The Wakefield family were gathered together in their split-level ranch house to greet the prodigal daughter. Jessica was due to arrive any minute, and Elizabeth had made a huge banner greeting her sister and hung it across the cosy sitting room. Anyone else would have told her that Jessica wouldn’t notice a thing, but Elizabeth could never believe that her sister was less than perfect - even when Jessica was tricking her twin into covering for her latest misdemeanour. Todd had always told Elizabeth that Jessica was pure evil, but no matter what her twin did, Elizabeth couldn’t see the truth. She was thrilled about Jessica’s return. Elizabeth loved living in Sweet Valley again after years of exile in Ireland, but things just weren’t the same without Jess. Whenever she saw an eye-catching gold swimsuit or a pair of purple stirrup pants, her heart broke a little. But now Jessica was coming home.
Elizabeth glanced at her parents, who were hovering by the door. There was something different about her mother, somehow. Elizabeth couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but Alice Wakefield had changed. Was it her hair? Her clothes? No, her blonde locks were as perfectly groomed as ever. And her clothes typified California chic, as usual. But before Elizabeth could figure out what was different, there was a knock on the door. Her mother ran - slightly slowly - towards the door and flung it wide.
And there was Jessica. She was wearing an oversized cream satin blouse over a pair of velvet leggings, and had accessorised her outfit with a heavy bronze chain-belt and bronze sandals. Her hair shone like spun gold. Her smile was dazzling.
“Hi everyone!” she cried.
“Jessie!” squealed Elizabeth. She raced over to hug her sister. For just a second, Jessica allowed herself to feel a human emotion. Jessica may have treated her twin with contempt for years, but in truth, her fondness for Elizabeth was Jessica’s only real weakness. “It’s good to see you, Liz,” she said. She turned to her parents.
“Hi, Mom! Hi Dad!” she said. She beamed fondly at Ned and Alice. “It’s good to see you too!”
“Welcome home,” said Ned. Tall, dark haired and ruggedly handsome, Ned looked like an older version of the twins’ brother, Steven, who was currently living in San Francisco. The years had left their marks on Ned, but although his temples were grey and his face bore the lines of experience, he looked good for his age. In fact, he looked better than Alice, with her spooky youthfulness. Ned had to admit that these days he found his wife’s fresh features more disturbing than alluring. It wasn’t normal for a woman in her fifties to look like her 29 year old daughters. But the one time he’d brought up the subject with Alice, just a week before, his wife had turned on him with an astonishing fury.
“I...I just wondered what vitamins you’d been taking!” cried the hapless lawyer.
“Well, don’t!” Alice snarled. Her perfect features contorted into a hideous grimace of anger. “I take Vitamin C, not that it’s any of your business - old man!”
“Alice!” gasped Ned. “What’s got into you lately? You’ve been so edgy.”
Alice’s wrath seemed to subside. “I’m sorry, Ned,” she said. “It’s just...I’ve been feeling my age lately.”
“Your age?” Ned laughed merrily. “Oh, Alice, you’re the youngest 50-something I know!”
“Yes,” said Alice, a mysterious edge to her voice. “I am.”
Now Alice embraced her youngest daughter with a warm bear-hug. “Welcome home, Jess,” she said.
“Thanks, Mom!” said Jessica. “It’s so good to be home. And I’ve got an announcement to make. I’ve come home because.....I’m going to write a novel.”
“That’s great, honey! “Well done, Jess!” Ned and Alice were enthusiastic about their daughter’s scheme. But their other daughter stood silent and stunned.
Jessica was moving in on Elizabeth’s turf. Elizabeth was the writer in the family! Jess was the showy one - the cheerleader, the prom queen, the girl whose ruthless pursuit of the spotlight had led her to exploit and let down just about everyone she’d ever known at some stage or another. And it had worked. Jessica was now a huge Hollywood star, famed for her glamorous life style. As well as the Hershey Bar, she owned a dozen luxury homes around the world - each more opulent than the last. But Elizabeth had never been jealous. After all, she herself was a hugely successful journalist, and she had never begrudged her sister her stellar success.
But Elizabeth had one weak spot. And that was the fact that she couldn’t write a novel.
Oh, she’d tried, of course. One of the reasons she’d moved to Dublin, Ireland was to finally ebcome a novelist. She’d laboured at her desk, under her poster of Jason Robards in the Iceman Cometh, and tried to write an epic story. And she’d almost succeeded. She’d written thousands of words, but somehow, she just couldn't finish it.
And now here was Jessica, poised to succeed where she had failed. