Read American Beauty Online

Authors: Zoey Dean

Tags: #JUV014000

American Beauty

Copyright © 2006 by Alloy Entertainment

All rights reserved.

Little, Brown and Company

Hachette Book Group, USA

237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

Visit our Web site at
hachettebookgroupusa.com

First eBook Edition: September 2006

The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

ISBN: 978-0-316-04162-1

Contents

Also By THE A-LIST

Dedication

Epigraph

Black Sweatshirt with a Bad Chanel Knock-off Scarf

Four-Foot Eleven and as Bad-Ass as They Come

White Imitation of Christ Jeans Covered in Dog Shit

Balancing Out the Baddies

Bitch in a BMW

The Girl’s Back Is Like, Cro-Magnon

Sexy Blue Star

Bohemian, Of-the-People Thing

Crimson Crime

Body-art Babe

Her Guy Looked Luscious

Dinner for One from L.A. Farm

Sun Rising in the West

Vermicelli Silk Sheets

SOB

Big Bird Hips

Not a Screw-and-Run Guy

Evolution T-Shirt with a Photo of an Ape

Ugly Squared

Celebrity Gawk Session

Paired Up Like Penguins

Granny Pants

Mermaids and Mermen

“Girlfriend” Material

Just Sex Buddies

Miss Priss

Please-Forgive-Me Flowers

Acid-Green Faux-Fur Shrug

Two Surgically Enhanced Basketball Breasts

Active Heroine

If you have to ask, you’ll never be on …

THE A-LIST

Be sure to read all the novels in the
New York Times
bestselling

A-LIST series

THE A-LIST

GIRLS ON FILM

BLONDE AMBITION

TALL COOL ONE

BACK IN BLACK

SOME LIKE IT HOT

AMERICAN BEAUTY

And keep your eye out for the eighth novel, coming July 2007.

Be sure to read all the novels in the #1
New York Times
bestselling GOSSIP GIRL series

Gossip Girl

You Know You Love Me

All I Want Is Everything

Because I’m Worth It

I Like It Like That

You’re The One That I Want

Nobody Does It Better

Nothing Can Keep Us Together

Only In Your Dreams

Would I Lie to You

And keep you eye out for the eleventh novel, coming May 2007.

A-List novels by Zoey Dean:

THE A-LIST

GIRLS ON FILM

BLONDE AMBITION

TALL COOL ONE

BACK IN BLACK

SOME LIKE IT HOT

AMERICAN BEAUTY

To Lynn Weingarten and Cindy Eagan, without whom I’d have much less time to shop.

Hope and curiosity about the future seemed better than guarantees. The unknown was always so attractive to me … and still is.

—Hedy Lamarr

Black Sweatshirt with a Bad Chanel Knock-off Scarf

“A
nna Percy, you are a traitor to all that is good and holy. And to Manhattan”

Anna Percy smiled. Cynthia Baltres might be living in the intellectual mecca known as New York City, and Anna might now be living in the anti-intellectual sun-dappled overindulgent splendor of Beverly Hills. But whether there were three thousand miles or three blocks between them, it didn’t matter. Cyn was still her best friend—one who could let fly with a friendly insult the way other uptown girls tossed off skimpy two-ply cashmere.

“Jealousy is oozing through my phone, Cyn,” Anna teased, wriggling the discreet earpiece from her Motorola E815’s headset to a more comfortable position. Her pearl-gray Lexus powered down Wilshire Boulevard; the Santa Monica mountains stood sentry to the north. Anna had just informed Cyn that she was driving to a pregraduation party aboard her friend Samantha Sharpe’s yacht. Cyn had just informed Anna that she was stuck in the NYU library researching a final paper on pop culture references to the French Revolution and had also just admitted that a tiny part of her was actually enjoying working on it. “Anyway, what are you doing talking to me? You’re in a
library.

She turned left on Sawtelle, as Sam’s directions had indicated. The neighborhood instantly got seedier—fancy buildings were replaced by low-priced Mexican restaurants, tire dealers, and the occasional strip club advertised by a dilapidated neon sign.

“What are they going to do, throw me out?” Cyn asked rhetorically. “The new research wing will be named for Uncle Georgie, who just left them a mint. The
Times
obit said he died from a heart attack, but the whole family knows it was actually … Well, let’s just say he had a nasty habit of picking up boy-girls near the Holland Tunnel.”

Diseased cross-dressing prostitutes seemed light years away from Anna’s current life. Yes, she loved New York. It was officially her home, but a lot could be said for La La Land, despite the squalor of Sawtelle Boulevard. She smiled as she passed a red Prius with a surfboard sticking out the rear window whose twenty-something blond driver was talking on her cell, applying lip gloss, and allegedly keeping an eye on the road all at the same time. There were some things in life—commuter-friendly transvestite hookers—that could only be found in New York. There were others—triple-tasking Prius-driving surf bunnies—that existed only in L.A.

“When do you guys graduate?” Anna asked, making a conscious effort to pay more attention to the road.

“Two weeks.”

“Mine is next Friday. It feels surreal, doesn’t it? This huge rite of passage—”

“Oh please,” Cyn scoffed. “This is not some ancient John Hughes flick; it’s not such a big deal.”

When they were in eighth grade, Cyn had rented all the John Hughes movies for Anna in an effort to broaden her friend’s cultural horizons beyond the nineteenth-century British fiction with which she was already enamored. They’d watched
The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles,
and their all-time favorite,
Pretty in Pink.
For a few days after that one, they’d both dressed like Molly Ringwald as the lead character, Andie Walsh in quirky layers of lace, mismatched fabrics, and multiple shades of pink.

“I’ll tell you what graduation really is,” Cyn continued. “Intermission before we can get on with our real lives. Finally.”

Anna smiled ruefully. In typical Cyn fashion, her friend had nailed the truth of the matter. Though loath to admit it, Anna had actually switched time zones and moved in with her father several months ago to be more like Cyn: wild, fearless, and sexy. Admittedly, the plan hadn’t gone smoothly. Sometimes Anna wondered if the wild gene was simply missing from her DNA.

“Did you hear about the wait list at Middlebury?” Anna asked. Cyn’s parents had both gone to the prestigious liberal arts college in Vermont, but Cyn hadn’t gotten accepted there immediately. Instead, she’d been put on the dreaded wait list.

“Yes. And no.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning they didn’t take me, the fuckers.” Cyn went uncharacteristically silent; Anna could picture the sour look on her best friend’s face. “So I’ll be going to Colby, which is like Middlebury in Maine. It’s okay. Some of my favorite writers went there.”

“That’s a good school,” Anna assured her.

“And you’re going to Yale. Only six hours away. Anyway, less about dumb-ass next year and more about the party,” Cyn went on. “Please tell me you took my advice about the outfit.”

Anna fingered the skinny strap of her eggshell-colored Egyptian cotton Anna Molinari dress edged in silver scalloped lace that fell below the knees of her long legs. She’d originally planned to wear a pale ice-blue vintage Chanel silk shift straight from her grandmother’s armoire, but Cyn had nixed that idea, saying you couldn’t wear Chanel silk on a boat. As it is utterly impossible to dry-clean away the smell of dead fish.

“Yes, I bought something,” Anna replied, stopping for a red light at the corner of Venice Boulevard. “Cotton. Happy?”

“Deliriously. Do you look fantastic in it? No. Of course you do. Next question. Can Ben remove it with his teeth?”

Anna burst out laughing. “I haven’t put that to the test. Anyway, he won’t be there. He has to work. I’ll see him tomorrow, though.”

Ben Birnbaum was her very significant other. They’d randomly met on her flight to Los Angeles the day she was moving, the day before New Year’s Eve. Since then, they’d been on again, off again, over and over. Ben was back in Los Angeles for summer break after his freshman year at Princeton, and now they were very much on again. And they had the whole summer ahead of them to prove it.

He had a summer job at Trieste, currently
the
hot club in L.A. Not that Anna was an expert on these things, but that is what Sam had told her. There was always a line down the block, and they were constantly flying in some cutting-edge DJ from Rome or London or Dubai.

Ben’s job was both a good thing and a bad thing. Good because he was interested in learning the night-club business. Bad because the club was consistently overcrowded, full of incendiary girls who flirted outrageously with her boyfriend. Anna had witnessed that phenomenon firsthand.

“Wow, what a sucky charmed life you lead,” Cyn joked warmly. “Want to hear about mine? Scott and I are totally over. I went to Bungalow 8 last night to drown my sorrows and got stuck in a banquette with some fat-ass loser masquerading as the son of the Japanese ambassador to the UN. Busted. The real son of the Japanese ambassador is in my history class. When I casually mentioned this, he mumbled something about needing to go talk to a friend and practically sprinted to the bathroom. I think he hid in there for the rest of the night.”

Anna giggled as a skinny girl wearing all black, with a bull ring through her septum, and her buff, bald boyfriend stepped brazenly onto Sawtelle at the corner crosswalk of Washington Place. Cars whizzed by; Anna stopped completely as the couple crossed the street with their mouths in a lip-lock.

She was just about to share with Cyn the details of what she was witnessing when she felt the Lexus suddenly jerk forward—there was a sickening crunch of metal and a tinkling of shattered glass, and Anna’s head smacked backward into the headrest.

Accident,
she realized, even as her earpiece and phone were thrown to the floorboard.
Someone just hit me.
She reached down and grabbed the phone, instantly grateful that the air bags hadn’t deployed.

“Oh my God, Cyn! I just had an accident!”

“Anna are you—?” Cyn started to say.

Anna quickly cut her off. “Don’t worry, I’m totally fine but I have to go. I promise I’ll call you later.” And she clicked off her phone with unsteady hands.

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