Pretty Please (Nightmare Hall)

BOOK: Pretty Please (Nightmare Hall)
5.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Pretty Please
Nightmare Hall
Diane Hoh



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

A Biography of Diane Hoh



It’s such a nice day. A pretty day. The sun is shining. I wonder what it would feel like on my face. Warm, I think.

I wish I could go outside. There are other kids out there, I can hear them. They’re laughing and shouting and they sound like they’re having so much fun. Their school is out for the summer and they’re so glad to be on vacation. I wish I could be on vacation with them.

I wonder what it’s really like outside? In the daytime, I mean. I wish They’d let me go out before dark.

But I know They’re right. If They didn’t love me, if They didn’t care about me, They’d let me go out. And then everyone would laugh at me and call me names and run away from me. That would hurt so bad. That would hurt more than it hurts me to look into a mirror. And that hurts a lot.

I shouldn’t complain. It could be a lot worse. Like They say, I could have been born to people who didn’t care about me, who didn’t mind if I got hurt, people who would let me go outside and be treated cruelly. I’m very lucky to have Them. They protect me. They always have. And They always will.

She said They’re getting me a video game for my eleventh birthday. So I’ll have something new and interesting to do.

I’m really grateful to Them. I love Them very much. Sometimes I think I hate Them, but I make those bad thoughts go away.

Because why would I hate Them?

Chapter 1

a great Friday night. Second semester was underway, it was good to be back on campus after the holidays, Johanna Donahue had a party to attend and a hot new outfit to wear.

What better way to start the new semester?

She should have been excited.

But she wasn’t. Instead, she found herself moving through the motions of slipping into the new green dress and arranging her long, wavy, auburn hair and applying mascara to her gray-green eyes as if she were slogging through molasses. Every movement took effort.

You would think, she told herself as she applied lip gloss, that I was headed for a final exam instead of a party. What is
with me?

Something just didn’t feel right.

“How about if we blow off this party and head for a movie instead?” she asked Kelly Benedict, her roommate at Salem U. Kelly, already dressed, was brushing her short, black hair in front of the dresser mirror. “Wouldn’t you rather sit through a bad movie than put up with Missy Stark for a whole evening? She’s been bragging about giving this party for weeks. But I have a funny feeling about it.”

“Are you kidding?” Kelly continued brushing her hair, arranging thick, glossy bangs in a curve over one eye. “I’ve been slaving for two whole hours to get ready. You want me to waste this on a movie?”

Jo sighed. She hadn’t expected Kelly to agree. And it probably was silly. She didn’t even know
the party seemed, suddenly, like a bad idea. “Like you really needed two hours.” Kelly had a natural, fair-skinned beauty that required far less effort than she put into it.

A knock on the door of room 428 Lester dorm was followed by the appearance of a sleek, blonde head. “Okay to come in? I’m ready to be told I look incredibly perfect. Don’t disappoint me, guys.”

The girl who came in was tall, with long, silky hair and doe-shaped turquoise eyes.

“Well, as usual,” Jo said, “you look like you just stepped out of a glamour magazine. A story on How To Look Absolutely Stunning With No Effort At All, featuring Nanette Solomon. It’ll sell, Nan, I guarantee it.”

“Oh, it takes effort, Jo,” Nan said, smiling. “As my mother always said, you don’t get something for nothing. I work at it.”

“Right.” But not very hard, Jo thought. The basics were already there.

“Nan,” Kelly said in awe, “
did you get that dress? Not here in Twin Falls.”

Nan laughed, revealing small, perfect white teeth. “Don’t be silly, Kelly. New York, of course.” The dress was wine velvet, with a short skirt and a camisole top with tiny spaghetti straps. It suited Nan’s cool sophistication perfectly. “You like?” She twirled in front of the roommates.

“I like. You look gorgeous. But,” Kelly glanced at Jo, “our friend here is having second thoughts about Missy’s party. She’s not sure she wants to go.”

Nan’s perfectly arched eyebrows slid upward. “Why not?”

Jo felt foolish. Why not? She didn’t
why not. She only knew that for the past couple of hours, a niggling little voice in the back of her head had been saying, don’t go, don’t go, don’t go….

When she didn’t answer, Nan added, “What kind of a party would it be if The Beautiful People didn’t show up?”

“Oh, I really
that expression!” Jo sputtered. Someone on campus had bestowed the nickname on the group of five, which included Nan and Kelly’s boyfriends, Reed Jameson and Carl Vader, after they’d all modeled for a department store advertisement in the local newspaper. The society editor of the Twin Falls
had picked them out of a crowd attending a pre-Thanksgiving football game on campus. The woman had approached them, taken their names, and two days later, Nan had received a phone call. Would she and her friends like to model in a holiday newspaper ad for a local department store?

Yes, they would. It might be fun.

The ad had been so successful it had grown into a series of photo spreads, earning the five a little money and a lot of attention on campus. People still occasionally came up to Jo at a party or basketball game and said, “Hey, weren’t you in the newspaper? You’re one of The Beautiful People, right?”

Jo still hadn’t figured out how to respond to the question. She found it silly and offensive. She hated labels of any kind. They never told much about a person. At least not much of value.

But when she spouted her objections to her friends, they all said the same thing: “Well, it’s true, isn’t it? We
gorgeous, so why should we pretend we aren’t?”

Well, yes, it
true. Jo knew that. Jo often thought “goddess” when Nan walked into a room, and Kelly was constantly being told she should become a model. Kelly always laughed and said, “Boring, boring,” but Jo could tell she was flattered. And Reed and Carl were definitely two of the best-looking guys on campus.

And I’m no slouch, either, Jo admitted to herself as she fastened tiny white snowflake earrings on her lobes. She hadn’t been cursed with the freckles and pale lashes of most redheads, her hair was naturally curly, and she’d never needed braces on her teeth. Lucky, girl. But she had never thought of herself as “beautiful.” In high school, her friends had been average-looking, not asking for a whole lot more than an absence of zits. If they thought about beauty at all, they saw it as something in magazines, on television and in movies, and hoped like mad that it might come to them sometime in the future.

Now, here she was, surrounded by the best-looking people on campus.

The truth was, while all the fuss over their looks sometimes disturbed Jo, she had to admit the attention was kind of fun. Better than being ignored during her first year of college. She had seen those girls on campus…the solitary ones, the quiet ones, too shy to make friends, too plain to be noticed. They looked so lonely. It seemed better, by far, to be part of a group with the silly title of The Beautiful People than not to be part of any group at all.

“Never mind,” she told Nan. “I’m going to the party. I just had this funny feeling…”

With every hair perfectly in place, Kelly turned away from the mirror. “Funny ha-ha, or funny weird?”

“Funny weird. Like…” Jo shook her head, “like disaster’s waiting in that big, white mansion at the top of the hill.”

Kelly and Nan flashed each other a look. Jo knew they thought she was being silly. “Okay, okay, I’m
.” She’d go and she’d have a good time. Why waste a great new dress on a movie?

Yanking a white wool blazer out of the closet, she slipped it on. “Aren’t you two wearing coats? It’s January. You’ll freeze.” Deciding that she might as well get into a party mood, she playfully grabbed a rumpled gray University sweatshirt from the pile of clothing lying on her bed and added with a grin, “Anyone want to borrow this?”

Kelly laughed and wrinkled her nose. “That thing hasn’t been washed in a month. Anyway, I have a jacket that goes with this dress.” And Nan added, “Mine came with a cape, but it’s ugly. Huge gold buttons. I’ll grab a coat from my room before we leave.”

Reed and Carl arrived a few minutes later.

Compliments about how they looked flowed back and forth. Jo felt oddly detached as she listened, as if she were in an audience watching a play. This was the first act, and the perfectly costumed, perfectly beautiful actors were all in place.

So why couldn’t she shake the feeling that an unhappy ending was part of the script?

Telling herself she was being ridiculous, Jo grabbed her clutch bag. She’d be fine once she got to the party. The feeling would go away and she’d have a great time, as always.

It should have worked out that way. Jo wasn’t wild about Missy Stark, who was fond of bragging about her father, the head of the foreign studies department at Salem, but she was willing to admit that Missy threw a great party. Dr. Stark had married a woman with both money and taste, and the impressive Stark mansion, high on a hill overlooking the village of Twin Falls, was brightly lit, warm, and welcoming.

But when they walked into the huge white house and were immediately surrounded by friends and good music and great food, the sense of relief Jo had been expecting didn’t come. She still felt as if she were watching from a distance, watching and…waiting….

Chapter 2

to explore the mansion, and Nan and Carl drifted off to the ballroom to dance. In an effort to avoid her hostess, who was running around the house armed with a camera and eager to use it, Jo sought refuge in the library.

She had never seen so many books. Floor-to-ceiling shelves, all the way around the huge, Persian-carpeted room. Heavy maroon draperies blanketed the windows, and a roaring fire blazed in the huge, wood-paneled fireplace centered in the far wall.

It was too tempting. Maybe in this welcoming room, she could ease out of the unexplained anxiety she felt, like a snake shedding its skin. Then she could have a good time, like everybody else.

“Couldn’t deal with it, hmm?” a deep voice said as she rounded a corner of the high-backed, cream-colored couch to approach the fireplace. “Can’t blame you. I had enough five minutes after I walked into this showplace.”

The voice came from the couch. Lying there was a tall leggy guy in a pair, of jeans and a blue plaid flannel shirt. He had a thin, angular face, a thick crop of coffee-colored hair, and blue eyes under thick brows. The lips were slightly curved in an amused half-smile.

He wasn’t as model-gorgeous as Carl or Reed. But Jo liked that smile.

“I didn’t know anyone was in here,” she said defensively, backing away from the couch.

He sat up. “I wasn’t accusing you of anything. I was complimenting you on having the good sense to escape that zoo out there. I’d bet my scholarship you were wishing you were somewhere else, right? Of course I’m right.”

BOOK: Pretty Please (Nightmare Hall)
5.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

The Pagan Night by Tim Akers
Sutherland's Secret by Sharon Cullen
Strength of the Pack by Kendall McKenna
A Taste of Midnight by Lara Adrian
Who's Sorry Now (2008) by Lightfoot, Freda
Unforgettable by Laylah Roberts
Unhurt by Thomas, K.S.