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Authors: Piper Banks

Revenge of the geek

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Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

 

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-one

 

ALSO BY PIPER BANKS

Geek HighGeek AbroadSummer of the Geek

 

NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY Published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

 

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

 

First published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

 

First Printing, November 2010

 

Copyright ©Whitney Gaskell, 2010

All rights reserved

REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCAREGISTRADA

 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

 

Banks, Piper. Revenge of the geek/Piper Banks. p. cm. Summary: With her boyfriend, Dex, in Maine and her friends facing their own issues, Miranda Bloom, girl genius, befriends Nora, a shy new student, but soon Nora’s relentless imitation of Miranda threatens to ruin junior year at Geek High.

eISBN : 978-1-101-47792-2

[1. High schools—Fiction. 2. Schools—Fiction. 3. Interpersonal relations—Fiction. 4. Stepfamilies—Fiction. 5. Genius—Fiction. 6. Florida—Fiction.] I. Title. PZ7.G2128Rev 2010 [Fic]—dc22 2010028770

 

 

 

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For Sam

Chapter One

“Just try them on, Miranda,”Hannah, my stepsister, ordered me. She sounded like an army general sending troops into battle. Except that we weren’t on a battlefield. It was even worse than war—we were at the mall.

Hannah had dragged me from one end of the Orange Cove Mall to the other, stopping in nearly every store we passed. We were now in J.Crew, and I was drooping with exhaustion.

“Why bother trying them on? They’re my size,”I said, double-checking the tag on a pair of skinny jeans. Then I saw the price. “These jeans cost eighty dollars!”

“So?”

“Why would anyone spend eighty dollars on a pair of jeans? That’s insane. I could get these at Target for twenty bucks.”

Hannah looked at me with a pitying expression. “No, you couldn’t. Now go try them on.”

I sighed. There was no point in arguing with her. I turned toward the dressing room.

“Wait,”Hannah said. She handed over a huge pile of clothes—skirts, pants, tops. It looked like she’d gotten one of everything in the store. “Try these on, too.”

“What? All of these?”I asked, reeling under the weight of the clothing.

“All of them,”Hannah said. She checked her watch. “And you’d better hurry. If you keep wasting time, we’re never going to make the movie.”

Defeated, I headed to the dressing room.

“Show me everything you try on,”Hannah called after me.

The next half hour was sheer hell. I know some girls love trying on clothes and think of shopping as a hobby. I am not one of those girls. Pulling countless shirts over my head and wriggling into an endless series of pants caused me to become light-headed.

“I think I need a Coke,”I complained to Hannah on one of my frequent trips out of the dressing room to model an outfit for her. “My blood sugar is low.”

Hannah was unmoved. “You haven’t tried on the dark-washed denim pencil skirt yet.”

“Seriously, I can’t try on one more thing. I’m going to pass out from hunger.”

“The denim pencil skirt,”Hannah ordered. “I told you: we’re making over your wardrobe.”

“Why does it matter? They’re just clothes.”

Hannah looked truly shocked. “Clothes always matter,”she said. “Now go try on the denim pencil skirt!”

 

Forty minutes later we left J.Crew with bags so heavy that the thin, ropy straps felt as if they were about to cut through my fingers. I was wrung out. I mentally calculated how much money I’d spent that day—it was at least half the money I’d saved that summer working as an au pair to Amelia, a ten-year-old music prodigy. My dad had offered to chip in for new school clothes, but since he’d just bought me a car—an ugly used car, but I wasn’t complaining—I felt guilty asking him for money.

Hannah seemed oddly energized after our shopping expedition. “Oh, my gosh, just think of how much better you’re going to look this year,”she said as we made our way toward the food court.

Hannah was so beautiful that heads were swiveling as we walked by. She had a really pretty face, set off by platinum blond hair that swished across her shoulders. She was also very thin and very petite. I always felt freakishly tall and gangly when I stood next to her, like a clumsy giraffe towering over a dainty gazelle.

“Gee, thanks,”I said. I didn’t think my old wardrobe wasthatbad. Maybe I wasn’t a fashion plate, but my clothes were unobjectionable. Jeans, T-shirts—that sort of thing.

“No problem,”Hannah said, missing my sarcasm. “I bet your friends at school won’t even recognize you.”

Hannah and I were the same age—we were both sixteen and going into our junior year—but we attended different high schools. Hannah went to Orange Cove High. I went to the Notting Hill Independent School for Gifted Children, which was better known as Geek High. Most of the kids at Geek High had a special talent. For example, I could solve math problems—even complex ones—in my head. Growing up, my rather unflattering nickname had been the Human Calculator. And I didn’t even want to be a mathematician. I wanted to be a writer.

“I don’t think skinny jeans are going to mask my true identity,”I said.

“Just you wait. People will see you in a whole new light,”Hannah promised.

I didn’t believe that for one moment. The thing about going to Geek High was that most of the kids really did care more about their studies than what their classmates were wearing. Besides, why would I want to be seen in a different light? I had lots of friends at school. Okay, sure, I had some enemies, too—like awful Felicity Glen and her toady Morgan Simpson. Felicity had mocked me endlessly over the years for my boyish figure and boring clothes. But I was pretty sure that if she couldn’t make fun of my clothes, she’d just find something else to ridicule. Like my too-large nose or my wavy hair that frizzed when it was humid. Considering that I lived in South Florida, that was pretty much all the time.

Hannah paused outside a shoe store to examine the contents of the store window.

“Can we please get something to eat? I’m starving,”I complained.

“You’re always starving,”Hannah replied. She whipped out her pink cell phone and began scrolling through her messages.

“Emmett’s here,”she said.

“Here in the mall?”

Hannah nodded. “Over at the Gap. He wants to meet us for lunch.”She punched a rapid succession of buttons on her phone. “I’m telling him to meet us at the food court.”

“Great,”I said, my heart sinking.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like Emmett. I did. In fact, once upon a time, I’d liked him way too much. Emmett was a year ahead of me at Geek High. He was nice, an academic superstar—his specialty was science—and absolutely gorgeous. I’d had a secret crush on him for years. But Emmett had taken one look at Hannah and become instantly smitten with my stepsister. I’d been devastated at the time, but was long over it by now. For one thing, Hannah and Emmett did make an adorable couple. And, for another, I’d fallen pretty hard myself for someone else.

Dex McConnell, boyfriend extraordinaire. He really was great. Smart, bitingly funny, and very handsome, if—like me—you happen to like redheads. Dex was also an amazing surfer and had been the star player on the Orange Cove lacrosse team. Had been, as in past tense. Four days earlier Dex had left our small town of Orange Cove to go to boarding school in Maine on a lacrosse scholarship. It was an amazing opportunity for Dex, but I missed him so much that my stomach curled over on itself whenever I thought of him.

I was pretty sure Hannah had proposed this shopping trip to distract me, and so far it had been working, mostly because my I’m-stuck-in-a-shopping-mall misery was, for the time being, drowning out my missing-Dex-so-much-it-hurts misery. But that was before I found out I was going to be hanging out with Hannah and Emmett. Nothing makes you feel more alone than playing third wheel to a happy couple.

“He’s meeting us by Big Top Pizza,”Hannah announced, pocketing her cell phone. “Not that I’d eat the pizza there. Gag.”

“Why?”

“Tiffany’s boyfriend Geoff’s older brother used to work at Big Top Pizza. He said that they once had a cockroach fall into the vat of pizza sauce, and their manager wouldn’t let them throw out the sauce,”Hannah said. “So they kept using it on the pizzas. And, get this—when they reached the bottom of the pan of sauce, the cockroach wasmissing. So it must have ended up on one of the pizzas.”

“Ewww,”I said.

“I know, right? Ever since I heard that, I refuse to eat there,”Hannah said.

I tried not to think of how many hundreds of slices I’d eaten at Big Top Pizza over the years. I’d always viewed a slice of their pizza as my reward for withstanding the horrors of the mall.

“Um, Hannah?”

“Yes?”

“How long have you known about the cockroach pizza?”

Hannah tossed her hair back as she considered. “I’m not sure. Maybe a year or two?”

“Ayearortwo?”

“I think. Why does it matter?”

“Why didn’t you tell me about it before? It’s information I would really liked to have had,”I said.

Hannah shrugged. “I don’t know. It never occurred to me to tell you. Look, there’s Emmett.”

Emmett was standing in line at the now-notorious pizzeria. He was tall—even taller than me—with broad shoulders, blond hair, and eyes the color of the ocean. He smiled when he saw us approaching.

“Do either of you want a slice?”he asked.

“No way,”Hannah and I said in unison.

“And neither do you,”I added.

Emmett looked confused.

“Just trust me,”I said. “Let’s go to Sunshine Burger instead.”I shot Hannah a sidelong look. “You don’t know anyone who worked there, do you?”

“Nope,”she said. “It’s safe, as far as I know.”

“Good,”I said.

Emmett looked curious, but he just shrugged, and we all headed over to Sunshine Burger. Ten minutes later we were sitting at a table with our trays. Emmett and I had ordered exactly the same thing: a double-decker cheeseburger, large fries, soda, and a chocolate shake topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. Hannah had a salad with grilled chicken and low-calorie dressing on the side. After eating three bites, she groaned and pushed back her tray.

“I’m stuffed,”she said.

I had just taken an enormous bite of my double-decker, so it took me a few minutes to chew and swallow before I could respond. “How can you be stuffed on two lettuce leaves and one tiny piece of chicken?”

“Hannah always eats like a bird,”Emmett said, beaming at her as though there were nothing more marvelous than the ability to survive on a few sticks and twigs.

I rolled my eyes, instantly irritated. One of the many, many things I liked about Dex was that he never minded that I had as large an appetite as he did. This was quickly followed by the now-familiar pang of sadness that thinking of Dex always caused recently. He’d been gone for only four days, and it already felt like forever. We talked every day on Skype, but it wasn’t the same as feeling the warmth of his hand entwined with mine or breathing in the freshly-laundered-clothes smell of him. I wasn’t going to see him in person until he was home for Thanksgiving break. How was I going to make it until then?

“Miranda?”Hannah said, interrupting my sad thoughts. “Did you hear me?”

“What? No.”

“I didn’t think you were listening,”Hannah said accusingly. “IsaidEmmett wants to come to the movies with us. Is that okay? I know we were supposed to be having a girls’day out.”

“Fine with me,”I said. “Emmett can be an honorary girl for the day. As long as he doesn’t mind getting pedicures with us.”

But now Hannah and Emmett weren’t listening to me. They were staring at each other with matching goopy expressions. I could have stood on the table and belted out a rendition of “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),”complete with Beyoncé’s dance moves, and it still wouldn’t have gotten their attention.

“You’ve got a stray hair,”Emmett told Hannah, sweeping the offending lock out of her face and tucking it behind her ear for her.

Hannah giggled and tipped her head coquettishly. “Maybe I should cut my hair short so it stays out of my face. I’ve always wondered how I’d look with a really, really short style.”

“Don’t do that. I like it long,”Emmett said, gently pulling on one of her silver-blond locks.

“You don’t think I’d look pretty with short hair?”Hannah asked.

“You’d look gorgeous no matter what,”Emmett said. He took her hand and brushed his lips against her knuckles.

“Gag,”I said.

Hannah and Emmett both looked at me. They seemed startled to find me sitting at the table with them.

“Seriously,”I said, “this is nauseating. You’re going to have to stop it now before it ruins my appetite.”

“Ignore her,”Hannah told Emmett. “She misses Dex, so she’s feeling bitter about love.”

“I’m not bitter about love,”I said, stung. “I happen to be very pro-love.”

“How is Dex doing? Have you talked to him?”Emmett asked.

I nodded. “Yeah, I talked to him last night. He’s fine. His roommate’s cool, and he said that everyone on the lacrosse team gets along.”

Dex had sounded really upbeat when I talked to him. I knew he’d been nervous about starting at a new school far away from home, where he didn’t know anyone. It had been too great an opportunity for him to pass up. The Brown Academy had one of the top high school lacrosse programs in the country, and a lot of the lacrosse players who went there ended up getting recruited by universities such as Princeton and Cornell. I knew it was important to him to do well at his new school, and I was glad that he was adjusting to being there. But a smaller, not-so-nice part of me had hoped that he’d be missing me too much—as much as I missed him—to settle in quite so quickly.

“Are you all ready to get back to school tomorrow?”Emmett asked.

I nodded. “Actually, I can’t wait. I’m on the staff ofThe Ampersandthis year.”The Ampersandwas Geek High’s award-winning magazine. I’d secured a coveted writer’s spot on the magazine at the end of my sophomore year. “How about you?”

“Yeah, I’m ready to get back, too. I came up with a great idea for the science fair. I’m hoping to go back to nationals this year,”Emmett said. Emmett had won the state science fair every year that he had entered. His sophomore year, he’d placed second in nationals for developing a system for purifying water in developing countries. “I’m working on a new way to power cars with solar energy,”he continued. “The technology has been out for a while, but no one’s perfected it.”

“Wow. That would be amazing,”I said, impressed.

“I just need to figure out how I’m going to construct the canopy, and how the solar cells will be set up,”Emmett said.

It was Hannah’s turn to roll her eyes. “Only Geek High students would be looking forward to school. I wish summer vacation would last forever,”she said. She checked her watch. “The movie’s going to start soon. We should probably head over to the theater.”

“Let me just finish my burger first,”I said, taking another large bite and following it with a slurp of chocolate shake.

Hannah wrinkled her nose. “I thought you said you lost your appetite.”

I shrugged. “I have to get my energy back after all that shopping,”I said, popping a fry into my mouth.

Chapter Two

Iparked my ugly yellow car in the student lot behind Geek High, hoping no one would see me. While I very much appreciated the car, which my dad had given me at the end of the summer, there was no getting around it: the car was truly hideous. It was short, stubby, and neon yellow, with amateurishly painted black racing stripes down the sides. Still, an ugly car was better than no car at all, and it was a nice, freeing feeling to be able to drive myself to school for the very first time.

Grabbing my backpack, I climbed out of my car and shut the door. The locks on the driver’s-side door didn’t work, but I didn’t think there was any danger of anyone stealing it.

“Oh. My. God.”

I cringed. I recognized the voice even before I turned to face Felicity Glen. She was the person I had most wanted to avoid, so it figured that she’d be the first person I’d run into.

“Is that your car?”Felicity asked, hooting with laughter.

I squared my shoulders and turned to face her. Felicity was annoyingly pretty. She was petite, with fine bones, dark brown hair, and catlike green eyes. Her full lips were curved in an evil smile as she looked from me to the yellow car and back again.

“As a matter of fact, it is,”I said, trying for an air of breezy indifference.

“That is the ugliest car I have ever seen,”Felicity said.

“Why do you think your opinion would mean anything to me?”I asked.

“You’re going to pretend you like driving that thing?”Felicity asked, tossing her hair back over her shoulders. “I wouldn’t be caught dead in it.”

“I guess I’m just not as superficial as you are,”I said.

“That’s for sure,”Felicity said. “Just look at the way you—”

I knew she was about to saydress, but then she looked me up and down and a frown darkened her face. I was wearing a navy and white striped tank top that tied behind my neck with my new khaki cargo miniskirt. The tank top on its own wasn’t strictly dress code compliant, so I’d brought a cotton navy cardigan to wear over it for when I got out of the heat. Hannah, of course, had helped me pick out my outfit for the first day of school. Actually, it had been a little insulting, as Hannah had insisted on not only selecting my clothes, but then actually laying them out on the floor with accessories—a trio of silver bangles and a necklace with a bird-shaped pendant—so that I wouldn’t make any mistakes while dressing.

I’d always thought that there wasn’t any point in getting all dressed up just to go sit in a classroom all day. But I had to admit, it felt pretty good to silence Felicity Glen.

“What were you going to say?”I asked sweetly. “Something about the way I dress?”

“Whatever. I don’t have time to stand around talking to you all day,”Felicity said, turning away. “And your car is hideous!”

I laughed at her departing back.

“Should I be worried that you’re standing here by yourself, laughing?”Charlie asked, appearing beside me. “You’re not having a nervous breakdown, are you?”

Charlie was one of my best friends. She was thin and her short, spiky hair was bright green. Today, she was wearing a purple tunic with a pink satin skirt over a black tulle underskirt. Somehow, Charlie managed to make it all look incredibly stylish.

“Green?”I asked. The last time I’d seen her—two days ago—her hair had been Strawberry Shortcake red.

“I thought I’d shake things up for the first day of school,”Charlie explained. “So, are you having a nervous breakdown?”

“No,”I said. “Just enjoying giving Felicity a smack down, thanks to my awesome new fashion skills.”

Charlie looked me over. “You are looking especially cute this morning. Did Hannah dress you?”

“No, I dressed myself, thank you very much,”I said.

“But she picked out your clothes, right?”

“Do you really have so little faith in my fashion sense?”

“Yes,”Charlie said.

“Thanks a lot,”I said.

“You’re the one who always says you were born without a fashion gene,”Charlie said, shrugging. “Have you seen Finn yet?”

Charlie’s tone was casual, but I knew better. Finn was our other best friend. Over the summer, Charlie had finally admitted to me what I’d long suspected—that she had feelings for Finn that went beyond friendship. I’d had reason to believe that Finn had similar feelings for Charlie. But it was a case of bad timing—Finn currently had a girlfriend, Phoebe McLeod, who was in Hannah’s class at Orange Cove High. He was also oblivious to Charlie’s feelings for him. I’d advised Charlie to just tell Finn how she felt about him, but so far she’d refused to do so. She was convinced that if she told Finn she had feelings for him, things between them would become awkward and strained and eventually ruin their friendship.

“Not yet,”I said as we walked up the sidewalk, which snaked from the student parking lot around the side of the school. “But I did talk to him briefly last night. He said he has a surprise for us.”

“Uh-oh,”Charlie said.

“Yeah, that was pretty much my reaction, too,”I said.

Finn was very funny and completely brilliant, but he also lacked a moral compass. His idea of a surprise could mean an announcement that he had hacked into the Federal Reserve and transferred ten billion dollars to an offshore account. He was totally capable of doing it—Finn was a computer genius who’d developed several top-selling video games. In a review, a critic had called Finn’s most famous creation, Grunge Aliens, “the most awesomely violent video game ever made.”Finn had been thrilled. Anyway, his series of successful computer games meant that Finn was set for life, and didn’t have to worry about getting into a top college or landing a good job postgraduation. So there was even less incentive for him to stay out of trouble.

“What do you think he’s done this time?”Charlie asked, as we turned the corner and headed down the walk that led to the front entrance of Geek High.

I stopped dead in my tracks. “I think I might have an idea.”

“What?”Charlie asked, also stopping. Then, following my appalled stare, she turned toward the stairs that led up to the front door. Her mouth fell open. “Please tell me I’m not seeing what I think I’m seeing.”

“I would love to. But I’d be lying,”I said.

Finn stood at the top of the stairs, beaming down at us. He was tall and pale, with light blue eyes and a faint scar over his lip, a remnant from the cleft-lip surgery he’d had as a baby. His brown hair used to be too long and shaggy. Now the sides were shaved, leaving one single stripe down the center of his head.

“He has a Mohawk,”Charlie squeaked.

“Yes, he does. And he looks like an idiot.”I looked at her. “Please tell me this has some effect on your feelings for him.”

Charlie shrugged helplessly. “I wish I could say it does. But who am I to talk? I have green hair.”

“But you could dye your hair back to a normal color tonight if you wanted to. He’s stuck with that ridiculous look until it grows in,”I protested.

Finn took the stairs two at a time and jogged out to meet us. “Hey, foxy ladies,”he said. Finn preened, turning his head from side to side to give us the full view. “So? What do you think?”

“Do you really want to know?”I asked.

Finn looked hurt. “You don’t like the new look?”

“No,”Charlie and I said together.

“Too bad,”Finn crowed. “Because I love it. My head feels so much cooler without all of the hair. And Phoebe thinks I look sexy like this.”

“That’s because Phoebe’s a few fries short of a Happy Meal,”Charlie muttered under her breath.

“What’s that? I didn’t hear you,”Finn asked. “Were you commenting on how insanely hot I look?”

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