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Sugar and spice, p.1
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       Sugar and Spice, p.1

           Lauren Conrad
 
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Sugar and Spice


  Sugar and Spice

  AN L.A. CANDY NOVEL

  LAUREN CONRAD

  This book is dedicated to Maura, Lo, Jillian, Natania, and Britton because they have always been there for me. I am honored to call them my very best friends.

  Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Chapter 1 - Not Dating

  Chapter 2 - Best Friends

  Chapter 3 - Second Chances . . . Second Thoughts

  Chapter 4 - Are You Serious?

  Chapter 5 - The Opposite of a Nobody

  Chapter 6 - History

  Chapter 7 - Not Just a Friend

  Chapter 8 - You Have to Lie to People if It’s for Their Own Good

  Chapter 9 - Armpit Falls

  Chapter 10 - So Who’s the Guy?

  Chapter 11 - Boys

  Chapter 12 - Sophisticated to Super-Slutty

  Chapter 13 - Boy Trouble

  Chapter 14 - Déjà Vu

  Chapter 15 - The Two Sisters

  Chapter 16 - Or Maybe You’re Just Being Delusional, as Usual

  Chapter 17 - The Perfect Guy

  Chapter 18 - Kind of the Truth

  Chapter 19 - She Said, She Said

  Chapter 20 - Gossip Fest

  Chapter 21 - The Other Team’s Playbook

  Chapter 22 - Fame and Fortune

  Chapter 23 - Birthday Girl

  Chapter 24 - Two Steps Ahead

  Chapter 25 - Just us Girls

  Chapter 26 - Relationship Problems

  Chapter 27 - That Crazy, Lovesick Girl

  Chapter 28 - The Centerpiece of L.A. Candy

  Chapter 29 - Absolutely, Positively, Madly

  Chapter 30 - What Happens in Vegas

  Chapter 31 - Survivor

  Chapter 32 - How Awesome was That?

  Chapter 33 - Real Life

  Chapter 34 - Becoming Nobodies

  Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  Books by Lauren Conrad

  Copyright

  About the Publisher

  D-Lish

  (Gossip You Hate to Love)

  Things are getting sticky on the set of L.A. Candy: Our girl-next-door Jane Roberts has survived a tabloid scandal and somehow managed to come back sweeter than ever. But the good life has soured for ex-BFF Madison, who has been outed as a calculating schemer. Meanwhile, Scarlett, that tart-tongued beauty, is keeping the rumor mill busy with whispers of a secret boyfriend. . . .

  With Season 2 around the corner, who knows what drama these tasty starlets will cook up next!

  Chapter 1

  Not Dating

  “Over here!”

  “Let’s get a shot of the two of you!”

  “Smile, girls!”

  Jane Roberts felt hands on her shoulders—her publicist? random PopTV assistants?—maneuver her into place as several paparazzi shouted out to her and Scarlett Harp. Nearby, dozens of fans waved wildly, screamed the girls’ names, and snapped photos with their cell phones.

  Scarlett bent her head toward Jane’s. “What are the rules on skipping the red carpet at your own premiere?”

  “Ha-ha,” Jane said, grinning. “Think you’re gonna have a hard time getting out of this one, Scar.”

  “I’m giving them five minutes, then heading inside for a drink. Something tells me I’m gonna need it tonight.”

  “Good luck. I think we’re stuck here till, like, seven thirty. Besides, live television and booze aren’t the best combination. And I’m pretty sure the two drinks you had at dinner should tide you over.”

  Scarlett rolled her eyes. “Whatever.”

  Flashbulbs began popping brightly. Jane took a deep breath, fixed a smile on her face, and tried not to feel overwhelmed. Of course PopTV made sure the media was out in full force on the red carpet for L.A. Candy’s Season 2 premiere. Their little show had somehow become the top rated on the network, and a lot was riding on the premiere. The party would air live on PopTV, to be immediately followed by the episode itself.

  Jane glanced over her shoulder at the sprawling lawn of the magnificent Spanish-style Hollywood Hills mansion. Hundreds of people were at this event: photographers, fans, and an assortment of entertainment industry types. On a makeshift stage near the infinity pool, pop star Aja was revving up to sing. There were TV cameras everywhere.

  PopTV really knew how to throw a party!

