Full text of this year’s NaNo, “Prom Baby!” after the jump. If you are looking for the 2007 NaNo, “Double Penetration,” click here.
Elizabeth Wakefield woke early to a bright and sunny Monday morning. Like every other day in her hometown of Sweet Valley, California, this day promised to be full of endless fun, an irrationally complex misunderstanding or two, and the ever-present threat of kidnapping or date rape.
“Come on, Jess,” Elizabeth called to her twin sister, bursting into Jessica’s bedroom through the bathroom that connected the twins’ rooms.
“Ugh, go away,” Jessica moaned, pulling the covers up over her head.
“It’s a beautiful day,” Elizabeth countered. She sat on the edge of Jessica’s bed. “It’s also a very important day.”
“Well, whatever is going on must be totally and completely lame if you think it’s important,” Jessica said.
Elizabeth sighed and shook her head, her golden blond hair cascading down her back. She and Jessica may have been identical down to the small dimples in their left ass cheeks, but beyond their looks, the twins were as different as night and day. Elizabeth enjoyed waking up early, schoolwork and her steady boyfriend, while Jessica liked sleeping in, cheerleading and skanking her way through the male population of Sweet Valley High.
Elizabeth was also on the staff of Sweet Valley High’s low-budget student newspaper, The Oracle. Headed for a life of poverty and shrinking job opportunities, Liz wanted to be a writer.
Jessica, on the other hand, had set her sights on becoming an actress, model or something else equally vapid and glamorous. If it put her in the spotlight – and directly in the presence of a marginally famous and handsome man – Jessica was all over it.
“Oh, well, I guess I’m going to have to plan our school’s next big event all by myself,” Elizabeth said with an exaggerated sigh.
“You always do,” Jessica mumbled. She sat up in bed and yawned. “Besides, I’m sure it will be a dance, just like the ones we have every other Friday.”
“Well, I was thinking of something a little bit bigger,” Elizabeth said. “Like a prom.”
“A prom?” Jessica asked, suddenly wide awake. “We’ll need a theme. And we’ll have to decide on the decorations. Oh, and we’ll have to have a queen…”
Elizabeth laughed. “Take it easy, Jess. We don’t even have permission from the school yet. And the students might not want a prom – we’ve already had a couple this year.”
Jessica snorted. “Not want a prom? Sweet Valley High throws the best proms. Way better than any school around here. I’m sure Big Mesa’s prom wasn’t nearly as exciting as our Jungle Prom!”
Elizabeth stared at her sister, open-mouthed. “Jess, your boyfriend died during the Jungle Prom.”
Sam Woodruff, Jessica’s first serious boyfriend, had been killed in a tragic car accident after he and Elizabeth left the Jungle Prom together. Sam and Elizabeth had gotten unusually drunk on a pitifully small amount of grain alcohol which Jessica had discreetly poured into Elizabeth’s punch glass in an attempt to ruin Elizabeth’s chances of becoming prom queen. Jessica hadn’t counted on her sister to have such a low tolerance for alcohol.
Jessica shrugged. “Sure, but I got over him pretty quickly, didn’t I?”
Elizabeth had to hand it to her sister; she did have a point. “Hurry up, Jessica. We don’t want to be late for school!”
“Can you brush my teeth for me?” Jessica asked, yawning.
“Brush your teeth for you?”
“Yeah, whenever I ask you to do something, you pretty much do it, so I just thought…”
Elizabeth sighed. “All right, Jess.”
Once Elizabeth had brushed Jessica’s teeth and hair and dressed her for the day, the twins headed downstairs for breakfast.
“Good morning, girls,” said the twins’ mother, Alice Wakefield, setting a jug of freshly squeezed orange juice on the table. With her blonde hair and youthful looks, Mrs. Wakefield was often mistaken for the twins’ underage sister. Mrs. Wakefield ran her own successful interior design business and attracted a lot of customers, particularly pedophiles.
“Good morning, Mom,” Elizabeth said dutifully, but Jessica just grunted.
“Is something wrong, Jessica?” asked Ned Wakefield, peering with concern at his youngest daughter over a copy of the Sweet Valley News.
“Nothing’s wrong, Dad,” Elizabeth replied. “We’re just in a hurry to get to school this morning.”
Mr. Wakefield nodded and continued to read the paper. “Have you girls heard about what’s been going on over in Big Mesa?”
“No, Dad,” Elizabeth said, pouring Jessica a glass of orange juice. She lifted the glass to Jessica’s mouth and Jessica took a small sip. “What’s happening in Big Mesa?”
“Well, it seems 75 girls at the high school over there are involved in some kind of teen pregnancy pact,” Mr. Wakefield said. “Some of them are even dating poor people just to try to have a baby.”
“How terrible,” said Mrs. Wakefield, carrying a plate piled high with eggs and bacon to the table. “I’m glad that in Sweet Valley, we teach our kids real values. If you’re going to be part of a teen pregnancy pact, aim high, girls. That Bruce Patman’s a wealthy boy.”
Elizabeth stuffed a forkful of eggs into Jessica’s mouth. “Maybe I’ll write up something for The Oracle on teen pregnancy pacts. It sounds like a really important issue.”
“Those stupid kids from Big Mesa,” Jessica mumbled around a mouthful of food. “I bet we could out-pregnant them any day.”
“Jessica!” Elizabeth said, shocked. “We don’t even know where babies come from. And they’re a lot of work, you know.”
“Maybe that could be the theme of our prom,” Jessica said, suddenly struck with inspiration. “The teen pregnancy prom.”
“No way, Jessica,” Elizabeth said, setting down the fork and crossing her arms over her chest. “We are not having a teen pregnancy prom.”
“Why not?” Jessica said hotly. “Do you have a better idea?”
“No,” she admitted.
“We could decorate the gym with pink and blue streamers,” Jessica said, her blue-green eyes shining with excitement. She opened up her mouth so Elizabeth could hand-feed her a piece of bacon and then continued to talk with her mouth full. “And we could get somebody to sponsor it, maybe that Planned Parenthood place in that sketchy area downtown, you know, where the Martins live?”
“I’ll ask Annie Whitman to talk to them,” Elizabeth said, thoughtfully. “I see her going in there a couple times a week.”
“You girls are planning another prom?” asked Mrs. Wakefield. She placed several pancakes on Jessica’s plate, and Elizabeth started cutting them into tiny pieces.
“Let’s hope you don’t kill anyone this time, Elizabeth,” joked Mr. Wakefield.
“But Dad, that wasn’t really my fault,” Elizabeth protested. “It was – ouch!” Jessica had bitten down on Elizabeth’s hand, drawing blood. “I mean, it was all my fault.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself, dear,” Mrs. Wakefield said, handing the maple syrup to Elizabeth. “It was really the fault of that surprise witness your father called to the stand. And now he’s rotting in jail, as he should be.”
Elizabeth glanced down at her watch. “Come on, Jess, we really should get going.”
“All right,” Jessica grumbled. “See you later, Mom, Dad.”
“Have a good day at school, girls,” Mrs. Wakefield said, smiling at her daughters.
Elizabeth picked up both of their backpacks and carried them out to the Jeep the twins shared. She held the passenger-side door open and helped her sister into the car, fastening the seat belt around Jessica.
“I’m so glad we have our assembly first thing this morning,” Elizabeth said, carefully adjusting the rearview mirror before backing down the driveway. “We can announce our prom idea to the entire school right away.”
“I’m sure Chrome Dome Cooper will go along with the idea,” said Jessica. She used her fingers to fluff up her hair. “He lets us do whatever we want.”
“Let’s not exaggerate, Jess,” Elizabeth said. “He is the school’s principal. And he did give me some attitude when I wanted to write that article on teachers sexually harassing students.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t even get in trouble for that,” Jessica said. “Chrome Dome was all impressed because you knew so much about your conversational rights or something.”
“Constitutional rights, Jessica.”
“Yeah, whatever. I’m a cheerleader, Liz. I don’t have time for constitutional rights,” Jessica said. “Speaking of cheerleaders, I have to catch Robin Wilson before school to talk to her about our new routine. She’s really starting to pile the weight back on, and the last thing we need is a BBW at the top of our pyramid.”
“Jessica, that’s not nice,” Elizabeth admonished. “It took a week of crash dieting and compulsive exercising for her to lose all that weight. So what if she gains back a pound or two? She’s still come a long way.”
Jessica stared at her twin. “I cannot believe we are even related to each other,” she said. “Look, there’s Robin. Hurry up and park the car.”
Just then, a black Porsche with vanity plates reading 1BRUCE1 whipped around the Jeep and took the parking spot Elizabeth was about to pull into. The car’s driver, a tall, handsome senior at Sweet Valley High, stepped out of the Porsche and casually flung an expensive-looking leather jacket over his shoulder.
“Bruce Patman is such a jerk,” Elizabeth said, looking around for another parking spot.
“He is pretty hot, though,” Jessica said. “And rich.”
Bruce was the wealthiest boy at school. His father owned the Patman Canning Factory, where upper management fathered assembly-line employees’ children out of wedlock. Bruce had recently found out that a fellow classmate at Sweet Valley High, orphan Roger Barrett, was the product of one such union and was, in fact, his own cousin. Roger had since tacked Patman onto the end of his name and moved into the basement of the Patman mansion, where Bruce wouldn’t have to see him.
Elizabeth guided the Jeep into another spot and Jessica flung open the door, jumping out before Elizabeth could even put the car in park. She ran off to catch up with Robin.
As Elizabeth stepped out of the Jeep, she turned to see her best friend, Enid Rollins, running across the parking lot toward her. Enid was average-looking at best and had a meth problem she liked to keep on the down low, but her personality was just boring enough to make Elizabeth seem exciting by comparison.
“Good morning, Enid,” Elizabeth greeted her friend warmly.
“I thought we could maybe sit together at the assembly,” Enid said hopefully.
“Oh, well, I … uh, I might have to make a presentation at the assembly,” Elizabeth said. “So I’ll probably be sitting on stage.”
“Do you need me to keep an eye on your books or anything, then? I’ll watch them for you during the assembly,” Enid offered quickly.
“I’ll just put them in my locker, thanks,” Elizabeth said. “Hey, Enid, Hugh goes to Big Mesa. Do you think he’ll help me find some students to interview about the teen pregnancy pact? I’m thinking about running something in The Oracle.”
“Oh, Elizabeth, that’s a great idea. I’m sure Hugh will be happy to help you out with anything you need. I’ll ask him today after school when I call about my, uh, weekly shipment,” Enid said. Hugh Grayson was Enid’s boyfriend and drug dealer.
“Thanks so much, Enid,” Elizabeth said. “Listen, I have to find Mr. Cooper before the assembly, so I’ll catch up with you later, OK?” She hurried off in the direction of the principal’s office before Enid could reply.
Elizabeth knocked on the heavy wooden door of Mr. Cooper’s office. “Mr. Cooper?” she called. “It’s Elizabeth Wakefield. May I come in?”
“Of course,” Mr. Cooper replied. Elizabeth swung open the door and entered the principal’s office. “You’re a Wakefield twin; you know you don’t need my permission to enter any area of Sweet Valley High.”
Elizabeth set her books down on the corner of Mr. Cooper’s desk. “There is something I wanted to talk to you about before this morning’s assembly,” she said.
“Whatever you’re about to ask me, the answer is yes,” Mr. Cooper said. “Unless you’re interested in outing Mr. Collins as a dirty old man. I need to keep that a secret from the school board.”
“What? No,” Elizabeth said, confused. “There’s nothing wrong with Mr. Collins. He’s a great teacher. He always gives me one-on-one attention.”
Mr. Collins was the most popular teacher at Sweet Valley High. His popularity was generally attributed to the fact that he looked like a young Robert Redford, but it was really because he was always willing to lend some sympathetic words and a back rub to any student going through a rough time – well, any female student going through a rough time.
“Let me run my idea by you first-” Elizabeth tried to continue, but Mr. Cooper cut her off.
“I already told you, Elizabeth, whatever you want to do is all right with me.”
“Well, Jessica and I just thought-”
Mr. Cooper leaned back in his chair and propped his feet up on the desk. “Oh, Jessica’s involved as well? Then I’m even more certain it’s a brilliant idea.” He looked down at his watch and tapped the face of it. “The assembly’s about to start in a few minutes, Elizabeth. Why don’t you head down to the auditorium?”
Elizabeth nodded and backed out of Mr. Cooper’s office. It looked like the prom would be happening, after all!
* * *
“We’re going to work hard to make this the best prom Sweet Valley High has ever seen!” Elizabeth promised the crowd of students in the auditorium. “Jessica and I have come up with a theme we know you all will love.”
“Actually, Liz, I came up with the theme all by myself,” Jessica corrected her loudly from the audience. She stood up and waved to the students around her before sitting back down.
“She’s right,” Elizabeth said. “Jessica came up with the theme, all by herself.” She paused dramatically. “The theme for this year’s junior prom will be teen pregnancy.”
Elizabeth was expecting a better reaction than the lukewarm round of applause that greeted her announcement. Apparently, so was Jessica.
“Let’s try this again, people!” she snapped, coming up out of her seat. “THE THEME FOR THIS YEAR’S JUNIOR PROM WILL BE TEEN PREGNANCY.”
This time, the students cheered with appropriate enthusiasm, although Elizabeth did notice Olivia Davidson and Penny Ayala exchange a frightened glance as they clapped.
“Thank you, Elizabeth – and Jessica,” Mr. Cooper said, stepping up to the podium. “The prom theme just happens to complement a new course we are offering here at Sweet Valley High. I’ve asked Mr. Collins to speak to you about the new course, which will be mandatory for all female students. Mr. Collins, could you come up here, please?”
Mr. Collins made his way up to the stage, winking at several of the more attractive girls in the junior class as he went. He gave Elizabeth a special leer as he walked past.
“As I’m sure many of you have heard, Big Mesa High School currently has a huge problem with teen pregnancy,” Mr. Collins began. “It’s probably because only poor white trash who suck at sports attend Big Mesa, but just in case, I’m going to be teaching a course on reproduction to all of our female students.” He held up his hands as groans filled the room. “I know, I know, you’re thinking that the last thing you need is more homework. But trust me when I say this homework will be fun.”
In the back of the auditorium, Tom McKay’s hand shot up.
“Tom, do you have a question?” Mr. Collins asked.
“I know you said the class is only for female students, Mr. Collins, but I’d really like to take it, if that’s all right with you,” Tom said.
Mr. Collins sighed and pressed a finger to his temple in exasperation. “Tom, the boys don’t have to take the class because babies aren’t really a man problem, all right?”
Tom nodded in understanding, but Elizabeth noticed he looked disappointed.
“Starting tomorrow, all female students will report to my classroom after first period,” Mr. Collins said. “And now, since our assembly is over, you kids are done for the day. Everyone can head home.”
Elizabeth caught up with Jessica on their way out of the auditorium. Jessica was, as usual, with her best friend, Lila Fowler. Lila was one of Sweet Valley High’s wealthiest students. Her father was a suave computer geek who had made millions off one of his technological inventions. Elizabeth didn’t care much for Lila, and Lila couldn’t care less what Elizabeth thought of her.
“Jess, I think I’m going to head down to The Oracle office for a bit to work on my Eyes and Ears column for the week,” Elizabeth said. “Do you think you could stick around and give me a ride home?”
“No,” Jessica said, reaching into the pocket of Elizabeth’s matronly blazer and snatching out the keys to the Jeep. “Lila and I are going to the mall.”
“Can’t you just take Lila’s car?” Elizabeth asked.
“Have you seen Lila’s car? It’s a lime-green Triumph,” Jessica said. “Lime. Green.”
“I don’t let poor people ride in my car, anyway,” Lila said. “They leave an odor.”
“What is one supposed to wear to a teen pregnancy prom, anyway?” Lila asked, flipping through a rack of sequined dresses at Lisette’s. “I’m telling you right now, I’m NOT wearing maternity clothes.”
“I was thinking something in soft pastels – maybe pink or blue,” Jessica said. She pulled a light yellow dress off the sale rack, then threw it on the floor in disgust.
“Pastels look horrible on me,” Lila complained.
Jessica tossed her expertly feathered hair over one shoulder. “Pastels look great on me,” she said. “So does practically everything else.”
Lila, who kept a heated rivalry going with her best friend, smirked. “Too bad you can only shop on the sale rack. The selection is horrible.”
Jessica flipped through more dresses and smiled sweetly at Lila. “Speaking of horrible selections, who are you going to take to the prom? It’s too bad John Pfeifer isn’t available.”
“I could say the same for Sam Woodruff,” Lila snapped. John was still a touchy subject with her; he had once tried to show her his junk up at Miller’s Point, a popular spot for Sweet Valley High students to park their cars and practice sexual restraint.
“Don’t get all bent out of shape, Lila,” Jessica said, breezing through several dresses on the sale rack. She held up a strapless pink gown. “What do you think about this one?”
Lila eyed the dress critically and shrugged. “It’s all right, if you want to look like you live in a split-level ranch on Calico Drive,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“But I do live in a – oh,” Jessica said, hastily shoving the dress back on the rack.
“There’s nothing here I like,” Lila said. “I think I’m going to have my dad bring me back something from Paris.”
Lila’s father spent most of his time traveling to European destinations and ignoring his only daughter. He had become a little nicer to her after she almost glimpsed John Pfeifer’s package, spiraled into a deep depression and falsely accused a school counselor of trying to rape her, but he still showed his love for his daughter mainly by purchasing Lila’s expensive clothing, jewelry and breast implants.
On their way out of Lisette’s, Jessica spotted a trashy-looking girl she thought she recognized as one of Big Mesa’s cheerleaders. “Look at that,” she hissed, poking Lila in the side and pointing at the girl. “I think that’s one of those bitches from Big Mesa.”
“Obviously,” Lila said in disgust. “She’s wearing a polyester hairpiece.”
“And she’s at least a size 8,” Jessica said.
The girl was walking toward them, an arrogant smirk on her face. She stopped short of Jessica and Lila. “You must be some of those uptight cheerleaders from Sweet Valley High,” the girl said, snapping a piece of gum loudly.
“I am NOT a cheerleader,” Lila said haughtily. “I don’t do physical activity.”
“Who are you calling uptight?” Jessica asked, her cheeks flushing with anger. “Between me and Annie Whitman, our cheerleading squad is really loose.”
“Besides, I hear Big Mesa girls date homeless guys,” Lila said. “But you do look pretty low-class, so I’m not surprised.”
The girl snorted and continued to snap her gum. Jessica thought briefly about kicking her in the throat, but then decided pulling her broke-ass weave and scratching at her eyeballs would be a more ladylike move. “We don’t date homeless guys,” she said, rolling her eyes. “We’re just using them for reproductive purposes. Not that you kids in Sweet Valley would know much about that.”
She laughed and stepped around Jessica and Lila. “We’re better reproducers than you!” Jessica screamed, making a grab for the girl’s hair and missing.
“What is this whore even talking about?” Lila mused, watching the retreating figure. “Reproductive purposes?”
“If we want to beat those Big Mesa bitches at their own game, we’ll have to actually pay attention to everything Mr. Collins says in that class,” Jessica said. “I’m not going to let that ho get away with calling us uptight!”
* * *
Right after first period on Tuesday morning, all of Sweet Valley High’s female students crowded into Mr. Collins’ classroom for their first lesson in reproductive health.
“All right, girls,” Mr. Collins said, surveying the class. “Some of you really don’t need to worry about this class, so I’m going to let a few of you go. Enid Rollins and Lois Waller, you’re excused from this class.” He squinted at the crowd of girls. “Tom, is that you in drag?”
A very masculine-looking girl sitting in the back of the room shook her head. “I’m … Thomasina McKay,” she said in a falsely high-pitched voice.
“Tom, get out of here,” Mr. Collins said, pointing to the door. A very disappointed Tom McKay took off his blonde wig as he left the room.
Jessica stifled a giggle as Tom walked past her. Elizabeth did her best to throw a concerned glance his way.
“So,” Mr. Collins said, rubbing his hands together and leaning back against his desk. “Reproduction.”
Lila sighed loudly and sat back in her chair, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Is something wrong, Ms. Fowler?” Mr. Collins asked. Lila shook her head. “All right, girls, I’m going to be up front with you. Some of the topics we’ll be discussing in this class might make you slightly uncomfortable. But it shouldn’t make you any more uncomfortable than you usually feel in my English class.”
Elizabeth sat up straight, her pen poised over the notebook she always carried in her bra. She made some notes.
“When a man and a woman love each other very much – no, wait,” Mr. Collins began. “Scratch that. When a man is attracted to an underage girl, well, things can happen.”
Elizabeth raised her hand. “What kind of things?”
Mr. Collins smiled. “I think you already know the answer to that, Elizabeth,” he said. “You, Penny, Olivia – well, any girl on The Oracle staff, really – might call it ‘student advisement.’”
“Oh,” said Elizabeth, confused. “What does that have to do with reproduction?”
“It doesn’t really,” Mr. Collins said. “I’m very careful. But accidents do sometimes happen.”
“Accidents?” Jessica whispered to Lila, who shrugged.
“Just ask Annie Whitman,” Mr. Collins continued, looking pointedly at Annie, who slunk lower in her seat. Elizabeth threw Annie a condescending yet sympathetic glance. “Annie, could you please tell us about your experiences?”
“Mr. Collins, I’m sorry, but I don’t really feel like that’s anyone’s business,” Annie said quietly, staring down at the floor.
“Don’t worry, Mr. Collins, we already know,” Lila said snootily. “Annie’s a slut.”
“But I was nice enough to let her join the cheerleading squad after she scammed me into it by overdosing on Tylenol,” Jessica added. “Even if she does hold hands with an awful lot of boys at Miller’s Point.”
“Settle down, girls,” Mr. Collins said. “Annie, I think it is everyone’s business, especially since we all know you have the herps.”
Tears welled up in Annie’s eyes. “Mr. Collins,” Elizabeth said quickly, “I think we need to maybe focus more on the reproductive health curriculum and less on Annie’s romantic transgressions.”
Behind her, Elizabeth heard Amy Sutton stifle a laugh.
“Elizabeth, this is important,” Mr. Collins said. “Too much time up at Miller’s Point, and you girls will end up like those skanks up at Big Mesa. Now, can anyone tell me what boobs are for?”
Lila’s hand shot up. “Daddy says they’re for trophy wives,” she said.
Mr. Collins shook his head. “Anyone else?”
“Holding up a strapless maillot, preferably in gold or white,” Jessica answered.
“Wrong. However, Jessica, if you want extra credit, wear a strapless maillot to class tomorrow,” Mr. Collins said. “Amy, that goes for you as well. You’re pretty vapid, so I know you’re always in need of a little extra credit.”
Just then, the bell rang, and the students gathered their books and papers and started flooding out of the classroom. Elizabeth stopped at Mr. Collins’ desk on her way out.
“Mr. Collins, can I talk to you for a minute?” she asked, hugging her books to her chest. Mr. Collins stared intently at the books and nodded without meeting her eyes.
“What’s going on, Elizabeth?” he asked.
She looked down. “If you want my math book, Mr. Collins, I’d be glad to give it to you,” she said.
“Uh, no thanks, that’s all right,” he said.
“Oh, OK, well, I was just thinking that with the teen pregnancy prom coming up, as well as our new class and the recent events at Big Mesa, I might write a story for The Oracle,” she said. “I think it’s a huge issue that I can get really sanctimonious about.”
Mr. Collins sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I don’t know, Elizabeth. Can you stop by The Oracle office after school? I might need to heavily advise you on this one,” he said.
“Of course, Mr. Collins,” Elizabeth said. “I’ll see you at three o’clock.”
* * *
Lila eyed her school lunch skeptically. “I can’t believe we have to take that stupid reproductive health class,” she said, wrinkling her nose in disgust as she bit into a grilled chicken sandwich. “I also can’t believe my dad gave Eva the week off. This stuff is toxic.”
“Not all of us can afford servants to make sushi for lunch every day,” said Elizabeth, who wasn’t quite sure why she was sitting at a lunch table with Lila, Jessica and Amy.
“Eva doesn’t make me sushi every day,” Lila said. “Only on Wednesdays.”
“The health class is totally lame,” said Amy. She took a sip of her diet soda and then laughed. “But did you see the look on Annie Whitman’s face when Mr. Collins said she had the herps? Priceless!”
“We still didn’t find out what boobs are for,” Jessica said thoughtfully, chewing on a french fry. “Hey, Liz, aren’t you going to eat that brownie?” She reached over and snagged the fudge-covered brownie off Elizabeth’s tray. “Aren’t you going to eat any of your lunch? Give it here. I’m starving.”
“Who cares what boobs are for?” Lila said. “This class is a major bore.”
“Have you forgotten about that skanky bitch from Big Mesa?” Jessica asked. “Do you want her and all the other a-holes from Big Mesa to think they’re better than us?”
Elizabeth pushed her tray of untouched food toward Jessica. “What are you talking about?”
Jessica filled in her sister and Amy on the run-in they had with the gum-popping, polyester weave-wearing cheerleader from Big Mesa.
“No way!” Amy exploded. “I hate those bitches!”
“I know. That’s why we’ve got to outdo them. They had, what, 137 girls in their pregnancy pact?” Jessica said.
“Seventy-five,” Elizabeth corrected her.
“Oh, whatever,” Jessica said. “The point is, we can get way more than 75 girls at Sweet Valley High pregnant. Even those secondary characters no one cares about. And we have to get started right away.”
“Jessica, we haven’t even finished Mr. Collins’ class yet,” Elizabeth pointed out. “We don’t know how to get pregnant.”
“Aren’t you good at research and boring stuff like that? Just go down to the library and look it up,” Lila said.
Enid dropped her tray on the table and sat down next to Elizabeth. Jessica, Lila and Amy quickly scooted as far away from her as they could possibly get. “Hi, everyone,” Enid said. “How was Mr. Collins’ class?”
“Boring,” said Amy. “Although we get to wear bathing suits tomorrow.”
Enid exchanged a glance with Elizabeth. “Why do you get to wear bathing suits to class?” she asked.
“For extra credit,” Elizabeth explained. “I’m not doing it. I think it’s kind of sexist, like a beauty pageant or something.”
“Well, I’m doing it,” Jessica said, stuffing her face. “I love beauty pageants.”
“I wish I could be in class with all of you,” Enid said. “Lois and I spent the whole period in the library writing dark poetry and cutting ourselves.”
“You’ll have to let me read some of your poetry sometime, Enid,” Elizabeth said warmly. “I’m sure it’s excellent.”
“Are you kidding me?” Lila said. “I can tell you right now what cutter and the fattie’s poems sound like: ‘Darkness surrounds us, drawing closer like a cloak of death…’”
“So, will any of you be helping out on the prom committee?” Elizabeth asked, quickly changing the subject when she saw how pale Enid’s face had become.
Jessica snorted. “Not likely. You do all the work, I show up and take the title of prom queen, remember?”
“Of course,” Elizabeth said meekly.
“And don’t even think about campaigning for prom queen,” Jessica said. “Remember what happened last time.”
Elizabeth was all alone in The Oracle office after school, typing up her latest column for the paper. Eyes and Ears covered all the latest gossip around Sweet Valley High – new couples, breakups, which students were throwing parties – and even though Elizabeth publicly denounced gossip, she enjoyed spreading rumors through her column.
The door swung open, and Mr. Collins entered the office, slightly out of breath. “Sorry I’m late for our meeting, Elizabeth,” he said, turning to lock the door behind him. “I had an appointment with Maria Santelli that took a little longer than I expected.”
“That’s all right,” Elizabeth said, gesturing toward her typewriter. “I’ve just been working on my Eyes and Ears column.”
“Great, great,” Mr. Collins said distractedly. He pulled a chair close to Elizabeth’s and sat down just behind her, resting a hand on her shoulder. “I’ve been thinking about your idea for an article on the whole teen pregnancy thing, and I really think it’s better if we just, ah, don’t mention it in The Oracle.”
“But why not, Mr. Collins?” Elizabeth cried, whirling around. “If it helps one student from getting into trouble, then isn’t it worth it?”
“Mr. Cooper and I spoke briefly about your idea, and I’m afraid we both agree that since a lot of parents – and school board members – rely on The Oracle as their main source of news, it’s really best if we don’t run an article that might let them know a registered sex offender is teaching their kids.”
“What?” Elizabeth asked.
“Nothing,” Mr. Collins replied. “I’m in compliance with the state, so it’s really nothing for you to worry about.”
“Sure, Mr. Collins,” Elizabeth said. “I don’t agree with you, but I guess I understand.”
“I’m glad we’re on the same page, then,” Mr. Collins whispered into Elizabeth’s ear, squeezing her shoulder in a gesture that was eerily reminiscent of the time Bruce Patman had groped one of her breasts. “See you in class tomorrow, Elizabeth.”
“See you in class,” she echoed. But as she watched Mr. Collins leave, Elizabeth couldn’t help but feel a little bit of resentment toward her favorite teacher. I won’t let him censor me or stand in the way of my preachy article on teen pregnancy, she vowed. I won’t.
* * *
“Thanks, everyone, for coming out to talk about the teen pregnancy prom,” Elizabeth greeted a group of Sweet Valley High students who had turned up at the Dairi Burger, a local restaurant famous for its stomach-churning cheeseburgers and milkshakes and a popular hangout for the Wakefield twins and their friends.
Sitting at the table were Enid; Maria and her boyfriend, super-nerd and mediocre comedian Winston Egbert; Olivia; Roger Barrett Patman; Nicholas Morrow, who liked to hang around with high school students, even though he was an adult with a full-time job; and Todd Wilkins, Elizabeth’s boyfriend.
Todd and Elizabeth had had their share of ups and downs, breaking up every other week over Elizabeth’s continued infidelity or a misunderstanding that would get blown out of proportion. Recently, Todd had come out of the closet to Elizabeth, professing his love for Sweet Valley High’s quarterback, Ken Matthews. Elizabeth had agreed to continue dating Todd as his beard.
“I’m really glad to be here,” Enid said. “Anything to help you out, Elizabeth.”
“Uh, yeah, all right, let’s get started,” Elizabeth said. “Olivia, do you have any ideas for decorations?”
“I’m thinking about creating a giant art installation to put in the middle of the dance floor,” said Olivia, sketching her idea on a napkin and pushing it across the table to Elizabeth. “It’s going to be a seven-foot-tall fetus.”
“It sounds great,” Elizabeth said sincerely. “You’re such a good artist, I just know you’ll do a great job.”
“Winston and I will sell tickets at the door,” Maria offered.
“I’m also planning on telling dead baby jokes,” Winston added.
“This is really good, guys,” Elizabeth said, taking copious notes. “Anyone else?”
“I can make the crown for the queen,” Todd said. “The prom queen. Not Tom McKay. And I’m totally straight, by the way. Boobs, yay.”
Elizabeth nodded. “I think we should book The Droids,” she said, referring to Sweet Valley High’s hottest band. Their three-song catalog would keep the party going all night long.
Just then, the door to the Dairi Burger swung open with such force it hit the wall behind it. In the doorway stood three heavily pregnant girls with ratty hair.
“They’re from Big Mesa,” Enid gasped.
“Big Mesa students – what are they doing at the Dairi Burger?” Todd said in a low voice. “And who is butchering their hair?”
A few tables away, Bruce stood up and threw on his leather jacket emblazoned with a large white X across the back. The jacket was left over from his days as leader of Club X, a boys-only club focused on crazy dares like driving without headlights on, and he wore it whenever he felt he needed to compensate for his small member.
“No wonder you all go to Big Mesa,” he said loudly, sauntering over to the girls. “You’re all pretty big.”
