1. Integrated requirements for learning outcomes on modules
  4. Outcomes Assessment
  7. Virginia grew quite grave, and her little lips trembled like rose-leaves. She came towards him, and kneeling down at his side, looked up into his old withered face. 1
  8. Virginia grew quite grave, and her little lips trembled like rose-leaves. She came towards him, and kneeling down at his side, looked up into his old withered face. 2
  9. Virginia grew quite grave, and her little lips trembled like rose-leaves. She came towards him, and kneeling down at his side, looked up into his old withered face. 3


Bwith her mother, arguing in a taxi in front of Takashimaya. Nenjoying a joint on the steps of the Met. Cbuying new school shoes at Barneys. And a familiar, tall, eerily beautiful blond girl emerging from a New Haven line train in Grand Central Station. Approximate age, seventeen. Could it be? Sis back?!


Yes, S is back from boarding school. Her hair is longer, paler. Her blue eyes have that deep mysteriousness of kept secrets. She is wearing the same old fabulous clothes, now in rags from fending off New England storms. This morning Ss laughter echoed off the steps of the Met, where we will no longer be able to enjoy a quick smoke and a cappuccino without seeing her waving to us from her parents apartment across the street. She has picked up the habit of biting her fingernails, which makes us wonder about her even more, and while we are all dying to ask her why she got kicked out of boarding school, we wont, because wed really rather she had stayed away. But S is definitely here.

Just to be safe, we should all synchronize our watches. If we arent careful, S is going to win over our teachers, wear that dress we couldnt fit into, eat the last olive, have sex in our parents beds, spill Campari on our rugs, steal our brothers and our boyfriends hearts, and basically ruin our lives and piss us all off in a major way.

Ill be watching closely. Ill be watching all of us. Its going to be a wild and wicked year. I can smell it.



like most juicy stories, it started at a party

I watched Nickelodeon all morning in my room so I wouldnt have to eat breakfast with them, Blair Waldorf told her two best friends and Constance Billard School classmates, Kati Farkas and Isabel Coates. My mother cooked him an omelet. I didnt even know she knew how to use the stove.

Blair tucked her long, dark brown hair behind her ears and swigged her mothers fine vintage scotch from the crystal tumbler in her hand. She was already on her second glass.

What shows did you watch? Isabel asked, removing a stray strand of hair from Blairs black cashmere cardigan.

Who cares? Blair said, stamping her foot. She was wearing her new black ballet flats. Very bow-tie proper preppy, which she could get away with because she could change her mind in an instant and put on her trashy, pointed, knee-high boots and that sexy metallic skirt her mother hated. Poofrock star sex kitten. Meow.

The point is, I was trapped in my room all morning because they were busy having a gross romantic breakfast in their matching red silk bathrobes. They didnt even take showers. Blair took another gulp of her drink. The only way to tolerate the thought of her mother sleeping with that man was to get drunkvery drunk.

Luckily Blair and her friends came from the kind of families for whom drinking was as commonplace as blowing your nose. Their parents believed in the quasi-European idea that the more access kids have to alcohol, the less likely they are to abuse it. So Blair and her friends could drink whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, as long as they maintained their grades and their looks and didnt embarrass themselves or the family by puking in public, pissing their pants, or ranting in the streets. The same thing went for everything else, like sex or drugsas long as you kept up appearances, you were all right.

But keep your panties on. Thats coming later.

The man Blair was so upset about was Cyrus Rose, her mothers new boyfriend. At that very moment Cyrus Rose was standing on the other side of the living room, greeting the dinner guests. He looked like someone who might help you pick out shoes at Saksbald, except for a small, bushy mustache, his fat stomach barely hidden in a shiny blue double-breasted suit. He jingled the change in his pocket incessantly, and when he took his jacket off, there were big, nasty sweat marks on his underarms. He had a loud laugh and was very sweet to Blairs mother. But he wasnt Blairs father. Last year Blairs father ran off to France with another man.

No kidding. They live in a chateau and run a vineyard together. Which is actually pretty cool if you think about it.