  “Scarlett, turn more to the left,” a photographer shouted.

  “Stand closer together!” another one added.

  Jane obeyed, never breaking her smile. After all, as one of the four main girls on L.A. Candy, tonight was work, not play (even though she had to act as though she was having fun).

  But Scarlett wasn’t quite so understanding. “Good thing they’re here to tell me how to pose for a picture. I couldn’t have figured it out without them,” she muttered. She glared at a PopTV assistant who was coming toward her with a powder brush; the assistant backed off.

  “Scar!” Jane whispered.

  “Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m trying my best.”

  As the photographers continued shouting directions and taking pictures—why was it taking soooo long?—Jane kept her smile in place and resisted the impulse to touch her long, blond, wavy hair, which felt stiff and weird from the insane amount of hair spray the PopTV stylists had subjected it to. Nor was she totally comfortable in her black ruffle dress by a new designer named Mario Nuñez, which accentuated her five-foot-five, sort-of-in-shape figure nicely, but made her feel way older than her nineteen years. Nuñez’s publicist had worked it out with Jane’s publicist: a free dress for Jane in exchange for publicity for Nuñez. (Jane could see the magazine caption now: “Jane Roberts rocks a Nuñez strapless at the L.A. Candy premiere!”)

  Before famed producer Trevor Lord chose her to be on his new reality TV show, Jane had no idea that so many “spontaneous” celebrity photos (“Anna Payne stocks up on pumpkin soap at Lush!” “Jared Walsh hand-feeds sushi to Brazilian supermodel Catarina at Geisha House!”) were actually prearranged by publicists. Of course, before L.A. Candy, Jane had been clueless about what really went on in Hollywood. Now that she was a celebrity (although she still had a hard time thinking of herself that way), her life had completely changed. She and Scar were no longer the anonymous girls from Santa Barbara who moved to L.A. seven months ago, Jane to intern with a top event planner, and Scar to be a freshman at USC. Back then, the girls didn’t wear nine-hundred-dollar designer dresses that they didn’t have to pay for, and paparazzi didn’t try to record their every move.

  “Gaby! Let’s get you in the picture, honey!” one of the publicists called out.

  Gaby Garcia, the third L.A. Candy girl, waved to the photographers as she walked up to Jane and Scarlett. “Hey, have you been inside yet? There are soooo many hot guys here!” she gushed.

  “Hey, Gaby,” Jane said. She liked Gaby, who could be a little spacey but was sweet and easy to hang out with. She looked pretty tonight in a pale mocha sequined slip dress.

  Scarlett wrapped an arm around Gaby’s shoulders. The two of them had become fast friends in the last few months, which Jane thought was kind of funny, because they couldn’t be more different. “Hey, stranger. What’s new?”

  “Not much. Oh, yeah, I got highlights!” Gaby patted her light brown updo and peered around. “Where’s Madison? Shouldn’t she be in the picture, too?”

  Madison. Jane pretended to adjust her dress in an attempt to mask her reaction to Gaby’s comment. She couldn’t let the photographers—or anyone else—see her lose her cool. If she and Gaby and Scarlett were going to discuss Madison at all, it was better to do so “backstage” behind a locked bathroom door, not on the red carpet where every word and facial expression was being noted, re
corded, scrutinized.

  The fourth girl on the show, Madison Parker, was the last person Jane wanted to see tonight—or ever (although of course she was here, somewhere, so an encounter was inevitable). Three months ago, just before Christmas, Madison secretly leaked photos of Jane hooking up with her then-boyfriend Jesse’s best friend, Braden. When the story broke in Gossip magazine, Jane almost had a breakdown, and Madison pretended to be a good friend and came to her rescue, holding her hand through the entire painful, humiliating ordeal. Madison even let Jane move into her penthouse apartment after Jane and Scar had a big fight.

  After she found out what Madison had done, Jane packed her bags and moved back in with Scar, full of apologies. That was on Valentine’s Day, five weeks ago, and Jane and Madison hadn’t spoken since. Jane had told Trevor in no uncertain terms that she would not film any scenes with Madison ever again. She still couldn’t believe she had fallen for Madison’s act, or that she had chosen a backstabber like Madison over Scar, who had been her best friend since kindergarten.

