L. A. Candy, p.1Lauren Conrad
To my mom and dad,
who have always supported me.
I love you.
A few months earlier…
Always look on the Closet Floor First
You’re not a Total Bitch
Let’s go spend Some Money
How do you know She’s his Girlfriend?
It’s always better to be the Dumper than the Dumpee
The only way to belong is to Act like you Belong
No one moves here to be a Nobody
It’s called Positive Visualization
This must be the Engineering Quad
To be Uncomfortable
What just Happened?
How Intimate and Up Close?
Two Bedrooms, A Pool, and A View
It isn’t an Acting Job. It’s Reality.
Buy the Girl a Drink First
Who’s afraid of the Big, Bad English Professor?
You’re probably wondering Why I called you in here Today
When is this Episode going to be on TV?
Do they follow you into the Bathroom?
We could use some Fresh Meat
My Name is Jane
We’re not TV Stars
A Creative Solution
Here’s to all four of us Getting Insanely Rich and Famous!
You’re the One Who Goes to U.S.C., Right?
Out of Sync
Small Party, Huh?
Hollywood’s #1 Playboy falls for the Girl Next Door
Love at First Sight
Who are the Hot Professors Here?
So you and Jesse are going out Now?
Maybe it’ll Blow Over
A New Officemate
A Time Bomb waiting to go Off
Hollywood’s Newest it Girl
Why are you Here?
The Real Star of L.A. Candy
I need some Time to Think
She’s not Who you think she Is
That’s What Friends are For
About the Author
About the Publisher
* * *
YOUR #1 SOURCE FOR ALL THE HOLLYWOOD DIRT THAT’S FIT TO SLING
Which up-and-coming reality starlet is in for a rude awakening? She may star in the hottest show on PopTV, but rumors are swirling about her off-camera behavior. Does L.A.’s newest darling have a sweet tooth for trouble? Well, she won’t be able to keep her secrets from viewers for long. Cameras are following her every move…even when PopTV is not filming. Welcome to Hollywood!
* * *
A few months earlier…
ALWAYS LOOK ON THE CLOSET FLOOR FIRST
Jane Roberts leaned against her dresser, studying the way her white silk nightie looked against her sun-kissed skin. Her loose blond curls cascaded softly over her shoulders as she pretended not to be interested in the guy in her bed.
“Come over here—or am I going to have to come get you?”
Jane smiled mischievously at the ground, then raised her face to him, staring into his chocolate brown eyes.
She slinked back to the bed, slid onto the white silk sheets, and nestled next to him.
“Janie, you’re the most amazing girl I’ve ever met. I’m so in love with you, it’s crazy,” he said, gazing into her eyes.
“Really, Caleb?” Jane smiled, and reached for him……and woke up to find herself lying next to some strange, sweaty guy. Some strange, sweaty, half-naked guy. He smelled like bad cologne and armpits and pot.
He rolled over sleepily in her direction. “Cassandra?”
Jane yanked the sheet (not silk) around herself as she sat up—which was not entirely necessary, since she was wearing her favorite faded baby blue Gap jammies that covered…well, everything.
“Who the hell are you?” she yelled.
The guy flinched at the decibel level of her voice. He rubbed his bloodshot eyes and stared at her. “Your hair was, like, black or brown last night,” he said, confused. “And really long. It kept swishing against my face when we—”
“Okay, that’s enough,” Jane cut him off.
This was one of Scarlett’s friends. Or, more accurately, one of Scarlett’s here-today, gone-tomorrow hookups. Jane’s BFF (and, as of a week ago, roommate), Scarlett Harp, was famous for giving guys the wrong name, or the wrong phone number, or both—deliberately, so she wouldn’t have to see them again. If it turned out the next morning that she actually liked the guy and wanted to see him again, she’d tell him she’d been too wasted the night before to get her contact info straight—so sorry!
But this rarely happened. When it came to long-term relationships, Scarlett had Commitment Issues (according to Jane) and High Standards (according to Scarlett).
In any case, WTF was this guy doing in her bed?
“Cassandra is in the next room,” Jane informed him curtly.
The guy grinned sheepishly. “Oh! Sorry, dude. I got up to take a leak, and—”
“I don’t need the details.” Jane gave him a gentle shove. “Bye!” She turned away as he pushed himself from her bed, but not before catching an eyeful of the snake tatt that slithered creepily across his back. Ew.
Jane jumped out of bed and slammed the door behind him. She had to take a shower, like, immediately. Who knew how long he had been in her bed, polluting it with Old Spice and man sweat?
In the glass bowl on her nightstand, her goldfish, Penny, zipped through the water, her tail swishing excitedly. “Breakfast in two seconds, Pen,” Jane promised. She hoped she wasn’t out of fish food. Could goldfish eat granola—or maybe English muffin crumbs? What was in fish food, anyway? And, more important, where was the fish food?
First things first. Shower. Her eyes scanned the floor for her bathrobe. She headed for her closet, stepping over a couple of cardboard boxes that she hadn’t gotten around to unpacking yet. The boxes were marked JANE’S BEDROOM STUFF in plum eye pencil, because she hadn’t been able to find a Sharpie during her marathon packing spree back home in Santa Barbara.
She and Scarlett had moved to L.A. less than seven days ago, and she still had a lot of settling in to do. In fact, she’d been living under what her father called “battlefield conditions”: ripping open boxes at the last minute when she needed something, like her favorite blue bikini or her blender for making strawberry-banana smoothies. Every day she promised herself that she would finish unpacking soon. Maybe tomorrow. Or maybe next month. Whenever.
Jane’s procrastination was something her new roomie was familiar with. There was very little the two friends didn’t know about each other. Jane ha
They had been best friends ever since. Scarlett was still the same old Scarlett: a rebel with off-the-charts SAT scores who never hesitated to say whatever was on her mind. And despite the fact that she refused to brush her hair or wear anything fancier than jeans, she was gorgeous.
And Jane was still the same old Jane: wanting to dress everybody up and organize parties. In fact, that’s why she had moved to L.A., after doing the backpacking-around-Europe-after-high-school thing with Scar—to intern for event planner Fiona Chen, who specialized in celebrity weddings and parties. Since Scarlett was starting her first semester at the “University of Spoiled Children,” better known as the University of Southern California, or U.S.C., the two had found an apartment together in Hollywood. It wasn’t the fanciest place in the world. Or the biggest. Or the quietest—Jane’s bedroom window was about twenty feet away from the entrance to the 101 freeway. This may have been a blessing in disguise though, because she shared a thin wall with Scarlett, and Scarlett had her, um, boy habit. So the steady hum of traffic was kind of like a white noise machine. Kind of.
She might not have fully unpacked yet, but Jane already had ideas for how to decorate their humble new home. With a little paint (she was thinking turquoise, tangerine, cream), some plants (bromeliads, cactus, a ficus tree with tiny Christmas lights), and some goodies from Target (silk pillows, velvet throws, faux vintage lamps), it could be a palace. (Optimism was another known Jane personality trait.)
In her head, Jane was always planning, imagining, simmering with creativity. Even now, standing in front of her closet door, she was distracted by a magazine clipping that she had taped up—a photo of an antique purple fan with tiny glass beads. Flipping through Elle, Vogue, Dwell, and other magazines, she was constantly inspired, thinking about what would go with an Oscar after-party or a beachy wedding or a black-tie-at-midnight birthday bash. (A lot of her friends lived to party, whereas Jane lived to plan parties.) She had papered her beige, or cappuccino, walls (or were they just dirty?) with clippings of gorgeous venues and locations, flower arrangements, clever centerpieces, random pretty objects.
Jane spotted her fuzzy blue bathrobe on the closet floor, right next to Penny’s fish food. Always look on the closet floor first, she told herself. She was really excited about her internship. She was really excited about being in L.A., period. She couldn’t wait to begin enjoying her new job, new boys, new adventures, new everything. She and Scarlett were going to have so much fun.
Jane’s life had always (well, almost always) been pleasant, predictable. She wasn’t sure when or how, exactly, but all that was about to change. Moving to L.A., putting off college for the Fiona Chen internship…all of it was meant to shake things up, to make room for something new and amazing in her life.
Jane’s happy fantasy was interrupted by the sound of a loud burp, then a toilet flushing. A moment later, there was a knock on her door. “Cassandra?” a guy’s voice called out.
“One door down!” Jane shouted back.
Ugh. Her new and amazing life would have to wait until she and Scarlett settled on some house rules. Like…Scarlett was not allowed to bring home guys who were too stupid or too baked to find their way back to her room.
On second thought, maybe Jane would just invest in a lock for her bedroom door.
YOU’RE NOT A TOTAL BITCH
Scarlett poured a cup of coffee, black, into her favorite mug, which said: COGITO, ERGO SUM, her favorite saying by her favorite philosopher, René Descartes. It was Latin for “I think, therefore, I am,” but she liked to tell anyone who bothered to ask that it was Swahili for “I’m shallow, but you’re ugly,” although she actually thought of herself as the opposite of shallow, and she considered beauty—or at least what passed for beauty in Southern California—to be highly overrated.
Scarlett knew that she had a strange sense of humor. It made people a little wary of her. But she liked it that way.
The midmorning sun slanted through the grimy windows and lit up the urine-colored kitchen walls. Outside, palm fronds swayed against the black-and-white backdrop of this week’s billboard: some random teen modeling a thong. Noises rose up from the street: cars honking, rap blaring from someone’s apartment, the guy from the ground-floor bodega swearing in Spanish. (Scarlett spoke four languages passably, including Spanish, and recognized mierda and caray.) The window fans whirred silently, stirring up the thick air without actually cooling anything. The cracked white thermometer with the smiley face on it registered 92 degrees.
Sipping her Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf French Roast, Scarlett caught a glimpse of her reflection in the garage-sale mirror Jane had propped next to the fridge to “make the room look bigger.” (Although who wanted to make a urine-colored room look bigger?) Wearing only a faded black tank and American Apparel boy briefs, Scarlett recalled the dozens of times guys had told her how hot she looked in this particular ensemble. But her appearance was not a quality she thought much about. In fact, her attractiveness sometimes got in the way of what she really wanted. It made other girls jealous of her and, consequently, they snubbed her (at best) or acted like sabotaging, PMS-plagued, psycho bitches from hell (at worst). It made guys unable to see past her super-long, wavy black hair, olive skin, and piercing green eyes to actually connect with her brain, which she worked hard to cultivate and was actually quite proud of. This made hookups easy, but friendships with guys nearly impossible. Her good looks made her parents—Mom was a shrink, gag, and Dad was a cosmetic surgeon, double gag—lecture her frequently and patronizingly about the risks of teen sex, as if only hot girls got pregnant or contracted STDs.
Scarlett had read in some book that Descartes was thought to have had sex only once in his life. Poor Descartes! Maybe Mr. “I think, therefore, I am” should’ve spent a little more time thinking about sex. Scarlett believed passionately in a life of the mind and the body—that is, to be brilliant and to hook up as often as possible. It was a good life, as far as she was concerned. Even though it sometimes led to mistakes, like the one she had brought home last night.
Scarlett glanced up. Jane was standing in the doorway, stifling a yawn. She was wearing her blue robe that made her look about ten years old, and her long blond hair was wet. There was a spot of white moisturizer on her lightly freckled nose, and she smelled like strawberry shampoo. She was, as always, an adorable little mess. She looked like the girl next door, and had the innocence to match. That innocence made some people (like Scarlett) fiercely protective of her. It made other people (like all the assholes of the world) try to take advantage of her.
Scarlett smiled. “Hey. You want some breakfast? Or is it lunch already?”
“Hmm. What do we have?” Jane asked.
Scarlett opened the fridge. Half a questionable-looking lime, one peach soy yogurt with an expiration date of yesterday, and a pizza box containing a few slices from a couple nights ago.
“Hmm. Maybe we should go out,” Scarlett suggested, frowning at the contents of the fridge.
Jane joined her. Her five-foot, five-inch frame was four inches shy of Scarlett’s. “Well…I wouldn’t want to tear you away from your hunky new boyfriend,” she teased.
“I had the pleasure of meeting him this morning,” Jane went on. “In bed.”
“He wandered into my room by accident. I don’t know, Scar. He wasn’t up to your usual standards.” Jane grinned
Scarlett grinned back. “Yeah, well, what can I say? I met him a couple nights ago at that used bookstore around the corner. He was in the literature aisle, reading James Joyce. I thought he might be interesting so when he asked me out I said yes.” She added, “Anyway, he’s gone. Which, as you know, is how I like my men.”
Jane reached into the fridge, opened the pizza box, and grabbed a slice. She leaned up against the counter and bit into it. “One of these days, you’re going to fall in love with some guy, and you’re not going to know what to do with yourself.”
Scarlett took another sip of her coffee and considered this. Love…who needed love? As long as she had her books and her friends and an occasional hookup, she was perfectly content. Real relationships—the kind that were supposed to last but never did—were more trouble than they were worth. What, was she going to be like her mother, who taught her patients how to get in touch with their feelings but who never said “I love you” to her own husband? Or like her father, who chiseled women into perfect SoCal goddesses but who never told his own wife that she was beautiful? Besides, life was too short to be stuck with one guy and one guy only. There was an entire universe full of them.
“You want to do something today?” Jane asked her, offering her some pizza.
Scarlett took a bite. It didn’t taste too old. “Sure. Like what?”
“It’s Saturday. We should do something fun. We’re in L.A., and we haven’t done much since we got here.” Jane paused and stared out the window. “Maybe we could go shopping on Melrose? And tonight we could go out to dinner and maybe go to a club?”
L. A. Candy by Lauren Conrad / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes