When Lila Met Stacey, Chapter 6 “The New Jessica”, or, “Karen’s Tattletale”

20 Sep

You ask, Winston delivers:

[if you missed the first five, go here]

When Lila Met Stacey, Chapter 6

“The New Jessica,” or, “Karen’s Tattletale”

“Jess! Jess! Open up!” 26-year-old Jessica Wakefield rolled over and settled back into her peaceful dream. She was at the Ivy, with Travis, sipping a margarita and pretending not to notice the swarms of hot guys checking her out. She seductively swung her hips and turned to stand on the edge of the enormous pool, aware that everyone around was admiring her…

“Jessica!” Who the hell was calling her name? She stretched out her long, slender arms to begin her graceful dive and hit..the sewing machine?!

“Ow!” Jessica awoke with a start, and rubbed her throbbing elbow. She yawned, peeling open her bleary eyes, and realized that her bed had been replaced by a desk, and her plush purple comforter was nowhere in sight. The scrap of gold sequined lame stuck to her forehead confirmed it – Jessica Wakefield had actually slept at work.

Jessica groaned. Since she’d discovered on Friday that a wench called Cokie Mason had stolen her designs, Jessica had worked the entire weekend trying to revamp her collection. She remembered the way Cokie had sneered at her pieces – products of hours of labour – and the familiar anger rose in her chest like bile.

She looked around the room, which was strewn with pieces of brightly coloured fabric and flimsy threads, and the voice sounded at the door again: “Jess!?”

“Alright, alright!” Jessica yelled back.

“I’m turning into Elizabeth,” she muttered, stumbling over a pile of silver lycra on her way to the door. Lila would not be happy – this place was chaos.

She flung open the shop door. Stacey was outside in the crisp, Manhattan air, bouncing around on her gladiator heels like a pony. Some people had far too much energy on a Monday morning.

“Jessica – there’s someone I want you to meet. She’d love to work for you, if you’ll have her. This is Claudia Kishi-Lee.”

Jessica took a step back, and her mouth dropped open. Before her stood one of the funkiest women she had ever seen. She was wearing layers – a yellow tunic over a purple turtleneck, and a scarf with pink and black shapes printed on it. Over the tunic was a wide, low slung silver belt, and she’d finished off the outfit with hot pink tights tucked into a pair of grey ankle boots. She looked Chinese, or Thai maybe, with silky, jet-black hair, a creamy complexion, and almond shaped eyes.

“Wow!” Jessica breathed. Looking at Claudia she felt a combination of awe, excitement and jealousy. If someone could bring Wakefield Designs out of oblivion, it was this girl.

Jessica recovered. “It’s great to meet you!” She enthused. “Come on in!”

Claudia smiled back. “There’s just one catch,” she warned Jessica.

“Don’t worry Claud, Jessica cant spell either,” Stacey piped up.

“No it’s not that – I have a baby.” Claudia spun around, and sure enough, there was a lime green bum-bag slung obliquely around her shoulders, with a head of dark hair poking out. “This is Jade.”

“No sweat!” Jessica grinned. She’d had plenty of experience with babies – like the time she’d worked as a counselor with her sister at Camp Echo Mountain. Sure, she’d snuck off every night to see hunky Paul Mathis, but the kids had all left camp in one piece.

Stacey ruffled Jade’s dark hair and the baby squirmed. So this was where Claudia had been for the last two years!

“I knew you two would hit it off!” Stacey chirped, positively beaming. “I’ll call you after work, Jess.” She picked up her briefcase and hurried out to hail the next cab.

The two women sized each other up. Claudia grinned.

“Ring ding?” she offered, digging into the pocket of her bright tunic.

Jessica took it gladly. She couldn’t wait for Lila to get here and see this.

“Let’s get to work!”

* * *

Margo Pike strolled out the door of “Little Darlings” day care centre on Monday morning, relishing the warm Californian sun on her skin. That had been beyond easy! Mrs Pervis had given her a job in about 50 seconds flat – no criminal record check, no working with children declaration, and no ID required. Margo drew her lips into a thin smile and her eyes narrowed. The woman was a total suck – just like that stupid Mrs Newton, who’d regularly left her baby with a bunch of 11-year-olds while she went off to lunch with the Stoneybrook ladies.

