Chapter 18 MAGNA EDITION THE BOYFRIEND WAR, OR, THAT FATAL NIGHT

26 Nov

What Lila Fowler wants, she gets. Stacey McGill really should remember that.

26-year-old Elizabeth Wakefield tiptoed down the front steps of her parent’s house on Calico Drive, sneaking a glance at the silver wristwatch on her left arm.

6:58, it read. She would be in plenty of time for her flight back to Stoneybrook, to witness the final few days of court in what was widely dubbed, “The Collins Debacle”.

Her father, Ned, an esteemed lawyer in Southern California, had flown there a few days ago to give Richard Spier a few pointers on representing the defendant. But no matter which way she looked at it, Elizabeth realized that her former English teacher would be behind bars for a very long time. Elizabeth tucked her Macbook Pro under her arm, a feeling of pride surging through her chest as she thought of the brilliant piece of investigative journalism she’d written on the case. It would be front page of the Stoneybrook News, for sure! A small victory in light of the past few horrible months, she mused. She wheeled her suitcase along the gravel drive, and perched herself under her favourite oak tree to await the hire car that would deliver her to Sweet Valley airport.

A cool mist settled on her bare skin, and Elizabeth shivered, drawing her woolen cardigan around her shoulders. The sun was just peeking over the horizon, marking the first day of December. Sweet Valley was being bombarded with the usual Yuletide commercialism – everywhere from Lisettes to The Shady Lady was having a sale or a ham raffle. Even Dyan Sutton couldn’t resist playing “Deck the Halls” as she delivered her end-of-year sports wrap on WXSV. Elizabeth normally loved celebrating Christmas – but this year, her heart wasn’t in it. The festivities seemed removed from her, somehow. In just a few short months, she’d traded her hometown, her successful newspaper job and her family for a bunch of strangers in icy Connecticut. Her long-time boyfriend Todd had left her for the first harlot he’d laid eyes on outside of California, and she was lucky to see her identical twin, Jessica, once a month. Her trusty friend Enid was missing and feared dead, and her new fling, Sam Thomas, had barely called all week.

Elizabeth sighed, vowing to stop feeling sorry for herself. She drew her knees to her chin as another cool draught wafted over her. Elizabeth sniffed the air, suddenly aware of the overpowering odour of flesh. She fought back a wave of nausea as the smell infiltrated her nostrils. It was the smell of death. Elizabeth stood up quickly ran toward the garage. Then it caught her eye – a limp, lifeless carcass on a patch of grass in front of her.

“Prince Albert!” She yelped at the creature, which was showing about as many signs of life as Lois Waller’s hair. “Wake up! Prince Albert!”

The dog didn’t stir. Elizabeth bent down and threw her arms around the animal, her salty tears mingling with the blood draining from his neck.

She fiddled with its collar through blurry eyes, noticing a small piece of green and red cardboard attached to the leather. A gift tag. She turned it over, fearing the worst. In handwritten red scrawl on the back read the ominous warning: “Wreck the Halls With Bloody Bodies.”

Elizabeth stood suddenly, just as the Happy Cabbie pulled into the driveway. An involuntary shudder coursed through her body. Someone, something was out to get her and everyone she loved. She had to hightail it out of Sweet Valley, and fast. Elizabeth grabbed her luggage and lunged into the hire car, slamming the door.

She had a feeling the worst was yet to come.

* * *

“I gotta feelin’!” Margo Pike belted out, kicking a well-heeled leg out. She cracked up – who knew that a night on the town with Jessica and her friends could be this much fun. She grinned at Jessica as the beat picked up.

“Tonight’s gonna be a good night!” they chanted in unison, dissolving into giggles. It was one am, and they’d been dancing up a storm for a good few hours. Even Stacey was being less of a narc about her regular insulin. Then again, she was too busy canoodling with that Nick guy to remember anything!

Claudia shoved another tequila shot into the “twins’” hands. Margo gulped it down hungrily, relishing the burn in her throat. She chased it down with a lemon wedge, and chucked the skin at Jessica’s blonde head.

“Hey!” Jessica yelped, feigning annoyance. She twirled around seductively, allowing her blue lycra mini to kick out and flash everyone a glimpse of her black lingerie. Margo knew it was all for Ben Hobart’s benefit. She could sure learn a few things about men from her future sister!

“Wanna sit down?” Margo yelled above the din. “I need another drink!”

“Sure!” Jessica followed her through the crowd in Xenon’s packed main bar. “You haven’t been this much fun since senior year, Lizzie!”

Margo smiled benevolently. She’d always dreamed of having a sibling like this! She tried to imagine dorky Mallory, or poetic Vanessa getting on the drink in New York. Fat chance of that! She knew Jessica would be going home soon for Christmas, but she did not want this party to end!

Maybe it doesn’t have to, whispered the voice within her mind. Maybe you can go home for Christmas, too.

Margo pushed through the crowd to get to the bar, absently noting that her ex-babysitter, Stacey, had peeled herself off Nicholas Morrow and was staring intently at her.

