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Little J buying a huge book on filmmaking at Shakespeare and Co. on Broadway. N hanging out with C at a bar over on First Avenue. Guess N wants to keep his eye on C so C doesn’t spill the beans, huh? And B buying lots of candles in a shop on Lex for her big night with N.
That’s all for now. Have fun this weekend—I definitely will.
You know you love me,
The Star Lounge in the Tribeca Star Hotel was big and swanky, filled with comfy armchairs and ottomans and circular banquettes, so that the guests could feel like they were having their own private party at each table. One wall was lit with dozens of black candles, flickering in the dimly lit room, and a DJ was playing mellow lounge beats on a turntable. It was only eight o’clock, but the bar was already jammed with people, dressed in the hippest fashions and sipping pastel-colored cocktails.
Blair didn’t care what time it was—she needed a drink.
She was sitting in an armchair right near the bar, but the stupid cocktail waitress was ignoring her, probably because Blair hadn’t bothered to dress up. She had worn her faded Earl jeans and a boring black sweater because she was only meeting Serena for a quick drink before she went home to prepare for her night of wild sex with Nate. And she wasn’t going to dress up for that, either. Blair had decided to meet Nate at the door naked.
Her face grew hot just thinking about it, and she looked around the room self-consciously. She felt like a loser sitting there all by herself without even a drink. Where was Serena, anyway? She didn’t have all goddamned night.
Blair lit a cigarette. If Serena doesn’t come by the time I’m done with this cigarette, I’m leaving, she told herself sulkily.
“Look at her,” Blair heard a woman say to her friend. “Isn’t she beautiful?”
Blair turned to look. Of course it was Serena.
She was wearing blue suede knee-high boots and a real Pucci dress. Long sleeved with a high neck and a crystal beaded belt, in blues, oranges, and greens. It was super fantastic. Her hair was pulled up in a high ponytail on top of her head and she was wearing pale blue eye shadow and creamy pink lipstick. She smiled and waved at Blair from across the room, weaving her way through the crowd. Blair watched the heads turn as she passed, and her stomach churned. She was already sick of Serena, and she hadn’t even spoken to her yet.
“Hi,” Serena said, plunking herself down on a square ottoman beside Blair’s chair.
Immediately, the cocktail waitress appeared.
“Hey Serena, long time no see. How’s your brother?” the waitress said.
“Hey Missy. Erik’s good. He’s too busy to call me ever. I think he must have like, eight different girlfriends up there,” Serena laughed. “How are you doing?”
“I’m great,” Missy said. “Hey listen, my sister works for a caterer, you know, and she said she saw you a few days ago at a party she was working at a gallery in Chelsea. She said that’s you in that picture on all the buses. Is that true?”
“Yeah,” Serena said. “Pretty crazy, huh?”
“You are so rad!” Missy squealed. She glanced at Blair who was glaring at her. “Anyway, what can I get you girls?”
“Ketel One and tonic,” Blair told her, looking her straight in the eye, daring her to card them. “Extra limes.”
But Missy would rather lose her job than hassle Serena van der Woodsen for being underage.
That’s the whole reason for going to hotel bars in the first place: no one ever cards.
“And for you, sweetie?” Missy asked Serena.
“Oh, I better start with a Cosmo,” Serena said, and laughed. “I need something pink to go with my dress.”
Missy hurried away to fetch the drinks, eager to tell the bartender that the girl in the Remi brothers’ photo that was all over town was sitting in their bar and they were pals!
“Sorry I’m late,” Serena told Blair, looking around. “I thought everyone else would be here with you.”
Blair shrugged her shoulders and took a long drag on her dwindling cigarette. “I thought we could hang out by ourselves for a while,” she said. “No one really comes out until later, anyway.”
“Okay,” Serena said. She smoothed out her dress and dug around in her little red purse for her own pack of cigarettes. Gauloises, from France. She tapped one out and stuck it in her mouth. “Want one?” she offered Blair.
Blair shook her head no.
“They’re kind of strong, but the box is too cool, I don’t care.” Serena laughed. She was about to light up with a pack of bar matches, when the bartender swooped in with a lighter.
“Thanks,” she said, raising her eyes to look at him. The bartender winked at her and swiftly stepped back behind the bar. Missy brought them their drinks.
“To old times,” Serena said, clinking her glass against Blair’s and taking a long sip on her pink Cosmopolitan. She sat back on her stool and sighed with pleasure. “Don’t you just love hotels?” she said. “They’re so full of secrets.”
Blair raised her eyebrows at Serena in silent response, sure that Serena was about to tell her all the wild and crazy things that had happened to her in hotels while she was in Europe or wherever, as if Blair cared.
“I mean, don’t you always think about what everyone’s doing in their rooms? Like, they could be watching pornos and eating cheese doodles, or they could be having kinky sex in the bathroom. Or maybe they’re just asleep.”
“Uh-huh,” said Blair disinterestedly, gulping her drink. She would have to get a little drunk if she were going to make it through the night, especially the naked part. “So what’s this about your picture being all over buses and stuff?” Blair said. “I haven’t seen it.”
Serena giggled and leaned toward Blair confidentially. “Even if you saw it, you probably wouldn’t recognize me. It has my name on it, but it’s not a picture of my face.”
Blair frowned. “I don’t get it,” she said.
“It’s art,” Serena said mysteriously, and giggled again. She took a sip of her drink.
The two girls’ faces were only inches apart, and Blair could smell the musky essential-oil mixture Serena had started wearing.
“I still don’t get it. Is it something dirty?” Blair said, confused.
“Not really,” Serena answered with a sly smile. “Lots of people have had theirs done too. You know—celebrities.”
“Like who?” Blair said.
“Like Madonna, and Eminem, and Christina Aguilera.”
“Oh,” Blair said, sounding unimpressed.
Serena’s eyes narrowed. “What’s that supposed to mean?” she demanded.
Blair lifted her chin and tucked her straight brown hair behind her ears. “I don’t know, it’s like you’re willing to do anything just to shock people. Don’t you have any pride?”
Serena shook her head, still staring at Blair. “Like what? What have I done?” she said, frantically gnawing on her fingernails.
“Like getting kicked out of boarding school,” Blair said vaguely.
Serena snorted. “What’s so bad about that? Tons of people get kicked out every year. They have so many stupid rules, it’s almost impossible not to get kicked out.”
Blair pressed her lips together, measuring her words carefully. “I don’t mean that, I mean why you got kicked out.” There. She had done it. She had committed herself now. She was going to have to sit and listen to Serena tell her all about the cults she had joined, and the boys she’d had sex with, and the drugs she had done. Shit.
Don’t believe for a minute that she wasn’t curious, though.
Blair fiddled with the ruby ring on her finger, turning it round and round. Serena raised her glass at Missy, asking for another drink.
“Blair,” Serena said. “The only reason I got kicked out was because I didn’t show up at the beginning of school. I stayed in France. My parents didn’t even know. I was supposed to fly back at the end of August, but I stayed until the third week in September. I was living in this amazing chateau outside of Cannes, and it was like, a constant party. I don’t think I slept a whole night the entire time I was there. It was like those parties in that house in The Great Gatsby.
“There were these two boys, an older brother and a younger one, and I was totally in love with both of them. Actually,” she laughed, “I was even more in love with their father, but he was married.”
The Star Lounge DJ switched vibes and began to play a funky acid jazz song with a cool beat. The lights dimmed and the candles flickered. Serena jiggled her foot to the music and glanced at Blair, whose eyes were glazing over.
Serena lit another cigarette and inhaled deeply.
“Anyway, of course I partied a lot at school, but so did everyone else. What the school couldn’t deal with was that I didn’t even bother to show up at the beginning of the year. I don’t blame them, I guess. But to tell you the truth, I really didn’t care about going back to school. I was having way too much fun.”
Blair rolled her eyes again. She honestly didn’t care what the truth was.
“Did you ever think about the fact that these are like, the most important years of our lives? Like, for getting into college and everything?” she said.
Missy brought Serena’s drink, and this time Serena only nodded her thanks. She looked down at the floor, her pinky nail between her teeth. “Yeah, I’m just realizing that now,” she admitted. “I hadn’t thought about it before—how I should have been joining teams and clubs. You know, getting really into the school thing.”
Blair shook her head. “I feel sorry for your parents,” she said quietly.
Serena’s eyes were getting big, and her lip was trembling. But she was determined not to let Blair make her cry. Blair was just being a bitch, that’s all. Maybe she was getting her period.
Serena took a huge gulp of her drink and wiped her mouth with her cocktail napkin. “So, you never told me what you and Nate did all summer. Did you ever go up to Maine and see that boat he built?” she asked, completely changing the subject.
Blair shook her head. “I had tennis camp. It sucked.”
“Oh,” Serena said.
They drank their drinks in awkward silence.
