Authors: Allison Rushby
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Diamonds Are a Teen’s Best Friend
Random House Australia Pty Ltd
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First published by Random House Australia 2006
Copyrigh © Allison Rushby 2006
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
National Library of Australia
Diamonds are a teen’s best friend.
For children aged 12 and over.
ISBN 978 1 74166 174 3.
ISBN 1 74166 174 9.
1. Monroe, Marilyn, 1926–1962 – Juvenile fiction. I. Title.
Cover photograph courtesy of Getty Images
Cover and internal design by Ellie Exarchos
‘Is this the boat to Europe, France?’
Honestly, I tried to stop myself asking the question, I truly did. In front of me, the porter guy looks at me as if I’m a fourteen-(almost fifteen-!) year-old idiot. Beside me, dear old Dad looks at me as if I’m delusional (that’s because a lot of the time he actually thinks I am – he’s even had me tested to make sure I’m not). And he’s about to open his mouth to start in on me (again … sigh) when, behind me, I hear it – someone laughs. Right on cue.
I swing around quickly, my head zipping from side to side, trying to see who it is, but it’s practically impossible in this traffic jam of a crowd, especially when you’re as short as I am and your dad won’t let you wear a kitten heel, let alone rhinestones in the daytime. I bet Marilyn Monroe’s
mother never said a thing about Marilyn wearing rhinestones in the daytime. Then again, Marilyn Monroe’s mother let her get married at sixteen and spent a great deal of time in a mental institution, so that’s probably not saying very much. I’m just about to give up on the searching thing when the crowd parts and someone dressed entirely in red, going out/in/out (in all the right places) and hips swaying, passes me by with a wink and a lift of one perfectly arched eyebrow.
‘Honey,’ she says, in the kind of voice that makes everyone turn and look at her. ‘France is
Oh. My. God.
It’s one of those moments when you just know you’ll think up a zillion and two perfect things to say later, but instead you stand there looking like you’ve recently had a lobotomy. Especially when I realise that the someone is actually a Someone and that the woman now heading up the escalator to the biggest ship I’ve ever seen in my life is, in fact, Holly Isles.
Actress. Goddess. Star of stage, screen and various tabloid magazines that you skim as fast as you can at the
supermarket checkout because your dad will never let you buy them and everyone else is allowed to rot their brain so why can’t I, Holly Isles.
Someone whistles. And, this time, I don’t need to look around. This time, I know for sure it’s not for me. (Laughing, sure. Whistling? I am sincerely doubting it …) And because I don’t turn around, I don’t move for the guy. The one who smacks into my shoulder (ow!) and says, ‘Excuse me. I need to get to my
I follow his gaze directly up the escalator to Holly. His aunt? Holly is his aunt? Well, la de da. I go to give him my best ‘Get your filthy mitts off me, don’t mess with the outfit and don’t go
near the hair, buster’ look when my mouth drops even further. Hello, sailor! Cute boy ahoy! He’s not kidding around. This guy is definitely related to Holly in a big way.
‘Ah …’ my dad exhales, the lecture he’d been working on giving me obviously forgotten. Funny, but he’s got the same kind of lobotomy look as me. And he’s staring straight at Holly.
Still in shock, my eyes move back from my dad to Holly’s form as she goes up, up, up (and I’m not alone,
I think everyone on the dock is watching Holly go up, up, up). Slowly, I shake my head from side to side. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe Holly Isles just said that to me. And it wasn’t exactly the line from the movie I was thinking about, but then again, neither was mine. And I could probably go on watching her forever, my mouth hanging open (okay, so I only check out her nephew a few more times), except that Holly’s now out of sight and my dad has obviously returned to his old lecturing form.
‘Nessa Joanne Mulholland.’
‘NESSA JOANNE MULHOLLAND!’
‘Huh?’ I finally look up, only to see him looking down at something. At my chest. Ugh. Gross. What is he doing? He’d better not be doing any research on me. But then I look down too.
Oops. The tissues are escaping again.
I surreptitiously stuff them down my black-with-leopard-skin-trim top with one hand. ‘I’ve got a cold, okay?’ I mutter. Geez. So much for Marilyn’s mother. I bet she never had to put up with this kind of harassment from her father, either. Except that no-one was ever quite sure
exactly who he was. And, of course, Marilyn didn’t need to stuff, either, did she?
I sigh my second sigh of the morning. Life. It’s just so … unmovielike.
Okay, okay, okay, so I guess I should explain the Marilyn thing. And the boat thing. And, well … everything. (Don’t ask me to explain the tissue thing, though. We’ve only just met!)
Right. It’s complicated and there’s a lot to get through, so listen up or you’ll miss something. I suppose I’ll start with the Marilyn thing. Just in case you’re beginning to think I’m a bit weird. Here’s the deal: I guess you could say I’m a little, um, for want of a better word,
with Marilyn Monroe. I have been for quite some time now. And why wouldn’t I be? I mean, the woman is, was,
. I don’t know how many movies of hers you’ve seen, but I’ve seen them all. Every single one (even the last one, which was never finished). And about a million times. Each. I mean it, I just can’t get enough of Marilyn. Why?
I can’t exactly explain it, but it’s like, when I’m watching her, I can’t take my eyes off her. I’ve heard actors who worked with her say it was like that in real life too – that if she was in the same room as you, later on you wouldn’t be able to say who else was there. It was only you. And Her.
Lots of people don’t understand why I love Marilyn’s movies – saying that all she ever did was play the dumb blonde. But they’re wrong.
wrong. Marilyn was no dumb blonde and she didn’t play dumb blondes either. If they bothered to look beneath the retina-blinding peroxide hair for a second, they’d see that Marilyn’s characters were smart cookies. They got what they wanted every single time and generally five minutes before they knew they even wanted it. Plus, they had a great time along the way.
I really wish I could explain it better. You see, it’s not one thing in particular I love about Marilyn, it’s just … oh, everything. The hair and the clothes and, most of all, the attitude. She’s such a scream. I wish I could get away with saying half the things Marilyn came out with. I mean, that her
got away with, because it’s more the movies I’m interested in. The rest of it – the husbands, the drugs, the Kennedys, the on-set trailer tanties – leaves me a little cold.
Anyway, to cut to the chase, over the years I’ve come to realise something: Marilyn and I, we actually have quite a lot in common. (No, not the only-person-in-the-room thing. Generally no-one notices if I’m in a room at all.) Like what? Well, for example, our initials – NJM. Norma Jeane Mortenson. That’s her. Nessa Joanne Mulholland. That’s me. My dad thinks it’s a coincidence (especially as it was ‘Vanessa’ before I insisted on ‘Nessa’). Still, I think it’s a sign.
And, where Marilyn is concerned, I see a lot of signs. I call them Marilynisms.
I don’t tell my dad about them much anymore. Not since the time when, a few years ago, he sent me to see a special kiddie psychiatrist. I think he was starting to believe my addiction to all things Marilyn had something to do with my mother’s death (she died when I was six). But it doesn’t, really. Or at least I don’t think it does. What is a mother figure, anyway? I’d never let on, but, if anything, it’s probably got something to do with the fact that Dad and I seem to move every five minutes. At least Marilyn’s a friend I can take with me. She doesn’t even take up a lot of room – DVDs pack flat!
My dad is a professor who specialises in (wait for it, it’s
embarrassing …) sociology. What’s so embarrassing about that? Well, it’s kind of a special type of sociology. Kind of the human mating type of sociology (yes, I know,
). Can you believe it? That’s actually his job. Nosey parkering his way into other people’s sex lives. Sick, yes? I can only dream of having a dad who’s a lawyer. Or an accountant. What I’d give to be able to say that – ‘My dad, he’s an accountant. He works in the city. He commutes in our wood-panelled station wagon.’ Ha! I wish. Instead, we travel the world, from college to college, landing wherever Dad can get funding to ask his next round of gut-twistingly embarrassing sexual questions of people he’s never met before. So far we’ve lived in Berlin, London, Toronto, Sydney, Auckland, and now we’re leaving New York City. I think we originally come from Australia. At least, that’s what my passport says if you search beneath the stamps. And there’s a bit of an accent in there … somewhere.
Right. That’s done. I’ll move on to the ship thing then, shall I? All of this brings us to where we are now – boarding the most gigantic ship I’ve ever seen in my life, the
. Once again we’re moving on. But this time,
at least, is a little different. Dad’s using the trip as part of one of his (yes, gut-twistingly embarrassing again) studies. For the last month or so he’s been busy interviewing women going on this cruise, and as soon as we set sail he’ll continue watching them. (No, he’s not a ‘Do you want me to apply your sunscreen for you?’ pervert, it really is for research.) It’s all something to do with whether or not their behaviour changes once we’re at sea. Something about people thinking cruises are romantic, blah, blah, blah (he tends to give me his proposals to read, but they mostly make my brain either switch off, or my eyes poke out in fright). Seriously. He needs to quit watching and start dating in my opinion. Maybe if he got a girlfriend he wouldn’t be quite so interested in what everyone else is doing. Then I could convince him accountancy is a good thing.
Alexa totally agrees with me on the quit-watching-and-start-dating point. Who’s Alexa? Alexa Milton, my best friend and another Marilynism. Marilyn’s third husband was Arthur Miller. Alexa Milton. AM. Arthur Miller. AM. That’s no coincidence as far as I’m concerned. NJM and AM. We were meant to be best friends. Fate and all that (though, hopefully we won’t get divorced after five years).
Alexa’s got a weird life, just like I do. Her parents (hey, snaps for her for collecting the whole weird and wonderful set) are archaeologists, and Alexa spends her life being dragged from one dusty dig to another. Still, at least if her parents asked the people they’re studying those gut-twistingly embarrassing questions, nobody would be embarrassed at all. (No great surprise – they’re always dead.) That’s how Alexa and I met, through our parents (still hanging around college at their age – sad, really). We try to keep them apart because when they get in the same room together they tend to go on and on about how, one day, we’ll thank them for our unconventional upbringing. How it will have ‘expanded our minds’. Whatever. At the moment the only thing it’s expanding is our typing skills. Oh, and our mobile phone bills.
Alexa’s not so big on the Marilyn thing (Ashton Kutcher’s more her specialty), but she’s watched all the movies with me (the fifth and sixth times I might’ve had to bribe her with sour cream and chives Pringles) and she gets where I’m coming from. Sort of. Which is good enough for me. At the moment she’s stuck in the middle of a large expanse of red dirt somewhere in Turkey, with only
intermittent email to keep her sane. I keep telling her I’d swap her any day (parents are far less likely to embarrass you when you’re in the middle of nowhere surrounded by dead people), but she hasn’t decided whether she’ll take me up on my offer yet. She says the cruise sounds great, but having a peeping Tom for a dad leaves her a bit cold (he’s really not a pervert, I swear). One thing we do agree on, however, is the fact that being separated over the summer is both cruel and unnecessary. (My dad says it might be cruel, but it’s more than necessary. Especially if we want to eat for the next year and have luxuries like electricity.)
Phew. I think I got through all that in record time. It may even have been a personal best. (Attending nine different schools in nine years has seen me hone the story of Nessa Joanne Mulholland to five minutes or less.)
Anyway, speaking of Alexa, my fingers practically started itching to email her when Holly Isles did her thing as we were boarding the
, because it really was like the start of
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
. You know, when Lorelei and Dorothy are boarding their boat headed for France? No? Okay, I guess you probably don’t know. But, believe me, it is. I just couldn’t help myself with the ‘Is this the boat
to Europe, France?’ line. Just like Marilyn’s line in the movie. And then Dorothy, oops, I mean Holly, lobbed the next line from the movie right back at me. Another Marilynism to add to my collection! Maybe this trip won’t be so bad after all. Especially if Holly’s fiancé is around somewhere (Kent Sweetman – total swoon!). Though I wonder where he was this morning? According to all the magazines, they were supposed to be getting married this weekend. So what’s she doing on some cruise with her (extremely cute, sorry, I really couldn’t help noticing …) nephew?
Hmmm. Weird. Could it possibly be this trip will be semi-interesting?