Authors: Simone Bryant
October [email protected]:00 a.m.| Mood: Not sureâ¦
Morning, Marisol. Rise and shine. Strive to be the very best you can be and there's no limit to how far you can go in achieving all of your dreams.”
Marisol Rivera was already lying awake in her bed when the sound of her alarm clock with its daily motivational message went off. She reached over to turn off the clock, feeling way more tired than fabulous. Well, sorta.
Her father, Alex, was the star pitcher for New York's Major League Baseball team. And unfortunately their run at a division title, and consequently the World Series, was completely dunzo. Because her father was a real team player, he celebrated the wins and mourned the team's losses. He always tried to do his very best year in and year out. So in the days after the regular season, he was in a somber moodâborderline depressed.
Marisol had mixed feelings about her father not making the play-offs. She hated that her
was down, but no baseball in the off-season meant he would be home more often. His life as a superstar athlete meant he was always on
the go. New York loved its athletes and Alex Rivera was no exception. His looks and charm only upped his celebrity status.
“Unfortunately that also included groupies, too,” Marisol muttered, as she climbed out of her bed with its Egyptian-cotton sheets and custom silk coverlet.
She still couldn't believe her father had been cheating with another woman, something she'd discovered during the filming of a documentary about him for ESPN. Luckily all of the fallout hadn't been picked up by the press, but there had been plenty of drama around their house. As much as she loved her fatherâshe was definitely a daddy's girlâit took her a long time to get over her hurt and disappointment. Even though her parents had stuck it out, she couldn't help but wonder if deep down her
(That's major pissed.)
Marisol took her time going through her morning routine, emerging from her bathroom pampered and freshly showered in a terry-cloth white robe. She smiled thinking of how she'd blamed her father's wealth and fame for his indiscretions. She went on a
fastâno makeup, special hair products or designer clothes. It drove Starr mad crazy.
It took a serious pep talk with Mrs. Lester for Marisol to discover that it was in her blood to be a fashionista. The clothes, the hair, the makeup? She was just naturally stylish. Simply fab-u-lous!
Marisol sat at her dressing table and flat-ironed her hair until it was shiny and straight before parting it down the middle for the whole Pocahontas look. She was applying
eye makeup when the door to her bedroom suite opened and her little brother, Carlos, peeked in. She loved him but the eleven-year-old knew how to get under her skin.
“Knock before you come in, Carlos,” she told him, her accent heavy.
He shrugged as he stood at the door already dressed in his charcoal-gray blazer, white shirt and navy pants that made up his school uniform. “Mama's sick,” he said, as he began wandering around her spacious room, randomly touching things.
Marisol thought about his love of boogers and stood up to guide him by his shoulders to the center of her room where there was not a blessed thing around to contaminate.
“Lo que le pasa?”
she asked before moving over to her walk-in closet.
“She was throwing up.”
Marisol froze, her hand poised over a chambray tunic. Oh. Heck. No.
she whispered, biting off the lip gloss she just put on. Thank God it tasted like chocolate.
She walked toward her brother, grabbed him by the collar and dragged him along as she left her room.
“Hey, I'm telling,” he hollered, digging his feet.
She stopped and crossed her arms over her chest. “Why do we always have to play these games, Carlos? You won't win,” she told him smugly.
Carlos pulled his baseball cap from his back pocket and slid it over his large, round, black curls. “I'm off to school,” he said suddenly, before quickly moving past her to run down the stairs.
Marisol laughed as she made her way down the hall to her parents' suite. One of the wooden double doors was open and she peeked into the sitting area of their bedroom. Her mother was still dressed in her silk pajamas, lounging on a chaise watching the morning news program
on Telemundo. The double doors on the far wall leading to the bedroom were closed.
“La madre de buenos dÃas,”
she greeted her, as she walked into the room. She bent to kiss her mother's cheek.
Yasmine Rivera smiled brightly at her daughter, tilting her head back. “Good morning, Marisol,” she said with a heavy Spanish accent as she picked up the remote to mute the volume on the plasma TV mounted over the fireplace.
Marisol's eyes skimmed her mother's face, thinking, as always, that she was a taller version of Eva Longoria. “Papi's sleeping?”
Her mother nodded, resting her head against the back of the chair.
“Are you okay?”
“Little tired. I think I have the flu,” she said.
The flu or the nine-month sickness called pregnancy?
Marisol thought, not sure how she would feel about another sibling.
Another Carlos, the “Booger Eating Terror”? Please no. Perhaps a pretty mini-Marisol to groom? Hmm, doable. Definitely doable,
The Way I See It!
on October [email protected]:00 a.m. by thedivaofdish
I spyâ¦a bun in the oven?
Rumors are f lying that one of Pace Academy's own isâto quote a Kardashianâ
Looks like there's a lot more than education going on in these hallowed halls.
Pace Academy's Diva of Dish
October [email protected]:14 a.m.| Mood: Motivated
cafeteria at Pace Academy was buzzing with the latest post by the Diva of DishâPace Academy's resident gossip whose identity remained unknownâat least for now.
Starr pushed her new 32-gigabyte iPhone 4 across the table toward Marisol and Dionne. She arched an eyebrow as she tapped the screen with a slender index finger. “You know who the Diva of Dumb is talking about. We
Dionne wiped her fingers with a napkin before she picked up the cell phone and read the latest post. She shared a long look with Starr and Marisol, who was working her way through a fresh fruit salad.
“Humph.” Starr couldn't forget the sight of Heather Farmerâstepdaughter of a famous actress and a video-vixen-in-trainingâthrowing up last week.
She didn't miss the look of pity her friends gave her or at least it seemed that way. If Heather was pregnant there was a good chance that Jordan Jackson was about to become
her baby daddy. Starr gripped the table, almost digging her nails into the wood to keep from screaming.
Jordan Jackson was the boy she'd been crushing on forever.
And he was also the reason she'd passed out onstage at her party last weekâa memory she tried to suppress most of the time. One innocent kiss behind her ear and she was laid out like a beached whale.
But now? She was done-dada. Crush? Completely crushed.
“This is so seriously not gossip-worthy. It's sad, right?” Dionne asked. “Signing with your dad's label and all, he might've messed his whole life up.”
Starr thought to herself. Seeing all of her plans with Jordanâthe JorStarr of it allâfade to black. She certainly wasn't crazy enough to want to have Jordan's baby, and she was
too young to deal with baby mama drama.
“You okay, Starr?” Marisol asked, offering her a chunky piece of pineapple skewered on the end of her salad fork.
Starr smiled as she took the pineapple chunk and then waved her hand dismissively. “I'm fine. I don't have time for Jordan Jackson and for sure he doesn't have time for me.”
“Exactly,” Dionne and Marisol agreed, nodding their heads as they looked at her with pound-puppy eyes.
“Plus I have another project for us to work on,” Starr continued, desperately wanting to change the subject. She crossed her legs and gently tugged at the black leggings she wore with over-the-knee boots.
Dionne looked up from the grilled chicken she was slicing. “Like what?”
“I'm still working out the details, but after school ride with me to my house.” Starr was excited just thinking about her plans. All she had to do was work out the details and make it happen. Her spiritualist, Kentu, said, “If you can see it, then you can be it!”
Dionne shook her head. “I can't. I have to meet my moms right after school, but you can fill me in later on Skype,” she said apologetically.
Starr eyed her. “Are you staying at your dad's this weekend?” she asked, as she picked up her vibrating cell phone.
“Yes, thank God.”
Starr frowned at the text from an unfamiliar number. She used her fingernail to open the text.
Hi Starr. What r u doing?
Her thumbs flew across the on-screen keyboard.
Who is this?
Natalee. :) We met @ ur house. Remember? Wanna hang out after school?
Starr sighed and put her phone down on the table.
“Who's that?” Marisol asked, biting an apple slice.
“This girl my parents want me to be friends with but
that's a done-dada,” she said, sounding bored. “Play dates are
first grade. Seriously.”
Marisol and Dionne laughed as Starr played with the soft hairs on the back of her head and looked around the cafeteria. She eyed everyoneâthe jocks, the geeks, the drama kids and the glam girls: both the blonde Kristin Cavallari types and the dark-haired Kardashian wannabes.
“Getting rid of the uniform has its ups and downs,” Starr said as a girl walked by in a colorful outfit that she was sure a clown would refuse to wear.
“Alaina.” Starr reached out and lightly touched her cinnamon-brown hand.
She turned with a bright smile. “Hi, Starr,” she said, sounding like someone from the cast of
Maybe she'd spent time in Southern California because of her father's huge law practice, which had offices on both coasts.
“Listen, there's a thin line between
freak,” Starr advised her.
Marisol's and Dionne's mouths fell open.
Alaina looked slightly offended.
“Lose the blazer, find flats that match your hose, burn that scarf immediately. And return the belt to the wrestler you stole it from,” Starr said, pointing out each offense with her slender finger.
“Uhm, thanks, thanks, Starr,” Alaina said, still adjusting her clothes as she stumbled away.
“So anyway,” Starr said, pushing away the personal pan pizza that she'd hardly touched. “I can't wait for Friday. I should have everything tweaked out by then.”
Marisol and Dionne stared at her.
“What?” Starr asked.
Dionne and Marisol looked at each other and just shook their heads.
“Plus we can finish opening all my birthday gifts,” Starr said, her eyes back to perusing the large cafeteria that looked more like a stylish restaurant than a school lunchroom. But then
about Pace was like other schools.
“You're not done opening your gifts yet?” Dionne asked, wrapping her hair behind her ear to show off a two-carat diamond stud.
Starr shook her head. “I'm going to go through them and give some stuff to charity.”
“Bet that won't make it onto the blog,” Marisol snapped.
Starr's eyes flashed. “Soon there won't even be a blog,” she announced.
October [email protected]:05 p.m. | Mood: Excited
was filled with so much energy that she could hardly sit still in the backseat of the real estate agent's Mercedes. She had her rhinestone-covered Sidekick clutched tightly in her hand. “Daddy wants me to text him pictures,” she said, leaning her head on her mother's shoulder before she did a little dance tapping her feet on the floor mat of the car.
Risha playfully pushed her shoulder away. “Oh, really? And where exactly is âLahron the Don'?” she said sarcastically.
“I don't know,” Dionne admitted, sitting up to pull her bone-straight hair from behind her back before she flicked her phone open to text him.
Daddy where r u?
Her Usher ringtone sounded just seconds later.
In the studio making hits to pay for that house!!!
Dionne laughed as she looked down at the screen and texted away.
Make that $$$. Don't let it make u. LOL.
“He's at the studio,” Dionne said to her mother, closing her phone and sliding it in the inside pocket of her new navy python Gucci tote.
“The way he spoils you he better stay in the studio,” Risha said, eyeing the tote.
Dionne said nothing as she pouted her glossy lips a bit and looked out the car window. She hadn't asked for the bag. Her father had surprised her with it last weekend when she'd stayed with him.
Lord, please don't let her get on that whole “don't build your lifestyle around your daddy's money. It can be gone just as quickly as it came,”
Dionne sighed as the Realtor slowed down and turned right onto a street that sloped like a dip in a roller coaster ride. “You like it, Ma?” she said, her voice hopeful.
Her father was buying the house and it was going to be put in a trust in Dionne's name until she turned twenty-one. But the decision was completely up to her mom, Risha Hunt, who was young but very independent.
Dionne's parents had dated for three months when they were just sixteen. Their relationship had ended way before Dionne was born and oftentimes things were heated between them. Risha accepted no money or gifts from Lahron. She worked at the university hospital and paid her own bills. Her only stipulation was that Lahron take care of his
daughter's needs. Her mother would no doubt try to pay her father rent. Dionne shook her head.
My mama don't play.
“It's a lot different from 16th Avenue,” Risha said softly, biting the side of her acrylic tips.
Dionne thought, as she gazed out the window. The houses were hugeâalthough they were still small compared to the sprawling mansions Starr and Marisol lived inâbut a million miles from their two-bedroom apartment.
“The school system is first-rate,” the real estate agent, Cecily, said, as she turned down a long paved driveway.
Dionne's eyes widened. “No, no. I'm already in another school,” she said, shaking her head.
The Realtor looked at her with doubting eyes in the rearview mirror. “The South Orange-Maplewood School District is one of the best in the entire state,” she said smugly.
Dionne locked eyes with the woman. “I attend Pace Academy,” she said, a little too self-satisfied with a “so there” look when her mother wasn't looking.
Cecily's entire expression changed.
“Wow, it's really nice,” her mother admitted.
Dionne leaned forward to look through the windshield. “I loooove it,” she said excitedly.
Risha laughed and waved her hand. “You said that about the last two houses, DiDi.”
As soon as the car pulled to a stop Dionne hopped out and took pictures of it. She barely heard the Realtor explaining all the details to her mom as they walked through the house. She was too excited.
