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For Tom Shea
8 PM Practice Le Strut for tomorrow
9 PM Discuss social chair strategy w/ the Inner Circle
10 PM Kate Somerville clay masks for all (skin must glisten on first day!)
10:30 PM Beauty sleep
Get ready for B.Y.E.—Best Year Ever!
adies, focus!” Mackenzie Little-Armstrong bel lowed to her best friends, Evangelina Becks, Coco Kingsley, and, the newest member of their group, Emily Mungler. She clapped her Essie-polished hands together, her signature wooden bangles clacking on her wrists, and flipped her waist-length blond mane. “Ems needs to get this.”
“This” was Le Strut, which was to be their grand entrance on the first day of eighth grade at Bel-Air Middle School, aka BAMS. Le Strut meant walking like you were too bored to care and therefore cooler than everyone who’d missed the memo on not caring. Hence the need to rehearse Le Strut nineteen times, with the video camera on Mac’s white iBook providing instant playback for full analysis.
“Emily, you need to get into character,” Mac said, her turquoise eyes focused on her computer screen. “Tomorrow is your debut as Cool New Girl at Bel-Air Middle School, and right now you look like a sweet girl from Iowa who can’t believe her luck.”
“But that’s exactly how I feel!” Emily protested, twirling a lock of her wavy, cinnamon brown hair.
Mac shook her head at the naïve Iowa transplant. She’d discovered the gap-toothed beauty faking her way into a premiere party and had instantly gotten a talent-crush on the girl’s acting skills and
je ne sais quoi
adorableness. Just that morning Mac and her mother, the biggest talent agent in Hollywood, had convinced Emily to move to Bel-Air and pursue an acting career while she stayed in the Armstrongs’ guest bedroom. Mac knew her starlet-in-training had it in her; it was
job to coax it out. “Get it right.”
Emily nodded, closed her eyes, and inhaled deeply. She looked like she was doing yoga standing up, but Mac knew that was how Emily got into her acting zone. Then Emily opened her eyes and curled her lips into a half smile. She strutted confidently across the wooden floor, like a totally different person from the girl who’d tried the exact same thing only seconds ago.
They were in Coco’s private dance studio, surrounded by wall-to-wall mirrors, for their annual night-before sleepover, which Coco, Mac, and Becks had enjoyed every year since first grade. Coco’s father was the hotel mogul Charles Kingsley, and she lived in the top-floor suite of his King Bel-Air Hotel, which was a sprawling hacienda tucked off Stone Canyon Road.
Even though Mac, Becks, and Coco had discovered their personal Le Strut years ago, it was always smart to fine-tune. Mac had insisted they rehearse in Coco’s studio to get “the most honest” impression of what they really looked like. Mirrors, like iBooks, could lie, but mirrors + iBooks + Coco’s high-tech studio = brutal honesty.
Mac hovered in front of her iBook like a football coach. “Good news,” she said, her eyes narrowing. “We’ve got it!” She flipped the screen toward her friends so they could observe the playback of their work.
The iBook was divided into a split screen, each quarter playing a clip of one of the four girls striding across the dance studio. Emily’s normally shy, hunched-over posture had improved tenfold (Mac had made her walk with a stack of French
s on her head); Coco looked like a gazelle—dancing gave her excellent carriage—and even Becks’s swagger was a little less tomboyish than usual. Mac strode confidently, her blond head held high.
“Le Strut is
The girls smiled proudly.
“Okay, next order of business,” Mac commanded, pulling up a new window on her iBook. She needed to strategize her upcoming campaign to win social chair, the holy grail of BAMS positions and also Mac’s raison d’être. Voting was in three days, and Mac needed to make a splash with her campaign poster, which so far was a movie trailer poster of herself with the rating A for “Amazing.”
“Now, I need your honest opinions. Is it too—” Mac was cut off by the ping of Coco’s intercom.
“Pinkberry!” Becks bolted out of Coco’s dance studio. Coco’s French bulldog, Madonna, who had been asleep in her custom-made Louis Vuitton dog bed, yelped and chased after Becks.
Mac sauntered behind, Centurion AmEx in one hand and her iBook in the other, and Emily followed, smiling.
When Coco opened the door to the penthouse’s private entrance, everyone gasped. The girl delivering their frozen yogurts was a total freakasaurus: She had buck-teeth and long stringy hair dyed mauve, and there were plastic
pins all over her neon yellow vest. It was like she’d stepped off the pages of the
What Not to Wear, Ever
“Hi,” Mac said finally.
“Hey!” Freakasaurus said, clutching the Pinkberry bag. She stood pigeon-toed and stared at Mac, then Emily, then Becks . . . and then, spotting Coco, her jaw dropped.
She pointed at Coco. “OH MY GOD, YOU’RE CARDAMMON’S DAUGHTER?!” The Pinkberry bag in her hand started to shake vigorously.
It was an unspoken rule in Hollywood that you didn’t acknowledge fame. And rule number one was that you never, ever pointed at celebrities.
Mac shot a glance at Coco, who was hiding behind Becks. Coco was always a little touchy about the Cardammon subject. She was a pop-star-in-training herself and always worried she’d never measure up to her superstar mother.
“Are you okay?” Mac asked the Pinkberry freak. It was not a question; it was a polite way of saying,
Please stop spazzing out right now
“I’ve been in loooove with your mom since I was thirteen,” the girl said, stretching her arms toward Coco like an opera singer. A tear trickled down her pasty cheek. “ ‘Forever Blue,’ like, got me through two breakups,” she said, referring to one of Cardammon’s eleven hit singles from the late ’90s. “When I was—”
“That’sgreatthankshowmuchdoweoweyou?” Mac interrupted.
“Oh. Sorry.” The girl handed Mac a receipt. Le Freak was still staring at Coco, mesmerized, like she’d seen a talking gnome.
“All righty, then.” Mac signed the receipt briskly. “’Bye, now,” she whispered. When the door closed, Mac waved her index finger around her ear to make the crazy sign.
I’ve been in loooove with your mom since I was thirteen.
Mac spun around, wondering how Freakberry had gotten back inside the penthouse. Then she blinked. Twice. It was Emily. Her impression was so spot-on that for a second Mac had thought the girl was still there.
‘Forever Blue,’ like, got me through two breakups,
” Emily continued. Then she pointed at Coco, her hand shaking, a real tear trickling down her cheek. “Oh my God—are you Cardammon’s daughter?”
“Dude, you’re freaking me out! It’s too much like her!” Becks gasped, ripping into the paper bag and taking out two large frozen yogurts in white-and-green containers.
“Thatwasahmazing!” Coco agreed, taking her green tea-flavored fro-yo.
“You should see her be a guy,” Mac said proudly, turning her clear plastic spoon upside down to lick the yogurt. “When Emily plays Jeff, she’s so hot that girls have crushes on her. I mean, crushes on
Emily covered her face, embarrassed. Earlier in the week, Mac had been trying to land Emily a role in a major Hollywood movie,
Deal With It
. The part was that of a girl who pretended to be a guy at boarding school. Mac had taken her budding star to the Grove, one of L.A.’s best shopping malls, and Emily had even fooled the Abercrombie salesgirl into thinking she was a guy. She’d also fooled Kimmie Tachman, BAMS’s biggest gossip, whom they’d run into on their way out.