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Lottie knew most people her age would think it rather strange wanting to go to boarding school. And the fact it was all girls, even harder to comprehend.  Her friends at Green Lanes prep school didn’t understand as they were going to local co-eds whilst still living at home.  She thought back to the open day when she first saw Meridien Academy and knew that was where she could see herself.  It had a really homely feel and everyone was so friendly; teachers and students.  The girls she saw around the school looked so cool, even in the unflattering, but subtly customised uniforms they wore.  It reminded Lottie of the countless books she had read and loved about boarding school and it filled her with hope and excitement.  And now Lottie and her mother, Bea, were driving there and Lottie started to recognise some of the landmarks through the window and realised they were getting closer.  The flies in her stomach buzzed around frantically as if she were a week old corpse.  She felt waves of nausea and squeezed her eyes shut, swallowed a few times while taking deep breaths.  She could feel her mother looking at her out of the corner and felt a cold hand take her right one and gently squeeze it.  “You’ll be fine darling,” Bea said softly.  After a while Lottie opened her eyes, peeked out the window and realised they were in the high street already.  She recognised the train station, newsagent, bakery, supermarket, flower shop, a sweet looking tea house and old fashioned, but quaint looking pub. She could see herself in the high street with a group of girls, giggling and gossiping and excitement mingled with the fear.  And then they turned off the high street into another narrow lane and joined a queue of Range Rovers and a red Ferrari a few cars in front.  She nudged her mother, “Look!”  A black Porsche pulled in behind them and Lottie could see a young girl in the passenger seat fiddling with her hair and inspecting her make up in her mirror.  The Ferrari hummed to life and the cars moved slowly along the driveway and through the gates.  They passed a subtle blue sign that said Meridien Academy in gold letters and a fancy font.  “You have reached your destination,” the satnav woman said in her posh, snooty voice.  Bea nudged the car into a space that had just been vacated by a gleaming Maserati.  As Lottie got out of the car and stretched her long legs she paused and absorbed the busy scene and looked at the three buildings curved around the forecourt.  Meridien Academy was built in 1867 and some of the original buildings still remained.  The main building which contained the reception and Headmistress's office was grey and quite gothic looking with a slightly dilapidated roof and long windows.  Interspersed with the older buildings were more contemporary, sturdy red-bricked ones.  There were signs informing new students to register inside the main building so they left the trunk in the car and walked inside the dimly lit entrance.  The reception was buzzing with students and their parents and they glanced up as Lottie entered and then looked away again.  A slightly plump, but very pretty smiling girl with dark, glossy hair came over to them and asked Lottie to sign in, be given directions to her dormitory and where to put her trunk.  The girl was so friendly she put Lottie completely at ease.  She said her name was Violet Smith and she was in the year below.  As she lead them to the desk where Lottie could sign in, Violet reached over to search for her name on a thick wodge of paper held together by a clipboard.
“Ooh, you’re so lucky, you’re in Bluebell dorm.  It’s one of the nicest rooms in the house!  And I see here you’re in Thatcher house with me; everyone is really nice.” Lottie noticed a tall girl hovering nearby who had a face sprinkled with freckles, shoulder length red hair and watery blue eyes.  If Lottie was shy then this girl was even worse and spoke in such a quiet voice although she did catch her name was Maud and that she was also new to Meridien.  Her parents on the other hand were raucous and over confident; the father had a booming voice and the mother was trying to talk over him.  They both had ruddy complexions and adorned similar outfits consisting of tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbows.  The father wore mustard corduroys and the mother, bottle green.  In contrast to her outfit, her blonde hair was whipped, teased and beaten into a crispy hair-sprayed nest on top of her head.  Lottie's mother whispered in her ear,
“I think they must own one of the range rovers outside.  They’re from London, but they look and are acting like they live in the country!” she giggled before the father placed a a large, meaty hand on her shoulder and steered her towards the building where the sixth form were housed.  It was perched on top of a hill with a freshly mown lawn on one side and woods on the other.  At the top of the stairs, Maud was directed to another dormitory so they said their goodbyes and Lottie and Bea were sent to the end of the corridor by a girl with a serious expression and perky ponytail who also had a clipboard and appeared to relish bossing everyone about.

The first thing Lottie saw of Eden Wallis was her leopard print legging clad bottom as she was lying on her bed on her front bending over to put something in the drawer.  She cleared her throat and the girl sat up suddenly and stared at them.
“Oh, hiiiii!” she smiled sweetly as she quickly recovered her composure, swung her long legs off the bed and sashayed towards them.  Lottie tried not to appear rude by openly looking her up and down as she hated it when people did that to her (and Eden was doing that very thing to her right now) but she couldn't help it.  Eden was tall with very long, honey coloured hair worn in a centre parting and curled into ringlets towards the end.  Over her leggings she wore a soft cotton black T-shirt with a low V-neck through which she could see a hint of cleavage encased in a black lacy bra.  On top of this was a very fitted short black leather jacket with slightly pointed shoulders.  She wore several gold chains of different lengths from which various charms dangled.  Lottie knew she was called Eden because of the shorter necklace spelling out her name in diamonds.  Her feet were clad in black leather peep toe shoe boots covered in gold studs.  Lottie stared at them and was sure she recognised them from a recent Gucci ad campaign.  Swinging her eyes back to Eden’s face she took in the pale blue eyes with thick, impossibly black lashes, pencil thin, perfectly shaped eyebrows and large, full lips coated in pink gloss which curled up at the ends and appeared to be mocking her.  The glossy lips parted and spoke, “and you are?”


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"Ouch!" Lottie said as Bette's curling wand touched the back of her neck. "Sorry!" Bette concentrated on the thick mane of hair, her tongue poking out from between her teeth as she focused.  She sighed and flexed her wrist again, "Are you sure you don't want it up?" she asked. "No, I like it down otherwise I'll feel really exposed with a strapless dress," Lottie said. "Maybe that's not a bad thing," Jenny piped up from in front of the mirror where she was applying her false eyelashes.  Lottie lifted her hair up and turned from side to side, "What do you think?" "Definitely up," all her friends replied in unison. "Ok, up it is!" she grinned at Bette.  "Do you mind then?"  Bette gratefully switched off the wand, put it down and reached for a hairbrush and a pack of hairpins. "So, do you have any idea what the Blique are wearing?" she said as she twisted Lottie's h


"What the hell am I going to wear to the ball next week?" Bette asked as she went through her wardrobe and turned all her drawers inside out with a frantic scrabbling.   Lottie sat on her bed and watched her while eating her way through a packet of Pringles. "We're so going to have to go shopping tomorrow," Bette mused as she went from the drawers back to the wardrobe and continued to flick through the clothes hanging up, the scraping of the wire hangers on the rail beginning to grate on Lottie's nerves.  She shook the Pringles at Bette to distract her.   "So, what's the deal with this ball thing?  Do you have to get really dressed up?" "Well, it's up to you, but everyone tends to go all out.  The Blique get to showcase all their new designer wear, of course." "Yeah, Eden gets frustrated that the ball always falls before fashion week as she would like to be wearing next season's stuff if possible," Jenny said


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