Thank you to Sweet Dulcinea for working her beta magic on this chapter.

Disclaimer: All characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended.


EPISODE 2: RUMOR HAS IT


Gossip Girl here. Your one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite.

Previously on Beautiful, Dirty, Rich

TV doc, Carlisle Cullen, brought his already controversial family and a whirlwind of excitement to New York with him. Rosalie and Chuck got intimately acquainted in the back of his limo. Serena's cousin, Bella, and Queen B both fell in love with Edward at first sight, sparking instant rivalry. Jasper and Emmett decided to pay Edward back for dragging them to a gay poetry bar by scheming with Rosalie and daring Chuck to kiss Edward if he ever wanted to have a hope of being with Rosalie again. Lily and Esme did not see eye to eye. Blair arrived at the Black and White Ball blatantly defying the theme by wearing red. Chuck was working his powers of seduction on Edward, and a mysterious boy on a motorbike crashed the party...

Blair Waldorf stood at the entrance to the ballroom, her feet planted to the floor, her mouth agape. Her eyes, along with the eyes of almost every other person in the room (most of whom were pretending to be engaged in conversation and failing miserably) were transfixed on the ridiculously tall biker guy who was now navigating the crowd with ease. The stunned partygoers made way for him, obviously slightly afraid of his imposing form. He was headed straight for Bella, who was marching purposefully toward Edward and Chuck, who seemed confusingly intimate, standing with heads bowed together talking at the bar.

Blair had the vague feeling that she should be trying to do something, but the scene that was unfolding before her was just too good not to watch.

The tall guy stepped in front of Bella just before she reached St. Jude's soon-to-be-new-"it"-couple. Her eyes grew wide in surprise as she blurted out, "Jake?" loud enough to cause a sudden hush to fall over the entire room. Even the music seemed to die down to a whisper as the crowd dropped all pretence to unabashedly stare at the altercation before them.

"'Sup, Bells?" the guy replied in his smooth, deep tone.

Blair was entranced by the threatening way Bella was hissing at the guy and silently reveled in the fact that Bella's past had started to catch up with her so quickly. Out of the corner of her eye, Blair noticed that Edward was approaching the bickering pair. The guy turned around slowly as Edward tapped him on the shoulder and glared down at him with the same look a wolf would have if a puppy tried to intervene in its business. Edward was tall, probably 6'2" by the look of it, but this guy towered over him by a good couple of inches. Edward suddenly looked really nervous and pale standing next to him.

Edward cleared his throat, but when he spoke, the squeak that followed negated any attempt at confidence he had been going for. "Is there some kind of problem?"

"No," Bella snapped at him before the guy could reply. "We were just leaving." Bella tugged violently at the guy's arm and dragged him through the crowd.

The sight of Edward standing dumbfounded at the edge of the dancefloor snapped Blair back into offense mode. This was her opportunity to one-up Bella, which was what she had been intending to do in the first place.

She hurriedly pushed her way through the crowd and placed herself in Edward's way just as he was about to leave. "How weird was that, huh?" Blair asked abruptly, eliciting a confused look from Edward. "Some people just don't know how to behave themselves in public."

"Uh, yeah, I guess," Edward replied distractedly, scanning the crowd for a glimpse of the odd couple disappearing through the exit.

"Sometimes I miss the sophistication of French culture," she mused wistfully.

Edward's expression perked slightly at the mention of France. "You know, I'm always telling my family exactly the same thing."

"Nothing in New York will ever compare to the langoustines and Dom Pérignon at the Ducasse Plaza Athénée."

"I'm more partial to the venison fillet and truffles myself," Edward replied with a surprised sparkle in his eyes. Blair felt her heart flutter excitedly in her chest. Not only did she seem to have finally met Edward (who was even more gorgeous up close) and caught his attention, but he was also a connoisseur of fine French dining. Blair was most definitely in her happy place.

"Blair."

A cold chill traveled down Blair's spine at the sound of her name on Chuck Bass's lips. She was not in the mood to deal with his smug face while she was attempting to woo the future Mr. Blair Waldorf with talk of French cuisine and expensive champagne.

"Chuck," Blair replied. Her voice may have appeared sickly sweet to someone who wasn't in the know, but to Chuck Bass, who understood Blair Waldorf's devious mind better than anyone else, it meant only one thing: venom. "Isn't there some poor bimbo getting lonely in the back of your limo as we speak?"

Chuck smiled at Blair indulgently and shot Edward an apologetic look. "Blair has a... unique sense of humor," Chuck explained.

Edward glanced between Chuck, who seemed to be smoldering at him, and Blair, who was shooting daggers at Chuck, and suddenly started to feel uncomfortably claustrophobic. He wasn't all that fond of the feeling of being in the middle of some kind of rivalry between the two of them. Why there would be a rivalry in the first place, he couldn't imagine

"I... uh... think my sister is calling me," Edward interrupted Chuck and Blair's staring match.

"But Edward, Paris..." Blair whined desperately.

