Olivia Abbott winced as a pair of shiny black combat boots squashed the sparkly polish of her freshly painted toenails.
‘Sorry.’ Olivia’s twin sister, Ivy, smiled sheepishly, regaining her balance. Her boots might have been gothtastic, but they were also lethal in a crowd as squished-in as this one. Olivia helped steady her sister. With the whole student body crammed into the assembly hall waiting to hear Principal Whitehead’s big school announcement, it was all Olivia and Ivy could do to keep from being knocked flat.
Olivia felt her phone buzz twice from inside her pocket – a new email! It had been days since Camilla’s last Paris update. Camilla was a loyal friend to Olivia and Ivy, even if she was a bit, um . . . eccentric. All anyone needed to know about Camilla was that she was creative with a capital ‘C’. She’d organised their school production of Romeo and Juliet, giving it an interesting cyborg update, and she’d become really involved on the film set when Hollywood had come to Franklin Grove. Now she was in Europe, on holiday with her family, soaking up the culture there.
Olivia wormed her fingers into the pocket of her jeans and pulled her phone out, squinting at the screen:
Please say you have finished the last installment of the Cyborg Trilogy. It’s at least five times better than Random Access. We must discuss ASAP.
P.S. Paris is cool. We should work on our French accents.
In every message Camilla had sent from her vacation, she’d seemed just as interested in the latest Coal Knightley book as in exploring one of the most romantic cities on the planet. Only Camilla could dig great culture and get lost in a book at the same time!
A confident, familiar voice was chattering away behind Olivia. ‘I overheard a couple of the teachers talking, so I already know what the big announcement is.’ Olivia turned to look. Blonde ponytail, extra-shiny lip gloss, and a manicured hand propped on one hip. It was Charlotte Brown, Franklin Grove’s resident head cheerleader and diva. Of course Charlotte would have made it a top priority to be in the know about something important happening at school.
Charlotte’s friend Katie was craning to listen. Her eyes were out on stalks at the possibility of the juicy gossip. What was wrong with finding out with the rest of the school?
Olivia squeezed her eyes shut. ‘Don’t listen, don’t listen,’ she whispered to herself. She didn’t want the surprise of the announcement to be ruined.
‘There’s going to be a school dance,’ Charlotte declared. ‘And I heard it’s going to be at the end of the summer holidays, which is killer because by then I’m guaranteed to have the perfect tan.’ Trust Charlotte to think that frazzling in the sun was a good idea.
Katie squealed and clapped her hands. ‘Really? You’re sure?’
‘Totally. Plus, it will give me plenty of time to make my yearbook film.’
Ivy and Olivia shared a surprised glance. Charlotte had been put in charge of making the yearbook film? Were the teachers crazy? If only Camilla was in Franklin Grove instead of Paris – she’d have done a much better job. ‘What are the odds that she’ll include any goths in that video?’ Ivy whispered.
Olivia chewed her lip. Charlotte was all about pink, there was no denying it. But surely she would want to have Ivy’s ultra goth-chic style gracing the yearbook video? Perhaps Ivy was being too hard on her.
‘I don’t know.’ Olivia shrugged. ‘She’s been much nicer since the Bright Stars awards ceremony. She helped us out, remember?’
Olivia still got the jitters thinking about that night. She’d been in line to win the Brightest New Star award when Jessica Phelps, top Hollywood actress, had tried to expose Olivia’s secret relationship with mega-star Jackson Caulfield. His fans had gone batty! Luckily Olivia had won the award anyway and she’d been able to win the fans over with her acceptance speech, but speaking in front of a swarm of rabid Jackson fans was not something she’d attempt again. Not that she could blame them. It was hard not to get a little light-headed when it came to a super-cute movie star like Jackson. Her own heart gave a loop-the-loop as she thought back to their first kiss, before another thought squirmed into her head. But what good is having a celebrity boyfriend if I never get to see him?
Olivia and Jackson had barely laid eyes on each other since the award ceremony – he’d been busy promoting the film and she’d had to return to school in Franklin Grove. This wasn’t how she’d imagined things at all when they’d stood on stage together, listening to the cheers of the audience in Hollywood. It had all felt like a dream come true. But perhaps that’s all it was, she thought. A dream.
Ivy must have guessed what she was thinking because she squeezed Olivia’s hand, her Midnight Mauve lips curving down. ‘You’re missing Jackson, aren’t you?’
Olivia loved that her twin could read her emotions so well, but she didn’t want to come off too needy. ‘Maybe a little.’ She smiled, holding up her thumb and finger an inch apart. ‘But I guess I’d better get used to it. If there really is a dance, I doubt Jackson will even be able to come. Not unless Amy lets him wriggle out of his tour.’
Ivy made a sour face. Amy Teller was Jackson’s manager and the chances of her letting a top star like Jackson take a break from a press tour were practically zilch.
Olivia beamed as she spotted Brendan and Sophia fighting their way through the crowd.
‘Pardon you!’ Charlotte jumped out of the way of Sophia. ‘Watch where your chunky boots are clomping!’ Katie made a big show of pulling Charlotte to safety as Olivia looked on, shaking her head. Perhaps Charlotte should save some theatrics for her yearbook film.
The chopsticks pinning Ivy’s hair in place nearly poked Olivia’s eye out as she spun to greet their friends. Her slender arms wrapped around Brendan’s neck, pulling him into a big hug. From the look on Brendan’s face, Olivia reckoned he couldn’t be happier. She remembered when she first came to Franklin Grove, and Ivy had announced with such despair, ‘I’m utterly in love with Brendan Daniels.’ And look at them now!
‘We thought you were hiding from us,’ Brendan joked, running a hand through his hair. It was usually shoulder-length, but had been cut shorter and shaggy last week.
‘No,’ said Ivy, craning up to look at her boyfriend. ‘We’re just vertically challenged.’