Authors: Jacqueline Wilson
“How old?” I ask.
“About eighteen, according to Amna. She’s been to Stacy’s house for tea.”
Stacy’s got big brown eyes.
“Are his eyes brown by any chance?” I say, though I know it’s a chance in a million. Well, there aren’t a million people who live in our town. Ten thousand? But that’s everybody. How many halfway good-looking boys of eighteen are there? The odds are whittling downward. A thousand to one? Maybe even a hundred to one?
“I don’t know about his eyes, Ellie. You’ll be asking me for his inside leg measurement next! Ask Amna. Ask Stacy.”
I’d feel a right fool asking Stacy about her brother’s eyes. I decide I’ll just have to wait and see for myself. Of course he might not even deign to come to this party. But it’s getting quite famous now and all sorts of extra people are going. A whole crowd of Year Tens who go to Stacy’s dance class are going to be there, and several of them are going out with Year Eleven boys.
Greg is waiting for Magda after school.
want?” she says, linking in with me and Nadine.
Greg scurries along behind us. “About this old party on Friday night, Magda,” he puffs. “Hey, wait a minute. I want to
“Well, I don’t want to waste my breath on you, Greg, so why don’t you just push off?” Magda sings over her shoulder.
“Don’t be like that. Look, I’ve changed my mind. I’ll go to the party with you, Magda. OK? That’s what you wanted, isn’t it?”
Magda sighs. She stops. “That
what I wanted. God knows why. It’s certainly
what I want now. I’m going to the party with my girlfriends. Right, girls?” Magda smiles at us. We smile back, and the three of us walk on, still linked.
There’s a pause.
“Well, see if I care,” Greg yells. He’s obviously trying hard to come up with something ultracrushing. “You girls. You’re just a lot of
We burst out laughing.
“Poor Greg. He’s history,” says Magda. “I like the sound of this Charles. I just have a feeling. Maybe Stacy’s party is going to be a key event in our lives, even though we started off thinking it the naffest nonevent of the year. Maybe we’ll all have a dream encounter there. Are you listening, Nadine? And maybe you’ll meet your dream guy too, Ellie—or are you too involved with Dan to be interested?”
I hesitate. I don’t dare look at Nadine. I mumble something about always being interested and then change the subject as quickly as I can.
But as the three of us get ready round at my place to go to Stacy’s party on Friday evening I can’t help hoping that Magda is right. Maybe Stacy’s brother might
be my dream Dan. I haven’t caught a glimpse of him since he said “See you.”
let me see him tonight,” I say over and over again inside my head as I put on my new shirt and skirt and the killer shoes.
I think I look pretty cool, but when I see Magda I feel depressed. She’s wearing a brand-new raunchy red number and she’s got this new glossy red lipstick that makes her mouth incredible, a shiny scarlet Cupid’s bow.
“Want to borrow my lipstick, Ellie?” she says.
I have a go but my lips are too big and my face too fat. I look like a little girl who’s been at the strawberry jam. I sigh and rub it off and start again.
“What about you, Nadine? Want to add a bit of color to your old chops?” says Magda.
“Color!” says Nadine, shuddering. She’s powdered herself chalk white and outlined her eyes with kohl. Her own lipstick is such a dark purple it looks black and she’s done her nails to match. She looks pretty stunning in a black skirt and a black lacy top and black pointy boots.
“Nice to see you looking your own deathly vampire self again, Nadine,” I say.
I wonder if the dream Dan might go for Nadine’s gothic glamour or Magda’s sexy scarlet. It seems very very very unlikely that he’ll plump for me instead.
being the operative word.
But when we get to Stacy’s party her brother Charles doesn’t go for any of us.
He’s not my dream Dan. Well, I knew it would be
too much of a coincidence. He
pretty tasty though, in a sort of floppy-haired posey kind of way. Stacy is charging about in a flouncy fancy frock, shrieking and squeaking in batty birthday-girl mode, so it’s left to big brother Charles to welcome us three into the party and show us where to leave our jackets and stuff.
