Authors: Anna-Louise Weatherley
was born in Southampton and grew up in London where she still lives. An award-winning writer for over ten years, she is the
former editor and acting editor of
respectively and has written for magazines including
. This is her first novel. When she is not writing, Anna-Louise collects vintage bikinis – at last count she owned over a hundred.
Also available by Anna-Louise Weatherley:
The Wrong Boy
For Joe and Pat – a love story that stood the test of time.
Huge thanks to Brenda Gardner, Melissa Patey, Yasemin Uçar and everyone at Piccadilly, everyone at CosmoGIRL! and to Alan and Louie, my two
favourite boys in the entire world.
First published in Great Britain in 2006
by Piccadilly Press Ltd,
5 Castle Road, London NW1 8PR
This edition published 2010
Text copyright © Anna-Louise Weatherley, 2006
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner
The right of Anna-Louise Weatherley to be identified as Author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN: 978 1 84812 129 4 (paperback)
eISBN: 978 1 84812 281 9
1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
Printed in the UK by CPI Bookmarque Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4TD
Cover design oby Simon Davis
Cover illustrations by Sue Hellard
he red, oh yeah,
the red. What do you reckon, Ellie?’ Narinda was holding one of
Ellie’s favourite dresses up against me for size, her head cocked to one side thoughtfully. For a nanosecond I dared entertain the idea that she might let me borrow it, but I wasn’t
holding out much hope. Ellie referred to this particular dress as her ‘IT’ dress and would almost certainly want to wear it herself, what with tonight being special and all. Besides,
I’d been coveting it for months back home and she’d never even let me so much as look at it, let alone try it on. The fact that she wasn’t already throwing a fit suggested she was
only playing ball so as not to look like a right mean cow in front of her mates.
,’ Ellie sighed as she began to towel dry her hair. ‘You can wear it on one condition: don’t go within ten feet of anyone holding a cigarette and
about jumping in the pool in it – no matter what anyone else might be seen doing – got it?’
‘That’s two conditions,’ Narinda pointed out helpfully.
‘Hey, whose flippin’ side are you on?’ Ellie snapped back, unable to stifle a grin.
I squealed with delight and ran over to hug my sister, who was still a bit damp from the shower she’d just taken.
‘You’re the best!’ I said and meant it because I knew that in the grand scheme of things, as far as fulfilling the ‘cooler older sister’ role goes, Ellie had
surpassed herself already by bringing me on her annual girls’ holiday with her equally cool girlfriends – and now it looked like she might lend me her favourite dress to boot. It was
all sounding a bit too good to be true.
‘Try it on then!’ ordered Narinda impatiently. ‘Let’s see what it looks like before you agree to all the terms and conditions!’
I liked Narinda. She was Ellie’s best friend and they had, along with Charlotte and Louisa, met while they were at secondary school together, forming a formidable ‘girl gang’
that had stood the test of time. Like everyone associated with my sister, Narinda was incredibly beautiful, with long, impossibly glossy black hair and almond-shaped brown eyes that set off her
coffee-coloured skin perfectly. She looked like an exotic Indian princess and was nice too; funny, if a bit bonkers at times. I could tell she was making an effort with me and I was genuinely
grateful, because she didn’t have to or anything, especially since this was supposed to be a holiday for her and her mates and the last thing she probably wanted was to chaperone her
mate’s little sister who didn’t have any decent clothes to wear.
‘Give it here,’ Ellie said, tugging at the dress as I struggled to do up the zip. ‘There you go.’
I stood, slightly awkwardly, in front of the mirror and my heart sank. It was official: Ellie’s ‘IT’ dress, which made
look like a supermodel, hugging all the right
places and giving her a cleavage to die for, made
look like a bag lady. The feather-soft chiffon fabric pulled and puckered at my hips, making it appear as if I had a big pair of granny
knickers on underneath, and somehow it managed to make my curvy belly stick out even more than usual. In short, it was a disaster.
‘See, it looks fantastic!’ said Narinda, a little too brightly to be convincing.
‘Yeah, you look pretty,’ said Charlotte, adding, ‘honestly,’ even though I’d not said anything to suggest I didn’t believe her.
Ellie was the only one who was sort of truthful.
‘Hmm. Not sure if it’s you, Iz.’ She said it as light-heartedly as possible so as not to send me sobbing into the bathroom, which is exactly what I felt like doing.
With the show over, Louisa went back to straightening Charlotte’s hair and turned the stereo up. Ironically, it was playing ‘Dress You Up’ by Leanne, which was proving to be
the club hit of the summer.
I bet Leanne doesn’t have this kind of problem, I thought to myself as Narinda began frantically pulling at the fabric around my hips in some vain attempt to make the dress fit better.
‘I look like I’m pregnant,’ I said, my voice cracking slightly as I rushed to take it off.
Louisa laughed and Ellie shot her a look as if to say shut up.
‘Well, thanks anyway,’ I said, handing the dress back to Ellie and feeling utterly crushed. ‘You wear it; it looks much better on you.’
‘Look, there’s some other stuff in my case,’ Ellie said softly. ‘Have a rummage; there’ll be something else.’
I knew that no matter what I tried on of Ellie’s I’d never look as good in it as she would. When it came to claiming killer figures, my elder sister must’ve caught the early
bus and got the pick of the rack, while somehow I must’ve missed three in a row and got there just in time to pick up the dregs no one else wanted from the bargain bin. According to Mum,
I’d inherited her side of the family’s shape while Ellie had lucked out and got our dad’s side. Mum called it the ‘Francis’s Roundness’ – all hips and no
bust. And then there was the whole hair business too. When I’d demanded to know who was responsible for my unruly mass of long, dark-brown curls, Mum had replied that she had no idea because
everyone had straight hair on both sides of our family, aside from my Auntie Maureen, whose hair was slightly wavy (although Mum wasn’t sure if this was due to having had a bad perm back in
the Sixties). ‘It must be a throwback from somewhere down the line, a latent gene,’ she’d decided, which as you can imagine didn’t exactly make me feel a whole lot
I looked down at my suitcase and wondered if I’d remembered to bring my trusty old black halter-neck top and if I could get away with teaming it with my denim skirt. Would that be dressy
enough? I didn’t have a clue, because when I actually thought about it I realised I’d never been to a proper pool party before.