With this new job in hand, Margo could afford to rent on Calico drive and see about getting herself a vehicle. Not that that should be a problem – she almost had Bruce Patman wrapped around her finger since they’d met on the plane last Friday night. He might be all alpha male, but Margo thought she could detect a weakness beyond his sex-money-power exterior. A soft centre that she could melt. If she could just push the right buttons, he’d be sure to open up about his past, about Sweet Valley High and more importantly – his friendship with the Wakefield twins.

“Free inside information,” she mused aloud.

Margo glanced at her watch – it was midday already! Bruce was picking her up from Kelly’s in half an hour! She shuddered, thinking of her awful, dingy room there, the chipped, shadowy mirror and stained, off-white walls. She recalled the din of the raucous crowd downstairs that seeped through the rickety floorboards and into her restless sleep. Two nights there had felt like a year. Then again, time was skewed in Sweet Valley.

“Looking good!” Margo was jolted from her reverie by a wolf whistle. She turned, and sure enough, a slick, black Porsche, with plates that read 1BRUCE1 was pulling over on the road next to her. Margo lowered her eyes seductively. It was Bruce Patman!

“Jump in!” he called, and the locks shot down in unison.

Margo grinned broadly and swung open the shiny door, plonking herself down on the plush, leather passenger seat.

“Just don’t touch anything,” he warned in his husky voice, flicking the Droids CD to another track as they sped along..

Margo ignored him and flung open the glovebox. Inside was a black and white photograph, framed in gold. It was a portrait of beautiful girl with a long, dark tousle of curls, a slender arm resting on her chin. Her hair was tucked behind her ear on one side, revealing a small hearing aid. A name was scrawled across the girl’s shaded tank top.

“Regina,” Margo read, aloud.

Bruce slammed on the brakes and sucked in his breath. “I said, don’t touch anything! Get outta my car. NOW!”

Whoa, thought Margo. She’d hit a nerve. An ex, maybe? She stole a look at his eyes, which were flashing not with anger but with melancholy. A dead ex, she confirmed to herself.

Margo knew how to play this. She put a hand on Bruce’s muscular forearm. “I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I can tell you really loved her,”

“Yeah,” muttered Bruce. “She was everything to me.”

Margo sighed. “I had a friend once, who was deaf. He was the greatest guy I’ve known. Matthew Braddock was his name,” Bruce glanced at her, intrigued.

“But he moved away. My brother, Nicky, cried for weeks, but nobody knows how alone I’ve felt ever since.”

Margo tried not to guffaw at her sob story. So what if she’d left out the part about tying him to the tree-house at the back of the Pike’s place? And burning his stupid book about sign language?

Bruce’s expression softened. He squeezed her hand.

“I guess we know each other better than we think, Margo,” he whispered.

Margo grinned. Time for a change of subject.

“To the Dairi Burger?” they chimed in unison.

* * *

At 4:30pm on Monday, Travis slung open the door of Wakefield Designs and was greeted by a smiling Jessica. Theoretically, she looked incredible in a white linen minidress with a yellow neck tie, but Travis felt confused. At first all he’d wanted was to sleep with her, just for kicks, but now that that was happening with incredible ease all her wanted to do was.. improve her. Travis sighed – for some reason, this happened with all the girls he dated – ever since he’d gone after Dawn Schafer in the tenth grade.

He pulled Jessica aside and opened up the bag he’d bought for her. Inside was a brand new outfit from Saks on 4th.

“Put this on,” he urged, “And meet me at Pastis at 8.”

Jessica took the bag reluctantly and peered inside. Travis was being far too generous of late.

“Jessica,” he whispered. He stepped close to her and her heart began to pound. “This would look amazing with a short, dark bob. Just so you know.”

A feeling of uneasiness crept over Jessica. Her blonde hair was her pride and joy, and with her tan gradually fading in the Manhattan rain, it was her last remnant of Sweet Valley.

“I don’t know, Trav,” she murmured, and his face fell.

“I guess I’ll get going, then,” he replied curtly, dropping her hand.

Guilt washed over Jessica. She couldn’t disappoint him now –  not after that mind-blowing gift.

