The Bride Wore Size 12Meg Cabot
About the Author
By Meg Cabot
About the Publisher
This book could never have been completed without the help and support of many people, including, but not limited to: Beth Ader, Nancy Bender, Jennifer Brown, Michele Jaffe, Ann Larson, Janey Lee, and Rachel Vail. The endlessly amazing people at HarperCollins, especially Carrie Feron, Pamela Spengler-Jaffee, and Nicole Fischer. My agent, Laura J. Langlie. And last but never least, my husband, Benjamin D. Egnatz. But most especially, all of you. You rock! Thanks, as always, for reading.
The pleasure of your company is requested at the marriage of
Heather Marie Wells
Cooper Arthur Cartwright
Saturday, the 28th of September,
at half past two in the afternoon
The Grand Ballroom
Fifth Avenue at
Central Park South
New York, New York
Your Wedding Day Is: Four Weeks Away.
By Now You Should:
Mail rehearsal dinner invitations
Visit the dressmaker for your final fitting—Friday!!!
Get your marriage license
Contact guests who haven’t yet RSVP’d
Finalize seating arrangements
Write your vows
Everything’s going to work out.” That’s what I’ve been saying all month to my fiancé, Cooper. “Everything’s going to be great. Wait and see.”
Each time I say it, Cooper looks at me in that adorable way he has, one dark eyebrow lifted slightly higher than the other one. He knows exactly what I’m talking about, and it has nothing to do with our upcoming wedding ceremony at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.
“You do know that statistically, more young adults end up in hospital emergency rooms than any other age group?” he points out. “At least for accident-related injuries. And more of them die of those injuries than any other age group as well.”
When you live with a licensed private detective, you can count on many things. One of them is that sometimes he’s going to keep odd hours. Another is that there will be firearms in your home.
A third is that occasionally he will trot out random facts you probably never cared to know, like how many registered sex offenders live within a five-mile radius of your home, or that more young people end up in hospital emergency rooms than any other age group.
I glare at him. “So?”
“So it makes sense that in a student population the size of the one at New York College,” Cooper says, “you’re going to have at least one or two deaths a year.”
“Not this year,” I say, shaking my head vehemently over our Chinese takeout. Everything we’ve been eating lately has been delivered in a carton, because with freshman check-in looming, my hours are so long. I’m coming home from work later and later every evening, bone tired from sorting keys and supervising room cleanings. Cooper has a case as well, so his hours haven’t been very regular either, although out of respect to his client’s privacy, he won’t tell me exactly what his duties entail. “This year, everything is going to be different. No one in Fischer Hall is going to die this year. Not even accidentally.”
“How are you going to manage that?” Coop asks, gnawing on a Chinese sparerib. “Bubble wrap all your residents?”
I picture the undergraduate students who live in the residence hall in which I work attempting to navigate the streets of New York City while encased in plastic shipping material. It’s a strangely pleasing thought. “Not really feasible. I think they’d object on human rights grounds. Good idea, though.”
Now both of Cooper’s eyebrows have gone up, and he’s looking faintly amused. “Maybe it’s better if we can’t have kids after all if you think bubble wrapping them is a good idea.”
I ignore his sarcasm. “Okay, how about this?” I say. “So long as none of them gets murdered, I’ll be happy.”
Cooper reaches across the moo shu pork to give my hand a squeeze. “That’s one of the many reasons I fell in love with you, Heather. You’ve never been afraid to dream big.”
Yes, this year was going to be different, all right. Totally different from last year, when I first started my job as assistant director of Fischer Residence Hall, and I thought Cooper wasn’t attracted to me, and we lost our first student a few weeks into the semester.
This year, Cooper and I were getting married, and we lost our first student before classes even started.
I should have gone with the bubble wrap after all.
Welcome to Freshman Orientation Week at Fischer Residence Hall!
New York College and the Department of Housing and Student Affairs is delighted to welcome you to check in one week early in order to help you acclimate to your new home for the coming academic year!
Meet your new roommates, your advisers, professors, and deans while becoming familiar with the many services and programs this college has to offer!
Enjoy activities open only to incoming freshmen and transfer students, such as organized trips to some of New York City’s top sights, shows, and hot spots, including:
the Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island - Freedom Tower - the Broadway show Wicked- Cake Boss Café - and many, many more!
It’s a beautiful day, one of the last of summer. The sky outside my office is clear blue, the temperature a perfect seventy-five degrees.
It’s also the first week of freshman orientation at New York College. So far, very little is going right.
“Look,” says the attractive woman in tight white jeans who’s slid into the chair beside my desk. “It’s not like my Kaileigh is spoiled. For spring break last year, she volunteered to build houses in Haiti with Habitat for Humanity. She lived in a tent with no running water. She knows how to rough it.”
