Tuesday, July 9, 2013

THE HOTNESS: A Modern Teen Pride and Prejudice (chapter seven: Debate class)

Chapter Seven
Debate class

    “Yada yada yada,” Darcy whispered as study hall became English class elective  - debate club. Only Me (I had permission to sit in on the class during my study hall to collect Mackenzie’s notes), Paige, Darcy, Shiloh, Ryan and Rys stayed in their places. We were reading on our cell phones as we waited for the combined English-debate class. Actually, Paige was writing notes and Ryan and Shiloh were smiling at each other – again.
     Darcy sighed under his breath and rudely stretched his legs. Paige flicked her dark hair off her face and rolled it into a bun. Darcy put his feet on the window sill close by his desk until the teacher entered the room and he quickly removed them. He didn’t realize he’d have both homeroom and an elective with the annoying Paige.
    Their debate teacher, a scholastic looking woman named Mrs Tartt who’d taught at Sunrise forever and was married to another teacher, arrived with her folder pages falling all over the floor. Rys and Shiloh helpfully offered to pick up the papers. Darcy just sat stony silent and chewed the end of a pencil.
    “Weirdo,” Rys whispered under his breath as he moved back to sit beside Paige. Paige’s lack of response was evidence of her agreement.
    The junior and senior classes were studying Shakespeare in English this semester but on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays some of the students elected debate class instead.
      “Before we start on topics, we need to establish who is going to be captain of  debate team this semester since our last captain just went on to Harvard.”
      Mrs Tartt was clearly thrilled as she glanced at the former senior whose photo made up the previous year’s winning team.
     “I have only one applicant’s name put forward. So, Paige Bennet is elected if the captaincy goes unopposed.”
       Mrs Tartt looked around the room. Such a lack of competition wasn’t good for anybody, Mrs Tartt reasoned.
      Someone groaned. The class looked relatively disinterested. Only Paige and a couple of seniors (and me) took debate club at all seriously.
      Ryan knew it would be good for his friend to become involved in this class. He knew, when Darcy spoke, it was without prejudice and his usual uncaring persona because he’d witnessed this phenomenon before when they’d been at boarding school together. Darcy spoke, people listened. He had the makings of a great speaker. After all, he had ambition. Before he ran his own cattle station, he planned to finish law school.
    Ryan knew this and with barely a moment’s hesitation, he raised his hand and said, “Darcy Donovan is running for captain too.”
    Darcy and Paige both looked horrified.  
    “Ah… (he looked at his schedule because he’d barely bothered to read his nondescript teacher’s name prior to this) don’t you have to have already been a member of the team for six months?”
   “Ah, no,” Mrs Tartt replied, “It doesn’t say anything about those requirements here – only that the captain must be a junior or a senior at Sunrise High School – so, that’s you and I’ll write your name here… Ah, let’s see, Darcy Donovan – yes, now it’s so wonderful to see all my students engaged in appropriate activities for the semester…”
    Mrs Tartt went on to list every student and their ‘activities’ with a special smile for the delightful Shiloh and her charming new companion, Ryan. Mrs Tartt then wished all of her students were as easy going as those two. She knew you shouldn’t play favorites but after all these years, it was hard not to warm to some students more than others. The new boy, Darcy, reminded Mrs Tartt so much of another boy she’d taught years ago – Mark Knightly. Only Mark’s personality was far less... dark.  The  cloud forming on Darcy Donovan’s face belied his (admitted) handsomeness.  It had to be said, there was something about his arrogant smile which Mrs Tartt felt mildly disapproving of.
    And Paige Bennet? She’d heard all about her from the guidance counselor at her previous school. Paige certainly had some lessons to learn also. Well, that was what school was for. Yes, the competition would be good for both of them.

THE HOTNESS: A Modern Teen Pride and Prejudice (chapter six: Homeroom)

Chapter Six
    Darcy spent his first boring moments of home room seated in the back row scratching the initials of all his exes into his desk. There were a lot of them. He had no idea why his relationships didn’t work out. Perhaps young females had better value systems because the minute he told them about the stuff with his grandfather and asked them to sign a confidentiality agreement – they generally dumped him. This time he wouldn’t be so stupid. This time he’d pretend to be really in love with the lucky girl he chose to take to Australia for the summer vacay.
     While they waited for Mrs Tartt, Darcy’s worst nightmare showed up with a late pass.
     Rys Wickam. What a jerk.  
     Rys’s father had been Darcy’s business partner – controller of their Los Angeles business empire for quite a while until it all went wrong.
     There was an empty seat next to Paige and Rys headed straight for it.
     Typical, Darcy thought.
     Paige smiled at Rys who whispered, “I didn’t know I’d meet such a babe in this place… He pulled out his cell, “…wanna friend?”
     Paige saw Darcy looking up anxiously and immediately smiled at Rys who was tall, blonde and handsome and nodded to Rys. Rys could easily pull off this hottie pose he had going on. At least some boys have a sense of humor, Paige thought, as she glanced defiantly back at Darcy Donovan. Darcy could learn a thing or two from Rys’ easygoing friendly manner.
     Paige considered the moment. It was only boys who didn’t know her who dared try to chat her up. Rys would surely learn soon enough that she had the rep for being “an ice queen” (wasn’t that how Dan Devitt – previous town tool and high school sexpert - had described her after she’d agree to date him – once?) That was at her previous school in New Mexico. He’d lied about that date afterwards telling anyone who was interested that Paige was easy. It had taken Paige an entire semester to win back her reputation as a studious, serious girl. Paige hoped things would be different in a new town and she wasn’t about to just hand her trust to another teenage boy who’d trash talk her behind her back.
    Besides, the second Bennet sister was all about her studies.
    Paige wanted to go to Harvard. Her mother was very disapproving. Mrs Bennet thought girls had the greatest potential to find happiness in home and family life. Paige’s domestic situation was like a Jane Austen novel. Nevertheless, Paige was into extra-curricular activities. Becoming captain of debate team would look great on all her applications and there was not another junior who would dare to challenge her.

     Rys Wickam, busy texting under the desk, was clearly more interested in social networking than study. He was unlikely to be interested in academic credentials and Darcy was busy scratching initials, playing the ‘bad boy’, as if he didn’t already have ‘conformist’ practically tattooed on his forehead.  

THE HOTNESS: A Teen Pride and Prejudice (chapter five: The Bennet Sisters)

Chapter Five
The Bennet Sisters
   “Did you see that? He just brushed past us and almost knocked my folder off the table,” Paige Bennet said.
   “Is he the new boy with the yummy accent?”
   “Yes. Apparently being polite is not high on his list of priorities.”
   “You should give him a chance.”
    “We go to the same school. That means we’re going to be seeing a lot of those boys.”  
    “Well I don’t like the dark haired one. He thinks he’s so handsome. He looks like he eats girls for breakfast and spits them out for lunch. He looks like a typical sexist, arrogant… “
    “You better find a way to get along with him. He’s in your debate class,” Shiloh added, looking up from her schedule.  
    “Great, just what I need - a boy who thinks he’s not only prettier than me, but smarter to boot.”
    “He can’t be all bad, Paige. His friend seems… so nice,” Shiloh assured her sister.
    “You’ve spoken to him?”
    “Not yet, but I’m about to. He put his name down for Spring Awakening. By the way, I put yours down too.”
    “Great,” Paige said, as if it wasn’t.  

     Shiloh, if I gave you the right impression, was dreamy and sweet and kind. Paige was not as easy to like upon first impressions. Most girls were threatened by her. She was pretty (though she tried to hide it) and she had ambition. Paige Bennet wanted to be the first woman in her family to go to law school. Paige was a bit of a high achieving control freak, I’d have to state for the record, but she was also a girl Veronica, Honey and I grew to look up to over time. Right from the start, she spoke her mind. I just wished she matched it with the right shade of lipstick.  
    The next morning, Sia and Rebel raced off to their home rooms with me. Senta, on the other hand had wandered off to her morning prayer group, The Praise & Worshipfuls, and then to the music department where her first lesson – piano – would be presided over by her new favorite teacher, Mr Benz. Mr Benz was widely thought of as being not entirely unfortunate-looking. I’d say he was passably cute.

