Part 1 ◎ Chapter 1 The Kelly bag

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"So you lost your virginity, he broke up with you, and now the whole school knows," Sandra summarized after I told my pitiful story. "Big deal."

The crisis happened back in my sophomore year, and my three closest friends were gathered in my bedroom for an emergency intervention. I had declared that I was going to drop out of school, move to New York and start a career in fashion in order to put all the ugliness behind.

"That's not a big deal?" I sat up from my bed. "Tell me a bigger deal that has happened in your life."

"I'm just saying, what's done is done. Let's focus on the positive here." Her wide-set blue eyes turned a shade brighter, the way they always did right before she said something she thought clever. "First off, at least he's not lying. Secondly, there are far worse things to lose than a v-card."

"Such as?"

"Your heart," Carmen chipped in. She transferred here at the beginning of the semester and I immediately recruited her into our little clique. I figured our gang needed some good virtue, since Sandra was mean, Janet was cynical, and I was (adorably) vain, but Carmen could be so boring sometimes. She sounded like a Hallmark card, and I don't mean the funny kind. "And it'd be worse to lose your confidence. Your faith in love. Your willingness to put yourself out there and-"

I groaned to cut her off just as Janet added, "Or your brand new Kelly bag."

My eyes fell on the ten-thousand-dollar Hermès bag my parents just got me as a sixteen-year-old birthday present, but partly it was because they felt sorry for me when they heard that Max dumped me.

That was the way my family dealt with relationship crisis, by the way.

"That really is a gorgeous bag," Sandra said. "Think of all the poor girls out there, who had their hearts broken without a Kelly to console them."

To be fair I didn't really feel heartbroken. It was more like humiliation. I, Flora Morgan, the master of the divine art of dating, had been defeated at my own game in the most mortifying way imaginable.

My brother Jeremy always told me that with me, what you see is what you get. I had already put my best feature out there and saved people the time of exploring. My looks. He said it was the only interesting thing about me, and mind you, Jeremy was actually the nicer one of my two older brothers.

I knew I was beautiful. All through my childhood years and into the awkward teenagehood, I managed to escape the oily skin, the sprouting acnes and whatever it was that people battled with. Between my parents' wealth and my own image, I pretty much always got what I wanted, be it popularity, friends, special favors, and anything they sold at Neiman Marcus. That doesn't mean I was your stereotypical mean girl, though; ask anyone and they'd tell you that I was Goodwill Ambassador of Riverside High.

I adored mankind. I liked people and I talked to everyone.

So it wasn't hard to imagine that guys were never much of a problem for me. Even if beauty was the only interesting thing about me, it sure appeared to be interesting enough. I dated around but never really settled, and I quickly discovered the fun in switching and...well, sampling. I got distracted easily whenever a new guy came on the scene, kind of like the way a new eyeshadow color might catch my attention, and like a new eyeshadow, I always tried them on. Boys are like breakfast buffet; you want to taste some freshly baked patisserie here and a little bit of cheese omelette there. You just don't stuff your face with plain toasts alone and call it a morning.

It was so effortless to get them to like me. Most of the time, anyway. Max was a senior and captain of the football team, and at the time I thought I might as well do it with him because I figured he was as good as they come. I didn't expect him to broadcast it, though.

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