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Authors: Niki Burnham

Spin Control

BOOK: Spin Control
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Spin Control

NIKI BURNHAM

Simon Pulse
New York London Toronto Sydney

Spin Control

How Not to Spend Your Senior Year

BY CAMERON DOKEY

Royally Jacked

BY NIKI BURNHAM

Ripped at the Seams

BY NANCY KRULIK

Cupidity

BY CAROLINE GOODE

South Beach Sizzle

BY SUZANNE WEYN AND DIANA GONZALEZ

COMING SOON

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

SIMON PULSE
An imprint of Simon & Schuster
Children’s Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com

Copyright © 2005 by Nicole Burnham

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

SIMON PULSE and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Designed by Ann Zeak

The text of this book was set in Garamond 3.

Manufactured in the United States of America

First Simon Pulse edition January 2005

10 9 8 7 6 5

Library of Congress Control Number 2004108250

ISBN-13: 978-0-689-86669-2

ISBN-10: 0-689-86669-0
eISBN 13: 978-1-439-12057-6

For Doug, for encouraging me to spin

One

Exactly six weeks, five days, and nine hours ago, my mother ruined my life. And even worse, because of her, I am missing a damned good party.

Right this second, I should be over at my best friend Christie Toleski’s house, getting ready to watch hotties like Heath Ledger walk the red carpet at the Golden Globes. My friends Natalie Monschroeder and Julia (aka Jules) Jackson are already there, undoubtedly noshing on popcorn, watching Joan Rivers on television and discussing the plasticity of Joan’s face while she kisses and disses the celebs and their clothes—or lack thereof.

When Christie’s parents aren’t in the room, they’re also probably talking about how far Christie and her boyfriend, Jeremy Astin, went on their last date, how far she actually wants to go, and how all of them are sooooo sure David Anderson (who I’ve been crushing on since kindergarten) is finally interested in me.

But no. They’re doing all that without me. I know because they IM’ed me about half an hour ago to rub it in.

Unfortunately, my failure to attend this year’s let’s-make-fun-of-celebrities Golden Globes party (not to be confused with our annual let’s-make-fun-of-celebrities Oscar, Grammy, and Emmy parties) is because, thanks to my mother, my parents are getting a divorce and I had to move with my dad to Schwerinborg a month ago.

Yes, Schwerinborg’s a real country, and yes, my friends all refer to it as Smorgasbord, even though the people here aren’t even Scandinavian. The Schwerinborgians—or Schwerinborgers or whatever they’re called—speak German. And we’re south of Germany, not north. Not that any of my friends care where it
is, other than the fact that it’s very, very far from Virginia.

So why not live with my mother? After all, she has a nice apartment back in Virginia, where all the important awards shows are carried live. And even though the location of Mom’s new place means I’d have to go to Lake Braddock High School instead of to Vienna West, where I’ve been going, I could still see my friends on a regular basis.

Hmmmm … how about because Mom’s new apartment is also home to Mom’s new GIRLFRIEND?

Yep, girlfriend. A super-organized, yoga-twisting, vegan Weight Watchers—devotee girlfriend named Gabrielle, who is, no kidding, a decade younger than my mother. And no, Gabrielle isn’t a girlfriend like Christie, Natalie, and Jules are my girlfriends.

Gabrielle is THAT kind of girlfriend.

I haven’t even had the guts to tell
my
girlfriends about her, and it doesn’t take a psychology degree to guess why. It’s the kind of thing that takes you a while to work up to telling someone, even your best
friends. Telling them about my parents’ divorce—and that I was moving to Europe with Dad—was bad enough. Popping out with, “Oh, and by the way, my mom—the woman who took us all out for manicures and facials before homecoming and has definitely seen all of you naked at one time or another when we’ve gone clothes shopping—yeah, well, she’s decided she’s gay!” wouldn’t have gone over with them very well.

I know they say they don’t care whether a person is gay, and I’ve never heard them say one derogatory word about anyone’s sexual preferences, but I’m not quite sure I want to test their beliefs yet.

And it’s not that
I’m
a homophobe. Seriously. I know a couple of gay kids at school, and they’re totally cool. But this is different. This is MY MOTHER.

It’s like the mom I knew disappeared one day and now there’s another person inhabiting Mom’s body. That’s the really hard part. Not the what-is-she-doing-with-that-woman? part. It’s that I have to wonder if she’s lied to me about who she is my entire freaking life.

You’d think I’d want to find the highest turret—well, if it had turrets—of Schwerinborg’s royal palace and toss myself off of it.

But no. I’m not even close to suicidal right now, even though I’m sure Heath Ledger and Hugh Jackman and about a hundred other hot actors look completely droolworthy walking the red carpet in their Armani tuxes and I’m missing it. (Thankyouverymuch, Mom.)

