The Price I Pay: Chapter 6House Party
"Nice place," Daniela said as she walked into Ventura's palatial Victorian house, like she hadn't decided whether it was or not. Ventura smiled nervously; Gia felt bad for her. The little frosh was still clearly unnerved by Daniela's blasé demeanor. She'd get used to it.
"Snacks?" Ventura held out a bowl of peanut M&Ms and a bottle of Coke.
"Ooh, delicious!" Gia shamelessly stuck her hand in the bowl and dug a handful out. The other girls followed suit, and Ventura relaxed.
"So, Vee," Gia said. "Want to go see the BJ Experience on Thursday night?"
Ventura spit out her lemonade. "What?!"
Gia cackled, and Neela rolled her eyes. "It's my stepdad's band," Neela explained. "His name is Ben Jastrow, so because he is a complete child, he decides that 'The BJ Experience' is the perfect name for his band."
Ventura looked Neela up and down. "Where'd you get that dress?"
Neela looked down at her black-and-red ruffled frock. "Um, that new place, The Closet."
Ventura turned aroun
Lawyers Guns And Money: Chapter 2"I have to work with him?!" I shouted.
My mother just nodded.
I put my head in my hands and groaned. "This is going to suck."
"This is going to suck," Zvonimir imitated me in a Slavic falsetto. Real mature, Croatian boy. Real mature.
"Don't say that, Nina," my mother said. At fifty-four, she was still gorgeous, with curly red hair and blue eyes. She looked nothing like me, which had a lot to do with the fact that I was adopted. At that moment, I was glad I didn't share any DNA with her.
"Why not?" I asked. "It's true!"
"I am not too thrilled about this, either," Zvonimir muttered.
We glared at each other. We'd known each other for twenty minutes, during which time he snapped at me every time I tried to talk to him. I found him rude and conceited, and I was sure he found me obnoxious and nosy.
"Nina Cartwright, you're offending Zvonimir," my mother explained, so irritatingly calm.
"He offends me!" I sputtered.
"I am not offended," Zvonimir put in. "I don't care if she does not like me.
Lawyers Guns And Money: Chapter 1When Zvonimir Bakula walked into my mother's flower shop, In Full Bloom, I tried not to stare.
Yes, he was attractive. He was a little shorter than my five-foot-five, built entirely of lean muscle. He wore fine clothing in all black, making his pale skin and platinum blond hair stand out. He had full pink lips and pretty, if hard, brown eyes framed by the whitest eyelashes I had ever seen. That wasn't why I stared, though.
I stared at him because his turtleneck collar had slipped, revealing the red, stitched up gash across his throat.
I had read about it in the newspaper. A beautiful, rich Croatian couple, Zvonimir and Anamarija Bakula, were brutally attacked, not long after some friends of theirs had been killed. Zvonimir had survived, but just barely; the knife had just missed his carotid artery, and he'd been in a coma, hooked up to an IV, for three weeks. Anamarija had not been so lucky; her throat had been cut so deep, her head nearly fell off when the medical examiner lifted her
The Price I Pay: Chapter 5Trouble In Paradise
"Hello, Angels," Hayden teased as Daniela and Neela walked into the cafeteria and sat down next to him. "Does this make me Charlie?"
"Hey, gorgeous!" Neela leaned down and pecked Hayden on the cheek.
"Oh, get a room." Ventura, who was sitting next to Sean, rolled her eyes and turned back to her homework.
"What's that?" Neela asked.
Hayden winced. "Ouch. Should have took Spanish."
"I'm half Colombian," Ventura explained. "My dad and I talk in Spanish."
"You know Mrs. Smiley runs a boat-parts business of her laptop and cell phone during class, right?" Sean interrupted.
Ventura gaped at him. "Seriously?"
Sean shrugged. "Well, that's what I heard."
Ventura focused on her homework, or at least she tried to. She couldn't even speak the language, and her brain was about spent. "That would explain a lot," she muttered. After a few minutes, she threw her pencil down in frustration. "Damn it! I don't know how I can add to these sentences anymore! I'm a
The Price I Pay: Chapter 4The Ain'ts
"Jesus, Sean," Ventura remarked. "Did you take a shot of tequila or something?"
"Freals," Gia said, smiling proudly at her witty new protégé. "I've never seen you shake so much."
Sean grinned like a madman and shook his head. "You know that new drama teacher?"
"The one who looks like Eddie Cibrian?" Hayden asked, his arm around Neela's waist. Neela swooned and leaned into her new boyfriend. He was so gorgeous!
Neela felt a little skanky, suddenly ditching her crush on Sean for Hayden. And admittedly, she did still sort of have feelings for Sean. But Hayden… Hayden was the sweetest, most attentive gentleman of a guy she'd ever met (besides Sean, of course). And if Sean was already happy with Daniela, why shouldn't Neela have her own shot at happiness?
Sean nodded. "That one. Well, the other day he asked me to meet him after class."
"Oooooh!" Gia hollered. "What'd you do, Monty?"
"Well, that's what I thought, too." Sean bounced up and down. He looked like a littl
The Price I Pay: Chapter 3Danza Kuduro
"Hey, whore!" Neela tapped Gia on the shoulder. "What happened to 'single to mingle'?"
Gia gestured to the cute, dark-haired, hazel-eyed Italian boy standing in front of her. "Well, if I wasn't single, I couldn't mingle with Joe Corbissero here."
"Ayyyyy," the adorable Fonzie-wannabe nodded at Neela by way of greeting.
Fast-paced accordion music filled the air and Gia squealed "DANZA KUDUROOOOOOOO!!! I love this song!" She grabbed Joe's and Neela's wrists. "Come on! Let's dance!"
The three of them met up with Ventura, Daniela, and Sean on the outskirts of the dance floor. (Gia preferred to be on the outside of the crowd, where everyone could see them. Besides, the middle smelled like gym locker.) "Guys, this is Joe. Joe, this is Ventura, Daniela, and Sean."
Sean and Daniela danced perfectly in synch. After four years together, they were like each other's other brain. It was kind of scary. Joe swayed to the beat, too cool to bust a move, whil
The Price I Pay: Chapter 2Single to Mingle
Gabrielle Ventura looked gorgeous. Her mass of brown corkscrew curls was worn up in a bun that her mother had assured her was "classy and beautiful." Her full lips were shellacked in red lipstick. Her tan, toned frame was draped in a one-shoulder, drop-waist, blue satin number.
And yet, she felt anything but gorgeous. Her long-lashed brown eyes were puffy from crying. And she was crying because Will Everill, her ex-boyfriend, was here with Ashi Chu, the adorable exchange student from Korea. They had just broken up a couple of weeks ago – could he really move on that quickly? Was she really that replaceable?
She felt pathetic, sitting in the bathroom at her homecoming dance, crying. All dressed up with no place to go. But she just couldn't face Will and Ashi.
"Oh my God!" a girl's voice howled. "Fuck him!"
"Seriously," another girl said in a bored voice. "He's such a moron."
"Whatever," the first girl dismissed the whole ordeal. "He can call me when he gets blond