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Authors: Kate Brian

Lucky T

BOOK: Lucky T
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Lucky T 

Kate Brian 

For Manisha and Aimee 

Acknowledgments 

Special thanks to Claudia Gabel and Emily Thomas for all their help on this book.

 And to Lisa and Matt, who cheered me on over the hurdles.

Chapter One

On a warm and sunny Saturday morning, Carrie Fitzgerald stepped out of her walk-in closet wearing a lime green miniskirt. It was so short, she was positive she could never, under any circumstances, bend over in it. Her blond hair was held up in an impromptu bun with a No. 2 pencil. She had just run up to her room with her best friend, Piper Breslin, and begun trying on a multitude of eye-popping outfits that they bought during their crack-of-dawn shopping spree. The Westfield San Francisco shopping center had never been hit that hard that early in the morning before.

"Does this make me look sexy or skanky?" Carrie asked.

Piper checked herself out in Carrie's floor-length mirror and stuck her tongue out at her reflection. The electric blue tank top that she'd grabbed off Carrie's reject pile was clinging in all the wrong places. While Carrie had a very sleek figure that would make a supermodel envious, Piper was on the shorter, slightly rounder side.

"How do I put this without hurting your feelings?" Piper said with a smirk. "There's a hooker in LA that wants her skirt back."

"Hey, I can't help that I'm all legs." Carrie tugged at the hem of the skirt, hoping a few more inches of material would magically grow.

"I don't know how you do it," Piper said as she watched Carrie gawk at herself in front of her mirror. She could totally tell that Carrie was admiring the lift of the push-up bra she had bought at Victoria's Secret.

"Do what? Look like a streetwalker no matter what I put on?" Carrie joked, her brown eyes teasing. "Why do I have to be so tall and skinny?"

"Yep, tall and skinny. With big boobs. Must be a nightmare," Piper said with a deep sigh of frustration. "How do you manage to look so good even when you look bad?"

Carrie smiled. This is one of the many reasons she and Piper had been soldered together at the hip since kindergarten. They had this unbelievable relationship that bordered on sisterhood. No one else could tell Carrie that she looked cheap and then seconds later compliment her. No one else would put up with Carrie's complaining about sprouting up to five foot ten earlier in the year (despite the fact that it helped her make the varsity basketball team, even though she was only a sophomore). No one else could ever replace Piper as Carrie's best friend.

"C'mon, Piper. Let's stay focused. I have to find the perfect outfit for tonight," Carrie said as she threw a few more clothes-draped hangers on her bed.

"So what are you and Jason doing for your anniversary?" Piper asked while yanking off the blue tank top. The static electricity made her long, curly brown locks frizz out.

"I don't know. I'm just glad that we're doing whatever it is alone. We've been hanging out in these big groups lately." Carrie put her hands on her hips and peered at the three remaining items that lay in front of her--a pair of cropped green cargo pants, a long denim skirt with a slit up the side, and a short white ruffly skirt-- wondering which one Jason would like. She really wanted to look good for him on their one-year anniversary, especially because he took such good care of himself. Jason Miller was the only guy in their school who actually took some pride in his appearance. An all -star player on the football team, Jason had a rock-hard body and a gorgeous-looking face that Carrie got to cover in kisses every day.

"Well, you two will have lots of fun," Piper said seductively. "If you know what I mean."

"Ick, stop. That dirty voice really creeps me out." Carrie took off her skirt and the red honeycomb- stitch sweater she was wearing and then grabbed a pair of Miss Sixty low riders. Piper was right, though. Being with Jason was a lot of fun. Every Sunday they drank lattes and ate chocolate chip scones in a different Starbucks within the borders of downtown San Francisco. They had a regular movie night at the Castro Theater on Market Street. On the weekends they usually ran around to concerts and sporting events and house parties.

Yet the only thing they didn't do was talk about anything substantial, which Carrie always thought was a bit weird. Not that Jason would just sit next to her and space out. But still , it wasn't as if he and Carrie ever got into a heated discussion about the death penalty or even traded their most-embarrassing-moment stories. Tonight, however, things were going to change. Carrie was all about learning what was going on in Jason's brain (in addition to the kissing, of course).

"Did you get him a present?" Piper asked. She flopped backward onto Carrie's bed and spread her arms out so that they draped off the edges.

"We agreed not to buy each other anything," Carrie replied. "Wait a minute--he doesn't have a surprise for me or something, does he?"

Piper stretched her arms above her head. "Not that I know of."

"Come on," Carrie persisted as she poked Piper in the stomach. "What did he get me?"

"Ow! Carrie, I swear," Piper said, trying to fend her off. "He saves all his deepest, darkest secrets for my brother. Now stop jabbing me with your bony fingers."

"But if you knew something, you would tell me, right?" Carrie said.

"Yes, of course," Piper huffed. "If I find out anything between now and tonight, I promise I will call you."

"Good," Carrie said with a satisfied grin.

"Why don't you wear that cute floral dress you wore to the freshman dance last year?"

"Because I totally spill out of that now," Carrie replied.

"Uh, that's the point."

"Very funny," Carrie said while returning to the closet. "I have a shirt in mind anyway. I just need to find something else to go with it."

Piper sat up and began to rearrange Carrie's pillows so that she could prop herself up and watch her friend try on the next outfit, which was her tenth of the afternoon. Underneath the avalanche of fluffy shams and a few stray stuffed animals, Piper noticed that something was wedged between the headboard and the mattress.

"Hey, something's stuck in your bed," Piper said, yanking on the object forcefully.

Carrie ran out from the confines of her closet and yelped as if Piper had stepped on a small puppy. "Wait, no! You'll rip it!"