Serena sat up suddenly, remembering something. “Hey,” she said. “You know, some girl actually signed up to help me with my movie? A ninth grader. Her name is Jenny. And she gave me an invitation to that party next week. You know, the one you’ve been planning?”
Touché, girlfriend. Touché.
Blair pulled another cigarette out of the pack and stuck it in her mouth. She reached for a match, pausing before she struck it to see if the bartender would leap across the room with a lighter. He didn’t. Blair lit the cigarette herself and blew a big cloud of smoke directly into Serena’s face.
So Serena knew about the party. She had an invitation. Well, she was bound to find out anyway.
“The calligrapher,” Blair said, smiling sweetly. “She’s good, isn’t she?”
“Yeah, she did a great job,” Serena said. “And it was really nice of her to notice that mine had the wrong address on it. She said the address you gave her was my dorm room at Hanover.”
Blair tucked her hair behind her ears and shrugged her shoulders. “Oops,” she said, feigning cluelessness. “Sorry about that.”
“So tell me about the party,” Serena said. “What’s it for again?”
Blair couldn’t talk about the cause without smiling self-consciously because it sounded so lame and unsexy. That’s why she’d named the party Kiss on the Lips. To give it some allure. “It’s for those two peregrine falcons that live in Central Park. They’re an endangered species, and everyone’s worried that they’re going to die or starve or the squirrels will raid their nests or whatever. So they set up a foundation for them,” she explained. “Don’t laugh. I know it’s kind of stupid.”
Serena blew out a puff of smoke and giggled. “Well, it’s not like there aren’t people that need saving. I mean, what about the homeless?”
“Well, it’s as good a cause as any. We wanted something that wasn’t too heavy to start the season off,” Blair huffed, annoyed. It was fine for her to laugh at the cause she’d chosen for the party, but Serena had no right.
Serena steered the conversation back on course. “So is the party like, just for us, or is it for parents, too?” she asked.
Blair hesitated. “Just . . . us,” she said finally. She downed the rest of her drink and looked at her watch. “Um, I kind of have to take off,” she said. She slid her bag over her arm and picked her pack of cigarettes up off the table.
Serena frowned. She had taken her time getting dressed, psyching herself up for a wild night out with her friends. She’d expected a big group—Blair and the other girls, Nate and his gang, Chuck and his boys—all the people they always used to hang out with.
“But I thought we would stay here for a while. Wait for everyone else,” Serena said. “Where are you going, anyway?”
“I have a practice SAT tomorrow morning,” Blair said, feeling extremely superior, even though she was lying her ass off. “I need to prepare for it, and I want to go to bed early.”
“Oh,” Serena said. She crossed her arms and sat back on her stool. “I was hoping we’d all wind up partying in the Basses’ suite upstairs. They still have it, don’t they?”
Back in tenth grade, Serena and Blair and her friends had spent many a night in Chuck Bass’s suite, drinking and dancing, watching movies and ordering room service, taking hot tubs. Together, they’d pass out on the king-sized bed and stay there until they were sober enough to make their way home.
Once, during a very drunken night at the end of tenth grade, Serena and Blair were soaking in the hot tub, and Blair had kissed Serena full on the lips. Serena hadn’t seemed to remember it the next morning, but Blair never forgot it. Even though it was just an impulse move that didn’t mean anything, thinking about that kiss always made her feel hot and itchy and uncomfortable. That was another reason why it had been such a relief when Serena went away.
“The Basses still have the suite,” Blair said, standing up. “But they really don’t appreciate people using it. This isn’t tenth grade anymore,” she added coldly.
“Okay,” Serena said. She couldn’t say anything right, could she? At least, not to Blair.
“Well, have a good weekend,” Blair said with a stiff smile, as if they’d only just met. As if they hadn’t known each other all their lives. She dropped twenty dollars on the table for their drinks. “Excuse me,” she told the three tall boys who were blocking her path. “Can I get by?”
Serena twirled her drink straw around in her glass and sipped the dregs of her Cosmopolitan, watching Blair leave. The drink tasted salty now, because she was about to cry again.
“Hey Blair—” Serena called out after her friend. Maybe if she just blurted it all out, asked Blair why she was really mad, even confessed to sleeping with Nate that one time, they could go on being friends. They could start over. Serena might even start taking an SAT prep course, so they could take practice SATs together, or whatever.
But Blair kept on pushing her way through the crowd and out the door to the street.