  Scarlett squeezed Jane’s hand and turned to Gaby. “Madison’s probably getting an emergency Botox treatment,” she said, too low for anyone else to hear. “I guess her mom never told her that being a manipulative, lying bitch can cause wrinkles.”

  “Funny,” Gaby said, giggling awkwardly. She was obviously uncomfortable poking fun at Madison. Gaby and Madison were close, or they used to be, anyway. Jane wasn’t sure where things stood between them these days. Jane wondered if Gaby felt weird being friends with Madison, even though Madison hadn’t done anything to her personally, because Gaby was friends with Jane and Scarlett, too, and maybe she was worried about seeming disloyal to one or the other side?

  Out of the corner of her eye, Jane saw Dana, one of the PopTV producers, hurrying across the lawn toward them, clipboard in hand. The woman looked super-stressed, as usual. And she was dressed in all black again, except her outfit was more tailored and less faded than her standard attire. She had even put on makeup, which was saying a lot, considering that the most Jane had ever seen on her face were the remains of her morning muffin.

  “Okay, everyone, thanks, but I need to talk to the girls,” Dana said loudly, ushering Jane, Scarlett, and Gaby toward the end of the press line and off the red carpet. “Listen up, ladies. In”—she squinted at her watch—“ten minutes, Alli’s going to take you over to the back terrace so you can get miked for the intro segment kicking off the party. There will be people to touch up your hair and makeup. As soon as we’re done shooting that, we’ll move you over to the statue garden for a segment leading into the first commercial break. And then . . . let’s see . . . Jane, I’m going to need you to do another segment, to introduce Aja. Everyone’s lines will be up on the teleprompters, so don’t worry about that.”

  “Why can’t I introduce Aja? She’s, like, my favorite singer ever!” Gaby complained.

  “That’s fine with me,” Jane offered.

  Dana gave Gaby an impatient look. Gaby pouted and mumbled, “Okay, whateverrrrr.”

  “Ten minutes, all right?” Dana reminded them. “Alli will . . . What, Ramon?” she barked into her headset. “What do you mean Hannah’s got the flu? Well, is she throwing up? We need her to—” Dana hurried away. Hannah Stratton, who worked with Jane at Fiona Chen Events, was on the show from time to time. She and Jane were good friends, on and off camera. Jane hoped she was okay.

  “Sorry about Aja,” Jane apologized to Gaby, who simply shrugged and snatched a glass of champagne off someone’s tray.

  Jane felt bad (especially since she was pretty sure that it was another guest’s partially consumed champagne Gaby had just taken from a busboy, not a waiter). Jane wished that Dana and Trevor wouldn’t treat her as the star of L.A. Candy, since the show was supposed to be about the everyday lives of all four girls, equally. In the beginning, Dana had explained to Jane that viewers seemed to relate to her the most. But why? Okay, so maybe Scar intimidated people by being so beautiful (without even trying) and rocket-scientist smart. And maybe Madison used way too much makeup and hair bleach for the average viewer. What about Gaby, though? Why wasn’t she relatable? She was nice, funny, cute, and had a cool job at a PR firm called Ruby Slipper.

  “Oh, I almost forgot to tell you guys!” Gaby said suddenly. She handed her empty champagne glass to a random party guest, who glared at her, and fished through her black beaded clutch. “Here,” she said, holding out a business card. “This woman came up to me before. She said she’s a publicist, and she wants to talk about repping me.”

  Scarlett took the card from Gaby, and she and Jane studied it. It read, ANNABELLE WEISS, followed by an address on La Cienega Boulevard and some other contact info.

  “She sounds—” Jane began.

  “Sketchy,” Scarlett finished.

  Jane made a face. “Scar! I was about to say great. I love, love, love my publicist! Gaby, you should have one, too. So should you, Scar.”

  “Why, so I can get into more trashy tabloids, talking about my cayenne-pepper-and-celery-juice diet?” Scarlett said.

  “You mean your Chinese-takeout-and-pizza diet?” Jane teased her. “Seriously, Sam totally turned my image around after . . . you know . . .” She hesitated, not wanting to say the words “Gossip scandal” out loud. The subject still pained her. “She got a lot of really good articles about me in the magazines,” she went on. “And she, uh, talked to all the reporters about me and Jesse so I didn’t have to.” Actually, she didn’t feel much like saying the word “Jesse” out loud, either.