    Meanwhile, Shiloh and Paige headed to their connecting homerooms. Paige was  still unable to pull her head out of the novel she was reading, all about a young girl who wanted to rule the world but her evil Uncle, who already ruled the world, wouldn’t let her and didn’t think her capable and tried to lock her in a tower forever. But the girl escaped and got revenge…   

THE HOTNESS: A Modern Teen Pride and Prejudice (chapter four: New School )

Chapter Four
New School    
   Back at school the following week, Paige overheard Darcy say how lame it was that their new high school “didn’t even have a swimming pool.” His friend nodded and Paige couldn’t believe how entitled they sounded. She’d heard Australians weren’t at all socially particular but these two really broke the mold.  
    “Honestly, you’d think they were titled aristocrats, the way they act,” Paige told Shiloh, who nodded and smiled happily at the group walking by.
    That group was The Princesses, and we were already thinking about voting Shiloh in.   
    Plenty of clubs had asked Darcy and Ryan to join but Darcy didn’t like being mobbed. Even so, he looked lonely and miserable sitting, waiting for Ryan to join him at recess. He was thinking how much more fun he’d have helping to drive cattle across the Simpson Desert back in Australia or going to New York to film another web series when his younger sister, Blair, called him again on his cell. Blair was in rehab for obsessive compulsive disorder issues, amongst other things.
    Darcy rushed outside to take Blair’s call. He didn’t like to neglect her since she suffered from depression and low self-esteem. He’d already had his cell confiscated once by some overzealous teacher who didn’t understand (it wasn’t Darcy’s way to explain his personal issues) and he didn’t want to risk detention again.
     As he stood by his locker in the hallway, the youngest Bennet sisters came running outside to gossip about a text one of them had received from a boy. Darcy was irritated by their behavior.  Sia Bennet’s language was bad but Rebel’s fashion sense was worse. Darcy blocked the sound in his right ear and was glad that at least his sister would never act so loud and embarrassing in public.
    After Darcy finished his call, he walked inside to finish his lunch. The Bennet sisters were all seated at a table by then and still gossiping. Rebel looked up at him with food in her mouth and laughed as if he were the joke and not her.
    “Revolting,” Darcy said of the cafeteria food after he took a bite of his pizza. “I’m going to ask Macey to make me something edible to bring tomorrow.”
     Ryan smiled.
     “Mine’s pretty good, actually,” Ryan said, chewing happily.
     “I like it here,” Ryan confided to Darcy, “the girls are cute and the open spaces on the freeways and in the suburbs remind me of home. What an amazing country! I can’t wait to drive Route 66 and go exploring over summer.”
    “Whatever,” Darcy said. He hated to show enthusiasm. It was totally uncool but he grudgingly had to admit the US was one of the most beautiful places on earth from some of the travels he’d done with his family across country as he was growing up. It didn’t stop him missing where he was from, though. The view overlooking Sydney Harbor first thing in the morning was one of the most spectacular on the planet and Darcy longed to show it off to his friends someday. Looking over at the table of mis-matched sisters, the two older, good-looking and studious ones and the unruly younger ones, he doubted he’d meet anyone suitable here.
   “And remember Darcy, to make a friend, you have to be a friend,” Macey had warned him when he was six. 
    Yeah, whatever, Darcy thought. “Who are they?” he asked Ryan.
    “They are the Bennet sisters. The eldest, Shiloh, is in my home room. I think she’s nice.”
     Darcy rolled his eyes.
     “That’s all I need, my best friend going gaga for some local girl. Who am I supposed to hang out with if you hook up with her? Mackenzie?” Darcy laughed at his own joke.  
     At that moment, Rebel flicked a bread roll at Sia, whilst Senta (who wore glasses and was so named because, being the middle child, she was at the center of the family), glowered at both of her younger siblings as she highlighted pages of her dictionary.
    Darcy noticed Ryan’s admiration in his voice and the way he smiled at Shiloh.  Then Darcy looked in horror again at the youngest girl, Rebel. It was like that moment in Marley and Me when the couple found out Marley was the tear away of the litter. The Bennets were trouble.
