Finally, London Phillips is defying her domineering mother and taking control of her life. But she's striking back with a weapon that could destroy her future—and her last chance at real love. . .
Two too many cuties have left Rich Montgomery desperate for the perfect cover-up—but when her house of lies comes tumbling down, things get pretty twisted and her fate is left in the hands of her most vengeful frenemy. . .
Heather Cummings is more successful than ever thanks to an amazing comeback—and the ultimate Hollywood betrayal. But old habits die hard and threaten to turn her glittering success to sparkling ash. . .
There's no one better than Spencer Ellington when it comes to revenge. But stopping her inheritance-stealing mother and saving her crown turns into an all-access media battle. Now Hollywood High's in-crowd is poised for oh-so-sweet payback . . .
"The girls and the secondary characters of Hollywood High are never shy of drama." —APOOO Book Club
About the Author
Amir Abrams is a regular dude with a dream. Born in Brooklyn, Amir has a thing for fresh kicks, fly whips, and all things Polo. For Amir, writing teen fiction was never something he imagined himself doing until he started working with Ni-Ni Simone on the Hollywood High series. In addition to the Hollywood High series, he also penned Crazy Love, The Girl of His Dreams, Caught Up, and Diva Rules. You can hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook at itsyaboyamir, or follow him on Twitter @ItsyaboyAmir.
Read an Excerpt
Lights, Love & Lip Gloss
By NI-NI SIMONE
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Ni-ni Simone and Amir Abrams
All rights reserved.
I will not be played.
And especially by some broke-side jawn.
I don't care if he is six feet and hey-hey-hollah-back-lildaddy fine.
Or how much I scribble, doodle, and marry my first name to his last name.
He will never be allowed to come at me crazy.
Not Rich Gabrielle Montgomery.
Not this blue-blooded, caramel—thick in the hips, small in the waist, and fly in the face—bust-'em-down princess.
And yeah, once upon a time everything was Care Bear sweet: rainbows, unicorns, and fairy tales. He was feeling me and I was kind enough to let him think we'd be happily ever after.
He turned on me.
Real sucker move.
And so what if I keyed up his car.
Tossed a brick through his windshield.
Kicked a dent in his driver's-side door.
Made a scene at his apartment building and his nosy neighbor called the police on me.
Who did he think he was? Did he forget he was some gutter-rat East Coast transplant?
He better stay in his freakin' lane.
I've been good to him!
I replaced the windshield and had all the brick particles swept from the parking lot.
The next day, I topped myself and replaced the entire car with a brand new black Maserati with a red bow on top.
The ungrateful thot sent the car back. Bow still intact.
I've done it all.
And how does he repay me?
With dead silence.
I don't think so.
I don't have to take that!
And if I have to sit here in my gleaming silver Spyder, in this dusty Manhattan Beach apartment complex, and wait another three hours for Justice Banks to get home, I will.
* * *
I should leave.
Call my boyfriend, Knox.
And forget Justice.
If he can't appreciate a mature, sixteen-year-old woman like me, then screw him.
No. I can't leave.
I have to make this right.
No, I don't.
Yes. I do.
Where is he?
There he is.
But where is he coming from?
Was he with some chick?
My eyes followed a black Honda Accord with a dimpled driver's door, as it pulled into the half-empty parking lot and parked in the spot marked 203.
The red sun eased its way into the sky as I pulled in and pushed out three deep breaths, doing all I could to stop the butterflies from racing through my stomach.
I should go home. Right now.
After all, he is not my man.
My man is at his campus at San Diego State, thinking about me.
I chewed on the corner of my bottom lip. Swallowed. And eyed the brick two-story, U-shaped, garden-style complex Justice lived in and the small beach across the street where an overdressed homeless woman leaned over the wooden barrier and stared at the surfers riding the rough waves.
"What the —? Are you stalking me?"
I sucked in a breath and held it.
I oozed air out the side of my mouth and turned to look out my window. There he was: ice grilling me. Top lip curled up, brown gaze narrowed and burning through me.
Say something! Do something!
