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New year. New friends. New life.
Jessica and Elizabeth move out of the dorm...and move in with Sam and Neil.
Dana's ready to take the plunge...but Todd's getting cold feet.
Tom wants his old like back...Chloe just wants Tom.
Nina hates change...but things will never be the same again.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
No eagle-eyed RA.
No totally disgusting, mass-produced cafeteria food.
And no more being a lowly freshman!
Jessica Wakefield stood in front of 15 Crescent Road, giant suitcase in one hand, key in the other, staring at the incredibly cool duplex that was now her home.
I'm a sophomore and I have my own house! she wanted to scream at the top of her lungs. My own house!
Well, not her own house. She was sharing it with her two best friends: her twin sister, Elizabeth (who she didn't always get along with), and Neil Martin (the greatest guy in the world).
How cool was that!
And how cool was seeing their names on the black mailbox next to the front door?
That made it official. Real.
Dropping the heavy suitcase on the doorstep, Jessica unlocked the door and pushed it wide open.
Early afternoon sunlight streamed through the narrow windows on either side of the door and from a wide bay window that faced into the living room. Jessica walked inside and spun slowly around.
The duplex was totally empty, totally run-down . . and totally great!
"I can't believe the slumlord didn't paint the place!" a male voice complained from behind her.
Jessica turned around to see Neil Martin putting down a huge cardboard box marked Kitchen Stuff and grimacing as he picked a chip of white paint off the peeling, scuffed wall. "If we get stuck painting ourselves, he'd better knock some money off next month's rent."
"I can totally picture it!" Jessica exclaimed. "A buttery yellow, or maybe a really cool lavender, and we can stencil--"
"Jess--" Elizabeth Wakefield groaned as she staggered through the doorway, her arms anchored by two bulging suitcases. "Forget the color scheme and help unload the U-Haul. We have about a million boxes left to unpack. And get your suitcase out of the doorway--I almost tripped over it."
Jessica rolled her eyes at her identical twin. Although they were only four minutes apart in age, Elizabeth had an annoying tendency to act like she was thirty instead of nineteen.
"The U-Haul can wait for five minutes, Liz," Jessica said, surveying the living room. "Let's explore a little. We barely got to check the place out with that realtor breathing down our necks."
Without bothering to wait for Elizabeth's expected "no, Jess, now," Jessica headed through a swinging door and found herself in the kitchen. The small, sunny room had sliding glass doors that opened onto a tiny, scraggly backyard enclosed by a fence. Maybe Elizabeth could take up gardening.
A slab of counter jutted out into the center of the room, lined by round metal stools that were set into the floor. Jessica sat down on one of the stools and tried to push off, but the stool didn't swivel.
Neil came through the swinging door, took one look at her pout, and said, "Doesn't spin, huh? That blows."
Jessica grinned. Neil always could read her mind. If she didn't already have a twin, she'd think she and Neil had been separated at birth. It figured that the one guy she was completely comfortable with and found incredibly cute was . . . gay!
She shot off the stool and started opening cupboards. All of them were bare and a little dusty. There was something invigorating about all that empty space. Clean slate. Chance to start fresh. She, Elizabeth, and Neil were really starting from scratch. And that was exactly what Jessica wanted to do this year.
"So you really like this place that much, huh?" Neil asked.
"Like it? I love it!" Jessica gave Neil a hug. "And you know what? This is going to be a great party house."
Neil laughed. "Yeah, like a year from now, Jess. This place is really run-down."
"It's not run-down--it's charming. As soon as we finish moving our stuff in and get some living-room furniture from a thrift store, this place will look amazing." Jessica flitted around the kitchen, twisting faucets on and off, opening and shutting drawers. She peered into the refrigerator. "Hey, the light's broken."
"More like the electricity's broken," Neil said. "We have to get the utilities turned on."
"Oh, yeah. I knew that." Jessica shut the refrigerator door. Okay, so in addition to no parents, no dorm rules, and no bad cafeteria food, there would be no blow drying, at least until tomorrow.
"But wait, there's more," Neil went on. "Other than the electricity--which we can't do anything about today because it's Sunday--there's painting, and cleaning, and oh, yeah--finding a fourth housemate. And we have to do all that stuff right away."
"Okay, okay--so we have a lot to do," Jessica said. "So we'll do it."
