Lucky | Chapter 34 of 34

Author: Cecily von Ziegesar | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 4613 Views | Add a Review

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the best things in life are free

The grand store awnings and the glittering pavement of Madison Avenue welcomed Avery Carlyle, the newest resident of Manhattan’s Golden Mile, with each Fendi-heeled step. Every preppy boy in a rumpled Pink dress shirt and Brooks Brothers khakis and girl loaded down with Hermès and Chanel shopping bags that she passed was like an oasis in the desert of her life. She couldn’t wait until tomorrow, when she would start school at Manhattan’s exclusive Constance Billard School for Girls and her life would finally begin.

Avery was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, the smallest, sandiest, boringest island on the East Coast and the rest of the universe. Her trips to New York had always been limited to one week a year at Christmas, when all the Carlyles—mom Edie and triplets Owen, Avery, and Baby—would gather to celebrate the holidays with their grandmother, the venerable socialite and philanthropist Avery Carlyle the first. When grandmother Avery passed away in May, Avery the second was devastated—she’d always been close with her namesake, and she took the loss harder than anyone in her family. But there was a silver lining.

Isn’t there always?

Her hippie artist mother, Edie, found that sorting through the late Avery’s affairs was impossible from the tiny island off the coast of Cape Cod, so she moved the triplets to the city and enrolled Avery and Baby at Constance Billard and Owen at the equally expensive and exclusive St. Jude’s School for Boys. Plus, it seemed more appropriate to grieve for their grandmother here. Avery was resolved to do her grandma proud. Starting with a brand-new wardrobe.

She paused at the large plate glass windows of the Calvin Klein boutique on the corner of Sixty-second Street and took in her reflection. With her long wheat-colored blond hair wrapped in a Pucci print headscarf and a peony pink Diane von Furstenburg wrap dress hugging her athletic frame, Avery looked like any Upper East Sider out for a stroll. In Nantucket, where fleece was party attire and a party was drinking a six-pack of Molson on the beach, Avery had always been out of her element. But this year it was all going to be different. Finally, she was where she belonged.

Avery tore herself away from the shopwindow and continued to walk down Madison. Her destination today was Barneys, the legendary Upper East Side department store, and her mission was to find the perfect bag for the first day of the rest of her life. She’d been momentarily disappointed when her mother, a Constance alum herself, had reminded her about the school’s mandatory uniforms—but had quickly realized that accessories were key. The perfect bag would broadcast to her new classmates everything she wanted them to know about her: that she believed in classic beauty, that she loved to have fun, that she was one of them.

Avery reached the door to Barneys and smiled as the dapper doorman held it open. She breathed in deeply as she entered, the achingly familiar scent of Creed Fleurissimo hitting her along with the AC. It had been her grandmother’s favorite perfume, and Avery could practically feel her grandmother’s touch steering her away from an oversize apple-green Marc Jacobs bag and toward the true designer purses.

Avery walked through the luxury handbag department, reverently touching the crocodile skin and soft leathers. Her eyes stopped on a cognac-colored Givenchy satchel and she felt her stomach flutter. Its gold buckles reminded her of the antique chest she’d left behind in Nantucket. She’d always imagined some blue-blooded royalty had dropped the trunk into the Atlantic as their ancient ship sank and that it was recovered by a bearded lobsterman years after their romantic death.

“Exquisite piece,” Avery heard a smooth voice over her shoulder. She turned around and took in the saleslady behind her. She was in her mid-forties, with gray-streaked hair pulled back into a sleek bun.

“It’s beautiful,” Avery agreed, wishing the saleslady would disappear. She wanted this moment to be pure: a moment between her and the purse.

“Limited edition,” the saleslady noted. Her name tag read Natalie. “It was actually claimed, but we never heard back from the buyer. . . . Would you be interested?” Natalie raised her perfectly plucked eyebrows.

Avery nodded, transfixed. She loved the fact that it was limited edition, that she’d be the only person at her school with this unique purse. She glanced at the price tag—$4,000. Eek. But she hadn’t really bought that much so far, and wasn’t that what Edie’s new accountant, Alan, was for? Besides, as Grandmother Avery had once reminded her when she’d admired a vintage Hermès Kelly bag: Handbags never die. Men do. This bag was forever.

“I’ll take it,” she said confidently, her just-manicured petal pink fingernails reaching toward the leather.

“Oh, there you are!”

Avery and Natalie turned in unison to see a willowy girl with cascading auburn hair and a freckled complexion sweep across the marble floor. She wore a fluttery white Milly sundress and enormous D&G sunglasses perched on her head. She looked as though she’d just stepped off her private yacht. “I was coming about that Givenchy. So sorry I didn’t get your messages—I was in Sagaponack. My cell phone service is awful out there.” She sighed deeply, as if a weak cell phone signal in the Hamptons were the greatest tragedy she’d ever encountered.

“Thanks again for holding it.” The girl grabbed the satchel from Avery’s hands, as if Avery’s job was to hold it for her. What the fuck?

“Jack Celine.” Natalie turned to the girl with a tight smile. “Unfortunately, because we do have a release policy and we have someone interested, I’m afraid that we’ll have to put you back on the waiting list.” She concluded with a brisk nod, and Avery detected a note of pride in her voice.

Avery smiled a too bad smile at the girl, feeling giddy. No one could possibly have this bag at Constance. It seemed all the more valuable now that she saw how much it was in demand. Avery reached for the purse, but the girl made no effort to loosen her grip on the brown leather handle.

“I can see why you need a new bag.” Jack glanced pointedly at Avery’s worn Louis Vuitton speedy purse. It had been her thirteenth-birthday present from her grandmother, and it was well loved, as she would have put it. “There are some outside you might be interested in,” she finished.

Avery narrowed her blue eyes at the girl and gripped the cognac bag’s shoulder strap. Outside? As in, the tacky knockoffs on the street? She was speechless.

“Now that that’s settled,” Jack went on, tightening her grasp around the Givenchy’s handle, “can we please take care of this?” she asked haughtily, her green eyes flashing.

Natalie drew herself up to her full height of five foot two. She stood comically between the two girls, who faced each other eye to eye five inches above her head. “That’s the only one we have,” she began authoritatively. “It’s a limited edition and rather fragile, so I’m sure you both will be able to work something out.” She reached for their fingers, trying to pry them from the bag’s leather handles.

“I don’t think that will be necessary,” Avery said, giving the purse a sharp tug that surprised Jack. She stumbled forward, losing her grip. Take that, bitch, Avery smirked.

Before Jack could regain her balance, Avery strode quickly away across the marble floor of Barneys, clutching the satchel protectively against her chest, like a football player headed for the end zone. Avery had gotten here first, and she was going to leave here first, with the bag that was rightfully hers. Only ten yards separated her from the cashier.

Avery couldn’t help herself and turned around to glare at Jack victoriously. It was the Carlyle equivalent of a touchdown dance. The girl’s face had drained of its perfect tan, and her green eyes looked more confused than angry. Avery grinned, feeling giddy. But all of a sudden, a hideous buzzing sound erupted around her. She looked around in annoyance but couldn’t see where the buzzing was coming from. Not daring to hesitate, she continued to walk, feeling a surge of victory.

“Excuse me, miss?” A burly security guard appeared in front of her. His name tag read Knowledge, and he looked like he stopped Upper East Side schoolgirls all the time.

Avery looked up in confusion. She tried to sidestep him, but he moved his bulk in front of her with ease.

She’s not the first girl to make a run for it in Barneys!

“Give me the bag, baby girl, and it’ll all be over,” Knowledge said gently and quietly, holding on to Avery’s thin arm. She could feel his gold-ringed fingers making an indentation on her tan skin.

And then, her blues eyes widening in shock, Avery realized they thought she was trying to steal the bag.

“I was going to pay for it,” she said, trying not to sound desperate. She wordlessly handed him the bag. Shit, shit, shit.

Natalie joined them, whisking the satchel out of Knowledge’s hands. Avery felt red splotches begin to form on her chest and face, which always happened when she was upset.

“I really think they should have an age limit for some floors, don’t you?” Avery overheard one white-haired lady say loudly to her female friend with overly teased red hair wearing a leopard print Norma Kamali shirtdress. Avery suddenly felt like she was about five years old.

“I was going to pay for it,” she repeated loudly. “The checkout counter wasn’t well marked.” Even as she said it, she cringed. Checkout counter? She sounded like she had taken a wrong turn at Target.

She shook her head, trying to appear supremely irritated and reached into her own LV-monogrammed purse. She would pull her brand-new black AmEx out of her red-and-green-striped Gucci wallet. Then everyone would see it was all an unfortunate mistake and apologize and give her loads of complimentary products for the inconvenience.

“Luckily, the exit is well marked,” Natalie replied icily. She was enjoying this, Avery realized. She lowered her voice. “Don’t worry. We’re not going to call your parents.” And with that, she whirled around on her black Prada pumps and walked back to Jack, who was waiting with a steely smirk on her irritatingly freckled face.

“I just had to have it for the first day of school,” Jack said dramatically. She took the purse in her hands, examining it as if to make sure Avery hadn’t dirtied it with her sticky fingers.

“Your shopping trip is over, honey.” Knowledge’s soft voice interrupted her awful reverie as two more security guards escorted her out a side entrance on Sixty-first Street.

The door closed with a thud.

Avery’s faced burned. She half expected an angry Barneys mob to follow her as she scurried away, but instead two thirtysomething women pushed their Bugaboo strollers past her, chatting about the best nursery schools. White-gloved doormen stood outside rows of luxury apartment buildings. A red double-decker bus headed uptown toward Central Park. Avery felt her heart slow down. No one had a clue who she was, or what had just happened. She readjusted her headscarf and crossed the street with her chin held high. This wasn’t Nantucket, where everything was broadcast until infinity. This was New York, a city of over eight million people, where Avery could do whatever—be whoever—she wanted to be. So what if she didn’t get the Givenchy satchel? She still had the new patent leather Miu Miu maryjanes she’d bought yesterday and her lucky pearls from Grandmother Avery. She was sure she could even go back to Barneys tomorrow and no one would recognize her.

As she crossed the avenue, a cute guy in a gray Riverside Prep T-shirt and Yankees cap jogged by, smiling at her. She smiled broadly back, batting her carefully mascaraed eyes. That spoiled bitch from hell could have the bag. Tomorrow, Avery Carlyle would begin her brand-new life at her brand-new school and Jack Celine would be a distant memory—some jerk who stole her purse, never to be heard from again.

Don’t be so sure. New York may be a huge city, but it’s one small town. . . .

Read the rest of

gossip girl
the carlyles

Available everywhere May 2008

Q&A with Cecily von Ziegesar

First job: Waitress at restaurant with roaches.

Worst job: Waitress at restaurant with roaches.

Favorite place: Primrose Hill in London.

Favorite NYC hotspot: My patio, where I planted all these flowering trees and bamboo. I like to have friends over and hang out back there until the mosquitoes drive us indoors.

Guilty pleasure:American Idol.

Best friend’s first name: Pony Boy (my nearly hairless cat).

Good luck charm: Diamond earrings.

When you were a little girl, you thought you would grow up to be a. . .? Writer, always. I wanted to be a ballet dancer too, and a horse back rider, but writing won out in the end.

All-time favorite American Idol: Kelly. I’m a huge fan.

Favorite designer: I don’t just have one favorite designer. I have more like twenty. I like Diane von Furstenberg and Marc Jacobs and Theory and Issa and Celine. But I buy a lot of clothes at Target. I just bought this amazing little black dress there by Patrick Robinson, one of those visiting designers that did a line just for Target. It fits so perfectly and it was only $27.99.

Favorite jeans: My favorite jeans are Joes Jeans and Imitation of Christ.

Favorite movie:It’s a Wonderful Life (I cry every time).

Biggest fashion blunder: White duck feather jacket.

Next vacation destination: I’m going to Rio de Janeiro soon with my husband. I’m very excited–I’ve always wanted to go to Brazil! You won’t catch me in one of those string thong bikini things though. Hello?!

French fry dip: Stupid question: ketchup.

Astrological sign: Cancer.

Lucky color: Don’t have one. I’m fickle that way.

Midnight snack: Sleep.

Celebrity crush: Madonna (she takes herself so seriously!).

Favorite book:The Great Gatsby.

Item you can’t live without: Fresh air? Not really, I’m very low maintainance. But I like my watered-down grapefruit juice first thing in the morning, followed by two cups of very strong milky coffee.

art

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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