"Can I, umm ... talk to you?" I opened my door and stepped out. "For a minute? Please." I pulled in the left corner of my bottom lip and bit into it.
"Nah. You can't say ish to me, son. What you can do, though, is stop stalkin' me 'n' go get you some help. Thirsty. Loony bird. If I didn't call you, it was for a reason. Deal wit' it. Now get back in ya whip 'n' peel off."
Oh. No. He. Didn't! This scrub is outta control!
"For real? Slow down, low down. When did you become the president? You don't dismiss me. This is a public lot. I ain't leavin'. And you will listen to me. Now, I have not been waiting here for seven hours for you to come out the side of your neck and call me a freakin' stalker. You don't get to disrespect me. And loony bird? Really? Seems you've taken your vocabulary to new heights; now maybe we can work on your losin' career. And yeah, maybe I've been waiting here all night. But the last thing I am is some loony bird."
Justice arched a brow.
"Whatever." He tossed two fingers in the air, turned his back to me, and walked away.
Unwanted tears beat against the backs of my eyes. But I refused to cry. "Know what, I'm not about to sweat you," I shouted, my trembling voice echoing through the early morning breeze. "I'm out here trying to talk to you. Trying to apologize to you. Trying to tell you that I miss you! That all I do is think about you! But instead of you being understanding, you're being a jerk!"
Justice continued walking. Just as he reached the stairs, I got out of my car and ran behind him. Grabbed his hand. "Why are you doing this?"
He snatched his hand away, spun around, and mushed me in the center of my forehead. "I'm sick of your ish, ma. Word is bond. You don't come runnin' up on me." He took a step closer to me. And we stood breasts to chest, my lips to the base of his neck.
"Shut up!" His eyes dropped eight inches.
I needed to go. I took a step back and turned to walk away. He reached for my hand and quickly turned me back toward him. Pulled me into his chest.
The scent of his Obsession cologne made love to my nose and I wanted to melt beneath his large hands, which rested on my hips.
He tsked. "Yo, you selfish, you know that, right?" He lifted my chin, taking a soft bite out of it. "Word is bond. What's really good witchu?" He tilted his head and gazed at me. "Just when I start to treat you like no one else matters, you turn around 'n' play me. Leavin' me yeah boo letters 'n' money on the nightstand, like I'm some clown mofo. I don't have time for that. And then you get mad 'n' eff up my ride, like that ish is cute. You lucky I ain't knockin' you out for that, for-real-for-real. Yo, you a real savage for that."
I sucked my teeth, feeling the light ocean breeze kiss my face. "I was pissed off!"
He released his hold on my hips. "Oh word? So every time you get pissed you gon' jump off the cliff? Is that it? Yo, you crazy if you think I'ma put up wit' that." He paused and shook his head in disbelief. "Yo, I gotta go. I'm outta here." He took a step to the side of me.
"Wait, don't go!" I stepped into his path. "Justice, please!"
He flicked his right hand as if he were flinging water from his fingertips. "Leave."
I ran back into his path, practically tripping over my feet. "Would you listen to me?!" Tears poured down my cheeks. "Dang, I'm sorry! What else do you want me to do?"
I threw my hands up in defeat. "I keep calling you and calling you! And calling you!"
"And stalkin' me. Playin' ya'self. Comin' over here bangin' on my door like you crazy, then keyin' up my whip. What kinda ish you on, yo?"
I felt like somebody had taken a blade to my throat.
He had me confused. "I don't deserve—"
"You deserve exactly what ya greasy hand called for. You really tried to play me, yo. You got the game jacked, yo. I ain't no soft dude, real talk. I will take it to ya face." He paused and looked me over. "Then you had ya dude roll up on me and sneak me? Word? Are you serious? That ish got me real hot, yo." He paused again. "I shoulda burned a bullet in his chest for that punk move." His dark eyes narrowed. "You lucky I ain't knock ya teeth out."
Was I having an out-of-body experience? No boy had ever spoken to me like this. Ever. I was stunned. Shocked. Confused. Desperate. Scared ...
I didn't know if I was quiet because I couldn't think of anything to say or because I felt a tinge of fear that told me I needed to shut up. The bottom of my stomach felt like it had fallen to my feet. I watched him step toward me and I wondered if this was the end.
He yanked me by my right arm. "Let me tell you somethin'. I don't know what you standin' there thinkin' 'bout or what's 'bout to come outta ya mouth, but it better not be nothin' slick." He paused and I swallowed. "Otherwise, you gon' be pickin' ya'self up from this concrete. Or better yet, the evenin' news will be 'bout you floatin' facedown in the ocean."
"I-I-I-I," I stuttered, doing all I could to collect my thoughts. "If you would just listen to me! I didn't have anybody sneak you. I didn't do that!"
His eyes peered into mine. "Well, somebody hit me from behind! Now who was it? Who?!"
Without a second thought. Without concern. Without regard or a moment of hesitation I pushed out, "London!"
That's right. London.
That crazy thot.
Another one who turned on me. Tried to take hate to new heights by inviting me out to Club Tantrum and attacking me. For no rhyme or reason.
"London?" Justice repeated in disbelief. I could tell by the look he gave me that what I'd said took him aback. He frowned. "Are you serious? London?"
"Yes, London! She's the real thirsty loony bird. Real crazy! She even jumped me at the club the other night! I know you had to see the blogs."
"What the ..." He quickly caught himself. "Do I look like the type of dude checkin' blogs?" He pushed his index finger into my right temple, forcing my neck to slant to the left. "Now say somethin' else, stupid."
My kneecaps knocked, my heart pounded, and my throat tightened.
I should leave. This was a bad idea. Apparently, he can't appreciate me standing here, trying to woman up and handle our situation.
"Do you hear me talkin' to you, yo?!" he screamed in my face. "I said, what you mean it was London?"
I hesitated. "She just came from nowhere. You and I were standing there talking and the next thing I knew, you hit the ground and there was London hovered over you with nunchucks in her hand!"
I searched his eyes to see if he believed me. The truth was it wasn't London. It was Spencer, my real, loyal, ride-or-die bestie. She'd snuck him. Hit him in the back of his head. And when he didn't move, Spencer and I got scared, took off, and left him for dead.
But none of that was the point. London deserved to wear this one. Especially since I was done with her. "I'm telling you it was London! She came from nowhere. You hit the ground and she was there with nunchucks in her hand!"
"London?" he repeated, shaking his head. "I thought she was over in Italy somewhere."
"Lies! She was never in Milan. That lunatic was home all along, curled up in the bed! And I just knew she killed you! I just knew it!" Timely tears poured down my cheeks. "I'm sorry that I left you. I am. I was sooooo scared. I didn't know what to do. I called the hospitals! I called the morgues. I was even willing to pay for your funeral. I'm just so sorry. And when you were on that ground, motionless, I tried to shake you and you wouldn't move. London took off! I heard sirens. I got scared and I just ran!"
I boldly took a step toward him and pressed my wet cheeks into his chest. "You gotta believe me, Justice. I just knew you were dead. I really did and I didn't know what to do. I thought the police were coming. And I didn't want them to think it was me who killed you so I ran too! It was stupid." I stammered, "I-I-I left my car. Everything! It was crazy! I just got caught up in the moment! I thought you were hurt. I thought you were dead! You weren't moving! You should've seen the look in her eyes! That girl's crazy!"
I wept into his chest and he wrapped his arms around me and squeezed.
I batted my wet lashes. "Baby, did you do something to that girl?" I asked.
"Oh, so now I'm ya baby?" he asked in disbelief.
"Yes, Justice. Yes. Of course you're my baby."
"Yes. But why does London hate you so much? Did the two of you used to be a couple or something? I thought you were only friends."
"Yeah, we used to be friends. All that's dead now." He wiped my wet cheeks with his thumbs. "Now, back to you." He lifted my chin and placed a finger against my lips. "The next time you come outta pocket, tryna slick-talk me, I'ma slap ya mouth up." He tapped my lips lightly and I kissed his finger. He snatched his finger away. "Nah, I don't think so. You still in the doghouse wit' me. Now what you gonna do to get outta it?"
