Im with cupid, p.1

I'm with Cupid, page 1

 

I'm with Cupid
 


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I'm with Cupid


  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

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  Ten

  GROSSET & DUNLAP

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New

  York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East,

  Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario

  M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

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  (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

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  Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

  (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

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  (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue,

  Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the

  product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance

  to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is

  entirely coincidental.

  The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other

  means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please

  purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage

  electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights

  is appreciated.

  Copyright © 2008 by Grosset & Dunlap. All rights reserved. Published by Grosset &

  Dunlap, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York,

  New York 10014. GROSSET & DUNLAP is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  .S.A.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available.

  ISBN : 978-1-1012-0898-4

  http://us.penguingroup.com

  The‘Buthe boo

  1: popular nickname for California’s

  legendary Malibu Beach, as in Malibu.

  2: the hottest teen beach drama ever to hit

  TV land (see inside for actual script pages).

  3: a complete and utter freak show.

  Prologue

  High Above It All—Early September, 1:12 A.M.

  The Bu-Hoo

  ’Bu ba-hay-bies!

  It’s your old pal, MBK. Haven’t heard from me in a while, have ya? What can I say? After those crazazy ’Bu tykes finished filming their “very special” live second episode, I figured I needed a couple weeks off.

  CAN YA BLAME ME????

  So did I go to the desert and shoot coyotes? Nah.

  Did I Jeep it up to Big Bear and commune with big bears? Nu-uh.

  What did I do, you ask? Poor MBK was sostressed out after the last month in ’Bu-land, I got me a cheapo shrink and went into therapy! PAGING DR. PHIL!

  I mean all that ’Bu crying? All those ’Bu confessions? MBK was wiped out!

  Tanya Ventura is not a virgin after all—and then gets revirginized for the sake of her career????

  Anushka “Champagne Breath” Peters trying to make it as a college girl??? HA!

  Corliss “Clueless” Meyers saying NO to a psychology major at Columbia University and YES to a demonology major in Hollyweird????

  Trent Owen Michaels’s HYSTERICAL Jenny Craig diet (can you say “starch intake,” surfer boy??).

  Rocco DiTullio’s RIOTOUS ’roid abuse (ruin camera equipment much???).

  Jonathan “Master” Bader’s WAY GEEKY day-trading habit (can’t you get a REAL addiction, dude????).

  Of course, now they all CLAIM things are brazilliant in ’Bu-land and everyone’s back to work all huggy and kissy.

  WHICH I HATE.

  It makes my job soooooooo hard. Give me the dramz! Give me JB spending all his mom’s money online! Give me Rocco in a ’roid rage! Give me Anushka passing fake ID! Give me Trent scarfing carbs! Give me Tanya uncrossing her legs!

  IS ALL THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK??????

  But I’m here to tell ya: All this good behavior can’t last forever. One of those naughty ’Bu kids will certainly screw up ROYALLY before long. MARK MY WORDS. And when they do, you know I’ll be there!

  Yours ’Buly,

  MBK

  One

  Malibu Beach—9:32 A.M.

  The sun was just coming out from behind a bank of slate gray clouds. The beach was windswept, photo-ready, postcard-approved. Pieces of driftwood dotted the shoreline, art directed to perfection. The ’Bu machine had been in full force all morning to create the perfect SoCal tableau, and the first shot of the day was up. Dozens of technicians held their breath. The cast did, too. Tanya, sporting an edibly delicious Alexander McQueen micro-bikini, was frozen mid-hair twirl. Trent, packed into Tom Ford board shorts, lanky and blond, slouched at her side. Rocco, his inky black hair wet and clinging to his massive neck, stood ready, looking like Atlas. JB, swimming in Billabongs two sizes too big, waited on tiptoes, adorable and totally wired-for-geek at the same time. And at the center of them all: one very unhappy starlet named Anushka.

  “Anushka,” said Max, standing under a Bottega Veneta umbrella held up by one of his identically dressed assistants, “are you ready now? We’ve finally got the sun and we’d like to shoot.”

  Anushka, who was wearing a pink Bianca Nero bikini the size of three postage stamps, let out a long, disdainful breath. “Max, with all due respect, I told you I wouldn’t be ready until my eyebrows were fixed. One is up WAY higher than the other. So this side looks all surprised”—she pointed to one eye—“and this side looks all sleepy-time”—she pointed to the other. She turned to Corliss. “Back me up here, Cor. The Emmys are coming up in a couple weeks and I’m NOT walking the red carpet looking like this, that’s for sure.”

  Corliss—who was looking mighty cute in a pleated peach Temperley London sundress and Dolce Vita Mary Jane shoes—tried to smile. This had been Anushka’s second diva display of the day. One hour before, she’d requested an emergency pedicure after stubbing her toe on a conch shell. And her toes weren’t even in the shot! Time was already slowing to a crawl on the set—and Corliss knew this was exactly Max’s biggest fear about hiring Anushka back on The ’Bu. But Max didn’t seem fazed. In fact, he was smiling enigmatically.

