Mac set her iBook on Coco’s antique writing desk and plopped into a wooden chair while Coco darted into her bathroom to scrounge through her Essie nail polish set. Emily sat cross-legged on the forest green carpet and started braiding her hair, and Becks flopped onto her back.
Mac reopened her computer, ready to revive the discussion of her campaign posters. Her home page was the Bel-Air community web page—a special, password-protected web community just for people in the 90077. Which was where she saw The Ad
Mac was stunned speechless for about two seconds.
“Oh my,” she said suddenly, staring at the computer screen. The other girls rushed to Mac’s side and read over her shoulder.
Seeking Personal Assistant
Very important Bel-Air social chair seeks assistant to provide daily support and help orchestrate big school fund-raiser. Must be organized, highly efficient, proactive, with great interpersonal skills, keen attention to detail, and a “can-do” spirit. Personal style is a plus, but not a requirement. Interested candidates: iChat RG here.
“It’s just an ad.” Becks crawled back to the carpet and went back to flipping through Coco’s dog-eared
“Yes, but it’s to work for
!” Coco translated, shaking the bottle of cotton candy pink nail polish she’d chosen.
“Cha-ching!” Mac declared. Ruby Goldman was her biggest rival in the upcoming social chair elections. Ruby had spent the past four years trying desperately to steal Mac’s style—she followed Mac’s outfit choices like the North Star—and now here she was, already
for Mac’s job.
“How can you tell it’s Ruby?” Emily asked, brushing her hazelnut bangs out of her eyes.
“Social chair. Big school fund-raiser. Her initials: RG. Plus,
would think this was a good idea?” Coco sat down on the carpet and started painting the nails on her left hand.
“Well, there’s one way we can be sure.” Mac grinned wolfishly at Emily.
“Don’t look at me!” Emily shrieked. “I’m too new to make enemies!”
.” Mac made air quotes. “Jeff.”
“Jeff! Jeff!” Coco and Becks chanted.
Emily’s eyes darted nervously around the room. She eyed Coco’s bed as if she were thinking about darting underneath it.
“Oh, puh-leeeez!” Coco cried. “You have to!”
“Do it for the Inner Circle!” Becks said.
“Okay, fine,” Emily groaned. “But I have a bad feeling about this.”
Mac ran to her Hervé Chapelier overnight bag in the corner of Coco’s room and promptly returned with a Stanford baseball cap that smelled like BO. Emily had worn Mac’s brother ’s hat during her audition, and it had helped make her feel . . . masculine.
“Ladies, this is going to be fantastic,” Mac said, licking her clear plastic spoon. “But Emily, Kimmie’s probably told Ruby about ‘Jeff’ by now, so it’s better to use another alias.”
“Got it.” Emily nodded. She plopped herself in front of Mac’s white iBook and stretched her fingers like a pianist. She shook her head back and forth and rolled her shoulders in circles. She jutted her chin out from under her baseball cap. Then she cleared her throat to lower her voice a register
Watching Emily made Mac proud that she had a professional actress pulling the prank. Everything Mac did was A-list.
“Okay, everyone please move,” Mac said, waving to the air around Emily. “Or you’ll be in her interview.”
Emily clicked on the link to video chat Ruby through the Bel-Air intranet. Coco, Becks, and Mac lay on the green carpet in a semicircle around Emily, hands on their chins so they could peer up at the computer screen.
“Hello, this is Ruby,” said the voice. In the window on the laptop screen popped Ruby Goldman. Her long blond hair had newly fringed, sideswept bangs, and she wore high-waisted jeans and a red sleeveless blouse with ruffles, like she was in costume as a ’70s movie star.
“Hey, I’m, uh, Tom,” Emily said, her voice husky, her shoulders slouched. “I’m interested in the job.”
Coco and Becks exchanged awed looks. Mac smiled.
“Are you new to Bel-Air, Tom? I thought I knew everyone. . . .” Normally Ruby talked in a fake baby voice, but now she sounded super grown-up.
“Yeah, my dad just got transferred here,” Emily improvised.
“Great. Hi. I’m Ruby,” she said, relaxing just a bit.
Coco dropped her clear spoon into her melting yogurt and leaned closer to the computer. Mac and Becks cupped their mouths to prevent their laughter from escaping.
“I’m about to be elected to a
job at a
school in Los Angeles,” Ruby said. “It’s too much for one person. And unfortunately, I can’t clone myself.” She sighed dramatically, as though it were a travesty that there was only one of her.
Becks reached for Coco’s Hello Kitty notepad and wrote frantically with a purple gel roller:
Is she for reals?
Mac shrugged. It didn’t matter. They had stumbled upon the best entertainment ever in the history of night-before sleepovers.
“Wow, you sound really busy,” Emily-as-Tom said in her deep, boy voice.
“I am. That’s exactly it,” Ruby said, fluffing her long blond hair and straightening the ruffle on her shirt. “But enough about me. Tell me about you. Why does a cute guy want to work for
Mac’s eyebrows shot up. Was Ruby
with Tom? Ew!
“I just thought the job sounded cool ’cause I’m organized and I like parties.” Emily pulled her hat lower so that it covered more of her face.
Ruby crossed her arms. “Well, Tom, there are lots of
, but I’m planning high-end events.
. And I need someone who is hungry to learn. This job is the fast track to Bel-Air’s best people.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s what I meant.” Emily shrugged her shoulders.
“Listen,” Ruby said, leaning in like she was about to tell a secret. “Let’s interface and see if this would be a good fit. What’s your e-mail address? I’ll send you a confirmation.”
“It’s, uh, Tom, T-o-m. At e-m-a-i-l dot com.”
“Great. I have a good feeling about this, Tom,” Ruby said, nodding seriously.
Mac played with her wooden bangles, wondering how Ruby could be so stupid. The number one rule of the Internet was, never trust anything or anyone you meet online. Clueless people were always getting themselves into trouble with technology.
“Yeah, me too. Okay, see ya,” Emily said, waving goodbye to Ruby.
The girls were quiet for several seconds before they erupted into laughter.
!” Coco hyperventilated. “I can’t believe she fell for it!” She looked at Emily seriously. “That was even better than your Freakberry impression!”
“Wait, wait, wait! Emily, puh-leeeez do more impressions!” Becks cried.
“Well . . .” Emily pulled the arms of her sweatshirt way down so it looked like she had no hands. Then she stood with her hand on her right hip, her left leg jutting out. “Totes!” she said.
“BECKS!” Coco and Mac screamed in unison.
me!” Becks exclaimed, lifting up her sweatshirt arms to reveal that she’d tucked her hands inside. “Do more!”
Emily leaned her head down, getting into character. Then she popped her head up and tucked her hair behind her ears. She mimed twirling bangles on her wrists and checking her iPhone. Then she flipped her hair behind her back in one brisk motion and stared intently at her friends. She spoke in a slightly deeper, more business-like voice. “Girls, I have a plan!”
Mac blushed. Coco and Becks laughed. “Mac!”
“Don’t do me!” Coco crossed her arms and shook her head in tiny, rapid back-and-forth motions. “I’ll be too embarrassed!”
Emily crossed her arms and stared right at Coco. “Okay. I won’t do you.” She shook her head in the same tiny, rapid back-and-forth motions.
Coco covered her face in mock embarrassment.
“I have others,” Emily said. She slowly curled her hand into a paw and made cat sounds. “
Thanks for coming to my par-tay.”
” Becks and Coco cried. The girls had been to Kimmie’s Sweet Thirteen party earlier that week. She had dressed as a sexy lion and had gone around making cat noises all night.
“That’s exactly how she does it!” Coco cried. “It’s sort of adorable, actually.”
Becks, Coco, and Mac all started making paws and lion noises.
“Stop!” Coco puffed out her cheeks like a blowfish, then let out the air. She crossed her legs, twisting her ankles and pointing her toes. She looked like she was about to explode—her face was bright red and tiny beads of sweat glistened on her forehead.
“Meow!” Emily said again, making a paw.
“No, seriously, people, stop!” Coco spoke through clenched teeth. She was squeezing her fists tightly and her eyes were closed. “I’m serious!” Her breaths came in short pants, like Madonna’s.
And then Mac realized—
“Oh, Coco,” Mac said calmly, knowing that she had to call out the obvious. “Please tell me you did not just pee yourself!”
Coco turned an even brighter shade of red.
“Ew!” Becks yelled, cracking up even more.
