"You're the girl in the paper, right?" Chrissi asked Isabelle, blue eyes wide and inquisitive. She beamed at the nerdy girl in front of her, but Isabelle found it impossible to relax. Something about Chrissi reminded her of a shark, or a lion, or some other predator. Waiting for a sign of weakness, a chance to pounce and destroy it's prey.
"You're going to have to be more specific," she snapped at the deputy of the PERFECTs, her tone rather guarded. She didn't want to fall right into whatever trap they had laid for her. "There are a lot of newspapers around this neck of the woods."
The thin blonde girl reached into her blazer pocket - the hidden inside one, with a zip - and produced the latest iPhone in a bejewelled case. She pressed her thumb to the home button, the phone buzzing open immediately. She then scrolled through a thousand selfies, pictures of the hottest new solo artists and kittens to find a photo of a newspaper headline. It was blurred, and had clearly been taken in a rush, but Isabelle could make out what it said.
'Fentiworth Finds Fortune!' the headline of The Heatherstone Herald proclaimed, followed by a few paragraphs about Isabelle inheriting a large sum of money from her now deceased Great Aunt Mag.
The girl in question sighed almost inaudibly; she had been hoping to keep the whole 'heiress' thing a secret for a while, but of course some idiot had gone and blurted it out to the press - if you could call the local newspaper that, of course. She would bet that inheritance on it being Jazz who had told them. Accidentally, of course, but Jazz was the kind of girl who couldn't keep a secret to save her life. Why hadn't she thought of that before blindly telling Ceri and Jazz about it all?
"Yes, that's me," she admitted to Chrissi. There was no point in attempting to hide it any more, as it was there in gloriously printed black and white, slap bang on the front page of the newspaper. Just her luck.
"You must have been incredibly close to your Great Aunt, for her to give you all of that money," Chrissi cooed with a sickly sweet grin. Still, her eyes were like a shark's. Cold and dead and predatory. The other PERFECTs, who had converged behind her, nodded along in agreement, and Isabelle wondered why Penelope didn't say anything. From what she could tell - from everything that everyone said - the tall, dark-skinned girl was the leader of the PERFECTs. Why, then, did she let Chrissi steal the show?
"We weren't that close, actually," she told the group as an answer to Chrissi's question, feeling closed in and claustrophobic. She wasn't used to all of this attention - the most that she ever got was when she was performing on stage in a school play, or presenting a PowerPoint to her class. This whole situation was totally alien to her.
Chrissi drew back, surprised. "Oh," she said, seemingly slightly shocked and slightly disappointed. It was clear that she, like Isabelle, couldn't fathom the reason as to why Great Aunt Mag had left her all of that money. "Well, we thought that, seeing as your family must be going through a lot of changes and stress right now, we would take you under our wings!"
Now it was Isabelle's turn to look visibly shocked. She knew that she should have seen it coming, really; now that she was rich, of course the PERFECTs would want to hang out with her. Hearing it said out loud, however, made her life feel like some sort of clichéd teen movie - the kind that she and Ceri watched for a laugh, to poke fun at every dumb plot hole. It was all the more surprising to her when she found herself saying: "Yeah, okay."
SHOULD ISABELLE HAVE SAID YES SO QUICKLY? IS SHE RIGHT TO NOT TRUST CHRISSI? WHY IS PENELOPE TAKING A BACKSEAT WHEN SHE'S THE LEADER OF THE PERFECTS? FIND OUT IN PART THREE: