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In the queue for dinner, Lottie noticed a tall, slim girl with long wavy hair in front of her who was not talking to anyone so she went up to her and tapped her lightly on the shoulder.  The girl turned around startled, her eyes wide.  They were the colour of the clear Caribbean sea.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to make you jump,” Lottie said softly, “I just wanted to say hello.  I’m Lottie. I'm new”
“Oh that’s ok,” the girl replied in a quiet, dreamy voice.  “I was lost in my thoughts so anything would have surprised me!  My name is Fliss.  Fliss Prince,” she held out her hand. It felt cool.  
"How are you finding it so far?  Are you in a nice dorm?”
“Uh, the one at the end of the hall with the balcony.”
“No, I meant, are you with nice people?  Do you know their names?”
“Oh, sorry, yes, there is a girl called Eden and um, oh, I can’t remember the other one’s name.  I haven’t really spoken to her yet.  Serena or something like that? And Beth”
“Oh you mean Sabrina.  Sabrina Lawrence.”
“Yes, Sabrina.  That’s it!”
“So, Eden huh?” Fliss grimaced.
“What?  She seems really nice and has been friendly so far.”
“Well it’s the ‘so far’ that should concern you.  Look, you seem like a nice girl so just be careful ok?”
Finally they reached the front and an older looking girl sat at a desk and ticked off their names on a list.  
“It must be hard to be anorexic in this school if you have to have your name checked off at every meal!” Lottie commented.
“Oh, that list doesn’t stop them, believe me,” Fliss said.
And then they were in the hall and Lottie was hit with the pungent smell of frying.  With their trays full, Lottie followed Fliss to the table that contained the girls from their year and they managed to get seats opposite each other.  
After dinner some girls planned to retire to their dorms and others hung out in the common room.  Lottie was unsure what to do as she did want to get to know other people better and this was a good opportunity, but she also felt tired and like curling up in bed with a book, shutting out this strange and unfamiliar world.  On the way back to the house, Fliss invited her to her room to hang out so Lottie agreed.  She was at the other end of the corridor and her room overlooked the woods that were bathed in the fading light of the day. There was a huge pile of clothes on her bed and Fliss started to organise them into smaller piles to put away.  Lottie perched on the bed and observed the framed photos on the bedside table; Fliss and a dog, Fliss and a middle-aged couple who must be her parents, Fliss in the middle of three other girls, making faces at the camera.  They were all happy photos and the frames were decorated with colourful stickers.  “I know, did you see them...” The door opened and two girls walked in giggling.  Lottie only caught the tail end of their conversation before they noticed her on the bed and stopped talking.  
“What’s uuuup Fliss?” one of them said in a singsong voice.
“Hey! Jenny, Bette, this is Lottie.  She’s new this term.”  Lottie waved from the bed.
“Hi Lottie, nice to meet you!” the first girl said and the other one standing behind her returned the wave.  Jenny, the first girl, had very pale skin, a short dark bob with chunky blonde highlights was dressed in black.  She went over to the bed opposite Fliss’s by the window and Bette next to hers.
“So, what were you two giggling about just now?” Fliss asked while folding some tops.
“Oh, just the Blique looking particularly spray-tanned with their new noses and lips at dinner and listening to all the fantaastic holidays they have had and romaantic flings,” Jenny replied scrunching up her face and making air quotes at the emphasised words.
“I know, they are so full of shit,” Bette said.  Lottie looked confused,
“What’s the blique?” she asked.  Jenny looked at Fliss with surprise.
“What, you haven't told Lottie about them, Fliss?  The cardinal rule of Meridien is to know about the Blique and therefore avoid them!”  She stood in front of Lottie and struck a pose with a hand on her jutting hip and batted her eyelashes.  “The Blique are the most goooorgeous, popular group in the year, didn’t you know?” she said putting on a posh voice and sashaying around the room. “They are all incredibly rich and wear the most fabulous clothes, daaaarling, and date the hottest men and holiday on yachts and with famous people and Royalty, yah!  Oh, and they are complete bitches hence the term Blique which stands for bitch clique!”  All the girls were in hysterics at Jenny’s exaggerated gestures and poses acting as if she were being photographed.  Bette laughed so hard she got hiccups and clutched her chest, “Stop Jen, I can hardly breathe!”  Jenny plopped down onto Fliss’s bed causing a heap of clothes to wobble precariously.  
“And the leader and biggest bitch of them all is Eden Wallis with her designer clothes and stupid tonged hair.  Everyone in the blique wants to be like her for some reason, but don’t ask me why.”
Lottie looked up and caught Fliss’s pale, worried eyes and creased forehead.
“I’m sorry, Lottie, I didn’t want to put it quite like that when you said you were in a dorm with her, but you do have to be careful.  She is awful; a complete bitch like Jenny said.”  Jenny gasped,
“No, no, no, you’re not in a dorm with Eden?”
“And Sabrina and Bethany,” Fliss added.  Jenny shook her head, her bob swinging from side to side,
“Oh Lottie, I’m sorry.  It’s weird as Eden is always in a dorm with her friends; she always seems to get special treatment.  Although we were lucky getting each other this term, weren’t we girls?”  Bette hiccupped in response and nodded frantically.
“Have you actually met her yet?” Jenny asked Lottie.
“Yep, she was there when I came with my mum and she seemed friendly enough.  She said she would show me round the school, but never did.  When Sabrina turned up she went off with her.”  
“Hmm, she was probably plotting to have you and the other girl moved into another room,” Jenny mused.
“So, what’s she done that’s so awful?” Lottie asked.
“It’s just the way she is,” Bette squeaked from the other side of the room, hiccups having subsided. “The way she looks at you and says something nice and then slags you off to someone else, knowing you can hear her.  And a girl left last year.  We’re not quite sure what happened, no one is really, but Karen was not in the Blique originally, she was just like us.  And then Eden got friendly with her out of the blue and they became as thick as thieves.  Then Karen just left in the middle of the term with no warning, nothing.  We think it definitely has something to do with Eden, but it’s like Karen never existed.  No one in the Blique is allowed to mention her name apparently.”
Lottie felt an unpleasant feeling in her stomach, as if a snake was sitting in there uncoiling its long body and pushing itself up towards her throat.  Her mouth felt dry and it was a struggle to swallow. She looked around the room at the three close friends in their happy, cosy room and really wished she were staying with them instead.   


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