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Chapter 10
size matter s Dan walked into first-period English on Tuesday to find every guy in his class poring over some teen girl magazine. "What people don't realize is they look even bigger in person," Chuck Bass, Dan's least favorite person at Riverside Prep and perhaps the world, observed from his usual place in the back of the classroom. Chuck was wearing the army green military-style beret he'd picked up at West Point that weekend. It was his favorite new accessory besides his pet snow monkey, which he carried with him everywhere, even to .the bathroom. Chuck looked up. "Am I right?" Dan had the uneasy feeling that Chuck was talking to him. "It's like they're full of helium or something," another boy added, leaning over Chuck's desk to see. Chuck shook his head. His dark hair had grown into a sort of chin-length man-bob that he swished around with obvious pride. "Dude, if they were full of helium, she'd fucking float away." He squinted down at the magazine again, his gold monogrammed pinky ring glowing beneath the harsh classroom lights. Then he looked up at Dan again. "Dude, she's your sister. What's her fucking deal?" Dan's instinct was to tell Chuck to go fuck himself, but since it involved his little sister, Jenny, who often blundered into all kinds of trouble, he felt he ought to check it out for himself. He sat down on the desk in front of Chuck's and put in loot up on the chair. On the floor, something wriggled inside Chuck's orange Prada messenger bag. Suddenly a white head with eyes like golden marbles popped out. It was Chuck's monkey, grinning devilishly. Han glared at Chuck. "What about my sister?" Chuck smirked and handed over the magazine. "Don't tell me you don't know about this." The magazine was open to a two-page spread entitled "Does Breast Size Matter?" The article was an earnest discussion of girls' social status based on breast size. Apparently if you were flat-chested or supersized, you were more likely to be ostracized. II you were buxom but not hideously so, you were a slut. Popular girls tended to have nice, medium-sized 34Bs. Dan studied the picture. Jenny and five other girls wearing matching blue jog bras and Lycra shorts were lined up in breast-size tinier, biggest to smallest, in front of a volleyball net. The other girls were all models—blond, with cheesily perfect smiles, flat tummies, and golden tans. The girl next to Jenny definitely had implants, but her chest still wasn't as big as Jenny's one hundred percent naturals. Jenny's chest looked abnormal and almost freakish, stuffed inside a jog bra that was way too small. Worse still, she was sticking out her tongue and her big brown eyes were shining, like she was having the time of her life. "Christ," Dan muttered, and tossed the magazine back on Chuck's desk, his hands beginning to sweat and shake as I hey always did when he needed a cigarette. He knew the article was intended to empower girls with big chests. There was Jenny, looking freakish but proud of it. But that wouldn't stop every guy who saw the picture from ripping it out and writing some lewd comment underneath it before pasting it on the door of a bathroom stall. "Says here eight out often guys prefer a gorgeous girl with average-size breasts over an average girl with supersize tits," Chuck elaborated. Thanks, Captain Asshole, sir. It was pretty obvious to Dan that his sister was so eager to be a model, she hadn't thought about what the picture would actually look like. Still, not long ago, a very compromising picture of Jenny had been posted all over the Internet. People had talked about it for a day or two, and then it had gone away. And Jenny had never even seemed that bothered by it. She was like Mr. Magoo, running blindly into the most embarrassing, awkward situations, and then walking out of them, unscathed and blaming nobody. Hopefully this would be the same, but just in case, Dan felt obliged to warn her. Jenny sat by herself near the mirrored wall in the back of the Constance Billard basement cafeteria, eating a grilled cheese sandwich with pickle slices. She concentrated on neatly lining the pickles up on top of the toasted bread, trying to pretend that she didn't mind eating alone. There was a strange stillness in the air that she couldn't quite explain, but every time she glanced up at the mirrors, all she saw were the heads of the other upper-school girls, bowed over their plates, eating quietly. stillness in the air that she couldn't quite explain, but every time she glanced up at the mirrors, all she saw were the heads of the other upper-school girls, bowed over their plates, eating quietly. "I heard she didn't even get paid to do it—she volunteered," Vicky Reinerson whispered. "But Serena put her up to it, remember? In peer group?" Mary Goldberg hissed. "She was like, 'Oh, Jenny, anyone can he a supermodel.'" "Easy for her to say," Cassie Inwirth agreed. "But it's not like I feel sorry for Jenny. It's so obvious she just wants attention." "Yeah, but nobody wants that kind of attention," Vicky Countered. The three girls stole a glance at the back of Jenny's head. I low could she just sit there eating her lunch like nothing was wrong? Jenny's cell phone rang quietly inside her bag. "Hey," she answered without even checking who'd called. Dan and Elise wore the only ones who ever did anyway, and she and Elise were no longer friends. She tucked the phone under her curly brown bob to hide it from the lunch ladies. "What's up?" "I'm just calling to check that you're okay," Dan mumbled back. Jenny stared at her reflection in the mirror. She'd worn pink metal barrettes in her hair today, and she thought she looked sort of retro and cool. "Um, I think so." "So no one's, like, said anything to you or ...," Dan faltered. "About what? Why, did you do something weird, Dan?" Jenny accused. "About the photo of you in that magazine? The guys here all stole it from their sisters. They're putting it up in their lockers and stuff." A little shiver shot up Jenny's spine. Dan wouldn't be so concerned if the picture was as good as she thought it was. "Did you see it? What's wrong with it?" He didn't respond. "Dan!" Jenny practically shouted. "What's wrong with it?" "It's just. . .," Dan fumbled. "Okay, the whole thing is about how girls with no chest or really big chests aren't popular. I guess the article is supposed to make you feel better, but you kind of look like a... circus freak next to the other girls. I mean, they basically made you look as big and freakish as possible." Jenny slid the tray of food away and rested her head on the cold wooden table. No wonder the room seemed so quiet. Everyone had been busy whispering about her, the big-boobed freak. Yup. It was even worse than a Stayfree ad. She was the circus freak. Maybe she should just run away and live with her neurotic mom in Europe or something. Change her name. Dye her hair orange. "Jenny?" Dan said gently. "I'm sorry." "Never mind," Jenny said miserably, and clicked off. She kept her head on the table, wishing she could just disappear. All of a sudden she felt a warm body next to hers and smelled Serena's trademark signature essential-oil mixture. "Hey sleepyhead. So, Jonathan Joyce—you know who he |s, right?—calls me, like, all excited about your Polaroids. He knows we're pals and totally wants to shoot us together, like, later this week!" Was this some sort of vicious joke? Jenny squeezed her eyes shut as tight as they could go and tried to will Serena away. "You'll get to keep some of the clothes," Serena added. Jenny raised her head and stood up shakily. "Leave me alone," she murmured, then bolted out of the cafeteria to the nurse's office, where she planned to beg to be sent home. d's little furry friends "Tooter, look at that!" Tiphany put the ferret on her shoulder and waved his paw up and down at Chuck Bass's little white monkey. The monkey was wearing a tiny red T-shirt with the letter S monogrammed on it. "Hey little monkey, wanna be my friend?" "Tooter, look at that!" Tiphany put the ferret on her shoulder and waved his paw up and down at Chuck Bass's little white monkey. The monkey was wearing a tiny red T-shirt with the letter S monogrammed on it. "Hey little monkey, wanna be my friend?" "Hey cutie, what's your name?" Chuck came over and scratched Tooter under the chin. He held his monkey up so the two animals were nose-to-nose. "I'm Sweetie. And don't worry, I don't bite. I really am sweet." "I'm Tooter," Tiphany chirped in her version of a ferret voice. "And beware, I really can toot!" she added, cackling hilariously. Dan pushed open the school doors and paused at the top of the steps. He hitched his black messenger bag onto his shoulder, squinting in the harsh April sunlight. All afternoon he'd been worrying about his little sister. Jenny was probably at home right now, facedown on her bed, all alone. His house was only twenty blocks away; maybe he ought to go up there and try to cheer her up. Then again, when Jenny was upset, all she wanted was to be alone, same as him. It ran in the family. "Hey hot stuff, over here!" Tiphany shouted at him in her glass-shatteringly loud voice. Down on the sidewalk stood Vanessa, Tiphany, and Chuck Bass. Tiphany's ferret unit Chuck's monkey were perched on their owners' shoulders grooming each other. "Christ," Dan muttered. Maybe Chuck would move in with them, too, and they could all be one big, happy family Or maybe he'd just tell Vanessa right now that he was going to stay at home for a while. His sister needed him. "May we escort you home?" Vanessa stepped away from the group as Dan came down the stairs with a sour expression on his face. She kissed him quickly on the cheek. "Hoy pumpkin, don't look so pissed off all the time." Dan had been acting pissed off and withdrawn ever since they'd moved in together and Tiphany had turned up. It was getting a little tiring always having to be the upbeat one in the relationship. Pumpkin? In only a matter of days Vanessa had picked up Tiphany's over-the-top, cheery way of talking,............
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