“So glad you could come,” he says, smiling, looking at us with big blue eyes. (
as distinctive as brown, but pretty devastating all the same.)
I go all girly and Nadine manages a smile and Magda is in Total Vamp mood, her red mouth wide open as if she’s about to gobble him up. But then this other girl comes up to us, also smiling. She’s taller, older, even glossier than Magda’s lipstick. Charles puts his arm round her. She’s his girlfriend.
“Oh, well, never mind. Let’s hope there are plenty of other spare guys,” says Magda, her eyes darting round the already crowded room.
“Honestly! I thought this was our big girls’ night out,” I say to Nadine. “Look at Magda, eyes on stalks, desperate to pull.”
don’t want to meet up with anyone,” says Nadine. “I don’t want to go out with another boy for ages. If
Nadine looks much better but it’s obviously going to take months before she’s completely over Liam.
But at least she’s been out with someone properly, even if he was a right pig. I feel so pathetic that the only boyfriend I’ve ever had is a pretend one.
It’s not such a bad party. The music is OK and there’s lots of fancy food and that red wine punch they always give you at teenage parties when they don’t want you to get drunk.
We have a glassful each and then we have a dance and then a laugh with some of the girls in our class. I suppose it’s a good night out, but I can’t help feeling depressed when I see that even Stacy has a reasonably good-looking boyfriend and lots of the other girls are with their boys, and though there
a few spare boys none of them so much as glances in my direction.
They do quite a lot of glancing at Magda, of course. And Nadine gets her fair share of attention too. But there’s no one here for me. No one interested in me. No one at all.
“Ellie?” Stacy suddenly comes rushing over. “Ellie, there’s this boy, he says he knows you. He wants to come to the party.
you know him?”
She points over to the door. I peer through the blurry lenses of my glasses, wondering if it could possibly somehow be my dream Dan.
Not the dream one.
Dan . . .
nine most embarrassing moments
1. Dan turning up at Stacy’s party
2. Wetting myself up on the stage at primary school.
3. Going swimming in a bikini and the top coming unhooked.
4. Starting my period one night when I was staying over with Nadine, so that I got blood on the bedclothes.
5. Hearing what my voice really sounds like when Magda and I sang during a karaoke session.
6. Trying on clothes in a changing room full of beautiful girls who only weigh about eighty-five pounds.
7. Getting a boil on my bum and having to show the doctor.
8. Forgetting my PE shorts to get out of hockey and Mrs. Henderson making me play in my school shirt and knickers.
9. Making such a fool of myself whenever I meet Dreamboat Dan.
stare at him. It
But how? I told him not to come. So what the hell is he doing here? How did he know where I was?
He hasn’t seen me yet. Oh, no. He has. He’s grinning. Waving. At me.
“What on earth?” says Magda.
he?” says Nadine.
Everyone’s looking. Everyone’s staring. Oh, God, he looks worse than ever.
It’s not even a skinhead cut anymore. It’s sticking straight up for three centimeters, like he’s permanently plugged into a live wire. And he’s wearing a totally nerdy huge white T-shirt with a silly message and his jeans are showing his ankles and he’s wearing ancient Woolworth’s trainers. They squeak as he crosses the polished floor. Squeak, squeak, squeak at every step. Nearer and nearer. And everyone’s still staring, whispering, giggling.
this berk?” Magda says, giving me a nudge.
“I don’t know,” I mutter madly.
“Hi, Ellie!” Dan shouts above the disco music.
“Well, he knows you!” says Nadine.
“Oh, no,” I say, and I turn, desperate, wondering if I can make a run for it.
“Ellie? Hey, wait! It’s me, Dan!”
says Nadine. “How can it be Dan? You said you made him up.”
“Well this guy looks all too real,” says Magda, giggling. “
your boyfriend, Ellie?”
“No!” I insist, but he’s got to me now, trampling past everyone in his awful trainers, a silly grin still ear to ear.
“Hi, Ellie. Surprise!” he says, as he lunges forward.
I’m so terrified he’s going to put his arms round me in front of everyone that I step back sharply and spear Stacy with one of my killer heels. She squeals.
Dan’s arms are stretched out. They stay empty, clutching at air. The grin fades from his face. He swallows. He doesn’t know what to say, what to do. And everyone’s still staring. He’s going red right to the tips of his ears. They stick out so with his new silly haircut. His glasses are starting to steam up. His eyes look agonized. Oh, poor Dan!
“Hello,” I say weakly. “Meet my best friends, Magda and Nadine.”
They are still staring at him as if he’s just arrived from Planet Nightmare.
“This is my friend Dan,” I say.
Magda and Nadine give him a little nod, both struck dumb.
“So . . . what are you
here?” I say.
“I wanted to surprise you. I’d set it all up for this weekend, and even when you said your stepmum wouldn’t stand for it I thought I could maybe just turn up and sort of sweet-talk her because I thought she was really nice on holiday and she
nice, she said she didn’t mind a bit if I stay the weekend, even though it’s going to be a bit of a squash with your friends staying too. And your dad gave me a lift here and so . . . here I am.”
“Yes. Well. You’ve certainly surprised me,” I say.
“Shocked, more like,” says Dan.
“I hope you realize you’ve just about crippled me, Ellie,” Stacy says, still rubbing her foot.
“So. Is this your boyfriend?” Stacy says, and her eyes are gleaming.
“No!” I say.
“Yes!” says Dan.
Oh, God. Stacy isn’t half enjoying this. So is everyone else. No one’s even dancing now. They’re stopped for the cabaret. The comic turn. Ellie and Dan.
“Well, is he or isn’t he?” Stacy persists.
“Dan’s a boy. And Dan’s a friend. That’s it,” I say. I look at Dan. “Come and get a drink, eh?”
We walk over to the drinks table together. I go tock-tock-tock in my killer shoes. Dan goes squeak-squeak-squeak in his tatty trainers.
“Everyone’s staring at us,” Dan says.
“This maybe wasn’t such a good idea,” says Dan.
“Well . . .”
“I bet you’re wishing I hadn’t come. I’m showing you up in front of all your cool mates,” says Dan.
“Don’t be silly,” I say—but I don’t sound very convincing.
“You’d better kiss me quick,” Dan says.
“Then I’ll unzip my frog suit and step out this hip handsome prince,” says Dan, running his fingers through the lethal stubble of his hair. He tugs at it ruefully. “The new hairstyle doesn’t help, does it?”
“You said it,” I say. “Well, what are you going to drink? There’s not much selection, actually. Coke. Or red wine punch.”
“My favorite tipple,” says Dan. “I’ll grab some sandwiches too, I’m starving. We drove straight down south, no stopping at any motorway caff. I was just so desperate to see you.”
“True. I might be the last boy on earth you want as a boyfriend but I’d give anything for you to be my girlfriend. You look fantastic, Ellie.”
“Look, I’m doing my best to be dead romantic. Like Romeo and Juliet. Only if I came to serenade you at night you’d come out on your balcony and tip a bucket of water all over me, right?”
“I don’t know. I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to impress you. Traveling long distance to see you is a no-no. Sweet talk turns sour. There’s not much point trying to dazzle you with my brawny body.” He flexes his puny arm so that his baggy sleeve flaps.
“Did you say brawny—or scrawny?” I say.
“Cruel! OK, OK, Arnie Schwarzenegger can relax for the moment. So—what about my ready wit?”
“Er . . . wit or twit?”
“Ouch. God, you’ve got a wicked tongue.” He raises his glass and drinks to me. Then shudders. “What
this stuff? It tastes like undiluted Ribena.”
“I think it’s the key ingredient.”
“Oh, well. I’ll have another slug or six to get up some Dutch courage before I dare ask you to dance.”
“Maybe it might be better to put that request on hold,” I say.
I’m proved right. Someone starts playing the naughty version of that old Alice song and everyone starts dancing again.
“Come on, let’s give it a go,” says Dan.
Dan has a whole new dance style all his own. Bouncy-bouncy in his squeaky-squeaky trainers. With head nodding, arms whirling. One arm catches someone on the shoulder, another on the chest.
“Sorry, sorry!” he shouts, and moves away from them. Nearer me. He bounces again and lands straight on my killer shoes.
“Oh, God, I’m sorry, Ellie. Have I hurt you?”
“It’s OK. I think I’m just crippled for life—but I’ll get used to it. So. Maybe we’d better sit this one out.”
We sit at the side, sipping our drinks, watching the others. Magda and Nadine are dancing together. They glance in our direction rather a lot.
“Your friends are very striking girls,” says Dan.
“Nowhere near as striking as you, though.”
“Come off it!”
“You’re supposed to simper sweetly when I pay you compliments.”
“Look, you’re the princess I released from the tower, right? You’re meant to be in my thrall.”
“Perhaps I’d better perform some other princely feat. Kill a dragon or two. Rescue you from a fate worse than death.”
“I don’t think there’s a clamoring horde queueing up to ravage me right now,” I say.
As I say it there’s a sudden shout, raised voices, stupid laughter, swearing. People stop dancing, turn and stare. There’s a whole crowd of guys over by the door. Strangers with real skinhead haircuts and real tattoos and real cans of Tennants in their hands.
Stacy’s brother and her boyfriend and some of the other boys are arguing with them, trying to get them to go.
“Nah, we’re staying, right? We’ve come to join the party, have a little drinkie, have a little dance,” says the biggest boy, tipping his can. He looks round, staggering a little, obviously already out of his head. His mates follow him, egging him on.
“So which bird shall I pick, eh? Where’s the bleeding birthday girl?”
Stacy bobs behind her boyfriend, her face white.
The skinhead doesn’t see her. There’s only one girl not up on the dance floor. It’s me.
“Hey, what are you sitting down for, darling? Little bit of a wallflower, are you? Come and dance with me,” he says.
“She’s with me,” says Dan. His voice is as squeaky as his trainers.
“You what?” says the skinhead. “Who the hell are you, creep? Now, come on, darling, dancie-dancie.” He grabs me by the wrist and pulls me up. “Woooaa! Up you get.”
“She doesn’t want to dance with you,” says Dan.
“Yes she does, don’t you, darling?” says the skinhead, hanging on to me. “You come and have a little dance with me and my mates.”
“Are you deaf or something?” Dan says desperately.
“Dan! It’s OK. Don’t argue with him,” I hiss, because I’m so scared there might be a fight. They could have knives.
to dance, don’t you, sweetheart?” he says, and he puts his arms round me, his horribly beery breath hot on my cheek. “That’s it—let’s get cozy, eh?” he says, his hands on my bottom.
“Leave her alone!” Dan shouts, jumping up.
“Shut him up, eh, Sandy,” the skinhead says.
The heaviest of his mates lumbers over to Dan. There’s a thud, a squeal, and then Dan is sprawling on the floor.
“Shut up or you’ll get it too,” says the skin. “Did you pop him one, Sandy?”
“Help!” Dan screams, staggering up. His white T-shirt is stained dark red. “He’s stabbed me! I’m bleeding, look!”
Screams echo right round the room as Dan lurches forward and then sinks to his knees.
“What you done now, Sandy? Quick! Run for it!” the skinhead yells, shoving me aside and taking to his heels. The others follow him. No one dares stop them.
“Dan!” I say, bending down, clutching him, trying to prop his head on my knees. “For God’s sake, someone dial 999, and get an ambulance!”
