Summary: Caroline and Richie Vanderbilt try to find their way through various stages of adolescence while dealing with the residue of their parent's past problems.

Author's Note: I deliver on my promises, never say that I don't. I have a very clear idea of where I want this to go, so I hope you enjoy it! If you didn't read "Scratch the Surface" before this, I suggest you do, else you be completely lost.

Under The Surface

Chapter 1: Cara, Jack, Richie, and the way things are

Caroline Vanderbilt, age 16, sat tapping her pencil against a desk waiting for the bell to ring. She was exhausted and ready to go home for the weekend. She was just starting her junior year at The Eden Hall Academy. She always went home for weekends.

"Cara," Her best friend Pamela Curtis leaned forward, "Did you see Jeremy Paulis looking at you today at lunch?"

"Duh," She laughed, and tossed her long blonde hair behind her. She was playing it cool, but she actually was completely psyched that Jeremy liked her. He was a senior and completely hot.

"Are you going to," Pam leaned forward, "You know, with him this weekend."

"I'm not that easy," Caroline said. She wasn't. She wasn't exactly hermetically sealed either. But she wouldn't just sleep with some guy, no matter how hot and senior he might be. Pam giggled. "Maybe next weekend." The bell rang. Finally!

"Caroline," Mr. Tierney, her English teacher and her moderator at the school paper, called her name, "Can I speak to you for a minute please."

"Have fun!" Pam giggled. Mr. Tierney was definitely the kind of teacher you wanted to keep you after class. He was young, and really, really good looking. Pretty much everyone had crushes on him. Those harmless crushes that teenage girls get on cute, fun, young teachers.

"Hey, Mr. T," Cara walked up. "What's up?"

"I have amazing news for you Ace," He winked, she was the star of the school paper, so he'd started calling her Ace, "You have been offered an internship at a magazine."

"For real?" She squealed.

"Yeah," He laughed, "St. Clair? Have you heard of it?" She sighed, had she heard of it? St. Clair was probably one of the biggest things that you didn't talk about in her family. "Is that a problem?"

"No of course not," Caroline shook her head, except that her father had almost had an affair with the magazine's CEO and founder, and it had caused her parents to separate for months and for him to drop out of her life completely for that time. But whatever, no problem.

"Well, if you'd just get this paperwork to your parents, we can get it all squared away," He smiled. She nodded and took the folder from him. "Congratulations Cara, this is a huge deal."

"Oh you have no idea," She laughed on her way out. She went to her locker.

"Hey Vanderbilt," She stopped seeing Jeremy.

"Hey," She smiled coyly at him.

"So, are you going to be at that party this weekend?" She had no idea what party he was talking about, but he didn't need to know that.

"Maybe," She shrugged, "I haven't made any plans yet." Actually she had planned on curling up on the couch with her super old golden retriever Ducky and an Audrey Hepburn movie, but making out with Jeremy Paulis wasn't a bad option either.

"Cool," He smiled, "You go home on weekends right?"

"Yeah," She nodded.

"Need someone to walk you out?" He said. She shrugged and they walked down the grounds to the driveway. As they did they talked, mostly him going on about how awesome the party would be, and how it was never a party without her and her continuing to be coy and mysterious.

"Hey angel!" She smiled seeing a tall older man standing out by a car.

"Daddy!" She squealed and hugged him. He picked her up.

"Oh I missed you baby," Scooter smiled.

"Hey Mr. Vanderbilt," Jeremy walked over and shook his hand.

"Jeremy," He nodded, "How's the team look this year?"

"Fantastic as usual," Jeremy smiled his charming smile. Caroline couldn't help but blush. Jeremy was goalie of the hockey team, the same hockey team that her parents had met and fallen in love fighting over, and that they'd both played goalie for oddly enough. "I hope you don't mind if I come over and take Caroline out this weekend." Scooter raised his eyebrows. That he did mind. He didn't like any boys sniffing around his precious baby girl, especially not boys who reminded him so much of himself as a teenager.

"Jeremy's trying to talk me out of my quiet weekend at home," Caroline laughed, "We should go," She said, looking behind her and seeing Jack Germaine coming. The last thing she needed was fourteen year old, totally smitten with her Jack scaring Jeremy off. "Daddy, please?"

"Oh there's Jack!" Scooter said and waved, too late, "Jacky!" He shouted. Jack smiled and jogged over.

"Hey Scooter," Jack smiled, "Cara," He frowned, "Paulis."

"Germaine," Jeremy nodded coldly. "I should head back. Good to see you, Cara, I'll call you." He smiled and walked away.

"What'd you think Jacky, should we let that guy take Caroline out?" Scooter asked him. She glared at Jack in a way that said, "I will make you eat dirt again if you blow this for me freak."

"He's a good guy," Jack nodded. "Hell of a goalie, know you like that in your family." Caroline smiled at him gratefully. "See you at dinner on Sunday."

"Bye Jack," Cara kissed him gently on the cheek as he walked away. They had weekly dinners with the Germaines, and Caroline's godfather Rick Riley. They were almost always eventful. She heard him mumble something that she couldn't quite make out. As he walked off Scooter looked at her and sighed. "What?" She said.

"Don't what me young lady!" He shook his head, "You know exactly what." She groaned and got in the car.

Julie Gaffney Vanderbilt stared at a picture of her two children and sighed. It was an old old picture Caroline was about eight, making Richie about four. She had no idea where the time had gone. She glanced over to the door and saw Caroline's ancient golden retriever Ducky curled up by it. Every week Ducky did the same thing. She curled up and waited for Caroline to come home.

"Hey Mom," Richie came running into the house in a whirl of twelve year old energy, he dropped his back pack and headed straight for his room.

"Richard," She called stopping him in his tracks, "Not gonna fly kid. School called." He sighed and backed up. "You gotta get that temper under control. One more fight and they said you're out." Richie nodded. He'd be happy to be out of the snotty private school he went to now. But he knew that it would upset his parents. "What was it this time?"

"Usual stuff," Richie mumbled. Julie nodded. That meant that someone, probably one of Scooter's old friend's kids had said something about her. Usually that she was trash, or that she was a dirty gold digger who'd ended up trapping herself. Julie rarely felt trapped, although there were days, especially when she saw Caroline's friend's mothers. Most of them were at least ten years older than her. She was only thirty eight after all. "Am I grounded?"

"Two weeks," She nodded, "No video games and hockey practice only." Richie nodded. He was used to it by now.

Jack Germaine lay on his dorm bed staring at the ceiling. He tried to remember the exact moment that he knew he loved her and couldn't do it. It had just always been there. Caroline Vanderbilt. It hadn't really been a surprise when she'd climbed to the top of the social pyramid. She was so smart and driven, and so beautiful that it only made sense. What was unfortunate was that it brought out most of her bad qualities, which while he loved her, she had many of. Her bossiness was probably the worst. She'd always bossed him around. And he'd always followed her orders, because he loved her. Now they were at Eden Hall together, and she barely even cared he existed. Sure, he got more than just a passing glance from her, unlike every other underclassman guy who saw her and wanted her. He always got at least, "Hey Jack," and even the occasional hug, depending on her mood, motives and who was around. He wasn't worried about other guys, especially not the older meatheads and assholes who all talked like they knew her. To them, she was just another little girl for them to fool around with. And another flaw, she did get around. He knew she was far from some virgin queen. But he liked that she was human and flawed. But he knew that there was more to her than she let anyone see, because he'd seen it. He'd sat and watched her rub her dog's stomach for hours when Ducky had eaten something she shouldn't have and then watched her clean up the dog barf. Some letterman slut wouldn't do that. But Caroline had. That's what set her apart, that she wasn't actually the girl she pretended to be, and someday, that girl would come out, and she would love him back. He knew it.

I decided, based on close reading of what I did with Caroline in Scratch the Surface that having her grow up into a social climbing semi bitch made sense. Review Please!