I keep a polite smile plastered on my face. “So what exactly is Kaileigh’s problem with her room, Mrs. Harris?”
“Oh, it’s not her room.” Mrs. Harris has to raise her voice to be heard over the drilling. Carl, the building engineer, is perched on a ladder near the office photocopier, doing what we’re telling the student staff is the last of some “minor electrical repair work” left over from the renovation the building received over the summer.
When the students discover what Carl is really doing—installing the wiring for a set of security monitors on which my boss, Lisa, and I will be able to watch everything that occurs in the fifteenth-floor hallway—they’ll probably launch a protest over the invasion of their privacy, even though it’s being done for their
“It’s Kaileigh’s roommate,” Mrs. Harris goes on.
I nod sympathetically before launching into a speech I’ve given so many times I occasionally feel like one of those performing robots at Disney World’s Country Bear Jamboree, only not quite as cuddly:
“You know, Mrs. Harris, an important part of the college experience is meeting new people, some of whom might come from cultures other than your own—”
Mrs. Harris cuts me off. “Oh, I know all about that. We read the orientation material you people sent us over the summer. But there are limits to what someone can be expected to put up with.”
“What’s Kaileigh’s problem with her roommate?”
“Oh, my Kaileigh isn’t one to complain,” Mrs. Harris says, her skillfully made-up eyes widening at the idea of Kaileigh ever doing anything remotely wrong. “She doesn’t even know I’m here. A problem with Ameera—that’s the name of Kaileigh’s roommate—was the last thing we were expecting. Those two girls have been texting and Skyping back and forth all summer, ever since they found out they were assigned together, and everything seemed fine. I assumed they were going to be BFFs, best friends forever, you know?”
I’m aware of what BFF stands for, but I only smile encouragingly.
“It wasn’t until this week, when Ameera and Kaileigh actually started living together, that we realized—”
Mrs. Harris bites her bottom lip and glances down at her perfectly manicured nails and tastefully jeweled fingers, hesitant to continue. A father standing directly behind Mrs. Harris—not her husband—keeps glancing at his gold watch. A Rolex, of course. Few New York College students request financial aid . . . or if they do, they aren’t the types to have their parents do their complaining for them.
“What?” I’m as impatient with Mrs. Harris as the guy with the Rolex, only for different reasons. “What did you realize about your daughter’s roommate?”
“Well . . . I don’t know any other way to put this,” Mrs. Harris says. “Ameera is . . . well, she . . . she’s . . . she’s a slut.”
The parents in line behind Mrs. Harris look shocked. Carl, on top of his ladder, drops his drill.
I’m a little stunned myself.
Mrs. Harris appears uncomfortable, but doesn’t ask to speak somewhere more private, which is good, since the door to Lisa’s office is closed, and the conference room down the hall is being used as a headquarters for the surveillance team that’s monitoring our new VIR (Very Important Resident) twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
“Uh,” I say, struggling to remember what section in the New York College Student Housing Guide covers “slut.” Oh, yeah. None. “Maybe we should—”
“I’m not trying to be judgmental,” Mrs. Harris hurries to assure me (and Carl, since it’s clear, as he hurries down the ladder to fetch his drill, that he’s paying rapt attention. A slut in Fischer Hall? This is the best news he’s heard all day). “It’s the simple truth. Kaileigh’s been telling us about it all week. Ameera has only slept in the room once since she checked in. Once. And according to Kaileigh and her suite mates, it’s a different boy every night . . . and once even a girl!”
Carl stumbles on his way back to the ladder. A slutty bisexual? His expression is one of complete and utter joy.
Mrs. Harris is too caught up in her narration to notice.
“How well can Ameera know any of these people? She’s only been in the city a week, like my Kaileigh. They both arrived the first day of Freshman Orientation. I guess I don’t have to tell you how disturbing I find all of this.”
I’m too astonished to say anything in reply. There is a large candy dish on my desk, but instead of being filled with candy, it’s filled with brightly wrapped condoms from the student health center. All year students waiting for the elevator dart into my office to plunge their hands into the candy bowl, snatching up free condoms by the fistful.
This is how I combat the problem of frisky co-eds. They’re going to play, so why should they have to pay a lifetime for it?
Mrs. Harris doesn’t seem aware of the candy bowl, however, or that my attitude about teen sex is different from hers, since she goes on, “And apparently Ameera didn’t bother coming home at all this morning.”
I’m finally able to find my voice.
“Well, that was thoughtful of her. She’s probably aware of how much the odd hours she’s been keeping have disturbed your daughter, and wanted to allow her the chance to sleep in.” I pray this is the truth and that Ameera isn’t lying dead in a Dumpster in an alley somewhere.