"We haven't finished talking about taking my father's yacht out over the weekend," Chuck offered.

Edward shifted uncomfortably. "I really have to go," Edward hedged. "Coming, Alice!" he called and disappeared into the crowd before either of them could stop him.

"I don't know what the hell was going on there," Blair snapped when she was satisfied that Edward was out of ear-shot, "but whatever it was, is not going to work."

"Blair, Blair, Blair, you know I'm never one to step down from a challenge."

Blair wanted to slap the vulgar grin from his face.

"You're not getting away with this... whatever it is!" Blair exclaimed and threw her hands up in exasperation. "Serena!" she shrieked, stalking off in search of her best friend.

Rosalie surveyed the scene from her prime position, semi-obscured behind a nearby pillar. She laughed deviously to herself. Making Chuck Bass bend to her whims was one thing, but having Blair Waldorf unexpectedly thrown into the mix was a bonus she just couldn't get enough of.

She had a feeling she was going to enjoy this a little too much.

***

In another part of the elaborately decorated ballroom, Lily Bass was very conspicuously complaining to Nellie Yuki's mother about her distaste for Esme Cullen's chosen ballroom decor.

"I mean really," Lily said, holding her hand to her chest in a show of disapproval, "what was Esme thinking? Naked models with metallic body paint? Mirrors as a dance floor? This is more appropriate for a swingers party than a high school ball."

Mrs. Yuki nodded in agreement, but refrained from commenting. She knew better than to say too much between the perked ears of the gossip-mongers that were always lurking at these events.

"I really think some people tend to forget that we're dealing with children here, no matter how much they may look and dress like adults. It's our duty as parents to protect the integrity of this school and to contribute to the moral enrichment of our children. This is hardly the way to do so."

"Oh, please." The sound of Esme Cullen's voice right behind her didn't surprise Lily as much as it startled her. Esme's voice was particularly grating to the nerves.

"Well, excuse me for giving an honest opinion. One would think you're the kind of woman who can handle a bit of constructive criticism," Lily shot back in a mock-friendly tone.

"I've never minded a healthy dose of constructive criticism," Esme replied, the edge in her voice more apparent than usual, "when it's coming from an actual valid critic. I hardly think you're in any position to be giving parenting advice."

"Exactly what is that supposed to mean?" Lily asked, her tone rising slightly in outrage.

"What, with Serena's highly publicized misdemeanors and the... unfortunate situation with your son."

"Eric has been back in school for months now. This is hardly the time to bring up his depression."

"I was actually referring to his lifestyle choices."

Lily felt the bile rise in her throat at the implication of Esme's condescending, venomous words.

"I'm not entirely sure where you come from," Lily seethed, "but in civilized conversation, we never judge our children's lifestyle choices."

With that, Lily turned on her heel and stormed off through the crowd, unable to stand being in the presence of that horrible, hateful woman one minute longer. What would've horrified Lily even more, was if she could've seen the vindictive, triumphant sneer that pulled at Esme's lips as she watched Lily leave.

***

Jasper Hale stood by the punch bowl and looked around the room nervously. He knew he could get into big trouble if he was caught doing this, so he had to make sure no one noticed what he was up to. He and Emmett had discussed doing this, but they never really reached any agreement on the matter. Emmett had spent his entire afternoon fighting with Esme, so Jasper had assumed he didn't have time to put the plan together and had taken matter into his own hands. He scanned the room one last time to make sure no one was looking before he reached into the inner pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out a small flask. He quickly poured the entire contents of the flask into the punch bowl and hid it before anybody was aware of what he was doing.

"Can you pour me a drink?" Jasper turned around, startled by the sound of the girl's voice. She had somehow managed to sneak up on him.

"No... Well, I mean yes, but..." Jasper stammered nervously.

"There are cups right there," she offered and batted her eyelashes at him. "I'm Serena."

"Jasper," he said and poured her a drink. She had asked for it after all, and he couldn't exactly tell her she should stay away from it. Before he could say anything else, he felt a huge pat on his shoulder that almost knocked him over.

"'Sup, bro?" Emmett asked.

"Hey Emm," Jasper sighed. Of course he would chose that moment to arrive. Emmett always did have lousy timing.

"So, Jasper," Serena said ignoring Emmett, "do you want to dance?" She downed her drink, took Jasper's hand and dragged him out on the dancefloor without waiting for an answer.

Behind them they could hear Emmett yell, "Tap that bro!"

As soon as they were out of sight, Emmett quickly scanned the room to make sure nobody was looking at him; he then pulled out his own little flask from his jacket pocket. When Emmett had completed his mission, he snuck away to join Jasper and Serena on the dancefloor.

Spotted: Two new arrivals taking the time to add some extra "flavor" to the punch. Clearly this family doesn't do anything by halves, and by the looks of it, Serena will be finding that out first hand soon enough.

***

Jenny Humphrey stood next to the punch table, which seemed to have become the most popular spot of the evening, transfixed by the circus that was playing out before her. She had been just as interested (if not more) in the arrival of the Cullens and the Hale twins. She would never have been able to predict that it would've turned into such an instant source of gossip and entertainment. She was relieved to have Blair and her minions otherwise occupied since she was getting sick of being in a constant battle with them.