“It’s OK,” says Dan, trying to sit up. “I don’t need an ambulance.”
? You’ve been stabbed!”
“No, I haven’t,” says Dan, grinning. “Those thugs have gone, haven’t they? I thought they might run for it if they thought I was bleeding to death. I don’t think that guy even had a knife. He just punched me in the stomach and I fell over.”
“But the blood!”
“Smell it,” says Dan, holding out his sopping T-shirt.
“It’s the wine punch. I spilled it all over me.”
!” But then I think about it. “Though it
. They did go.”
“That was real quick thinking, pal,” says Charles. “It could have got really nasty with those louts.”
“Thank you so much, Dan. You’ve saved my birthday party from being an absolute disaster,” Stacy gushes.
“Yeah, well done, Dan.”
“Hear that, Ellie? I’m
” says Dan.
“You’re wet and sticky, I’ll say that,” I say, shifting him off my lap. “Get up, then, I don’t want wine all over my new skirt.”
“After I’ve seriously rescued you from a fate worse than death? I’m heartbroken. You were supposed to tell me you love me and beg me not to die,” says Dan, gingerly getting to his feet and rubbing his stomach.
“Dream on, matie,” I say, because I’m not going to say anything else in front of everyone.
I wait till later, when there’s just him and me in a corner. Which is much
later, because everyone keeps clustering round, wanting to talk to Dan and congratulate him.
“Your head’s going to be so swollen you’re never going to squeeze out of the door,” I say.
“Just as well I’ve had my new haircut, then,” says Dan.
“You are a nut,” I say, and I rub my hand over the bristles. “But . . . you’re a
nut. You stuck up for me when they were really scary blokes.”
“They’ll be pretty scared themselves, thinking they’ve murdered me,” says Dan.
“I hope they’ve really cleared off, and they’re not hanging round outside waiting to get us,” I say. “Lucky job my dad’s coming to collect us in the car.”
“Hey, Ellie. Nadine and I were thinking,” says Magda, coming over. “We’ll go home to my place, right? You won’t want us sleeping over with you if you’ve got Dan.”
“Ooh, am I sleeping with Ellie then?” says Dan, grinning.
“No, you are not! I guess you’ll be tucked up with my little brother Eggs, which serves you right. No, Magda, Nadine,
come back with me,
. It’ll be fun.”
And weirdly, it
turn out to be fun. Dad arrives dead on twelve and when the four of us thank Stacy she’s still being ever so gushingly grateful and she gives me a hug and then she gives Dan a hug too.
“Wow,” says Dan. “This is definitely my night.”
“You certainly look as if you’ve been celebrating,” says Dad, taking in Dan’s dramatically stained T-shirt.
“Dan’s the hero of the hour,” says Magda.
“He fought all these skinheads to protect Ellie,” says Nadine.
” I say.
“See, Ellie? All your friends appreciate me,” says Dan. “Come on, Nadine and Magda, I’ll squeeze in with you two in the back. Ellie can sit in the front with her dad. Then she’ll maybe get all jealous.”
“You wish,” I say.
When we get back home Eggs wakes up even though we try to be quiet and he’s ecstatic when he sees Dan. He runs to him and gives him a great hug and a slobbery kiss. When he realizes Dan will be sharing his bed he goes really bananas, leaping up and down until his pajamas fall down round his ankles.
“Hey, no indecent exposure in front of the ladies,” says Dan, yanking his pajamas into place and picking him up. “Come on, little guy, let’s go to bed.”
Anna has been great sorting out pillows and cushions and duvets and sleeping bags so we’ve all got somewhere to sleep.
“I’m sorry about Dan arriving out of the blue,” I whisper.
“It’s OK. In fact he was tremendously sweet, arriving with a battered bouquet of flowers and a crushed box of chocs. He practically went down on his knees to me to beg to stay here. Almost as if he felt I was some utterly unreasonable ogress who had to be appeased.”