"I DON'T UNDERSTAND why you suddenly have to take over the Jeep again," Jessica Wakefield grumbled, dropping into the passenger seat of the red Jeep she shared with her twin sister, Elizabeth. "Where's Todd? I was getting used to driving myself to school."
"Todd has . . . other plans," Elizabeth replied, placing her bag in the back and blatantly avoiding eye contact. "And besides, I need the car after school. I'm covering a story for The Oracle."
Elizabeth slid into the driver's seat, checked all the mirrors, and started the engine. Instantly, the radio blared to life and Elizabeth jumped in surprise. She hit the Power button to silence the loud dance music Jessica had been listening to on every ride to school for the past two weeks.
"Does it have to be so loud?" Elizabeth admonished her, hand on her heart.
Jessica rolled her eyes. "Whatever, Grandma."
She turned the rearview mirror to her side and checked her makeup. Jessica had been running late and had dashed out of the Wakefield's split-level house without having time to perform her usual ritual in front of the bathroom mirror. Not that she really needed it. With her tan skin, naturally blond hair, big blue-green eyes, and athletic body, Jessica could go entirely without product and still be the hottest girl at Sweet Valley High. Or so her friends were always telling her.
"So, what's the big story?" Jessica asked. She actually had zero interest in her sister's journalistic pursuits, but they had to do something to fill the silence. She rummaged in her leather bag for her makeup kit and applied some blush to her cheeks as Elizabeth pulled out of the driveway.
"Can I please have the mirror back?" Elizabeth said testily, readjusting the rearview while Jessica was in mid-brush-swipe.
"God. You're obnoxious this morning," Jessica said. "So are you going to tell me, or not?"
"Tell you what?" Elizabeth asked as she came to the stop sign at the end of Calico Drive.
Jessica sighed impatiently. "What the story is about."
"Oh. I'm covering the reopening of the Valley Diner," Elizabeth said. "I figure I'll be able to pull double duty, since I'm running low on info for The Insider this week and a lot of people from school are going to be there."
"Yeah. All the losers," Jessica said, wrinkling her nose. "Everyone knows that Casa is the cool hangout now. The only people that are gonna be at the opening of that fat fest are the freshmen who are too intimidated to come to Casa del Sol, and the chunkies who have been salivating for the diner's chocolate milkshakes and cheese fries."
"One of your favorite meals until the place closed for renovations, as I recall," Elizabeth pointed out.
"Are you calling yourself a chunky?"
"Liz! Take that back!" Jessica wailed, horrified. "I'm not chunky!"
"Hey, you said it, not me," Elizabeth replied with a short laugh.
Jessica slumped in her seat and stared petulantly out the window at the Pacific Ocean in the distance, the waves glinting in the sun. Even though it was only eight o'clock, the air was already pleasantly warm and a breeze ruffled the palm trees. This is so unfair, Jessica thought. First Liz commandeers the car keys, and then she refuses to put the top down so as not to mess up her responsible ponytail; then she vetoes my music, and now she's picking on me. She could have killed Liz's boyfriend, Todd Wilkins, for having "other plans."
"Hey, Liz. It's totally gorgeous out. Let's stop and take the top down," Jessica said.
"No. We'll be late," Elizabeth snapped.
"Jess! Give it up already!"
Jessica's jaw dropped. "Okay. What is with you this morning? It's a beautiful day and I'm just trying to have some fun before we're stuck in class for the rest of it! Why do you keep biting my head off?"
Elizabeth simply glowered out the windshield, and the answer hit Jessica like a brick to the head. Something was up between Elizabeth and Todd. Not only was he suddenly not picking Liz up for school, but a rift between the two members of SVH's ubercouple was pretty much the only thing that could put her sister in this foul a mood.
"Liz, is something going on with you and Todd?" Jessica asked.
"What? Why do you say that?" Elizabeth asked, her voice tense. Tense enough that Jessica knew she had hit the nail right on the head.
"What happened? Did you guys break up?" Jessica asked, concerned. Even though she often teased Elizabeth about her lovey-dovey relationship with the school's basketball and football star, she knew that Todd made Elizabeth happy, which made Jessica happy. Of course, if he hurt her sister, she would have to kill him, but that remained to be seen.
"No. Nothing like that," Elizabeth replied quickly, turning onto Main Street.
"But there's something," Jessica prompted.
Elizabeth heaved a sigh and looked at Jessica out the corner of her eye. "He got a motorcycle."
"What?" Jessica blurted out, turning sideways in her seat. "No. He didn't. He's not that stupid."
"Apparently, he is," Elizabeth said through her teeth. Then she quickly backtracked. "I mean, he's not stupid. It's just . . . he's wanted one forever. He doesn't see them the same way we do. He thinks it's just going to be so much fun riding it up and down the coast. . . ."
Jessica shook her head. If Todd thought a motorcycle was fun, then he was totally clueless. Motorcycles, in her opinion, were nothing but death traps.
"Anyway, he's driving it to school today," Elizabeth finished.
"Sometimes I really don't get that guy," Jessica said. "He's always walking around, talking about how much he loves you, but then he goes and puts his life at risk by buying this thing that he knows you can never be a part of. He didn't sell his car, did he? You guys will never go out alone together again!"
"I don't think he's sold his car yet," Elizabeth said. "And, Jess, he's not as heartless as you think he is. He doesn't know about me not being allowed to get on a motorcycle."
"What? Why not?" Jessica asked.
"Because I didn't tell him yet. He thinks I'm as excited about the bike as he is."
"What?" Jessica cried. "Liz! You have to be kidding me! How could you?"
Excerpted from Sweet Valley High #6: Dangerous Love by Francine Pascal. Copyright © 2008 by Francine Pascal. Excerpted by permission of Laurel Leaf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.