"Oh. Em. Gee."

Jenny turned toward the excited squeaking from beside her. The youngest Cullen was touching Jenny's black, sequined dress with elaborate punk inspired netting peeking from the bottom with a look of awe and wonder in her eyes. Jenny was too bewildered by the girl's blatant disregard for personal space to say anything.

"This is just gorgeous beyond words," the girl said, fingering the netting with fascination.

"Thanks," Jenny managed to stutter eventually. "I made it myself."

"Get out!" the girl squealed, shoving Jenny playfully, but with a surprising amount of force for such a small person.

Jenny giggled nervously. She was afraid to speak, for fear of getting attacked again. Words weren't necessary, though, since the girl continued without any hesitation.

"I make my own clothes too!" she squealed, gesturing to her pretty black taffeta dress with large black and white checkered bow at the waist and taking a step back so Jenny could admire her handiwork.

Jenny had to admit, the girl's dress looked amazing. It fit the short, slightly chubby girl's body to perfection, accentuating all the right body parts to create the illusion that she was just that little bit thinner than she actually was. Jenny knew from the time she had spent at Eleanor Waldorf's fashion label for her Parsons internship that making clothes to flatter all shapes and sizes was a very special skill.

"Oh, wow!" Jenny replied excitedly. "Your dress is stunning! You really have a knack for construction."

The girl beamed back at Jenny proudly. "I'm Alice Cullen. I'm new," she said, sticking her hand out to Jenny.

"I kinda noticed." Jenny giggled, taking Alice's hand to shake it. "I'm Jenny Humphrey, I'm a sophomore."

"No way!" Alice exclaimed again, and Jenny ducked out her way so Alice couldn't punch her full force in the shoulder like she seemed to be planning to do.

"Sorry," Alice said with a sheepish smile, "I get a little excited sometimes. And I'm used to arm wrestling my brothers, so I have freakish upper body strength."

"Don't worry about it." Jenny secretly hoped that Alice would worry about it, even if it was just a little. "So, how have your first two days at Constance been?"

"Between you and me, I thought French girls were the meanest in the world. They have nothing on New York private school girls. At least the girls in Paris said it to my face and not behind my back."

Jenny smiled sympathetically, knowing painfully well what Alice meant. "I wish I could tell you that they get better once you get to know them, but they really don't."

"You don't really seem like you belong here, Jenny Humphrey," Alice said with a quizzical expression on her face. "I mean that in the best possible way, of course," she inferred before Jenny could feel offended.

"I don't really," Jenny replied wryly. "I live in Brooklyn."

"Oh, wow, these girls must make your life a living hell," Alice said with a playful laugh.

"You have no idea."

Jenny looked into the huge brown eyes of Alice Cullen and had the distinct feeling that she had finally made a worthwhile friend at school.

***

Blair didn't give a moment's notice to the two young girls who were bonding beside the punch table. She also didn't give much notice to the multitude of teenagers who seemed to be making out in the general area of the punch table. It was odd, but not important enough to distract her from her current task, which was finding Serena and telling her about... well, whatever it was that Chuck had up the sleeves of his silk Armani suit.

She had been searching the ballroom to no avail and was currently making her way outside in hopes of finding Serena talking on her phone in the street, or something else to that effect. She rushed out the large double doors and scanned the scattered groups on the sidewalk for any sign of her best friend. Other than the stereotypical drunk kids swaying and fumbling with each other, she didn't catch even a wisp of Serena's distinct golden-haired head.

Blair was just about to go back inside when she heard a whispered argument just around the corner. She recognized Bella's signature whine immediately and creeped closer so she could eavesdrop on their conversation.

"I can't believe you drove all the way down here on your stupid motorcycle! Are you insane?"

"You didn't mind my motorcycle all that much not too long ago," the guy shot back. "And did you really think that I'd just sit back and let you leave without so much as a goodbye? I thought what we had meant more to you than that, Bells."

"We didn't have anything," Bella muttered.

"You can tell yourself whatever you want if it'll make you sleep easy at night. The truth's the truth. And no matter how hard you try or how far you go, you can't run away from it. It'll find you eventually."

"What do you want from me, Jake? Why did you come here?"

"I wanted a goodbye," he stated simply.

"You want more than that. You always want more than I can give you."

"Do you really blame me, Bella? It's not like you're the innocent party in all of this. Don't make it out to be all me."

Bella's silence indicated that this Jake person had hit a nerve. He continued after a short pause, lowering his voice conspiratorially.

"I told you I was in this with you, whether you want me to be or not."

"But Jake-" she started, but he interrupted before she could continue.

"Whether you want it or not," he reiterated pointedly.

"I still don't understand what you want from me."

"Come back to Forks, Bells. Please."

"I can't. Everything's already arranged for here in New York, and you know I couldn't really go back even if I wanted to."

