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As if being a teenage girl isn't hard enough, Gemma's parents are sending her away to a posh boarding school, and she won't see her friends for ages. As an outgoing Gemini, she finds friendship very important, but she's stuck with a shy, mousy roommate -- plus the school bully seems determined to make her life miserable. Life looks bleak, until she's chosen as a Zodiac Girl. Her life could be about to change for the better. But will Gemma make the right choices to find new friends and fit in?
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Cathy Hopkins is the author of the best-selling Mates Dates series, which has sold more than one million copies and has been translated into fourteen languages. Before becoming a full-time writer, Cathy worked as an aromatherapist and was a singer in a rock band. Cathy was born in England but went to elementary school in Kenya. She now lives in London with her husband and four cats. She is an Aquarius.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
"Good-bye, life." I sighed as I looked down from my bedroom window toward
the bus stop at the end of the street.
Everyone was there. All my friends. Lucy. Chloe. Ellie. Jess. Charlotte. They
were messing around, laughing and shoving each other as usual. There's
been some almighty humongous mistake. This so isn't right. I should have
been with them. I should have been going with them. A new start for all of us,
into high school.
I stared down at Jess, willing her to look up. She was my best friend, but
she'd probably be Charlotte's from now on. I bet she would. She'd soon forget
me. It was bound to happen if we went to different schools. She'd said that
she'd wave to me from the bus stop, and she hadn't even looked up. Not
once. She'd been too busy laughing with Charlotte. Instead of me. Not going
to cry, not going to cry, I told myself as the bus came rattling down the road
and Jess stuck her hand out to wave it down. It was too late—tears stung the
back of my eyes, and I knew I was going to blubber. Again.
I watched my friends get on the bus and disappear off around the corner. And
now the street was empty.
I was alone.
Well, almost. Bertie, who had been standing, watching with me, paws up on
the windowsill, looked up at me sympathetically and let out a soft whine.
I ruffled his black silky head. "And soon I'll have to say good-bye to you, too."
I sighed as I turned away from the window.
My suitcase was ready on the bed. Mom had packed it for me over the
weekend. New clothes. New uniform. Everything I'd need for my new school. I
shoved it off the bed and onto the floor, where it landed with a loud thud.
"Well, that's what I think of you," I said as I stuck out my tongue at the
I took a quick glance at myself in the mirror. A ginormous zit stared back.
"Go away," I said to it, but it took no notice and glared back at me defiantly.
I'd been lucky so far—I never usually got zits, but this one appeared over the
weekend to make up for all the months without. Right in the middle of my
forehead. If there was a prize for pimples, I'd win it hands down. You couldn't
miss it, no matter how much concealer I plastered on. And it was one of
those ones that you couldn't pop; it was an under-the-skin, lumpy one that
just glistened red and shouted, Whee, LOOK AT ME! Just what you needed
on the first day of school when you want to look your best. Not.
"Yuck," I said as I made a face at myself and pulled my hair back into a
ponytail. Big mistake. It only showed off my Award-Winning Zit more. Maybe
I should get bangs? I wondered as I pulled my hair loose again. Even my hair
was misbehaving today. I so wished that I had straight, blonde, fine hair like
Jess's and Lucy's, but no, I had a mass of boring, brown, kinky hair. I'd tried
straightening it, but it had still managed to get curly again. Great impression
I'm going to make. I look like a geek. A pimply geek.
"Gemma, GemMA," Mom called up the stairs. "Almost time."
I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. This was almost it. Good-bye
to my friends. My dog. My cozy bedroom. My life.
I took off my nightgown and put on the uniform that was hanging ready on the
back of the door. Prison outfit, more like. Black skirt, cream blouse, yellow-
and-black tie. I took another look in the mirror, hoping that by some miracle
in the last five minutes I had turned into Britney Spears and looked like a hot
babe, like she did when she wore a school uniform in that old video of hers.
No such luck.
"Don't call us," I said to my reflection. "We'll call you."
Mom had bought the uniform too big so that I could grow into it—only by the
look of it, that's not going to happen until around senior year. I looked
ridiculous. Anyone could see that the sleeves were too long, and the
shoulders hung off me. I might be going to a ritzy school with ritzy girls, but
my parents had to scrimp and save so that I could attend. A new uniform for
me every year wasn't an option. I bet none of the other girls have had to get a
uniform that they can grow into, I thought. I bet all their parents are so
stinking rich that they can have a new uniform every week if they want. It's so
not fair. I don't want to be going to a snobby school with snobby students. I
want to be going to the high school with my friends, where you don't have to
wear a uniform at all.