“We’re just here to fulfill a craving for grease,” one of the girls said. “We don’t want any trouble.”
“Todd, Bruce is going to beat down a bunch of pregnant girls,” Elizabeth whispered. “Do something!”
“Oh, hell no,” Todd hissed. “I’m not getting involved.”
One of the girls made a move toward a booth in the front of the restaurant, but Bruce blocked her way. “You and your two ugly friends need to get out of here,” he growled. “I wouldn’t give you a red wine and roofie cocktail in a paper cup, and that’s saying a lot.”
“Come on, Leah,” said one of the girls still standing in the doorway. “We don’t want to eat in Sweet Valley, anyway.”
“That’s right,” Bruce called after the girls as they turned to leave. “Go back to Big Mesa.”
Elizabeth slowly let out the breath she had been holding in. She had a terrible feeling that the trouble with Big Mesa was far from over.
* * *
By the time the girls of Sweet Valley High had finished their third class on reproductive health, they still hadn’t learned anything but just how many boys Annie Whitman had “dated” and how many girls Mr. Collins had “advised.”
“This is going way too slow,” Jessica complained to Lila as they headed to Ms. Dalton’s French class. “At this rate, we’re never going to be able to compete with Big Mesa.”
“Oh, who cares about Big Mesa?” Lila asked, admiring her reflection in one of the large windows that spilled light into Sweet Valley High’s hallways. “Have you noticed they’re all getting fatter by the day?”
“I care,” Jessica said hotly. “One of them called me uptight. Me! If they were talking about Elizabeth, they’d have a point. And did you hear that Bruce nearly had to lay the smack down last night at the Dairi Burger?”
“Bruce Patman is all talk,” Lila said, tossing back her hair. “Ugh, he’s so old money.”
“We need to find out the details,” Jessica continued, lost in thought. “I’ve got it!”
“Another genius idea from Jessica Wakefield,” Lila said dryly. “What is it this time?”
“Well, Enid would do anything for Elizabeth, right?”
“Yeah, she’s so far up Elizabeth’s asshole, it’s creepy,” Lila said.
“So, I’ll pretend to be Elizabeth and ask Enid to find out exactly how someone goes about getting pregnant,” Jessica said. “It’s perfect!”
“Why go to all that trouble? Just ask Elizabeth – she’ll do anything you tell her to,” Lila pointed out. “You’ve got her totally whipped.”
“What, and get my way without some kind of unnecessary scheme? Where’s the fun in that?” Jessica asked. “Here, hold my books for a second.”
“Jessica, I’m not hired help,” Lila said. “I don’t even hold my own books.”
“Oh, just hold them,” Jessica snapped, handing off her books to Lila, who accepted them with disdain. Jessica dug around in her purse for a barrette and finally located one at the bottom, dusty and covered in crumbs. “I hate these things,” she muttered, snapping it into place over her left ear and turning so Lila could get the full effect. “Now do I look like Liz?”
Lila frowned. “Try to look a little more condescending.” Jessica gave Lila the side-eye. “Much better,” Lila said.
“OK, I’m off to find Enid,” Jessica said, taking off down the hallway. “See you later.”
“Jessica, wait!” Lila called after her. “Your books!”
Enid was hunched over a stack of old editions of The Oracle when Jessica found her in the library.
“Hey, Enid,” Jessica said, trying to hide her disgust at having to talk to someone so clearly below her on the social scale.
“Oh, Elizabeth, you scared me,” Enid said nervously, shoving aside the stack of papers.
Jessica noticed Enid was hiding a pair of scissors behind her back. “Have you been clipping out Liz’s – I mean, my – Eyes and Ears column again?”
Enid let out a long sigh. “I know that I promised you I’d stop, Elizabeth, but my ‘Enid and Elizabeth Forever’ scrapbook just wouldn’t be complete without every single one of your columns,” she said. “I’m really, really sorry.”
“It’s the meth, isn’t it?” Jessica asked, trying to muster up some Elizabethlike sympathy. “I hear it makes people all hyper and whatnot.”
“I am not tweaking,” Enid hissed. “I left that all behind me, remember?”
“Your secret’s safe with me,” Jessica said, rolling her eyes. Lila and Amy would be the first to know that Enid was back on the crank. “So, Enid, there’s something I need you to do for me.”
“Sure, Elizabeth. Anything for you,” Enid said. Jessica shuddered involuntarily at the way Enid was looking up at her, like an eager, loyal puppy.
“I want to get some extra credit in Mr. Collins’ class – you know, the one he kicked you out of,” Jessica said. “He wants us to do some research and write up a report on how people get pregnant, and between this huge article I’m writing for The Oracle and helping plan the prom, I’m swamped. Do you think you could find some books or something for me?”
“Sure, Liz. The Sweet Valley High library might not have any books on it, but I’m sure the big public library downtown has something,” Enid said. “I’ll skip algebra class and go right now, if you want me to.”
“Thanks so much, Enid,” Jessica said. “Can you drop the books off to Jessica? I’ll be pretty busy this afternoon and she said she wouldn’t mind bringing them home for me.”
“No problem,” Enid said, gathering up her Eyes and Ears clippings as Jessica turned to leave the library.
“And just think,” Jessica said, turning slightly to throw a concerned glance in Enid’s direction, “while you’re downtown, you can pick up some speed.”
“Oh, Hugh is cooking some up tonight, so I don’t need–” Enid paused. “I mean, I’m clean, Liz, I swear!”
* * *
Elizabeth had been mulling over Lila’s suggestion to research human reproduction on her own, and by the end of Mr. Jaworski’s history class, she had decided the only way her article would ever see the light of day would be if she did the research herself and proved to Mr. Collins and Mr. Cooper that it was worth pursuing. She decided to skip lunch and head on over to the Sweet Valley public library. I’m really not that hungry, anyway, Elizabeth told herself, trying to ignore the constant rumbling in her stomach that served as a reminder to stay a perfect size six.
When Elizabeth got to the library, she was surprised to run into Enid on her way out. “Enid!” Elizabeth cried. “What on earth are you doing here?”
“I got you all these books on pregnancy,” Enid said, handing Elizabeth a stack of books one by one and listing off the names. “The Unborn, Fertile and Fabulous, Nine Months of Size 8 and Beyond, Vaginal Tearing and You.”
Elizabeth smiled. Somehow, Enid always seemed to know just what she needed. “Thank you, Enid. That’s so thoughtful of you.”
“Do you need a ride back to school? I’ve got my car here,” Enid offered. “I know it’s not as cool as your Jeep, but I’d be happy to take you.”
“Oh, no, that’s all right,” Elizabeth said. “I have some, uh, errands to run. I’ll see you back at school.”
As Elizabeth walked back to her Jeep loaded down with books, she marveled over what a good start she was getting on her article. Enid had already been a tremendous help!
* * *
Jessica stormed in the front door of the Wakefields’ attractive split-level ranch and slammed the door. She had wasted precious cheerleading practice time standing around outside her locker and waiting for Enid to show with some books about getting knocked up. She should have known better than to trust a crackhead.
“Hey, Jess,” Elizabeth said as Jessica entered the kitchen and started rummaging around in the pantry.
“Hey,” Jessica said around a mouthful of chocolate chip cookies. She looked up from the box and saw that Elizabeth was sitting at the kitchen table and poring over a huge tower of books. “What are those?”
“Enid went down to the public library today and checked out some books for me so I could get a head start on my article,” Elizabeth answered. “Wasn’t that nice of her? I was really surprised, but Enid always seems to know just what I need.”
Jessica nodded. “It’s almost kind of creepy.” She picked up Fertile and Fabulous and flopped down into the chair across from her twin. “Well, this looks like a good one.”
“I was really surprised to read about how women actually get pregnant,” Elizabeth said, looking up from her copy of Vaginal Tearing and You.
But Jessica barely heard her. Elizabeth had never seen her sister so absorbed in a book. Usually, Jessica asked to be read to, especially if her reading material was full of big words. Elizabeth shrugged and turned back to her reading.
“So, wait,” Jessica said two hours later, once she had gotten past the first page. “Boys have to put their … in our … ?”
“Oh, come on, Jessica. It’s not like you haven’t been boned before,” Elizabeth said. “Don’t act so shocked by it.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t know it could lead to pregnancy,” Jessica said. “I thought it just led to a straight-to-DVD porn deal.”
Some months before, Jessica and Elizabeth had been approached by a famous director to star in a Skanks Gone Stupid film series called “Double Penetration.” The films had been a huge success, but once Elizabeth had fulfilled her five-film obligation, she had had to bow out so she could spend more time on The Oracle, concealing Todd’s sexual identity and giving unwanted advice to Sweet Valley High’s student population.
“Did you know the pull out method is 72 percent effective?” Elizabeth asked, glancing over at the notes she had taken. “Mr. Collins must be really talented, because his rate is currently at 100 percent. Well, 99, I guess, if you count Teddy.”
Teddy was Mr. Collins’ son, the product of a failed marriage. Mr. Collins had divorced his wife once she became a legal adult, and now he often enticed his Sweet Valley High students to babysit on occasion. Elizabeth was Teddy’s – and Mr. Collins’ – favorite sitter.
By the time Elizabeth was ready to head upstairs to bed, Jessica had been sitting at the kitchen table for hours, completely absorbed in her book.
“Good night, Jessica,” Elizabeth said, patting her sister on the shoulder. “Try not to stay up too late.”
“Good night, Liz,” Jessica said, not looking up from her book.
Elizabeth was halfway up the stairs when she heard her twin’s shocked cry.
“Holy fucking shit! Babies come our your vag?”
* * *
“Well, I can assure you, no baby will ever come out of my vag,” Lila said, idly flipping through an issue of Ingenue magazine as she lay across her four-poster bed. “Do you know how much plastic surgery would be required to put it back together?”
“A lot,” Jessica admitted, gesturing with one of the pregnancy books. “But those Big Mesa bitches can’t afford plastic surgery. So I guess they’re all loose and shit.”
Lila shuddered. “Let’s not even talk about Big Mesa vag. Everyone knows Sweet Valley High girls have much better cooches, anyway.”
“Our camel toes ARE on display every time we go to the beach,” Jessica mused. “Anyway, now that we know how to get pregnant, we need to get started. The teen pregnancy prom is only two weeks away.”
“Look at this article,” Lila said, holding up the magazine so Jessica could see. “It’s about how celebrities are all adopting kids these days.”
“So?” Jessica said, annoyed.
“So, I’m not wrecking my lady bits for some prom,” Lila said. “I’ll just adopt a kid. African kids are very trendy these days, according to Ingenue.”
Jessica rolled her eyes. Lila could be so smug sometimes. “Well, while you’re calling your daddy for money to cover the adoption fees, I’ll be sleeping with every guy in town.”
“Your standards are so low,” Lila said. “Try to at least get someone who belongs to the country club.”
“You’re not planning on trying for prom queen, are you?” Jessica said, her eyes narrowing. “I’m sure no one at Sweet Valley High will vote for a girl who decided to adopt a child. After all, it is the teen pregnancy prom.”
“Jessica, honestly. You’re the only person in the world who gives a shit about some stupid rhinestone crown,” Lila said, sticking her nose up in the air. “I heard Todd Wilkins is going to be making the crown, anyway.”
Jessica laughed loudly. “You must be joking,” she said. “Todd’s only good at, like, basketball, being cheated on and pushing people into pools.”
“Don’t forget punching people,” Lila said as she continued to idly flip through the magazine.
Jessica sighed. “Too bad Todd is going out with Elizabeth. I bet he’s good at getting girls pregnant, too.”
Lila snorted. “Since when has that stopped you from going after Todd?”
Jessica narrowed her eyes thoughtfully. Maybe Lila’s got a point, she thought to herself. Todd would make the perfect father of my children!
* * *
“Mr. Collins, I know where babies come from,” Elizabeth said before class on Friday. “If it’s all right with you, I’d like to try to write the article, and then you and Mr. Cooper can look over it and determine whether we can run it in The Oracle. I promise I won’t mention anything about you being a sex offender. Mr. Collins?”
“Huh?” Mr. Collins said, shaking himself out of his reverie. He had been staring at Elizabeth’s ample bosom again.
“I said, I’m going to write the article, and then you and Mr. Cooper can decide if we can run it,” Elizabeth repeated. She looked down at her shirt, a light blue turtleneck. “Did I spill something on my shirt, Mr. Collins?”
“No, Elizabeth,” he said, smiling at her. “But I might.”
Elizabeth laughed. Although she was uncertain what Mr. Collins meant, she was sure it must be some kind of joke. Mr. Collins had a great sense of humor. It was just one of the many reasons Sweet Valley High students loved him so much.
Sweet Valley’s female students filed into the classroom behind Elizabeth and took their seats. Reluctantly, Mr. Collins told Elizabeth she ought to sit down, and she took her usual seat in the center of the front row, where Mr. Collins could get a good look at her breasts.
“All right, girls, settle down,” Mr. Collins said as the chattering girls took their seats. “Today, we’re going to talk about the male’s role in human reproduction. This is one of my favorite topics, and I think you can all learn a lot from me.”
Dana Larson, lead singer of The Droids, raised her hand. “So, what if I’m not interested in reproducing with a male?” she asked. “Or reproducing at all, really. I fucking hate tradition. I’m all punk and shit.”
“Dana, Dana, Dana,” Mr. Collins said sympathetically, walking over to her desk and giving her a slow, sensual back rub, “you just haven’t found the right man yet. Stop by and see me after school.”
“Cut the crap, Collins,” Lila said from the back of the room. “Jessica Wakefield knows all about getting pregnant, and she’s spread it around half the school.”
“God damn it!” Mr. Collins exploded. “Jessica, who told you about that? When I get my hands on Bruce fucking Patman…”
“It wasn’t Bruce who told me,” Jessica said. “I actually read a book!”
Mr. Collins – and practically everyone in the class – laughed heartily. “Come on, Jessica, everyone knows you’re functionally illiterate.”
“No, I really read it,” Jessica protested. “Elizabeth, tell them!”
“She did read about it, Mr. Collins. It took her about three days to read 50 pages, but she finally figured it out,” Elizabeth said.
“Girls,” Mr. Collins said, pressing a hand to his eyes, “some of the information you’ve uncovered may be wrong. As your teacher and Sweet Valley’s resident pedophile, I need to set the record straight.”
Maria Santelli raised her hand. “After hearing what Jessica had to say, I have to tell you that I’m pretty sure you knocked me up last time you advised me,” she said.
“Maria, that’s just not possible,” Mr. Collins said. “I pulled out just in time!”
Maria looked down at her desk. “Well, it certainly wasn’t Winston that did it,” she said. “He can’t even get it up.”
“Well, then, Maria, you call me in nine months and let me know if your baby looks like an infant Robert Redford,” Mr. Collins snapped.
Elizabeth raised her hand. “Actually, Mr. Collins, a typical gestation period in Sweet Valley is two weeks or by the time the next big dance rolls around, whichever comes first.”
Jessica threw her lunch tray down and flopped into a chair next to Lila. “I can’t believe Maria Santelli, of all people, is the first girl at Sweet Valley High to get knocked up,” she said in a huff. “I’m the most attractive girl at school!”
“Her father is the mayor, so I’m sure he has a lot of pull with the school board,” Lila sniffed. “He probably made Mr. Collins do it.”
“I need to get on it – fast,” Jessica fumed. She spotted Todd sitting by himself across the room. “Hang on a minute, Lila. I’m going to talk to Todd for a minute.”
“Oh, Todd,” Jessica sang out as she seated herself at his table. “Waiting for someone?”
Todd’s head snapped up. “No, Jessica,” he said nervously. “I mean, yeah. Ken – no, wait, Elizabeth.”
“I’m the next best thing,” Jessica purred, leaning toward Todd so he could get a good look down her slinky tank top. She placed a hand on his thigh, and Todd squirmed uncomfortably.
“Jessica,” he said with a nervous laugh, “you’re getting a little close to my, uh, junk.”
“That’s just what I wanted to talk to you about,” she said, moving her hand a little bit higher.
“Oh, really?” Todd said, his face turning redder by the second.
“Yes, really,” Jessica said, batting her eyelashes seductively. “Todd, I want you to impregnate me.”
“What?” Todd squeaked.
“Come on, Todd, you know what I’m talking about,” Jessica said, gazing into Todd’s eyes, which were the shade of some sort of fancy-ass espresso drink. “You can’t be the queen of the teen pregnancy prom without being a pregnant teen.”
“Jessica, I couldn’t possibly enter a woman,” he said, before adding quickly, “A woman who’s not Elizabeth.”
Jessica snorted. “You and I both know Elizabeth doesn’t put out,” she said. “Not for you, anyway. This might be the closest you ever get to banging her.”
“I’m sure I’ll get many more chances with you, Jessica,” Todd said. “But right now, I just can’t. I hope you understand.” He removed Jessica’s hand from his leg and braced himself for the bitch slap he knew he was about to receive.
Luckily, the blow he was anticipating didn’t come. Jessica was already halfway back to Lila’s table. Todd shuddered. He’d dodged a bullet this time, but it was only a matter of time before Elizabeth would come around demanding sperm.
* * *
Elizabeth leaned over her desk, exhausted. It had been a long week, and between her article on the pregnant skanks at Big Mesa, the homework for Mr. Collins’ reproductive health class – which mainly consisted of meeting him after school in The Oracle’s darkroom – and planning the prom, Elizabeth had taken on more than she’d bargained for.
Such is the life of an overachiever, she scribbled in her journal. But this prom is going to be the best one ever! Enid is really eager to help. She’s stopped by almost every night this week. On a completely unrelated note, my favorite yellow barrettes are missing.
“Hey, Liz,” Jessica said, busting into Elizabeth’s room without knocking, “are you going to the prom with Todd or what?”
“Of course I’m going to the prom with Todd,” Elizabeth answered.
Jessica sat down heavily on Elizabeth’s bed, putting a wrinkle in the perfectly straightened bedspread. “Well?”
“Well what?” Elizabeth asked. She turned around in her chair to face her twin. “I answered your question, didn’t I?”
Jessica rolled her eyes. “You’re supposed to know what I’m thinking at all times, Elizabeth,” she said. “What I want to know is, are you pregnant yet?”
“No!” Elizabeth said, horrified. “But I am prepared to give condescending shoulder pats to any girls who find themselves in such a predicament. I think I was really able to help Maria this afternoon when I gave her the side-eye for two hours.”
“Liz, you can’t go to a teen pregnancy prom and not be pregnant,” Jessica said. “Do you think you can get Todd to jack it into a cup or something for me?”
“Not Todd, no,” Elizabeth said thoughtfully. “Mr. Collins, definitely.”
Jessica laughed. “If I wanted Mr. Collins to knock me up, I’d just stop by The Oracle office after school,” she said. “I’m not having my baby fathered by the same man who got with Maria Santelli! That’s like secondhandedly fucking Winston Egbert.”
“Why don’t you try Bruce Patman?” Elizabeth asked, rubbing her eyes. “I’m sure he’d do it.”
“I’d really like to be conscious for the experience,” Jessica said.
“Bruce isn’t that bad,” Elizabeth said. “I’ve slept with him before and been completely conscious. OK, semi-conscious.”
“The father of my baby really needs to be special,” Jessica said, jumping off the bed and pacing around Elizabeth’s room. “He needs to be super rich, and very good-looking. And famous. If I have a celebrity father my baby, I’ll be guaranteed to win the title of prom queen!”
“Where are you going to find someone like that?” Elizabeth yawned. “Your expectations are impossible, Jessica.”
“Of course my expectations are impossible. I’m a Wakefield twin,” Jessica said, flouncing out of the room.
* * *
Elizabeth awoke with a start. Her sleep had been fitful; she’d tossed and turned the whole night. But the dream she’d had was so vivid, it seemed almost as if it had been real. Elizabeth had had prophetic dreams before. Last time, it was about a psychotic killer who looked just like the twins but with dark brown hair and had a penchant for knives. Elizabeth lay in bed and shuddered with fear, thinking about crazy Margo, who had tried to kill her and take over her identity. And then Margo had a twin, and SHE tried to kill us! Elizabeth thought. What are the fucking chances of that?
But this dream had been different, Elizabeth reminded herself. It was full of hope.
Elizabeth was in her room, putting the finishing touches on her teen pregnancy article, when an angel appeared to her.
“Do not be afraid,” the angel said. “Your holy womb will soon be filled with child.”
“My… my holy womb?” Elizabeth asked.
The angel sighed and rolled her eyes. “Are you not Saint Elizabeth of Sweet Valley?”
“Well then, yes, your holy womb,” the angel said. “Although you are a virgin, you will conceive a child, the son of God.”
“Oh,” Elizabeth said, looking down at her hands, which were folded carefully in her lap, as if she were trying to protect her holy womb. “Well, about that…”
“You are still a virgin, aren’t you?” the angel asked.
“No, not exactly,” Elizabeth said. “Mr. Collins said it doesn’t count until I turn 18.”
“Elizabeth,” the angel said, sighing and pressing a hand to her eyes in exasperation, “we were really counting on you.” The angel removed a clipboard from her robes and leafed through the pages attached to it. “What about Jessica? Do you think her cherry’s been popped yet?”
“Definitely,” Elizabeth said. “Have you met Jessica? But if Satan’s looking to spawn, she’s available.”
“All right,” the angel said, pacing the floor. “Elizabeth, I’m going to need you to lie for me.”
“Oh, I can’t do that,” Elizabeth said sternly.
The angel whirled around and grabbed Elizabeth by the collar of her shirt. “Yes, you can,” she snapped. “I’m not taking the fall for this. No one has to know you’re secretly a skank. You’ll keep your mouth shut, I’ll keep my mouth shut, and no one will be cast out of heaven.”
“But I don’t even want a baby,” Elizabeth protested. “If I have one, how can I look down on all the other girls at Sweet Valley High? They’ll be the ones patting me on the shoulder!”
The angel lifted her eyes as if in prayer. “God, please give me the strength to deal with this stupid bitch,” she said. “Your role as condescending bitch at Sweet Valley High is the least of my problems right now.”
At that exact moment, Elizabeth felt a strange heat in her holy womb, and then the angel was gone.
* * *
From behind the bathroom door, Jessica could hear the muffled sounds of Elizabeth gagging and puking.
“Ugh, gross,” she muttered to herself.
Jessica turned up the sound on her stereo, but she could still make out Elizabeth’s heaving sounds. Finally, after a few minutes, she started pounding on the bathroom door.
“Knock it off, Elizabeth!” she screamed. “I’m trying to listen to the new Jamie Peters single!”
Elizabeth cracked open the door, and Jessica could see her face was a strange shade of green. “I’m sorry,” Elizabeth whispered. “I’m not feeling very well this morning. How’s the Jamie Peters song?”
“It’s great,” Jessica gushed. “It’s called ‘Maybe I Am Having an Inappropriate Relationship With My Daughter.’”
Elizabeth smiled weakly. “I’m sure it’s really good. I think I’ll stop by to see Andrea and remind her that incest is not cool.”
Andrea Slade was the daughter of famous musician Jamie Peters, who lived in Sweet Valley, a celebrity mecca. When they first moved to Sweet Valley, Jessica was convinced that Andrea was not Jamie Peters’ daughter, but was in fact his lover! Although all involved parties insisted it wasn’t the case, Jessica still had her doubts, and Elizabeth couldn’t pass up the opportunity to preach to a fellow student.
“I don’t know,” Jessica said thoughtfully. “Sometimes I think Steven has the hots for me.”
“Jessica! He’s our brother!”
“I know, but don’t you think it’s weird that he’s always slapping me on the ass?” Jessica asked. “Don’t be jealous, Liz. It’s really unbecoming.”
“I’m not jealous,” Elizabeth said, before holding her head over the toilet and puking some more.
“So why are puking up your guts, anyway?” Jessica asked, leaning against the door frame and examining a perfectly manicured hand. “Hungover?”
“No,” said Elizabeth. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “I’m not sure what’s wrong with me.”
“Well, don’t get used to it,” Jessica snapped. “I’m the bulimic one and you’re the anorexic one, remember? It’s how people tell us apart.”
“I haven’t eaten anything, Jess,” Elizabeth said, gesturing toward the toilet bowl. “Look, it’s just bile at this point.”
“Oh my god!” Jessica exclaimed. “Elizabeth, I bet you’re pregnant!”
Elizabeth laughed. “Jessica, I can assure you I’m not pregnant,” she said. “If I got pregnant, who would look down on all the other pregnant girls at Sweet Valley High?”
Jessica’s eyes flashed. “You’re lying,” she said. “You’re trying to become prom queen! I knew it! I knew you would try something like this! You’re always trying to ruin everything for me!”
“I don’t even want to be prom queen,” Elizabeth insisted. She gagged again but managed to keep herself from puking.
“You always do everything before I can do it, even the stuff I want to do! We were supposed to get our period on the same day – the same day, Elizabeth! But no, you had to go and get it first!”
“You got laid before I did!” Elizabeth exclaimed. “I let you lead the way every once in a while.”
“All right,” Jessica said, forcing herself to calm down a bit. “I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you’re pregnant, maybe you’re not. I won’t abuse you – mentally or physically – until we know for sure whether you’ve got something growing in your womb. Let’s go get a pregnancy test.”
“Jessica, I can barely leave the bathroom right now, and you want me to go out to the store?” Elizabeth leaned against the sink and steadied herself.
“Yes, I do,” Jessica snapped. “Now put on some clothes that won’t make me ashamed to be seen with you and let’s go. I’ll drive.”
All the way to the drug store, Elizabeth worried. What if Jessica’s right? What if that dream was real and I really am pregnant?
“Here we are,” Jessica said, pulling the car into a space directly in front of the doors. “Time to find out if you’re hiding something from me.”
“I’m not hiding anything from you,” Elizabeth insisted, fighting off a fresh wave of nausea as she slammed the Jeep door behind her.
Strangely enough, Jessica led the way right to the aisle where the pregnancy tests were located. Elizabeth glanced around furtively to make sure no one from Sweet Valley High was in sight. She’d heard a lot of them had been hanging around the pregnancy test aisle lately.
“This one’s good,” Jessica said, picking up a hot pink box. “You can use it really early and it’s still accurate.”
“How do you know?” Elizabeth said, giving her twin a knowing smile.
“I may have taken one or two,” Jessica said breezily. “It can’t hurt to know for sure, right?”
“OK, fine, get that one, then,” Elizabeth said. She crossed her arms over her chest and shivered. “I really, really hope it’s negative,” she added under her breath.
“Hurry up, Elizabeth,” Jessica called over her shoulder as she headed toward the cash register. “The sooner we get home, the sooner we find out whether or not I hate you.”
The cashier scanned the box and frowned at it as the machine beeped loudly. He scanned it again, and once again, a loud beep sounded. Elizabeth looked over her shoulder frantically. If anyone from Sweet Valley High saw her buying a pregnancy test…
“Oh, no,” Elizabeth groaned, tugging on Jessica’s sleeve.
“What is it?” Jessica snapped, whirling around.
“Look over there.” Elizabeth pointed at the door. “It’s Todd and Bruce!”
“Todd and Bruce?” Jessica asked, confused. “What are they doing together?”
Elizabeth had an idea what they were doing together, but as Todd’s beard, she was sworn to secrecy. “They’re just friends,” she said quickly. “Just friends, nothing sexual at all. Todd totally loves the cooch.”
Jessica gave her an odd look. “I mean, they usually can’t stand each other.”
“Well, they are in that fraternity together, Phi Epsilon,” Elizabeth said. “As unlikely as it seems. Oh, and when I say fraternity, I mean ‘fraternity’ with quotes.” She winked at her sister, and Jessica shook her head.
“I still don’t see what you’re getting at, but whatever,” Jessica said, turning her attention back to the cashier. “Besides, they haven’t even noticed us. I think they’re heading for the lube.”
“I’m going to have to do a price check on this,” the cashier said apologetically. “Hang on one second.”
“Hurry it up,” Jessica snapped. “We haven’t got all day.”
The cashier pulled a large, conspicuous microphone out from behind the counter and spoke into it. “Price check, I repeat, price check needed at register one. It’s a home pregnancy test, brand ‘You’re Fucked,’ and it’s for the Wakefield twins. I repeat, the Wakefield twins are buying a home pregnancy test. It’s actually a two-pack, so they may both be with child. Again, one of the Wakefield twins may be knocked up.” He paused, then added, “Probably Jessica.”
Jessica shot him a dirty look.
“Well, well, well,” came a voice from behind the twins, “looks like one of you lovely ladies is in some kind of trouble.”
“Mind your own fucking business, Bruce Patman,” Jessica growled.
“Maybe it is my business,” Bruce said, winking at Elizabeth. She blushed and looked down, gagging slightly. “You know, Jessica, if you’re looking for someone to father your child, I’m available.”
“I’d rather fuck Winston Egbert,” Jessica retorted.
“Well, don’t say I didn’t offer,” Bruce said. “But don’t worry, there are plenty of other girls at Sweet Valley High just begging for my seed.”
“Oh, gross,” Jessica said.
“And, Jessica,” Bruce said, flashing her a smile, “think of the child support money you’ll be missing out on.”
“He does have a point,” Elizabeth interjected. “You do love money.”
“Well, Bruce, your money isn’t any match for a celebrity baby daddy,” Jessica snapped. “Just wait until you see who knocks me up.”
“So, Todd, what are you and Bruce doing here?” Elizabeth asked, trying to change the subject before Jessica and Bruce came to blows – or blow jobs.
“Todd here is putting together his first date rape kit, and he came to me for guidance,” Bruce said, slapping Todd on the back. “I’m so proud.”
Jessica snorted. “You’re, like, the worst date rapist ever. You couldn’t even close the deal with me.”
Bruce ignored her. “But Todd is being kind of shy. He still won’t tell me who the lucky girl is.”
“Oh, you’ll find out, Bruce,” Todd said, laughing nervously.
“I get it, bro,” Bruce said. “You don’t want Elizabeth to find out what she’s in for. Just a tip: Take her out on the motorcycle first, crash and wait for her to turn into this one over here, then give her some red wine in a paper cup. The paper cup is very important. I know it’ll look like you’re slumming it, but trust me, they get drunk faster. Then you can touch her boob.”
“Got it,” said Todd, eyeing Bruce up and down. “How much wine would it take if you were, say, twice the size of Elizabeth?”
“Dude, don’t go for Robin Wilson or Lois Waller,” Bruce said, making a face. “No fat chicks.”
“It’s not for Robin or Lois,” Todd said.
“Well, I’m impressed, Todd,” Bruce said. “Taking on both Wakefield twins at once? Even I’ve never tried that!”
The cashier finished ringing up their purchase, and while Elizabeth paid, Jessica snatched up the plastic bag with the pregnancy test in it. “Come on, let’s get out of here,” Jessica said. “If I’m around Bruce Patman for one more second, I’ll be the one puking.”
“Well?” Jessica said through the bathroom door. “Anything yet?”
“I’m still trying to figure this out, Jessica,” Elizabeth called back. “It says to pee on the stick, but I’m not sure what that means.”
“Just breathe on it,” Jessica advised. “Wakefield twins don’t have bodily functions.”
“Oh,” Elizabeth said. “Are you sure?”
“That’s what I’ve done every time I’ve taken a pregnancy test, and they’ve all been negative,” Jessica said authoritatively. “Breathe on it, then wait three minutes.”
“All right,” Elizabeth said. A second later, she emerged from the bathroom. “I just can’t look, Jess.”
“Fine, I’ll do it, then,” Jessica said. “Let me know when three minutes is up.”
“See, this is why you should wear a watch,” Elizabeth said.
“A watch?” Jessica scoffed. “Yeah, if I want people to think I’m boring. Besides, everyone in Sweet Valley knows the party doesn’t start until I get there.”
While they waited, Jessica sat down on her bed and leafed through an issue of Ingenue. An ad toward the back of the magazine caught her eye.
“OK, Jessica, it’s been three minutes,” Elizabeth said. “I’m so nervous.”
“Me, too,” Jessica muttered, reluctantly putting down the magazine and heading into the bathroom.
Elizabeth sat on Jessica’s bed, her arms wrapped across her chest. Any second now, I might hear some news that will completely change my life, Elizabeth thought. I just hope I’m ready.
“You bitch!” Jessica screamed, bursting through the door and waving around the pregnancy test. “You’ve totally ruined my chance of being prom queen!”
Elizabeth stared at her sister in shock. “It’s … it’s positive?”
“Of course it’s positive,” Jessica spat. “You’re just so perfect, aren’t you?” She threw the test down on the floor in anger.
“Oh, no,” Elizabeth moaned, putting her head in her hands. “This is terrible.”
“You’re damn right this is terrible,” Jessica said evenly. “How am I going to face Lila and Amy and everyone else at Sweet Valley High? I’ll be the laughingstock of the entire school!”
But Elizabeth couldn’t concentrate on Jessica’s words. All she could think about was the terrible, unexpected thing that had happened to her – and who the father might be.
* * *
“Everyone in this school is pregnant,” Jessica fumed to Lila before school on Monday. “Everyone but me.”
“Don’t look at me,” Lila said. “My kid’s on order from Africa.”
“I mean, have you seen Rosa Jameson?” Jessica said. “She’s had five kids since last week.”
“We had a cleaning lady with the same problem,” Lila said soberly.
“It’s just not fair,” Jessica said. “Elizabeth gets everything. And her boyfriends don’t die.”
“Wait, what?” Lila said, snapping to attention for some good gossip. “Elizabeth is pregnant?”
“Of course she is,” Jessica fumed. “When she knew that I’m the one who wanted to get knocked up for the teen pregnancy prom!”
“Well, well, well,” Lila said. “This is a juicy – not to mention surprising – piece of gossip.”
“Oh, but one thing, Lila,” Jessica said, pausing. “I’m not supposed to tell anyone, because Elizabeth is really upset about it. So don’t say anything, OK?”
“I won’t say anything,” Lila promised, as the bell rang and Jessica rushed away to her next class. “Who is she kidding? I’m definitely telling Amy first!”
* * *
Mr. Collins was covering the horrors of childbirth, but Elizabeth could barely keep her mind on what he was saying. I’ll be experiencing it first-hand soon enough, she thought glumly. And I might as well just interview myself for that article!
“So, you see, girls, your cooch will never be the same,” Mr. Collins was saying. “So make sure you come see me before you give birth. I don’t mind preggos. In fact, I think they’re kind of hot.”
Rosa Jameson raised her hand. “I haven’t met with you yet, but I’ve already had a few kids. How is that going to affect my grade?” she asked, worried.
Mr. Collins sighed. “You’re going to fail the class, Rosa,” he said.
Elizabeth saw several students exchange worried glances. At least I won’t fail the class, she thought to herself. I’ve met with Mr. Collins every day for the past two weeks.
Mr. Collins leaned back against his desk and sighed. “In fact, I’m disappointed that many of you haven’t met with me at all,” he said. “Now, remember, girls, I’m doing this for you.”
The girls around her gathered up their books as the bell rang and filed out of class, laughing and talking animatedly to one another, but Elizabeth remained in her seat, lost in thought.
“Elizabeth?” Mr. Collins asked softly once the room had emptied. “Are you all right? You seemed distracted during class.”
“I guess I was kind of distracted,” Elizabeth admitted. “I’m sorry I wasn’t paying attention, Mr. Collins.”
“Do you want to tell me what’s on your mind?” Mr. Collins asked. He moved around behind Elizabeth and began massaging her shoulders.
“Oh, Mr. Collins, it’s terrible,” Elizabeth said, bursting into tears.
“It’s OK, Elizabeth,” Mr. Collins whispered in her ear. “You can tell me.”
“I – I think I’m pregnant!” Elizabeth burst out. She started to cry even harder.
Mr. Collins jumped back as if she were on fire. “Oh, shit!” he exclaimed. “Shit, shit, shit.”
“You said it was all right, Mr. Collins,” she said through her tears. “You said nothing would happen.”
“It wasn’t me,” Mr. Collins said, holding his hands up in the air. “Elizabeth, I think you should go now.”
Miserable, Elizabeth gathered up her books and walked out of the classroom, giving Mr. Collins a sad glance over her shoulder. For some reason, he looked wild-eyed and scared. Great, she thought. Even Mr. Collins doesn’t want to be around me. It’s like I have the plague. This is going to be worse than I thought!
* * *
“So, what’s the verdict, Wakefield?” Bruce asked snidely. “Is it you, or your sister?”
“No one,” Jessica snapped. “False alarm.”
Bruce nodded. “So, let’s be real, Jessica. You know you want this.” He crudely gestured toward his penis.
Jessica laughed. “That tiny thing?”
“Every girl I’ve been with has been satisfied,” he boasted. “At least, the ones who were passed out.”
“You’re such a creep,” Jessica muttered, slamming her locker shut.
“So, what you’re telling me is you’d rather get with a celebrity,” he said. “Like who, Andrea’s dad?”
“Maybe,” Jessica said haughtily.
“Speaking of Andrea, I impregnated her last week,” Bruce said. “Jamie Peters probably shoots blanks.”
“He does not!” said Jessica, rising to the rock star’s defense, even though she had no earthly idea whether or not Jamie Peters shot blanks.
“Too bad Regina isn’t here to be knocked up,” Bruce said sadly, letting his guard down for a moment. Regina Morrow had been the first girl Bruce had dated without drugging, and she had been deaf. For a while, anyway. After her hearing was fixed, Bruce cheated on her with Amy, because he had a thing for disabled girls and Amy was slightly retarded. His infidelity had led Regina to hang out with a bad crowd, a crowd that had introduced her to drugs. One snort of gutter glitter had killed Regina instantly.
It’s really not fair, Jessica mused. Regina was pretty and rich, and she had to die. But Enid Rollins does meth every day and she’s STILL alive.
“Your kids probably would have been deaf, anyway,” Jessica said, trying to soothe Bruce.
“I know,” Bruce said, a single tear slipping down his cheek.
Jessica rolled her eyes. “You’re such a crybaby,” she said. “I’ve had more than one boyfriend die, and I forget about them after a couple of weeks. Days, sometimes.”
“Hours with that last guy, the one from Palisades,” Bruce said. “What was his name again?”
“You know, I don’t even remember,” Jessica said, trying to recall. “Oh, well.”
“I should know,” Bruce said. “He died in my pool. The servants were scrubbing out blood for weeks.”
“Gross,” Jessica said. “Anyway, why are we talking about our dead lovers? They’re gone. No one cares anymore!”
“You’re right,” Bruce conceded. “They’re kind of like Kristin Thompson or Jennifer Mitchell or Shelley Novak. They only exist when we need them.”
“They might as well be dead,” Jessica said. “Truth.”
Jessica and Bruce walked the rest of the way to the parking lot in silence. As he unlocked the door of his Porsche, Bruce turned around and gave Jessica a knowing wink.
“By the way, I heard that it looks like Elizabeth’s going to win the title of prom queen,” he said, grinning. “I told you I was potent.”
* * *
Jessica furiously paged through the issue of Ingenue that she’d discarded on her floor a few days ago. She had to find that advertisement again. It was her only chance at becoming prom queen.
“Bruce Patman,” she said through clenched teeth. “Bruce Patman is the father of Elizabeth’s baby!”
That fact alone practically guaranteed Elizabeth the crown. The Wakefield twins were the most attractive girls at Sweet Valley High, and Bruce was the most attractive boy. Not only would Elizabeth have her baby before Jessica, but it was certain to be adorable.
“Well, of course it’s going to be cute,” Jessica said out loud. “If Elizabeth and I were physically able to take a crap it would be cute. There’s no way anything that comes out of our bodies would be ugly.”
Jessica paged through a few more sections before she found what she had been looking for.
“This is it!” she said excitedly. “This is my ticket to being queen of the teen pregnancy prom!”
CELEBRITY LOOK-ALIKE SPERM, the ad read. It was for a sperm bank in Los Angeles, where donors were sorted according to which celebrities they resembled. If I can’t have a celebrity father my baby, I can have the next best thing, Jessica thought.
“Curious about what your baby would look like if you bred with a celebrity?” Jessica read aloud. “Now you can know for real, with our celebrity look-alike sperm. You choose the celebrity, we’ll find a donor who resembles them.”
Jessica quickly skimmed the list. All her favorite celebrities were there: Jamie Peters, Jeremy Frank, Eric Parker, Brandon Hunter.
“Hmm,” Jessica said out loud, tapping a pencil against the magazine. “Which one to choose?”
She spent several minutes trying to decide, comparing the relative merits of each celebrity. Jamie Peters is really gorgeous. But would my kid look like Andrea Slade? Andrea’s just OK looking. And Brandon Hunter is an ass and totally stupid – if we combined our mental prowess, would that be too much idiocy for one person? How do I even know the word idiocy? Maybe I’m smarter than I thought. Guess I’ll find out when we take the SATs next week.
“Wait a minute,” Jessica said. “Why should I have to compromise? Jessica Wakefield never compromises!”
She’d just had a brilliant idea. She would order sperm from each celebrity look-alike, then combine all of them. That way, her baby could have the DNA of each of them. And it would be a super celebrity spawn!
Jessica laughed. “That’s way better than whatever kid Lila’s going to get shipped to her,” she said. “She’s going to be so jealous! And it will blow Liz and Bruce’s kid out of the water!”
Humming to herself, Jessica reached for her phone, hidden under a pile of dirty clothes, and her mother’s credit card, which she had stolen and stashed under the mattress for just such an occasion.
“Hello,” she said into the phone. “I’d like to place an order for your celebrity look-alike sperm.”
* * *
Elizabeth was trying to concentrate on her article, but there was no way she could keep her thoughts together. Not with everything that was on her mind. She sat alone in the cool confines of The Oracle office and let her mind wander.
I have to know who the father is, she thought. There’s got to be a way to find out.
Her anal-retentive streak kicking in, Elizabeth abandoned her article and made a methodical list in her notebook.
Mr. Collins, she wrote at the top. He can’t be the father; his withdrawal timing is impeccable.
Todd Wilkins: Gay. And we only had sex once, so he could prove to himself he didn’t like vagina. And I guess he didn’t, because it took him FOREVER to get off.
Bruce Patman: Alcohol kills sperm, doesn’t it? And I’m always completely wasted when I have sex with him, so I’m sure it can’t survive in my womb.
Jeffrey French: Whatever happened to that guy?
Nicholas Morrow: Yes, we had sex, but it was a pity fuck. Everyone knows you can’t get pregnant if you have no respect for the guy.
Winston Egbert: AHAHAHAHA!
Ken Matthews: He went blind for a couple of weeks after that “fatal” car accident. I’m sure it made him infertile, too.
For hours, Elizabeth listed every boy she’d slept with at Sweet Valley High and beyond. When she was finished, she had filled up her entire notebook. “Oh, forgot one,” she said, snapping her fingers.
Hank Patman, she wrote, listing Bruce’s father, who had once been engaged to Mrs. Wakefield. I’m pretty sure sperm only works on one member of a family, and my mom got to him first.
Elizabeth’s list was complete, but she still wasn’t any closer to finding out who the father of her baby was. It couldn’t be any of them, she realized. And then she remembered her dream. Could it have been real? Could I be responsible for the second coming of Christ?
The nausea had finally subsided, but Elizabeth couldn’t bring herself to choke down the mountain of pancakes her mother had set on her plate. Beside her, Jessica wolfed down a huge stack slathered in butter and drowned in maple syrup.
“Elizabeth, honey, what’s wrong?” Mrs. Wakefield asked. “I haven’t seen you eat a thing in months. Are you getting sick?”
Jessica snorted with laughter, and Elizabeth gave her the side-eye. “No, Mom,” Elizabeth said. “I’m just not very hungry.”
“Well, then, I won’t worry about it,” Mrs. Wakefield said. “You’ve packed on a few pounds in the last couple of days, so I’m sure it’s fine.”
“You are getting kind of fat, Liz,” Jessica said, mopping up maple syrup with the last of her pancakes before reaching over and spearing two of Elizabeth’s. “I guess that’s the bright side to this whole thing. Oh, Mom – I’m expecting a package to be delivered today, so if I’m not home when it comes, can you just stick it in my room?”
“Of course, dear,” Mrs. Wakefield said. “What kind of package?”
“Yeah, what kind of package?” Elizabeth echoed. Something about Jessica’s comment struck her as strange.
“Nothing, really,” Jessica said breezily. “Just some, uh, beauty products. I ordered them from an ad in Ingenue.”
“My girls don’t need beauty products,” said Mr. Wakefield, ruffling each of the twins’ hair as he sat down. “They’re stunningly beautiful just the way they are.”
“Dad, that’s embarrassing,” groaned Jessica.
“Another story about the Big Mesa pregnancy pact,” said Elizabeth, glancing over at her father’s copy of the Sweet Valley News.
“Oh, yes, it’s gotten worse,” Mr. Wakefield said earnestly. “I’m hoping there’s an opportunity for a lawsuit somewhere in there. Maybe a really juicy custody battle between a homeless man and a high school student.”
“Thank goodness there’s nothing like that going on at Sweet Valley High,” Mrs. Wakefield said, looking sternly at her twins. “I’d hate to have to send one of you to a home for unwed mothers.”
“They still do that?” Elizabeth squeaked.
“In Sweet Valley, they do,” Mrs. Wakefield said. “What do you think happened to Ellen Riteman?”
“So that’s where she went,” Jessica said, chewing thoughtfully on a pancake.
“Anyway, we’re not worried about anything like that happening to you girls,” Mr. Wakefield said. “We had your wombs removed when you were infants.”
“Whaaaaaat?” Jessica screeched. “Now I’ll never be prom queen! You’re all trying to ruin my life!”
Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield laughed. “Gotcha!” Mr. Wakefield said. “Jessica, you should have seen the look on your face.”
I wish my womb had been removed, Elizabeth thought. Then I wouldn’t be in this mess right now.
Jessica still had a sour look on her face. “Come on, Liz,” she said, throwing her fork onto her plate with a mighty clatter. “We don’t want to be late for school.”
On the way out to the car, Jessica was fuming. “I can’t believe Dad would even joke about something like that,” she said. “Being barren is no laughing matter.”
“Jessica, I’m sure you’re not barren,” Elizabeth said, handing her sister the car keys. “We’re twins, remember? We have the exact same biology.”
Jessica drove to Sweet Valley High like a bat out of hell, her foot dangerously heavy on the gas pedal. Elizabeth hung onto the door handle so she wouldn’t slide all over the place and scramble her baby’s brains. Jessica took a hard left turn into the school parking lot and narrowly missed Bruce’s Porsche.
“Watch out, Jess!” Elizabeth exclaimed. “You can’t drive like that with a pregnant lady in the car.”
“I’m not that bad.” Jessica laughed grimly. “It’s not like I spiked your orange juice with grain alcohol this morning in the hopes that your baby would come out with fetal alcohol syndrome.”
Elizabeth frowned. The orange juice, which her mother freshly squeezed every morning, had tasted a little funny. Surely Jessica wouldn’t do anything like that, she thought. She’s my twin, my best friend. Even though we really can’t stand each other.
“Come on, out of the car you go,” Jessica said, shooing her sister out the door. “I’m ovulating right now and I’m going to try to trick some unsuspecting freshman into a backseat quickie before school.”
“Who?” Elizabeth wanted to know.
“Oh, whoever comes along first,” Jessica said. “Anyway, it’s none of your business. Get to class.”
After Elizabeth left, looking worriedly over her shoulder at her twin, Jessica pulled a pamphlet out of her purse. It was from the sperm bank where she had ordered her celebrity look-alike sperm. Jessica tried to concentrate on reading the directions for using the sperm, but the fancy words just confused her.
“Oh, who needs this,” Jessica said, tossing the pamphlet out the car window. “How hard can it be?”
* * *
Penny Ayala threw a newspaper onto one of the desks in The Oracle office and looked around at each of The Oracle’s editors and writers.
“I can’t believe Big Mesa would stoop so low,” she said, her eyes blazing.
Elizabeth was worried; she’d never seen Penny so mad before. She picked up the paper Penny had thrown down. It was a copy of Big Mesa’s school newspaper. Splashed across the front was the headline “Sweet Valley High Students Are Super Lame.” She skimmed the article. In it, the author took shots at everyone from Sweet Valley High, from their “formerly obese co-captain of the cheerleading squad, Robin Wilson” to their “shitty high school band, The Droids, which sound like a dying cat.” Even Elizabeth’s own Eyes and Ears column wasn’t spared. Elizabeth winced as the Big Mesa reporter described her writing style as “predicable and boring, much like Wakefield herself.” The article ended with a call for Big Mesa students to systematically execute Sweet Valley High students.
“Well, what are we going to do?” Olivia Davidson asked. “I dress like a dirty hippie, so I guess I’m all about peace and love, but I’d gladly rip a weave from a Big Mesa bitch’s head. I can’t believe they called my hair frizzy and my artistic talent mediocre!”
“They’re going to kill us,” Elizabeth said, a note of panic sounding in her voice. She tried to will herself to remain calm, but it was difficult.
“Well, I’m going to write a scathing editorial,” Penny fumed. “I’m going to call them out on their poor command of grammar and AP style.”
“I know this has absolutely nothing to do with The Oracle, but I think we should ban Big Mesa students from the prom,” Elizabeth said.
“Good thinking,” Penny said. “The last thing we need is to be killed at our own prom.”
Penny absentmindedly patted her stomach, and Elizabeth wondered if she, too, was carrying one of Mr. Collins’ children. He had been spending a lot of time with Penny lately. And he’s still ignoring me like I’m a ticking bomb strapped to John Pfeifer’s chest, Elizabeth thought.
“Penny?” Elizabeth asked. “I don’t mean to pry, but are you expecting?”
“Expecting what?” Penny said, looking up from the Big Mesa paper.
“A baby,” Elizabeth said. “If you need someone to stare at you with pity for a few hours, or just someone to talk to, I’m here.”
“Uh, no thanks, Elizabeth,” Penny said. “That’s what Project Youth is for.”
Of course! Elizabeth thought. Project Youth! That’s it! I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner.
“Listen, Penny, I’ve got to go,” Elizabeth said, quickly gathering up her things. “See you later!”
Before Penny could protest, Elizabeth had run out of The Oracle office and was halfway to the Sweet Valley High parking lot. She had to get home as soon as possible. She had a very important phone call to make!
* * *
“Good afternoon, this is Project Youth,” said a bitchy-sounding voice on the other end of the line. “You’re speaking with Amy. Who is this?”
Inwardly, Elizabeth groaned. She had hoped Amy Sutton wouldn’t answer the phone, but since Amy and her boyfriend, Barry Rork, were the only volunteers at Sweet Valley’s Project Youth hotline for troubled teens, the chances she’d end up talking to Amy were 50-50. Why would a youth hotline even allow Amy to work there? Elizabeth asked herself. Everyone knows she’s the biggest gossip at Sweet Valley High! Well, no, that’s Caroline Pierce. But Amy’s a close second.
“Hello?” Amy said, breaking through Elizabeth’s thoughts. “Hello? Have you already slit your wrists? Oh, well, good riddance. I’m hanging up now.”
“No, wait,” Elizabeth said. “My name is – these calls are confidential, aren’t they?”
Amy stifled a giggle. “Uh, yeah, sure.”
“Good,” Elizabeth said. “I wouldn’t want this to get around town or anything.”
“No, of course not,” Amy said with a snort.
“My name is Elisabeth. That’s Elisabeth with an S, not a Z,” Elizabeth said. “The spelling is very important.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Amy said. “I can’t spell worth a shit anyway.”
“All right, here goes,” Elizabeth said, letting out a deep, shaky breath. “I’m 16 years old, and I just found out I’m pregnant.”
“Ooh, are you one of those chicks from Big Mesa?” Amy asked. “Did you sleep with a homeless dude?”
“No, I’m not from Big Mesa,” Elizabeth said. “I’d rather not say what school I go to.”
“You’re no fun,” Amy said, sighing. “So, what do you want me to do about it?”
“Don’t you have some advice for me?” Elizabeth said. “This is a serious issue!”
“I don’t really have any advice,” Amy said. “But there’s this girl at Sweet Valley High you should talk to if you want advice. Her name is Elizabeth Wakefield, and she’s really nosy.”
“I know Elizabeth very well, and she is not nosy!” Elizabeth said hotly. “Come on, you’re a hotline for troubled teens. You must be able to tell me something that will make me feel better.”
“All right, all right,” Amy grumbled. “I get it, you’re going to make me do actual work. Hold on a second. I think we have a book on teen pregnancy somewhere around here.”
Elizabeth waited patiently, tapping her foot on the kitchen’s Spanish-tiled floor and twirling the telephone cord around her finger.
“OK, got it,” Amy said. “It’s a bit dusty. I don’t think we’ve ever had a teen pregnancy in Sweet Valley before.” Amy sneezed. “It’s from the 1950s, so I’m not sure how much good it will do.”
“I’m sure it will be fine,” Elizabeth said encouragingly.
Amy began to read in a halting, monotone voice. “So you just found out you’re going to be an unwed mother? What to do? Luckily, the woman of today has several options. You can fall down the stairs, or take a knitting needle–”
“Amy, stop,” Elizabeth said, cringing. “I’m not going to hurt my baby. There’s something else I have to tell you. I think my baby is the second coming of Christ.”
“Oh, OK,” Amy said. “Hold on, let me check.” Elizabeth could hear her flipping through pages. “No, Elisabeth, there’s nothing in here about immaculate conception.”
“Nothing?” Elizabeth said.
“No, nothing,” Amy replied. “Sorry, I can’t help you.”
“Well, thanks anyway,” Elizabeth said. “See you in school tomorrow–”
“You go to Sweet Valley High? I knew it!” Amy said.
“No, no, I – I go to Palisades High,” Elizabeth said.
“They’re a bunch of assholes, too,” Amy said. “Well, thanks for calling Project Youth.”
“Thank you for your help,” Elizabeth said. She hung up the phone with a sigh. As she did, she heard the doorbell ring. “I wonder who that could be?”
She opened the front door to find a deliveryman holding a huge box. “Package for Miss Jessica Wakefield,” he said. “I’m going to need you to sign for it.”
“Right, of course,” said Elizabeth, signing the clipboard resting on top of the box. She took the box from the deliveryman and started to swing the door shut with her foot, but he stopped her by holding it open.
“There are several more boxes,” he said.
“Oh, OK,” Elizabeth said, setting down the box in the front hallway. She peered at the writing on the side. “Live specimens – keep refrigerated? What is this stuff?”
The deliveryman shrugged. “I don’t know, lady. I just drop it off.” He headed back to his truck and used a small hand truck to unload a stack of boxes.
“Is that it?” Elizabeth asked as he wheeled them into the house.
The man let out a strangled laugh. “Lady, I got a truck full of boxes for Jessica Wakefield. Is that you?”
“No, that’s my twin sister,” Elizabeth muttered. “I wonder what she’s up to this time.”
* * *
Jessica arrived home from cheerleading practice to find the front hallway was full of boxes from the sperm bank.
“Liz?” she called, opening the front door as far as it would go. Looking around it, she saw it was blocked by several boxes, stacked five feet high.
“In the kitchen, Jess,” Elizabeth called back. “I’m making dinner, even though it’s supposed to be your night.”
“Oh,” said Jessica, slipping through the barely opened door and shutting it behind her with relief. “I see my packages came.”
“What is all this stuff, Jessica?” Elizabeth asked as her sister came into the kitchen and grabbed a container of yogurt out of the fridge. She watched incredulously as her twin popped open the lid and tipped the yogurt back into her mouth as if it were a cheap lite beer and she were at a frat party.
“It’s nothing,” Jessica said, strawberry yogurt dripping out the sides of her mouth. “I told you, I was ordering some beauty products.”
“Those aren’t beauty products,” Elizabeth said, gesturing toward the hallway with a wooden spoon. “Beauty products don’t come in boxes with the words ‘live specimen – keep refrigerated’ on them.”
“It’s a new line. From … France,” Jessica said. “Lila highly recommended it.”
“And how did you afford all this stuff, Jess? You stopped giving 5 dollar hand jobs behind Kelly’s Bar months ago,” Elizabeth said.
“It was giving me carpal tunnel,” Jessica complained. “And do you know how many hand jobs it would take just to save up for a new outfit at Lisette’s?”
“You lack of dedication is really appalling, Jessica. Take this teen pregnancy prom, for example. It was your idea, too, and yet I can barely get you to lift a finger to help me with it,” Elizabeth said.
“Hey, all I have to do is show up and be crowned prom queen,” Jessica said hotly. “I’m working very, very hard to make that happen!”
“I have half a mind to try to win the title of prom queen for myself,” Elizabeth said, her eyes now blazing with anger. “After all the work I’ve put in, I deserve it.”
“Work? What work?” Jessica argued. “All you do is delegate responsibility to your little helpers, like Enid and Todd and Nicholas Morrow, who for some reason will do anything you say, even though he’s way too old to be going to the prom or hanging out with high school students!”
“It’s not my fault I choose genuinely nice, helpful people to be my friends,” Elizabeth snapped. “Maybe you should try it sometime.”
“Look, I happen to like people with a lot of money,” Jessica said. “I can’t help it if I have more refined taste than you.”
Elizabeth laughed bitterly. “Jessica, you and I both know our choice of friends isn’t what this is about.”
“You’re damn right that’s not what this is about.” Jessica threw her yogurt cup, now licked clean, into the trash. “This is about how you’re always trying to ruin my life. I can tell you right now what’s going to happen. On Saturday night, you’re going to walk up on that stage and squirt a baby out of your cooch in front of the whole school, and rather than be horrified, everyone’s going to love you for it.”
“You think that’s what I want?” Elizabeth gasped. “This whole idea to get everyone knocked up was your idea!”
“It’s a competition with Big Mesa!” Jessica cried. “You know what assholes they are.”
“Good afternoon, girls,” said Mrs. Wakefield, coming into the kitchen just in time to see Jessica aim a kick at her sister’s stomach and miss. “How was school today?”
“Fine,” Elizabeth muttered, looking down. She didn’t want to tell her mother about the article in Big Mesa’s school paper, or the fact that Mr. Collins was avoiding her.
“Really shitty, Mom,” Jessica said, grabbing an apple out of the fruit bowl on the counter. “Some kids from Big Mesa spray painted a bunch of cars in the parking lot.”
“Oh, is that why it says ’5 Dolla Whore’ on the back of the Jeep?” Mrs. Wakefield asked, flipping through a stack of mail.
Jessica nodded. “And they wrote ‘Low Sperm Count’ on Bruce’s Porsche,” she said.
“Well, that’s surprising,” Mrs. Wakefield said. “Hank had a very high sperm count. Of course, Bruce does wear tight pants.”
“Gross, Mom,” Jessica said. She made a face.
“Well, don’t think I haven’t checked him out once or twice,” Mrs. Wakefield said, gazing off into the distance with a faraway look in her eyes. “He looks just like his father. I wonder if he’s into cougars?”
“I’m sure he is, Mom,” Elizabeth said warmly. “Bruce will fuck anything that moves.”
“Anyway, what are all these boxes in the hallway, Jessica?” her mother asked. “You need to find somewhere else to store them.”
“They’re just those beauty products I ordered,” Jessica said.
“Well, go put them in the garage for now,” Mrs. Wakefield said. Jessica turned to Elizabeth.
“All right, all right,” Elizabeth said, sighing. “I’ll move all the boxes just as soon as I get this meatloaf into the oven.”
Mr. Wakefield walked into the kitchen, fresh from a day in court. “Hey, girls,” he said affectionately. “Elizabeth, Todd just pulled up outside. Why does it say ‘Locker Room Homo’ on the back of his BMW?”
“No reason,” Elizabeth said, hurriedly shoving the meatloaf into the oven so she could go greet Todd.
“It’s those Big Mesa jerks,” Jessica was saying to her father as Elizabeth left the room.
“Todd!” Elizabeth exclaimed as she flung open the front door as far as it would go, boxes allowing. “I didn’t expect to see you tonight!”
“I need to talk to you,” he said, glancing around. “Can I come in?”
“Of course,” Elizabeth said, as Todd squeezed through the opening.
“What are all these boxes?” he asked.
“Something Jessica ordered,” Elizabeth said. “That reminds me, I’ve got to move them into the garage. Can you give me a hand?”
“I guess so,” said Todd. He picked up a box and struggled under the weight. “These are heavy.”
“I know,” Elizabeth said, dragging one over to the garage door. “So what did you want to talk to me about?”
“The prom, actually,” he said. “Elizabeth, will you go to the prom with me? As my beard, I mean. I’m saving all of the really steamy dances for Ken.”
“I’d love to,” Elizabeth said. She wiped a bead of sweat from her brow and shoved her box into the corner of the garage.
“There’s one other thing,” Todd said, glancing down at Elizabeth’s slightly swollen stomach. “I – I want to be prom queen.”
“You want to be prom queen?” Elizabeth asked, dumbfounded. “But Sweet Valley hasn’t seen such blatant disregard for gender roles since Winston tried out for the cheerleading squad in middle school!”
“I know, it practically tore the town apart,” Todd said. “But I have to try, Elizabeth. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted!”
“Well, then, you have my support,” Elizabeth said, patting him on the shoulder.
“Thanks, Elizabeth. And, well, there’s just one more thing.”
“What’s that?” she asked.
“I’m going to need a baby if I want to be queen of the teen pregnancy prom,” he said. “And I was just wondering – would you be a surrogate for me and Ken?”
Elizabeth’s jaw dropped.
“I know it’s a lot to ask,” Todd said quickly. “But you’re the only person at school who knows what’s really going on between me and Ken. And you’re a really special friend. It would mean so much to us if you would do it.”
“Todd, I’m really flattered, but I can’t,” Elizabeth said sincerely. “You know what, though? I’m sure Enid would be happy to help out.”
“Does that mean either Ken or I would have to stick our … in Enid?” Todd made a face. “Oh, no. God, no.”
“Todd,” Elizabeth said, placing a hand condescendingly on his shoulder, “maybe it’s time to come out of the closet. Tom McKay sort of did, and look how well that turned out!”
“Elizabeth, are you sure you won’t do it?” Todd pleaded. “I really, really, really, really want to be prom queen.”
“You know you’re in for some stiff competition, don’t you?” Elizabeth said wryly.
“Is that supposed to be some sort of double entendre dick joke?” Todd asked, placing his hands on his hips.
“What? No!” Elizabeth exclaimed, shocked that Todd would even entertain such an idea. “All I meant was that Jessica is going for prom queen, too. And you know how she gets.”
“Yes, I know, I know. She’ll let nothing stand in her way,” Todd said ominously. “And she’ll cut a bitch for trying.”
“Be careful,” Elizabeth advised. “Treat your punch cup as if it’s a Bruce Patman roofie party and don’t let it out of your sight!”
“A Bruce Patman roofie party sounds like fun,” Todd said with a wink. “He is pretty hot.”
“His boob-touching skills leave something to be desired,” Elizabeth said. “Not that I would know. Anyway, just be careful around Jessica. If Ken got into another car accident and temporarily lost his eyesight again. Or…”
“Don’t even say it!” Todd gasped. “That’s just too horrible to even think about.”
“I’m sorry,” Elizabeth said. “I didn’t mean to upset you. Just be careful.”
Jessica pushed through the crowd that had gathered on Sweet Valley High’s football field.
“What’s going on?” she asked Lila, breathlessly.
“Looks like some kids from Big Mesa spray-painted the football field, too,” Lila said, pointing to the field, which now read SVH GLADI-GAY-TORS.
“And look at this!” said a fuming Elizabeth, coming up alongside them. She was waving the latest copy of Big Mesa’s school newspaper. The headline read “Exclusive: SVH’s Male Population 100 Percent Gay” – and it was right above a photo of Todd and Ken locked in a passionate embrace.
“No wonder Ken wouldn’t have sex with me,” Jessica said, miffed.
“Jessica, they’re saying that the reason Sweet Valley High has less pregnant girls than Big Mesa is because all of our boyfriends are gay!” Elizabeth raged.
“Well, speak for yourself,” Lila said, smirking. “It’s YOUR boyfriend in the photo.”
“Less pregnant girls? Can they even count?” Jessica said angrily. “There are at least 137 preggos here – at least!”
“Yes, and you’re looking rather chubby, Liz,” Lila said. “At least I don’t have to eat for two.”
“I don’t even eat for one,” Elizabeth snapped.
“Yes, and it makes you very cranky,” Jessica said. “Hey, Liz, stop by the vending machine and get me a bag of Cheetos, OK?”
Todd joined the girls. “Can you believe this?” he said sadly. “Now everyone knows.”
“Oh, by the way, Todd, I heard Tom’s looking for you,” Lila said. “Something about a three-way?”
“Wilkins!” Bruce barked from behind the crowd. “You told me that date rape kit was for Jessica and Elizabeth. You also told me that the anal bleeding I was experiencing was from hemorrhoids!”
Jessica started to laugh. “Now you know how it feels, Bruce.”
“You!” he snapped. “Shut up!”
“Oh, calm down, Bruce,” Lila said. “You were practically asking for it, wearing those tight pants and all.”
* * *
The Sweet Valley High student body was still reeling from the attack on their football field, as well as the article exposing Ken and Todd’s relationship. All over the halls at school, students were talking about what kind of action to take next.
“I heard the Big Mesa students are going to start picking us off, one by one,” Enid said to Elizabeth on their way to the lunchroom. “It’s probably just a rumor, though. Caroline said it.”
“I’m afraid it’s no rumor,” Elizabeth said sadly. “They called for our execution in their last editorial.”
“Elizabeth, you know I’d defend you to the death, right?” Enid said eagerly. “I’d die for you.”
“Thanks, Enid,” Elizabeth said. “You’re a great friend.”
They sat down with Olivia, Penny, Roger and Todd, who were all discussing the Big Mesa attack.
“Bruce is trying to gather up a guerrilla army,” Todd was saying. “He’s recruited half the football team so far. Including Ken.”
“My cousin does like to solve his problems with violence,” Roger said. “I told Bruce he should maybe just try to arrange peace talks with the most wealthy boy at Big Mesa, but he just punched me in the face and told me to get back into the basement.”
“This is out of hand,” Elizabeth said firmly. “Todd, you’re not thinking about going along with Bruce, are you?”
“I don’t know,” Todd stammered. “I would like to repeatedly punch someone in the face.”
“I’m with Bruce,” Olivia said. “I’m secretly filled with rage.”
“I’ll do whatever Elizabeth wants me to do,” Enid said fervently. “I’d take a bullet for her.”
Behind her, Elizabeth heard a commotion. She turned to look and saw none other than her own twin standing on one of the cafeteria tables.
“Are we going to let those skanks from Big Mesa get away with calling us uptight, infertile and gay?” Jessica yelled.
“No!” the students yelled back.
“Are we going to let those Big Mesa bastards systematically execute us?”
“Tonight, we fight back!” Jessica yelled. “This is no longer about their bad perms, dollar-store weaves and morbid obesity. This is about killing Big Mesa before they kill us!”
“Justice!” yelled Ken, his voice rising above the shouts of the crowd.
Jessica stopped and stared at Ken, her hands on her hips. “No, Ken, this is not about justice. This is about the opposite of justice. Although I have no idea what it’s called.”
“Injustice!” yelled Todd, coming up out of his seat and raising a fist in the air.
“Injustice!” the crowd echoed.
“Have you gone crazy?” Elizabeth hissed, pulling Todd back down into his seat. But she could already see a bloodthirsty look in his eyes.
“Oh, no,” Roger said as Bruce joined Jessica on the table. “This is only going to get worse.”
“Guys, I’ve loaded up my Porsche with enough date-rape drugs to take down Lois Waller and Robin Wilson, back when she was fat,” Bruce yelled. “That’s about as far as I’ve gotten with my plan, though.”
“I know!” Jessica exclaimed. “We could slip roofies into the Big Mesa drinking water supply, then start punching those bitches while they’re all unconscious!”
“Jessica, you’re talking about hurting and killing pregnant women,” Elizabeth said, standing up. “This has got to stop!”
Jessica snorted. “Look, I don’t need you to lecture me on anything else from now on,” she said. “You’re just as bad as those Big Mesa sluts. Maybe even worse, since you try to act like you’re not like them at all. At least they own their sluttiness.”
With that, Jessica flounced off the table and out of the cafeteria, leaving a mob of frenzied, bloodthirsty teenagers in her wake. Winston grabbed a baguette from one of the lunch ladies and lit the end on fire, turning it into a torch. Aaron Dallas, Ronnie Edwards and Barry Rork followed suit. Elizabeth watched in a daze as the cafeteria emptied out.
“What’s going to happen, Todd?” she asked, turning to her pseudo-boyfriend with fearful eyes. But it was too late. Todd had already been swept into the crowd.
* * *
“Mom? Do we have a turkey baster?” Jessica yelled from her bedroom.
“Yes, dear, there’s one in the drawer next to the stove,” Mrs. Wakefield called back.
Elizabeth looked up from her homework, her brow furrowed. What on earth does Jessica want with a turkey baster? she thought. Oh, well. I shouldn’t worry too much about it. It is her turn to cook dinner tonight.
“Honey,” Mrs. Wakefield said, sitting down across the kitchen table from Elizabeth with a mug of coffee in her hands, “we need to talk.”
Elizabeth gulped and shut her history book. “What is it, Mom?”
“I’ve noticed you haven’t been looking like yourself lately,” Mrs. Wakefield said. “I’ve been staring at you and staring at you, trying for the life of me to figure out what’s different. Is there something you want to come clean about?”
“Well, Mom, I – I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner,” Elizabeth said meekly. “I was just scared.”
Her mother sighed. “Elizabeth, you know how we feel about the way you dress,” she said. “From now on, no more super-tight shirts, OK?”
“No more tight shirts?” Elizabeth said, looking down in confusion. Sure, her stomach – and her breasts – had gotten larger, but she hadn’t noticed how tight her shirts were until now. Her pink button-down blouse was stretched almost to the breaking point.
“We have to tell you and Jessica apart somehow,” Mrs. Wakefield went on. “She’s the one who dresses like a slut; you’re the one who dresses like a senior citizen.” She patted her oldest daughter on the arm. “I’m glad we had this little talk.”
Elizabeth breathed a sigh of relief. Her mother didn’t suspect anything!
Jessica came into the kitchen in search of the turkey baster. She rummaged around in the drawer until she found it, then cracked open the refrigerator and took out some leftover macaroni and cheese.
“How can you do homework at a time like this, Liz?” she asked, shoveling cold macaroni into her mouth with her hands. “Tonight is a big night!”
“What’s going on tonight, Jessica?” Mrs. Wakefield asked, turning in her seat so she could watch her youngest daughter pig out.
“Yeah, what’s going on tonight?” Elizabeth repeated, crossing her arms over her chest.
Jessica rolled her eyes. “Only the biggest fight Sweet Valley High has ever seen!”
“That’s nice, dear,” Mrs. Wakefield said mildly. “Elizabeth, maybe you should go. Your father and I hardly have time to ourselves anymore since you and Todd have cut back on going out together.”
“But Mom–” Elizabeth protested.
“And no sooner do I get you out of the house than Steven shows up from school,” Mrs. Wakefield said. “Honestly, kids.”
As if on cue, the twins’ older brother, Steven, burst through the back door. He was 18 and a freshman at Sweet Valley University, which was inexplicably located 45 minutes away. Like his father, Steven was tall, dark and handsome. And like his father, he one day aspired to be a shitty lawyer.
“Hi, Mom,” he said, hugging Mrs. Wakefield. She returned the hug with little enthusiasm. “Hi, Jessica, Elizabeth,”
“Hi,” the twins said in unison.
“I heard there’s some shit going down at Big Mesa tonight,” Steven said, pulling out the chair next to Elizabeth and flopping into it. “Boy, that long drive’s really got me beat.”
“There is some shit going down at Big Mesa tonight,” Mrs. Wakefield said excitedly. “And I think you should go. Make sure you take Elizabeth with you.”
“How do you know about the Big Mesa raid?” Elizabeth asked.
“Word travels fast when you sleep with high school girls,” said Steven, who was in a long-distance relationship with Cara Walker, who had been in the twins’ junior class at Sweet Valley High. She had since moved to London, but as Cara was a notorious gossip, she somehow managed to still know all the intricacies of life at Sweet Valley High and relay them to Steven.
“Did you hear that those Big Mesa girls called me uptight?” Jessica asked, her mouth full. “Me?”
“Well, they obviously confused you with Elizabeth,” Steven said, looking over at her. “Jesus, Elizabeth, what happened to you?”
“N-nothing,” Elizabeth stammered, self-consciously holding her history book in front of her stomach.
“Have you been on the Jessica Wakefield diet plan? You’re huge!” he said.
“She’s just been wearing her clothes a bit too tight lately,” Mrs. Wakefield said. “Don’t worry, she and I have had a little talk, and everything is just fine.”
“Yeah, it’s all an illusion,” Jessica said sarcastically.
“Now, kids, aren’t you going to be late for your brawl?” Mrs. Wakefield asked, checking her watch. “You father will be home any minute now, and we don’t want you to be late.”
“Come on, girls,” Steven said, standing up and yawning. “Let’s go kick some Big Mesa ass.”
* * *
By the time Steven and the twins pulled up in downtown Big Mesa, a mob of Sweet Valley High students had gathered, waving torches and pitchforks. Elizabeth searched through the crowd, hoping to find Todd or Enid, someone who could help her stop this madness before someone got hurt. Or before Jess finds a new boyfriend in the next five minutes and someone gets killed, she thought grimly.
Todd was nowhere to be found. Elizabeth could only assume he was off with Bruce, dumping GHB into Big Mesa’s water supply.
“Well, what the fuck are we waiting for?” Jessica yelled. “Start pulling hair and slapping bitches!”
Once again, Elizabeth’s eyes scanned the crowd. The only people she could see were from Sweet Valley High. “Um, Jessica?” she began.
“What?” Jessica snapped, whirling on her.
“Nothing,” Elizabeth said, casting her eyes downward.
“Jessica, I don’t see anyone from Big Mesa,” Lila said, leaning against a lamppost and examining her fingernails as if she were terribly bored.
Bruce and Todd ran up from behind Elizabeth. “It’s done,” Todd said breathlessly. “We spiked their water supply.”
“Any minute now, they should be losing consciousness,” Bruce said. “Don’t start grazing their breasts until you’re absolutely sure they’re out of it. I’ve had a lot of close calls.”
“And then what?” Elizabeth asked bitterly. “We just start busting into houses and punching people? And how do we know they’re even going to consume this contaminated water right now?”
Jessica and Bruce looked at each other. “We just know,” Jessica said with false bravado.
“And now we wait,” Ken said ominously.
For four hours, the Sweet Valley High students waited around Big Mesa, but not once did they see or hear any signs of life in the town. Could Bruce and Todd have poisoned them? Elizabeth worried. Maybe everyone in Big Mesa is already dead! Or they’re asleep. It is after 10 o’clock.
Elizabeth hunkered down in a doorway and bunched her jacket up under her head as a makeshift pillow. She had to close her eyes for just a brief moment. She was so tired, so very, very tired.
“Seriously, Elizabeth, what is this shit?” the angel asked.
“What is what shit?” Elizabeth asked, sitting up. All around her, Elizabeth’s classmates from Sweet Valley High were asleep, their bodies stretched out on benches and sidewalks and parking spaces.
“I ask you to bear the second coming of Christ – at great personal expense, I might add, seeing as no one told me you were a big ol’ slut – and this is how you do it? By charging headfirst into a high school brawl?”
“I was brought here against my will,” Elizabeth said. “I wasn’t even driving the Jeep!”
“Elizabeth, the whole world is counting on you,” the angel said. “You’d better shape up.”
“But I can only devote my unnecessary advice to so many people in a day,” Elizabeth protested. “A small town like Sweet Valley is just the right size. I can’t be responsible for the whole world, as well.”
“I don’t need you to give advice,” the angel growled. “I just need you to give birth.”
“Yeah, about that…” Elizabeth began.
“Elizabeth,” the angel said, taking her hands, “you and your baby are the only ones who can bring peace to Sweet Valley. Find a way to end this war between your school and Big Mesa; otherwise the end times will be at hand.”
“End times?” Elizabeth said.
“Yes, the end times,” the angel snapped. “I sometimes really question why we picked you.”
Elizabeth awoke with a start. The concrete beneath her was cold, and the sun was just beginning to rise over Big Mesa. The sidewalk near her was littered with sleeping Sweet Valley High students. Elizabeth gathered up her jacket and crawled over to Jessica.
“Jess, wake up,” Elizabeth said, shaking her sister’s shoulder.
“Ugh, just five more minutes,” Jessica mumbled, rolling over.
“We don’t have five more minutes,” Elizabeth said. “It’s already morning.”
Jessica opened one eye. “Did we do it? Is everyone in Big Mesa dead?”
Elizabeth gasped. “Was that the objective?”
“Not really,” Jessica said. “But it would be a nice added bonus.”
“Jessica, it’s urgent that we make peace with the students from Big Mesa,” Elizabeth said. “Sure, we have our differences, but we can’t go on like this. The future of the world depends on it.”
“God, Elizabeth, you really blow things out of proportion,” Jessica said, yawning.
“I’m not blowing things out of proportion,” Elizabeth said. “I’m telling you, I’ve had a dream. A vision. My baby is going to save the world.”
“Well, my baby is going to be a star,” Jessica said. She rested her forehead on her arms, using them to prop her up from the cold ground. “And it’s going to be way better than yours.”
“Your baby?” Elizabeth said, a chill running through her. The intuition she possessed when it came to her twin kicked in. “You’re pregnant as well?”
“Well, of course I’m pregnant,” Jessica snapped. “What do you think I was doing with Mom’s turkey baster last night?”
“Basting turkey,” Elizabeth confessed.
“It’s somewhere between the early ’80s and the mid-90s,” Jessica said. “Today’s woman doesn’t need a man to get pregnant.”
“No, Jessica,” Elizabeth said softly. “Not you, too.”
“Why do you always have to be such a hater?” Jessica said, propping herself up on one elbow. “When the likes of Lynne Henry, Abbie Richardson and Jade Wu have a better chance of becoming prom queen than I do, it calls for drastic measures!”
“Actually, I’m not so sure Lynne, Abbie and Jade are your biggest competition,” Elizabeth said, her gaze finding Todd, who was spooning with Ken on a park bench.
“God damn it, Elizabeth!” Jessica screeched, waking up several minor characters around them. “I get it. You’re my biggest competition. You’re always my biggest competition.”
“It’s not me–” Elizabeth began, but Jessica was already on a tirade, and there was no slowing her down.
“Do you remember when we were in the womb?” Jessica spat. “You were the one rationing – no, hoarding is more like it – all the nutrients, and I was left to starve. When I wanted to get out of that godforsaken place, you kept me in for four more minutes!”
“I don’t remember being in the womb, Jess,” Elizabeth said. “No one does. Now you’re just making shit up.”
“That’s right, don’t believe anything Jessica says because she’s stupid,” Jessica said bitterly. “Is that it?”
“Well, you are pretty dumb,” Elizabeth said. “And a liar.”
Jessica stood up and dusted off her miniskirt. “I don’t need to listen to this,” she snapped. “I’m going back to Sweet Valley. And I’m not giving you a ride.”
“Jessica, wait,” Elizabeth called, but Jessica had already left her, alone and kneeling on the sidewalk.
* * *
Elizabeth wiped a bead of sweat from her brow and continued her walk back to Sweet Valley. I can’t believe Jessica left me here, she thought. And everyone else I know. You’d think someone would have room to give a pregnant lady a ride – especially when the pregnant lady is a Wakefield twin!
Despite the day’s cold start, now that the sun had climbed high into the sky, it was uncomfortably warm. She hadn’t seen anyone on her way out of Big Mesa; not even a car had passed her on the road. She trudged along, painfully slowly and absorbed in her thoughts of what the angel had told her. Now she had a large burden to bear; ending the feud between Sweet Valley and Big Mesa once and for all.
She had walked for several more miles when she spotted a car speeding toward her. Elizabeth held a hand over her eyes to shade them from the glare of the sun and squinted. As it drew closer, she realized it was Enid’s beaten-down ride.
“Elizabeth!” Enid called, screeching to a stop next to her. “You’ve got to get back to Sweet Valley as soon as you can!”
“I’m trying,” Elizabeth said. “My feet are so swollen, I can barely walk. And I feel like I’m about to tip over.”
Enid leaned over and cracked open the passenger-side door for Elizabeth.
“Where were you last night, anyway?” Elizabeth asked Enid as she got into the car.
“Nobody told me where we were meeting up for the fight,” Enid explained, pulling a U-turn and heading back toward Sweet Valley. “That’s OK, though. I worked on my scrapbook some more.”
“I thought you were going to quit working on the scrapbook,” Elizabeth said, glancing at her friend out of the corner of her eye. A slow blush was creeping into Enid’s cheeks.
“It’s just that when I’m all cracked out, I need something to do with my hands or I’ll go crazy,” Enid confessed. “Anyway, the reason I came looking for you is that there’s trouble in Sweet Valley!”
Elizabeth’s heart jumped into her throat. “What kind of trouble?”
“Well, you know how last night, when you all went to fight Big Mesa, there wasn’t anyone around? That’s because they were all in Sweet Valley, waiting to ambush us!”
“Oh, no!” Elizabeth exclaimed.
“I know, I walked out of my house to go to school this morning, and I found Sally Larson lying dead in a ditch!”
“That’s awful,” Elizabeth said, tears springing to her eyes. “I totally forgot about her.”
“I’m pretty sure everyone else is in trouble, too,” Enid said. “When I got to school this morning, the only other student that showed up was Lois Waller. And this was posted on the door to Mr. Collins’ classroom.”
Elizabeth took the piece of paper that Enid handed to her. It read, “If you want to see Jessica Wakefield again, meet us at some shady warehouse downtown at 3 o’clock.”
Elizabeth checked her watch. “It’s almost 2!” she exclaimed. “We don’t have much time!”
“Do you think we should get the police involved?” Enid asked.
“Of course not,” Elizabeth said. “Everyone knows that the Sweet Valley Police Department is worthless. They rely on teenagers to solve all the crimes around here.”
“There are a lot of shady warehouses downtown,” Enid pointed out. “How will we know where Jessica is?”
“I don’t know, but we’ve got to try,” Elizabeth said grimly. “We’ve got to try.”
* * *
“We’ve searched everywhere,” Elizabeth said. “And we still haven’t found them.”
“There’s one last place we need to look,” Enid said, pointing to a foreboding-looking building with busted-out windows and graffiti depicting gang symbols. “Bruce’s date-rape warehouse.”
“Bruce has a whole warehouse devoted to date rape?” Elizabeth asked as they crept up to the building. She stepped over shards of glass from what appeared to be a broken beer bottle. “He took me to his parents beach house.”
“Well, then, he must have thought you were someone really special,” Enid said. “You know, I never understood why his parents have a beach house when we live in the same town as the beach.”
“Be quiet,” Elizabeth hissed as they got closer. Enid nodded furiously and tightly shut her mouth. Elizabeth pulled herself up to peek into the cracked window. Carefully, she wiped away the dust and cobwebs that caked the glass and leaned against the window, shading her eyes. It was pitch black inside, but after a few seconds, Elizabeth could make out some movement.
“I think someone’s in there!” she whispered to Enid.
It was Jessica, and she was tied up to a chair. There wasn’t anyone else around; at least, not that Elizabeth could see.
“I don’t get it,” she said to Enid. “I see Jessica, but where are the people from Big Mesa?”
Enid shrugged. “Do you want me to go in and get her? I’ll rescue her for you.”
“No, thanks,” Elizabeth said. “I’ll go in there myself.
She crept along the outside of the building until she found a metal door that had a broken lock dangling from it. “Jess?” she said softly, opening the door with a loud creak. “It’s OK, Jessica. I’m here now.”
“Go away, Elizabeth,” Jessica hissed. “I don’t need you.”
“I know we had a fight earlier, and I’m sorry,” Elizabeth said, making her way over to her sister. “But I’ve been so worried about you for the past 45 minutes or so.”
“Worried about me? What are you talking about?” Jessica demanded.
“Jessica, you’re tied to a chair in an abandoned warehouse. Come on, let’s get out of here!”
“Elizabeth, has it ever occurred to you that I haven’t been kidnapped?” Jessica said. Elizabeth could see the anger on her face.
“No, it hasn’t, because you’ve clearly been kidnapped,” Elizabeth said, working to untie the knots that bound Jessica. “We really don’t have time to argue. Those creeps from Big Mesa could come back any minute.”
“Elizabeth, I’m just into some really kinky shit, OK?” Jessica said. “Now leave me alone!”
“What? But Enid found a note that said we’d never see you again, and she said that Big Mesa ambushed us last night, and Sally Larson’s dead–”
“Sally Larson’s dead because she was terminally boring,” Jessica said. “And probably because the foster care system sucks.”
“She isn’t in the foster care system anymore. Dana’s family took her in, remember?” Elizabeth asked. Jessica shrugged as best she could with her arms tied to a chair. “And anyway, don’t go off on a tangent. What are you doing here, tied up to a chair?”
“I’m meeting someone,” she snapped. “Not that it’s any of your business. And if you’re still around when he gets here, I’m going to die of embarrassment!”
“But what about the note?” Elizabeth asked. “Who would write such a thing?”
“I did,” Jessica said. “It was code for my man so he would know where to meet me. Again, none of your damn business, so just get out of here!”
Just then, Elizabeth heard a car pull up outside. It must be Jessica’s mysterious date! she thought.
“Quick, hide!” Jessica said in a low voice.
“Jessica, Enid’s outside! What if he sees her?” Elizabeth said, her voice rising in panic.
“Leave it to you and Enid Rollins to fuck up my plans for the afternoon,” Jessica said angrily. “Just hide, all right?”
Elizabeth dove behind a rusted-out metal drum just in time. As the door creaked open, she peered around the drum to get a look at the man Jessica had gone to so much trouble to meet up with. Why the secrecy? she thought. Who could this mystery man be?
Jessica let out a throaty giggle. “Well, hello, Rick,” she said.
“Rick Andover?” Elizabeth whispered to herself. She must have been a little too loud, because Jessica started setting off a series of very fake-sounding coughs.
Rick was nothing but trouble, Elizabeth knew. He was a high school dropout, an alcoholic, and apparently a sadomasochist. For the next five minutes, Elizabeth huddled behind the 55-gallon drum, trying to shut her ears and eyes against the unholy sounds Jessica and Rick were making. Finally, Rick was finished and it was all over.
“Thanks a lot, Jessica,” he said. “Here’s five bucks.”
Elizabeth waited until his footsteps retreated and the door creaked open again to emerge from her hiding place. Jessica was standing in front of the chair, her clothes disheveled. She was rubbing her wrists where the rope had bound her.
“So now you know my secret,” Jessica said. “I’ve stopped giving hand jobs behind Kelly’s and have turned to S&M. The pay’s about the same, but my wrists don’t hurt nearly as bad.”
“Jessica!” Elizabeth exclaimed. “You’re pregnant now. You can’t be letting guys tie you up to chairs and whip you and do who knows what else to you.”
“Whatever,” Jessica said. “I’ll do what I want.”
From outside, they heard a high-pitched scream. “Enid!” Elizabeth cried, sprinting toward the door.
But when she emerged into the sunlight, Elizabeth was greeted by an unexpected scene. Rick’s lifeless body lay on the ground, and above him, clutching a lone yellow barrette covered in blood, was Enid.
“I – I had to do it,” Enid said. “It sounded like he was killing someone in there!”
“What the fuck?” Jessica said, running out behind Elizabeth. “Enid, did you stab him?”
“I was coming in to save Elizabeth – and you, I guess – and he was coming out toward me. I was startled, and so I took out Elizabeth’s barrette that I keep in my bra and I just .. slashed his throat,” Enid finished, looking at the ground.
“God damn it, Enid! Rick is my best customer,” Jessica seethed. “On the other hand, maybe you’re good for something. Do you think you could take down the Big Mesa cheerleading squad?”
“Jessica!” Elizabeth exclaimed. “This is no time to be thinking about you stupid little competition with Big Mesa. Rick could be bleeding to death!”
“OK, OK,” Jessica said, pacing. “I’ve got it. We’ll just say someone from Big Mesa did it. It will be just the catalyst we need for starting the war.”
Elizabeth’s jaw dropped. “Catalyst? And you used it correctly?”
“Oh, yeah, I guess I did,” Jessica giggled. “This ghostwriter must suck balls.”
“To be fair, the books are riddled with continuity errors,” Elizabeth said. “But let’s get back on track. We’re not starting a war with Big Mesa.”
“No, we’re finishing a war with Big Mesa,” Jessica said. “They started it!”
“As much as I worship you, Elizabeth, I’m with Jessica on this one,” Enid said quickly. “I already took the fall for running down some kid. I’m not going to take the rap for this, too.”
As Rick bled out and the three of them argued over what to do, a familiar car pulled up. It was Bruce’s Porsche. He didn’t seem to notice them as he got out of the car, then went around to the passenger side and pulled out a pregnant Big Mesa cheerleader who was clearly unconscious. He casually slung her over one shoulder as if she were an expensive Italian leather jacket and started toward Jessica, Elizabeth and Enid.
Looking up and catching sight of them, a startled Bruce dropped the unconscious cheerleader to the ground with a loud thud. “Hey – hey, ladies,” he stammered, trying to play it cool. “What’s going on?”
“We just found Rick, stabbed to death!” Jessica said dramatically, going into full-on actress mode. “Those jerks from Big Mesa did it, I just know they did!”
“Yeah, they must have,” Bruce said. “They’re hiding all over the place. I found this one up at Miller’s Point. I’m pretty sure she was about to jump me.”
“Up at Miller’s Point in the middle of the day!” Jessica gasped. “Very sneaky.”
“One of them killed Sally Larson,” Enid said, and Elizabeth turned a suspicious eye to her.
“How did Sally die?” Elizabeth asked. “Not a barrette to the throat, by any chance?”
“No!” Enid said, a little too loudly. “Although she would have deserved it. I saw her give you a dirty look in Mr. Collins’ class the other day.”
“We’ve got to do something about this,” Bruce growled, pounding his palm with a balled-up fist. “No more fucking around. It’s time we had a good, old-fashioned street fight.”
“I’m in,” Enid said quickly.
“No!” Elizabeth protested. “We can’t continue this! Two Sweet Valley High students – well, OK, Rick was a dropout, so just one – are dead! Where will it end?”
“When every last skanky bitch from Big Mesa is six feet under,” Jessica said. Bruce nodded in agreement.
“But think of the unborn!” Elizabeth cried desperately. “Don’t you care about all these babies, Jessica? Just think of what you had to go through to get pregnant.”
“Babies are just accessories, Elizabeth,” Jessica said, as if her sister were completely stupid. “Duh.”
“Jessica’s right,” Bruce said. “Who cares about babies? I just care about baby-making.”
Jessica gave him a high-five over Rick’s corpse. “So true,” she said, laughing. “So true.”
Lila finally got around to opening the box that had been dropped off the previous day. The truth was, she’d forgotten all about the orphaned child she’d ordered from Africa, and the box had sat, untouched, in the foyer of Fowler Crest. It has air holes poked in it, Lila thought. I’m sure he’ll be fine.
Still, despite her lack of enthusiasm at opening the box, Lila couldn’t wait to show off her latest purchase in the halls of Sweet Valley. “I love imported goods,” she said, slicing the packing tape off the box with glee.
As she unwound the layers of bubble wrap that surrounded the baby, Lila paused to pop a few of the bubbles, but quickly tired of it. Still, she loved dragging out the suspense of unpacking a new item.
Tossing the bubble wrap aside, she peered into the box and extended her arms, waiting to hold her new baby. “I’ll be just like a star,” she said, grasping one of the baby’s wriggling hands. “I told Jessica all the celebrities are doing it.”
She pulled the baby out and stared at it. He looked back at Lila with big brown eyes, blinked and smiled at her. “What the hell?” she said. Lila set the baby down on her four-poster bed and rummaged around in the box some more, looking for a packing slip or something.
“There’s got to be some sort of mistake!” she cried, tossing the bubble wrap up in the air and looking underneath it, as if she would find her explanation there.
Angrily, Lila picked up her powder blue princess phone and dialed the number of the hotel in Paris where her father was staying.
“Daddy!” Lila exclaimed furiously. “Daddy, they screwed up my order. … Yeah, well, I don’t care if it’s one o’clock in the morning there. … No, I checked. …We need to get this fixed right away. The prom is on Saturday! … Well, the baby is – he’s the wrong color.”
* * *
“So, Lila, I can’t wait to tell you my big news,” Jessica said into the phone. She was lounging on the floor in her bedroom and painting her toenails a hot pink color called “Super Slut.”
“I don’t really care, Jessica,” Lila said glumly. She eyed the baby on her bed, who was giggling and blowing spit bubbles.
“Guess who is pregnant with Jamie Peters’ baby?” Jessica said, charging on without listening. “And Brandon Hunter’s. And Jeremy Frank’s. And Eric Parker’s.”
“I don’t know,” Lila said. “Who?”
“Me!” Jessica said with glee. “Enjoy your mail-order baby of unknown ancestry.”
“How did you manage to get pregnant with four babies by four different men?” Lila asked. “Four different – and highly famous – men?”
“I have my ways,” Jessica said mysteriously. “Besides, anyone will put out for a Wakefield twin!”
“I highly doubt that,” Lila said. She reached out and caught the baby before he rolled right off the bed.
“Oh, you’re just jealous, Lila,” Jessica said. “I can hear it in your voice.”
Lila smiled bitterly, her lips pursing in a thin line. “I am not jealous,” she said in a measured tone. “It’s your vagina that’s going to get destroyed, not mine.”
“Oh, they don’t get destroyed,” Jessica said breezily, although she really had no idea how exactly the process of childbirth worked. She would cross that bridge whenever she came to it, Jessica had decided. “So did you get your baby yet? Is he cute?”
“I – I got him,” Lila said, placing him on his back in the middle of her bed and pointing a finger at him. “Stay,” she said firmly. “Stay.”
“What? Who are you talking to?” Jessica asked. “God damn it, I just smudged my nail polish.”
“The baby,” Lila snapped.
“Ooh, why haven’t you invited me over to see him yet? We can take him shopping – I’m sure Lisette’s has some jewel-encrusted onesies or something,” Jessica said. “Or maybe we could take him to the beach. You’ll probably want him to be nice and tan for the prom.”
“I haven’t invited you over to see him yet because he’s – he’s a surprise,” Lila said. “I don’t want anyone to see him before he makes his big debut at the prom.”
“You’re no fun, Lila,” Jessica said, pouting, even though her friend couldn’t see the gesture through the phone. “Just let me come over and see him. I won’t tell anyone how cute he is. Please?”
“I said no,” Lila snapped. “And you can quit pouting. I can hear it all the way from here.”
“Have you named him yet? I think you should name him something elegant, like Drake or D’Artagnan,” Jessica said.
“I haven’t come up with a name I like yet,” Lila said, eyeing the baby suspiciously. At least he was quiet.
“But that’s the most important part of being a mother!” Jessica cried. “Naming them and dressing them in tiny little designer clothes.”
“I have a feeling they could be a bit more trouble than that,” Lila said. “Fortunately, I can just pass him off to Eva whenever I get sick of him.”
“Oh, how much trouble could they be?” Jessica said breezily. “Oh, by the way, did you hear Rick Andover and Sally Larson are dead? Rumor is some Big Mesa whores got to them.”
“Well, apparently, Sweet Valley was crawling with Big Mesa students last night,” Lila said. “I guess while we were out there waiting for them, they were out here waiting for us. So much for that little plan you and Bruce cooked up.”
“Bruce is an amateur when it comes to scheming,” Jessica agreed. “I knew I shouldn’t have listened to him.”
“Bruce is an amateur when it comes to a lot of things,” Lila said.
“I can’t believe he got Elizabeth pregnant,” Jessica fumed. “That really makes me mad.”
“Bruce is the father?” Lila said, then started laughing so hard she snorted. “Good one, Jess.”
“Of course Bruce is the father,” Jessica said. “It makes sense, doesn’t it? He once sort of date raped her. And there’s always been this weird sexual tension between them.”
“If you say so,” Lila answered.
“Have you noticed how fat she’s gotten lately? Definitely size 8,” Jessica said. “For sure.”
“Hmm, I bet she’s also overeating as a response to the stress of planning the prom,” Lila said, frowning at the baby, who was now giggling at her.
“Are you kidding me?” Jessica asked, stretching out one perfectly tanned leg so she could admire her newly polished toes. “Elizabeth’s got Enid running around like a chicken with her head cut off. If anyone should be stressed, it’s Enid.”
“Enid’s such a bore,” Lila said, yawning so Jessica could hear.
“I may have been – only slightly – wrong about Enid,” Jessica said. “Remember when she ran over and killed that kid while she was on a bender?”
“Well, that is the most exciting thing she’s ever done,” Lila said.
“Rumor has it that Enid’s out for blood,” Jessica said. “Big Mesa blood.”
“So we’re sending Enid out to do our dirty work?” Lila guessed. “You know she’ll screw that up. We might as well send Winston Egbert in. He could bore them to death with his lame jokes.”
* * *
Elizabeth sat at her typewriter, a blank sheet of paper in front of her. She had meant to set aside time to write her big article before now, but between planning the teen pregnancy prom, throwing Rick Andover’s body into a dumpster and actually getting pregnant, she’d had little time to devote to it. And now that she actually had time, she couldn’t think of a single word to say.
“Maybe I’ll get out my journal,” Elizabeth said out loud. “That always helps me clear my mind.”
From the back of her desk drawer, Elizabeth pulled a small leather-bound volume. It had been her best friend through some of her most trying times – when she was kidnapped by a crazy orderly who just wanted to brush her hair and feed her pancakes; when she fell in love with an actual werewolf; when an insane look-alike tried to kill her and take over her life. Elizabeth turned to page 10,898 and began to write.
I just have such a hard time believing some people – like Jessica – actually want to be pregnant, she scribbled. For me, this is the worst thing ever! Not only am I being bruised from the inside because of all the hideous kicking going on in there, but now I actually have to eat to sustain this life form. And now, not only do I have to be responsible for my own baby, I have to plan the prom, save mankind from the end times and uphold the high journalistic standards of The Oracle, but I’m pretty sure I’ll end up having to take care of Jessica’s baby as well.
I can see it now: Jessica and Lila will be at the beach, tanning and checking out the faint outline of boys’ junk in their Speedos, and I’ll be taking care of both of our babies. And probably Lila’s, too.
I told Mr. Collins he should start a day care at Sweet Valley High. He said he’d think about it. Maybe I’ll start a day care at the school and pressure everyone else to volunteer there. I can publicly shame them if they refuse. I’m sure Mr. Cooper will go along with the idea.
Through the bathroom door, Elizabeth could hear Jessica giggling and talking on the phone. “So much for getting some work done tonight,” she muttered out loud. Her sister could be a distraction sometimes. Elizabeth got up from her desk to shut the bathroom door so she could concentrate. With her new size – Elizabeth seemed to be growing bigger by the day – she could barely make it out of the chair without getting stuck.
But in shutting the door – and meddling in her sister’s affairs in the hopes that she could offer some unwanted advice – Elizabeth overheard Jessica’s end of the conversation.
“Bruce is an amateur when it comes to scheming,” Jessica said. “I knew I shouldn’t have listened to him.” She paused while Lila responded. “I can’t believe he got Elizabeth pregnant. That really makes me mad. … Of course Bruce is the father. It makes sense, doesn’t it? He once sort of date raped her. And there’s always been this weird sexual tension between them. … Have you noticed how fat she’s gotten lately? Definitely size 8. For sure.”
Elizabeth turned away from the door, crestfallen. She had been trying to keep her pregnancy a secret, and here was Jessica, yapping away about it. And speculating that Bruce Patman, of all people, was the father!
“I knew I couldn’t trust her to keep a secret,” Elizabeth said through clenched teeth. “It’s not like she’s ever done anything like this before – oh, wait. Never mind.”
She heaved a great sigh. Oh, well, that’s just how Jessica is, she thought to herself. Frequently betraying her own twin sister’s confidence is part of her charm.
Elizabeth stood at the door for a few minutes, staring off into space, her hand lightly grasping the doorknob. She faintly heard Jessica’s chatter as if it came from far away and didn’t even notice when Jessica had hung up the phone.
“Liz? What the hell are you doing?” Jessica’s voice snapped Elizabeth back to reality.
“I was just – writing,” she stammered, blushing and looking down.
Jessica raised an eyebrow. “Writing? While standing at the bathroom door, staring off into space?”
“All right, I was eavesdropping,” Elizabeth said. “Why are you telling everyone that I’m pregnant with Bruce’s baby?”
“I’m not telling everyone,” Jessica said sweetly. “Just Lila. And it is Bruce’s baby, isn’t it?”
“No, it’s not,” Elizabeth said hotly. “I’ve eliminated him as a possibility.”
“Besides, everyone in Sweet Valley knows you’re preggo already,” Jessica said. “I don’t know what the big deal is.”
“I think I’ve done a very good job of hiding it,” Elizabeth said with as much defiance as she could muster.
“Liz, Mom and Dad are about the only two people left in Sweet Valley who are brain dead enough to not get it. You’ve really packed on the pounds,” Jessica said. “It’s so obvious.”
“Quit saying I’m fat!” Elizabeth exploded. “Not that I care about my looks as much as you do, but I don’t even eat!”
“See, I totally don’t get that,” Jessica said, pulling a chocolate bar from the back pocket of her denim short shorts and peeling back the wrapper before stuffing it in her mouth. “Food is so good.”
“It’s a control thing,” Elizabeth snapped. “I’m a perfectionist. You obviously wouldn’t understand.”
“That reminds me, Lila was saying that she read in Ingenue that there’s this thing called pro-ana, like, these girls get together and don’t eat,” Jessica said. “It sounds like a total bore, so you’d probably love it.”
“I don’t care about what Lila read in Ingenue. I don’t care about Lila Fowler, period,” Elizabeth said. “Unless she has some sort of psychological problem, physical handicap or family issue I can give her advice on.”
Jessica snorted. “Lila has psychological problems and family issues up the wazoo,” she said. “Oh, and I’m pretty sure inverted nipples count as a physical handicap.”
* * *
“Eva?” Lila called, struggling downstairs with the baby in her arms. “Eva?”
But the Fowlers’ housekeeper was nowhere to be found. Lila even looked in the small walk-in closet that served as Eva’s room, but when she pulled the cord for the light, all that was illuminated by the lone, bare lightbulb was a dirty mattress on the floor.
“Where could she be?” Lila muttered. “I really want to go to the beach. Without this little brat.”
The baby giggled and grabbed a fistful of Lila’s perfectly straightened hair. She screamed and somehow managed to unwind his tightly coiled fist from her locks.
“I really need to get rid of you,” Lila said, but the baby just smiled and laughed at her. “You are pretty cute,” she reluctantly admitted.
Who would have thought me, Lila Fowler, the girl with the biggest stick up her ass – no, wait, that’s Elizabeth Wakefield – would actually think a baby was cute? she thought. And an ethnic one at that.
But still, a merchandise fuck-up was a merchandise fuck-up, and he’d have to be sent back. Lila just hoped her father could straighten this mess out before the big prom.
Just then, a knock sounded at the front door. Lila whirled around like a lab rat caught in a maze, looking for somewhere to hide the baby. “Just a second,” she called in a shaky, high-pitched voice she barely recognized as her own. The baby giggled as Lila spun him around. “This isn’t a game!” she hissed. “I seriously can’t let anyone see you!”
The guest bathroom across the foyer would have to do. She nestled the baby into a basket piled high with plush, perfectly folded towels and shoved the basket into the cupboard under the sink.
“Jessica!” Lila exclaimed, as she opened the door. “What are you doing here?”
“Just wanted to stop by on my way to the beach,” Jessica said, craning her neck to see around Lila.
“I thought we were going to meet there,” Lila said through clenched teeth.
“Oh, were we?” Jessica said absentmindedly, knocking Lila aside and barging through the front door. “So, where’s the baby?”
“Eva – Eva took him out to the park,” Lila said. “It’s such a nice day, I figured he needed some fresh air.”
“Really?” Jessica said, feigning disappointment. “I was hoping to see him.” She sniffed the air. “It kind of smells like poop in here.”
“Well, that’s because the toilet is, uh, broken. I’m going to have Eva fix it as soon as she gets home,” Lila said quickly.
“Eva is a gourmet cook, superstar nanny and she fixes toilets, too?” Jessica said.
“Jessica, she’s Mexican,” Lila said.
“Well, Rosa’s Mexican, and she can’t do any of those things,” Jessica said. “We wouldn’t have asked her to join Pi Beta Alpha if she was a common plumber or something.”
“Of course Rosa can’t do any of those things now,” Lila said. “She’s tied down with eight children.”
“Shh!” Jessica interrupted. “Did you hear that?”
“Hear what? I didn’t hear anything,” Lila said loudly.
“It’s like a gurgling sound,” Jessica said, pointing toward the guest bathroom. “It’s coming from over there.”
“That’s the toilet,” Lila lied smoothly. “I told you it was broken.”
“So, are you ready for the beach or what?” Jessica asked. “I can’t wait to show off my new maternity bikini.”
“Yeah, I need to change first, though,” Lila said. “Why don’t you come upstairs and help me pick out a bathing suit?”
Jessica waved her hand. “I’ve seen all of your bathing suits, Lila, and I think they’re pretty fug.”
“Oh, come on, I’m having trouble deciding,” Lila said, grabbing her friend by the arm and leading her upstairs.
Lila threw open the doors of her enormous walk-in closet and flipped through hangers full of bathing suits before settling on a dark purple string bikini that accentuated her small waist. If she was practically the only non-preggo at Sweet Valley High, she was going to show off her best assets, Lila decided.
Once Lila was all changed and ready to go, she grabbed her beach bag and the girls headed for Jessica’s Jeep. On their way out, Lila paused briefly to listen for sounds coming from the guest bathroom. All was quiet. He’s probably just sleeping, Lila thought.
* * *
Lila lay back on her huge beach blanket and let the sun warm her body. She tugged down her bikini top so it was dangerously close to showing off a bit of areola.
“Isn’t this great?” Jessica asked, pushing her sunglasses farther up her nose. “I haven’t been to the beach in forever.”
“Mmm-hmm,” Lila agreed. “Do you think your stretch marks will tan?”
“Of course they will,” Jessica said, rubbing tanning oil into her baby bump. “I’m sure my baby will come out nice and tan, too.”
“Or with its brains fried,” Lila said dryly.
“Very funny,” Jessica said testily. “What about your baby? Do babies from Africa tan?”
Lila shrugged. “Let’s not talk about my baby right now,” she said. “I’m taking the afternoon off.”
“Fine,” Jessica pouted, looking out across the beach. Maria and Winston were goofing around in the water, splashing each other and laughing. Maria’s stomach was huge. Olivia and Penny were playing frisbee farther down the beach, their heavy stomachs getting in the way of each throw. “Do you think we’ll all pop at the same time?”
“What, Jessica?” Lila asked with a sigh, opening her eyes.
“I said, do you think we’ll all pop at the same time?”
“Pop what?” Lila said.
“Pop out our babies,” Jessica said. “Duh.”
Lila scowled. “You have babies on the brain. Just shut up about it for once.”
“Looking good, Lila,” said a voice behind them. “Wish I could say the same for you, Jessica.”
“Why don’t you shut the hell up, Bruce,” Jessica said, her head whipping around.
“What?” Bruce said with a grin. “I see you’re catching up to your sister in the weight department.”
Lila shuddered. “I see you’re wearing your Speedo again.”
“I see you’ve stuffed a pair of socks down there,” Jessica added.
“This is all me, baby,” Bruce said, gesturing to his crotch. “I even manscaped, just for you. Or for any other ladies that happen to want a piece of this.”
“You missed the top of your asscrack,” Lila said, peering up at him.
“Oh, no way, dude,” Bruce said, turning around to check out his own ass. “I’m going to kill Roger!”
“Roger waxes your crack?” Jessica said, wrinkling her nose.
“Not very well, apparently,” Bruce muttered.
Suddenly, they heard a loud scream farther down the beach. “Oh, what now?” Lila said, annoyed, as she sat up and squinted into the sun, looking for the source of the scream.
“It’s Big Mesa!” Bruce yelled, running down the beach.
Hundreds of Big Mesa students – many of them heavily pregnant – had swarmed the Sweet Valley beach. Two of the boys were holding Ken by the arms while a third punched him in the stomach. The screams were coming from Todd, who, despite his love of punching people, was rooted to the spot with fear.
“Stop, man, I’m blind!” Ken yelled. “I’m blind!”
Jessica jumped up and looked to her right, where a Big Mesa girl with heavy blue eyeshadow was tugging on Caroline Pierce’s red hair. And Jessica could only watch in horror as a short, squat girl produced a razor blade from her weave and started slashing wildly at Jean West.
Jessica ran toward the girl with the razor blade. “Come on, Lila!”
“No, thanks,” Lila called back. “I’m still working on my tan.”
As she ran across the sand, Jessica tripped and fell down face-first, catching herself with her hands. A shadow fell across her.
“Well, well, well. If it isn’t star cheerleader Jessica Wakefield.”
Jessica looked up and right into the face of the skanky ho that had first called her uptight at the Sweet Valley Mall.
“I’ll rip out your cheap plastic hair, you little slut!” Jessica yelled, launching herself up onto her feet and grasping at the girl’s head.
Laughing, the girl ducked out of her way. For someone who was about to drop a kid, she sure was spry, Jessica thought with anger.
“I see you managed to find someone to get you pregnant,” the girl snarled. “Who was it, that nerd with the glasses?”
“Fuck you,” Jessica said, aiming a fist at the girl’s face. This time, she connected, her knuckles plowing into the girl’s cheek.
“You bitch!” the girl yelled. She pulled at Jessica’s bikini top, but Jessica somehow managed to keep it from falling down. Thanks to Bruce, I’ve had lots of practice keeping my breasts covered, Jessica said, silently grateful one of her classmates was notorious at trying to untie girls’ bikini tops.
All around her, Jessica was dimly aware of the sounds of fighting. Winston was howling like a wounded animal, and she could hear the struggles of a Big Mesa football player Bruce was holding underwater. She could even hear Lila loudly snoring.
And then, as quickly as it began, the fight was over. The Big Mesa students were retreating, some of them badly wounded. “That’s right, go back to your shitty beach in your own shitty town!” Jessica yelled after the girl she had been brawling with.
The girl turned and gave Jessica an icy stare. Her lips curved upward in a frightening smile. “Don’t worry, Jessica,” she said. “We’ll be back. When’s the prom, again? Saturday?”
Jessica dropped to her knees in the sand, exhausted. She wasn’t badly hurt, but some of her classmates were. Roger was helping a badly bruised Winston to shore. Blood was flowing from Jean’s cheek, and her best friend, Sandra Bacon, was missing a front tooth. A rolled-up sock was hanging out one of the legs of Bruce’s Speedo, but he seemed otherwise OK.
“Did you hear that bitch?” Jessica fumed. “They’re going to crash our prom.”
“Let them fucking try,” Bruce said.
Todd was comforting Ken, who was clutching his ribs. “I panicked,” Todd said. “All those times I’ve punched people – I can’t believe I froze.”
“I can,” Bruce said snidely. “You always were kind of a weenie, Wilkins.”
“We can’t let them get away with this!” Olivia cried. “Does anyone have a plan – a real plan – for dealing with these Big Mesa jerks, once and for all?”
Jessica glanced at Bruce. “Well, we do have a secret weapon,” she said.
“What?” Penny asked, wiping sand off her baby bump.
“Enid Rollins,” Jessica announced.
“You’ve got to be joking,” Sandra said, spitting another tooth into the sand.
“No, it’s true,” Bruce confirmed. “That bitch is crazy. Give her some meth and tell her Big Mesa’s after Elizabeth Wakefield, and she will take some motherfuckers out.”
* * *
Elizabeth’s twin sense was telling her Jessica was in trouble, but she tried to ignore it. “What is there to be afraid of?” Elizabeth asked herself out loud, shrugging off the chill that ran down her spine. “It’s a gorgeous day, the sun is out, and my best friend is about to come over and bake some cookies with me.”
As Elizabeth bustled around the kitchen, getting ready for her girls’ night in with Enid, she couldn’t help but wonder where Jessica was. Maybe I’ll call Lila’s house, she thought. At least that will make me feel better.
Elizabeth dialed Lila’s number and waited. After a few minutes without an answer, she hung up the receiver. She began to pace the floor and wonder why she cared about Jessica so much. After all, Jessica was a total bitch to her on a daily basis.
Elizabeth heard a car pull up outside and peered out the kitchen window. Her face fell when she realized it was just Enid.
Elizabeth greeted her friend with a solemn face.
“What’s wrong?” Enid cried, concerned. “Did someone hurt you? If they did, I’ll go after them. Really, I will.”
“No, it’s not that,” Elizabeth said. “It’s Jessica. I just have a feeling that something’s wrong with her.”
“There are a lot of things wrong with Jessica,” Enid said, counting each of Jessica’s faults on her fingers as she named them one by one. “Sociopathy, narcissism, irresponsibility, promiscuity–”
“I know all that,” Elizabeth said. “What I mean is, I feel like she’s in some sort of trouble.”
“Oh, Jessica’s always in some sort of trouble,” Enid said.
“I don’t know,” Elizabeth said, shaking her head. “I feel like she’s taking this Big Mesa thing too far, and I think it’s going to lead to something very serious.”
Enid started twitching. “Liz, let’s just get to baking, all right? I need something to do with my hands.”
“Of course,” Elizabeth said warmly, handing her friend a mixing bowl. “I’m sure Jessica will be fine. I shouldn’t be so worried about her.”
“She never worries about you,” Enid said darkly, opening a bag of flour. “You know, I could hurt her for you, I mean, only if you want me to.”
“No, that’s OK.” Elizabeth carefully measured out some chocolate chips. The sight of them repulsed her. “She is my twin. I love her, no matter what.”
Enid’s left eye involuntarily opened and closed. “I don’t have to love her,” she said. “In fact, I kind of hate her.”
“Enid, that’s not very nice,” Elizabeth said reproachfully. “I don’t let Jessica talk that way about you, even though she says you’re boring, and a drip, and ugly. And a drug addict. She’s also wondered about your sexuality on more than one occasion.”
“Oh,” Enid said, viciously digging into the bag of flour.
“But I told her you were completely asexual,” Elizabeth said.
“I am not asexual,” Enid said evenly.
“Really?” Elizabeth asked, tilting her head to one side. “I could have sworn you were.”
“Elizabeth, are you fucking blind?” Enid asked, her voice rising.
“Enid, you know full well that the only blind person we’ve ever had in Sweet Valley was Ken,” Elizabeth said. “And he was magically cured.”
“The scrapbook, the barrettes – Elizabeth, I love you,” Enid cried. “Haven’t you noticed? Or have you been too busy pretending to be in love with Todd?”
“I have not been pretending to be in love with Todd!” Elizabeth countered. “Have you seen how many times I’ve cheated on him?”
“Yes!” Enid shouted. “And I’ve been hoping that one day you’d cheat on him with me!”
Enid stepped back, breathing heavily, her hands balled into fists at her sides.
“Enid,” Elizabeth said gently, “maybe we should have this discussion when you’re not tweaked out of your mind.”
“You’ll never love me now, will you, Liz?” Enid said sadly. “Not with Bruce’s baby on the way.”
Elizabeth sighed in exasperation. “It’s not Bruce’s baby!” she said. “And don’t worry, Enid. There will be plenty of time for sexual exploration. Maybe when we go off to college. Or when I run off to England and become a wet nurse or something. Whenever I finally decide to lose my virginity, even though we all know I’m about as slutty as Jessica already.” She laid a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “But right now, I’m concerned with my baby. And the teen pregnancy prom. And writing up a really good article. And saving the world.”
“Well, then,” Enid said, her jaw set in a firm line, “let me know whenever you finally have some time for your so-called best friend.”
Elizabeth watched Enid leave. She then threw the remains of their cookie dough into the trash can and leaned against the counter, holding back a sob. I didn’t mean to get into a fight with my best friend, even if she is kind of creeping me out these days, what with the barrette assassinations and sudden romantic interest in me, Elizabeth thought. When did life get so complicated?
“Jessica!” Liz cried, running into the front hall. “What happened to you? Are you all right?”
“It’s nothing,” Jessica said. “I’ll be fine.”
Elizabeth put an arm around her twin’s shoulder. “Your bikini top looks like it’s been ripped to shreds,” she said, concerned. “Did you have a run-in with Bruce?”
Jessica shook her head. “Big Mesa.”
Elizabeth guided her twin to the kitchen table and sat her down. “Tell me everything,” she said.
“Liz, are you baking chocolate chip cookies?” Jessica said, eyeing the ingredients on the counter.
“I was,” Elizabeth said. “But Enid and I had a fight, so I threw away all the cookie dough.”
“You threw away cookie dough?” Jessica screeched. She jumped up from the table and started digging through the trash, emerging with a handful of dough that she began chewing on. “We were all at the beach, talking about Bruce’s asscrack, I don’t know, when out of nowhere, a huge gang of Big Mesa students came in and just swarmed us.”
“That’s awful,” Elizabeth said, taking a seat. “Is everyone OK?”
“Jean’s pretty cut up, and Winston has two black eyes, but we all made it out alive,” Jessica said. “I’m not so sure we’ll make it though the prom, though.”
“What do you mean?” Elizabeth asked, alarmed. She felt like her heart had taken a giant leap up into her throat.
“They’re going to crash our prom,” Jessica said. “And we have to be ready.”
Elizabeth shook her head. “Jess, this is getting out of hand,” she said. “Don’t you see, you’re the only one who can stop it?”
“Why would I want to stop it?” Jessica asked, narrowing her eyes. “I like watching those Big Mesa bitches get their asses handed to them.”
“Jessica, in a few short days, you’re going to be a parent,” Elizabeth said, gesturing to her sister’s stomach, which seemed to be growing by the second. “Don’t you want your baby to have a better future?”
Jessica rolled her eyes. “Don’t you think you’re being a little bit dramatic?”
“Jessica, if we don’t stop this war between Sweet Valley and Big Mesa, the world is going to end,” Elizabeth said.
“Riiiiiight,” Jessica said sarcastically. “And you like to say I’m the dumb one!”
“I can’t explain to you how I know, but you’ve got to believe me that it’s true,” Elizabeth said. “We have to bring peace to Sweet Valley.”
“And what’s going to happen if we don’t?” Jessica said. “The world just ends – poof – like that?”
“I’m not sure exactly how it will end,” Elizabeth said. “Maybe a huge earthquake that topples refrigerators and kills hippie teenagers. I don’t know.”
“Sounds boring to me,” Jessica said. “At least this fight with Big Mesa is exciting. And anyway, don’t worry about it. Bruce and I will take care of it.”
“Oh, good,” Elizabeth said, breathing a sigh of relief. “I knew you’d see things my way and stop the fight.”
“Stop the fight?” Jessica laughed. “No, we’re just going to unleash the most powerful killing machine Big Mesa’s ever seen – Enid Rollins.”
* * *
“Enid, it’s me,” Elizabeth said. “Please pick up the phone. OK, if you’re not going to pick up the phone, please give me a call as soon as you get this. It’s really important.”
She hung up the phone and stared at it, worried. She hoped she could get to Enid before Jessica and Bruce did. After five minutes, Elizabeth picked up the phone and dialed Enid’s number again.
“Enid? It’s me again. Elizabeth,” she said. “Listen, I know you’re upset with me, but I really, really need to talk to you. If you call me back, I’ll – I’ll let you touch my boob, all right? It’s already been tainted by the hands of Bruce Patman, so I guess I can give you that, at least–”
There was a loud, piercing buzz as Enid picked up the phone. “Really? You’ll really let me touch your boob?” she asked eagerly.
“Oh, hi, Enid,” Elizabeth said, laughing nervously. “You’re home. I wasn’t expecting you to actually pick up. Oh, wow, this is awkward…”
“It doesn’t have to be awkward, Liz,” Enid said quickly. “I’ll do anything you want me to. Anything.”
“Then don’t fight with anyone from Big Mesa,” Elizabeth said desperately. “Please, Enid.”
“Why would I fight with anyone from Big Mesa?” Enid asked. “I’m not fighting with anyone. Except you. Unless you let me touch your boob.”
“OK, Enid, this is getting weird,” Elizabeth said. “I was just kidding about the boob thing. This isn’t slash, you know?”
“What?” Enid said.
“I mean, the whole boob thing, it was just a trick,” Elizabeth said. “To get you to pick up the phone.”
“I can’t believe you, Elizabeth Wakefield!” Enid cried. “Why must you toy with my emotions? I may be a crackhead, but I have feelings!”
Elizabeth winced as Enid slammed down the phone. “So much for that tactic,” she said with a sigh.
* * *
“Only two more days until the prom!” Jessica squealed, cutting her French toast into thick slices. “I can’t wait!”
“Jessica, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about those boxes in the garage,” Mrs. Wakefield said, stirring some half-and-half into her coffee. “They’re leaking some sort of fluid. And they smell.”
“Elizabeth will get rid of them,” Jessica said, waving her fork in the air. “I don’t need them anymore.”
Elizabeth pursed her lips but didn’t say anything.
Her father sat down at the table and unfolded the paper. Elizabeth gasped when she saw the front page.
“Mr. Collins!” she exclaimed, snatching the newspaper right out of her father’s hands.
Quickly, she skimmed the article. Mr. Collins had been arrested following an anonymous tip that he had been having inappropriate relations with his students in violation of the sex offender registry act. The article was accompanied by a picture of Mr. Collins being led out of Sweet Valley High in handcuffs.
“Dad, you’ve got to do something!” Elizabeth cried. “The trial is tomorrow, and he doesn’t have an attorney.”
“Oh, I’m not a criminal defense lawyer,” Mr. Wakefield said, shaking his head. “And there’s no way to win that case. Anyone could tell you that guy’s a pervert. He calls here for you four, five times a week, wouldn’t you say, Alice?”
“At least,” said Mrs. Wakefield, nodding and taking a sip of her coffee.
“But he’s the best teacher at Sweet Valley High,” Elizabeth said. “And we can’t put out The Oracle without him.”
“I don’t know about that,” Jessica said, licking a string of maple syrup off her fork. “Penny Ayala’s kind of a hard ass. Especially since she got preg– I mean, fat.” She reached down and rubbed her shin where Elizabeth had kicked her.
“I’ll see what I can do,” Mr. Wakefield said. “But I can’t make any guarantees, Elizabeth.”
Elizabeth nodded gravely. She hoped someone could save Mr. Collins, before it was too late!
The entire school was abuzz with news of Mr. Collins’ arrest, as well as the previous afternoon’s brawl with Big Mesa.
“I just know it was those Big Mesa assholes who called in the ‘anonymous’ tip on Mr. Collins,” Jessica said to a group standing in front of the auditorium.
“To be fair, it could have been Suzanne Devlin,” Elizabeth said. Suzanne was some dumb bitch who had come to Sweet Valley on some sort of bunk-ass exchange program and accused Mr. Collins of grabbing her ass. Everyone in Sweet Valley was surprised when it was discovered that Mr. Collins was, for once, innocent.
“I can’t believe they’d stoop so low,” Jessica exploded.
“I can,” Bruce said grimly.
“Let’s not jump to conclusions,” Elizabeth warned. Her baby kicked in response, as if agreeing with her.
“Elizabeth’s right,” said Roger. “We don’t know what really happened.”
“We’d better go in and sit down,” Elizabeth said. “Mr. Cooper’s about to start the assembly any minute now.”
The group filed in and took seats in the front row. Todd sat next to Elizabeth and squeezed her hand. “I know Mr. Collins was special to you,” he whispered. “If there’s anything I can do for you, let me know.”
“Thanks, Todd,” Elizabeth whispered back, her eyes welling up with tears. “You’re a good friend.”
“Settle down, kids, settle down,” Mr. Cooper said, taking the stage and raising his hands for the students to be quiet. “As you probably already know by now, Mr. Collins was arrested this morning on suspicion of having inappropriate relationships with his students. While I’m sure Mr. Collins has conducted himself with the utmost professionalism during his tenure at Sweet Valley High, I need any students who believe otherwise to come forward so the school board can pay you off to keep quiet.”
Every female student in the auditorium raised her hand. “Christ, all of you?” Mr. Cooper exclaimed. After a minute, Bruce reluctantly raised his hand as well.
“Mr. Cooper, if I may?” Elizabeth asked, standing up and gesturing toward the stage.
“Of course, of course, Elizabeth,” Mr. Cooper said, stepping aside.
“Fellow students of Sweet Valley High,” Elizabeth began, her voice ringing out across the auditorium, “we know that what Mr. Collins did to us was sometimes wrong. But he’s the best teacher Sweet Valley High has got! Ken, remember when you turned in my paper for your English assignment and you never really got into any trouble? Well, you can thank Mr. Collins for that. And Emily Mayer, remember when you were being abused or something at home, only it wasn’t really that bad? It was Mr. Collins who reported your stepmom to child protective services. And Tom, remember who gave you a really creepy speech on how we’re at a really weird age when it comes to our sexuality and it’s OK to experiment with the peen? All right, bad example. My point is, Mr. Collins has helped each and every one of us when we’ve been in trouble. And now it’s up to us to help him!”
Elizabeth left the stage to thunderous applause. Bruce even gave her a standing ovation and a playful smack on the ass.
“Way to go, Elizabeth!” Winston yelled from the back of the auditorium.
“Yeah, way to go,” Jessica said sarcastically. “Are you sure you’re not just doing this to snag the title of prom queen?”
“Jessica!” Elizabeth exclaimed, shocked that her sister would even suggest such a thing. “Mr. Collins’ life is on the line here!”
“Oh, they’re not going to put him to death,” Jessica said breezily. “Cut off his genitals, maybe.”
“That’s what we should do to those Big Mesa freaks!” Bruce cried with glee.
“We are not cutting off the genitals of Big Mesa students,” Elizabeth said warningly.
“But you practically called for some sort of drastic action in your speech,” Jessica said as they left the auditorium.
“I called for justice for Mr. Collins,” Elizabeth said. “Not the continuation of a war with Big Mesa.”
“How do we get justice for Mr. Collins?” Roger asked. “It’s not like he’s actually innocent.”
“That’s true,” Jessica said. “We’d better hope the school board doesn’t perform a paternity test on all of our babies. I, personally, don’t have anything to worry about. But I know half of the girls in this school couldn’t find anyone better than Mr. Collins.”
“Jessica, I’ve told you before – Mr. Collins’ is an expert at the withdrawal method,” Elizabeth said. “There’s got to be some way we can prove he’s not a threat to any of us.”
Jessica snorted. “Good luck with that!”
“Well, I’m skipping school for the rest of the day and going down to the Sweet Valley Jailhouse to see Mr. Collins,” Elizabeth said. “Maybe there’s something he can tell us that will help get him out of there. Now, who’s with me?”
She was greeted with silence.
“I’m, uh, Robin and I have a very important cheerleading routine to teach the squad,” Jessica said. “Everyone’s center of balance is kind of off these days…”
“Chemistry test,” Roger said, apologetically. He slung a friendly arm over Elizabeth’s shoulder. “If anyone can help Mr. Collins, it’s you.”
“I got a date rape scheduled for noon, man,” Bruce said, hurrying off down the hall.
“Todd?” Elizabeth asked.
He shook his head. “I’ve been creeped out by the jail ever since I got thrown in there for repeatedly punching that guy from Palisades, even though the cops told me to stop,” he said, shuddering. “Brings back bad memories.”
“Fine, then!” Elizabeth said, now fueled by anger. “I’ll go by myself!”
* * *
“Enid!” Jessica called, hurrying down the hall toward her sister’s best friend. “Enid, wait up!”
“What do you want, Jessica?” Enid said witheringly, turning around to give Jessica the evil eye.
“Elizabeth’s in trouble,” Jessica said breathlessly, running to catch up with Enid. “It’s those guys from Big Mesa!”
“What guys from Big Mesa?” Enid asked sharply.
“Just some guys from Big Mesa,” Jessica said. “You know she thinks they’re the ones who called in the ‘tip’ about Mr. Collins, right? Well, she’s gone to Big Mesa to confront them!”
Enid shook her head. “That doesn’t sound like Elizabeth,” she said.
“I know,” Jessica said, clutching Enid’s arm. “But this whole thing with Mr. Collins has got her really upset. You know how much she admires him.”
“Loves him is more like it,” Enid said glumly.
“What’s wrong with you?” Jessica asked, suddenly intrigued.
“I’m in love with Elizabeth, Jessica,” Enid said. “I told her last night, but she didn’t take it very well.”
Jessica laughed raucously. “Of course she didn’t take it very well,” she said. “Enid, Liz isn’t gay!”
“I can’t help the way I feel,” Enid said, looking Jessica straight in the eye. “And if you weren’t such a bitch, maybe I’d try to get with you to feel as if I were with Elizabeth.”
Jessica quickly removed her hand from Enid’s arm and stepped back. “Look what I have,” she said, trying to change the subject. She pulled a small plastic baggie from her purse. Enid’s eyes lit up as she tried to snatch the bag out of Jessica’s grasp. “Ah, ah, ah,” Jessica said, pulling the bag up above her head. “You can have it when you’ve rescued Elizabeth from the big, bad boys of Big Mesa.”
“She won’t want me to rescue her,” Enid said, now shaking at being so close to her drug of choice.
“She does, deep down,” Jessica said. “I can sense it through our twin bond. And, if you rescue her and take out as many Big Mesa students as you can, I’m sure she’ll fall in love with you.”
“You really think so?” Enid asked eagerly.
“Of course,” Jessica said. “Now, go get as many of those Big Mesa assholes as you can!”
* * *
Mr. Jaworski had replaced Mr. Collins as the teacher of the reproductive health class, Lila noticed as she took her usual seat in Mr. Collins’ room. Jessica hurried in just as the bell rang and threw herself into the desk next to Lila, turning to give her friend a thumbs up.
Lila, who had no idea what Jessica was so wound up about, shrugged and opened up her notebook. Maybe Mr. Jaworski would give them some useful information today. Like what to do if your baby stays up all night, crying, she thought, lightly patting the bags under her eyes. I hope Daddy gets this baby mix-up straightened out soon.
“All right, girls,” Mr. Jaworski said, sitting down behind Mr. Collins’ desk. “I guess the first thing we’ll do is take attendance.” It took almost half an hour for Mr. Jaworski to call out all the names of the girls in the class, noting that Elizabeth was missing. “OK. Now that we’ve done that, let’s all read our textbooks quietly to ourselves.”
“But we don’t even have textbooks,” Amy said. “Mr. Collins usually just talks to us about his own experiences with the female reproductive system.”
“Well, I’m afraid I can’t do that,” said Mr. Jaworski, pushing his glasses up his nose.
“Because you don’t want to get arrested, like Mr. Collins?” Caroline asked.
“No,” Mr. Jaworski said, shifting uncomfortably in his seat, “because I’ve never been with a woman.”
Lila turned to Jessica and mouthed “Awkward!”
“You’ve never been with a woman?” Jessica asked loudly.
“Well, no,” Mr. Jaworski said, blushing.
“What about a man?” asked Dana Larson.
“No, of course not,” he said. “Girls, I think this line of questioning has gone far enough. How about we finish up class a little bit early today?”
“Well, that certainly worked in our favor,” Lila said, walking with Jessica out into the sunshine. “I’m tempted to skip class for the rest of the day. I could use a nap.” She yawned.
“I know, let’s go to the beach,” Jessica said. “We can nap and tan!”
* * *
“Mr. Collins!” cried Elizabeth, pressing her hands against the glass that separated them. “How awful!”
Even though Mr. Collins had only been in the Sweet Valley jail for a few hours, he already looked pale, gaunt and defeated. He listlessly sat down in a plastic chair and picked up the telephone receiver next to the window, under the watchful eye of a guard.
Elizabeth picked up her own receiver. “Mr. Collins! How are you holding up?”
“Not very well, Elizabeth, I’m afraid,” he said. “Thank you for coming to visit me.”
“Of course,” she said, taking in his orange jumpsuit, sunken eyes and greasy hair. “All the other kids at Sweet Valley High wanted me to tell you that we all support you, Mr. Collins.”
Mr. Collins managed a faint smile. “Thank you, Elizabeth. I really appreciate it.”
“And we’re doing everything we can to get you out of here,” she babbled on, trying to ignore the tattooed inmate one spot over who was making come sort of crude gesture at her, one that involved his tongue.
“My trial is tomorrow, Elizabeth,” he said sadly. “I hope there is some way to get me out of here.” He lowered his voice and subtly jerked his head at the tattooed man. “I’m already this guy’s bitch.”
Elizabeth gasped. “That’s awful!” she said.
“I just can’t imagine who would want to turn me in,” Mr. Collins said. “I thought all of you girls were happy with the attention I was giving you.”
“I think it’s Suzanne Devlin,” Elizabeth said earnestly. “But Jessica thinks it was someone from Big Mesa.”
Mr. Collins snapped his fingers. “Of course!” he said. “I knew nobody from Sweet Valley High would turn me in.”
Elizabeth nodded. “This has been going on for years, Mr. Collins,” she said. “I’m sure if it was anyone from Sweet Valley High, they would have turned you in ages ago.”
“But Big Mesa … Elizabeth, I have to tell you something,” Mr. Collins said. “Can you keep a secret?”
Elizabeth gave him a playful frown. “Mr. Collins, you’ve been touching me inappropriately for years. You know I can keep a secret.”
Mr. Collins smiled. “Remember how this whole mess got started?”
“Yes,” she said. “The girls from Big Mesa formed a pregnancy pact.”
“Exactly,” he said. “And, well, when I heard about it, I headed over to Big Mesa straight away. I thought I could offer some help.” He paused, taking a deep breath. “Elizabeth, I’m the one who impregnated 75 underage girls.”
Elizabeth gasped. “All of them?”
Mr. Collins nodded. “All of them. I didn’t want to say anything, because I’m aware of the huge rivalry between Big Mesa and Sweet Valley High,” he said. “But I didn’t expect it to get so out of hand – and I didn’t expect the girls at Sweet Valley to get so swept up in the teen pregnancy craze. Don’t get me wrong – it’s been great. Until now.”
“So you really think that one of those girls from Big Mesa turned you in?” Elizabeth said, not realizing her left hand had unconsciously balled into a tight fist.
“That’s the way it looks,” Mr. Collins said.
“Well, fuck this shit,” Elizabeth said grimly. “I was trying to stop a war between Sweet Valley and Big Mesa, but things have just gotten a lot more personal!”
* * *
Lila dropped her beach bag just inside the front door and climbed the stairs up to her bedroom. Refreshed from her nap and in a better mood than she had been in days, she realized she was actually looking forward to seeing her baby.
“Hello,” she sang out as she entered her room. But there was no sound to greet her, no crying or laughing or babbling. “Baby? Where are you?”
She had made a crude crib on the floor out of throw pillows and silk blankets before she left for school, but the baby wasn’t in it. Startled, Lila felt her dark heart grow three sizes as she realized she was actually worried about the infant.
“Calm down, Lila,” she said to herself. “It’s going to be OK. He couldn’t have gone very far.”
But as she searched Fowler Crest and failed to find any sign of the baby, Lila’s panic surfaced again.
“Where are you?” she cried out loud. “Oh, please, please don’t be lost!”
“Lila, is that you?” a voice called from the study.
“Daddy?” Lila asked, cracking open the door. “You’re back from Paris already?”
“I caught an earlier flight,” he said, crossing the room to give his only daughter a stiff, impersonal hug.
“Daddy, I can’t find the baby anywhere,” Lila said. “Did Eva take him out?”
“You said they sent the wrong one, didn’t you? I had Eva drop him off at the post office. Your new baby should be arriving tomorrow,” Mr. Fowler said. “The adoption agency said they were terribly sorry about the mix-up.”
Lila’s eyes widened. “Do you think I can still catch Eva?” she asked, hurrying toward the door. “I think I’ve changed my mind!”
* * *
Enid’s heart was in her throat as she got closer and closer to Big Mesa. I’ve killed before for Elizabeth, she reminded herself. I can do it again.
She pulled her car into a parking spot downtown and tried to determine the best course of action. At this time of the afternoon, most of Big Mesa High’s students would be at school, engaged in all sorts of after-school activities. Still others would be grabbing a burger and a milkshake at Big Mesa’s local hangout, the Fairi Burger. She decided to head there first.
Locking her car, Enid dashed across the street to the diner. It looked suspiciously like Sweet Valley’s own Dairi Burger, but douchier. She hoped no one would recognize her as a Sweet Valley High student.
The restaurant was relatively quiet, with groups of students sitting here and there, sharing a plate of fries or a thick milkshake. “Holy shit,” Enid said under her breath. “Everyone in here is pregnant.”
“Enid!” a voice called from across the restaurant. She slowly turned around.
“Hugh,” she said, putting on a fake smile and joining him at a booth. Thank goodness he’s by himself, she thought.
“What are you doing here?” Hugh asked his girlfriend. “I wasn’t expecting to see you until tomorrow.”
“Oh, I, uh, ran out early,” she said, picking up his crumpled straw wrapper and playing with it. “It’s been a stressful week, so I’ve been smoking a lot.”
“Well, shit, baby,” Hugh said, running a finger over Enid’s cheek. “I don’t have anything on me right now.”
Enid shuddered at Hugh’s touch but tried not to let it show. “That’s OK,” she said. “Hey, have you seen Elizabeth?”
“Elizabeth Wakefield?” Hugh asked.
“Of course Elizabeth Wakefield,” she snapped.
Hugh shrugged. “Not since last time we all went to the movies or did something else equally boring,” he said.
“I heard she was coming out here to confront some guys from Big Mesa over Mr. Collins’ arrest,” Enid said. “Are you sure you haven’t seen her?”
“Yes, I’m sure,” Hugh said, gently kissing Enid’s cheek. “How is it that I’m not repulsed by you, like all the other guys around here?”
“I don’t know,” Enid said, pulling away. “Listen, I’ve got to find Elizabeth. She could be in serious danger!”
“I’m sure she’s fine,” Hugh said.
“Hugh, I like Elizabeth,” she said. “I don’t want anything bad to happen to her.”
“Well, I like her, too, baby. She’s a nice girl.”
“No, I mean I like like her,” Enid said. “More like I’m obsessed with her.”
“What?” Hugh said loudly, taken aback by Enid’s admission. “I always thought it was kind of weird that all you wanted to do on dates was park outside of the Wakefields’ attractive split-level ranch, smoke crack and gaze up at Elizabeth’s window, but I didn’t think you actually had feelings for her!”
“Well, I do,” Enid said hotly.
“I don’t believe this,” Hugh said slowly. “Are you breaking up with me?”
“I guess so,” Enid said. “If you’re making me choose between you and Liz, I choose Elizabeth.”
“You bitch!” Hugh spat. “I suppose you’re going to buy all your meth from Elizabeth now, too?”
“Of course not,” Enid said, tugging on her hair. “I’m still going to buy from you. I’m just not going to pay you in sexual favors anymore.”
“That’s not going to work for me, Enid,” Hugh said, his face darkening. “And I’m afraid I’m going to have to sound the alarm that we have a Sweet Valley bitch in our midst.”
“Hugh, no,” Enid gasped, jumping up.
Hugh stood on the table. “Attention, everyone! This bitch right here is from Sweet Valley High!”
Enid’s eyes widened in horror as a mob of Big Mesa students headed toward her, screaming and brandishing stainless steel cutlery. She dodged one or two slow pregnant girls, then aimed a high roundhouse kick at a huge guy, who fell to the ground, screaming. Running for the door, Enid grabbed a root beer bottle off a table and smashed it against a petite girl’s head, breaking it off into a jagged weapon. She used it to fend off several more boys and backed up to the door.
“Which one of you bitches wants to get shanked next?” Enid screamed. She backed out of the door, then, once she was safely outside of the Fairi Burger, sprinted toward her car.
“That was close,” she said, catching her breath and leaning her head against the steering wheel. She could only hope she would find Elizabeth soon.
* * *
Jessica hummed to herself as she relaxed in a long, leisurely bath. The water barely covered her pregnant stomach, but she didn’t even mind the cool air raising goosebumps across it.
“Enid’s so fucking stupid,” she said out loud, laughing to herself. “But thanks to her, we’ll finally be rid of those Big Mesa bitches once and for all.”
And then, the only thing standing in Jessica’s way of being crowned prom queen was Elizabeth. But she’ll be easy enough to take care of, Jessica thought. A little bit of meth and she’ll be tweaking so hard, there’s no way anyone will vote for her!
There was a knock at the bathroom door. “Jess?” Elizabeth said through the door. “Are you in there?”
“Yeah, I’m just taking a bath,” Jessica said. “You can come in, if you want.” Elizabeth cracked open the door and stood in the doorway. “Well, come in and shut the door!” Jessica shrieked. “You’re letting all the steam out!”
Elizabeth coughed as she shut the door behind her. “Aren’t you burning up in here?”
“Not really,” Jessica said, closing her eyes and relaxing into the bubbles surrounding her.
“Well, you were right,” Elizabeth said grimly. “It was someone from Big Mesa who ratted out Mr. Collins.”
“Oh, that’s terrible,” Jessica said, sounding as if she didn’t really mean it. “Can you pass me the bubble bath?”
Elizabeth handed the bottle to Jessica, who unceremoniously dumped most of it into the water. “You know, I’m supposed to stop the war between Sweet Valley and Big Mesa, but this makes me so angry, I just want to go down there and take them out myself.”
“No need, Liz,” Jessica said, waving her hand. “Enid’s on it.”
“Yes, Enid,” Jessica said. “You saw what she did to Rick Andover.”
“Yeah, but, Enid’s not really like that, Jess. Rick startled her, that’s all,” Elizabeth said.
“Enid’s like that for a little bit of speed,” Jessica said. “I bribed her.”
“You did what?” Elizabeth tried to cross her arms defiantly over her chest, but her swollen stomach and breasts made the gesture difficult.
Jessica shrugged. “I told her to go down to Big Mesa and take care of them for me,” she said. “Oh, come on, don’t look at me like that. Bruce was useless, so I had to get someone with some real balls.”
“Jessica, you’ve sent Enid on a suicide mission!”
“I just told her you were in trouble and needed rescuing,” Jessica said matter-of-factly. “That and a bump was all it took. Honestly, don’t look so surprised.”
Elizabeth stood staring at her twin, her mouth wide open. “I can’t believe you,” she said finally. “This has got to be one of the lowest, most underhanded things you’ve ever done–”
“I could name 137 more just off the top of my head,” Jessica offered. “Oh, and I might have told Enid that you might, you know, make out with her or something if she kills everyone in Big Mesa.”
“I’m going to find Enid,” Elizabeth said sharply, turning on her heel. “And you had better hope that when I do, she’s still alive.”
Lila raced through the streets of Sweet Valley in her lime-green Triumph. She had to find Eva before the baby was shipped back to Africa!
She ran a red light, then made a sharp left turn. The post office wouldn’t be open much longer, Lila realized. “Hang on, little baby,” she said out loud. “Mama’s on her way.”
The Triumph’s brakes squealed loudly as Lila pulled into a space and threw the car into park, jumping out without turning off the engine. She ran as fast as she could to the glass doors of the post office. “Almost there,” she panted, leaping for the door handle just as Eva came through it on the other side, knocking Lila to the ground.
“Miss Lila?” Eva asked in heavily accented English. “What are you doing here?”
“I’ve come to get the baby back,” Lila said, holding out a hand to Eva so she could be helped up. “You haven’t shipped him yet, have you?”
“Oh, no, Miss Lila,” Eva said, her face falling. “I just now sent him off.”
“Crap!” Lila exclaimed, pulling on the door handle. But it was no use. “Locked? But I’m Lila fucking Fowler!”
“They just closed, Miss Lila,” Eva said. “But you are getting another baby tomorrow. Isn’t that what you wanted?”
“I want this baby,” Lila said, her hand pressed against the door. Inside, the lights of the post office clicked off one by one. She couldn’t see a single person behind the counter.
“It will be OK,” Eva said, gently placing a hand on Lila’s shoulder. “We will go home and I will make you a special chocolate cake, OK? That will make you feel better.”
“No, it won’t,” Lila said, a lone tear slipping down her cheek. “Eva, we’ve got to get him back!”
“But the post office is closed,” Eva reasoned. “They are already sending him back.”
Lila turned around, sniffling back a sob. “No, they aren’t,” she vowed. “If I have to blow these doors off their freakin’ hinges, I’m getting him back.”
* * *
Enid lay in wait under a clump of bushes on the very edge of Big Mesa High School’s parking lot. She would wait until the cheerleaders and football, soccer and tennis players left practice and walked out to their cars, then pick them off one by one. She still had the broken root beer bottle and Elizabeth’s trusty barrette by her side. She’d also sharpened a ballpoint pen into a homemade shank.
She heard a high-pitched giggle and peered out from between the leaves. Two girls with tennis rackets were cutting across the parking lot, laughing and rubbing their ample stomachs. There didn’t seem to be anyone else around. A perfect opportunity to get rid of two at once! Enid thought. She closed a fist around the homemade shank and crept out of the bushes.
But behind her, Enid heard a male voice calling out to the girls, and she quickly ducked back into her hiding place. Sure, I could take on all three of them, she thought, but I don’t want to draw too much attention to myself. Ten minutes passed before her next opportunity presented itself, Big Mesa’s equivalent of Winston Egbert, who went down without much of a fight.
She kept an eye on the entire parking lot, but things were unusually quiet. Maybe word got out about my brawl at the Fairi Burger, Enid thought, suddenly worried. What if they’re all out here hunting me?
A familiar-looking car took a hard left turn into the Big Mesa High parking lot, and Enid felt her heart jump into her throat when she realized whose car it was. The Wakefield twins’ Jeep! It’s got to be Jessica, though. Maybe she found Elizabeth before I could. Maybe Elizabeth is safe!
The Jeep slowed down and crawled through Big Mesa’s parking lot, as if its driver was searching for Enid. She wanted desperately to jump out from her hiding place and run to the Jeep, to see if it was Jessica or Elizabeth who had come for her, but a couple of big, burly football players had just left the football field and were on their way out to their cars.
The Jeep stopped and its driver stepped out of the car. Enid’s heart skipped a beat when she realized it was Elizabeth, and not Jessica, who had come to her rescue. The outdated hairstyle and matronly clothes had given her away. But no sooner had Enid spotted Elizabeth than the two football players had, too.
“Looks like we got some bitch from Sweet Valley in our territory,” one of the football players said to the other as they advanced menacingly on Elizabeth.
“Please, I don’t mean any harm,” Elizabeth said. “I’m just looking for a friend.”
The second football player snorted. “Did you hear that, Randy? I guess she’s looking for that crackhead who tore up the Fairi Burger.”
“Enid did what?” Elizabeth asked, alarm evident on her face.
“I guess you’re that dumb cheerleader from Sweet Valley, right?” Randy said, pushing Elizabeth.
Enid bit her tongue, willing herself to stay concealed until she had a clear shot at taking both of them down. I can’t stand to see them torturing Elizabeth, she thought angrily, a fist closing around the barrette.
“I’m not a cheerleader,” Elizabeth said indignantly. “I’m a journalist!”
“Oh, yeah, you’re the boring one,” Randy said. “I remember now.”
They both closed in on Elizabeth, and Enid couldn’t hold in her rage for one more second. She ran out of the bushes, screaming “Die! Die, die, die, you Big Mesa bastards!”
In one quick move, she tossed the shank to Elizabeth, who caught it and stabbed Randy in the throat as if she’d been in prison all her life. That manslaughter trial scare over Sam Woodruff’s death must have given Elizabeth incredible insight on using homemade weapons, Enid thought proudly.
She swung the broken root beer bottle at the other boy’s head, relishing in the feel of glass hitting bone. “Elizabeth!” Enid said breathlessly as she kicked him in the balls. “You’re all right!”
“Of course I’m all right,” Elizabeth said, grinning as she pushed Randy’s face into the concrete. “I was never in trouble.”
“You weren’t?” Enid asked, quickly checking to make sure her adversary wasn’t still breathing. “But Jessica said–”
“Here’s a lesson you should have learned by now: Nothing Jessica says is true,” Elizabeth said. “Come on, let’s get out of here!”
Although Enid wouldn’t have minded taking out a few more Big Mesa football players, if only to feel the adrenaline rush, she hopped in the Jeep and Elizabeth floored it out of the parking lot, leaving a thick layer of rubber on the pavement.
“Thanks, Liz,” Enid said softly, looking down at her bruised and bloodied hands, now folded demurely in her lap.
“Thank you, Enid,” Elizabeth said, winking at her friend. She reached into her jacket pocket and tossed Enid a small baggie.
“No fucking way!” Enid said, tearing into the bag. “I hope you don’t mind if I snort this right here in your car.”
“No problem,” Elizabeth said. “You deserve it.”
Elizabeth sped back toward Sweet Valley as Enid’s high kicked in. She now understood her tweaker friend just a little bit more. And maybe, Elizabeth thought, recalling the feel of Big Mesa blood flowing over her hands, I could take a trick or two from Enid’s book.
* * *
“Oh, no, Miss Lila,” Eva said, looking worried and wringing her hands. “I no think we should do this.”
“Well, I do,” Lila said, determination showing on her pretty face. “Step back, Eva.”
In one swift motion and with strength she didn’t even know she had, Lila had kicked in the glass doors of the Sweet Valley post office, her designer stiletto heel slicing through the glass like butter.
“Mama’s coming, sweetheart!” she cried, stepping over the broken glass and entering the post office lobby. From somewhere in the building, Lila could hear the baby crying. It was muffled from the box, but she could tell it was definitely her baby.
Lila hurried toward the sound. She knew there wasn’t much time until the police would show up, but the Sweet Valley Police Department wasn’t much of a threat, she reasoned. If she couldn’t talk or buy her way out of trouble, she could blow her way out.
A mountain of boxes was stacked behind the counter, and Lila leapt over it as if it were an Olympic hurdle she had to clear. Knocking over several boxes, she finally uncovered one with tiny breathing holes punched out of it that was emitting the heart-wrenching sounds of her baby crying for her. Lila swiftly tore open the box and lifted out her son. He was teary-eyed, but otherwise OK.
“I have you back!” she cried, hugging him to her chest. “I’ll never try to return you or exchange you for comparable merchandise ever again!”
* * *
Jessica unzipped the garment bag to reveal her prom dress and sighed with pleasure. It’s perfect. Just perfect, she thought. She idly ran a hand over the pale pink fabric. It was short and tight, made of a stretchy fabric that would cling to every single one of her newfound curves.
She had already taken a peek at Elizabeth’s prom dress, and there was only one word that could sum it up. Boring! Jessica thought. It falls almost all the way to her ankles! And what is up with the high neck and long sleeves?
“But this dress,” Jessica sighed happily, “is fit for a queen.”
She held it up to her body and twirled around her room as if she were dancing her first dance as prom queen. She couldn’t wait for tomorrow night, when she would finally prove that she was the most popular, most desirable, most fertile girl at Sweet Valley High.
“Jessica?” Elizabeth said softly, knocking at her twin’s door. “Can I come in? We need to talk.”
“Uh, hang on a second,” Jessica said, hastily shoving the dress back in her closet. “OK, come in.”
“Jessica,” Elizabeth said, her hands on her hips. “I got to Enid before Big Mesa did.”
“Oh, good,” Jessica said breezily. “I trust she got rid of most of them?”
“A few,” Elizabeth said, casting her eyes downward and catching sight of a huge pile of Jessica’s crusty, unwashed underwear on the floor. “I got rid of one as well.”
“Just one?” Jessica cried, anguished. “But you’re an overachiever!”
“I got rid of one, and I want to get rid of more,” Elizabeth said, moving her gaze up to look her twin straight in the eye. “After what they did to Mr. Collins, I’m ready to wipe Big Mesa off the face of the earth. And I have a plan.”
“A plan?” Jessica asked skeptically. “No offense, Liz, but I’m the master schemer around here, remember?”
“I know,” Elizabeth confessed. “That’s why I need your help.”
“I could help you, Liz, but it’s going to cost you,” Jessica said solemnly.
“What?” Elizabeth asked warily.
“One prom queen title,” Jessica said, holding out her hand.
“You’ve got it,” Elizabeth said, shaking her sister’s hand. “Now, here’s what I have in mind…”
* * *
Practically everyone in Sweet Valley had gathered at the courthouse for Mr. Collins’ trial. Mr. Wakefield had agreed to represent the teacher, and Steven, looking forward to spending more time at home, was helping his father with the trial.
Elizabeth and Jessica sat next to their mother in the front row, Elizabeth anxiously clutching her sister’s arm. Jessica seemed bored, but had agreed to come along for moral support and to skip school. Most of Sweet Valley High’s student body had turned out for the trial, including Bruce, who seemed unusually absorbed in the proceedings.
“Mr. Collins is my idol,” he whispered to Elizabeth from behind. “I want to know how he does it.”
“How he does what?” Elizabeth whispered back over her shoulder.
“How he bags so many hot, underage chicks, man!”
Elizabeth shrugged. “Well, he does look like a young Robert Redford,” she said.
The judge, an ancient man who looked like he was about to fall asleep, shuffled into the courtroom. The bailiff called for everyone in the courtroom to rise. As Mr. Collins stood up, he looked over his shoulder at Elizabeth, who gave him an encouraging smile.
“The prosecution calls Roger Collins to the stand,” said the district attorney.
“Can they do that?” Jessica whispered to Elizabeth. “That seems really fucking wrong.”
“Of course they can do that,” Elizabeth said. “Remember when I had to testify against myself in violation of my fifth amendment rights during my vehicular manslaughter trial?”
“I don’t know,” Jessica whispered back. “I wasn’t there. We were fighting, remember?”
“That’s right,” Elizabeth nodded. “Thank goodness that psycho Margo came to Sweet Valley so you and I could rekindle our sisterly bond.”
As Mr. Collins took the stand and was sworn in, Elizabeth could see a flicker of nervousness pass over her once confident teacher’s face.
“Mr. Collins, do you remember molesting hundreds of young girls over a fifteen-year period?” the district attorney asked.
“I don’t know,” Mr. Collins said. “I don’t remember.”
“Do you remember, Mr. Collins, drinking alcohol before molesting these young girls?” the district attorney said.
“I – I don’t,” Mr. Collins said. “Although I guess I must have, since my blood tested positive for alcohol.”
“And do you remember knocking up 75 teenage girls from Big Mesa High School IN ONE NIGHT?” the prosecutor asked, yelling into Mr. Collins’ face.
“I don’t remember,” Mr. Collins cried, putting his head in his hands. “I don’t remember!”
“Stop it!” Elizabeth cried, jumping to her feet. “Just stop it!”
“Elizabeth, shut the fuck up and sit down,” Mr. Wakefield muttered through clenched teeth.
The bailiff made a move toward Elizabeth, his handcuffs drawn.
“I know who did it!” she said passionately. “I know who did it, and it wasn’t Mr. Collins!”
The bailiff looked at the judge, who shrugged.
“The prosecution calls Elizabeth Wakefield to the stand,” the district attorney said, clearly annoyed.
As Elizabeth passed Mr. Collins on her way up to the stand, they exchanged a warm smile. “It’s going to be all right,” she whispered to him.
Elizabeth took a seat, smoothing down her skirt over her engorged stomach. She raised her right hand and swore to tell the truth.
“All right, then, Miss Wakefield, who did it?” the district attorney asked. “Who could have possibly impregnated hundreds of young women in Sweet Valley and Big Mesa?”
“God,” Elizabeth said confidently. Everyone in the courtroom gasped.
“It seems we have a surprise witness,” Mr. Wakefield said. “Thank Christ.”
“You see, I am one of the pregnant teenagers in Sweet Valley,” Elizabeth said to even more gasps.
“You’re what?” her mother cried. “Elizabeth, when did this happen?”
“I know you didn’t notice, Mom, Dad,” Elizabeth said, nodding toward each of her parents. “And I was really too frightened to tell either one of you.”
“We just thought you were putting on a little bit of weight,” Mr. Wakefield said, shaking his head in wonder.
“Jessica’s pregnant, too,” Elizabeth said, pointing to her sister. No one in the courtroom seemed surprised by that piece of news.
“Now, Jessica, I would have expected,” said Mrs. Wakefield. “Still, I hadn’t really noticed.”
“Mom, I’ve put on, like 137 pounds,” Jessica complained. “I’m almost as big as Lizzie.”
“Well, you are identical twins,” Mrs. Wakefield said thoughtfully.
“Order in the court!” the judge yelled, banging his gavel, even though there wasn’t really any need to call the court to order.
“Miss Wakefield, could you please tell the court how you came to believe that God was impregnating all these young girls?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes, sir,” Elizabeth said. “A few weeks ago, I had a dream. In that dream, an angel appeared to me and told me I would give birth to the second coming of Christ. The next day, I started exhibiting symptoms of pregnancy, and, well, here we are.”
“So it is your opinion, then, Miss Wakefield, that young women in Sweet Valley and Big Mesa who are experiencing the same condition were not, in fact, molested by Mr. Collins, but were impregnated by a deity?” asked the district attorney.
“That’s right,” Elizabeth said. “Anyone who knows Mr. Collins knows he’s a little bit pervy, but he’s an excellent English teacher – and an excellent reproductive health teacher, as well.”
“Well, I believe her,” the district attorney said to Mr. Wakefield, shrugging. “Judge, I ask that all charges against Roger Collins be dismissed.”
“Yeah, whatever,” the judge said, banging his gavel and leaving the courtroom.
“Elizabeth, you did it!” Mr. Collins said, picking up Elizabeth and twirling her around in an inappropriate fashion. “I don’t know how you came up with the religious angle, but it worked perfectly!”
He moved in as if to kiss his star student, but was interrupted by a tap on the shoulder from Mr. Wakefield.
“Mr. Collins, as your attorney, I would strongly advise you not to kiss a 16-year-old girl in the same courtroom where you were just acquitted of child molestation.”
On Saturday morning, Lila packed up the baby in his stroller and took him to Lisette’s to find the perfect outfit for his debut at the Sweet Valley High prom.
“We need to come up with a name for you,” she cooed to the little boy, who smiled widely in response. “Something perfect. Something … rich.”
She pushed the stroller between the aisles of clothing, but Lisette’s didn’t seem to stock any baby clothes.
“Excuse me,” Lila said sharply to one of the saleswomen, a long-necked and snooty looking woman in her 60s. “Where are your baby clothes?”
“Baby clothes?” the woman said, a snide grin creeping across her face. “We don’t carry baby clothes.”
“Since when?” Lila demanded. “I shop here every week, and I know I’ve seen baby clothes before.”
“We have never carried baby clothes,” the woman said haughtily. “Now, I suggest you take that – thing – and get out of here before he touches a 1,500-dollar dress with his grubby little hands.”
“Do you know who I am?” Lila demanded, getting up in the woman’s face. “Do you know who I fucking am?”
“I really don’t care,” the woman said. One of her co-workers, who had been watching the tail end of the exchange, came over and urgently whispered something in her ear. The woman’s expression quickly changed from one of superiority to one of embarrassment. “Oh, you’re George Fowler’s daughter,” she gushed. “I’m terribly sorry about our little … misunderstanding.” She took Lila’s arm and guided her away from the stroller. “I’ll help you pick out a dress, on the house. It’s the Sweet Valley High prom this weekend, isn’t it? Oh, but I must be mistaken – surely a Fowler wouldn’t attend a public school. You must go to Lovett Academy?”
Lila wrestled her arm away from the crusty old bitch. “I don’t need your help,” she said nastily. “Besides, I already have my prom dress – and it’s from Bibi’s.”
The woman gasped. “But, Miss Fowler–”
“Now, if you’ll excuse me,” Lila said, grabbing the stroller, “I’ll be going over to Bibi’s to see if they can dress my son for his big debut.”
* * *
“Everything’s all set,” Elizabeth said, taping up the last of the pink and blue streamers in the gym. “Thanks for your help, Jessica.”
Jessica, who was seated on the bleachers as she had been all afternoon, just shrugged. “It was nothing, Liz. I just told you what to do.”
“Are you excited for the big night?” Elizabeth asked, sitting next to her twin and flinging an arm over her shoulders.
“I guess so,” Jessica said, pointedly removing Elizabeth’s arm.
“Why are you suddenly acting all emo?” Elizabeth demanded. “You live for this kind of shit.”
“I’m not emo,” Jessica snapped. “I’m hormonal.”
“I guess that’s to be expected,” Elizabeth said. “It’s normal to have some crazy emotions during pregnancy.”
“Do you think this kid is really going to come out tonight? I don’t think I can stand being size 8 much longer,” Jessica said, frowning.
Elizabeth shrugged. “It looks like we’ll all be giving birth tonight, but remember, everyone is different. Just because the books said we’d all be due by the next big dance, it doesn’t mean it’s actually going to happen.”
“I just feel so fat, you know?” Jessica said. She reached into her purse for a chocolate bar and unwrapped it, pausing slightly to examine it before shoving the whole thing in her mouth.
“It won’t be for very much longer,” Elizabeth said, soothing her sister. “And anyway, think about what else we have to look forward to tonight: You being crowned prom queen and the unprecedented slaughter of hundreds of Big Mesa students!”
“You’re right!” Jessica said, immediately brightening up. “I totally forgot!”
“How could you have forgotten?” Elizabeth asked with a laugh. “The details of the plot to kill everyone in Big Mesa were your idea!”
Jessica grinned. “Well, you did come to the right place,” she said.
“So,” Elizabeth said, wresting her notebook from her cleavage, which had by now grown to unbelievably large proportions, “let’s go over this checklist one last time. Decorations?”
“Check,” Jessica said coolly.
“And The Droids are all set for tonight, right?”
“I guess so,” Jessica answered.
“Tickets?” Elizabeth asked, scribbling in her notebook.
“Sold out,” Jessica replied in a bored tone. “Winston and Maria will be taking them at the door, blah, blah, blah. Everything’s all set for tonight. Can we get home already? I’m only going to have six hours to get ready, and that’s cutting it close.”
“OK, hang on a sec, Jess. There are only a couple more items to go over.” Elizabeth made some more notes. “Crown for the prom queen?”
“Crown for me, you mean,” Jessica said. “I’m planning on just wearing it over here.”
“Jessica,” Elizabeth said, looking up from her notes and frowning at her sister, “it would be really kind of us to at least give the appearance that a non-Wakefield has a shot at winning the title.”
“Don’t push me, Liz,” Jessica said warningly.
“One more thing. Explosive devices?”
Jessica nodded firmly. “All armed and ready,” she said.
For once, Elizabeth looked anxious. “What if they don’t work?” she fretted.
“They have to work,” Jessica said. “I got Randy Mason to build them for me, and he’s a computer geek.”
“How did you convince him to do that?” Elizabeth asked.
Jessica rolled her eyes. “Have you ever heard of flashing your boobs?”
“Remember, as soon as you’re crowned prom queen at 10 o’clock, we have to get everyone from Sweet Valley High out of the gym,” Elizabeth said. “Don’t leave anyone behind.”
“What about the babies, do they count?” Jessica asked. “To be honest, I haven’t really thought much about what I’m going to do with mine after prom is over.”
“Of course the babies count,” Elizabeth said. “Jessica, you really should have thought this through. Having a baby is not like having a puppy. We can neglect Prince Albert and he somehow manages to pop up every few months when it’s convenient to the story. You can’t do that with a baby.”
* * *
Elizabeth sprayed a little bit of perfume on her wrists, adjusted her barrettes and stepped back to admire herself in the mirror. She looked perfect. The baby blue lace and high neck really set off her eyes.
As she was hurrying downstairs, the doorbell rang. “I’ll get it,” she called.
“Todd!” she said, opening the door. “Come on in.”
“Thanks, Elizabeth,” he said, presenting her with a single red rose. As he stepped into the house, Elizabeth noticed someone else was lurking in the shadows – Ken. And he was holding a tiny infant.
“Ken?” Elizabeth asked, confused. “Are you taking Jessica to the dance?”
“No,” Todd answered for Ken. “He’s taking us to the dance.”
“What do you mean?” Elizabeth asked. “And whose baby is that?”
“We’re going as a triad,” Ken said, stepping into the Wakefields’ foyer. “If that’s all right with you.”
“Of course,” Elizabeth said.
“The baby is ours – mine and Ken’s,” Todd said, beaming. “Her name is Hannah.”
“But how? Mr. Collins never covered same-sex reproduction,” Elizabeth said, furrowing her brow. “Maybe we just never got around to studying it.”
“Dana Larson agreed to be a surrogate for us,” Todd explained. “She gave birth this morning.” He took the baby from Ken. “And now I have an even better chance of becoming prom queen!”
“That’s really great,” Elizabeth said sincerely. “Congratulations, you guys.”
“Thank you,” Ken said, blushing slightly.
“Does Jessica need a ride?” Todd asked.
Elizabeth shook her head. “Not unless you want to wait 45 more minutes to leave for the prom. She’s nowhere near ready.”
They trooped out to Todd’s BMW and Todd strapped Hannah into her seat. On the way to the prom, she quickly fell asleep.
“Remember, you guys, after Jess – I mean, Todd – is crowned queen, get the hell out of the gym,” Elizabeth said. “And make sure Hannah is with you. Shit’s about to get real with Big Mesa.”
“Got it,” Ken said.
Inside, the gym was lit with a soft glow that emanated from the seven-foot-tall fetus Olivia had constructed out of paper mache and Christmas lights. “It’s beautiful,” Elizabeth breathed, taking in the full effect.
“You did a great job, Elizabeth,” Ken said. “You might give Todd a run for his money in the battle for prom queen!”
“Oh, no,” Elizabeth softly protested. “I’m withdrawing from the race.”
“Without Jessica getting you secretly plastered?” Todd asked, surprised.
“Let’s just say we made a deal,” Elizabeth answered. “Here, give Hannah to me. You and Ken should go dance your first dance!”
“Are you sure?” Todd asked.
“Yes,” Elizabeth said, taking the baby from him. “Go! Have fun!”
“Make sure you take good care of her,” Todd said. He reluctantly let go of his new daughter. “She really likes to be rocked. And if she starts crying, come and get me right away.”
Elizabeth gave him a withering look. “Todd, go dance!”
Turning away from the dance floor, Elizabeth watched The Droids onstage, Dana working herself into an energetic frenzy that didn’t seem to match the sluggishness of a sea of pregnant teenagers swaying on the dance floor. It was hard to believe she’d given birth to Hannah just that morning. Maybe that part won’t be so bad after all, Elizabeth thought, still not comprehending how something Hannah’s size could drop out of her hoo-ha.
“Elizabeth! Elizabeth!” Lila shouted over the music. Elizabeth turned to see where Lila was.
“Lila!” she called, raising a hand in greeting.
“Have you seen Jessica yet?” Lila asked. In her hands, she was holding a cute little boy with a big smile.
“I don’t think she’s here yet,” Elizabeth said. She bounced Hannah to the beat of the music. “So, that’s the little boy you adopted?”
“Yes,” Lila said proudly. “Rich. Well, actually Richard, but you know how much I love money, so isn’t that the cutest nickname?”
“Sure,” Elizabeth said.
“Well, you’re still size eight, so I know that baby’s not yours,” Lila sniffed.
“No, she’s Todd’s. And Ken’s,” Elizabeth said, glancing at The Droids’ lead singer. “And, Dana’s as well, I guess.”
“Oh,” Lila said condescendingly. “Well, when you see Jessica, tell her to come find me, OK? I can’t wait to show off little Rich!”
“Sure, Lila,” Elizabeth said. “I’ll be sure to tell her.”
Lila turned away, searching for someone else to brag to. She started in Amy’s direction, but Elizabeth caught her arm.
“Lila, wait,” she said. Lila turned a curious eye to her. “After the prom queen is crowned, get out of the gym, OK?”
“Why would I want to do that?” Lila asked. “That’s when the fun will just be getting started!”
“That’s when the fun will just be getting started for Big Mesa,” Elizabeth said darkly.
“What are you planning?” Lila asked, trying to control her voice so it wouldn’t give away the note of fear that sounded in her head like an alarm.
“Let’s just say we took a page from John Pfeifer’s book,” Elizabeth said ominously.
Lila’s face turned pale. She tightened her grasp on the baby and started to slowly back away from Elizabeth. “You’re crazy,” she said. “You’re really fucking crazy.”
Elizabeth sighed. “I know we just rebuilt the gym and all, but Jessica’s right – we need to teach Big Mesa a lesson. And the only way to do it is to wait until they crash our prom, then lock them all in the gym and blow it sky high.”
“Elizabeth, do you realize what you’re talking about?” Lila said, her eyes wide. “I hate Big Mesa as much as the next person, but really only for their poor sense of style and cheaply manufactured hairpieces.”
“I know what I’m talking about,” Elizabeth snapped. “But when they decided to mess with Mr. Collins, that was the last straw.”
“The thing with Mr. Collins is over,” Lila said gently. “He’s free. Look, he’s standing right over there, chaperoning the dance.”
“What, has motherhood made you the voice of fucking reason?” Elizabeth asked sharply.
“Back off, bitch,” Lila warned, shifting Rich over to one hip so she could free up her pimp slapping hand.
Elizabeth clapped a hand over her mouth. “Oh my god, Lila, I’m so sorry,” she said, quickly coming to her senses. “I guess I’m just kind of on edge and hormonal.”
“You’d better be sorry,” Lila said. “Don’t think that just because you’re pregnant I won’t smack you in the mouth.” She hurried off to join a very pregnant Amy.
Elizabeth turned back to the stage, her eyes welling up with tears. She had allowed herself to get caught up in the feud with Big Mesa, and now she had put the lives of her friends in danger! I have to find Randy Mason and get him to disarm the bombs, Elizabeth thought, looking around frantically. But Randy was nowhere to be seen. Of course! Randy’s a first-class nerd. There’s no way he’d show up to the prom.
Scanning the room one last time, Elizabeth caught sight of her twin, who had just entered the gym. “Jessica!” she called, running toward her twin. “Jess!”
Jessica took one look at the baby in her sister’s arms and rolled her eyes. “What do you want?”
“I need you to watch her,” Elizabeth said, thrusting Hanna toward Jessica. Jessica reluctantly accepted her and held her at arm’s length. “I have to go find Randy Mason!”
“What do you want to talk to that geek for?” Jessica asked, sniffing the air around her. “Liz, this baby smells like poop.”
“Well, she probably crapped herself when she heard me warning Lila about our plans to blow up the gym,” Elizabeth said. “Make sure to get her to Todd and Ken and that they all get out of the gym safely. Oh, and take that crown off before you go over there, because Todd’s running for prom queen and he really wants to win.”
“Todd’s running for prom queen?” Jessica asked, laughing. “Like that’s going to happen.”
“I have to get Randy over here to disarm the bombs,” Elizabeth said. “We can’t blow up the gym! It isn’t right. Besides, it will start off a chain of events that will lead to armageddon.”
“Wait, what? Elizabeth Wakefield, we have been planning this slaughter for hours. You can’t give up now!” Jessica cried.
“Jessica, I realize now that I was wrong in wanting everyone from Big Mesa to die for what they did to Mr. Collins,” Elizabeth said. “Lila helped me see that.”
“Now I know we’re in an alternate universe,” Jessica said. “Lila Fowler helped you see the light?”
“Just get everyone out of the gym, Jessica,” Elizabeth said, grabbing the Jeep keys from her sister’s hand. “And hurry!”
* * *
Enid sat on the hood of her car in the Sweet Valley High parking lot, sipping out of a beer bottle and fingering her homemade shank. When Big Mesa came, she’d be ready.
Behind her, the sounds of Dana Larson’s crappy band drifted out of the gym, along with laughter. “They’re all in there having fun,” Enid said glumly. “Elizabeth is in there having fun. But I’m stuck out here, tweaked out of my mind and waiting to unleash some hell on those assholes.”
It’s a good thing I’m not pregnant, she thought, trying to fight back the pangs of jealousy that struck whenever she thought about all the advantages the other Sweet Valley students seemed to have. None of those bitches are in any condition to fight. And my body’s probably too full of toxic chemicals to support a parasite of a baby anyway.
Aside from the sounds coming from the gym and a snippet or two of Winston’s dead baby jokes, all was quiet in Sweet Valley. “It’s like the calm before the storm,” Enid said, tipping back the remainder of her beer and swallowing it in one long gulp. She tossed the bottle at Bruce’s Porsche and watched with satisfaction as it dented the passenger-side fender. Reaching into the backpack beside her, Enid grabbed another beer and twisted off the top.
She watched for a while as headlights moved in the distance, none of them coming toward Sweet Valley High. She wondered how many Big Mesa students would show up and when. “I’ll be ready,” she vowed. “I’ll be fucking ready.”
“Randy?” Elizabeth called desperately, pounding on the front door of a small but tidy-looking house on the outskirts of Sweet Valley. “Randy, are you home?”
After what seemed like an eternity, a petite woman with glasses answered the door. “Can I help you?” she asked.
“Mrs. Mason, is Randy home?” Elizabeth asked. “I’ve got to talk to him.”
“Oh!” Mrs. Mason said, brightening up immediately. “You must be his virtual girlfriend. Please, come in.”
Elizabeth stepped inside. “Oh, I’m not his … virtual … girlfriend, whatever that is. I’m not any kind of girlfriend,” she said apologetically.
Mrs. Mason smiled. “Of course. I’m sure that’s not what the kids are calling it these days. Cybersex buddy?”
“Um, no,” Elizabeth said uncomfortably.
“I didn’t know girls around here were so easy,” Mrs. Mason said, eyeing Elizabeth’s stomach. “I mean, I have to admit I was a little bit worried with all the time he’s been spending on that computer he built, but at least he doesn’t have to worry about getting someone pregnant.”
“Mrs. Mason, I’m a classmate of Randy’s,” Elizabeth said. “I’m sure he and I have never even spoken to each other before, but it’s important that I talk to him right now. Millions of lives could be at stake!” Mrs. Mason still looked unmoved, so Elizabeth pulled the Wakefield card.
“Oh, of course!” Mrs. Mason said immediately. “He’s in the basement.” She cracked open a nearby door and yelled, “Randy, there’s a real live girl here to see you! And it’s a Wakefield twin! The slutty one!”
“That really narrows it down, Mom,” Randy called back. “And quit joking. I’m in the middle of a very important Warcraft raid.”
“Randy, I’m serious,” Mrs. Mason yelled, her voice much louder than what Elizabeth would have anticipated she was capable of producing. “Quit jacking off and get up here!”
Elizabeth blushed, but waited while Randy reluctantly climbed the stairs.
“What do you want?” he asked her sullenly, pausing at the top step.
“I need you to help me disarm the bombs in the gym,” she said. “We’ve decided against killing everyone at Big Mesa.”
Randy shrugged. “I can do it, but it’s going to cost you,” he said.
“Sure,” Elizabeth said. “I’ll do anything.”
“Anything?” Randy asked, raising an eyebrow. He turned to his mother. “Mom, get out of here!”
“Fine, dear,” she said. “Would you like something to drink, some tea or maybe a soda, Elizabeth?”
“Um, no thank you,” Elizabeth said. “We really have to get back to the prom.”
“Oh, Randy,” Mrs. Mason said, clasping her hands together. “She wants to take you to the prom!”
“Mom, you’re seriously cock-blocking me right now,” Randy complained.
“All right,” she said pleasantly, heading into the kitchen. “Let me know if you need anything.”
As soon as his mother was gone, Randy turned his attention back to Elizabeth. “Boobs,” he said.
“Excuse me?” Elizabeth asked.
“You heard me,” he said. “Jessica showed me her boobs to get me to build the bombs, so you’ve got to show me your boobs if you want me to disarm them.”
“Oh, all right,” Elizabeth said, exasperated. “It is for the greater good.”
She pulled up her dress, revealing a dowdy set of maternity underwear.
“You’re going to have to do better than that,” Randy said.
“I have to take off the bra, too?” Elizabeth said, a note of protest in her voice. Randy nodded. “Damn, you’ve got better game than Bruce Patman,” she said as she quickly flashed him.
“You really think so?” Randy asked, pleased.
“Sure,” Elizabeth said. “Now, come on!”
* * *
Jessica scanned the room for Todd or Ken, still holding the baby at arm’s length. “Ugh, I really don’t like babies,” she said to it. “We need to find one of your daddies so I can go dance.”
“Oh, Jessica!” a voice sang out behind her. “There you are! I’ve been looking all over for you.”
“Hello, Lila,” Jessica said through clenched teeth, turning around.
“You’re on baby-sitting duty now, I see,” Lila said, juggling her own baby from one hip to the other. “Where’s Elizabeth? Plotting to blow up the rest of us?”
“No, she’s going to stop it,” Jessica said. She wrinkled her nose as a fresh wave of Hannah’s stench overtook her. “Apparently you talked her out of it.”
“I just told her she’d gone batshit fucking insane,” Lila said. “Anyway, have you seen my baby? This is Richard. I call him Rich for short. Isn’t he just the cutest?”
Jessica shrugged. “I guess so. Hey, Lila, you do realize he’s–”
“Of course I do,” Lila snapped. “I’m not blind. Do you have a problem with it?”
“No,” Jessica said, surprised at the ferocity of her friend’s tone. “Don’t be so sensitive.” She scanned the gym once more and was relieved to see Ken by the punch bowl. She was saved from having to listen to Lila’s incessant bragging. “Gotta go, Lila. There’s Ken, and I’m sure he’s dying to have … this … back.”
Without giving Lila a chance to respond, Jessica made a beeline for Ken. “There you are,” she purred, momentarily forgetting that her sex appeal no longer worked on him.
He paused in mid-pour. “Oh, hey, Jessica. What’s up?”
She grinned sexily. “I think you’re missing something,” she said, holding Hannah out to him.
“Oh, right,” he said, smiling at the baby. “Here, I’ll take her. Thanks for watching her for us.”
“No problem,” Jessica said, batting her eyelashes. “I just love babies.”
“Uh, yeah,” Ken said. “They’re great.”
“So, are you enjoying the prom?” Jessica asked, pulling the top of her dress down slightly so Ken could get a better look at her cleavage.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “Todd and I have been dancing like crazy. The Droids are sounding really good tonight.” He rocked little Hannah to the beat of the music. “Maybe she’ll inherit some of Dana’s musical talent!”
“Or your football talent,” Jessica said. She seductively placed a hand on Ken’s bicep.
“Oh, I don’t think so,” Ken said. “I’m pretty sure Todd’s the biological father. Maybe she’ll be good at basketball.”
Suddenly, Jessica felt her head being yanked backward by some unseen force. The prom queen crown was ripped from her head with such force it made her yell.
“What the fuck?” Jessica cried, straightening up and placing both hands on the top of her head, which was sensitive from the blow.
“Todd!” Ken cried in surprise.
“You have a lot of nerve, Jessica Wakefield,” Todd said, waving the crown in Jessica’s face. “Wearing the crown that I made to the prom as if you had it in the bag?”
“I fucking do have it in the bag,” Jessica retorted, smoothing down her hair. “I’m a Wakefield twin, remember?”
“I don’t care,” Todd said. “We haven’t even voted on prom queen yet! You’re such a skanky bitch!”
“You must have me confused with my sister,” Jessica muttered, narrowing her eyes.
“Elizabeth has way more class than you’ll ever have,” Todd said. “She at least wouldn’t flirt with my boyfriend right in front of my face!”
“No, she’d wait until your back was barely turned,” Jessica said with a smug grin. “Didn’t you notice all those times she cheated on you?”
“Elizabeth cheated on me?” Todd asked, surprised. “Wow, I had no idea!”
“You didn’t know?” Ken asked. “Seriously, dude.”
“Whatever,” Todd said. “That’s not the issue here. The issue is that you, Jessica, are a conniving, scheming little slutbag!”
“Like that’s news, Todd!” Jessica said, making a desperate grasp for the crown. Todd snatched it out of her grasp. Jessica was dimly aware of the crowd watching her and Todd as they wrestled over the cheap plastic headpiece.
“We haven’t even voted for prom queen yet,” Jessica heard Olivia whisper to someone.
“I wasn’t going to vote for Jessica or Todd,” Aaron Dallas said. “I think Elizabeth should win.”
Jessica spun around. “Elizabeth has dropped out of the running,” she snapped. “You’d better vote for me, Dallas. I flashed you last week.”
“Big deal,” Todd shot back. “We’ve all seen your breasts.”
“Not in person,” Jessica snarled, finally getting a hold on the crown. Her fingernails dug into the back of Todd’s hand and he yelped in pain. She pulled with all her might, feeling the weight of the crown as it gave over to her strength. She had nearly pulled it out of Todd’s grasp when she heard a loud snap and flew backwards into Ken, holding a jagged half crown. “Noooooo!” she cried.
“My crown!” Todd sobbed. “I worked so hard on that!”
“Well, now you’re both prom queens,” Ken said, trying to smooth things over. “You can each wear half of the crown, and we won’t even have to waste time voting!”
“Oh, shut up,” Jessica snapped. “This is so lame. I’d expect this kind of shit at a Big Mesa prom.”
“Speaking of Big Mesa, aren’t they supposed to be showing up here?” Amy asked. “I heard they were going to crash our prom.”
“Don’t worry, Winston and his loser girlfriend will be the first to be sacrificed,” Bruce said with a laugh. “Have you heard his lame-ass jokes? They’ll kick his ass for sure.”
* * *
“Oh, hurry,” Elizabeth said, hovering over Randy as he disarmed the first explosive.
“Elizabeth, would you mind giving me a little space?” Randy asked. A bead of sweat rolled down his forehead. “This is a little stressful.”
“I’m sorry,” Elizabeth apologized. “It’s just that we don’t have very much time.”
They were under the bleachers and had sneaked into the dance while Jessica and Todd were arguing over the broken crown and who was the sluttiest Wakefield twin.
After a few minutes, Randy put down his pliers. “OK, Liz, that one’s done. The next one is in the boys’ restroom.”
“What?” Elizabeth asked, shocked. “I can’t go in there!”
“You’re going to have to,” Randy said firmly. “I’m going to need you to hand me supplies. And flash me at regular intervals to boost morale.”
“All right,” Elizabeth relented. “But let’s make it quick.”
They crept out from under the bleachers, sticking close to the wall so no one would notice them. The last thing Elizabeth needed was to be intercepted by Mr. Collins. Bypassing dancing couples kept at arms’ length by pregnant bellies, the two of them finally made it out of the gym. They ran down the hall to the boys’ restroom and Randy checked to make sure the coast was clear before waving Elizabeth inside.
“It’s in the last stall,” Randy said, pointing. “Get the wire cutters out of my backpack.”
Elizabeth rummaged through Randy’s bag, trying not to touch anything too heavily, as everything in the bag had a fine film of perspiration on it. “Got it,” she said, handing the wire cutters to Randy.
Elizabeth noticed the stall walls were covered in handwriting, and she strained to read some of it, gasping when she realized most of the entries included her telephone number. “Randy! What is all this?” she cried.
Randy looked up. “What is all what?”
“All this writing! ‘For a good time, call the Wakefield twins.’ Randy, our telephone number is written here!”
Randy shook his head as if to clear it. “It’s – look, you and Jessica have a reputation. Could you get the pliers? And I’m going to need a breast break in about a minute,” he said. “Thanks, Elizabeth. You’re the best.”
* * *
Enid finished off the last of her beers and lit a cigarette for good measure. She’d been high for hours now and was just waiting to attack.
“Come on, you Big Mesa skanks!” she yelled into the night, slurring the words slightly. “I’m ready for you!”
As if she’d uttered the magic words, a cold wind whipped around her, blowing Enid’s hair across her face. They’re coming! she thought excitedly. Big Mesa’s almost here!
The sound of tires squealing into the Sweet Valley High parking lot brought Enid to attention. Several cars had pulled in and screeched to a stop, kids spilling out of them and advancing menacingly on the gym.
Enid hopped off the hood of her car and made a run for the gym, cutting across the parking lot in front of the angry Big Mesa mob. “They’re here!” she yelled as she burst through the doors. “Big Mesa is here!”
“Let’s go!” Bruce yelled, following Enid back out the door to face the enemy.
Winston crouched under the table where he had been selling tickets, cowering in fear. Maria took off behind Bruce and Enid, not letting her ample stomach slow her down.
Inside the gym, students panicked, running in several directions at once. Lila backed against the wall, cradling Rich to her chest. She wasn’t sure which way to go, suddenly paralyzed by fear.
Todd handed Hannah off to Ken and ran outside, rolling up the shirt sleeve on his punching arm. Ken tried to move toward Lila, but he was swept away in another direction.
Jessica started running toward the door that led to the classrooms, but was felled by a sharp stabbing pain in her stomach. Panting, she picked herself up off the floor. “What the fuck was that?” she asked out loud. She clutched at her stomach and willed herself to keep moving, but the stabbing pains continued, making escape slow.
Jessica stumbled toward the door, temporarily blinded to her surroundings because of the pain. She cried out, but the guttural noise she was making was lost in the noise that had risen to a frantic level in the gym.
Someone grabbed Jessica’s ankle. Looking down, she saw Claire Middleton, Sweet Valley High’s second-string quarterback, curled in the fetal position and silently crying. Jessica shook her leg, trying to remove Claire, but the girl wouldn’t budge.
“Help me, Jessica,” she croaked. “Please.”
“No fucking way,” Jessica said through clenched teeth, willing herself not to scream as another wave of pain hit her. “I have my own problems right now.”
All around Jessica, mucous plugs were popping like champagne corks. The entire female population of Sweet Valley High was going into labor simultaneously!
“Great timing,” Jessica muttered, falling to the ground and blacking out as another contraction hit.
* * *
“What’s wrong?” Elizabeth cried. “Shouldn’t this one be done already?”
“I screwed up some of the wiring, all right?” Randy snapped. “Give me a second to figure it out.”
“We don’t have a second,” Elizabeth said, straining to hear what was going on outside the boys’ restroom. “I think Big Mesa is already here!”
“Awesome,” Randy muttered under his breath. “More pressure.”
A strange sensation hit Elizabeth all at once, pressure and pain. She breathed heavily, trying to ignore it, but it was stronger than anything she’d ever felt in her life. “Randy,” she said, letting out a breath. “Something’s wrong.”
“I know something’s wrong,” he said, turning away from the bomb to look at her. “These wires are all mixed up!”
“No, I mean something is wrong with me,” Elizabeth said. “I don’t feel well.” She grabbed onto the sink to steady herself.
“Are you serious?” Randy asked. “This is the worst possible time to get sick, Elizabeth.”
“It’s not like I have a choice,” Elizabeth gasped, gripping onto the sink.
“All right, I’m almost done,” Randy said, turning back to his work. “Then we’ll get you out of here, OK?”
“There’s one more bomb, isn’t there?” Elizabeth asked, trying not to cry out in pain. “I don’t know if we’ll get to it in time.”
“It’s in Chrome Dome Cooper’s office,” he said. “I’ll take care of it – but you need to get home or to the hospital or something. I thought you had a boyfriend. Can’t he take you?”
“Todd is not. My boyfriend.” Elizabeth said through clenched teeth. “I’m only. His beard.”
“What’s a beard?” Randy asked, snipping one last wire. “There, that should do it.”
Grabbing onto Randy, Elizabeth let him lead her out of the restroom and into the hallway. A loud noise greeted their ears. It sounded as if hundreds of girls were groaning in pain at once, making the same sounds Elizabeth herself had just been making. Sweating, she turned to Randy. “We’re all going into labor,” she realized.
“Awesome,” Randy muttered. “All right, I’ll just drop you off in the gym so you can be with the other girls and, uh, do girl stuff, and then I’ll disarm the bomb in Cooper’s office.”
“No!” Elizabeth cried, gripping his arm tightly in panic. “Don’t leave me!”
“Elizabeth, you can’t come with me,” Randy said. “I can’t be distracted by all this female hysteria.”
“It is not. Female. Hysteria,” Elizabeth grunted. “Do you know. The size. Of what is about. To come. Out of my cooch?”
“Don’t really care,” Randy said, shrugging. He practically threw Elizabeth behind the gym door and ran off to disarm the last bomb.
Elizabeth’s eyes surveyed the gym, wide with surprise. Her Sweet Valley High classmates were in various stages of distress, some of them lying on the floor, others leaning against the walls, crying and panting and screaming in pain. Lila was backed up against one of the walls, clutching her baby and watching the scene, open-mouthed.
“Lila,” Elizabeth croaked, slowly making her way over to her classmate and pausing every few steps to let out a heavy breath. “Lila, where’s Jessica?”
Lila didn’t say a word but pointed to a familiar figure lying on the floor, clearly unconscious.
“Jessica!” Elizabeth screamed, fighting her way though the crowd and the pain. “Jessica!”
* * *
Enid had already felled several boys from Big Mesa, but it was the girls she was having trouble fending off. They must have already dropped their babies, she thought. They’re all looking awfully thin. But motherhood had given them another advantage as well – their strength seemed to have increased.
She kicked one of them in the gut, sending her backwards into Lila’s lime-green Triumph. Sensing another girl behind her, Enid blindly jabbed at the air with her homemade shank, feeling it connect with skin and bone.
Bruce and Todd fought beside her, and although they clearly didn’t have Enid’s skills with weaponry, both boys had been in enough high school scuffles to deliver a series of accurate punches to their opponents.
Maria was fighting valiantly, despite the pain she was obviously in. Enid could see she was breathing hard and her strength was flagging, but she managed to trip up a large Big Mesa boy, leaving him sprawled face-down on the concrete.
Enid grabbed a girl by her hair and threw a hard knee to her throat. Glancing behind her, she could see that several Big Mesa students had breached the gym. Her first thought was for Elizabeth’s safety.
“I’ve got to get back into the gym,” Enid said, throwing an elbow to a large girl to her right. “Do you guys think you can manage this?”
Todd nodded and punched two guys at once as if to prove his point.
Enid ran back toward the gym, cutting a bitch or two on the way. Only about four or five Big Mesa students had made it into the gym, and Enid was confident she could take them all down. She stalked up behind one of the boys and placed both hands on his head, twisting it quickly. With a satisfying crack, he slumped to the floor, his neck broken.
Casting a quick glance around the gym before stabbing two Big Mesa girls, Enid saw Elizabeth all the way across the gym, crouched over Jessica’s body. And behind Elizabeth was a very large guy from Big Mesa!
“Elizabeth!” Enid yelled. “Look out!”
Elizabeth looked behind her and rolled out of the way just before he kicked out with a forceful blow that would have caught her in the face. Enid jumped over laboring girl after laboring girl, trying her best to get to her friend as quickly as she possibly could. Elizabeth lay on her back, paralyzed with fear and anticipating another blow.
Enid tripped over Penny’s leg, which sent her sprawling. Picking herself up and trying to ignore the almost unbearable pain in her left wrist, Enid ran through the crowd, jumping and picking her way through a sea of screaming bodies. She drew up behind the guy and prepared to stab him with Elizabeth’s barrette, but instead cried out in surprise as she was thrown backwards on top of a screaming Olivia.
“I wanted an all-natural home birth in a pool of water, and this is what I fucking get?” Olivia said angrily. “Get the hell off of me!”
“Sorry,” Enid said, scrambling to get back on her feet. She ran headfirst into the boy from Big Mesa, headbutting him against the wall with such force it knocked the wind out of him. A few swift kicks to a choice part of the male anatomy and the boy was down for the count.
“Elizabeth, are you OK?” Enid said breathlessly, kneeling at her friend’s side.
Elizabeth nodded. “I think so,” she said. “But Enid, I think the baby’s about to come out!”
* * *
Mr. Collins was trying his best to deliver as many babies as possible, but the droning guitar and keyboard sounds that kept coming from the stage were proving to be a distraction. He clamped and cut the umbilical cord of a baby dangling from between Dee Dee Gordon’s legs and threw the newborn baby boy, still covered in blood and gore, into his mother’s arms.
“Dana, please, please, please shut the hell up!” Mr. Collins yelled, storming the stage. “The Droids really don’t need to be playing right now.”
Dana shot him a dirty look. “Everyone loves The Droids,” she said evenly. “We play at every single event in Sweet Valley.”
“Well, not births,” Mr. Collins snapped, unplugging some type of cord from one of the speakers. Max Dellon’s guitar fell silent.
“Hey!” Dana yelled, throwing down her microphone. “You can’t do that!”
“Oh, yes, I can,” Mr. Collins said, pulling on yet another cord and interrupting Guy Chesney’s raging keyboard solo.
A loud scream cut though the air, a scream Mr. Collins would recognize anywhere. “It’s Elizabeth!” he cried, jumping off the stage and running toward where Elizabeth was lying on the floor, her head cradled in Enid’s lap.
He kicked Jessica’s unconscious form aside so he could kneel down beside his star student. “It’s all right, Elizabeth,” he said soothingly, stroking her hair. “I’m right here.”
“Mr. Collins,” Elizabeth gasped. “This is getting way too fucking weird.”
“Don’t worry, I have excellent working knowledge of the female reproductive system,” he said. “I’ve already delivered 50 babies tonight. I can help you.”
“Mr. Collins, don’t worry about me,” Elizabeth said selflessly. “Just make sure everyone gets out of the gym as soon as possible!”
“But, Elizabeth, the parking lot is mobbed with kids from Big Mesa,” Enid told her. “You can’t imagine the carnage out there.”
“Enid’s right,” Mr. Collins said firmly. “This is the safest place to be right now. And lord knows we can’t depend on the SVPD for help.”
Elizabeth grasped wildly for Mr. Collins’ shirt collar, bringing his face close to hers. “You’ve got to listen to me. This place is going to blow in the next ten minutes!”
“Blow?” Enid asked frantically, searching for her next fix. “Where? Who’s got coke up in here?”
“She’s not talking about cocaine,” Mr. Collins said, shaking his head. “She’s talking about blow jobs.”
“I’m talking about a bomb!” Elizabeth cried, her voice rising into a primal scream. “Randy Mason is trying to disarm the last one right now, but I’m not sure if he’s been able to.”
“A bomb in the gym? Hasn’t this plot device already been used?” Mr. Collins asked thoughtfully. “As an English teacher, I’m really disappointed, Elizabeth.”
“Of course it’s been used,” Elizabeth snapped. “Do you think any of these ghostwriters read any of their predecessors’ work?”
“Probably not,” Mr. Collins conceded. “But still, I’d consider it a slight step above plagiarism.”
“We’ve covered that plot point, too,” Elizabeth reminded him, punctuating her statement with a scream. “Please, Mr. Collins, get everyone out of here. Make sure Jessica gets out!”
“Oh, no way,” Mr. Collins said. “If I can only save one Wakefield twin, it sure as hell won’t be Jessica.”
Swimming up through a sea of blackness, Jessica forced her eyelids open. She couldn’t figure out where she was or why she was in so much pain. She was dimly aware of other people around her. They were talking, but she couldn’t quite understand what they were saying.
Squeezing her eyes shut again in an effort to dull the ache that was coursing through her body, Jessica tried to recall the last thing she remembered before darkness overtook her, but the strange dream she had just experienced consumed her every thought.
She was at the prom, dancing with every boy in sight – but only the attractive ones. Jessica’s stomach was nice and flat, as it had always been up until two weeks ago. She was wearing the crown, and it was intact and sparkling and larger than it had ever been in real life.
And then, right in the middle of a romantic slow dance with Ken – who was decidedly not gay, judging by the firm grasp he had on her ass – the dance floor opened up, a large, jagged crack appearing right between them. Jessica jumped back, startled. She watched in horror as Sara Eastborne was sucked into the dark chasm.
A terrifying figure loomed out of the hole, slowly elevating upward until he was looking down on Jessica, who cowered in fear before him.
“Elizabeth Wakefield!” the figure yelled loudly, his eyes flashing yellow.
Jessica shook her head. “You’re looking for my sister,” she said, laughing nervously. “We’re identical twins. We get mixed up all the time.”
“Are you defying me?” the figure snarled.
“No,” Jessica said. “We’re twins, honest.”
“Well, then, I have a message for your twin,” he said. “From Satan.”
Jessica tried not to stare at the horns on his head or the hooves where his feet should have been. “I love your dresses,” she cooed, trying to soothe the beast. “It’s, like, my favorite material.”
“Satan, not satin, you idiot!” he thundered. “The devil? No, nothing? Really?”
Jessica shook her head. “I guess you’re famous, though, right?” She flashed him a huge grin. “I have a really great resume: Winner of the Miss Teen Sweet Valley competition, several acting gigs – including a guest spot on ‘The Young and the Beautiful’ – several prom queen titles, interpretive dance–”
“Silence!” Satan roared. “I will not be mocked!”
“All right, all right,” Jessica grumbled under her breath. “Some people just don’t know talent when they see it!”
“Give Elizabeth my regards,” Satan said. “And thank her for not putting an end to the war between Sweet Valley and Big Mesa. She has allowed me to rise again!”
Jessica took a deep breath and opened her eyes. The dream was a message of some sort, she finally realized. But what could it be telling me? she wondered. Oh, well. I’m sure it’s not really important, anyway.
Jessica felt a tight pain in her abdomen and looked down. It took her a minute to remember that she hadn’t just gained 10 pounds and was actually pregnant – and about to give birth!
She pulled herself up into a sitting position, looking around in a daze. The gym had nearly emptied out, with just a few stragglers remaining. “I have to find Elizabeth,” she groaned, clutching at her stomach. “She’ll know exactly what to do.”
Squinting, Jessica caught sight of her twin being led outside, propped up by Enid on one side and Mr. Collins on the other. Elizabeth was struggling against them, trying to turn back toward Jessica, and Jessica knew that despite the fact that she had been a total bitch to Elizabeth all their lives, Elizabeth was trying to get to her twin.
“Elizabeth! I’m over here!” Jessica called loftily. “I need you to come carry me out of here!”
“Jessica!” Elizabeth called back, straining against her captors. “You have to leave right now! The gym is going to blow up any minute!”
What is she talking about? Jessica wondered. Why would the gym blow up? She shrugged and lay back down, waiting for Elizabeth to break free and come to her rescue.
“Jessica! I’m serious!” Elizabeth screamed as Enid and Mr. Collins led her out the door. “I can’t help you right now!”
“That’s impossible,” Jessica said out loud. “Elizabeth always helps me when I need it. She’ll find a way.”
A pair of designer pumps clattered into Jessica’s line of sight. “Jessica, didn’t you hear Elizabeth? We need to get out of here!” said the voice attached to them.
“Oh, Lila,” Jessica said, laughing nervously and trying to ignore the pain in her lower stomach. “I’m just, you know, chilling out.”
“On the gym floor?” Lila said disapprovingly. “We had the same problem with one of our cleaning ladies once. She was a total drunk!”
“I’m not drunk,” Jessica said, laughing off her friend’s accusation. “I’m just tired. This dance has been such a bore, don’t you think?”
Lila bent down, extending a hand to her friend. With the other, she held on tightly to her baby. “Come on, let’s get you out of here,” she said.
“Is this a trick or something?” Jessica asked, reluctantly grabbing Lila’s hand. “You’re never this nice.”
“What, I can’t be nice to my best friend?” Lila asked. “Jessica, I’m shocked.”
“So am I,” Jessica admitted as Lila helped her to her feet.
“I might think my wealth, fabulous sense of style and imported child make me superior to you, but it’s not like I want you to die,” Lila said. “Amy, on the other hand? Maybe. She’s a total skank.”
“She really is,” Jessica said, shuffling along next to Lila. The pain kept her from moving at a faster pace, but Lila kept by her side nonetheless. “Plus, she’s not even that pretty.”
“Oh, no way,” Lila agreed, giving Jessica an encouraging smile. “She is nowhere near as gorgeous as either one of us. I’m pretty sure her baby is going to come out with total slutface.”
Jessica nodded enthusiastically. “Thanks for helping me take my mind off all this, Lila,” she said sincerely, gesturing toward her stomach. “I had no idea it was going to hurt so much.”
“Oh, it’s nothing,” Lila said, wincing in pain as Jessica gave her arm a tight squeeze, nearly cutting off the circulation to her hand. “Just don’t let anyone know how nice I’ve been to you lately, though. It will just ruin my reputation.”
* * *
A pile of bodies had amassed behind Todd, each one of them expertly punched. It seems I’ve finally got my shit together, he thought. I’m making up for that day on the beach when I failed to defend Ken.
Maria had, surprisingly, taken out quite a few guys herself, pausing just once to squirt out her kid and throw it to Winston, who was watching the fight from the sidelines and having a panic attack.
“Just a few more,” Todd said, nodding at Bruce, who kicked some chick in the face, then dragged her over to his pile of unconscious women.
“This is awesome!” Bruce yelled to Todd. “Violence is, like, the all-natural roofie!”
Todd shook his head in disgust. Girls, he thought. Gross.
“Everyone, stop!” called a voice from behind them. “Just stop!”
“Elizabeth?” Todd asked in confusion, turning around. In letting down his guard for that split second, he took a hard right hook to the face, falling to the ground with a loud thud.
* * *
Elizabeth scanned the parking lot in horror. Some of her Sweet Valley classmates had fallen, but many of them were still fighting. For some reason, Winston was guarding a pile of babies. She watched in surprise as Lynne Henry gave birth, then ran her baby back to Winston, passing off the baby as if it were a football before running back into the fray.
“Todd!” she screamed, catching sight of him laying face-down in a pool of blood.
“Don’t worry about him,” Mr. Collins said soothingly. “I never really liked that kid anyway.”
“Mr. Collins, can you take care of Elizabeth?” Enid asked. “I think Bruce and Maria need my help.”
Mr. Collins nodded, easing Elizabeth to the ground. She screamed out in pain.
“Jessica’s still inside!” she panted. “Please, Mr. Collins, go help her.”
“Someone else will get her,” Mr. Collins said. “She’ll be just fine. Are you ready to push?”
Elizabeth shook her head. “No, Mr. Collins, I – I have to stop this fight. Terrible things will happen if I don’t!”
“Like what?” Mr. Collins asked gently. “I know you’re a total control freak, but this fight is not your number one priority right now.”
“Oh my god, I almost forgot,” Elizabeth said, reaching into her cleavage and pulling out a rumpled sheet of paper. “Here’s my article for The Oracle. It’s a first-hand account of what it’s like to be a pregnant teenager, and it focuses on making pregnant girls feel really, really bad about themselves for being such weak-minded sluts. I hope I didn’t miss deadline.”
“I think we can manage to squeeze it in,” Mr. Collins said, looking at Elizabeth’s breasts in amazement. “You got anything else in there?”
A large rumble sounded from below them. “An earthquake?” Elizabeth asked, a note of worry sounding in her voice. “I hope Olivia stays clear of any large kitchen appliances.”
“I don’t think it’s an earthquake,” Mr. Collins said ominously, pointing at a horned creature that had sprung from a crack in the earth.
“Oh, no!” Elizabeth cried, clapping a hand over her mouth. “I didn’t stop the war in time! It’s the antichrist!”
“The antichrist,” Mr. Collins repeated. “Are you sure? That looks like the devil to me. There is a difference, you know.”
“Well, whatever,” Elizabeth snapped. “I’m pretty sure this ghostwriter has absolutely no knowledge of religious matters and really shouldn’t have started down that path to pad her word count. But look, it’s not really that important.”
“I guess not,” Mr. Collins agreed. “Devil, antichrist – either way, it’s bad news.”
“Mr. Collins,” Elizabeth said, gripping him firmly by the shoulders, “you have to help me deliver this baby right now.”
“I don’t know, Elizabeth,” he said reluctantly. “At one time, I would have said your nether regions were the most fascinating thing on earth, but this whole devil thing looks really interesting.”
Elizabeth let out a slow breath. It looks like I’m on my own, she said, willing the baby to come.
* * *
Randy worked frantically, trying to disarm the bomb hidden under Mr. Cooper’s desk, but it was no use. He only had a minute and fifteen seconds left, and without being regularly flashed by Elizabeth Wakefield, his concentration was shot.
“I shouldn’t have left her in the gym,” he muttered, carefully snipping a wire and holding his breath. When it didn’t cause the whole room to go up in flames, he let it go in a sigh of relief.
If I don’t get this taken care of in the next few seconds, I’m going to have to book it out of here and hope everyone else made it out of the gym themselves, he thought. Oh, who am I kidding? I should have just locked them all in the gym and let the bomb blow. They’ve all been assholes to me my entire life. I’ll never forgive them for making fun of my “Physics is Your Friend” T-shirt in sixth grade. Never.
A sudden rumble that sounded like thunder rolled up from the ground beneath him, and Randy felt the earth rise and fall in response. “Another earthquake?” he asked himself out loud. “Well, this certainly complicates matters.”
He pushed his glasses up his nose and concentrated his best on disarming the bomb. Things didn’t look good, he realized. If he wanted to save himself, Randy had to get the hell out of Sweet Valley High immediately!
* * *
“Almost there, Jessica,” Lila said encouragingly, even though they were still a good way from the doors leading outside.
“Ouch, Lila, this really fucking hurts!” Jessica cried, pausing to catch her breath as another wave of pain swept through her body. “I don’t think I can make it.”
“Yes, you can, Jessica,” Lila said firmly, pulling her friend closer to the door. “If you don’t make it out of here, who will I go shopping with? Who will I make feel inferior because she can’t afford the latest designer fashions from Paris? Who will go to the beach with me dressed like a complete whore and try to pick up much older men who really should be more wary of picking up hot jailbait?”
“Point taken,” Jessica said through gritted teeth. Jessica felt the gym floor rise and fall under her feet. “What was that?” she cried in alarm.
“I’m sure it was nothing,” Lila said calmly. “Maybe Robin Wilson fell on her fat ass.”
“Maybe,” Jessica said doubtfully. “Or maybe it’s just like … my dream!”
“What dream?” Lila asked.
“The dream where satin, I mean, Satan, came up out of the ground looking for Elizabeth,” Jessica said. “We’ve got to find her!”
“Satin, yuck,” Lila said, pulling a face. “I much prefer silk.”
“No, not satin – oh, never mind,” Jessica said. “Just get me to Elizabeth – as fast as you can!”
On Lila’s arm, little Rich began to cry. “Oh, shit,” Lila said. “I’m not used to this. Whenever he cries, I usually just hand him over to Eva.”
* * *
The few Big Mesa students who were still standing, as well as the Sweet Valley High kids in the midst of the parking lot scuffle stopped short, staring in awe at the fissure that had opened up in the pavement. The parking lot was divided jaggedly in half, with all of the conscious Big Mesa students on one side and the Sweet Valley students on the other.
The devil winked and pointed at Bruce with both index fingers. “What’s up, dude? Haven’t seen you in a while!”
They know each other? Elizabeth thought, pausing in mid-push. I guess it makes sense. Bruce is kind of a dick. And for some reason, I find that totally hot right now.
She resumed pushing, her hair plastered to her head with sweat. Screaming, she felt the pressure on her lower body release, and suddenly there was a new voice screaming alongside her. Mr. Collins quickly glanced over at Elizabeth, then resumed staring at the devil, fascinated.
“Thanks to Elizabeth Wakefield, I have returned to earth!” the devil screamed, throwing his head back and letting loose an evil-sounding laugh.
“Oh, that is it!” Elizabeth said angrily, tossing her newborn little boy over her shoulder and hoping Winston would catch him. She scrambled to her feet, walking with purpose toward Satan. “Mr. Satan, I’ll have you know I had absolutely nothing to do with this. I’m Saint Elizabeth fucking Wakefield!”
“You had nothing to do with this?” the devil asked, sweeping his hand to indicate the carnage in the Sweet Valley High parking lot. “Whose idea was it to slaughter hundreds of Big Mesa students by locking them in the gym and blowing it up?”
“Hey, I flashed Randy Mason twenty-two times just so the gym wouldn’t blow up,” Elizabeth countered. “That has to count for something, right?”
The devil grinned, revealing a row of sharpened teeth. “It certainly does count for something,” he said. “But it still didn’t stop the war. Your friends here saw to that. The cracked-out girl, Enid, is it? She’s especially vicious. And I hear she’s one of your closest friends.”
“Well, we are friends,” Elizabeth admitted. “But I tried to discourage her from fighting Big Mesa.”
“Did you really?” the devil asked, his smile spreading wider. “I seem to recall things a bit differently.”
“Look,” Elizabeth said, now desperate. “I’m sure we can take care of this in a reasonable manner. Let’s sit down and talk. I’m really good at listening and giving judgmental stares.”
“Sit down and talk?” the devil repeated, a loud peal of laughter sounding from his gut. “Sure, Elizabeth. This ought to be good.”
A huge explosion sounded behind them, and Elizabeth turned in horror to see half of Sweet Valley High go up in an enormous mushroom cloud. The heat from the flames that issued forth caused her to jump back and cry out in surprise as she covered her face with her forearm.
“Jessica!” she screamed, dropping to her knees.
* * *
Jessica and Lila had just reached the door when a huge fireball swept through the gym, propelling them out of the door with such force Jessica flew through the air, out of Lila’s grasp.
In midair, she felt something release from her cooch and she landed on the ground, rolling to a stop with a baby in her arms. “What the hell?” Jessica asked, slowly standing up.
I must look like a mess, she thought, realizing that half the Sweet Valley student body was splitting their attention between her and a goat-like figure with horns that was towering over Elizabeth. Jessica threw on her best smile, acting as if she didn’t care that her once silky blond hair was now singed and sticking out in all directions. She brushed a streak of soot off her cheek, making sure her dimple was showing.
Lila and Rich had landed a short distance away, looking like hell but seemingly unhurt. Lila had lost a shoe in the blast, and she was searching for it frantically. “All the way from Paris!” she exclaimed sadly. “I loved those shoes!”
Jessica’s twin was on the ground, pounding her fists into the concrete and crying. She didn’t seem to realize Jessica had made it out alive.
“Hey, Win, hold this for me, would you?” Jessica asked, tossing her little girl over to Winston, who added it to his stockpile of infants. “Elizabeth!” she called, running toward her sister. “Elizabeth!”
Elizabeth looked up in surprise. She wiped away her tears and a big smile slowly spread across her face as she realized Jessica was all right. Standing up, she stumbled toward Jessica.
The two of them met in an embrace, laughing and crying and hugging each other. “Jessica! You’re alive!” Elizabeth cried.
“So are you!” Jessica exclaimed. “I thought Satan might have gotten you.”
Elizabeth shook her head. “Actually, he and I were just about to have a little … talk,” she said, giving the devil a meaningful glance.
“Oh, I get it,” Jessica said, nodding knowingly. “You’re going to flash him multiple times to get him to do whatever you want, right?”
“No,” Elizabeth said firmly. “I’ve had enough of flashing gross guys for one night. Speaking of which, has anyone seen Randy Mason?”
A murmured chorus of “no” swept through the crowd. Elizabeth bowed her head.
“Like anyone cares if we ever see him again,” Jessica said, snorting. “He was only really useful for building, like, bombs and lie detectors and stuff.”
“Now, Jessica, be nice,” Elizabeth admonished her sister. “If it weren’t for Randy, this would have been a lot worse.”
The devil tapped one cloven hoof and looked pointedly at his wrist as if he were consulting a wristwatch. “Um, Elizabeth? I hate to interrupt, but if you want to have a little sit-down chit chat, we’ve got to speed things along.”
“Of course,” Elizabeth said, giving her sister one last embrace and slipping an arm through the devil’s. “Why don’t we go to The Dairi Burger? I hear they have excellent chocolate milkshakes.”
The devil sipped demurely on his chocolate shake and gave Elizabeth a broad smile. “You’re right,” he said. “This is really good.”
“I told you so,” Elizabeth said firmly. “Now, tell me what on earth has been going on to make you so angry?”
“I don’t know,” the devil said evasively. He picked up a paper napkin and started shredding it with his claws. “There isn’t really anything going on with me.”
Elizabeth gently took one of his hands in hers. “Satan,” she said, looking him dead in the eye. “You and I both know that isn’t true.”
He looked down, breaking Elizabeth’s gaze. “You’re right,” he said finally, sitting back in his seat and crossing his arms over his chest. “I have been angry lately. I’ve been angry my whole life, really.”
“Whatever you’re going through, there’s a way to fix things,” Elizabeth said. “I’ve helped countless Sweet Valley High students feel better about themselves or their situation – whether they’re a closeted gay tennis player, a butt-ugly songwriter or a morbidly obese cheerleader wannabe. Oh, or a complete and total slut. They’re kind of my specialty.”
“I doubt you can fix this, Elizabeth,” the devil said morosely.
“Let me help you,” she said gently. “I may be able to give you a super stare of condescension, but without knowing what’s really going on, I can’t give you meddlesome and probably unwanted advice.”
“All right,” he said, taking a long sip of his chocolate shake. “I’m not sure where to start, really.” He clasped his hands in his lap and looked down at them.
“Start at the beginning,” Elizabeth advised. “That’s what I do whenever I have to write a particularly difficult story for The Oracle. Like this one on teen pregnancy – it took me forever to come up with a good angle! But then I realized that things had really started a while ago, when we heard about the pregnancy pact at Big Mesa–”
“I thought this was about me, not you,” the devil growled, looking up at Elizabeth with angry, serpent-like eyes.
“Sorry,” Elizabeth said, blushing. “I promise to be a better listener from now on.”
“OK,” the devil said, swallowing hard. “This is just so difficult for me to talk about.”
“It’s all right,” Elizabeth said softly. “You can tell me.”
“I guess – I guess I’d blame everything on my parents,” the devil began. “They got divorced when I was really little, because my mom was a whore, and my dad never really cared about me. He would, like, smack me around and stuff. You can imagine how warped that made me.”
“Oh, absolutely,” Elizabeth agreed. “Pretty much the same thing happened to Aaron Dallas when his parents got divorced. You should have seen him! He was totally out of control – hitting people on the soccer field and pushing everyone around. Have you thought about going to therapy? That seemed to work really well for Aaron.”
The devil sighed. “I’ve been to countless therapists, Liz,” he said. “None of them has been able to help me.”
“Oh,” she said thoughtfully, giving him a small smile. “Well, let’s hope I’m more effective!”
“So I already had anger issues because of the divorce,” Satan continued. “But when I got to high school, I realized that my race was suddenly an issue. It was like no one wanted to be around me.”
“Your race?” Elizabeth said. “I hadn’t noticed. I just love minorities!”
“That’s very kind of you to say,” Satan acknowledged. “But, really, you didn’t notice that I’m half-human, half-goat?”
Elizabeth blushed. “Well, yes, but it doesn’t matter to me,” she said. “Like I said, I find minorities just fascinating.”
“It’s really hard being biracial,” the devil continued. “Not to mention being biracial and from a broken, abusive home. I had to fight against so many stereotypes, and, well, I ended up fighting many of my classmates, too. Maybe not with my fists, like your friend Aaron or that guy Todd. But I used mind control, making people do all sorts of things they really didn’t want to do.”
“Sure,” Elizabeth commiserated. “That’s understandable. Not a great thing to do, but I get why you did it.”
“So, as you can imagine, I took the heat for a lot of stuff – including some things I didn’t even force people to do! I became a convenient excuse whenever someone wanted to do something bad but absolve themselves of all guilt,” he said. “And of course, that just made me even more angry.”
“It’s a vicious cycle,” Elizabeth said, gently placing a hand on his arm.
“I guess I’ve done some things I shouldn’t have done,” he said.
“Don’t beat yourself up over it,” Elizabeth said. “It’s not too late.”
“I want to change,” he said passionately, looking up into Elizabeth’s blue-green eyes. “I really, really want to change.”
“Well, then, it’s pretty simple, isn’t it?” Elizabeth asked, a slow smile spreading across her face. “Just change.”
“It doesn’t seem that simple,” he said. “It seems really hard.”
“Nobody who is anybody in Sweet Valley has gotten to where they are without changing some vital aspect of themselves to please others,” Elizabeth said. “Except for maybe me and Jessica. My point is, once you make the change and decide to start using your powers for good instead of evil, everything will magically get better and you’ll have a boyfriend and become marginally popular.”
“Really?” the devil asked, perking up.
“Really,” Elizabeth said with a knowing smile. “I promise.”
“I’m going to do it,” the devil said. “I’m going to start today. Thanks, Elizabeth! You’ve been a big help!”
“You’re welcome,” Elizabeth said warmly, as they got out of the booth and exchanged a big hug. “Now get back to hell and remember to be nice!”
“I sure will,” the devil said, smiling at his new friend. “I sure will.”
* * *
“Well, I guess all’s well that ends well, huh, Liz?” Jessica asked at breakfast the next morning.
“Things always end well in Sweet Valley,” Elizabeth said, cutting up Jessica’s sausage.
Mr. Wakefield smiled at his daughters. “And to think, your mother and I are now grandparents!”
“Don’t get too excited,” Jessica warned, glancing over at her and Elizabeth’s babies, who were fast asleep in their high chairs. “I’m sure we’ll forget all about these two when some important dance or television show or high school theatre production comes up.”
“I wonder what will happen to them then,” Elizabeth said thoughtfully.
Jessica shrugged, chewing on a huge mouthful of meat. “Who cares?”
“They’ll probably just drift off into the ether,” Elizabeth said. “Or maybe the ghostwriters will totally forget about them, like what happened to Todd’s sister. Or was it a brother? It’s just as well. I’m not really ready to be a parent.”
“Like I am?” Jessica said, digging violently into a pile of scrambled eggs. “I’d rather be at the beach. I wish I had a servant to take care of my baby. Lila’s so lucky.”
“So what about you, Steven?” Mrs. Wakefield asked, turning to her oldest child. “When can we expect you to be a father?”
“Oh, uh, it might be a while, actually,” he said, looking down at his plate as if he were embarrassed. “Billie had a miscarriage last week – didn’t I tell you?”
“I don’t think so,” Mrs. Wakefield said. “But I really think the two of you should just go ahead and get married, anyway. And Jessica and Elizabeth can be your maids of honor! I saw the cutest little melon-colored dresses that would look just gorgeous on the twins–”
“Hey, now, slow your roll, Alice,” Mr. Wakefield said, holding up a hand. “We have enough on our plates right now with a pair of grandkids. Besides, I’m pretty sure I’ll have to defend Mr. Collins again, so I’m really busy at work these days.”
“I’m so glad Mr. Collins will be back at Sweet Valley High,” Elizabeth said. “He’s the best! And he loved my teen pregnancy article – it’s going to be the front-page story in this week’s edition of The Oracle!”
“That’s wonderful, dear,” Mrs. Wakefield said warmly, passing Jessica another tall glass of orange juice.
“I can’t believe they rebuilt the gym already,” Mr. Wakefield said, tapping at an article in the Sunday edition of the Sweet Valley News.
“And they added a day care center!” Elizabeth said excitedly. She looked over at her son, smiling.
“How can we top this?” Jessica asked. “It’s been a pretty crazy couple of weeks.”
“Paternity testing, probably,” Elizabeth said. “I mean, I know who my baby’s father is, but I have my doubts about everyone else.”
“Oh, Mr. Collins, totally,” Jessica said. “I mean, I wouldn’t get knocked up by a common high school teacher, but I know a lot of girls at Sweet Valley High who would.”
“You really think so?” Elizabeth asked.
“Oh, yeah,” Jessica said. “I mean, most of the guys at Sweet Valley High are completely nonthreatening males. And not in a good way. I’ve been sexually aggressive for years, and hardly any of them take the bait.”
Will Jessica and Elizabeth get to the bottom of Sweet Valley High’s baby daddy crisis? Will Maury get involved? Will another broke-ass weave be ripped off in the midst of a raging catfight when it’s revealed that one man (or boy) is the father of multiple children? Find out in Sweet Valley High No. 42,839, WHO’S YOUR DADDY?