simply rolled my eyes. Or pretended not to notice. Look but don't touch!
I tried to stay focused, tried to steel myself for the dazzling whiteness of the camera's flash. But I couldn't. My mind kept swinging back and forth between Justice—the one true love of my life, whom my parents despised ... to Rich—my supposed bestie, who I hadn't heard from since I'd gotten here and who had not kept one Skype date with me for whatever reason ... to Anderson—my parent-approved boyfriend who was refusing to take my calls because I couldn't and wouldn't choose between him and Justice. And to think I had kissed him. That I had lifted up on my tiptoes and pulled his face down to mine in the middle of a dance floor at his fraternity's campus party and was kissing him, my tongue slipping into his wet mouth. And he was kissing me back. And everything was heating. Everything was melting. And I was caught up in the flames. God, I hated him!
I hated him for everything he was. Smart. Articulate. Handsome. Thoughtful. I hated him for being a good kisser. Hated the way his strong arms felt around me. Hated him for taking my mind off of Justice, my off-again on-again boyfriend. The only boy I'd ever loved. The only boy I'd ever given myself to. The only boy who'd ever had my heart. And I hated Anderson for making me feel messy and sexy at the same time; for making my mind replay his hands wandering all over my body when I should only be thinking of Justice.
I had cheated on my man. So, yes, I hated my faux boyfriend, Anderson, for managing, with one kiss—okay, okay, three kisses—to ruin my life. I was a cheater.
And speaking of Justice, why haven't I heard from him? I have gotten not one call or text from him in almost four days. Four days! Four fricking loooooong excruciating days of not hearing his voice or seeing his handsomely rugged face on FaceTime or Skype was killlllling me!
And I had my mother to thank for my misery.
In less than two weeks, she had managed to turn my whole world upside down, inside out, and every which way in between. She'd literally stripped me of my life. And she had no damn care in the world.
"Londra, fare l'amoreper la fotocamera," Luke shouts in Italian, suggesting I make love to the camera. Oh my-god! How vulgar!
My mother shot me a scathing look that read Do. Not. Try. Me. You had better pretend this is where you want to be.
Before I could put on my mask and get with the program, my mother asked the photographer and his crew if she could have a moment alone with me. To motivate me, she claimed.
"What in the world is wrong with you, London?" she snapped when she thought everyone was out of earshot.
"I want to go home."
She blinked. "For the next two weeks, this is your home. Get used to it."
I pouted. "I miss my friends."
She scoffed. "Trust me. Those spoiled little girls back at Hollywood High aren't losing any sleep over you. Their worlds are going on without you. As a matter of fact, I bet you haven't heard from any of your so-called friends since you've been here. Have you?"
I folded my arms and turned away from her. I was done. However, my silence only encouraged her to continue her babbling.
Excerpted from Put Your Diamonds Up by NI-NI SIMONE, AMIR ABRAMS. Copyright © 2014 Ni-Ni Simone and Amir Abrams. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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