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Three women--Holly, Nicola, and Lexi--learn the path to true contentment and save each other in this humorous story about old rivalries, deep secrets, and the three things all women wish they were.
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Beth Harbison is the New York Times bestselling author of Secrets of a Shoe Addict, Shoe Addicts Anonymous, and Hope in a Jar. She grew up in Potomac, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C. and now shares her time between that suburb, New York City, and a quiet home on the eastern shore.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
THIN, RICH, PRETTY (Chapter 1)
"I don't want to do this," Holly Kazanov said half to herself as she stood on the lakeside next to the rickety wooden rowboat that Counselor Brittany was holding for her.
"Just go," Brittany snapped. She was the worst camp counselor ever. Even though she was supposedly seventeen, she acted like she was twelve.
The boat was made of splintering whitewashed wood and had the name Fat Oxen stenciled on it in chipped blue paint. There was an old house in town called Fat Oxen, too; someone had said it meant "wealthy" because to the Pennsylvania Dutch, having a fat ox meant you could feed it well.
To Holly, and to everyone around her at the moment, it just meant "fat."
In fact, just today, Sylvia had referred to Holly's hair and eyes as cow brown when they'd passed a cow pasture while they were out on a trail ride. Ironically, Holly had just been thinking how pretty a color the cows were, and what a cool picture it would be of them spotting the green hill like chocolate chips in a cookie.
She didn't think so now.
Now she just thought she was far too cowlike.
I am too fat, she thought frantically as the water slapped the side of the boat. I have terrible balance. The boat will tip over and everyone will see! I'll die in front of everyone and they'll remember me forever as the Big Fat Idiot who drowned falling out of the Fat Oxen boat.
Out loud she asked, "Are you sure it's safe?"
The best she could hope for was that Brittany would roll her blue-lined eyes and impatiently tell her to forget it and go back to the cabin.
She wasn't so lucky, though.
"Sure," Brittany said, tossing a glance--at least her fiftieth in the past fifteen minutes--toward Danny Parish, a counselor who was a year older than she was, had brown curly hair and blue eyes, and looked like Kirk Cameron. He had no idea all the girl counselors were panting after him with flying hormones. "It's fine. Just get in it already!"
But Holly could see the water seeping in through waterlogged wood. It smelled like metal and rotting fish. Should it really be wet inside the boat? They'd only just put it in the water! And the fact that Brittany didn't even look at it made Holly even more nervous.
"I don't want to!" Holly cried, drawing the attention of several campers nearby. "Can someone come with me?"
Obviously Brittany was more interested in Danny Parish than she was in anything Holly did, including, like, not drowning, so Holly was on her own with this. "These are for one person, stupid," she said to Holly, anger animating her body language, hands on the edge of the boat, her knuckles white . . . and her eyes . . . well, her eyes were still darting toward Danny. "Just get in the fucking boat." Holly hated that she said fucking when no one was around to hear her. "Everyone else is doing it. You don't get to cop out just because you're scared."
"I'm not scared." Holly put one foot into the boat. It rocked madly beneath her Dr. Scholl's sandal, and she drew back, immediately hitting her ankle hard on the edge. "I'm right. It's leaky."
"It is not leaky." Brittany averted her eyes, and again they landed on Danny Parish for a lingering moment before returning to Holly. "God, you are being such a crybaby."
Brittany was lanky, with bad skin and the thinnest brown hair that Holly had ever seen. She looked more like a camper than like a counselor. She'd been chasing after Danny like a dog in heat ever since camp began, and he hadn't noticed her for so much as a second. Even in her vulnerable state, Holly knew not to worry too much over what Brittany said about her.
"Do they inspect these boats for safety?" Holly asked, sounding, to her own ears, just like her overcautious father.
"Oh. My. God." Brittany sloshed through the shallow water and gave Holly a push on the back so she toppled into the boat. "Danny just had Lexi and Sylvia bring this out of the boathouse, which is where they repair anything that even might be wrong with it. Get in it!" She gave the boat a surprisingly strong shove, sending it rapidly into the deeper water.
"But--" Holly stopped. Anything she might say about safety checks or repair tickets would only be answered by another snipe about it having come out of the repair area of the boathouse.
Holly had very little faith in that.
For one thing, rumor had it that the boathouse was where the counselors had sex after everyone was supposed to be asleep. It was easy to imagine the counselors forgetting something as trivial as boat safety in the throes of passion.
And for another thing, Mr. Frank, the camp director, seemed to put way too much faith in the teenage counselors. He trusted them more than Holly did--that was for sure.
"Just row out into the lake with everyone else before it's time to come back already, would you?" Brittany didn't wait for an answer. With enough eye rolling to make a lesser person nauseated, she stomped off to the shed, where Holly had noticed Danny going just a second earlier.
"But I can't swim!" Holly yelled after her, taking her one terrible secret--the thing she hadn't wanted to admit in front of anyone--out of her pocket and throwing it into the atmosphere with the hopes that the counselor would stick around to make sure she was safe.
But Brittany pretended not to hear.
Holly knew Brittany was pretending because she saw the counselor's shoulders flinch when she yelled.
So Holly looked at the lake, where everyone else was paddling around like ducks in a carnival game. It was probably another ten yards to them and, thanks to the current, maybe twelve yards back to shore.
But was there anyone out there in the lake who would help her if she needed help?
There were a few people Holly didn't recognize, so maybe they would help, but the other five girls consisted of Lexi Henderson--Queen Bitch of the camp--and her posse of suck-ups, including Sylvia Farelle, Tami Ryland, and Kira Whatsername, who pretended she didn't mind that her mom sent Figurines diet bars in care packages from home.
Holly wished Nicola were here. Nicola was her new friend, also in cabin 7, and was way nicer than Lexi and her stupid friends. But she had arts and crafts this morning, and Brittany hadn't allowed Holly to go to the director and try to switch to that because she was already in two other art classes. She wanted to be an artist, not an athlete, so why did Brittany care how many art classes she had?
She didn't. She was just mean.
Holly's best hope was to row calmly back to shore and just wait there until this particular exercise was over. Why not? It wasn't like the counselors were going to notice at this point. They were too busy flirting in the boathouse.
"Okay," Holly said to herself. "You can do this. Just paddle back to shore, and stupid Brittany won't even notice."
"Look! It's the Fat Ox!" Lexi Henderson was so mean. Leave it to her--in a boat called Billy Idol--to point out the embarrassing name on Holly's boat.
"Shut up, Lexi!" Holly shouted, clutching her oars hard despite the sharp splinters of wood that pushed against her skin. A cloud of gnats hovered around her face, and she was afraid to take a breath to say more, in case one of them flew into her mouth.
"Or else what?" Sylvia taunted, her eyes lit with pure spite. "You'll come get her? Trample her with your big fat ox hooves?"
It was a stupid joke, it made no sense, but still the brownnosers who surrounded Lexi giggled.
And still Holly felt her face grow hot.
"You know," Sylvia continued, gliding effortlessly in circles on the lake while Holly scrambled to row toward shore, "this isn't a fat camp. I mean, look at the rest of us. You're in the wrong place."
"Yeah," Lexi agreed, and her agreement was all the more painful because of how pretty she was.
Holly had been waiting for someone to pull out that little gem of truth. It was camp, but it wasn't fat camp, and someone who looked like her would fit in only at a fat camp.
Fat girls at skinny camp sank canoes and died humiliated.
"What's the matter, fatso?" someone asked. There was no way to know for sure who it was because Holly was too busy trying, vainly, to make her oars work, but she just knew it was Lexi.
It was like one of those nightmares where you're running but not moving. Holly paddled fiercely, but the boat barely moved. She tried to keep her expression calm so Lexi and her friends wouldn't have the satisfaction of knowing how freaked out she was, but the more she rowed, the less she seemed to move.
Then she noticed the water bubbling up into the bottom, like blood oozing from a deep wound. She glanced toward the shore, but it seemed miles away and there were no counselors there. They were probably in the boathouse. How long did sex take? If her boat was going down, would they finish before she went under?
"Um," she said, her voice thin, as if too much volume would make things worse. "My boat has a leak." No one responded, so she cleared her throat and tried again. "My boat has a leak!"
Of course it was Lexi who heard and answered, "You better put on your life vest!"
Right, like Holly had one with her. She hadn't wanted to go through the humiliation of trying--and failing--to find one that fit around her chest, so she'd skipped that part.
She dropped her oars and cupped her hands to bail the water out of the boat, but the effort was too small and the leak too big. "Help!" she called toward shore. "Help!"
The water came in faster now, and the boat was being dragged down quickly. Panic hummed through her, but her movements felt useless. She was vaguely aware of voices calling out, though she couldn't tell whose they were or if they were laughing at her or trying to help.
"Put on your life vest, stupid!" someone shouted.
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Book Description Wheeler Publishing, 2010. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P111410430340