The large kitchen with a huge marble countertop island that was simply perfect for her and her friends to eat breakfast. There was a patio paved in limestone where they could lounge and sip daiquirisânonalcoholic of course. A nice-size pool where she envisioned plenty of parties that she could invite anyone she wanted to!
she thought as they walked through the sunken living with a huge stone fireplace and a wall above it for a flat-screen television.
“If we get a big high-def projection screen we can make this like a mini movie theater,” Dionne said, raising her T-Mobile to snap a picture and adding to her growing to-do list of decorating.
Her mom just walked around the empty space and touched things.
“I actually know someone who can install the movie theater chairs and digital surround system,” Cecily said, aligning herself with Dionne, who seemed more enthusiastic than her mother.
“E-xact-ly,” Dionne stressed, tapping away on her phone as they moved through another entryway into a hall that circled back to the kitchen, leading to a stairway with wrought-iron spindles that led to the second level.
Dionne forgot Starr's advice about staying composed at all times and took the stairs two a time. The upper level opened onto a huge, spacious loft that overlooked the living room on one side and the den on the other. She looked up with her mouth gaped open at the incredible skylight.
she thought as she opened her arms wide and twirled around with a huge smile on her face.
“Girl, sit down,” her mom joked, moving past her to
follow Cecily through the wide double doors at one end of the loft area.
Cecily cleared her throat as she looked at them over her thin shoulder. “Be prepared to gasp,” she warned, before she opened both doors wide and stepped back.
Dionne and Risha stepped forward, and gasp they did.
The room was spacious with a fireplace against the far wall and patio doors leading to a small balcony overlooking the rear of the property. Built-in mahogany floor-to-ceiling bookshelves flanked the fireplace. There was a fifteen-foot trey ceiling with a bronze lighting fixture big enough to collar an elephant.
“Oh, that's not all, ladies,” Cecily said, with a sense of satisfaction as she stood behind them.
Dionne sighed, grabbing her mother's hands to pull her toward the closet double doors.
They opened the closet doors to reveal a twenty-by-twenty-foot room with a dressing area complete with custom shelving, a wall of shoe racks and a large, framed mirror. On the other side off the well-organized dressing area was the door to the master bathroom.
Dionne snapped away with her camera. “Can you imagine taking a bath in that, Ma? Can I use it sometimes?” she asked, stepping inside the tub to stretch out. “Can
use it sometimes? If we get this one it would be
room,” Risha said nonchalantly.
Dionne's eyes popped open.
house?” Cecily asked, crossing her thin arms over her chest as she looked beyond baffled.
Risha eyed the red-haired Realtor as if to say, “Mind your
business,” before she continued inspecting the bathroom outfitted in warm, neutral earth tones.
“Really, Ma?” she asked, nearly slipping in the spa tub as she scramble to climb out of it and rush over to give her mother a big bear hug.
Life is S-W-E-E-T!
Dionne almost did the old-school running-man dance as she left the bathroom to circle the dressing area. “I can fit all my clothes and my shoes in here. And can we get a big comfy stool for me to sit on to get dressed?” she asked, her heart beating a mile a minute and feeling like she would pass out at any moment.
She walked back into the bedroom. “Ohmygod! I can
have the best sleepovers. Me, Starr and Marisol can even sleep in front of the fireplace.”
“Finally?” Risha said pointedly, when she walked past Dionne to follow a chatty Cecily out of the room.
Dionne grimaced and bit her bottom lip. Nothing with her mom was ever
simple. She felt the kind of bubble she got in her stomach just before a big test. Risha Hunt was not done with Dionne's
No dang doubt.
She closed her eyes tightly and crossed everything she could: fingers, toes and tongue.
Please, Lord. Please. I can't take another speech. Please let her let this one go. Give me a pass, Lord. Pleeeaaasse!
They toured the rest of the house, and Dionne didn't say another word. She wasn't new to this. Risha Hunt was just
for a reason to, figuratively, grab the mic and deliver a speech.
As they toured the other three bedroomsâone, a mini-version of the master suiteâshe kept on praying.
“I have one other house to show you not too far from here,” Cecily said, opening the rear door for them before she walked around to the driver's seat.
And Dionne was still praying as they climbed into the backseat.
“If you wanted to have your friends overâthat I've never met, by the wayâyou could have done that at our apartment. That is if you're not ashamed of it,” her mother said in a low voice just as Cecily opened the driver-side door and slid into the seat.
Dionne slumped down in the backseat, wishing she could disappear.