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Authors: Rebecca Eckler

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BOOK: Apple's Angst
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When she had realized that Zen was interested in Happy, and that Happy, who had never even
noticed
Zen prior to his arrival back at school, was also suddenly very interested in him, Apple had gone down a path that could only be described as pure evilness.

Apple hated to think about how she had tried to sabotage her best friend's blossoming relationship by doling out awful advice to both Zen and Happy, in an attempt to keep them away from each other. Eeesh. What had she been thinking?

Even worse, Apple had pretended to be her
mother
, the famous Dr. Bee Bee Berg. (Yes,
that
Dr. Bee Bee Berg, the talk-show host, celebrity to millions! Yes, the one who was just named one of America's 100 most influential people. Yuck!)

Apple had broken into her mother's computer to send Happy that bad advice. Double-eeesh! No, make that triple-eeesh!

Apple and Happy's friendship had diminished to the point of hatred after Happy found out what Apple had
done. Oh, the sound of that dial tone! Happy had hung up on Apple, but not before announcing stonily, “This friendship is over!”

And as if losing her best friend wasn't bad enough, it had got even worse for Apple.

Happy, in revenge mode, had then been a guest on Apple's mother's daily afternoon talk show,
Queen of Hearts with Dr. Bee Bee Berg
, telling millions of viewers how Apple had stabbed her in the back.

Watching Happy, her best friend, tell the world on live television,
on her mother's daily talk show
, about how Apple had tried to sabotage her relationship with Zen had been the most mortifying moment of Apple's entire life.

Her mother was out of town on a romantic getaway with her father when Guy, Dr. Berg's long-time assistant, had booked the guests for that day's show, so she had had no idea that Happy was going to be a guest—or what she was going to say—until moments before the show was to air. Guy and her mother hadn't even had any idea that Apple and Happy were in a fight, and certainly not over a guy!

There was nothing left for Apple to do but spontaneously walk onto the set of her mother's television show that day and apologize to Happy—in person. The studio audience booed and hissed when Apple admitted what she had done to her best friend. It hadn't even mattered that she was Dr. Bee Bee Berg's daughter. And people worshipped the ground Dr. Berg walked on!

Apple still couldn't believe she had done it.

However, at that point, she would have walked on burning hot coals to get her best friend back, which probably would have been less painful.

It was actually Apple's crazy aunt Hazel's suggestion that Apple apologize to Happy on her mother's show, and for once, out of pure desperation to get Happy's friendship back and let her know how sorry she was for being the type of girl who would choose a guy over her very best friend, Apple had listened to her aunt.

Apple usually never listened to her aunt, who, at that point, had never been in a relationship lasting longer than a vase of fresh flowers. Her aunt was known for what Apple described as her “Girl Crazy Moments,” like when she would sneak into boyfriends' e-mail accounts or tell them on first dates she wanted to have babies and marry them. Crazy Aunt Hazel was the complete opposite of her well-spoken, famous sister, who saw everything in black and white, as right or wrong. Sneaking into boyfriends' e-mail accounts? Wrong. Apple's mother was as organized as Crazy Aunt Hazel was disorganized. Her mother was always optimistic, especially when it came to love, where her Crazy Aunt Hazel was a cynic, always crying out things like “I'm never going to meet anyone!” and “You can't trust any guy!”

In any case, Apple felt bad for the daughters of supermodels, the ones who didn't end up being as good-looking as their mothers. It was the same for Apple. She felt she was missing some of her mother's DNA too.

Her mother was shocked when Apple walked on stage that day, as if Madonna or Britney had appeared
looking for relationship advice, not her own daughter. Apple, after all, had rarely showed any interest in her mother's talk show.

Apple's nickname had always been “the Sponge,” because you'd have to wring her to get her to share any personal information. She had always kept her feelings to herself and, back then, on the diary she kept on her computer, which is why not one person had known about her Super-Sized Zen Crush.

But Apple had apologized to Happy, crying on
live
television, in front of millions. Even still, Happy would only say that Apple would have to “earn her trust back.” And Apple's mother was furious to learn that Apple had sneaked into
her
computer and not only impersonated her but also given advice that was sure to ruin a relationship, not move it forward. What Apple had done to Happy was, in her mother's eyes, akin to murdering someone.

For a few awful days following Apple's teary television debut, days that felt like years to her, it seemed like everyone in the
world
hated her. Apple became
the
poster child for Bad Best Friends everywhere. Clips of her admitting what she had done went viral. There were websites dedicated to discussing Apple as a “frenemy.” Bloggers called her a “toxic friend.” Most everyone seemed to agree that Apple was a bad person. Even Apple couldn't help but agree. What she had done to her best friend
was
awful.

Yes, without a doubt, it had been the most awful time in Apple's life. But Apple was not
that
person. She just had a “Girl Crazy Moment” like her aunt! She had
never loved anyone before. She should have told Happy how she felt, but she couldn't bring herself to talk about something so personal, even with her best friend. Yes, she was the exact opposite of her mother.

Thankfully, all of that was history now. Happy seemed to have forgiven her entirely. Zen and Happy seemed to be happy together, the most gorgeous and affectionate couple at Cactus High.

The fact that Happy was helping Apple pick out the perfect outfit for her meeting at
Angst
magazine, the must-read weekly fashion and celebrity magazine for teenagers, proved she had truly forgiven her and put her friend's evil behavior behind her. This wasn't just a favor. Happy sincerely wanted to help Apple look her best. She sincerely
wanted
Apple to have the job at
Angst
.

Happy, in fact, wanted Apple to have the job more than Apple did.

H
appy read
Angst
magazine religiously, unlike Apple, who never understood people's obsession with celebrities and fashion, just as she never understood why people would share their relationship problems on her mother's show.

Sure, Apple flipped through
Angst
at coffee shops while waiting for friends, but Happy read it as if she were studying for an exam. Apple just didn't care about who was dating whom, or which celebrity was getting drunk and flirting with other celebrities, although she also knew that was kind of abnormal. Even Brooklyn couldn't get enough of celebrity gossip, and Brooklyn was nonstop talk about karma and how you shouldn't gossip because it would come back to bite you in the butt.

While Happy continued to busy herself in Apple's bedroom and Brooklyn remained still, Apple found her eyes resting on a framed photograph on her bedside
table of Lyon and her. Lyon's arm hung lightly over Apple's shoulders in the photo, and he was glancing down at her with a look of adoration. He had given it to her a couple of weeks ago as a gift.

“You didn't have to do this,” Apple had told him. “I love it—don't get me wrong—but I didn't get you anything. And you're always giving me things.”

“It's no big deal,” he had responded. “I was just thinking about you and I wanted to give it to you. It's my pleasure.”

That was what Lyon was like.

Yes, at least
something
positive had come out of Apple's tearful, embarrassing—make that mortifying to the infinity degree—television debut. Actually, two positive things had come out of her television debut. One, she had met Lyon.

And two, the editor of
Angst
magazine was an avid viewer of
Queen of Hearts with Dr. Bee Bee Berg
and had witnessed Apple's teary admission and apology, which had led to a phone call to set up a meeting to discuss Apple's becoming the magazine's teen advice columnist.

Apparently, though Apple cringed at the thought, trying to sabotage your best friend's relationship and NOT getting the guy you've been in love with for years and LOSING your best friend over it was “real” and just what the editor was looking for in a teen advice columnist.

Apple couldn't help but think that Happy should have also received a job offer. Happy, after all, was also on the show that day and was the victim. Plus
she was so much better suited for a job at
Angst
. She was so much more put together, so much more outgoing, and so much more into fashion and celebrities, which is what the glossy magazine was all about.

It was a fact that Happy was the most beautiful and well-dressed student at Cactus High, just as it was a fact that there were seven days in a week. Happy's nickname had always been “the Onion” because she was so beautiful you wanted to cry just looking at her.

“You should really be going to this meeting,” Apple said to Happy, getting off her bed and peeling her eyes away from the photograph of Lyon. “You'd be much better giving out advice than me. And you'd know what to wear! You'd fit right in.”

“I wish! I'd kill for a job at
Angst
. But you'll get me in. I know it. And you
are
good at giving out advice. Well, you were for the school newspaper. So it's not like you have no experience. Plus, they don't want just
any
teenager giving out advice to readers. You may not appreciate being the daughter of one of television's most-watched talk-show hosts, but admit it, it opens doors,” Happy said, looking at a royal blue sweater briefly before tossing it dismissively into the Absolutely Not pile.

“Unfortunately,” Happy continued, “my mother isn't famous. My mother is not the one and only Dr. Bee Bee Berg.”

“Oh my God, Happy! I'm so glad you said that. I keep thinking they want me just because I'm the daughter of Dr. Bee Bee Berg! You think so too, right?” Apple asked. “That's the real reason they want me.”

“Of course,” Happy said matter-of-factly. “Do you actually think Rumer Willis gets acting jobs because she has talent? No, it's because of who her parents are. But who cares how you get in the door, as long as you do? Then you can prove yourself. And I NEED you to prove yourself so you can then get
me
in. Or at least get me some press so people know who I am and I can get an acting job somewhere!”

“I'll do my best,” Apple said sincerely. “And you will get an acting job. You were destined to be famous.”

“Duh!” Happy said, opening another one of Apple's drawers. “I'm a clothes whore, but my God, Apple, how many pair of jeans do you
own?”

Apple glanced at the clock on the wall. It was shaped like an apple, one of those unfortunate things that came along with being named after a fruit (Apple couldn't even count how many items shaped like apples she had received as gifts in her life). The apple-shaped clock was a gift from one of her dad's colleagues for her ninth birthday. She had been meaning to throw it out forever.

“The meeting is in less than an hour. We've got to figure something out, like, now,” Apple moaned, “or I'm going to be late.”

As if a director of a film had just called out “Action!” Apple's mother walked into the room. Apple breathed in deeply, counting to ten in her head, as Brooklyn had advised her to do to remain calm in stressful situations. Apple found being around her mother very
stressful. She loved her mother, but her presence, even at home, was just so big and overwhelming, it exhausted Apple. She tried not to be annoyed that her mother didn't have the decency to knock, especially since it was
her
bedroom.

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