  “You mean when he started getting wasted all the time and hooking up with other girls?” Gaby said. Gaby was like that—no filter. She wasn’t trying to be mean; she just blurted out whatever she was thinking, without thinking.

  Scarlett ignored Gaby’s comment and motioned to Jane, indicating that she look behind her. Caleb! Her high school boyfriend had made it to the party.

  “Come on, Garcia. Let’s go check out the hors d’oeuvres,” Scarlett said, shrugging and smiling at Jane as she led Gaby toward one of the catering tables.

  “Janie!”

  Jane found herself face-to-face with Caleb. She hadn’t seen him in a few weeks, not since she found out that he’d recently moved to L.A. He was as gorgeous as ever, especially in his dark red button-down shirt and jeans.

  “Caleb! I’m glad you could come! Is Naveen here?” Jane had also invited Naveen Singh, another high school classmate and Caleb’s best friend.

  “Naveen had to go to Boston for some family thing,” Caleb said with a smile. “God, it’s great to see you!”

  Caleb started to give her a hug. Jane glanced around quickly, making sure they were alone. She didn’t need photographers catching her having a mini-reunion with her ex. Or worse, Trevor or one of the other producers, who would surely seize on Caleb as a potential TV “love interest” for Jane. She and Caleb had split up almost a year ago, and in any case, she was taking a break from boys. She didn’t need the drama after what she’d been through recently.

  Since no one seemed to be paying attention, Jane let Caleb scoop her up in his arms, which felt unexpectedly warm and familiar. And strong—probably because he used to be on the swim team, and wasn’t he working in construction these days?

  “You look amazing in that dress,” he whispered in her ear.

  Jane blushed. “Thanks. I—”

  Someone’s cell began buzzing. It took Jane a second to realize that it was hers. She wriggled out of Caleb’s embrace and peeked at the screen. BRADEN CALLING. Ohmigod, Braden? Why was he calling her? He’d emailed her a couple of times after her breakup with Jesse, to check in on her, but that had been it.

  She and Braden had always been friends, and at the same time way more than friends, although the timing had never worked out for them to actually date. But why was her heart racing so fast at the thought of hearing his voice?

  “I, uh, have to get this,” Jane told Caleb. “I’ll catch up with you later, okay?”
<
br />   “No worries. I can just hang out here and wait,” Caleb said.

  Jane turned her back to him and hit Talk. “Hello?”

  “Hey, Jane. It’s Braden.”

  “Hey. Where are you?”

  “Well, I’m sitting here flipping through channels and seeing your face. They’re showing these commercials for your party tonight.”

  “You mean the ‘teasers’?”

  “Yeah, those. Sorry I couldn’t make it, by the way. I just wanted to call and, you know, wish you luck. Not that you need it. You look great, Jane. I mean it.”

  “Aww, that’s so sweet. Thanks!”

  Jane had invited Braden as a courtesy, knowing he would never come. He hated the Hollywood scene and didn’t want anything to do with L.A. Candy, refusing to sign a release to be on the show. Mostly, it was because being an aspiring actor and being on reality TV didn’t mix. Jane also suspected that he wanted to stay out of the media spotlight as much as possible after the Gossip nightmare.

  “Is that your mom?” Caleb asked Jane. “If it is, tell her I said hi!”

  Jane glanced up, startled. She hadn’t realized that Caleb was still standing there. Was this his immature way of trying to find out if it was a guy?

  “Who was that?” Braden asked her.

  “What? Oh, um, that’s Caleb,” Jane replied.

  “Caleb? Who’s Caleb?”

  Awkward. “He’s . . . um . . . an old friend.”

  “Hey! Who are you calling an old ‘friend’?” Caleb teased her. “That one of your new boyfriends, Janie?”

  “No!”

  “No, what?” Braden said, sounding puzzled.

  “I was just telling Caleb that you’re not one of my—oh, never mind.” Jane shook her head, silently praying for someone to come rescue her. This was insane, having a three-way conversation (sort of) with her old boyfriend (whom she used to be madly in love with) and her good friend (slash guy she had intense, complicated feelings about).

 
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