She walked over to Sixth Avenue to catch a cab back uptown. It was starting to rain and her hair was frizzing. A bus roared by with Serena’s picture on the side of it. Was it her belly button? It looked like the dark pit at the center of a peach. Blair turned her back on it and waved her hand in the air to flag down the next taxi. She couldn’t get away fast enough. But the first taxi that stopped for her had the same poster in the lighted advertising box on its roof. Blair got in and slammed the door angrily. She could never get completely away—Serena was fucking everywhere.
b& ncome close, but no cigar
Serena reached for another cigarette and stuck it in her mouth with trembling fingers. Suddenly a pinky-ringed hand proffered a Zippo and lit the cigarette for her. The lighter was gold, with the monogram C.B. So was the ring.
“Hey Serena. You look seriously hot,” Chuck Bass said. “What are you doing sitting here all by yourself?”
Serena inhaled deeply, quelling her tears, and smiled. “Hey Chuck. I’m glad you’re here. Blair ditched me and now I’m all alone. Is anyone else coming?”
Chuck clicked his lighter shut and put it in his pocket. He glanced around the room. “Who knows?” he said casually. “They could come, or they could not come.” He sat down in the armchair where Blair had been sitting. “You really do look hot,” he said again, staring at Serena’s legs like he wanted to eat them.
“Thanks,” Serena said and laughed. It was kind of a relief to see that Chuck was still exactly the same, even if everyone else was acting like freaks. She had to love him for that.
“Another round,” Chuck called over to Missy. “And put everything on my tab.” He handed Serena the twenty Blair had left on the table. “You can keep that,” he said.
“But it’s Blair’s,” Serena said, taking the bill and looking at it.
“Give it back to her, then,” Chuck said.
Serena nodded and stuffed the bill into her red velvet handbag.
“There you go,” Chuck said, when Missy put the drinks down. “Bottoms up!” He clinked glasses with Serena and poured scotch down his throat.
“Oops,” she said, as her Cosmo sloshed onto her dress. “Damn.”
Chuck grabbed his cocktail napkin and dabbed at the stain, which happened to be on her hip. “There, you can’t even see it,” he said, letting his hand linger near her crotch.
Serena grabbed Chuck’s hand and put it back in his lap. “Thanks, Chuck,” she said. “I think I’m okay.”
Chuck wasn’t even a tad embarrassed. He was unembarrassable.
“Hey, let’s get one more drink and take it up to my suite, okay?” he offered. “I’ll tell the bar staff to tell anyone who comes to meet us up there. They know who my friends are.”
Serena hesitated, thinking about what Blair had said about the Basses not liking people in their suite anymore. “Are you sure it’s okay?” she said.
Chuck laughed and stood up, holding out his hand to her. “Of course it’s okay. Come on.”
Even though it was raining out and he was freezing his ass off, Nate was in no hurry to get to Blair’s house. It was pretty ironic, really. Here he was, a seventeen-year-old guy, about to have sex with his girlfriend for the first time (hers, anyway). He should have been running.
She must know by now, he kept telling himself, over and over and over. How could she not? The whole city had to know by now that he had had sex with Serena. But if Blair knew, then why hadn’t she said anything?
Thinking about it was driving Nate insane.
He ducked into a liquor store on Madison Avenue and bought a half pint of Jack Daniels. He’d already smoked a little joint at home, but he’d need a shot of courage before he saw Blair. He had no idea what he was in for.
Nate walked the rest of the way as slowly as he could, taking surreptitious sips from the bottle. Just before turning down Seventy-second Street to her apartment, he bought Blair a rose.
Chuck ordered another round of drinks from the bar, and Serena followed him into the elevator and up to the Basses’ ninth-floor suite. It looked exactly the same as it always had: living room with entertainment center and bar; huge bedroom with king-sized bed and another entertainment center, as if they needed two; huge marble bathroom with hot tub and two fluffy white bathrobes. That was other great thing Serena loved about hotels—the bathrobes.
On the coffee table in the living room was a pile of photographs. Serena recognized Nate’s face in the top one and she picked them up and shuffled through them.
Chuck glanced at the pictures over her shoulder. “Last year,” he said, shaking his head. “We were pretty crazy.”
Blair, Nate, Chuck, Isabel, Kati, everyone was in them, naked in the hot tub, dancing in their underwear, drinking champagne in bed. They were all party shots from last year—the date was in the corner of each one—and they were all taken in the suite.
So Blair had lied. Everyone did still party in the Basses’ suite, same as always. And Blair wasn’t the little goody-goody she pretended to be either with her mock SAT and her prim black cardigan. In one picture Blair was wearing only her underwear, jumping up and down on the bed with a magnum of champagne in her hand.
Serena gulped her drink and sat down on one end of the couch. Chuck sat down at the other end and pulled her feet into his lap.
“Chuck,” Serena warned.
“What? I’m taking your boots off for you,” Chuck said innocently. “Don’t you want to take them off?”
Serena sighed. She felt tired all of a sudden, really tired. “Yeah, sure,” she said. She reached for the remote and clicked on the television while Chuck removed her boots. Dirty Dancing was on TBS. Perfect.
Chuck began to massage her feet. It felt good. He bit her big toe and kissed her ankle.
“Chuck,” Serena giggled, falling back on the couch and closing her eyes. The room tilted a bit. She never could hold her liquor.
Chuck worked his hands up her legs. Within seconds his fingers were plying the insides of her thighs.
“Chuck,” Serena said, opening her eyes again and sitting up. “Do you mind if we just sit here? We don’t have to do anything, okay? Let’s just hang out on the couch and watch Dirty Dancing. You know, like girls.”
Chuck crawled towards Serena on his hands and knees until he was looming over her and she was pinned beneath him. “But I’m not a girl,” he said. He lowered his face to hers, and began to kiss her. His mouth tasted like peanuts.
“Shit!” Blair shrieked when she heard the doorman buzz from downstairs. She was still wearing her clothes, and she had just spilled red candle-wax all over her rug.
Blair switched off her bedroom light and ran to answer the buzzer in the kitchen.
“Yes, send him up,” she told the doorman. She unbuttoned her jeans and flew back to her room, wriggling out of them. Then she pulled the rest of her clothes off and tossed them into the closet. Naked, she spritzed herself with her favorite perfume, even spritzing once between her legs.
Oooh, bad girl.
Blair checked out her naked body in the mirror. Her legs were too short for the rest of her body, and her boobs were small and not as “pay attention to me” as she would have liked them. Her jeans had left an angry red mark on her waist, but it was barely noticeable in the dim candlelight. Her skin was still nice and tan from the summer, but her face seemed young and scared, not nearly as sexy as it was supposed to look. And her hair was sticking up in a halo of frizz from the rain. Blair dashed into the bathroom and applied a coat of the lip gloss Serena had left on her sink to her lips and ran her hairbrush through her long brown hair until it cascaded onto her shoulders in the sexiest way possible. There, instant irresistibility.
The doorbell rang. Blair dropped her hairbrush, and it clattered into the sink.
“Hold on!” she called out. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes to say a little prayer, although she wasn’t exactly the praying type.
I hope it goes well. It was the best she could do.
Serena let Chuck kiss her for a while because he was heavy and she couldn’t get him off her. As he explored the inside of her mouth with his tongue, she watched Jennifer Grey splash around in a lake with Patrick Swayze. Finally, Serena turned her head away and closed her eyes.
“Chuck, I really don’t feel so well,” she said, pretending she was about to be sick. “Do you mind if I just lie here for a little while?”
Chuck sat up and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Sure, that’s cool,” he said. He stood up. “I’ll go get you some water.”
Chuck went over to the wet bar and filled up a glass with ice, pouring in a bottle of Poland Spring water.
When he turned to take the water back to Serena, she was already asleep. Her head had fallen back against the cushions, and her long legs twitched. Chuck sank onto the couch beside her, grabbed the clicker, and changed the channel.
“Hi,” Blair said, opening the door a crack and poking her face through it.
“Hi,” Nate said, holding the rose. His hair was wet and his cheeks were pink.
“I’m naked,” Blair told him.
“Really?” Nate said, barely absorbing the information. “Can I come in?”
“Sure,” Blair said, opening the door wide.
Nate stared at her, frozen in the doorway.
Blair blushed, hugging her arms around herself. “I told you I was naked.” She reached her hand out to take the flower.
Nate pressed it into her hand. “I got that for you,” he said gruffly. Then he cleared his throat and looked at the floor. “Should I take off my shoes?”
Blair laughed and opened the door wider. Nate was nervous, even more nervous than she was. He was so sweet.
“Just hurry up and take your clothes off,” she said. She took his hand. “It’s okay. Come on.”
Nate followed her into her bedroom, not doing any of the things a boy should normally have done under the circumstances. Like check out Blair’s bare ass, or worry about condoms, or bad breath, or try to say the right thing. He was barely thinking at all.
Blair’s room was a blaze of candles. A bottle of red wine was open on the floor, with two glasses beside it. Blair knelt down and poured each of them a glass like a little geisha. She felt more comfortable naked in the darkness of her room.