Of course none of that was Cyrus Roses fault, but that didnt matter to Blair. As far as Blair was concerned, Cyrus Rose was a completely annoying, fat, loser.

But tonight Blair was going to have to tolerate Cyrus Rose, because the dinner party her mother was giving was in his honor, and all the Waldorfs family friends were there to meet him: the Bass family and their sons Chuck and Donald; Mr. Farkas and his daughter, Kati; the well-known actor Arthur Coates, his wife Titi, and their daughters, Isabel, Regina, and Camilla; Captain and Mrs. Archibald and their son Nate. The only ones still missing were Mr. and Mrs. van der Woodsen whose teenage daughter, Serena, and son, Erik, were both away at school.

Blairs mother was famous for her dinner parties, and this was her first since her infamous divorce. The Waldorf penthouse had been expensively redecorated that summer in deep reds and chocolate browns, and it was full of antiques and artwork that would have impressed anyone who knew anything about art. In the center of the dining room table was an enormous silver bowl full of white orchids, pussy willows, and chestnut tree branchesa modern ensemble from Takashimaya, the Fifth Avenue luxury goods store. Gold-leafed place cards lay on every porcelain plate. In the kitchen, Myrtle the cook was singing Bob Marley songs to the soufflé, and the sloppy Irish maid, Esther, hadnt poured scotch down anyones dress yet, thank God.

Blair was the one getting sloppy. And if Cyrus Rose didnt stop harassing Nate, her boyfriend, she was going to have to go over there and spill her scotch all over his tacky Italian loafers.

You and Blair have been going out a long time, am I right? Cyrus said, punching Nate in the arm. He was trying to get the kid to loosen up a little. All these Upper East Side kids were way too uptight.

Thats what he thinks. Give them time.

You sleep with her yet? Cyrus asked.

Nate turned redder than the upholstery on the eighteenth-century French chaise next to him. Well, weve known each other practically since we were born, he stuttered. But weve only been going out for like, a year. We dont want to ruin it by, you know, rushing, before were ready? Nate was just spitting back the line that Blair always gave him when he asked her if she was ready to do it or not. But he was talking to his girlfriends mothers boyfriend. What was he supposed to say, Dude, if I had my way wed be doing it right now?

Absolutely, Cyrus Rose said. He clasped Nates shoulder with a fleshy hand. Around his wrist was one of those gold Cartier cuff bracelets that you screw on and never take offvery popular in the 1980s and not so popular now, unless youve actually bought into that whole 80s revival thing. Hello?

Let me give you some advice, Cyrus told Nate, as if Nate had a choice. Dont listen to a word that girl says. Girls like surprises. They want you to keep things interesting. You know what I mean?

Nate nodded, frowning. He tried to remember the last time hed surprised Blair. The only thing that came to mind was the time hed brought her an ice cream cone when he picked her up at her tennis lesson. That was over a month ago, and it was a pretty lame surprise by any standard. At this rate, he and Blair might never have sex.

Nate was one of those boys you look at and while youre looking at them, you know theyre thinking, that girl cant take her eyes off me because Im so hot. Although he didnt act at all conceited about it. He couldnt help looking hot, he was just born that way. Poor guy.

That night Nate was wearing the moss-green cashmere V-neck sweater Blair had given him last Easter, when her father had taken them skiing in Sun Valley for a week. Secretly, Blair had sewn a tiny gold heart pendant onto the inside of one of the sweaters sleeves, so that Nate would always be wearing her heart on his sleeve. Blair liked to think of herself as a hopeless romantic in the style of old movie actresses like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. She was always coming up with plot devices for the movie she was starring in at the moment, the movie that was her life.

I love you, Blair had told Nate breathily when she gave him the sweater.

Me too, Nate had said back, although he wasnt exactly sure if it was true or not.

