[Gossip Girl 01] - Gossip Girl

By Glen Bennett,2014-05-02 13:01
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[Gossip Girl 01] - Gossip Girl












    Novels by Cecily von Ziegesar:


    Gossip Girl

    You Know You Love Me

    All I Want is Everything

    “Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality.”

    —Oscar Wilde

    Disclaimer: All the real names of places, people, and events have been altered or abbreviatedto protect the innocent. Namely, me.

    hey people!

    Ever wondered what the lives of the chosen ones are really like? Well, I’m going to tell you,because I’m one of them. I’m not talking about beautiful models or actors or musicalprodigies or mathematical geniuses. I’m talking about the people who are born to it—those ofus who have everything anyone could possibly wish for and who take it all completely forgranted.

    Welcome to New York City’s Upper East Side, where my friends and I live and go to school andplay and sleep—sometimes with each other. We all live in huge apartments with our own bedroomsand bathrooms and phone lines. We have unlimited access to money and booze and whatever else wewant, and our parents are rarely home, so we have tons of privacy. We’re smart, we’veinherited classic good looks, we wear fantastic clothes, and we know how to party. Our shitstill stinks, but you can’t smell it because the bathroom is sprayed hourly by the maid with arefreshing scent made exclusively for us by French perfumers.

    It’s a luxe life, but someone’s got to live it.

    Our apartments are all within walking distance of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on FifthAvenue, and the single-sex private schools, like Constance Billard, which most of us go to.Even with a hangover, Fifth Avenue always looks so beautiful in the morning with the sunlightglimmering on the heads of the sexy St. Jude’s School boys.

    But something is rotten on museum mile.?.?.?.


    B with her mother, arguing in a taxi in front of Takashimaya. N enjoying a joint on the stepsof the Met. C buying new school shoes at Barneys. And a familiar, tall, eerily beautiful blondgirl emerging from a New Haven line train in Grand Central Station. Approximate age, seventeen.Could it be? S is back?!


    Yes, S is back from boarding school. Her hair is longer, paler. Her blue eyes have that deepmysteriousness of kept secrets. She is wearing the same old fabulous clothes, now in rags fromfending off New England storms. This morning S’s laughter echoed off the steps of the Met,where we will no longer be able to enjoy a quick smoke and a cappuccino without seeing herwaving to us from her parents’ apartment across the street. She has picked up the habit ofbiting her fingernails, which makes us wonder about her even more, and while we are all dyingto ask her why she got kicked out of boarding school, we won’t, because we’d really rathershe had stayed away. But S is definitely here.

    Just to be safe, we should all synchronize our watches. If we aren’t careful, S is going towin over our teachers, wear that dress we couldn’t fit into, eat the last olive, have sex inour parents’ beds, spill Campari on our rugs, steal our brothers’ and our boyfriends’hearts, and basically ruin our lives and piss us all off in a major way.

    I’ll be watching closely. I’ll be watching all of us. It’s going to be a wild and wickedyear. I can smell it.


    like most juicy stories, it started at a party

    “I watched Nickelodeon all morning in my room so I wouldn’t have to eat breakfast withthem,” Blair Waldorf told her two best friends and Constance Billard School classmates, KatiFarkas and Isabel Coates. “My mother cooked him an omelet. I didn’t even know she knew how touse the stove.”

    Blair tucked her long, dark brown hair behind her ears and swigged her mother’s fine vintagescotch from the crystal tumbler in her hand. She was already on her second glass.

    “What shows did you watch?” Isabel asked, removing a stray strand of hair from Blair’s blackcashmere cardigan.

    “Who cares?” Blair said, stamping her foot. She was wearing her new black ballet flats. Verybow-tie proper preppy, which she could get away with because she could change her mind in aninstant and put on her trashy, pointed, knee-high boots and that sexy metallic skirt her motherhated. Poof—rock star sex kitten. Meow.

    “The point is, I was trapped in my room all morning because they were busy having a grossromantic breakfast in their matching red silk bathrobes. They didn’t even take showers.”Blair took another gulp of her drink. The only way to tolerate the thought of her mothersleeping with that man was to get drunk—very drunk.

    Luckily Blair and her friends came from the kind of families for whom drinking was ascommonplace as blowing your nose. Their parents believed in the quasi-European idea that themore access kids have to alcohol, the less likely they are to abuse it. So Blair and herfriends could drink whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, as long as they maintainedtheir grades and their looks and didn’t embarrass themselves or the family by puking inpublic, pissing their pants, or ranting in the streets. The same thing went for everythingelse, like sex or drugs—as long as you kept up appearances, you were all right.

    But keep your panties on. That’s coming later.

    The man Blair was so upset about was Cyrus Rose, her mother’s new boyfriend. At that verymoment Cyrus Rose was standing on the other side of the living room, greeting the dinnerguests. He looked like someone who might help you pick out shoes at Saks—bald, except for asmall, bushy mustache, his fat stomach barely hidden in a shiny blue double-breasted suit. Hejingled the change in his pocket incessantly, and when he took his jacket off, there were big,nasty sweat marks on his underarms. He had a loud laugh and was very sweet to Blair’s mother.But he wasn’t Blair’s father. Last year Blair’s father ran off to France with another man.

    No kidding. They live in a chateau and run a vineyard together. Which is actually pretty coolif you think about it.

    Of course none of that was Cyrus Rose’s fault, but that didn’t matter to Blair. As far asBlair was concerned, Cyrus Rose was a completely annoying, fat, loser.

    But tonight Blair was going to have to tolerate Cyrus Rose, because the dinner party her motherwas giving was in his honor, and all the Waldorfs’ family friends were there to meet him: theBass family and their sons Chuck and Donald; Mr. Farkas and his daughter, Kati; the well-knownactor Arthur Coates, his wife Titi, and their daughters, Isabel, Regina, and Camilla; Captainand Mrs. Archibald and their son Nate. The only ones still missing were Mr. and Mrs. van derWoodsen whose teenage daughter, Serena, and son, Erik, were both away at school.

    Blair’s mother was famous for her dinner parties, and this was her first since her infamousdivorce. The Waldorf penthouse had been expensively redecorated that summer in deep reds andchocolate browns, and it was full of antiques and artwork that would have impressed anyone whoknew anything about art. In the center of the dining room table was an enormous silver bowlfull of white orchids, pussy willows, and chestnut tree branches—a modern ensemble from

    Takashimaya, the Fifth Avenue luxury goods store. Gold-leafed place cards lay on everyporcelain plate. In the kitchen, Myrtle the cook was singing Bob Marley songs to the soufflé,and the sloppy Irish maid, Esther, hadn’t poured scotch down anyone’s dress yet, thank God.

    Blair was the one getting sloppy. And if Cyrus Rose didn’t stop harassing Nate, her boyfriend,she was going to have to go over there and spill her scotch all over his tacky Italian loafers.

    “You and Blair have been going out a long time, am I right?” Cyrus said, punching Nate in thearm. He was trying to get the kid to loosen up a little. All these Upper East Side kids wereway too uptight.

    That’s what he thinks. Give them time.

    “You sleep with her yet?” Cyrus asked.

    Nate turned redder than the upholstery on the eighteenth-century French chaise next to him.“Well, we’ve known each other practically since we were born,” he stuttered. “But we’veonly been going out for like, a year. We don’t want to ruin it by, you know, rushing, beforewe’re ready?” Nate was just spitting back the line that Blair always gave him when he askedher if she was ready to do it or not. But he was talking to his girlfriend’s mother’sboyfriend. What was he supposed to say, “Dude, if I had my way we’d be doing it right now”?

    “Absolutely,” Cyrus Rose said. He clasped Nate’s shoulder with a fleshy hand. Around hiswrist was one of those gold Cartier cuff bracelets that you screw on and never take off—verypopular in the 1980s and not so popular now, unless you’ve actually bought into that whole’80s revival thing. Hello?

    “Let me give you some advice,” Cyrus told Nate, as if Nate had a choice. “Don’t listen to aword that girl says. Girls like surprises. They want you to keep things interesting. You knowwhat I mean?”

    Nate nodded, frowning. He tried to remember the last time he’d surprised Blair. The only thingthat came to mind was the time he’d brought her an ice cream cone when he picked her up at hertennis lesson. That was over a month ago, and it was a pretty lame surprise by any standard. Atthis rate, he and Blair might never have sex.

    Nate was one of those boys you look at and while you’re looking at them, you know they’rethinking, that girl can’t take her eyes off me because I’m so hot. Although he didn’t act atall conceited about it. He couldn’t help looking hot, he was just born that way. Poor guy.

    That night Nate was wearing the moss-green cashmere V-neck sweater Blair had given him lastEaster, when her father had taken them skiing in Sun Valley for a week. Secretly, Blair hadsewn a tiny gold heart pendant onto the inside of one of the sweater’s sleeves, so that Natewould always be wearing her heart on his sleeve. Blair liked to think of herself as a hopelessromantic in the style of old movie actresses like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. She wasalways coming up with plot devices for the movie she was starring in at the moment, the moviethat was her life.

    “I love you,” Blair had told Nate breathily when she gave him the sweater.

    “Me too,” Nate had said back, although he wasn’t exactly sure if it was true or not.

    When he put the sweater on, it looked so good on him that Blair wanted to scream and rip allher clothes off. But it seemed unattractive to scream in the heat of the moment—more femmefatale than girl-who-gets-boy—so Blair kept quiet, trying to remain fragile and baby-birdlikein Nate’s arms. They kissed for a long time, their cheeks hot and cold at the same time frombeing out on the slopes all day. Nate twined his fingers in Blair’s hair and pulled her downon the hotel bed. Blair put her arms above her head and let Nate begin to undress her, untilshe realized where this was all heading, and that it wasn’t a movie after all, it was real.So, like a good girl, she sat up and made Nate stop.

    She’d kept on making him stop right on up until today. Only two nights ago, Nate had come overafter a party with a half-drunk flask of brandy in his pocket and had lain down on her bed andmurmured, “I want you, Blair.” Once again, Blair had wanted to scream and jump on top of him,

    but she resisted. Nate fell asleep, snoring softly, and Blair lay down next to him and imaginedthat she and Nate were starring in a movie in which they were married and he had a drinkingproblem, but she would stand by him always and love him forever, even if he occasionally wetthe bed.

    Blair wasn’t trying to be a tease, she just wasn’t ready. She and Nate had barely seen eachother at all over the summer because she had gone to that horrible boot camp of a tennis schoolin North Carolina, and Nate had gone sailing with his father off the coast of Maine. Blairwanted to make sure that after spending the whole summer apart they still loved each other asmuch as ever. She had wanted to wait to have sex until her seventeenth birthday next month.

    But now she was through with waiting.

    Nate was looking better than ever. The moss-green sweater had turned his eyes a dark, sparklinggreen, and his wavy brown hair was streaked with golden blond from his summer on the ocean.And, just like that, Blair knew she was ready. She took another sip of her scotch. Oh, yes. Shewas definitely ready.

    an hour of sex burns 360 calories

    “What are you two talking about?” Blair’s mother asked, sidling up to Nate and squeezingCyrus’s hand.

    “Sex,” Cyrus said, giving her a wet kiss on the ear.


    “Oh!” Eleanor Waldorf squealed, patting her blown-out blond bob.

    Blair’s mother was wearing the fitted, graphite-beaded cashmere dress that Blair had helpedher pick out from Armani, and little black velvet mules. A year ago she wouldn’t have fit intothe dress, but she had lost twenty pounds since she met Cyrus. She looked fantastic. Everyonethought so.

    “She does look thinner,” Blair heard Mrs. Bass whisper to Mrs. Coates. “But I’ll bet she’shad a chin tuck.”

    “I bet you’re right. She’s grown her hair out—that’s the telltale sign. It hides thescars,” Mrs. Coates whispered back.

    The room was abuzz with snatches of gossip about Blair’s mother and Cyrus Rose. From whatBlair could hear, her mother’s friends felt exactly the same way she did, although theydidn’t exactly use words like annoying, fat, or loser.

    “I smell Old Spice,” Mrs. Coates whispered to Mrs. Archibald. “Do you think he’s actuallywearing Old Spice?”

    That would be the male equivalent of wearing Impulse body spray, which everyone knows is thefemale equivalent of nasty.

    “I’m not sure,” Mrs. Archibald whispered back. “But I think he might be.” She snatched acod-and-caper spring roll off Esther’s platter, popped it into her mouth, and chewed itvigorously, refusing to say anything more. She couldn’t bear for Eleanor Waldorf to overhearthem. Gossip and idle chat were amusing, but not at the expense of an old friend’s feelings.

    Bullshit! Blair would have said if she could have heard Mrs. Archibald’s thoughts. Hypocrite!All of these people were terrible gossips. And if you’re going to do it, why not enjoy it?

    Across the room, Cyrus grabbed Eleanor and kissed her on the lips in full view of everyone.Blair shrank away from the revolting sight of her mother and Cyrus acting like geeky teens witha crush and turned to look out the penthouse window at Fifth Avenue and Central Park. The fallfoliage was on fire. A lone bicyclist rode out of the Seventy-second Street entrance to thepark and stopped at the hot-dog vendor on the corner to buy a bottle of water. Blair had nevernoticed the hot-dog vendor before, and she wondered if he always parked there, or if he wasnew. It was funny how much you could miss in what you saw every day.

    Suddenly Blair was starving, and she knew just what she wanted: A hot dog. She wanted one rightnow—a steaming hot Sabrette hot dog with mustard and ketchup and onions and sauerkraut—andshe was going to eat it in three bites and then burp in her mother’s face. If Cyrus couldstick his tongue down her mother’s throat in front of all of her friends, then she could eat astupid hot dog.

    “I’ll be right back,” Blair told Kati and Isabel.

    She whirled around and began to walk across the room to the front hall. She was going to put onher coat, go outside, get a hot dog from the vendor, eat it in three bites, come back, burp inher mother’s face, have another drink, and then have sex with Nate.

    “Where are you going?” Kati called after her. But Blair didn’t stop; she headed straight forthe door.

    Nate saw Blair coming and extracted himself from Cyrus and Blair’s mother just in time.

    “Blair?” he said. “What’s up?”

    Blair stopped and looked up into Nate’s sexy green eyes. They were like the emeralds in thecufflinks her father wore with his tux when he went to the opera.

    He’s wearing your heart on his sleeve, she reminded herself, forgetting all about the hot dog.In the movie of her life, Nate would pick her up and carry her away to the bedroom and ravishher.

    But this was real life, unfortunately.

    “I have to talk to you,” Blair said. She held out her glass. “Fill me up, first?”

    Nate took her glass and Blair led him over to the marble-topped wet bar by the French doorsthat opened onto the dining room. Nate poured them each a tumbler full of scotch and thenfollowed Blair across the living room once more.

    “Hey, where are you two going?” Chuck Bass asked as they walked by. He raised his eyebrows,leering at them suggestively.

    Blair rolled her eyes at Chuck and kept walking, drinking as she went. Nate followed her,ignoring Chuck completely.

    Chuck Bass, the oldest son of Misty and Bartholomew Bass, was handsome, aftershave-commercialhandsome. In fact, he’d starred in a British Drakkar Noir commercial, much to his parents’public dismay and secret pride. Chuck was also the horniest boy in Blair and Nate’s group offriends. Once, at a party in ninth grade, Chuck had hidden in a guest bedroom closet for twohours, waiting to crawl into bed with Kati Farkas, who was so drunk she kept throwing up in hersleep. Chuck didn’t even mind. He just got in bed with her. He was completely unshakeable whenit came to girls.

    The only way to deal with a guy like Chuck is to laugh in his face, which is exactly what allthe girls who knew him did. In other circles, Chuck might have been banished as a slimeball ofthe highest order, but these families had been friends for generations. Chuck was a Bass, andso they were stuck with him. They had even gotten used to his gold monogrammed pinky ring, histrademark navy blue monogrammed cashmere scarf, and the copies of his headshot, which litteredhis parent’s many houses and apartments and spilled out of his locker at the RiversidePreparatory School for Boys.

    “Don’t forget to use protection,” Chuck called, raising his glass at Blair and Nate as theyturned down the long, red-carpeted hallway to Blair’s bedroom.

    Blair grasped the glass doorknob and turned it, surprising her Russian Blue cat, Kitty Minky,who was curled up on the red silk bedspread. Blair paused at the threshold and leaned backagainst Nate, pressing her body into his. She reached down to take his hand.

    At that moment, Nate’s hopes perked up. Blair was acting sort of sultry and sexy and could itbe?.?.?. something was about to happen?

    Blair squeezed Nate’s hand and pulled him into the room. They stumbled over each other,falling toward the bed, and spilling their drinks on the mohair rug. Blair giggled; the scotchshe’d pounded had gone right to her head.

    I’m about to have sex with Nate, she thought giddily. And then they’d both graduate in Juneand go to Yale in the fall and have a huge wedding four years later and find a beautifulapartment on Park Avenue and decorate the whole thing in velvet, silk, and fur and have sex inevery room on a rotating basis.

    Suddenly Blair’s mother’s voice rang out, loud and clear, down the hallway.

    “Serena van der Woodsen! What a lovely surprise!”

    Nate dropped Blair’s hand and straightened up like a soldier called to attention. Blair satdown hard on the end of her bed, put her drink on the floor, and grasped the bedspread intight, white-knuckled fists.

    She looked up at Nate.

    But Nate was already turning to go, striding back down the hall to see if it could possibly betrue. Had Serena van der Woodsen really come back?

    The movie of Blair’s life had taken a sudden, tragic turn. Blair clutched her stomach,ravenous again.

    She should have gone for the hot dog after all.

    s is back!

    “Hello, hello, hello!” Blair’s mother crowed, kissing the smooth, hollow cheeks of each vander Woodsen.

    Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss!

    “I know you weren’t expecting Serena, dear,” Mrs. van der Woodsen whispered in a concerned,confidential tone. “I hope it’s all right.”

    “Of course. Yes, it’s fine,” Mrs. Waldorf said. “Did you come home for the weekend,Serena?”

    Serena van der Woodsen shook her head and handed her vintage Burberry coat to Esther, the maid.She pushed a stray blond hair behind her ear and smiled at her hostess.

    When Serena smiled, she used her eyes—those dark, almost navy blue eyes. It was the kind ofsmile you might try to imitate, posing in the bathroom mirror like an idiot. The magnetic,delicious, “you can’t stop looking at me, can you?” smile supermodels spend yearsperfecting. Well, Serena smiled that way without even trying.

    “No, I’m here to—” Serena started to say.

    Serena’s mother interrupted hastily. “Serena has decided that boarding school is not forher,” she announced, patting her hair casually, as if it were no big deal. She was the middle-aged version of utter coolness.

    The whole van der Woodsen family was like that. They were all tall, blond, thin, and super-poised, and they never did anything—play tennis, hail a cab, eat spaghetti, go to thetoilet—without maintaining their cool. Serena especially. She was gifted with the kind ofcoolness that you can’t acquire by buying the right handbag or the right pair of jeans. Shewas the girl every boy wants and every girl wants to be.

    “Serena will be back at Constance tomorrow,” Mr. van der Woodsen said, glancing at hisdaughter with steely blue eyes and an owl-like mixture of pride and disapproval that made himlook scarier than he really was.

    “Well, Serena. You look lovely, dear. Blair will be thrilled to see you,” Blair’s mothertrilled.

    “You’re one to talk,” Serena said, hugging her. “Look how skinny you are! And the houselooks so fantastic. Wow. You’ve got some awesome art!”

    Mrs. Waldorf smiled, obviously pleased, and wrapped her arm around Serena’s long, slenderwaist. “Darling, I’d like you to meet my special friend, Cyrus Rose,” she said. “Cyrus,this is Serena.”

    “Stunning,” Cyrus Rose boomed. He kissed Serena on both cheeks, and hugged her a little tootightly. “She’s a good hugger, too,” Cyrus added, patting Serena on the hip.

    Serena giggled, but she didn’t flinch. She’d spent a lot of time in Europe in the past twoyears, and she was used to being hugged by harmless, horny European gropers who found hercompletely irresistible. She was a full-on groper magnet.

    “Serena and Blair are best, best, best friends,” Eleanor Waldorf explained to Cyrus. “ButSerena went away to Hanover Academy in eleventh grade and spent this summer traveling. It wasso hard for poor Blair with you gone this past year, Serena,” Eleanor said, growing misty-eyed. “Especially with the divorce. But you’re back now. Blair will be so pleased.”

    “Where is she?” Serena asked eagerly, her perfect, pale skin glowing pink with the prospectof seeing her old friend again. She stood on tip-toe and craned her head to look for Blair, butshe soon found herself surrounded by parents—the Archibalds, the Coateses, the Basses, and Mr.Farkas—who each took turns kissing her and welcoming her back.

    Serena hugged them happily. These people were home to her, and she’d been gone a long time.She could hardly wait for life to return to the way it used to be. She and Blair would walk toschool together, spend Double Photography in Sheep Meadow in Central Park, lying on theirbacks, taking pictures of pigeons and clouds, smoking and drinking Coke and feeling like hard-core artistes. They would have cocktails at the Star Lounge in the Tribeca Star Hotel again,which always turned into sleepover parties because they would get too drunk to get home, sothey’d spend the night in the suite Chuck Bass’s family kept there. They would sit onBlair’s four-poster bed and watch Audrey Hepburn movies, wearing vintage lingerie and drinkinggin and lime juice. They would cheat on their Latin tests like they always did—amo, amas, amatwas still tattooed on the inside of Serena’s elbow in permanent marker (thank God for three-quarter length sleeves!). They’d drive around Serena’s parents’ estate in Ridgefield,Connecticut, in the caretaker’s old Buick station wagon, singing the stupid hymns they sang inschool and acting like crazy old ladies. They’d pee in the downstairs entrances to theirclassmates’ brownstones and then ring the doorbells and run away. They’d take Blair’s littlebrother, Tyler, to the Lower East Side and leave him there to see how long it took for him tofind his way home—a work of charity, really, since Tyler was now the most street-wise boy atSt. George’s. They’d go out dancing with a huge group and lose ten pounds just from sweatingin their leather pants. As if they needed to lose the weight.

    They would go back to being their regular old fabulous selves, just like always. Serenacouldn’t wait.

    “Got you a drink,” Chuck Bass said, elbowing the clusters of parents out of the way andhanding Serena a tumbler of whiskey. “Welcome back,” he added, ducking down to kiss Serena’scheek and missing it intentionally, so that his lips landed on her mouth.

    “You haven’t changed,” Serena said, accepting the drink. She took a long sip. “So, did youmiss me?”

    “Miss you? The question is, did you miss me?” Chuck said. “Come on, babe, spill. What areyou doing back here? What happened? Do you have a boyfriend?”

    “Oh, come on, Chuck,” Serena said, squeezing his hand. “You know I came back because I wantyou so badly. I’ve always wanted you.”

    Chuck took a step back and cleared his throat, his face flushed. She’d caught him off guard, arare feat.

    “Well, I’m all booked up for this month, but I can put you on the waiting list,” Chuck saidhuffily, trying to regain his composure.

    But Serena was barely listening to him anymore. Her dark blue eyes scanned the room, lookingfor the two people she wanted to see most, Blair and Nate.

    Finally Serena found them. Nate was standing by the doorway to the hall, and Blair was standingjust behind him, her head bowed, fiddling with the buttons on her black cardigan. Nate waslooking directly at Serena, and when her gaze met his, he bit his bottom lip the way he alwaysdid when he was embarrassed. And then he smiled.

    That smile. Those eyes. That face.

    “Come here,” Serena mouthed at him, waving her hand. Her heart sped up as Nate began walkingtoward her. He looked better than she remembered, much better.

    Nate’s heart was beating even faster than hers.

    “Hey, you,” Serena breathed when Nate hugged her. He smelled just like he always smelled.Like the cleanest, most delicious boy alive. Tears came to Serena’s eyes and she pressed herface into Nate’s chest. Now she was really home.

    Nate’s cheeks turned pink. Calm down, he told himself. But he couldn’t calm down. He feltlike picking her up and twirling her around and kissing her face over and over. “I love you!”he wanted to shout, but he didn’t. He couldn’t.

    Nate was the only son of a navy captain and a French society hostess. His father was a mastersailor and extremely handsome, but a little lacking in the hugs department. His mother was thecomplete opposite, always fawning over Nate and prone to emotional fits during which she wouldlock herself in her bedroom with a bottle of champagne and call her sister on her yacht inMonaco. Poor Nate was always on the verge of saying how he really felt, but he didn’t want tomake a scene or say something he might regret later. Instead, he kept quiet and let otherpeople steer the boat, while he laid back and enjoyed the steady rocking of the waves.

    He might look like a stud, but he was actually pretty weak.

    “So, what have you been up to?” Nate asked Serena, trying to breathe normally. “We missedyou.”

    Notice that he wasn’t even brave enough to say, “I missed you”?

    “What have I been up to?” Serena repeated. She giggled. “If you only knew, Nate. I’ve beenso, so bad!”

    Nate clenched his fists involuntarily. Man oh man, had he missed her.


    Ignored as usual, Chuck slunk away from Serena and Nate and crossed the room to Blair, who wasonce again standing with Kati and Isabel.

    “A thousand bucks says she got kicked out,” Chuck told them. “And doesn’t she look fucked?I think she’s been thoroughly fucked. Maybe she had some sort of prostitution ring going on upthere. The Merry Madam of Hanover Academy,” he added, laughing at his own stupid joke.

    “I think she looks kind of spaced out, too,” Kati said. “Maybe she’s on heroin.”

    “Or some prescription drug,” Isabel said. “You know, like, Valium or Prozac. Maybe she’sgone totally nuts.”

    “She could’ve been making her own E,” Kati agreed. “She was always good at science.”

    “I heard she joined some kind of cult,” Chuck offered. “Like, she’s been brainwashed andnow all she thinks about is sex and she like, has to do it all the time.”

    When is dinner going to be ready? Blair wondered, tuning out her friends’ ridiculousspeculations.

    She had forgotten how pretty Serena’s hair was. How perfect her skin was. How long and thinher legs were. What Nate’s eyes looked like when he looked at her—like he never wanted toblink. He never looked at Blair that way.

    “Hey Blair, Serena must have told you she was coming back,” Chuck said. “Come on, tell us.What’s the deal?”

    Blair stared back at him blankly, her small, fox-like face turning red. The truth was, shehadn’t really spoken to Serena in over a year.

    At first, when Serena had gone to boarding school after sophomore year, Blair had really missedher. But it soon became apparent how much easier it was to shine without Serena around.Suddenly Blair was the prettiest, the smartest, the hippest, most happening girl in the room.She became the one everyone looked to. So Blair stopped missing Serena so much. She’d felt alittle guilty for not staying in touch, but even that had worn off when she’d receivedSerena’s flip and impersonal e-mails describing all the fun she was having at boarding school.


    “Hitchhiked to Vermont to go snowboarding and spent the night dancing with the hottest guys!”


    “Crazy night last night. Damn, my head hurts!”


    The last news Blair had received was a postcard this past summer:

    “Blair: Turned seventeen on Bastille Day. France rocks!! Miss you!!! Love, Serena,” was allit said.

    Blair had tucked th

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