    “Well, her sisters have a lot to learn about eating in public. I can’t believe there is anyone to friend here…”
    “Cheer up, the cafeteria is half empty. Besides, the Bennet sisters are by far the cutest girls I’ve seen since we arrived in Beverly Hills.”
    “Mmm… The eldest is overly pretty. She looks too smiley, almost to the point of stupidity and the middle one is too smart looking. She wears glasses when she reads, she studies too much. The second-eldest is pretty enough but she has no style and speaks her mind too loudly. She’s obviously judgemental. Did you see the way she just looked at me? ...”
    It takes one to know one, Ryan thought. 
   “I doubt we’ll meet any girls I could bring home to grandfather.”
   “Oh, I’d forgotten about the wedding vows…” Ryan laughed.
   “Don’t remind me.”
    Darcy had just received a letter from his cray cray grandfather, upping the stakes. Again, he offered Darcy the first part of his inheritance at twenty- one, an entire sixty thousand acre cattle station, only if he was engaged to be married. Darcy knew he’d have to find or hire a suitable girl to present as his ‘steady’ by summer.
     “I doubt there are even two suitable girls in the whole school worth dating.”
     “You could always go online.”
     “My grandfather could trace that in minutes…”
     “You could always date Mackenzie…”
     “I’d rather stick pins in my toes. She’s such a viper. My fake girlfriend needs to at least appear legit. I doubt I have any chance of fooling him at all with Mackenzie.”    Darcy had no intention of ever getting married. He liked the idea of playing the field… forever, but his grandfather was old fashioned and believed in long engagements and even longer marriages.
     “Early marriages and lots of children create stability within the family,” he’d informed Darcy’s father.   
     “With your attitude,” Ryan told him, “I doubt any woman would be willing to go along with your game.”
    “Most people are willing to do anything for money. But you’re right. It would be better if she actually thinks I like her…”
     “Whatever,” Ryan shrugged. “Anyway, it’s in our best interests to make friends.”
    “That’s why I’ve already signed us up for the soccer team and the school play. Oh, and it says here they’re doing a G-rated version of Spring Awakening.”
    “You can’t be serious.”
    “Sure, they’ve taken out all the adult themes and profanity.”
    “What’s left?”
    “Melodies? No, it says here they took out the songs too, so they don’t have to pay for the rights. They’re just basing it on the original story. Cheer up Darcy. We both like to perform, right?”
    “Are you serious? Plays are just so…”
    “So what?”
    “They’re for girls, Ryan: girls and girly-boys. Not for us. I’m taking debate.”
    “Debate’s not a great way to meet your future wife…” Ryan said sarcastically. “You need to meet women who aren’t... overly academic.”
     Darcy nearly choked on his soda.
     “And make friends in general…”
     “Friends? You mean like her?”
     Darcy pointed to Shiloh and in that moment Paige also looked up. Darcy hated to admit it, but when Paige stared straight at him with her blue stare and glossy pout, it was like he’d been hit by a bolt of lightning. What a cliché. He almost hated himself for feeling the way he did. If he knew what he felt he’d be able to describe it as… an opposite attraction. Didn’t Macey always tell him, “in love, like meets like?”  
    Darcy averted his glance and reminded himself it would be foolish to be diverted from his fake girlfriend hunting task and side tracked by the threat of romance. 
     It bothered Darcy that Paige Bennet’s challenging stare had unnerved him.  He couldn’t shake the idea that she’d overheard his comment about Spring Awakening (she took drama class along with me) and that she was somehow judging him – way too harshly. 
    He checked his schedule: debate class.
    “I think this afternoon is going to be… fun,” Ryan offered.
    “You can’t be serious. I don’t know how we ended up here but it feels like the end of days…”
    “Darcy, I’m reading the athletics schedule and it sounds good. We go to practice after try-outs tomorrow. I really think this new school is going to be the making of us, mate…”
     “And I feel like leaving right about now,” Darcy stood up, pulled his shades back over his eyes and slumped past the Bennet sisters, ignoring Paige as he left the room.