  “Anushka,” he said, “I can have Tatiana in hair and makeup here in two minutes with a pair of twenty-four-karat gold tweezers. She can make your eyebrows even. She can make them look like lightning bolts. She can put them on the back of your head if you like.” His odd, infinitely patient smile continued. “Just say the word.”

  Anushka glared through her uneven eyebrows. “I don’t want Tatiana, Max,” said Anushka. “She’s the one who made me look like some pinkeye victim in the first place. I want Urich!”

  Corliss gritted her teeth. Urich, the legendary—and way expensive—stylist Anushka had made Max hire, had gone missing somewhere between Laguna Beach and the Desert Hills outlet stores. Anushka would not be pleased to hear that wholesale shopping
prices had come between her and evenly arched eyebrows.

  “Anushka,” said Corliss, stepping forward to supply whatever white lie popped out of her mouth. “Urich had a, uh, salon emergency. Go figure, right?” Corliss slapped her palm against her forehead and laughed, hoping that Anushka would, too.

  “Salon emergency?” barked Anushka. “What’s that—when Ashley Tisdale cuts her bangs too short? Cor, what do you take me for? I spent half the pilot episode looking like a fashion-challenged bag lady. I am NOT going to make my comeback to The ’Bu with cockeyed eyebrows!”

  Corliss leaned in to Max and whispered, “Anushka’s a little on edge today because she found out her reality show got put on hold by Fox. One of the producers had second thoughts about dropping her in the Brazilian rain forest to live among the indigenous reptile population.”

  “Guess he was worried for the reptiles,” Max whispered back. Corliss stifled a giggle.

  “Excuse me with the whispering?” said Anushka, putting one hand on one exquisitely toned hip.

  “Anushka,” said Max in a level tone. “Let’s take ten. If we can’t find Urich by then, I have some books on creative visualization in my trailer that might be of some assistance.” With that, he turned and signaled for Corliss and his identically dressed assistants to follow.

  As the entourage moved toward Max’s trailer, Corliss looked back. Anushka did not look happy; she hated it whenever people didn’t take her diva bait. “I gotta say, Max, you handled that really well,” said Corliss, catching up to him. “You didn’t get all frazzled and go into your girly voice. You let Anushka know who’s boss.”

  “Thank you, Corliss. I’ve realized if I want a productive set, I’m going to have to keep Anushka on a very tight leash. I’m also going to have to take testosterone enhancers to keep my voice low.”

  “I think you’re on to something, Max. Two things, in fact.”

  “Perhaps,” Max said, approaching his trailer. “But believe it or not, Corliss, I have more pressing concerns at the moment.” His face became serious. Way more serious than it usually was. He signaled for his assistants to move off. They flew away in unison.

  “Is it the fact that all your assistants always dress exactly like you? ’Cause it kinda creeps me out. How do they even know what you’re going to wear every day?”

  “They generally call or text me early in the morning and I tell them. I can’t help it if they want to be like me, Corliss. Imitation is, after all, the sincerest form of flattery. But no, my pressing concern has nothing to do with them.”

  “Then what is it, Max?” Corliss and Max were now standing just outside his trailer.

  “It’s almost so terrible I can’t even talk about it.” With that, Max flung open the door to his trailer. There, sitting inside the trailer on the floor, was Legend.

  “Hey, Corlith!” He was just as Corliss remembered him, with a nose bludgeoned from some serious nose-picking and wearing one of his signature T-shirts. This one said I AM THE AFTERPARTY.

  Corliss gulped. She hadn’t laid eyes on the bite-sized terror in weeks. And those had been some good weeks. “Hey, Legend,” she said carefully. “What—what are you doing there?”

  “Oh, nothing. Juth making a drawing on my Etch A Thketch.” He held up his Etch A Sketch. Max’s face went white. Corliss gasped. She hadn’t seen anything so graphic since she’d walked into a Venice Beach men’s room by mistake.

  “Legend,” gasped Max, “where did you learn to draw THAT?”

  “From the pictureth in your creative vithualithathion book . . .” he said, looking the picture of perverted innocence.

  Max swiped Legend’s Etch A Sketch and shook it quickly to make the image disappear. Then he shut the door and took Corliss away from the trailer.

  “Hey!” called Legend from inside. “You erathed my penith picture!”

  “Sorry you had to see that, Corliss. There’s a chapter in my creative visualization book about, um, making love, and I think, well . . .”

  “Relax, Max, it’s not the first time I’ve seen a penis.” The minute she heard herself say this she paused. “Except for when I wandered into a Venice Beach bathroom by mistake and—”

  Max held up his talk-to-the-hand. “Corliss, way TMI. But now you see my terrible problem. It’s Legend. My parents have left town again.”

  “Vegas for the week?”

  “South Africa for the month!” Max’s voice leaped to his girly register. “They’re in Botswana helping Oprah open a school for the ‘differently abled.’ Legend’s nanny quit on them the day they were leaving. I offered to take care of him while they’re gone, but he’s driving me crazy. This morning he put soy milk in my Kiehl’s Olive Fruit Oil Nourishing Shampoo. That’s why my hair is flat and inconsistent. Don’t say you haven’t noticed.”

  Actually, thought Corliss, Max’s hair did look a little mashed to one side. “First of all, your hair looks great, Max,” she said, knowing she always had to lie where his hair was concerned. “And second, there must be a ton of nanny agencies in L.A. you could call.”

  “Of course there are, Corliss, but then you have to interview nannies. I don’t have time now that we’re in production on the third ’Bu episode. You understand the—how do I put this—specialness of my stepbrother Legend. Would you please do the legwork here? Call a few agencies? Check out a few nannies? Or mannies? It doesn’t matter to me. Just someone appropriate for a five-year-old with behavioral issues, a chronic speech impediment, and a serious nose-picking problem.”

  “But Max,” said Corliss, trying to remain calm in the face of his request—a request that had nothing to do with her official duties as his first assistant on The ’Bu. “How can I find Legend a nanny when I have to function as a liaison between you and the cast, you and the writers, and you and your identically dressed assistants? I mean, didn’t I prove myself professionally by helping with the live ’Bu episode? Isn’t that why you hired me in a semiofficial capacity? I put off going to school, even! Do you really think my job description should include nanny-getting?” Corliss stood tall. She wasn’t going to back down. But then she realized Mary Janes might not have been the best footwear choice on a day she needed to take a stand.

  “I appreciate your sacrifices, Corliss,” said Max finally. “And thank you for saying my hair looks good just a moment ago, but if Legend is underfoot, I won’t be able to do my work. Which means I’ll have meltdowns. Which means I’ll take it out on the cast and writers. Which means you’ll have more work than you already do.”

  Corliss was dumbstruck. Max was right. “The last thing I need is more work,” she said, shuddering as she pictured seventeen-hour workdays. “I’ve already diagnosed myself with workaholic tendencies—which has me looking at a good half-year of therapy once I can afford it!”

  “Does that mean you’ll help find a nanny for Legend?”

  Corliss sighed. There was no way out. Either she had to find Legend a nanny or deal with an emotionally maxed-out Max. “I guess I have to help here, Max. But I could really use some man power. Can you spare a few of your assistants? With all the responsibilities I already have, I won’t have time to do all the nanny research myself.”

  “Avail yourself of whichever assistants you need,” said Max, taking Corliss by the arms with a look of profound gratitude. “I can’t tell them apart, anyway, so I won’t know who’s missing. And thank you, Corliss. To show my gratitude, I’m going to ask the head office if they can swing a couple tickets for you for the Emmys. The whole cast is going—why shouldn’t my first assistant go as well?”

  Corliss gulped. The Emmys! And two tickets. “Max, are you serious? What will I wear? Who will I bring?!”

  Before Max could respond, his trailer door slammed open and Legend stood there, smiling demonically, showing off his most recent Etch A Sketch masterpiece. “Hey, look what I drew!” Max’s eyes bulged. Corliss had to look away.

  This time Legend had Etch A Sketched a vagina masterpiece.

 
Corliss!” screamed Max in a voice so high no testosterone in the world could lower it. “Please grab that creative visualization book from him right now!”

  The Production Trailer—Twenty Minutes Later

  The place was crammed with Max’s assistants, all of whom were scowling at Corliss. They all hated her because she was Max’s favorite. And because she didn’t feel the need to dress, act, or cut her hair like Max just to appeal to his ego. She had her brains and can-do attitude. They only had a talent for butt-kissing. Corliss immediately regretted asking for their assistance.

  “Okay, here’s the deal,” she said, trying her best to summon an air of authority. “Everyone search the following websites: Nannys4hire.com, SoCalKidKeepers.net, and, well, for good measure”—she consulted the list she’d made—“Cabananannies.org. When you find a suitable candidate to take care of Legend, raise your hand and I’ll come over.”

  They all made tight little smiles at Corliss—the kind that said, “None of us like you”—and then moved to the banks of computers that lined the trailer. Corliss ignored their cranky little clone faces and sat down at the big desk, the one Max usually used whenever he was in the production office. Which was never.

  Okay, she thought, signing on to the computer in front of her, I need to find a nanny who’s patient, strong-willed, and gross-out resistant. Whoever takes care of Legend is going to have to be all of the above.

 
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