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Authors: Jacqueline Wilson

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BOOK: Girls in Love
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“I wonder what gave him that idea,” I say guiltily. “Anyway, thanks Anna.”

“No problem. I like Dan, he’s a sweet boy.”

And amazingly Magda and Nadine think he is too. We stay awake for ages, whispering and giggling. I have to tell the entire Dan story right from the beginning, explaining how I embellished the original Dan into this super dishy hunk based on the fair boy I bumped into on the way to school.

It’s not really such a big deal telling them, though it maybe helps that we’ve all drunk several glasses of wine punch. It’s dark too, so I can go as red as the wine and they can’t see. Magda and Nadine say I’m seriously screwy, but don’t act that surprised. Magda gets interested in the dream man.


He’s
real, isn’t he, Ellie? Is he really-really-really ultra-tasty? Maybe I’ll walk your way before school to see if I can spot him.”

“Hands off, you! I saw him first!”

“But you’ve got the real Dan,” says Nadine. She adds wistfully. “He’s obviously nuts about you.”

“He’s obviously nuts, full stop,” says Magda. “What’s up with his
hair,
Ellie?”

“I know, I know.”

“I thought old Greg was a bit dodgy, borderline Anorak Nerd—but Dan is Star Geek of all time. Though he
is
sweet, I must admit,” says Magda.

“You can have a good laugh with him,” I admit.

“Yeah, but what about a good snog?” says Magda.

I think of snogging Dan. Magda and Nadine are imagining it too. We all burst out laughing simultaneously, and have to dive under our duvets or we’ll wake everyone up.

I don’t surface until gone eleven in the morning. Magda and Nadine are still fast asleep. Magda’s on her side, both arms wrapped round her pillow, her mouth in a sexy pucker. She is obviously snogging someone in her sleep. Nadine is lying on her tummy, her black hair a cloak across the pillow. I can’t see her face at all but I can hear little sucky sounds. I think she’s sucking her thumb.

I sit up and smile at my two friends, and then I pad off to the bathroom. I take my time getting washed and dressed because I want to look halfway decent. But when I get downstairs at last, there’s no sign of Dan.

Anna gives me a mug of coffee. “Poor Dan. Eggs was wide awake at six o’clock and begging him to get up and play with him.”

“Where are they now? And Dad?”

“They’ve gone swimming. I don’t know how Dan will manage for a costume. Your dad’s old trunks will be far too big and yet Eggs’s stuff is far too little. Maybe he’ll just wear his underpants.”

“Please, Anna! You’re conjuring up an all too graphic image,” I say, sipping coffee.

“So I take it you and Dan aren’t going to be the romance of the century,” says Anna. “And if your dad and I wanted to go out tonight, say, and leave you two here in the house, you’re not likely to start up any X-rated bouncing on the beds?”

“I solemnly promise that Eggs will be the only one to bounce on the beds,” I say. “So, you want Dan and me to baby-sit?”

“Your dad did wonder . . . There’s this jazz concert up in town. And we could maybe have a meal out first. But it’s a bit of a cheek asking you. You and Dan probably want to go out somewhere.”

“You go. You and Dad. Anna . . . How are things with you two?”

Anna crosses her fingers. Things certainly
seem
OK when she and Dad go off together at six. Anna is wearing her new skirt. Dad seems to appreciate it enormously. He gives her a little pat on the bum when he thinks I’m not watching. Yuck. Dad is a really sexist pig at times. He’s offered to take her to an Italian restaurant so she can try out her newly acquired conversational skills on the waiters. This sounds a bit patronizing if you ask me. But Anna seems happy enough. Love is blind.

I am not in love. I see Dan all too clearly. Anna’s washed his T-shirt for him so he’s clean—but that’s about the only positive thing I can say about his appearance. And the chlorine at the swimming pool has increased the scrubbing-brush tendency of his hair.

But so what? He’s really quite good fun to hang around with. When he gets back from swimming and Magda and Nadine crawl out of bed at long last the four of us play a crazy game of Scrabble until Eggs tips up the board accidentally-on-purpose because he can’t bear not to join in too.

We listen to my CDs for a while and Magda and Nadine are a bit scornful because Dan isn’t very hip in his musical tastes. But then we get cracking on some of Dad’s seventies stuff and Dan comes into his own. He does a brilliant Freddie Mercury imitation, prancing round the living room until we’re all in stitches—and then we get going on ancient strutting Stones stuff, and then right back to Elvis. Dan teaches Eggs to flip a quiff of hair and wiggle his hips. Then the boys say it’s our turn so I dig out my Beatles compilation. I sing “With a Little Help from My Friends” (
with
a little help, etc.) and Nadine does her version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and Magda chooses “All You Need Is Love,” and then we all sing “Hey Jude” over and over and then “Hello, Goodbye.”

Then Magda and Nadine say goodbye and Dan and I watch Wallace and Gromit videos with Eggs. Eggs badgers me until I make him his own plasticine Wallace and Gromit. Dan tries to make stuff too but his things go all hunched and lumpy so he says they’re aliens from outer space. So we all make plasticine aliens. I make my alien very thin with sticky-up short hair and big ears. Dan laughs and Eggs plays with it so enthusiastically that the alien’s legs fall off.

“Imagine your legs falling off!” says Dan, and then he keels over onto the sofa, pretending his own have done just that. Eggs squeals and jumps on top of him.

“Come on, Ellie!” Eggs yells.

“Er . . . no, thanks!” I say.

Eggs is still bouncing about, full of beans since Dad and Anna set off for their night out. Anna’s left all sorts of stuff in the fridge for tea and Dad’s given us a tenner in case we’d sooner go to a McDonald’s.

We decide on the McDonald’s. We’ve got no transport and it’s a good half hour’s walk, but maybe it’ll help tire Eggs out at long last.

I get just a tiny bit tense wondering if there’ll be anyone I know at McDonald’s but it’s still early and it’s mostly families. Dan pretends we’re a family too, Ma and Pa and Little Eggbert, which makes Eggs chuckle. I hadn’t realized you could play daft pretend games with boys. Dan’s really great at it too. Nadine used to be good at imaginary games but she won’t do it so much now we’re older, and Magda’s never gone in for that sort of thing anyway.

I see someone I do know on the way home. Well, I don’t
know
him. Though I’ve thought about him so much I feel as if I’ve known him all my life. I stare at him and it’s as if the real and the pretend are all mixed up for a moment. Then they separate out, and I’m with the real Dan, and this is the dream Dan, though he’s certainly not called Dan and it’s even more unlikely that he ever dreams about me.

He’s with someone. Not a girl. Another boy, almost as good-looking, but dark, with blue eyes. Dream Dan’s in black, the dark boy’s in white. They look great together. And then I realize something else. They
are
together.

They’re chatting and laughing, looking at each other—but just as they’re going past the dream Dan sees me. “Hi there!” he says.

“Hi,” I say, smiling wistfully.

The real Dan stares. “Do you know him?” he says, when we’re past.

“Yeah. Well. Sort of.”

“He’s ever so good-looking,” says Dan, and
he
sounds wistful now. He peers round at them. “Is that his boyfriend?”

“It looks like it,” I say, sighing.

“Are you Ellie’s boyfriend?” Eggs asks Dan.

“Definitely,” says Dan.

“Not even possibly,” I insist.

Dan
isn’t
my boyfriend. OK, OK, he’s fun. And I have a good time with him. And I can say all sorts of stuff to him. And though he’s a hopeless nerd he’s also brave. And quick-witted. And imaginative. And it doesn’t really matter one hundred percent if he looks stupid. Anyway, I’m hardly some Britney Spears–type pinup. He’s not cool. But maybe the
truly
cool guy doesn’t care if he’s cool or not. But he’s still not my boyfriend because I could never get
romantic
about Dan. Not in a Romeo and Juliet kind of way. I’m not too fond, like Juliet. No true-love passion.

Although . . .

We play Ma and Pa as we bath Eggs and put him to bed (which is a struggle, and takes hours). Then we settle down in front of the telly with Coke and crisps. We chat and crunch companionably. We laugh at something daft on the video and Dan rolls one way on the sofa and I roll the other way, toward him. And guess what? We kiss. My first real kiss. And it’s not at all the way I imagined it. I didn’t crack up laughing. I like it. Even though it’s only Dan.

Maybe
because
it’s Dan . . .

nine romantic couples

1. Romeo and Juliet.

2. John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

3. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

4. Kermit and Miss Piggy.

5. Julian Clary and Fanny the Wonder Dog.

6. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester.

7. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy.

8. Morticia and Gomez Addams.

9. Ellie and Dan???

Delacorte Press

an imprint of

Random House Children’s Books

a division of Random House, Inc.

1540 Broadway

New York, New York 10036

Text copyright © 1997 by Jacqueline Wilson

First American edition 2002

First published in Great Britain by Doubleday, a division of Transworld Publishers, in 1997

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.

The trademark Delacorte Press® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries.

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Cataloging-in-Publication data is available from the Library of Congress.

January 2002

eISBN: 978-0-375-89011-6

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BOOK: Girls in Love
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