THE HOTNESS: A Modern Teen Pride and Prejudice (chapter three: New Girls)

Chapter Three
New girls
     Into this mix of the young, the new and the entitled, came the new girls. The Bennets had just moved to LA from somewhere in the Midwest. Paige, the girl who seemed to draw Darcy’s attention immediately in the lunch room, dressed plainly in jeans and an old college sweater. She dragged her dark curls back in a messy ponytail and wore glasses and unfashionable clothes. But I’ve seen all the classic teen films, especially Some Kind of Wonderful and she was clearly hiding the pretty beneath the surface.  
     Her older sister Shiloh was both beautiful and pristine. She wore semi-fashionable clothes and was regularly stopped on LA streets by scouts wanting to sign her up for modeling classes (her father didn’t approve and Shiloh hated to rock the boat).
     At first sight, Mackenzie was jealous of the older Bennet girls, until she saw the younger ones. Senta (the middle sister) was as quiet and unassuming as a mouse and Sia and Rebel (the younger ones) were outrageous and notorious down to the ripped black stockings and denim jean shorts they insisted on changing into after they’d left the house in the mornings.
     Meanwhile, it had become clear that the newbie boys were stuck in the wrong place.
     “It’s either this or home schooling and I’m not having that on! Just an excuse for teenage boys to bludge away an entire semester. No way!” Darcy’s father was way overwhelming as I’m sure you’ve gathered by his strange Australian yelling.
     Even though Darcy and Ryan were supposed to have been enrolled at an exclusive New York boarding school for the semester in a moment of sublime (some thought divine) intervention, the enrolment forms had gone astray. They were both posted by Darcy’s father’s short sighted personal assistant, Macey, and Macey had posted them to the wrong place.
    Usually, strings would be pulled. Unfortunately, in this case, no string could be pulled until the following semester.
     Macey kept her job because she was ‘like family’ and according to Mr Darcy, Sunrise High would ‘toughen them up’. Darcy and Ryan’s parents promptly relocated to New York for the school semester, promising to commute every weekend. Both Darcy and Ryan were mostly left in the hands of their respective lawyer-guardians and housekeepers. It was a good thing their houses were adjacent to each other in Beverly Hills and part of a gated community that looked down on parts of Sunrise central. They hung out like brothers, every day.
    They couldn’t believe some lame, artistically orientated establishment was the only place they could go at the eleventh hour. It was precisely because Sunrise High had an arts program that there were extra places for boys. Not many boys put the arts program down as their first preference.
     And so both boys were enrolled at Sunrise and Darcy, in particular, had the wrong attitude. His Dad’s housekeeper, Macey, was his formal guardian whilst his parents resided in Los Angeles. Macey had known Darcy since he was a baby and could do no wrong in her eyes.
     Nevertheless, Darcy thought it would be easy. He thought he could just *”bludge” away the entire semester doing nothing. (*Bludge is an Australian-English word for ‘doing nothing.’)
    Ryan went along with most of his friend’s suggestions. It was easier that way. 
    Neither Darcy nor Ryan had ever attended a State (or Public) school.
    “It’s so low class,” Darcy complained.
    And Darcy was over it even before he and Ryan rocked up in his Dad’s Ferrari, parked it with an arrogant screech of the wheels and walked towards the school gates. Ryan, on the other hand, was excited.
     “I think it looks like fun,” Ryan noted as he pulled up his sunglasses.
    During his first weekend in LA, Ryan had noticed an extremely pretty girl named Shiloh, standing in line at the local Sunrise cinema. He’d been too shy to talk to her but he overheard her conversation with her younger sister about the school they attended. It was called Sunrise. Ryan was hoping Shiloh would be in one of his classes since she looked about the same age as him and he was sure he saw a girl just like her walking through the front gate.

