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Authors: Jillian Larkin

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Historical, #United States, #20th Century, #Love & Romance, #Social Issues, #New Experience

Vixen

BOOK: Vixen
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This is a work of fiction. All incidents and dialogue, and all characters with the exception of some well-known historical and public figures, are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Where real-life historical or public figures appear, the situations, incidents, and dialogues concerning those persons are fictional and are not intended to depict actual events or to change the fictional nature of the work. In all other respects, any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

Text copyright © 2010 by The Inkhouse

First published in
Female Brides
, SPH Magazines.

Song lyrics: “Will You Love Me in December as You Do in May?” written by Ernest Ball, published in 1908. “When I Lost You” written by Irving Berlin, published in 1912. “Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag, and Smile, Smile, Smile” written by George Henry Powell under the pseudonym George Asaf, published in 1915. “Let Me Stay” written by Michael Roy (2010).

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

Delacorte Press is a registered trademark and the colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.

theflappersbooks.com
www.randomhouse.com/teens

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available upon request.

eISBN: 978-0-375-89908-9

Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.

v3.1

For the two finest modern-day flappers,
Beverly and Wendy:
You’ve got all the moves.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

A girl needs partners when she dances, and I’ve had some of the best. My thanks to Ted Malawer and Michael Stearns at The Inkhouse; and Krista Vitola, Barbara Perris, Trish Parcell, and the whole brilliant chorus line at Delacorte Press and Random House Children’s Books. Special thanks to Chip Gibson, Beverly Horowitz, and Wendy Loggia for believing in The Flappers from the very beginning—you are all the cat’s pajamas.

Contents

She didn’t feel like wearing a garter tonight. Her gold-beaded dress, cascading in waves of crystalline fringe, covered the intersection between her sheer stocking and bare thigh.

She slipped her right foot into one of her two-tone Mary Janes, her left foot into the other. The thin black straps went across her ankles, the silver buckles tightened with a pinch.

From the munitions strewn across her vanity, she carefully selected her weapons and placed them in a gold mesh evening bag: vamp-red kiss-proof lipstick, silver powder compact, tortoiseshell comb, ivory cigarette case.

She stared into the mirror. Everything was perfection: green eyes smoldering, cheekbones rouged and accented, lips outlined and plumped. Tonight, even her skin shimmered with something almost magical.

As she dabbed a final drop of perfume into the crease
where her shiny bob skimmed her neck, she decided the garter would be necessary after all. Of course it would.

And then, before snapping her bag closed, she added the small black handgun.

Now she was ready.

GLORIA

They found the entrance exactly as instructed: just before the cracked sign for Malawer’s Funeral Parlor, between the tailor and the barbershop, through the rusted gate, eleven creaky steps below street level. After they’d knocked precisely three times, a tiny slit in the boarded-up door slid open.

“What’s the word, doll?” One dark eye blinked at them.

Gloria opened her mouth and froze. This was the moment she had practiced endlessly in front of her bedroom mirror: saying the secret password to be admitted into the hottest speakeasy in Chicago. So what if it was the first time she’d ever snuck out of her house, lied to her parents, or been in the city alone? Not to mention that her dress—which she’d bought only the day before—was so short that one gust of wind could turn her from flapper to flasher like
that
.

“Come on, I don’t got all night!” the Eye barked.

Sweat began to bead on her upper lip. She could almost feel it caking the layers of her meticulously applied makeup and cracking the surface of her finishing powder.

“Ouch!”

Marcus, her best friend—who’d taken on the role of accomplice/chaperone for the evening—jabbed her in the side. “Just say it already!”

Gloria inhaled sharply: It was now or never. “Ish Kabibble?”

“Wrong. Now
scram!

And just like that, the Eye disappeared.

Gloria glared at Marcus. “You have
got
to be kidding me.”

“It was ‘Ish Kabibble’ the last time I was here!” he said. Steps below the street, the bluish night softened the harsh angles of his golden-boy features—his sharp cheekbones and jaw, the habitual smirk he wore—and made him look infallible. Trustworthy. Swoony, even.

Gloria could see why girls threw themselves at him, of course, but her own relationship with Marcus was three parts brother-sister to one part sexual tension—a healthy, balanced equation for any male-female friendship.

“You’ve been here a total of … wait, let me count—one … one. Once. Right,
one time
, Marcus. And that was merely because you
paid
your friend Freddy to take you.”

“Well, at least I’ve actually
been
inside,” Marcus said, crossing his arms with a sigh. “Let me take you home.”

Home? A few miles away by car, only it felt more like a
few thousand. Her father’s gleaming Mercedes—sneaked from the garage after the family’s driver went to bed—beckoned to her from beneath the streetlight. Maybe she
should
just return to the quiet, safe,
boring
tree-lined Astor Street that she knew so well. She could make it into bed scot-free by one a.m. and even fit in a few flash cards before her European history exam tomorrow. But wasn’t that exactly what people always expected her to do? Make the safe, good-girl choice?

No, she couldn’t leave now, not when she was one door away from carrying out the first and only rebellious act of her entire life. She was already here. She just had to get inside.

Gloria pounded on the door again.

The slit opened up a crack. “You again? You got a choice chassis, kid, but if you don’t go home to your daddy’s this second, I’ll call security—”


Wait
. All I ask is one single clue.” She pouted her brightly painted strawberry lips because, well, pouting always worked in the movies. “If I get it on the first try, we’re in. If not, we disappear.”

The Eye squinted menacingly. “Does this look like some kinda party guessing game to you?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Gloria said coolly. She could hear the band inside begin to play, its jazzy rhythms spilling out onto the street in muted tones. “I don’t go to parties. And I save my games for men.”

The Eye glanced at Marcus. “This one’s a real bearcat, ain’t she?”


Glo?
A bearcat? Ha!” Marcus said, laughing out loud.

“Fine.” The Eye rolled. “Here’s your clue: It’s a dirty deed you’re too young to do.”

Marcus jumped in. “That’s easy, it’s—”

“The girl’s got to get it, or I shut this door in your face forever!”

The phrase was on the tip of Gloria’s tongue. Oh yes, her best friend, Lorraine, had written it in a note during biology yesterday: “Oh my gawd—Welda, my lab partner, was just suspended … she was caught in the bathroom during last wknd’s dance with the CAPTAIN of the football team giving her a good—”

BOOK: Vixen
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