The trouble started last summer when some ancient great aunt left some
money to my parents in her will. With one condition—that the money was to
be used for "a private education" for me. Mom and Dad were on cloud nine,
even though there was one small problem. She hadn't left quite enough to
cover all the tuition. Only two thirds of what was needed. That didn't stop
them. They decided that "fate" had given me a chance, and they were going
to do all they could to make it happen. Mom got an evening job teaching
English as a foreign language on top of her normal job at the library, and Dad
started putting in extra hours at his garage. All so I could go to private school.
"What a lucky girl you are," everyone said.
"Opportunity of a lifetime," I heard over and over again.
No one asked me what I wanted. What I wanted was to kill that aunt. Only
she was already dead. No one asked me what I wanted at all, and on the rare
occasions that I dared to object to being separated from my friends, Mom
and Dad laughed and said that I'd soon make new ones. They really don't
understand what changing schools can be like.
I'd tried getting Dad on his own, but he said that I had to remember the
sacrifices that Mom was making for me.
I tried getting Mom alone, but she said that I had to remember the sacrifices
that Dad was making for me.
I tried my grandparents, and Grandma said that I was in danger of becoming
a "spoiled little brat."
Only Bertie understood.
And so I was off to Avebury, a new school where I knew I wouldn't belong. I
hoped that when Mom and Dad saw me cast out as an outsider and failing all
of my classes that they would remember the sacrifices that I made by giving
up my friends and going along with it, just to keep them happy. I had no
choice in the end. What with them working all hours and wearing themselves
out to give me what they thought was the "opportunity of a lifetime," I couldn't
say too much. I didn't want to be seen as a "spoiled little brat."
By now I was feeling quite sorry for myself, so I opened the closet, walked in,
sat on the floor, and closed the door. Maybe if I stay here long enough,
I thought, the back will fall through like it did in those C. S. Lewis books, and
I'll find myself in a magical land like Narnia. I knocked on the wood behind
the clothes. No such luck. There was no secret door there. Only the back of
the closet and then the wall adjacent to the bathroom. I knew it was a silly
Outside there was a scratching sound and a soft growl. I opened the door,
and Bertie leaped in to sit on my knee. I think he knew that something was
up. He'd sat in my suitcase last night as Mom packed the last things, and he
refused to move until she shoved him out. He hated it when the cases came
out. He knew from when we'd been on vacation that clothes being packed
meant that someone was going away.
This time, it was no vacation.
"It's so not fair," I said to Bertie as he licked my face in the dark. "Why did
that stupid aunt have to die and leave me money anyway? She'd never even
met me. Maybe she was miserable all her life and wanted to make sure that
someone kept suffering after she'd gone. Why couldn't she have left me the
money and said, Spend it all on clothes? Now that would have been worth
"Woof," said Bertie, and he began to make himself comfortable in my lap.
Since he's a border collie, he's not a huge dog, so it wasn't too bad, but I did
feel a bit squashed all the same. Not that I minded. His warmth and familiar
doggy smell were reassuring.
"Gemma, GEMMA," Mom called again, and I heard her footsteps coming up
"Shhh," I said to Bertie as we heard my bedroom door open.
"Gemma?" asked Mom's voice.
Unfortunately, Bertie woofed in response, and a moment later, Mom opened
the closet door.
"What on earth are you doing in there?" she asked as I looked up at her from
behind the hems of hanging skirts and pants.
"Nothing," I replied. "Looking for Narnia."
Mom stared at me quizzically. "Narnia? Well, if it was on our list, I'd have
packed it. Come on, come out. It's almost time for us to go."
I decided to make one last bid for freedom. I fell on my knees in front of
her. "Mom, please, save me from this terrible fate . . ."
Mom started laughing.
Why does everyone always think it's so hysterical when I'm being deadly
"I know it's a new start," said Mom as she sat on the end of my bed, "but
you'll love it when you've settled in."
"Won't," I said as I sat up.
"Of course you will. You'll make new friends in no time."
"Won't. Don't want new friends. I want to be with Lucy, Chloe, Ellie, Jess,
and Charlotte. They're m...
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