The water sparkled off the pool at the Fowler Mansion, hurting Jessica's eyes. She wished she'd remembered to borrow some designer sunglasses off Lila as well as a swimsuit.
She lounged back in her deckchair, taking care to look casual but to have her sun-streaked golden hair carefully arranged around her shoulders, even though only Lila was with her. It was always possible that the Fowlers had engaged a new pool boy, and Jessica could be a perfect Girl Scout if cute boys were involved. It would be a shame to waste Lila's designer bikini, which suited Jessica much better than Lila, in her opinion – it picked up the Pacific Ocean blue-green of her eyes in a way that it would never flatter her brown-eyed friend. She sneaked a glance at Lila, forced to concede that Lila did look great with her shiny gold swimsuit gleaming against her expensively tanned and oiled skin, but reassured herself that Lila didn't look quite as good as herself.
She sighed a little as she pulled her straps down to avoid tan lines. She'd agreed to come over to Lila's because A.J. was having a family dinner and, although Jessica was too much in love to admit it to herself, it was a relief to stop trying to be the good, sweet girl of her boyfriend's dreams and spend a little time hanging out with someone who never, ever expected her to be nice. But it was a glorious day, and they should be posing in those swimsuits on the beach where they could get some attention, not all alone by the pool. Maybe Lila would get sick of drinking her Daddy's expensive vintage red in a bit and they could go to the mall and try on clothes or something. And even if Jessica was determined to be all about A.J. these days, there was no harm in courting a bit of innocent male admiration.
She pulled a black-speckled exercise book from her bag and flicked idly through it, ignoring Lila's dirty look. Solitary sunbathing was boring, and she wasn't going to miss out on the chance of catching up on some good gossip just because Lila's slam book scheme had backfired.
It was all still pretty boring until she reached the 'Best Couples' list. She wasn't sure at all that she'd read the last entry right, until she'd read it three or four times. Even then, she wasn't sure if she should be alarmed, or terribly amused. "Hey, Lila. You wouldn't believe what I just read."
"If it's something you read in one of Amy's dumb slam-books, I don't want to hear it. Really, how immature and pathetic can high school get?" Lila took an appreciative sip of the vintage wine she'd filched from her father's cellar, just, Jessica was sure, to demonstrate how totally above childish things she was.
Jessica copied her, trying to avoid making a face at the unpleasant taste and appear as sophisticated as her friend instead of wishing she had soda instead. "Come on, Lila, aren't you over that already? So Liz and her little gal-pals were mean to you. Big deal. You deserved it for trying to steal Liz's boyfriend." Lila's expression soured, and Jessica just knew she was going to get sulks for choosing her twin over her friend if she didn't forestall it, so she went on quickly, "Jeffrey's a nerd, anyway. He's more Liz's type." She decided it was better not to mention that she'd chased him pretty hard herself, once upon a time." You'd be bored with pretending to be a good girl for him in five minutes."
"Like you and A.J.?" Lila peered slyly over her glass.
Jessica's cheeks felt hotter than the California sun quite justified. "Never mind that. Now, don't you want to know why Enid was so upset today?"
Lila hesitated between grumpiness and a malicious instinct for gossip. "Enid isn't worth the effort of wondering about." Jessica waved the book tantalizingly out of her grip, as Lila half-closed her eyes. "Someone probably accused her of running over a kitten when she was a druggie or something and she needed to cry on Liz's shoulder. However –" Her hand lashed out, cheetah-fast, and she snatched the book out of Jessica's hand before she could react.
Jessica smirked at her victory. "Best couples page. Although I'm sorry, no one's pairing you with Jeffrey, guess you'll have to do it yourself again…"
"Shut up." Lila scanned the page. "Where - Enid and Elizabeth?" She titled down her sunglasses to look at Jessica over the rim. "Aren't you upset about this?"
Jessica shrugged. She'd had a moment of worry, but after all… "It's only a stupid joke. I mean, Enid totally fawns all over Liz, but Liz and Jeffrey are the most lovey-dovey couple ever. Thanks to you," she added with a spiteful grin. "Besides, Enid's not hot enough to be a threat."
"And, I hate to admit it, but Liz is," Lila agreed thoughtfully. "She has no idea about clothes and makeup, but even so… she's hot."
"Why, thank you." Elizabeth's identical twin arched her back. "And Liz acts all goody-goody, but really, has she ever dated anyone's whose not totally hot and a sports star to boot?" Lila muttered something about Jessica saying Jeffrey was a nerd a moment ago, but Jessica chose to ignore her. "Enid's not in the Wakefield league, and you know it. If Liz really was going to go that route, it would be with someone like -" She strained her her mind for someone both boring enough for her sister, and hot enough for a Wakefield. It was unfortunate that Regina Morrow had put herself out of the running. "Denise Hadley or Jeannie West or someone. Enid just isn't hot enough."
"Maybe not." Lila narrowed her eyes. "But you know – not everyone likes hot."
"You're kidding, right?"
Lila was still frowning. "Wrong. I mean, let's face it, we're hot, right?" Jessica nodded in agreement. She knew she was, and Lila in that gold swimsuit was very definitely hot. "And how many times has Enid the Nerd come between us and some boy?" Jessica sat up, ready to argue, and then flopped back, deflated, as she remembered the string of cute college boys who, faced with a choice between herself and Lila, had inexplicably been all over Enid instead. "She's got that pathetic, wide-eyed thing about her." Lila sneered at the slam book. "Some boys like that. Maybe Liz does too."
Jessica reviewed in her mind every boy Liz had ever dated. It took rather longer than she expected it to, starting with Todd Wilkins and Bruce Patman and working her way up. Somehow, in her head, Liz was the most loyal girlfriend ever, but when Jessica really began to think about it, she began to feel the burning injustice of being the one in the family labeled the - butterfly. "No, sorry," she said finally. "Liz likes hot. Runs in the family."
"Hmm." Lila sat up. "You did agree I was hot, right?"
"I didn't say that," Jessica said quickly. She didn't feel the need to stoke Lila's ego any further.
"But you think it," Lila said quietly.
Jessica took in the silky gold streaked brown hair (Lila always did manage to afford shampoos and conditioners that would take up Jessica's entire allowance), velvety brown eyes and expensively trained, moisturized and dressed body of her best friend. "Well, yeah," she admitted. "Would we be best friends if you weren't? I don't take on pity cases."
"Neither do I," Lila said, in the breathy voice Jessica recognized as her fishing-for-a-date voice, and leaned over to kiss her.
Jessica was usually pretty good at being kissed; she had the fluttered-shut lashes and melting thing down pat, even with boys she was just practicing on until someone better came around. She was in enough shock this time, however, to forget all the rules and let her eyes pop wide open.
Lila wasn't a bad kisser, actually. Jessica supposed she'd had lots of practice.
Still wide-eyed, Jessica watched Lila move back and settle back down on her seat, eyes hidden by her sunglasses but her smile decidedly smug. Jessica thought about saying something, just mentioning what had just happened, but Lila seemed to have nothing much to say, so Jessica, head spinning, gave up and decided to go back to working on her tan.
Shrugging, she settled back, then paused and picked up the slam-book that had fluttered to the ground. Idly, she fished out her pen, and wrote a name in under "Hottest Girl."
For once, it wasn't even her own.