    On that first day of school, even after the bell rang, peeps stared.
    On the second day, peeps swooned - even though Darcy had decided to lie low and not draw attention to himself. Only six freshman dared to ask him for his autograph.
    “I don’t usually do this,” he shrugged reluctantly as he scrawled his name and the girls ran off screaming.
    Ryan shook his head and laughed. Darcy’s ego was more inflated than ever. It never occurred to Darcy that his pushy manager had hired the girls to act like his professional fans for a week.
     If I was to be completely honest I’d have to say Darcy, being older by three months, taller and richer, was cuter than Ryan (who was cute enough already to have been stopped on the street in The Grove and given the card of a casting scout who asked him if he’d ever been interested in acting). When he told his best friend Darcy about this, Darcy scoffed and laughed so hard that Ryan was resigned to placing the card at the bottom of his desk drawer.
    On the third day, teachers told the new boys they’d have to open up their folders and do some work. The boys just shrugged. Ryan smiled while he did this as he liked to get along with everybody. Darcy, on the other hand, got up and left the classroom without a hall pass. He had a phone call to make.
    ‘Later,’ was all he said as Mrs Tartt tried to stop him. 
    Paige Bennet, an honor’s student from a humble background, noted in her journal at lunch that day; Darcy Donovan is the most obnoxious boy I’ve ever met.
    He’d collided with her in the hallway and had pushed her out of the way without even apologizing.
    “I’m so over rude, arrogant jocks who think they are it,” she told her sister and confidant, Shiloh.
     “His friend’s cute though,” Shiloh whispered with a smile.
     “Where do they even come from?” Paige asked. “They are so conceited.”

      When Paige heard Darcy speak he had a deep, rich, almost-English sounding accent as he said something about a girl named Blair. Typical, Paige thought, guys like him had a woman in every port. Her arty aunt Tia, who lived in New York City, would have agreed.

THE HOTNESS: A Modern Teen Pride and Prejudice (chapter two: Mackenzie)

Chapter Two
    First things first, as Honey would say. She talks, I write, Veronica listens.
    The only person Mackenzie truly liked, (apart from her twin brother who obviously shared the same DNA), was Darcy. Mackenzie had idolized him since she was a little girl and all through her middle school journals she’d written things like, I wonder what Darcy would do? and Darcy is so hot / Darcy is the hottest boy I’ve ever met / Darcy is a rock star. He is the one, the only, the hotness.
     Wow, Mackenzie was years older than us but she was clearly “far more deluded” as Honey, who is aiming to be the most popular girl in school by her junior year, would say.
     Mackenzie was supposed to arrive with her brother that first day of school but she had an appointment with her hairdresser, Marvin Markin and that took priority.
     Marvin was the most notable stylist in Rodeo Drive. He had bright orange hair and simply could not be kept waiting. Mackenzie was lucky to get in on a cancellation.  School would have to be postponed. Mackenzie’s schedule of foils and straightening tongs was far more important than classes. After all, she reasoned, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.  
     I read all of this in the notes Mackenzie had scribbled on the back of her History folder and left carelessly on a lunch room table for me to gather and carry the next day.
     Oh, I forgot to tell you, from then on, she designated me her ‘freshman helper’ and I played along so I could keep the others informed. I think it’s because I wear glasses that everyone thinks I’m smart. Honey and Veronica have been trying to encourage me to wear contacts. I’m allergic so I’m not going there – yet. Besides, as freshman, we don’t date and our lives are not nearly as eventful as Mackenzie’s and the other seniors were sure to be, so I enjoyed following Mackenzie around. Up to a point.
    Besides, I’m going to be an actress first, before I fall in love, then a writer: AWW. I write ActressWriterWhatever on my home page. At the moment I’m researching my role as a teenage intellectual queen bee. I’m basing my character on Veronica and a freshman mathlete I know. My audition is not for two weeks so this gives me heaps of time to sleuth.
     “You need to start wearing contacts,” Mackenzie advised me after we met (as if she were the inventor of style). “In color, I’d say blue. It’ll brighten your eyes,” Mackenzie assured me. I nodded. I knew I’d be thrown out of her potential inner sanctum if I openly disagreed with her.
    Let’s leave Mackenzie at Marvin Markin’s Hair Salon for Fashionable Teens (I did) and focus instead on her brother Ryan and his hotsicle best friend, Darcy. Mackenzie paid for my cab to school that day so I arrived in style just as the newbies created quite a stir in the hallway by showing up. Fame preceded them, Darcy reasoned. It was always the same:
    “Always a feast, never a famine. I’m so over it.” I heard him say distinctly to Ryan as he slammed his locker door again.   
     Ryan and Darcy complimented each other perfectly because they both came from a far flung, misunderstood and ancient part of the world – Australia. I looked it up on a google map during recess. It’s very orange. The center of their vast country of origin was largely red and uninhabited and although the coastline cities were modern and densely populated, the boys carried with them the look of bored, ruggedness on the hunt for action. There were tons of things in Australia that could kill you (like snakes and spiders) so Darcy and Ryan were like kings of their species – they’d survived to visit civilization – our school in Los Angeles.  
     And yet, Darcy persisted in boasting.
     “Sure, America is a large country, but we’ve seen cattle stations just as big as the ranches in Texas: our own back yards, for one thing.”
     What I’m saying, of course, is that it took A LOT to impress them.
     Their fathers both worked for The Bank of Australia (some people said they owned it) and the boys had never known anything but luxury: swimming all year round, tennis in summer, skiing in Falls Creek during winter, sailing in spring, horse riding when they weren’t driving their extremely expensive sports cars. 
     Even though they were sent away from their lush six storied homes and private boy’s schools on the shores of Sydney Harbor to one of the many far-flung family-owned cattle ranches where life was harsh and the weather was even harsher, during school vacations (to ‘toughen them up’ according to their fathers), they had an aura of ‘poshness’ about them. They acted, quite frankly, superior and although the Princesses were taken by them, we weren’t ‘taken in’ by them – especially the taller one. That one was Darcy, obviously.   

THE HOTNESS: A Modern Teen Pride and Prejudice (chapter one: Darcy Equals Hot)

Chapter One
Darcy Equals Hot
    It was a perfect September Day when two new seniors; Darcy and Ryan, graced the halls of Sunrise High School for the first time.
    They were tall, tanned and handsome but the slightly taller one, Darcy Donovan, had coal black hair, eyes the color of deepest ocean and the gait of a movie star down on his luck.
     I have to admit, even though he was a (much) older man and he was seriously cute, that Darcy had a cold and distant air about him. He made all the freshman girls part their newly formed cliques and gossip as he walked by. I looked a little extra long after he turned away and his friend smiled at me. But Darcy only gave a slight smile to his friend because he was used to “younger girls” crushing on him. He said that disdainfully too, as if I were barely a teen and certainly lacked “common sense.”
    From that moment on, I thought Darcy acted like a tool as he checked his Twitter while the rest of the freshman girls (and a few boys) stared. Not me. I’d moved on already. I was busy writing the first lines of my most excellent teen novel on my iPhone.
    This is how our school works.
    The main clique, The Princesses (of which I am the most junior member – a member by birth, I should add but please don’t think that makes me a snob), all googled him (of course). We found out he’d just parted company with his former manager, Dustin Jones. There was a picture of Dustin on the internet. He wore a bored expression above his goatee and had his arms around two very spacey looking girls.
    One gossip site noted: Born in Sydney, In his country of birth (Australia), Darcy Donovan is a reluctant superstar. Mr Darcy has acted in at least a dozen locally produced web-i-sodes of a reality TV drama called Rich Boys from Down Under… and so it went on.  
    Well, I could assure them that here at Sunrise hardly anyone knew him. He might be in the process of putting the finishing touches on his first “album” and reportedly have “no room in his life to handle any more fans” and be “so over” the music industry he was “taking a break” (even though he was barely eighteen) but he certainly didn’t seem to lack a good PR person.
     It seemed like Ryan Bingley was Darcy’s best friend. Ryan had hair that shone in the sun and a disposition to match. Ryan also had a twin sister, Mackenzie, who was Ryan’s double in looks but his opposite in temperament. 
    From the first Mackenzie wanted to be a Princess. And from the first, Mackenzie acted nice enough to be invited. Unfortunately, because I was the youngest and newest member of the group, my vote only counted once.
    It wasn’t long before Mackenzie was in with the “in” crowd, but I’m getting ahead of myself as usual…
    The most important thing to know is that around the time that Darcy arrived a new girl (and her sisters) transferred to Sunrise from the wrong side of town – and that’s putting it nicely. Paige Bennet had not a clue how to be fashionable on that first day. Since she was a junior so it was hard to believe she was that clueless. I’m here stating it, for the record and I’m nothing if not honest. That’s another reason I trail around after Mackenzie. I get so much information it’s important for the novel I’m writing. The new girl had an older sister (a senior) who was quiet and pretty and a middle sister (Senta) who was dull and younger sisters (Sia and Rebel) who were, let’s just say, party girls.
    I’ll tell you about the Bennet sisters, though, once I’ve introduced the Bingley twins. Here’s what I quickly learned about Mackenzie Bingley.
     Mackenzie was a professional queen bee and she immediately wanted to rule the Princesses and take over from the most senior princess, Melody Mitford. Melody’s Dad was being transferred to London, England so she wouldn’t have long to wait. Mackenzie had been a queen bee at all her previous schools (The Sydney School for Rich Princesses and The Los Angeles High School For Young Ladies, were just two of the previous high schools she’d been expelled from).
     What Mackenzie lacked in academic skills, she made up for in attitude. She ruled her friends with fear. Her pattern was the same wherever she went; infiltrate the main social groups, make herself indispensable to them, divide, and conquer. It always worked. I state for the record, Mackenzie was pretty but she was all surface.
     Inside, there was something lacking that even she couldn’t locate.
     You might wonder how I know everything. Well, I have a long history with Sunrise, since even before I was born. My family  have always lived here. My older sister was Mouche Mackintosh. I’m not sure if some of my memories of her are just from photographs or what people have told me (she was more than ten years my senior), but I feel her presence here sometimes, even though she’s been gone a long time. My sister also went to this school and was a founding member of The Princesses. The Princesses (me, Honey and Veronica are the only freshman members) always know who is who and what is what. I have to say, although I have a passion for dance, fashion and theatre (just like my sister) I’m definitely the most intellectual of my trinity of close friends. Honey is the most popular and Veronica is the most studious.
    So, I felt like I’d be letting the side down if I was immune to the charms of the hottest guy in school but it was obvious, from the first time I saw them together (yelling at each other, of course) that Darcy Donovan and Paige Bennet (though everyone called her ‘the girl from the wrong side of the tracks’) were going to become an unexpectedly ‘it’ couple.
    At least, that’s the way it was supposed to be in my imaginary teen Austen world.  I was reading Pride and Prejudice (I’d consider myself an advanced reader for my age) on my e-reader. I was literally up to ten percent when a real story began to unfold around me, creating more than one serious diversion between me and my intellectual property...


THE HOTNESS: A Modern Teen Pride and Prejudice (prologue)

THE HOTNESS: A Modern Teen Pride and Prejudice
Prologue by Wednesday Mackintosh
I was walking into my freshman year at Sunrise High when I looked up from my locker only to notice Darcy Donovan, the new senior I’d been told about. He was totally hot just as my friends had warned me. I made a choice right there and then not to act like just another fan girl. Besides, he threw me when he bestowed a charitable smile, turned away and said in an Aussie voice loud enough for both me and his friend to hear, “Girls stalk me via Twitter now. I’m so over it.”
    My name’s Wednesday Mackintosh by the way and from that first day, I started writing this story about him. I originally began writing it with this line:
   “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a new guy in possession of even the slightest bit of hotness thinks everyone in his orbit is a potential fan...” but then I changed it, obviously.
    Yes, I know any normal person would raise an eyebrow at this romantic topic du jour when as teens we live in a century of constant war, animal activism, global human rights issues and unlimited options but this statement deserves to be re-stated.
    Because in Darcy’s case, it’s definitely true. And I should know. I just overheard that the only reason Darcy’s even looking for a girlfriend (he’s “so over relationships”) is because he needs to hook up to receive his share of his grandfather’s ‘gift’ – a cattle ranch (he called it a cattle ‘station’) to be bestowed upon him at eighteen. It’s priceless, but he only gets it if he proves he’s emotionally ‘stable’ and in a functioning relationship. How bizarre is that?  
    Let’s just state, for the record, I’d just discovered it was more important for a guy like Darcy to have a steady girlfriend than anyone could imagine. Anyone, that is, except his best friend Ryan. Oh, and me, of course.
    But let’s start before the introductions and pretend this is like a scene from The Sound of Music (without the singing of course). Sunrise is a cul-de-sac that photographs like an old fashioned picture postcard filmed in long shot…
    (For those of you who don’t already know, this town is a picturesque and hilly enclave, located near enough to Beverly Hills to be ritzy, but far enough from Bel Air to be not quite ritzy enough.)

     This is mostly where our story takes place… at least in the first instance. Now, to begin again…