“Haven’t you seen a twin before?” Margo snapped sarcastically. Oops. That was un-Elizabeth. She put on her brightest smile for the only child. “Cosmopolitan??”

* * *

Lila Fowler grabbed Nicholas Morrow’s lean forearm and steered him toward a quieter corner of Xenon. Finally, a moment alone! Stacey was incredibly possessive.

“Hey Lila,” he glanced at her, surprised. “What’s up?”

Lila flashed him a seductive smile. “I just haven’t thanked you enough,” she purred, “For rescuing me from John Pfeifer, and saving Magenta Galaxy.”

Nicholas shrugged. “No biggie,” he said amiably. “The lobster dinner with the Moet and the Mazda Miata more than made up for it.”

Lila bent her head closer to his. If the damsel in distress act wasn’t going to work, maybe a whiff of her Estee Lauder perfume would. She lowered her voice. “I mean, I want to really thank you.”

Nicholas looked uncomfortable. “Aren’t you dating Alan Gray?” Alan and Nicholas had known each other through their work at Microsoft.

“We’re through,” she answered simply. She glanced up at him, a hopeful look in her dark eyes. She batted her long, elegant lashes one last time, and felt a shove in her left shoulder.

“Oops!” It was Stacey. She slid a skinny arm around Nicholas’ waist, a triumphant grin on her face. “What were you two talking about?”

“Old times,” snapped Lila menacingly. “Stuff you wouldn’t know about.” She turned back to Nicholas. “Now, as I was saying…”

“Nicholas,” Stacey purred, cutting Lila off. “Why don’t you tell Lila about our holiday in the Hamptons last weekend? It was incredibly romantic.” She raised an eyebrow at Lila, smirking.

Lila’s nostrils flared. You don’t know what you’re in for, Stacey McGill, she vowed. What Lila Fowler wants, Lila Fowler gets…

* * *

Elizabeth Wakefield stood at the back of a very packed Stoneybrook Courthouse, holding her breath as she waited for the jury’s deliberation.

Karen Brewer was standing proudly up the front, her eyes shining with tears.

The judge banged her gavel on the desk. “I find the defendant…guilty.”

The courthouse erupted into cheers. Roger Collins slumped onto his desk, and Elizabeth could just make out the look of misery in his crinkly eyes.

She turned to her father and gave him a hi-five. It was all over!

An hour later, Elizabeth and Ned were joining Karen and her family at Pizza Express for a celebratory meal. In Sweet Valley they might have gone to La Maison Blanche, but this would have to suffice. Karen was rabbiting on about how she’d been Pizza Queen here once, which hardly seemed an enviable title given that Robin Wilson had been the last Pizza Queen of Sweet Valley.

“Sorry to hear about your dog, Liz,” Sam whispered softly.

“Thanks,” she returned gratefully, as he gave her hand a squeeze. But today was not for mourning – today was for celebrating!

“So Elizabeth Wakefield,” Karen’s younger brother, Andrew, flicked his brown, bowl-cut hair and stared at her. “Now that Mr Wilkins and Miss Cummings are getting it on, what is it that is keeping you in Stoneybrook, Connecticut?” It was a well known fact that the Brewer clan did not use contractions.

“Andrew!” Karen warned. “Please leave Elizabeth alone. She does not like being annoyed.” She smiled charmingly at Elizabeth.

Elizabeth summoned her brightest face and smiled wanly at the younger girl. “Karen!” she called across the table. “Wanna put some carols on the jukebox for me?” She handed the perky blonde a dollar, and Karen skipped off, humming “The First Noel” and feeling very important.

Karen paused at the jukebox. Would Elizabeth prefer “Ding dong merrily on High” or “Deck the Halls”? She decided to go with the latter. She popped the dollar into the coin slot and punched in her selection.

“Hey Karen,” taunted a voice. “Get your virginity back in court today?”

Karen gasped and turned around. “Oh, hey Hannie, Nancy.”

Nancy stepped forward. “We have something for you.”

Karen grinned. A celebratory present?

“It’s more Easter than Christmas, but I’m sure you’ll like it.” Nancy dissolved into giggles, and Hannie elbowed her sharply in the ribs.

Karen glanced over Hannie’s shoulder, frowning. “Who’s behind you?”

In an instant, Ricky Torres stepped out, and forcefully pitched a raw egg at Karen’s head.

“Hey!” she yelled as it cracked on her temples, yolk oozing down her face. Hannie and Nancy laughed maliciously as Hank Ruebens and Bobby Gianelli appeared, wildly flinging the raw eggs at her from every angle.

Before long, the whole ninth grade class was around them, cheering as Karen was covered from head to toe with thick, gooey yolks. Karen burst into tears, clutching at oily, stringy chunks of her hair as the shells kept cracking over her brand new shift dress.

“What’s going on here?” Elizabeth appeared at Karen’s side, but even she couldn’t muster a shoulder pat given that runny egg whites covered the shoulder pads of Karen’s dress.

“Nyah nyah nyah!” Pamela Harding yelled back. “We know who you are – Mr Wilkins left you for Miss Cummings, sucker!”

Elizabeth frowned, a crimson flush spreading across her tanned cheeks.