"What do you want me to do?" I whined. "I'll do whatever."
"What you think I want you to do?"
I slid my arms around his thick neck and whispered against his chin. "I can show you better than I can tell you. Can I come inside?"
"Yeah." He ran his hands over the outline of my body. "Right after you call ya man." He pulled his cell phone out of his back pocket. "And dead it."
My heart dropped. "Whaaaaaat? Clutching pearls!" My eyes popped open and I felt my breath being snatched.
"You heard me. Call that punk now." He pushed the phone toward me.
I took a step back and he took a step forward.
"You said you'll do anything, right? So do it. You said I'm ya baby. Then prove it. 'Cause, real ish, yo ... I'm second to none."
"You being second to none and me breaking up with Knox, my soul mate, my future husband and future baby daddy, are two different things. He has nothing to do with this."
"Word. No. He. Does. Not." I shook my head and placed a hand up on my hip. "You need to learn to play your role as a side piece 'cause you are all out of control. Appreciate the time I'm spending with you instead of standing here and thinking about my man. Like really? Who does that?"
Justice popped me on the mouth, just enough for it to sting but not enough for it to hurt. "Let me be real clear wit' you: You ain't gettin' upstairs. We ain't kickin' it. I ain't effen witchu till you dead it wit' dude. Got it? Now poof. Outta here." He forcefully turned me around, practically yanked me back to my car, snatched open the door, and pushed me inside.CHAPTER 2
The moment had come. It was three thirty p.m., which meant it was six thirty in the morning back in L.A. Back where I wanted to be. Home. Curled up in my bed. Crying my eyes out. But I was here. Caught up in day one of Europe's most prestigious weeklong fashion extravaganza.
I'd stepped on the scale this morning, weighing—to my mother's delight—one hundred fifteen pounds of flesh and bones. Twiglet. That's what I'd become. A tall, thin human hanger. No longer a giant, lumbering water buffalo. I felt like an alien. Wafty and slender. Chiseled cheekbones. Bug-eyed. Elongated neck. Protruding collarbone.
Despite my emotionally fragile state, I'd finally become everything my mother physically hoped for. And in a matter of minutes, the lights would go down, the music would begin, and every model, including myself, would gallop down the catwalk.
All I had to do was survive the next five days, then it'd be over. Finally.
I blinked, staring into the sea of super-thin models who would be gliding down the runway in gorgeous couture and flawless makeup, then peeked out through the opening of our large tent.
Huge posters of famous models for fashion designers DKNY, Gucci, and Cavalli hung outside the cathedral's windows. The cobblestone streets had been literally turned into catwalks. Piazza del Duomo—the heart of Milan's central square surrounded by glamorous boutiques and charming restaurants—was one of the outdoor venues where paparazzi, VIPs, frantic fashionistas and all of the shakers and movers in the industry from around the globe were gathering for the weeklong fashion events.
Out of the seventy-four fashion shows, I'd landed spots in ten of them. And probably would have booked more had my hips been narrower, and my camel humps been steamrolled over and flattened down, and my breasts—which were already duct taped—had been bite-size muffins instead.
The point was, I was here. Right where my mother wanted me to be. She'd won. Even after my bathroom meltdown last week during dinner with Daddy, she still reigned.
"Isn't this exciting?" a shrill voice said, startling me out of my thoughts. I blinked the image before me into view. There stood a strikingly beautiful blond model. She grinned, her blue eyes sparkling. Her skin was as white as porcelain. This was the first time she'd ever opened her mouth to speak, and she'd eyed me and shot daggers enough times in the past weeks to do so. Why now? "London, right?"
Her words were thickly coated with a Swedish accent.
I blinked. Okay, and? Everyone knew who she was. One of the fashion world's most adored teen supermodels who'd been modeling since she was twelve and had graced the covers of hundreds of magazines over the course of her career.
Excerpted from Lights, Love & Lip Gloss by NI-NI SIMONE. Copyright © 2015 Ni-ni Simone and Amir Abrams. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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