Jul 9 2012 3:00pm
Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are back in Sweet Valley and inseparable once more. Things are looking up for both twins: Elizabeth is a star reporter at the LA Tribune with a popular blog, and Jessica’s PR career is on the fast-track. But while the professional lives of the Wakefield sisters are secure, their personal lives may be in jeopardy. Jessica, now a mother, finds that managing parenthood, marriage, and a job is harder than she expected, while Elizabeth and Bruce must face a scandal that could strengthen their bond…or tear them apart for ever.
Meanwhile, life goes on in Sweet Valley. Families are made, hearts are broken, and…Lila Fowler is a reality TV star? Some things never change.
Get a sneak peek of book 1 in Francine Pascal’s serial novel The Sweet Life (available July 15, 2012) with an excerpt of Chapter 3.
For Lila Fowler to get up, get dressed, makeup and all (all meaning her diamond wedding ring, her four-carat engagement ring, earrings, and the thinnest gold chain necklace dotted with ten quarter-carat diamonds), and be someplace outside of her own bedroom by nine o’clock in the morning had to be an emergency call from the hospital, an earthquake, or an interview for The True Housewives of Sweet Valley.
Not only was she on time for the interview, she was ten minutes early. When Lila wanted something badly enough, there was no stopping her.
And she wanted this very badly. If she were a True Housewife, then maybe her father would stop carrying on about her best friend, Jessica “the genius” Wakefield. Not that Jessica didn’t deserve it, because she was doing fabulous work, but between her father’s boasting about Jessica and his son-in-law, Ken Matthews, the great NFL quarterback, there simply wasn’t any room for his own daughter.
No wonder with all her nonaccomplishments she was treated so second-rate. Well, this was an accomplishment that was going to be all hers. Superboastable!
Lila Fowler Matthews was meant to be a True Housewife. No matter what.
The interviews were taking place at the new Patman Building on the corner of Main Street and Marshal Drive.
Lila valet-parked her Maserati, and with one last check in the mirror, refreshed her lipstick, touched up her eyeliner, and was ready to roll.
The interviews were on the fifth floor of the palatial offices of StarFinder Productions. The secretary directed her to the waiting area where, to Lila’s dismay, at least fifteen other women were waiting, all perfectly made-up and appropriately overdressed.
But Lila was happy to see only one other woman with dark hair like hers. And it was not really like hers, not by a long shot, since it was shoe-polish black and hung down to her elbows limply like a rug with bad fringes. No competition for her newly darkened, shiny brown hair with just the slightest glint of auburn. No more stick straight for Lila. She’d moved over to soft waves and had it cut to a classy new length just below her shoulders. The other nonblonde had short, curly red hair and looked like she should be teaching crop rotation in Zambia.
All the rest were—yawn—blondes. Exactly why Lila had changed her hair color. Brunettes, she told Jessica, were becoming an endangered species.
By the time Lila was called, it was nearly noon and she’d had to refresh her makeup two times.
She was directed into a room with three production people, two men and a woman. The three were seated behind a rectangular table facing one tall stool for the interviewee.
They didn’t even bother to introduce themselves. At this point it was just a cattle call.
One look and Lila knew her hair choice was perfect. The one woman, plain, about forty, and a tiny bit plump, had brown hair. One of the men, he looked about thirty, had light blond hair and the other, older man, had short gray hair.
Lila might have been deficient in certain disciplines, but when it came to knowing what appealed to people, sexually or otherwise, she overflowed with skill.
Blond men were often turned on by their opposites, dark-haired women. The brown-haired woman would identify with Lila, imagining that they were the same type. Hardly, but anyone can dream, can’t she? As for the older guy, her sex appeal would work, and that had always been Lila’s strongest suit anyway.
Figuring him for the power, she made a point of focusing on him right away. Since he was older and unattractive, she figured he needed the attention most.
And she gave it to him, subtle enough that the other two didn’t feel left out.
The first questions were easy: name, age, where did she live, etc., and all those nonthinking answers designed to put a person at ease. Of course, Lila knew they were not interested in those facts; they already had them. They were watching her when she was supposedly not trying.
But Lila was always trying. Always on. The trick was to give them that sweet spot between sexy, smart, fun, and outrageous.
Lots of women fit that bill, especially the ones trying out for this show, so Lila knew she needed a special niche, and with her well-hidden smarts she thought she’d found it. Additionally, it would be easy because she didn’t have to put it on, it was that close to the truth, though Lila wasn’t introspective enough to know it. She thought she was pretending. It worked either way.
While all these advantaged women were trying to show how unspoiled they were, Lila would do just the opposite.
Spoiled rotten and proud of it. Her niche.
“So, Lila,” said the brown-haired woman who thought she was Lila, “what are you passionate about?”
“Lots of things. I’m a very passionate person.” Looking right at the old gray hair and in a voice at once both proud and intimate, she said, “When I think passion, I think sex. But doesn’t everyone?” And then she allowed herself the tiniest smile. “Well, right after world peace.”
They all smiled back. They were on her side already. “And I’m passionate about myself, about the way I look. I love my brown hair. I am so done with blondes.” And right to the brown-haired woman: “We may be the only two left.”
“And style. That’s a real passion with me. I think I could have been a designer, but you have to get up too early in the morning for that. I hate early mornings. I love clothes, I could shop all day and I’m very good at it, but I can’t start before eleven. And jewelry. Love it. But it has to be real, obviously. And gossip. Sitting around with my girlfriends and dissecting everybody’s lives; what could be better? I see it as kind of like group therapy, only meaner. But it’s totally honest, so it can be really helpful when the tears stop.
“Fabulous cars, starting with my Maserati, my beautiful home, gorgeous bling, and every shoe I ever loved. I have a passion for new experiences. And I like risk. Perfection is my god. I’m not interested if it’s not perfect. And it’s not easy to be perfect for me. And . . .”
“And?” The blond man was completely hooked.
With a look just for him: “. . . and my husband, of course.”
“Ken Matthews. You’ve heard of him?”
“The NFL quarterback?”
“I thought I read on PEARCINGBITCHES.COM that you two were separated.”
“I tried, but he just wouldn’t go away.”
The gray-haired man asked what was the craziest thing she’d ever done. And then leaned forward, waiting to inhale every word.
“Are we talking HBO or network?”
“Let’s start with HBO.”
“Well, I have this really close girlfriend—”
The brown-haired woman interrupted. “Let’s keep it more network, huh?”
“No problem. The craziest thing was one time when Ken was in Miami. I don’t know, it was some big game.”
“The Super Bowl?” Blond guy was hanging on every word.
“That sounds right. Anyway, he wasn’t home and it was just me and I was really bored. I mean totally wiped out looking at the same things all the time, the house, the furniture, the pool . . . So I sold it.”
“The house?” all three said at once.
“Yeah, I sold the house.”
“What did he say when he came home?” The gray hair, the power, was caught.
“What he always says: ‘Whatever Baby wants, Baby gets.’”
Copyright © 2012 by Francine Pascal
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Francine Pascal is the creator of the Sweet Valley High series and one of the world’s most popular fiction writers for teenagers and the author of several best-selling novels. As a theater lover and Tony voter, Ms. Pascal is on the Advisory Board of The American Theatre Wing. Her favorite sport is a monthly poker game.