The class erupted into laughter. One by one, they disappeared, leaving Karen and Elizabeth standing in Pizza Express, shell-shocked.

“Suck eggs!” yelled Natalie Springer on the way out.

Elizabeth cast a withering glance at Karen Brewer. “You look gross,” she said finally. “Come on, let’s get back to the Big House.

* * *

Margo traipsed up the stairs of Jessica’s apartment, where the girls were crashing for the night. She hiccupped. Man, she’d had a fun night. Jessica was waay more awesome than her boring, judgmental twin. Not to mention incredibly easy to fool.

She stumbled into the guest room and flicked on the light. Someone was on her bed, and it wasn’t Bruce!

“Stacey?” she barked. “What’s with you?”

Stacey took a deep breath and produced something from behind her back. It was the leather sheath containing Margo’s glittering knife.

Uh oh, thought Margo.

“Hey, gimme that!” she lunged at Stacey, grasping for the silver blade. Stacey held it above her head. “What are you doing in here anyway, you bloody spy?”

Stacey glared at Margo. “I know who you are,” she said threateningly. “I didn’t spend three consecutive summers at Sea City on the Jersey Shore without learning a thing or two.”

“I’m Elizabeth!” cried Margo defiantly.

“You’re Margo Pike,” challenged Stacey. “I knew it  when you got up on stage tonight – as soon as you started peeling bananas with your feet and singing “The House that Jack Built.”

Shit, thought Margo. She shouldn’t have knocked back so many shots. She’d have to be more on her guard from now on.

“Ask Jessica,” Margo responded flatly. “I think she’d know her own twin, don’t you?”

“Margo Jane Pike,” Stacey warned, standing to reach Margo’s eyeline.

“Anastacia Elizabeth McGill,” Margo snapped back.

“Ha!” Stacey grinned triumphantly. “How would Jessica’s twin know my full name?”

Margo forced herself to stay calm. “Elizabeth’s a braniac, she knows everything, she…”

Margo knew she was babbling. She’d been caught out this time, and Stacey knew it. If she didn’t act fast, her diabolical plan would be totally screwed up.

Margo squeezed her eyes shut, glimpsing the knife on her bed through the periphery of her vision.

This was one person’s blood she didn’t want on her hands. Stacey had always been the coolest, after all. She was pretty, and good at maths, and wore the most fashionable clothes out of Mallory’s friends. All the boys at SMS wanted to date her, even Pete Black. Margo had never understood why Stacey spent all her free time with that Charlotte Johannsen kid, and all the other dweebs in the neighbourhood. Stacey was so cool, so trendy! Her parents even got a divorce just when it was coming back into vogue.

Margo gritted her teeth and grabbed the knife from behind Stacey’s. She unsheathed it, her hands shaking, and transferred it to her left hand for precision. Her knuckles were white as she raised it high in the air.

“Margo?” Stacey whispered. “What are you doing?”

Margo sliced the knife down, angling at Stacey’s pretty white neck. “Have fun in heaven!” She cackled, “Or wherever it is that you diabetics go!”

Will Stacey’s death reveal the truth about Margo?

Will Lila win the heart of Nicholas Morrow?

And what did Bruce get up to on that fatal night?

Find out in a festive Chapter 19, ” Goodbye, Stacey, Goodbye”.

Footnote: I resisted putting this one up, because murdering the coolest babysitter is a heinous crime, even by Margo’s standards. If you are sufficiently appalled at the direction this has taken, tell me and I will rewrite it, and the following chapters. Sniff!

SVH Christmas recaps coming your way soon! Happy Thanksgiving!

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5 Responses to “Chapter 18 MAGNA EDITION THE BOYFRIEND WAR, OR, THAT FATAL NIGHT”

  1. Meredith November 26, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    Not Stacey! Can we have this be a fakeout death? Margo thinks she’s dead but Stacey goes into hiding or something? Please please please?

  2. Daniella November 26, 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    Hmmm…it seems like what Margo would do in that situation, but Stacey is the only BSC member that actually seemed human (albeit a bit ‘experienced’ for a 13 year old) most of the time. I like Meredith’s idea above. Or maybe Stacey could have her own doppleganger??

  3. cokie mason November 26, 2010 at 8:11 pm #

    You did NOT just do that! LOL’ing at the Stoneybrook Beauty Pagent reference though. And Lila – awesome rivalry.
    On the Xmas recap front, could you do the groundhog day one from Sweet Valley Twins? Where Jessica keeps screwing everyhting up?

  4. winstonegbert November 26, 2010 at 8:44 pm #

    My sister phoned me about this in a rage this afternoon. I had no idea what to do, so I asked my Dad, who thoughtfully stroked his beard and replied: “The answer lies with Karen Brewer. Yes, Karen Brewer.”
    I assure you, this won’t be the last you hear of Stacey McGill. Leave it with me.

    • Karen (NOT Brewer, Thank God) November 27, 2010 at 2:07 am #

      Your dad is my hero.

      Stacey’s my fave, but I’m okay if you killed her off because this story is that fantastic.

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