"You're really sure this is what you want?"

"Yes." Her voice was soft and unconvincing.

"You know, we don't have to go back. We could go somewhere else... start over."

Blair couldn't take the curiosity any longer and dared to peek around the corner to where Bella and Jake were standing. She was staring at the pavement beneath her while Jake touched her cheek tenderly. Blair was surprised when she felt a pang of emotion at witnessing the girl looking so fragile and the guy looking so desperately sad for her – partly because something about that moment felt scarily familiar to her. Jake drew Bella toward him, dwarfing her in his embrace.

"I just... I can't."

He smoothed her hair down affectionately and whispered soothingly to her, "I'm still here. No matter what."

"I take it that means you're not going back to Forks any time soon," Bella mumbled into his leather jacket.

"Not a chance," he replied with a chuckle.

"Where are you staying?"

"I hear they have some really comfy benches in Central Park," he joked.

"Jake!" Bella exclaimed, pulling away from him abruptly.

"Geez, looks like New York has already sucked all the humor outta you."

"Seriously, where are you going to stay? I can't have you loitering in the streets."

"Like anyone would mess with this," Jake said, referring to his impressive stature.

Bella glared at him.

"We have a family friend who stays around here. I'll call her up and ask to crash on her couch for a while," he conceded.

"What about Billy? And school?"

"Don't I always make a plan?"

"Clearly," she said, rolling her eyes.

He threw his arm around her shoulder and started to navigate her back in Blair's direction. Blair turned and rushed inside, not eager to be caught eavesdropping, but all the while wearing a smug smile.

Things just got a whole lot more interesting.

Spotted: Blair Waldorf lurking around outside the Black and White Ball. We all know Blair has the uncanny ability of sniffing out valuable information. Could the twinkle in her eye have anything to do with the not-so-private conversation Bella and her leather-clad mystery man were having? Knowing the Upper East Side, all is sure to be revealed soon enough.

***

Nate Archibald walked over to the corner where Dan Humphrey was standing with a plastic cup in his hand. Dan looked completely miserable but when he realized it was a friendly face who was approaching him, he relaxed a bit.

"Hey man," Nate greeted.

"Hey. I think someone spiked the punch, it tastes funny." Dan took another sip of his cup just to make sure. Yup, it was definitely spiked.

"It's probably Chuck, he usually carries a flask with him," Nate guessed. "Looks like Jenny's made a new friend." Dan was instantly alerted, the last thing he needed was more boy trouble with his little sister.

"Relax, it's a girl. It's one of the new transfer students; the little dark haired one. They're hanging out together talking about dresses and fashion and stuff." Dan let out a small sigh. He predicted that if Jenny made a new friend, the Humphrey household would soon be turned in a design studio. He would need to have an escape plan ready soon.

"So, what have you been up to all night? I haven't really seen you." Nate asked.

"Mainly just hanging out here, this party is even weirder than usual. These new kids are really stirring things up."

"I know, they've only been her a few days and already everything is turned upside down. Have you seen Serena around? I want to talk to her about something," Nate asked. Dan quickly scanned the room before he answered

"No, not for a while. Last time I saw her she was talking to the tall blond one and the big dude over here by the punch table. Haven't seen her since. But hey, did you see this?" Dan pointed towards one of the dark corners of the ball room where Emmett Cullen's large figure was pressed tightly up against a girl who's face wasn't visible to the public eye. "They certainly don't waste time just because they're new."

"Alright man, I'm going to go look for Serena, have fun." Nate gave Dan a quick pat on the back and went in search of Serena. If only the boys had paid a little more attention to the scene that played out in front of them, they would have noticed that Emmett Cullen wasn't the only one who was busy making out that night.

***

Good morning, Upper Eastsiders. Or should I rather whisper my greeting? Whoever provided the extra ingredients to the punch should most definitely be feeling the after-effects this morning. Last night's Black and White Ball seems to have brought with it even more intrigue than usual. First and foremost in many minds would probably be Blair Waldorf's grand entrance, immediately followed by the arrival of a gatecrashing, seven-foot-tall biker, who brought the entire party to a temporary halt before being dragged away by new student, Bella Swan. Blair left the ball after being spotted lurking outside the ballroom, presumably since Edward left the ball shortly after escaping Chuck's seductive grasp. We also got some reports of a very public altercation between Lily Bass and Esme Cullen. Clearly the PTA isn't immune to the ever-present drama either. And last but not least, I'd like to point out the significant absences of the evening. Serena disappeared early in the evening and never resurfaced. The same goes for both Emmett Cullen (who was last spotted in a not-so-dark corner with a mystery lady) and Jasper Hale. I wonder if these absences are in any way related? Just remember, Upper Eastsiders, things always tend to show themselves clearer in the harsh light of day.

***

When Carlisle went downstairs for breakfast on Saturday morning, he expected to find the kitchen empty. He knew Esme had gone to the florist and he had expected all the kids to be sound a sleep after the party, so he was very surprised to find both Emmett and Rosalie already up and sitting at the table. Or rather, Rosalie was sitting at the table, texting rapidly on her cellphone, while Emmett was more or less lying half across the table, supporting his head with his hands.