Neil raised an eyebrow and smiled. "That's right, Jess. We'll do it."
A year ago she would have tuned Neil out, the way she tuned out Elizabeth or her parents or anyone else who tried to give her a reality check. But Jessica couldn't pretend anymore that if she ignored unpleasant stuff, it would just go away (or that Elizabeth would deal with it).
Of course she knew the apartment was more than just a place to party. It meant being independent. Taking care of her own life instead of leaving it to other people.
That was a little scary. But it was exactly what she wanted. For her sophomore year at Sweet Valley University, she was determined to act more like an adult, to take life more seriously. To be a little bit more like Elizabeth.
Now that was really scary!
"It won't be that much work split three ways," Neil said, clearly noticing that Jessica's smile had gone down a few watts.
"Four ways," Jessica corrected.
"That's right," Neil agreed, his gorgeous gray eyes twinkling. "And we'll make whoever moves in deal with everything."
Jessica laughed and felt herself getting psyched again.
"Liz!" Jessica's voice floated through the duplex as Elizabeth lugged a stereo speaker into the living room. "We need you to settle something. I say this is a closet, and Neil says it's a bedroom!"
"Just give me a minute." Elizabeth set down the speaker and wiped the sweat from her forehead. That third trip out to the U-Haul had left her winded. She caught her breach, finally taking a minute to look around.
Okay, so the duplex was a little run-down. And it seemed a little smaller than she remembered. But there was something charming about all the quaint details, like the bay window with its hardwood seat and the stairs' carved hardwood banister. Elizabeth tried to picture herself curled up in the window seat, reading, or coming down those stairs in the morning.
It was a little strange to think of herself living in this space, of her life unfolding within these walls.
She got up and walked around the room, gazing up at the ceiling and out the windows. Her mind drifted back to her first day at Sweet Valley U, how she'd wandered around like this in an empty dorm room in Dickenson Hall, full of excitement, hope, and the jitters.
"Isn't it wild?" Jessica's face emerged from the doorway she had disappeared through ten minutes ago. "All this space is ours!"
Elizabeth smiled as she shut the door of the closet she'd been peering into. "I know. I can't quite believe that I'm standing in my living room in my house. I still haven't gotten used to the fact that we're starting a new school year."
And stranger yet, Elizabeth realized, she was starting it alone. Meaning, no boyfriend.
"No kidding," Jessica agreed. "I feel like we just finished with finals two weeks ago. There's no way we're sophomores already."
"Yeah, no way," Elizabeth agreed, realizing that she'd zeroed in on what had been bothering her all day. It wasn't that she was in a strange place, or was anxious about starting sophomore year, or even that everything she owned was buried in boxes.
It was knowing that she was on her own. Last year she and Tom Watts had been an inseparable couple. And now she was . . .
On her own. How long had it been since she was truly independent . . . without a boyfriend to fall back on? Even this past summer, when she was grappling with the realization that it was really over with Tom, she'd been distracted by . . . Sam.
A distraction was all he'd been, Elizabeth reminded herself. Obviously their time together had meant nothing to him, or he would have bothered to return her calls and her letter. But she should have known all his talk of staying friends was just lip service. Sam wasn't exactly the most dependable guy. At this point she never expected to hear from him again.
"Earth to Liz." Jessica waved both hands in front of Elizabeth's face. "You zoned for a minute."
Elizabeth shrugged, any explanation seeming inadequate. "I'm just . . . still getting my bearings."
"Oh." Jessica looked at her. "Well . . . I'll leave you alone for a little while, then. I'm going to scope out the second floor." Like a shot, Jessica hurtled up the stairs.
Elizabeth dropped onto the window seat with a sigh, crossing her arms over her body. Sometimes she envied Jessica. Her sister was so dynamic, so adaptable, whereas Elizabeth was thrown by transitions. While Jessica was in heaven over their new house, Elizabeth was obsessing about everything they still had to do to get settled in.
What if they couldn't find a fourth roommate right away? What if they'd been stupid to take a place the three of them couldn't afford? What i...
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Book Description Sweet Valley, 1999. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0553492713
Book Description Sweet Valley. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0553492713 New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW33.2225273
Book Description Sweet Valley, 1999. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Brand New!. Seller Inventory # VIB0553492713
Book Description Sweet Valley, 1999. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 0553492713n