“Just a drop!” Coco pleaded. “Nothing anyone would actually notice but me.”
“And me, apparently,” Mac pointed out.
“Okay, fine,” Coco said, blushing. “When I laugh really, really hard, sometimes a little just comes out. I can’t help it. Last year it happened at dance practice.”
“Gross!” Mac said, and threw a green silk pillow at her friend.
“I know!” Coco laughed and threw a pillow back. “I’m gross! Can we please talk about someone else now?!” she said, shuffling into the bathroom to turbo-change.
“I have a secret.” Becks said, jumping to her friend’s rescue. She sat on her knees on the green carpet and the girls turned to face her. “It doesn’t leave this room,” she said slowly, and everyone nodded. She waited a few seconds, relishing the attention. “I’ve never kissed a boy.”
Coco rejoined the circle and everyone groaned. None of them had kissed boys. Besides, the only datable boys at BAMS were Lukas Gregory and Hunter Crowe. They were best friends and water polo players, with really good fashion sense (Diesel jeans and plain tees) without being gay about it. All the other boys at BAMS were either (a) jerks, (b) immature, or (c) all of the above.
“That’s right, these lips have never touched a boy,” Becks went on, pointing to her naturally Angelina Jolie- esque pout. “But until they do, I have my ways. And that’s what you
can’t tell anyone.”
Very slowly, Becks reached for her Pinkberry yogurt. “Pretend this is Austin,” she said, referring to her next-door neighbor and crush. They’d grown up together, and this year he was starting at Bel-Air Prep. Becks drew the dessert close to her lips, and then she slowly opened her mouth and proceeded to
slobber all over the frozen yogurt,
making a mess of her face as she moved her lips over the fro-yo dome. By the time Becks had finished displaying her talents, there was just a messy puddle of melted frozen yogurt.
“Oh God, are you trying to make me pee again?” Coco asked.
Emily smiled, but resisted teasing anyone or laughing too much at their expense.
Mac thought approvingly of her young star.
“Come on, Mac, don’t you have any secrets?” Becks asked, putting down her mangled fro-yo and lying on her side.
“Yeah, we always tell you everything!” Coco squealed.
“Well,” Mac said casually, “even after I win social chair I’m still going to hang out with you girls all the time. I have no interest in hanging out with anyone else at BAMS.” Mac shrugged as if she’d just revealed a deep, dark secret.
“DUH!” Coco screamed.
“BIIIIIIG SHOCKER! Tell us something we don’t know!” Becks commanded. “I want truly confidential information!”
Emily, Coco, and Becks stared at Mac wide-eyed. “Sorry, chickadees, you know everything about me,” Mac replied nonchalantly, twisting the strap on her blue Splendid pajama top.
“Fine,” Becks sighed. “I give up. And I’m tired.”
“Me too,” Mac said, realizing she’d lost the chance to revive her social chair strategy talks. They flicked off the lights and crawled under their Italian linens in the guest beds that housekeeping had wheeled in earlier that day.
Mac closed her eyes, grateful that she’d managed to dodge the
what’s your secret
question. There was nothing she hated more than feeling vulnerable. And there was no faster way to become social roadkill than to be an open book.
Mac was half awake, half asleep, listening to the gentle hum of Coco’s sound machine and thinking about how if she could just get social chair, her life would
be complete when . . . it happened.
Mac Armstrong farted.
Mac’s heartbeat instantly raced at triple speed. She prayed that everyone was still asleep.
Mac, was that you?
” Coco squealed, sitting up, the whites of her eyes visible even in the dark.
“Maaaaaaaaaaaaaac! How could such a large sound come out of such a teeny girl?” Becks hollered, tossing a silk pillow at Mac.
“Oh, Mac, it really does reek in here,” Emily said softly.
Mac blushed when she heard Emily’s voice. Surely Mama Armstrong had never farted in front of her hotshot clients. She waited until the giggles subsided and the last of the pillows had been flung. “Fine. I’m lactose intolerant.”
“Aha!” Coco exclaimed. “
why you always get soy lattes!”
“No more Pinkberry for you!” Becks decreed.
“I’m sure we can all sleep better knowing my systems are working,” Mac said. “But I need my beauty rest.” She slipped on her baby blue Bliss satin eye mask. “Good night!”