“What kind of music do you want to listen to?” she asked Nate, handing him a glass.
Nate gulped the wine, swallowing noisily. “Music? Anything you want. Whatever,” he said.
Of course, Blair had her CD mix all cued up. The first song was Coldplay, because she knew Nate liked them.
Slow and sexy, rocker boy.
Blair had made and remade the movie of this moment in her head so many times she felt like an actress who was finally getting her big break, playing the role of her career.
She reached up and put her hands on Nate’s shoulders. He tried not to look at her, but he couldn’t help it. She was naked, and she was beautiful. She was a girl and he was a boy.
There have been plenty of songs written about this.
“Take off your clothes, Nate,” Blair whispered.
Maybe after we do it, I’ll tell her, Nate thought.
That didn’t seem completely fair, but still, he kissed her. And once he started, he couldn’t stop.
When Serena woke up a little while later, Chuck had changed the channel to MTV2 and was singing along loudly to Jay-Z. Serena’s Pucci dress had ridden up above her waist, and her lacy blue underwear was showing.
Serena propped herself up on her elbows and wiped the lip-gloss scum out of the corners of her mouth. She pulled down her dress. “What time is it?” she said.
Chuck glanced at her. “Time for us to take off our clothes and get in bed,” he said impatiently. He’d been waiting long enough.
Serena’s head felt thick, and she was dying for a glass of water. “I feel awful,” she said, sitting up and rubbing her forehead. “I want to go home.”
“Come on,” Chuck said, flicking off the TV. “We could take a hot tub first. That’ll make you feel better.”
“No,” Serena insisted.
“Fine,” Chuck said angrily. He stood up. “There’s water on the table. Put your boots on, I’ll help you get a cab.”
Serena pulled on her boots and stared at the cold rain falling outside the hotel room window.
“It’s raining,” she said, taking a sip of the water.
Chuck handed her a scarf, his trademark blue cashmere, monogrammed with the letters C.B. “Wrap it around your head,” he said. “Come on, let’s go.”
Serena took the scarf and followed Chuck out to the elevator. They rode down in silence. Serena knew Chuck was disappointed that she was leaving, but she didn’t care. She couldn’t wait to get out into the fresh air and into her own bed.
A cab pulled up, the Remi brothers’ poster in the box on the cab’s roof. Serena thought it looked like a close-up photograph of lips puckered into a kiss.
“What’s that? Mars?” Chuck joked, pointing to it. He glanced at Serena without a trace of humor in his eyes. “No, it’s your anus!”
Serena blinked at him. She couldn’t tell if Chuck trying to be funny or if that’s what he actually thought the picture was.
Chuck held the cab door open for her, and she slid into the back seat.
“Thanks, Chuck,” she said sweetly, “I’ll see you soon, okay?”
“Whatever,” Chuck said. He leaned into the cab and pressed Serena against the seat. “What’s your problem anyway?” he hissed. “You’ve been fucking Nate Archibald since tenth grade, and I’m sure you did just about every guy at boarding school, and in France, too. What, are you like, too good to give me some?”
Serena stared directly into Chuck’s eyes, seeing him as he really was for the first time. He’d always been hard to like, but she’d never actually hated him before.
“That’s okay, I wouldn’t want to do it with you anyway,” Chuck sneered. “I hear you have diseases.”
“Get away from me,” Serena hissed, putting her hands on his chest and shoving him away. She slammed the cab door shut in his face, and gave the driver her address.
As the cab pulled away, Serena hugged herself, staring straight ahead through the rain-spattered windshield. When the taxi stopped at a light on the corner of Broadway and Spring, she opened the door, leaned out, and threw up into the gutter.
That will teach her not to drink on an empty stomach.
Chuck’s scarf swung from her neck and dangled in the puddle of pink vomit on the pavement. Serena pulled the scarf off, wiped her mouth on it, and stuffed it into her bag.
“Gross,” she said, slamming the cab door closed again.
“Tissue, miss?” the cab driver offered, passing a box of Kleenex back to her.
Serena pulled one from the box and wiped her mouth with it. “Thanks,” she said.
Then she sat back in the seat and closed her eyes, grateful, as always, for the kindness of strangers.
“What about a condom or something?” Blair murmured, gaping at Nate’s hard-on. It looked like it was going to take over the world.
She had managed to get all of his clothes off, and now they were lying down on her bed on top of the covers. They’d been fooling around for almost an hour. On the stereo, the Jennifer Lopez song “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” was playing, and Blair was getting hotter and hotter. She reached for Nate’s hand and licked his fingers, sucking greedily on the tip of each one. She had a feeling sex was going to be even better than food.