She most likely isn’t. Most likely she’s curled in a hot hipster’s Brooklyn loft bed, enjoying some postcoital languor and her first latte of the day. I wish we could change places.Except that my hot dude of choice lives around the corner, not in Brooklyn, and would no sooner own a loft bed than a nose ring.
“You know, Mrs. Harris,” I go on, “here at New York College we encourage students to explore who they are in ways they might not have been able to while living at home, and sometimes that means exploring who they are . . . um . . . sexually . . .”
“But every night this week, with as many people?” Mrs. Harris is having none of my soothing administrative psychobabble. “That is simply unacceptable. They told me at that desk in the lobby that this is the place to come if students need their rooms changed.”
“It is,” Gold Rolex says. He’s as fully engaged in our conversation as Carl, and almost as excited by it. “That’s why I’m here too. My son was assigned to that dorm across the park, what’s it called? Oh, yeah. Wasser Hall. He’s miserable over there. Apparently Fischer Hall is the ‘cool’ place to live.”
Gold Rolex makes quotation marks in the air with his fingers when he says the word “cool,” and laughs at the absurdity of one building being “cooler” than another. A number of the parents in line behind him laugh along with him.
If only they knew just how absurd the idea of Fischer Hall being the “cool place to live” really is.
“At least your kid’s in the right building,” Gold Watch tells Mrs. Harris. “I gotta get mine on some kind of Room Change Wait List in order for him to be able to move in here.”
A lot of murmuring goes on in the line behind him. Apparently many of the parents have heard of this list. That’s why they’re here too. It’s essential that they get their kids into Fischer Hall, the “cool place to live.”
Especially now that they’ve heard about Ameera, I’m sure.
I can hardly believe it. If you’d told me a year ago—even a week ago—that there’d be a line out my office door of parents waiting to get their kids on a wait list to get into Fischer Hall, I’d have said you were nuts.
But here it is, happening right in front of my eyes. The line snakes out the residence hall director’s office, then disappears down the hallway, which is as noisy and crowded as my office, since it’s situated directly opposite the elevators to Fischer Hall’s upper floors.
No wonder most of the parents look as if they, like me, are beginning to get a headache. They’re all wearing expressions of impatience—some, of bitter resignation—and some look outright annoyed.
I can understand why. It’s nearly noon. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s eager for lunch (although I’m probably the only one feeling that way because according to my At-A-Glance desk calendar, I’m having lunch with my extremely attractive private detective boyfriend and our very exclusive—and outrageously expensive—wedding planner).
At least I have the satisfaction of knowing all the hard work my staff and I put in over the summer—not to mention the tremendous amount of money the college poured into the Fischer Hall renovation—has paid off . . . maybe a little too well. I almost wish Lisa or even our graduate assistant Sarah was around so I could ask them to pinch me to make sure I’m not dreaming.
But there’s only Carl, and no way am I asking Carl to pinch me. I just know when he related the story to all the guys in the break room downstai
rs it would somehow get twisted into something pervy, like me showing him my boobs.
“Right,” Mrs. Harris says, brightening at Rolex Watch’s mention of the Room Change Wait List. “That’s what Kaileigh needs, a room change. In a just world I think Ameera should be the one to have to move—”
Where does Mrs. Harris want me to move her? I wonder. Fischer Hall has a number of “exploration floors” this year, reserved for students who wish to immerse themselves in the major they’re studying, such as French Floor, Deutsches Haus, and “Artistic Craft,” but none reserved for “Aspiring Sluts.”
“—but I’m sure there’s some kind of bias rule against that,” Mrs. Harris goes on bitterly, “so I want Kaileigh moved, right away.”
Of course, before Kaileigh catches any of Ameera’s cooties.
I sigh, wishing fervently that Lisa were available to field this one, because I’m afraid I’m going to say something rude.
“Do you have any single rooms available?” Mrs. Harris asks, raising her white designer purse and opening it to draw out her checkbook. “I’ll pay the difference in cost. All I want is for my Kaileigh to be happy.”
“Uh,” I say, keeping control of my temper with an effort. “We do have single rooms, but they’re only available to the resident assistant staff, seniors, and individuals with special needs.”
And “slut bashing” your roommate does not qualify as a special need, I keep myself from adding, with an effort. Except for my need to want to bash you over the head.
Instead, I reach for an innocuous black binder I keep on a shelf beside my desk and say, “I can put your daughter on the Room Change Wait List, but I think it’s a little premature for that . . .”
My voice trails off as I become aware that everyone in the room seems to have inhaled. At first I’m not sure why.
Then I see that they’re all staring at the label on the front of the binder I’m holding—Room Change Wait List—like it’s the Ark of the Covenant, or something.
“That’s it,” I hear someone farther down the line whisper. “The list.”