When he put the sweater on, it looked so good on him that Blair wanted to scream and rip all her clothes off. But it seemed unattractive to scream in the heat of the momentmore femme fatale than girl-who-gets-boyso Blair kept quiet, trying to remain fragile and baby-birdlike in Nates arms. They kissed for a long time, their cheeks hot and cold at the same time from being out on the slopes all day. Nate twined his fingers in Blairs hair and pulled her down on the hotel bed. Blair put her arms above her head and let Nate begin to undress her, until she realized where this was all heading, and that it wasnt a movie after all, it was real. So, like a good girl, she sat up and made Nate stop.

Shed kept on making him stop right on up until today. Only two nights ago, Nate had come over after a party with a half-drunk flask of brandy in his pocket and had lain down on her bed and murmured, I want you, Blair. Once again, Blair had wanted to scream and jump on top of him, but she resisted. Nate fell asleep, snoring softly, and Blair lay down next to him and imagined that she and Nate were starring in a movie in which they were married and he had a drinking problem, but she would stand by him always and love him forever, even if he occasionally wet the bed.

Blair wasnt trying to be a tease, she just wasnt ready. She and Nate had barely seen each other at all over the summer because she had gone to that horrible boot camp of a tennis school in North Carolina, and Nate had gone sailing with his father off the coast of Maine. Blair wanted to make sure that after spending the whole summer apart they still loved each other as much as ever. She had wanted to wait to have sex until her seventeenth birthday next month.

But now she was through with waiting.

Nate was looking better than ever. The moss-green sweater had turned his eyes a dark, sparkling green, and his wavy brown hair was streaked with golden blond from his summer on the ocean. And, just like that, Blair knew she was ready. She took another sip of her scotch. Oh, yes. She was definitely ready.

an hour of sex burns 360 calories

What are you two talking about? Blairs mother asked, sidling up to Nate and squeezing Cyruss hand.

Sex, Cyrus said, giving her a wet kiss on the ear.


Oh! Eleanor Waldorf squealed, patting her blown-out blond bob.

Blairs mother was wearing the fitted, graphite-beaded cashmere dress that Blair had helped her pick out from Armani, and little black velvet mules. A year ago she wouldnt have fit into the dress, but she had lost twenty pounds since she met Cyrus. She looked fantastic. Everyone thought so.

She does look thinner, Blair heard Mrs. Bass whisper to Mrs. Coates. But Ill bet shes had a chin tuck.

I bet youre right. Shes grown her hair outthats the telltale sign. It hides the scars, Mrs. Coates whispered back.

The room was abuzz with snatches of gossip about Blairs mother and Cyrus Rose. From what Blair could hear, her mothers friends felt exactly the same way she did, although they didnt exactly use words like annoying, fat, or loser.

I smell Old Spice, Mrs. Coates whispered to Mrs. Archibald. Do you think hes actually wearing Old Spice?

That would be the male equivalent of wearing Impulse body spray, which everyone knows is the female equivalent of nasty.

Im not sure, Mrs. Archibald whispered back. But I think he might be. She snatched a cod-and-caper spring roll off Esthers platter, popped it into her mouth, and chewed it vigorously, refusing to say anything more. She couldnt bear for Eleanor Waldorf to overhear them. Gossip and idle chat were amusing, but not at the expense of an old friends feelings.

Bullshit! Blair would have said if she could have heard Mrs. Archibalds thoughts. Hypocrite! All of these people were terrible gossips. And if youre going to do it, why not enjoy it?

Across the room, Cyrus grabbed Eleanor and kissed her on the lips in full view of everyone. Blair shrank away from the revolting sight of her mother and Cyrus acting like geeky teens with a crush and turned to look out the penthouse window at Fifth Avenue and Central Park. The fall foliage was on fire. A lone bicyclist rode out of the Seventy-second Street entrance to the park and stopped at the hot-dog vendor on the corner to buy a bottle of water. Blair had never noticed the hot-dog vendor before, and she wondered if he always parked there, or if he was new. It was funny how much you could miss in what you saw every day.

Suddenly Blair was starving, and she knew just what she wanted: A hot dog. She wanted one right nowa steaming hot Sabrette hot dog with mustard and ketchup and onions and sauerkrautand she was going to eat it in three bites and then burp in her mothers face. If Cyrus could stick his tongue down her mothers throat in front of all of her friends, then she could eat a stupid hot dog.

Ill be right back, Blair told Kati and Isabel.

She whirled around and began to walk across the room to the front hall. She was going to put on her coat, go outside, get a hot dog from the vendor, eat it in three bites, come back, burp in her mothers face, have another drink, and then have sex with Nate.

Where are you going? Kati called after her. But Blair didnt stop; she headed straight for the door.

Nate saw Blair coming and extracted himself from Cyrus and Blairs mother just in time.

Blair? he said. Whats up?

Blair stopped and looked up into Nates sexy green eyes. They were like the emeralds in the cufflinks her father wore with his tux when he went to the opera.

Hes wearing your heart on his sleeve, she reminded herself, forgetting all about the hot dog. In the movie of her life, Nate would pick her up and carry her away to the bedroom and ravish her.

But this was real life, unfortunately.

I have to talk to you, Blair said. She held out her glass. Fill me up, first?

Nate took her glass and Blair led him over to the marble-topped wet bar by the French doors that opened onto the dining room. Nate poured them each a tumbler full of scotch and then followed Blair across the living room once more.

Hey, where are you two going? Chuck Bass asked as they walked by. He raised his eyebrows, leering at them suggestively.

Blair rolled her eyes at Chuck and kept walking, drinking as she went. Nate followed her, ignoring Chuck completely.

Chuck Bass, the oldest son of Misty and Bartholomew Bass, was handsome, aftershave-commercial handsome. In fact, hed starred in a British Drakkar Noir commercial, much to his parents public dismay and secret pride. Chuck was also the horniest boy in Blair and Nates group of friends. Once, at a party in ninth grade, Chuck had hidden in a guest bedroom closet for two hours, waiting to crawl into bed with Kati Farkas, who was so drunk she kept throwing up in her sleep. Chuck didnt even mind. He just got in bed with her. He was completely unshakeable when it came to girls.

The only way to deal with a guy like Chuck is to laugh in his face, which is exactly what all the girls who knew him did. In other circles, Chuck might have been banished as a slimeball of the highest order, but these families had been friends for generations. Chuck was a Bass, and so they were stuck with him. They had even gotten used to his gold monogrammed pinky ring, his trademark navy blue monogrammed cashmere scarf, and the copies of his headshot, which littered his parents many houses and apartments and spilled out of his locker at the Riverside Preparatory School for Boys.

Dont forget to use protection, Chuck called, raising his glass at Blair and Nate as they turned down the long, red-carpeted hallway to Blairs bedroom.

Blair grasped the glass doorknob and turned it, surprising her Russian Blue cat, Kitty Minky, who was curled up on the red silk bedspread. Blair paused at the threshold and leaned back against Nate, pressing her body into his. She reached down to take his hand.

At that moment, Nates hopes perked up. Blair was acting sort of sultry and sexy and could it be . . . something was about to happen?

Blair squeezed Nates hand and pulled him into the room. They stumbled over each other, falling toward the bed, and spilling their drinks on the mohair rug. Blair giggled; the scotch shed pounded had gone right to her head.

Im about to have sex with Nate, she thought giddily. And then theyd both graduate in June and go to Yale in the fall and have a huge wedding four years later and find a beautiful apartment on Park Avenue and decorate the whole thing in velvet, silk, and fur and have sex in every room on a rotating basis.

Suddenly Blairs mothers voice rang out, loud and clear, down the hallway.

Serena van der Woodsen! What a lovely surprise!

Nate dropped Blairs hand and straightened up like a soldier called to attention. Blair sat down hard on the end of her bed, put her drink on the floor, and grasped the bedspread in tight, white-knuckled fists.

She looked up at Nate.

But Nate was already turning to go, striding back down the hall to see if it could possibly be true. Had Serena van der Woodsen really come back?

The movie of Blairs life had taken a sudden, tragic turn. Blair clutched her stomach, ravenous again.

She should have gone for the hot dog after all.

sis back!

Hello, hello, hello! Blairs mother crowed, kissing the smooth, hollow cheeks of each van der Woodsen.

Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss!

I know you werent expecting Serena, dear, Mrs. van der Woodsen whispered in a concerned, confidential tone. I hope its all right.

Of course. Yes, its fine, Mrs. Waldorf said. Did you come home for the weekend, Serena?

Serena van der Woodsen shook her head and handed her vintage Burberry coat to Esther, the maid. She pushed a stray blond hair behind her ear and smiled at her hostess.

When Serena smiled, she used her eyesthose dark, almost navy blue eyes. It was the kind of smile you might try to imitate, posing in the bathroom mirror like an idiot. The magnetic, delicious, you cant stop looking at me, can you? smile supermodels spend years perfecting. Well, Serena smiled that way without even trying.

No, Im here to Serena started to say.

Serenas mother interrupted hastily. Serena has decided that boarding school is not for her, she announced, patting her hair casually, as if it were no big deal. She was the middle-aged version of utter coolness.

The whole van der Woodsen family was like that. They were all tall, blond, thin, and super-poised, and they never did anythingplay tennis, hail a cab, eat spaghetti, go to the toiletwithout maintaining their cool. Serena especially. She was gifted with the kind of coolness that you cant acquire by buying the right handbag or the right pair of jeans. She was the girl every boy wants and every girl wants to be.

Serena will be back at Constance tomorrow, Mr. van der Woodsen said, glancing at his daughter with steely blue eyes and an owl-like mixture of pride and disapproval that made him look scarier than he really was.

Well, Serena. You look lovely, dear. Blair will be thrilled to see you, Blairs mother trilled.

Youre one to talk, Serena said, hugging her. Look how skinny you are! And the house looks so fantastic. Wow. Youve got some awesome art!

Mrs. Waldorf smiled, obviously pleased, and wrapped her arm around Serenas long, slender waist. Darling, Id like you to meet my special friend, Cyrus Rose, she said. Cyrus, this is Serena.

Stunning, Cyrus Rose boomed. He kissed Serena on both cheeks, and hugged her a little too tightly. Shes a good hugger, too, Cyrus added, patting Serena on the hip.

Serena giggled, but she didnt flinch. Shed spent a lot of time in Europe in the past two years, and she was used to being hugged by harmless, horny European gropers who found her completely irresistible. She was a full-on groper magnet.

Serena and Blair are best, best, best friends, Eleanor Waldorf explained to Cyrus. But Serena went away to Hanover Academy in eleventh grade and spent this summer traveling. It was so hard for poor Blair with you gone this past year, Serena, Eleanor said, growing misty-eyed. Especially with the divorce. But youre back now. Blair will be so pleased.

Where is she? Serena asked eagerly, her perfect, pale skin glowing pink with the prospect of seeing her old friend again. She stood on tip-toe and craned her head to look for Blair, but she soon found herself surrounded by parentsthe Archibalds, the Coateses, the Basses, and Mr. Farkaswho each took turns kissing her and welcoming her back.

Serena hugged them happily. These people were home to her, and shed been gone a long time. She could hardly wait for life to return to the way it used to be. She and Blair would walk to school together, spend Double Photography in Sheep Meadow in Central Park, lying on their backs, taking pictures of pigeons and clouds, smoking and drinking Coke and feeling like hard-core artistes. They would have cocktails at the Star Lounge in the Tribeca Star Hotel again, which always turned into sleepover parties because they would get too drunk to get home, so theyd spend the night in the suite Chuck Basss family kept there. They would sit on Blairs four-poster bed and watch Audrey Hepburn movies, wearing vintage lingerie and drinking gin and lime juice. They would cheat on their Latin tests like they always didamo, amas, amat was still tattooed on the inside of Serenas elbow in permanent marker (thank God for three-quarter length sleeves!). Theyd drive around Serenas parents estate in Ridgefield, Connecticut, in the caretakers old Buick station wagon, singing the stupid hymns they sang in school and acting like crazy old ladies. Theyd pee in the downstairs entrances to their classmates brownstones and then ring the doorbells and run away. Theyd take Blairs little brother, Tyler, to the Lower East Side and leave him there to see how long it took for him to find his way homea work of charity, really, since Tyler was now the most street-wise boy at St. Georges. Theyd go out dancing with a huge group and lose ten pounds just from sweating in their leather pants. As if they needed to lose the weight.

They would go back to being their regular old fabulous selves, just like always. Serena couldnt wait.

Got you a drink, Chuck Bass said, elbowing the clusters of parents out of the way and handing Serena a tumbler of whiskey. Welcome back, he added, ducking down to kiss Serenas cheek and missing it intentionally, so that his lips landed on her mouth.

You havent changed, Serena said, accepting the drink. She took a long sip. So, did you miss me?

Miss you? The question is, did you miss me? Chuck said. Come on, babe, spill. What are you doing back here? What happened? Do you have a boyfriend?

Oh, come on, Chuck, Serena said, squeezing his hand. You know I came back because I want you so badly. Ive always wanted you.

Chuck took a step back and cleared his throat, his face flushed. Shed caught him off guard, a rare feat.

Well, Im all booked up for this month, but I can put you on the waiting list, Chuck said huffily, trying to regain his composure.

But Serena was barely listening to him anymore. Her dark blue eyes scanned the room, looking for the two people she wanted to see most, Blair and Nate.

Finally Serena found them. Nate was standing by the doorway to the hall, and Blair was standing just behind him, her head bowed, fiddling with the buttons on her black cardigan. Nate was looking directly at Serena, and when her gaze met his, he bit his bottom lip the way he always did when he was embarrassed. And then he smiled.

That smile. Those eyes. That face.

Come here, Serena mouthed at him, waving her hand. Her heart sped up as Nate began walking toward her. He looked better than she remembered, much better.

Nates heart was beating even faster than hers.

Hey, you, Serena breathed when Nate hugged her. He smelled just like he always smelled. Like the cleanest, most delicious boy alive. Tears came to Serenas eyes and she pressed her face into Nates chest. Now she was really home.

Nates cheeks turned pink. Calm down, he told himself. But he couldnt calm down. He felt like picking her up and twirling her around and kissing her face over and over. I love you! he wanted to shout, but he didnt. He couldnt.

Nate was the only son of a navy captain and a French society hostess. His father was a master sailor and extremely handsome, but a little lacking in the hugs department. His mother was the complete opposite, always fawning over Nate and prone to emotional fits during which she would lock herself in her bedroom with a bottle of champagne and call her sister on her yacht in Monaco. Poor Nate was always on the verge of saying how he really felt, but he didnt want to make a scene or say something he might regret later. Instead, he kept quiet and let other people steer the boat, while he laid back and enjoyed the steady rocking of the waves.

He might look like a stud, but he was actually pretty weak.

So, what have you been up to? Nate asked Serena, trying to breathe normally. We missed you.

Notice that he wasnt even brave enough to say, I missed you?

What have I been up to? Serena repeated. She giggled. If you only knew, Nate. Ive been so, so bad!

Nate clenched his fists involuntarily. Man oh man, had he missed her.


Ignored as usual, Chuck slunk away from Serena and Nate and crossed the room to Blair, who was once again standing with Kati and Isabel.

A thousand bucks says she got kicked out, Chuck told them. And doesnt she look fucked? I think shes been thoroughly fucked. Maybe she had some sort of prostitution ring going on up there. The Merry Madam of Hanover Academy, he added, laughing at his own stupid joke.

I think she looks kind of spaced out, too, Kati said. Maybe shes on heroin.

Or some prescription drug, Isabel said. You know, like, Valium or Prozac. Maybe shes gone totally nuts.

She couldve been making her own E, Kati agreed. She was always good at science.

I heard she joined some kind of cult, Chuck offered. Like, shes been brainwashed and now all she thinks about is sex and she like, has to do it all the time.

When is dinner going to be ready? Blair wondered, tuning out her friends ridiculous speculations.

She had forgotten how pretty Serenas hair was. How perfect her skin was. How long and thin her legs were. What Nates eyes looked like when he looked at herlike he never wanted to blink. He never looked at Blair that way.

Hey Blair, Serena must have told you she was coming back, Chuck said. Come on, tell us. Whats the deal?

Blair stared back at him blankly, her small, fox-like face turning red. The truth was, she hadnt really spoken to Serena in over a year.

At first, when Serena had gone to boarding school after sophomore year, Blair had really missed her. But it soon became apparent how much easier it was to shine without Serena around. Suddenly Blair was the prettiest, the smartest, the hippest, most happening girl in the room. She became the one everyone looked to. So Blair stopped missing Serena so much. Shed felt a little guilty for not staying in touch, but even that had worn off when shed received Serenas flip and impersonal e-mails describing all the fun she was having at boarding school.


Hitchhiked to Vermont to go snowboarding and spent the night dancing with the hottest guys!


Crazy night last night. Damn, my head hurts!


The last news Blair had received was a postcard this past summer:

Blair: Turned seventeen on Bastille Day. France rocks!! Miss you!!! Love, Serena, was all it said.

Blair had tucked the postcard into her old Fendi shoebox with all the other mementos from their friendship. A friendship she would cherish forever, but which shed thought of as over until now.

Serena was back. The lid was off the shoebox, and everything would go back to the way it was before she left. As always, it would be Serena and Blair, Blair and Serena, with Blair playing the smaller, fatter, mousier, less witty best friend of the blond über-girl, Serena van der Woodsen.

Or not. Not if Blair could help it.

You must be so excited Serenas here! Isabel chirped. But when she saw the look on Blairs face, she changed her tune. Of course Constance took her back. Its so typical. Theyre too desperate to lose any of us. Isabel lowered her voice. I heard last spring Serena was fooling around with some townie up in New Hampshire. She had an abortion, she added.

I bet it wasnt her first one either, Chuck said. Just look at her.

And so they did. All four of them looked at Serena, who was still chatting happily with Nate. Chuck saw the girl hed wanted to sleep with since he could remember wanting to sleep with girlsfirst grade, maybe? Kati saw the girl shed been copying since she started shopping for her own clothesthird grade? Isabel saw the girl whod gotten to be an angel with wings made out of real feathers at the Church of the Heavenly Rest Christmas pageant, while Isabel was a lowly shepherd and had to wear a burlap sack. Third grade again. Both Kati and Isabel saw the girl who would inevitably steal Blair away from them and leave them with only each other, which was too dull to even think about. And Blair saw Serena, her best friend, the girl she would always love and hate. The girl she could never measure up to and had tried so hard to replace. The girl shed wanted everyone to forget.

For about ten seconds Blair thought about telling her friends the truth: She didnt know Serena was coming back. But how would that look? Blair was supposed to be plugged in, and how plugged in would she sound if she admitted she knew nothing about Serenas return, while her friends seemed to know so much? Blair couldnt very well stand there and say nothing. That would be too obvious. She always had something to say. Besides, who wanted to hear the truth when the truth was so incredibly boring? Blair lived for drama. Here was her chance.

Blair cleared her throat. It all happened very . . . suddenly, she said mysteriously.

She looked down and fiddled with the little ruby ring on the middle finger of her right hand. The film was rolling, and Blair was getting warmed up.

I think Serena is pretty messed up about it. But I promised her I wouldnt say anything, she added.

Her friends nodded as if they understood completely. It sounded serious and juicy, and best of all it sounded like Serena had confided everything to Blair. If only Blair could script the rest of the movie, shed wind up with the boy for sure. And Serena could play the girl who falls off the cliff and cracks her skull on a rock and is eaten alive by hungry vultures, never to be seen again.

Careful, Blair, Chuck warned, nodding at Serena and Nate, who were still talking in low voices over by the wet bar, their eyes never straying from each others faces. Looks like Serenas already found her next victim.

: 2015-09-15; : 13;

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