Reed Brennan's future is looking as bright as the two-karat diamonds in her new housemates' ears. Being accepted to the most prestigious private boarding school in the country wasn't enough for Reed. She had to break every rule to do it, but she has accomplished the impossible:
Reed is a Billings Girl now.
And with her new status come respect, envy, and, most important, opportunity. Not to mention the parties. Unfortunately, at the next illicit party in the Easton campus woods, her roommate snaps some pictures of Reed in more than one compromising position. She uses the photos to blackmail Reed: Dig up dirt on the most powerful and popular Billings Girls or she will have Reed expelled.
And speaking of parties, the Legacy is coming up. It's the invitation-only Halloween party in NYC and it's rumored that Thomas -- Reed's MIA boyfriend -- will be making an appearance there. Too bad Reed isn't even close to invited.
Life as a Billings Girl is every bit as glamorous as Reed imagined. What she didn't bargain for is the tangled web of private lies these girls weave.
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Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
November 06, 2006
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Excerpt from Invitation Only by Kate Brian
"Ugh! I just cannot take this sweater one more second," London Simmons said, pulling a creamy white cashmere sweater over her head and tossing it at her silver garbage can. Her dark brown hair grazed her bare back, falling into perfect waves.
"London! You cannot just throw away cashmere," her roommate, Vienna Clark, replied.
London and Vienna, or "the Twin Cities," as the rest of Billings called them, were two very buxom, very big-haired socialites who had apparently been friends forever. They had summoned me to their room the moment I had gotten back from dinner because they needed some help "feng shui-ing," as London had put it, which actually meant they wanted me to organize their shoes by color, then by heel height. At the moment, I was on the floor, doing exactly that.
"At least donate it or something," Vienna suggested.
London, who was admiring her double-D's in the mirror, turned to look at me.
"Sorry," she said, plucking the sweater out of the can. "Did you want this?"
Her brown eyes were completely innocent. She blinked, waiting for my excited reply.
"Uh, no thanks," I said flatly.
"Not to her! To the needy!" Vienna said, rolling her eyes as she picked up her nail file and walked over. "Don't mind her, Glass-licker," she told me, pulling the sweater out of London's fingers. "The skinnier she gets, the dumber she gets."
"Omigosh! You're just jealous!" London said, swiping at Vienna.
They both settled back on their beds again to continue their primping rituals. I yanked another pair of red shoes out of the back of the closet and lined them up with all the other red shoes, comparing heel heights. I was almost done. Then I could finally, finally get back to my room and shower.
"I saw Walt Whittaker on campus today," London said casually.
Instantly, all the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. Somehow I had managed to avoid Whit all day. Every time he saw me he blushed and looked away. Apparently he was just as embarrassed by our encounter as I was. He'd spent most of our mealtimes chatting with professors over at their tables, something I'd never seen a single student do before, and outside the caf I hadn't seen him at all. But did the Twin Cities know that we had hooked up?
"V, I am so going to make him mine."
Vienna snorted a laugh. "Please. Every other girl on this campus is gonna be after Whittaker in the next couple of weeks."
"So? You don't think I can get him?" London asked incredulously.
"You've got as good a shot as anyone else," Vienna replied. "But no one knows what goes on inside that thick head. Personally, I've always thought he was gay."
I stifled a laugh and shoved the last pair of red shoes into place. If he was gay it would certainly account for his lack of skills in the feeling-up department.
"Just because he's gay doesn't mean I can't use him," London said.
Then they both laughed. I pushed myself up and slapped my hands on my apron. Part of me was dying to know what London wanted to use Whit for. Money? Doubtful. Everyone around here had more than they knew what to do with. But an even bigger part of me was dying to get the hell out of there. Plus I had a feeling they wouldn't tell me anyway.
"All done," I said.
"You're excused," London said dismissively.
I shot her a look of death that she didn't even notice, then turned and walked out. I practically ran down the dimly lit hall to my room, blowing by all the black-and-white framed photos of Billings "Through the Ages." At some point I had appreciated the beautiful touches of Billings, the gleaming woodwork, the thick carpeting, the bronze wall sconces, the French windows at either end of each hallway. But now all I saw was more stuff to clean, more to scrub, more to wax. I couldn't get back to my room and away from it all fast enough. My hand was on the doorknob when I heard someone enter the hall behind me.
I stopped and closed my eyes. So close.
Mrs. Lattimer, the middle-aged house mother of Billings House, approached me at a broken pace, her stride hindered by her skinny pencil skirt. Her dark hair was pulled back in a bun and her white shirt was, as always, buttoned all the way up, with three strands of pearls sitting on top. Mrs. Lattimer was skinny and pointy; her skin was rough as leather. She was never seen without a thick layer of eyeliner and mascara, as if she thought drawing attention to her watery eyes would cause the average person to miss the rather large birthmark on her chin. I had met her on my first night at Billings and she had looked me over as if confused by my very existence. I had avoided her ever since.
"Miss Brennan, I understand that you made all the beds this morning," she said, her craggly hands clasped in front of her.