"Good morning," Carlisle greeted and went to pour some coffee. "Would you like some toast?"

Rosalie shook her head in response, never taking her eyes from her phone, and Emmett just growled and made a gagging noise.

"What are you kids doing up so early?"

"I'm having my nails done in an hour," Rose replied.

"My headache woke me up," Emmett groaned without looking up.

"Rough night huh, Emm?" Carlisle smiled and squeezed his oldest son's shoulder. "Did someone spike the punch?"

"Yup, someone did, and then someone forgot about it," Rose said with a nod in Emmett's direction.

"I didn't forget, I didn't even-" Emmett looked up at Rose and started to defend himself but then gave up and let out another deep growl. "Talking makes my head hurt to much," he mumbled and went back to supporting his head with both hands.

Carlisle laughed and made a mental note to talk to his son about it later, but for now he just wanted to enjoy a quiet breakfast with his kids and read the newspaper without any interruptions. He sat down with his coffee and toast and began reading the newspaper. Oh, the peace and quiet. He was really enjoying it. Now, the only thing that could ruin his morning -

"Carlisle!" And there it was, that shrill nagging voice that could cut through glass. The one thing that could ruin his morning, or actually, his entire life.

"Yes, dear?" Carlisle looked up from his paper and saw his wife Esme standing in the door.

"I've told you several times not to spill crumbs all over the newspaper, it's disgusting. You really should eat first and read it later."

"Yes, darling, I know you don't like it when I do that. I just have to go to the office real quick after breakfast, so I didn't have time not to do this at the same time." Carlisle returned to his paper and Esme began rearranging the flowers she had just bought. It was quiet for a few minutes before Esme spoke again.

"Carlisle, I've invited the Yuki's over for dinner tomorrow night."

Emmett let out another groan and Rose giggled softly.

"Something funny children? They're a very nice family," Esme commented, looking anything but amused.

"No, nothing funny. We just know their kid from school. You're right Aunt Esme, it is a very nice family. In fact, Emmett and I were just talking about how delightful they are and how much fun it would be to get together with them." Rose shot Esme a wide fake smile and winked at Emmett before returning to her texting. Carlisle tried to stifle a smile; Esme never picked up on Rose's sarcasm towards her.

"And Carlisle, try not to talk too much about surgery; it's gross," Esme continued. "You can talk about the TV show if you absolutely have to talk about work, but really, it's not that interesting either. I would much prefer if we could keep the subject to the new volunteer position I'm applying for. It's a much more appropriate topic for dinner."

Again with the all nagging, did it ever stop? Carlisle focused on his reading again, trying extra hard to spill crumbs all over the pages. Over the years, he had learned to tune most of her voice out, so he just nodded and mumbled sounds of agreement as she went along, and usually it worked out well.

"Carlisle? Carlisle! Are you even listening?" Okay, so maybe it didn't work so well every time. Clearly he had missed something important.

"Yes, darling, of course I am."

"Can you remember to do that?" Esme was looking directly at him with her arms crossed over her chest. Now was not the time to ask questions.

"Of course dear, I'll be sure to do that." He had no idea what he had just agreed on but it was better to just play along, he could always have his secretary call her later. Just then his phone buzzed next to him. He glared down at the screen and saw an incoming text form Rosalie:

She wants you to pick up dinner for tonight. Preferably Slovakian but Czech will do. Like anyone can tell the difference anyway.

He glanced gratefully in Rose's direction, but she didn't even look up from her screen. He had to remember to thank her later, but he knew Rose would collect the favor at some point or another. Rosalie always remembered to collect.

Carlisle looked at his watch and quickly gathered up his things, making sure to spill the last crumbs all over the newspaper. He had to leave before he was late for his morning consultations. He gave Esme a small kiss on the cheek, more out of habit than anything else, waved goodbye to Emmett and Rosalie, and headed out the door.

A few minutes after Carlisle had left, Alice appeared in the kitchen.

"Good morning," she almost sang. Clearly she hadn't been affected by the spiked punch at the party; she was as chipper as always. "Hey mom, what's for breakfast? Do we have any juice?"

"You can't have juice, Alice, you know that. It has too much sugar in it and you really need to watch your weight. You can have a grapefruit and water," Esme replied.

Before Alice had a chance to object, Esme placed half a grapefruit and a glass of water on the table. Alice knew better than to argue with her mother that early in the morning. She could always find some juice when Esme left the kitchen. Instead, she sat down next to Emmett and threw an arm around his shoulder.

"So, dear brother, I heard you hooked up last night. Who's the mystery girl?" Emmett shot Rosalie a dirty look before he glared down at his little sister.

"Who told you?"

"It's all over Gossip Girl. It doesn't reveal who, though, so I need you to tell me." Alice gave her brother a big smile in hopes of getting him to spill his secret.

"Did you do this?" Emmett snarled at Rosalie who shook her head in response.

"Oh my gawd Rose! You know? Who was it? Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!" Alice begged, her eyes wide with excitement.

"Sorry Al, not my secret to share. Besides, Emmett here now owes me a grand favor, so I really can't tell you. It's pretty good, though," Rosalie teased.

"It's Blair right? No wait! I bet it's Hazel? No, now I know! It's Penelope! It's her, right? I know it's her. It is isn't it?" Alice guessed and looked at both Rose and Emmett in hope of getting a response if she was on the right track or not.

Emmett mumbled something that sounded like "I wish," but Rosalie didn't give anything away. She was still too busy texting. Alice huffed at her siblings and crossed her arms over her chest. Her mind was spinning with ways to get someone to spill the secret. She was dying to know who the girl was.

"Keep guessing, Alice, it'll take a while for even you to figure out. See you later guys. Sayonara!" Rosalie said with a wink and left, leaving poor Emmett alone to deal with the third degree from Alice.

***

Blair noisily burst through the doors of the Bass/Van Der Woodsen apartment early on Saturday morning. She had gone there against her better judgment, considering the high risk of running into Chuck, but after Serena's mysterious disappearance the previous evening, she was willing to run that risk. It was very unlike Serena to ditch her like that. Okay, maybe it wasn't that out of character, but Blair still felt hurt by being abandoned by her best friend in her hour of need.

After overhearing Bella and the biker boy's conversation, Blair had gone in search of Serena for answers. Serena had told Blair that Bella had left Forks under dubious circumstances, but she hadn't gone into enough detail to make Blair suspect that it could be anything as juicy as had been eluded to the previous night.

Serena was sitting at the kitchen counter, nursing a cup of coffee when Blair came to an angry halt next to her.

"Well?" Blair demanded, glaring at Serena and tapping her foot impatiently.

"Well, what?" Serena groaned, resting her forehead against the heel of her hand.

"What happened to you last night? I couldn't find you and I looked everywhere," Blair whined.

"Clearly not in the corner behind the DJ box," Serena mumbled, but Blair didn't hear her.

"Stop mumbling and tell me where you were when I needed you!"

Serena flinched at the shrill tone of Blair's voice.

"Wait, are you hung over?" Blair asked suspiciously.

Serena took a sip of her coffee, but said nothing.

"You are!" Blair said, grabbing the mug from Serena's hand and slamming it back onto the table. "Did you ditch me at the ball to go out partying last night?"

"I didn't have to go anywhere to get hammered last night."

"Okay, you seriously need to stop talking in riddles and tell me what happened."

"Typical high school party. Someone spiked the punch."

"With nitro glycerin? You look like something Dorota found in my drain."

"Thanks so much, Blair. You're really making me feel bad for disappearing last night," Serena retorted sarcastically.

"Are you telling me or do I have to wait for the next Gossip Girl blast to find out?"

Serena huffed but proceeded to speak anyway. "I drank some of the punch and then I started talking to someone and one thing led to another and... I just got a little caught up and lost track of time."

"If you tell me you hooked up with Dan Humprey, the grandfather of all that is boring in the world, again, I will divorce you as a friend, I swear."

"It wasn't Dan."

"Oh, really?" Blair's inquisitive tone started to worry Serena. She knew that once Blair started digging, she wouldn't stop unless the topic changed to something that was more closely related to her, and Serena decided to use the opportunity to her advantage.

"Hey, what about you? Did you manage to introduce yourself to Edward?"

Blair took the bait immediately. "That's one of the reasons I was looking for you last night."

Disaster averted, Serena thought, stifling her relieved sigh.

"I finally spoke to him and, oh my gosh, he's perfect. He's refined and worldly and his eyes... it's the bright green of the hills of Provence after the first summer rain." Blair stared dreamily into space and Serena rolled her eyes. She had seen Blair like this too many times before and she knew it was likely to play out like so many of the others: irrational love, fallout, epic hatred.

"I take it you wouldn't have been looking for me all night if things worked out as you'd planned, though?

"Chuck Bass is a minion of the devil!" Blair cried out. "I won't say he's the actual devil, because that would be giving him too much credit."

"What did he do now?"

"I don't know exactly what he's doing, but it's almost like he's... wooing Edward? He offered to take him out on his dad's yacht."

"Wow, that's really hardcore... We all know Chuck only takes the upper echelons of his skankdom out on the yacht."

"Precisely! I don't know how to compete with that!"

"I don't know how anyone can compete with that..." Serena mused, wondering what her friend had gotten herself caught up in this time.

***

Rosalie Hale did indeed have an appointment that morning; however, it was not to get her nails done as she had claimed at breakfast. She was meeting Chuck Bass, as they had a bet to discuss. He had been texting her all morning, offering her various sorts of gifts if she would agree to meet him. She had finally caved, since she was eager to make him squirm a little.

Chuck was waiting for her outside The Palace, leaning casually against the side of the building.

"So, we have some business to discuss," Rosalie said, not bothering with any greetings.

"We do," Chuck smirked. "Shall we head up to my office?"