Travis sauntered out of the shop, and for the first time she noticed how unnatural the swing of his hips appeared. She shook herself free of the thought and ran upstairs to the bathroom they shared with the other offices in the building, grabbing a pair of fabric scissors on the way.

She forced open the top drawer, and took out the sachet of Nice’n’Easy. Lila had been known to touch up her roots here on the odd occasion, when Toni&Guy was booked out.

Jessica looked at herself in the mirror, fondly touching her soft, sun-streaked mane for the last time. Travis was right. If her clothing line was getting a revamp, so should its owner.

She squeezed her eyes shut and hacked off two inches of blonde from the circumference of her head. She tried to stop the tears rolling down as she reached for the brown dye.

“Look out world,” she forced herself to say through gritted teeth. In just half an hour, the new Jessica would be revealed for the world to see.

* * *

“It should be tweed, and tailored around the waist,” Lila was saying.

“No, we need the parrot print, with loose sleeves,” Claudia disagreed.

“Ahem,” Jessica coughed, appearing on the landing outside the bathroom. The girls abruptly fell into a stunned silence.

“Jessica!?” Lila bellowed, aghast.

Now that she was beginning to get used to her new image, Jessica had to admit that she looked sensational. Her hair was very short, in dark, choppy layers, and a few tendrils curled in wisps at her cheeks. Her eyes were darkened with lavish makeup – definitely sultrier than her usual look. White powder helped achieve the ethereal, pale effect she was striving for. And her outfit! Everything she had on was from Travis. Jessica was wearing an olive green leather skirt with a slit up the back. The skirt was so straight it was hard to walk. Matching hose with a lacy pattern and three-inch heels made Jessica’s legs look longer and slimmer than usual. She felt very tall and elegant, and the silky, oversize blouse and green leather belt worn on her hips made her feel incredibly glamorous. Ordinarily, Jessica didn’t wear much jewellery – just her lavaliere necklace. Now, of course, the lavaliere had been removed.

[*actual outfit from Fran-Pasc]

Jessica held her head high, and slid out of the shop on her heels. Her friends could think whatever they wanted- so long as Travis approved of the new Jessica.

Epilogue:

Karen Brewer clutched her aching hands as she struggled out of the thick cord bound to her ankles. The last chunk of rope slipped off, leaving large, red welts on her skinny shins. She spat out the last of the cotton gag she’d been chewing for the past 48 hours and shimmied out of the dark storeroom cupboard. Gosh, those fisherman knots had been gigundoly tight! Thank goodness she’d spent a summer as a girl scout with Nancy Dawes. And it was lucky she’d had a couple of Oreos stashed in he pocket of her overalls. Karen wondered where Margo had gotten to, but didn’t care. She was going straight over to Stoneybrook High School to report her to the teachers. Mr Collins would still be there, on detention duty. He would understand.

Karen wandered out of the Stoneybrook News headquarters, glancing at the Tower Clock as she stepped outside. It was 4:59. She’d catch him if she hurried. Karen truly admired Mr Collins, much like she did Elizabeth Wakefield. She loved how he listened, with a wise, knowing smile, and he way he rested both hands on her shoulders, with his eyes crinkling up at the corners. The way followed her anywhere she wanted to talk – even the girl’s bathroom. Yes, Mr Collins would help her get back at Margo for this. Her stomach growled. Now, if only she could find her glasses….

Will Jessica impress the Older Boy?

How much damage WILL Margo do in Sweet Valley?

And just where has Elizabeth been hiding?

Find out in Chapter 7 of “When Lila Met Stacey”, “Mary-Anne Saves the Day,”

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2 Responses to “When Lila Met Stacey, Chapter 6 “The New Jessica”, or, “Karen’s Tattletale””

  1. tooimpurenangel September 21, 2010 at 3:36 am #

    I’m loving Creepy!Travis and Margo doing terrible-wonderful things to Karen.
    Yay for Claudia, and will Bruce try his Paper Cup Seduction Technique?

  2. Daniella September 21, 2010 at 4:00 am #

    I LOVE the special touches…like the Claudia outfit, or the Regina picture, or the inappropriate way Margo gets her job…LOVE it!

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