Nate rolled onto his back while Blair sucked his fingers. He had been so uptight about seeing Blair that he hadn’t eaten dinner, and now he was feeling hungry. Maybe when he went home he’d pick up a burrito from the Mexican place on Lexington Avenue. That’s what he wanted, a chicken and black bean burrito with extra guacamole.
Blair bit down hard on his pinky.
“Ow,” Nate said, his hard-on deflating as if it had been pricked with a pin. He sat up and ran his hands through his hair. “I can’t do this,” he muttered under his breath.
“What?” Blair said, sitting up too. “What’s wrong?” Her heart fell. This wasn’t in the script. Nate was ruining a perfect moment.
Clumsily, Nate took Blair’s hand and looked into her eyes for the first time all night. “I have to tell you something,” he said. “I can’t do this without you knowing. I feel like an asshole.”
Blair could tell by the look in Nate’s eyes that the moment wasn’t just ruined, it was killed. “What?” she said softly.
Nate reached down and gathered up the edges of the quilt. He draped one end around Blair’s shoulders and wrapped the other end around his waist. It didn’t seem right to talk about this when they were both so naked. He took Blair’s hand again.
“Remember the summer before last when you were away in Scotland, at your aunt’s wedding?” Nate began.
“It was so friggin’ hot that summer. I was in the city with my Dad, just hanging out while he went to some meetings and stuff. I got bored, so I called Serena in Ridgefield, and she came down.” Nate noticed Blair’s back stiffen when he mentioned Serena’s name. She removed her hand from his and crossed her arms over her chest, her eyes suddenly distrustful.
“We had some drinks and sat out in the garden. It was so hot, Serena started splashing around in the fountain, and then she started splashing me. And I guess I got kind of carried away. I mean—” Nate fumbled. He remembered what Cyrus had told him about girls liking surprises. Well, Blair was about to be very surprised, and he didn’t think she was going to like it one bit.
“And what?” Blair demanded. “What happened?”
“We kissed,” Nate said. He took a deep breath and held it. He couldn’t just leave it at that. He blew the breath out. “And then we had sex.”
Blair threw the quilt off her shoulders and stood up. “I knew it!” she shouted. “Who hasn’t had sex with Serena? That nasty, slutty bitch!”
“I’m sorry, Blair. But it wasn’t like, planned or anything,” Nate said. “It just happened. And it was only that one time, promise. I just didn’t want you to think this was my first time, when it wasn’t. I had to tell you.”
Blair stomped into her bathroom and snatched her pink satin bathrobe off its hook. She put it on, cinching the belt tight. “Get the fuck out of here, Nate,” she said, angry tears sluicing her cheeks. “I can’t even look at you. You’re pathetic.”
“Blair—” Nate pleaded. For a split second he tried to think of something charming to say. He could usually think of something, but nothing came.
Blair slammed the bathroom door shut in his face.
Nate stood up and pulled on his boxers. Kitty Minky poked her head out from under the bed and stared at him accusingly, her golden cat eyes glowing eerily in the dark. Nate grabbed his jeans, shirt, and shoes and headed for the front door. He could hardly wait for that burrito.
The front door closed with a hollow bang, but Blair remained locked in the bathroom, standing in front of the mirror glaring at her tear-stained reflection. The tube of Serena’s lip gloss was still lying on the sink where she had left it. Blair picked it up with trembling fingers. Gash, it was called. What an ugly name. Of course Serena could wear lip gloss with ugly names, and tights with holes in them, and dirty old shoes, and never cut her hair, and still get the boy. Blair grunted at the irony of it all and opened her bathroom window, tossing the lip gloss out into the night and waiting to hear it land on the pavement below. But she couldn’t hear a thing.
Her head was too full of the new movie she was working on. The movie in which the fabulous Serena van der Woodsen was run over by a bus with her stupid picture plastered to the side of it and was horribly maimed. Her old friend Blair would take time out from her busy life with her doting husband, Nate, to feed Elephant Girl Serena mashed pears and tell her all about the parties she and Nate had been to. Serena would grunt and fart in response, but charitable Blair wouldn’t mind. It was the least she could do. Everyone would call her Saint Blair, and she would win awards for her golden heart.
will s& nhook up again?
Just before midnight, the taxi pulled up at 994 Fifth Avenue. Across the street, the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art were deserted, glowing eerily white in the light of the streetlamps. Serena stepped out of the cab and waved to Roland, the old night doorman, who was dozing just inside the lobby. The door to the apartment building opened, but it wasn’t Roland who opened it. It was Nate.
“Nate!” Serena squealed, genuinely surprised. “Hey, could you loan me five bucks? I haven’t got enough cash. Usually the doorman helps me out, but I guess he’s asleep.”
Nate pulled a wad of bills out of his pocket and gave some to the taxi driver. He put his finger to his lips and crept up to the front door of the building. Then he knocked loudly on the glass door. “Hello?” he shouted.
“Oh, Nate,” Serena laughed. “You are so mean!”
Roland snapped his eyes open and nearly fell off his chair. Then he opened the door for them, and Serena and Nate ran inside and rode the elevator up to Serena’s apartment.
Serena led the way to her room and sat down heavily on the bed. “Did you get my message?” she yawned at Nate, pulling off her boots. “I thought you’d come out tonight.”
“I couldn’t,” Nate said. He picked up the little glass ballerina perched on top of Serena’s mahogany jewelry chest. She had the tiniest toes, like little pinpoints. He’d forgotten about her.
“Well, it wasn’t worth it anyway,” Serena sighed. She lay down on the bed. “I am so tired,” she said. She patted the bed next to her and slid over to give Nate room. “Come lie down and tell me a bedtime story?”
Nate put the ballerina down and swallowed. Breathing in the scent of Serena’s room with Serena in it made his heart hurt. He lay down next to her, their bodies touching. Nate put his arm around Serena and she kissed his cheek, snuggling in close.
“I was just over at Blair’s,” Nate said.
But Serena didn’t answer. She was breathing steadily. Maybe she was already asleep.
Nate lay still, with his eyes open wide, his mind racing. He wondered if he and Blair were officially broken up now. He wondered if he kissed Serena right now, full on the lips and told her he loved her, how she’d respond. He wondered if he’d just gone ahead and had sex with Blair if everything would have been all right.
Nate cast his eyes around the room, taking in all the familiar well-loved objects that he’d grown up seeing and forgotten all about. The kilt-wearing teddy bear from Scotland that sat aristocratically on Serena’s little dressing table. The big mahogany armoire with its drawers half open and all her clothes spilling out of it. The little brown burn mark he’d made in ninth grade on the white canopy hanging from her bed.
On the floor by the door was Serena’s red velvet bag. The contents had spilled out of it. A blue pack of Gauloise cigarettes. A twenty-dollar bill. An Amex card. And a navy blue scarf with the letters C.B. stitched on it in gold.
Why had she needed to borrow money from him when she had twenty dollars with her? Nate wondered. And what the hell was she doing with Chuck Bass’s scarf?
Nate turned over on his side and Serena moaned softly as her head rolled back on the pillow. He studied her critically. She was so beautiful and sexy and trusting, and so full of surprises. It was hard to believe she was actually for real.
Serena reached up and put her arms around Nate’s neck, pulling him toward her.
“Come on,” she murmured, her eyes still closed. “Sleep with me.”
Nate’s whole body tensed. He didn’t know if Serena meant just go to sleep or sleep with her, but he was definitely aroused. Any boy in his right mind would be, which is exactly what turned Nate off.
There was something so careless about the way Serena had said it. Nate suddenly had no trouble imagining her doing the things he’d heard she’d done. With Serena, anything was possible.
A glitter of silver caught his eye. It was the tiny silver box Serena kept on her bedside table, full of her baby teeth. Every time he came over, Nate used to open up the velvet-lined box to see if all the teeth were still there. But not this time. From the look of things, Serena wasn’t the same little girl who’d lost all those teeth.
Nate pulled away from her and stood up. He snatched up Chuck’s scarf and tossed it on the bed, not noticing that it was streaked with vomit. And then, without even looking at Serena again, he left, slamming the door behind him.
At the sound of the door closing Serena opened her eyes and breathed in the scent of her own barf. Gagging, she threw the covers back and ran to the bathroom. She clutched the rim of her white porcelain sink and heaved into it, her sides hurting with the effort. Nothing came out. Serena turned on the shower as hot as it would go and pulled her clammy Pucci dress over her head, dropping it on the floor. All she needed was a good hot shower and a little exfoliant.
Tomorrow she’d be good as new.
Disclaimer: All the real names of places, people, and events have been altered or abbreviated to protect the innocent. Namely, me.
Äàòà äîáàâëåíèÿ: 2015-09-15; ïðîñìîòðîâ: 7; Íàðóøåíèå àâòîðñêèõ ïðàâ