"Yeah, that's not going to happen," Rosalie replied curtly. "Are you backing out of the bet? I didn't see you kissing Edward last night."

"I'm Chuck Bass," Chuck replied as if that was all the explanation needed. When Rosalie just rolled her eyes at him he elaborated, "I never back out of a bet. Especially not when the prize is this good." He reached out to her and let his fingers trail down her arm. She shivered slightly in response to his touch.

"You better get a move on, Bass, otherwise you'll have to deal with my brothers, and that won't be pretty."

Chuck swallowed heavily. He remembered a little too well what that big jock Emmett Cullen had threatened to do to him. He wouldn't really want to get on his bad side. Chuck did not want to show any sign up weakness in front of Rosalie, so he played confident instead.

"It'll all be over by this time next week. You don't need to worry about it." He leaned in and whispered something in her ear that made her blush.

Rosalie found herself doing something she hadn't expected to do at all: she kissed him. When he kissed her back she really hoped he would win that bet soon. There were things she really wanted to do to him.

What Chuck and Rosalie failed to notice was that they were not entirely alone. Blair Waldorf was watching them and she was anything but pleased with what she saw. This was not part of her plan.

***

When Lily Bass entered the sleek, modern interior of Cullen & Associates Cosmetic Consultants and Surgeons on Saturday morning, she knew she was taking a big risk of being shown the door. Her social circle had been buzzing with news of the attractive, skilled doctor who had set up office in the heart of the Upper East Side, and she knew everyone wanted to be in on the latest "it" procedures, so the practice was sure to be inundated with patients. Lily herself wasn't a huge fan of cosmetic surgery, but she did indulge in a bit of Botox from time to time, as a pick-me-up when she was feeling out of sorts.

On this particular Saturday, Lily was feeling more out of sorts than she had in a while. With a husband who was constantly out of town on business, two teenage children who insisted on leading their own lives, and an unexpected regression back to high school at the hands of Esme Cullen, Lily was in desperate need of a "pick me up" of a different variety, so to speak.

Why she had chosen this specific location to treat herself was no mystery. She wanted to get a first hand look at the man who had reproduced with such an evil shrew as Esme.

Lily approached the perky young red-headed girl behind the receptionist station with a cautious smile.

"Good morning and welcome to Cullen & Associates. How may I assist you this lovely morning?" the girl said in the cheeriest voice Lily had heard in quite a while.

"I was wondering if Dr. Cullen would be available for a quick Botox session this morning?" Lily asked in a discreet tone.

The girl shot Lily a fake-friendly smile and scanned the listing in front of her intently before opening a large book and paging through it busily. Lily already felt all her hope start to fade. She should've known this was a bad idea.

"Dr. Cullen has a ten minute window from 11:40 to 11:50. Would that suit you, Miss...?"

"Mrs. Bass. Lily Bass."

The girl's eyes grew slightly larger at the mention of the Bass name.

"Wait, if you wouldn't mind waiting for a few minutes, Dr. Cullen would be able to see you after his current appointment, Mrs. Bass."

"I wouldn't mind at all," Lily replied with a self-satisfied smile.

The girl gave Lily some paperwork to fill in and Lily seated herself on the clinical-feeling charcoal colored leather sofa in the waiting area.

After what barely felt like three minutes, the girl called Lily's name and took her through a surprisingly spacious hallway to a door that was standing slightly ajar. She knocked lightly before sticking her head inside. "Dr. Cullen, Mrs. Bass is here to see you."

"Please send her in, Amber," came a voice from inside.

Amber held the door open and gestured for Lily to enter. When Dr. Cullen saw Lily, he smiled invitingly and stood up from behind his large, dark mahogany desk to greet her.

"A pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Bass."

"Likewise, Dr. Cullen, and please, call me Lily."

Lily knew very well that the level tone of her voice disguised her inner feelings to perfection. What she wanted to say was, "Likewise, Dr. Cullen, and please, call me anything you want to while you take me right here on this desk."

"Only if you call me Carlisle," he replied, smiling wider and providing a glimpse of his perfectly white teeth and devastatingly charming dimples.

The man was a Greek god. His blonde hair was slicked back in a totally non-slimy way, his blue eyes shimmered with silent mischief as he spoke, and beneath his stylishly tailored shirt and tie, Lily was sure she would find the sculpted torso of a man who worked out multiple times a week.

He was perfection. And he belonged to a malicious harpy.

"So, Lily, what can I do for you today?" Carlisle asked, remaining friendly but changing his tone to the business-like one he reserved for patients.

Lily felt herself start to blush and realized that she hadn't been prepared for what she had found in this office. She clasped her hands on her lap nervously before managing to get out the words she wanted to say. "Well, I thought it was about time for a little bit of Botox again."

Carlisle examined Lily's face intently for a moment. She felt the urge to hide from his gaze, but just barely managed to hold still.

"Honestly, I don't really see much need for it," Carlisle said after a further minute of staring.

"I'm sure you say that to all your patients," Lily said with a dismissive wave of her hand.

"On the contrary, statements like that aren't very good for business, now are they?"

Lily fought the urge to giggle like a teenage girl beneath the weight of his gaze. Were those butterflies in her stomach? Of course not; that would be ridiculous.

"In that case, it seems I have wasted both of our time this morning," Lily said apologetically as she rose from her seat.

"Not at all," Carlisle replied warmly as he walked around his desk to escort Lily from his office. "It's been an absolute pleasure."

Carlisle's eyes burned into Lily as he took her hand to shake it once more. Her breath caught in her throat as his delicious, masculine scent filled her nostrils and her stomach went all a-flutter again. Carlisle was even more attractive up close, which was making it hard to think rational thoughts.

When she realized that she hadn't spoken in an inappropriately long time and managed to stutter, "You know, I think our children go to the same school."

"Oh, really? Your children go to Constance and St. Jude's as well?"

"Yes, my daughter, Serena, is a senior, and my son, Eric, is a sophomore."

"I never would've guessed that you would've had grown up children like that, if at all."

Lily blushed - again - and became aware of the fact that Carlisle still had her hand clasped in his (not that she minded).

"I could say the same thing of you," she beamed back at him.

Their eyes locked for another moment in which Lily feared her heart might explode from her chest.

Their moment was interrupted by the clicking of Amber's heels in the hallway outside. They broke apart abruptly and shuffled uncomfortably.

"I'll be sure to see you around, Mrs. Bass," Carlisle said, his tone slightly more business-like than before.

Lily smiled one last time before hurrying back to reception. "I sincerely hope so," she muttered as she left.

Spotted: Lily Bass leaving Dr. Cullen's office in way too much of a hurry. Was she getting a bit of plump and lift, or planning a bit of nip and tuck? Or maybe, just gathering intel on the enemy?

***

"Yo dad, phone call for you!" Emmett's loud voice bellowed through the Cullen residence later that day. It was closely followed by a shrill reprimand from Esme not to yell inside the house. Carlisle rose from his chair to get the phone from Emmett.

"Who is it, Emm?" Carlisle asked.

"Grandad Aro, he says it's important. Something about an upcoming visit or whatever," Emmett shrugged.

"I'll... I'll take this one in my office. Thanks, son." Carlisle quickly snatched the phone from Emmett and hurried toward his office. This was one phone call he preferred to have in private.

"Hello?" Carlisle asked, secretly praying that this was not what he thought it was.

"Carlisle!" Aro cried in excitement. "How are you?"

"Good, thank you, Aro," Carlisle responded with significantly less enthusiasm. "How are you and Sulpicia doing?"

"We're doing great. How are all my wonderful grandchildren?"

"They're good, too. Adjusting to their new surroundings. I don't want to be rude here, Aro, but I take it this is not a social call?" There was no reason in beating around the bush; Carlisle preferred to get it over right away.

"No, you're right, it's not. I got a call from my sweet girl this morning. She said you had been rather rude to her at breakfast? I told her it was probably just a misunderstanding. After all, it would be a great risk on your part to be rude to my daughter. You've got a lot to lose, Carlisle. I told Esme that we would be happy to come up for a visit and see how things are going for ourselves."

"No, you're completely right, Aro. It was a misunderstanding. We've both been so stressed with the move and all, so I accidentally snapped at her without meaning to. You know it's never my intention to hurt her. There's no reason for you to come all the way up here. I'm sure you're both rather busy, and it's such a long flight all the way from Italy," Carlisle rambled. Please don't come up here, please don't come up here, he silently begged.

"That's what I thought, too. I'm glad we agree on this, Carlisle," Aro said in his smooth voice. "We'll save the visit for another time then. I don't expect to get another call like this anytime soon. Like I said, you've got a lot to lose. It would be such a shame for your little secret to come out now that your new show is going so well," Aro warned.

"It won't happen again," Carlisle reassured. At least the visit was postponed indefinitely.

"Give my love to the children, Carlisle. Remember I'm always only a phone call away. We're always happy to come up for a visit if you need us."

"I'll be sure to remember that. Goodbye, Aro." Carlisle let out a sigh of relief as he hung up. It had been a close call this time.

When he re-entered the living room to return the phone, Alice peeked up from her sketch book.

"So, are granddad Aro and Nana coming to visit us?"

"No!" Carlisle almost yelled. "It turned out they were rather busy after all so they couldn't quite make it yet."

Carlisle hoped it would be a really long time before he heard from his not-so-dear father in law again.

My, my, my, Upper Eastsiders, the rumor mill has been working overtime since our new arrivals started giving it an extra push, but even Gossip Girl has publishing standards. We need some hard evidence to prove that Chuck Bass and Rosalie Hale were, in fact, spotted liaising intimately in front of the Palace hotel, or that someone actually did catch a glimpse of Emmett Cullen's unidentified corner kissing partner at the Black and White Ball. After all, everyone prefers some juicy truth over speculation and gossip… or do they?

You know you love me.

XOXO

Gossip Girl.