But in a few seconds Piper finally pulled whatever it was loose, and her mouth went completely agape. In her hands was an old T-shirt that Piper thought Carrie would have thrown out years ago. After all , she got it when she was in fifth grade.

"I can't believe you still have this," Piper said with astonishment.

Carrie was completely embarrassed. "I know it's weird. Please don't tell anyone, okay?"

There could only be one explanation for why Carrie wanted to keep this under wraps.

"You don't still --you can't possibly--" Piper stammered.

"I know you don't believe me, Piper," Carrie said as she put the T-shirt on very carefully. "But it's true. This shirt is lucky."

"I can't do it," Carrie said to Piper, who was now standing in the middle of Carrie's closet, rummaging through the crowded racks.

"Yes, you can," Piper replied confidently.

Carrie was now lying faceup on her neatly made queen-size bed. She looked around her room, which was much more airy and sunny now that summer was approaching. Her cream-colored walls were decorated with posters of foreign landscapes her father had sent her from his many trips, hung only at right angles. Her notebooks were neatly stacked on her antique desk and all her books shelved by height on the built-in bookcases. In general, Carrie reserved her mess for the closet, where she could always close the door on it.

But now Piper was attacking it like Mary Poppins on Red Bul .

"This is a waste of time," Carrie said. "I'm not going to take it off."

Piper wasn't deterred at all . "This superstition thing has gone too far, Carrie. Ever since you got this T-shirt, you've been obsessed with luck."

"That's not true."

"Real y? You don't convulse at the sound of a plate breaking or hyperventilate when I step on a crack? Do you really think my mother's back is going to break?"

"No!" Carrie said, picking up a stuffed porpoise and throwing it at Piper.

"So you'll stop this nonsense and take off that T-shirt?"

Carrie sat up and looked Piper in the eye. "No!"

Piper buried her head in her hands and walked slowly over to Carrie. "Okay, explain yourself, because I have no idea what's going on in that fat head of yours."

"My head isn't fat," Carrie said. "It just seems bigger because--"

"Yeah, you're tall and skinny. Whatever."

Carrie smiled down at the familiar green star on the chest of her red baby T. This shirt had brought her luck in every area of her life, and wearing it made her feel as if she could do anything. She had the proof to back it up.

"I'm telling you, every good thing that has happened to me is because of this lucky T."

Carrie had an extensive list going of all the positive moments that occurred after she got the T-shirt. She wore the lucky T to varsity basketball tryouts and was the only sophomore who made the cut. She had the shirt on during auditions for every school play since the fifth grade and won the lead role every time. Her grades had soared and she hadn't gotten anything less than an A on any test, which made sense because Carrie always wore her lucky T on exam days.

Piper didn't seem the least bit convinced. "So you're saying it's more believable that the shirt has magical powers than you're just an awesome person who achieves great things?"

"Girls!" Carrie's mother called up from the kitchen. "Lunch will be ready in fifteen minutes. What're you doing up there?"

Carrie was about to answer when she heard the sound of her mother coming up the stairs. Knowing Carrie and Piper were modeling their new clothes as they usually did after squandering their allowances, her mother would want in on the fashion show.

"I hope you both didn't spend your life savings," her mother said when she entered the room. She wore a wry smile on her smooth, cream-complexioned face (the woman never left the house without her SPF 45 slathered on). Her light brown hair was pulled into a high ponytail, only the gray streaks here and there indicating that she was not, in fact, Carrie's sister.

"Nope, we just spent yours," Carrie said playfully.

Her mother didn't really invest much money in her own wardrobe. Thus she had worn her current outfit of batik-print skirt, huge purple sweater, and beaded necklace every day since she had welcomed Carrie into existence. She did, however, spoil Carrie when it came to clothes, and Carrie knew it was mostly because her mother was still feeling pretty bad about the divorce, even though it had been years and years ago.

"Well, Carrie, since you and Piper are already fooling around in the closet, why don't you make a pile of any stuff you might want to toss and I'll give it to Celia?" her mother said, turning from the door.

Carrie's mother's best friend, Celia DeMarco, was always collecting clothes and canned goods for some charity or another.

"What's the cause of the week?" Carrie asked.

"India, I think," her mother said, brow furrowing. "Or is it Tibet? I don't know. I'll ask her. I'd help, but I have to keep an eye on the cucumber soup."

"Cucumber soup?" Piper looked as if she might puke.

"I was kind of hoping for burgers," Carrie said.

"Sweetie, we had meat loaf on Thursday. That's enough red meat for one week," her mother said.

"But I need my protein!" Carrie protested.

"I'll throw in some tofu," her mother replied, and then headed back to the kitchen.

"Having a nutritionist for a mother sucks on so many levels," Carrie pouted.

"So, are you going to answer my question?" Piper said, returning to the depths of the closet.

Carrie begrudgingly got off her bed and met Piper in a mound of clothes. She was really hoping that her mom's interruption would have somehow confused Piper enough so that she'd forget what they were talking about.

Maybe the T-shirt wasn't that lucky after all .

But just when Carrie had begun to question the whole theory, she got down on all fours, yanked a tangled button-down from the floor, and paused.

There, sitting at the very back corner of the closet, was the Skechers box she had used as a time capsule back in middle school. It was tattered around the edges and covered in smiley face stickers with the warning Open and Die!!! scrawled across the top in red marker. Carrie smirked, sat down cross-

legged, and pulled the box reverently onto her lap.

"What's that?" Piper asked, plopping down next to her.

Grinning in anticipation, Carrie carefully removed the rubber bands that held the box together, snapping a couple in the process. She lifted the box top and was greeted by a glossy photo of her and Piper, age ten, dressed up as flappers for Hal oween. Wearing far too much makeup and glitter, she and Piper were striking modeling poses--one hand to the hip, the other to the head--and grinning at the camera.

BOOK: Lucky T
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