You Can Find It on Lex
Night fell cool and crazy over Manhattan, the streets buzzing with the first hint of spring. It was a Friday in May. Lights pulsed along the skyline and traffic clogged the streets. The air was thick with the anticipation of all that can happen in the city on a warm spring night.
Lexington Hamilton stood rigidly at her bedroom window, staring down at the busy stretch of Fifth Avenue. People were definitely in a partying mood. Crowds were thickening by the minute, and there wasn't a free cab in sight. East and west, north and south, clubs and bars were opening their doors and cranking up their sound systems. It was almost eight o'clock. Lex couldn't believe she was still dressed in her red and white school uniform with the tacky St. Cecilia's Prep logo emblazoned on the lapel. She hated the damn thing, but after cutting out of last period she had rushed over to Saks for makeup and Bendel's for a new pair of shoes. The hours had simply slipped through her fingers. Now she was itching to doll herself up.
She turned away from the window and locked her eyes on the garment bag lying across her bed. It held her newest creation--a dress fashioned especially for the sexy and the savvy. Lex had designed it herself two weeks ago and had recently decided to add it to her growing clothing label. There were expensive names in her closet, but she favored her own creations above all others. She used versatile, striking patterns and only the best fabrics. Risky, funky, and tastefully sexy, her collection would be big news one day soon. She had dozens of sketches on her desk--skirts, jeans, jackets, suits, bras, underwear, well-cut lingerie--and she knew it was only a matter of time before her aptly titled Triple Threat label went global. But the first order of business was getting noticed without anyone realizing that you wanted to get noticed.
She walked over to the bed, eyeing the garment bag. No one had seen her bring it home. She held it up, drew the zipper down, and smiled. The dress was amazing. White silk and cut well above the knee, it practically screamed her name. And the shoes were a perfect match. Christian Louboutins, their cream color accentuated the dress's fringed hem, and the trademark crimson soles were the perfect contrast. She hadn't been invited to this evening's gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but she'd make one hell of an entrance when she arrived.
The very thought of it made Lex giggle. Her triplet sisters, Madison and Park, thought she was under the covers nursing a stomach flu. They had spent the afternoon preening for the gala, too wrapped up in their own worlds to acknowledge Lex's mounting anger. Why should she stay home while they attended the star-studded event? It didn't make sense. Well . . . it did, but the truth wasn't a good enough reason. The truth was that Madison--with her coiffed hair, classic gowns, and altogether refined manner--was better suited to represent Hamilton Holdings, Inc., at a snooty, conservative gala. Madison always got invited to the boring high-brow functions. Lex, on the other hand, found herself on the wilder, trendier A-lists, where loud music, hot guys, and good booze were in abundance. Park was happy to tag along in either case. Wide-eyed, calm to a fault, and nauseatingly cheerful, Park was the self-appointed peacemaker of the family.
Lex pressed her ear to the closed bedroom door and listened. The long hallway was silent. Lupe, their housekeeper, was busy banging pots in the kitchen. Madison and Park had already left.
All was in readiness.
Smiling broadly, Lex headed for her bathroom and flicked on the light. She tore off the uniform, chucked the skirt and blouse to the floor, and revved up the Jacuzzi. She added a splash of her favorite Mario Badescu body wash to the water and lit one of the Toumbac candles she'd bought in bulk from A.P.C. As the bubbles rose and undulated, she climbed inside, savoring the heat that enveloped her muscles and the scent of Parisian flowers that now filled the bathroom. She was too tense. The anger and frustration of the day had wound her up. She still couldn't believe that their father, Trevor Hamilton, had allowed Madison and Park to go along without her tonight. When Lex had broached the subject last week, he'd simply given her the same spiel about good manners and proper behavior.
You haven't earned the right to attend these types of functions, Lex. Every time I open a newspaper and read through the gossip columns, there you are--dancing on a table at some nightclub, causing a stir at a premiere. I can trust Madison to behave herself. And with me away for a whole week, the company will have to be represented accordingly.
The company, Lex thought bitterly. It was always about the company. A media empire that encompassed three television stations, a radio network, and several real estate branches, Hamilton Holdings, Inc., was their father's first baby. Trevor Hamilton had built it from nothing, deal by vicious deal. Over the years, he had been touted in the press as a ruthless businessman and a tireless philanthropist. In truth, he was an odd mix of both. He was also as much of a celebrity as any Oscar-winning actor. From New York to Beverly Hills, Paris to London, Dubai to Sydney, the Hamilton name was respected, revered, and occasionally despised. It all came with living life in the constant glare of the media.
Lex understood the importance of keeping a good profile, but she hadn't done anything that bad in recent months. Yeah, she liked having fun. Yeah, she was a party girl. Where was the crime in that? After all, it wasn't her fault the media enjoyed following her around and snapping her picture everywhere she went. It just happened. Like last year, at the annual Memorial Day bash in the Hamptons. She had gone to Tavern and hooked up with William Bondurant, a senior at St. Cecilia's and one of the most stunning creations on God's green earth. They'd slipped around to the back of the club, over by the wooded parking lot, and had a little rendezvous. William took his shirt off, Lex took her bikini top off, they were laughing and kissing and groping when boom--a flash illuminated the darkness. They'd both looked up, stunned and mussed in the heat of the moment. Next morning, the grainy black-and-white photo appeared in a dozen papers: Lex cuddled in William's arms, her bare breasts two inches from his smiling face. Trevor Hamilton had been less than pleased, but Lex had shrugged the episode off without a twinge of embarrassment. And besides, some good had come out of it. She and William had dated for nearly three months.
Since then, Lex had courted trouble only a handful of times. This past winter she'd been mentioned in the tabloids sporadically, and for minor incidents. Skipping a day of school to attend the unveiling of Chanel's spring collection. Being quoted on page six of the New York Post saying she hated wearing underwear. Slipping a bartender at Bungalow 8 fifty bucks for a peach martini. Silly things like that. She had been branded the official bad girl of the very public Hamilton family, and wherever she went, scandal followed.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Excerpted from The Celebutantes: On the Avenue by Antonio Pagliarulo. Copyright © 2007 by Antonio Pagliarulo. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.