It’s because Schwerinborg is completely incredible. I mean, there are definite downsides, like the fact they use mayo on their French fries, that the weather is misty and depressing all winter long, and that I can’t watch the Golden Globes live. (Which, come to think of it, makes absolutely no sense—the awards are given by the Hollywood Foreign Press, and if anything’s foreign to Hollywood, it’s gotta be Schwerinborg.)

It’s because I have a BOYFRIEND.

I have a boyfriend who looks like Colin Farrell, only better. More of a hottie, less of a male slut.

I have a boyfriend named Georg
Jacques von Ederhollern,
and he is afreakin’ PRINCE
.

Yep. I, Valerie Winslow, a totally boring, non-cheerleader, non-athletic, nonpopular sophomore redheaded nobody from Vienna, Virginia, have officially hooked up with a European prince. A prince who knows how to kiss in the most knock-me-on-my-ass way, and who is formal and polite and looks beyond hot in a tux, but who also knows how to kick back and be cool and totally un-prince-like when we’re alone, if you catch my drift.

And you wanna know a secret? Even though it’s the dead of winter and he’s always in sweaters and jackets, I’ve discovered that he has these amazing arms.

Ever see Hugh Jackman in X-Men? Or when he has his shirt off in
Someone Like You?
Yeah. THOSE arms.

Okay, Georg’s almost seventeen, so he’s not quite Jackman caliber yet, and he’s a lot more lean and wiry than Hugh Jackman, but he’s headed in that direction. His arms are totally ripped and solid—the kind that other guys refer to as guns. A girl could be about to go off a cliff, grab on to
those biceps just as her footing slips, and not worry for even a second she’s going to fall, you know?

Yes, I know that girls probably go for Hugh Jackman—and Heath Ledger and Colin Farrell, for that matter—because of their accents as much as their arms or other, um, physical attributes. But if his name alone doesn’t make it clear, Georg
also
has an accent, and it’s pretty damned sexy. Better than Hugh’s, Heath’s, or Colin’s, even. (However, I will admit that if someone had told me a year ago that listening to a guy speak with a deep, German accent would make me get all gooey inside, I’d have thought they needed some serious therapy.)

But you see, the thing that makes Georg an even better boyfriend than Hugh Jackman could ever be is … HUGH JACKMAN DOES NOT HAVE A CROWN! He does not have staff members who polish his shoes before school or ask him if he’d like a Coke or finger sandwiches while he’s studying Trig in the palace library. Georg does. And he’s not the least bit egotistical about any of those
things. In fact, it makes him blush if you mention it. He gets this little pink glow right along his cheekbones, and then he tries to hide his face so you can’t see. It’s totally cute.

Also, Georg does not care that my mother is a lesbian. He actually tells me I should try to be more understanding of her, and at the same time, he totally gets that while I really do love her, I’m completely ticked off at her for what she did to me and Dad.

Is that love, or what? You don’t find that with just any guy. The arms, the accent, and even the crown are simply bonus material. He likes me for me, and David Anderson never did.

Well, unless you believe my friends, who I think keep telling me David likes me to try to make me feel better about the whole divorce thing.

Ha.

Wait until they hear about my prince. Or better yet, wait until I put them on the phone with him so they can hear his accent.

So right now
I’m
on the phone with Georg, and I can hardly follow what he’s
saying, because I’m so hung up on how he’s saying it. All rich and Euro-like, but thankfully without even a hint of that thick nasal sound that Arnold Schwarzenegger makes. Georg’s voice is way more smooth and seductive. And it’s making me wish he would hurry up and get over here so I can grab him and kiss him the way he kissed me day before yesterday, when we went to this dinner-party-reception-formal thing his father was hosting for the British prime minister here at the palace, then ditched for a while to go make out in the garden. It was icy out there, and all the plants were that generic shade of gray-green that plants get in the middle of January, but between the kissing and him whispering to me in that fabulous accent, I was totally warm. It was our second kiss, but the first serious one, and this time we both knew there’d be more. Lots and lots more.

I can’t think about anything else
but
kissing Georg.

“Valerie. Are you still listening to me?”

I sit up on my bed and try to focus. It’s difficult, though, when my room is maybe
only five degrees warmer than the garden was and Georg isn’t here to keep me toasty.

My dad and I live in the royal palace in Schwerinborg because he’s the new protocol chief to the royal family-meaning he works for Georg’s dad, Prince Manfred—who rules the country-and Georg’s mom, Princess Claudia. He advises them on things like the proper way to address everyone from visiting Buddhist monks to the queen of England, and warns them about the fact that when they visit Egypt, they might get served pigeon but that it’s perfectly safe to eat.

BOOK: Spin Control
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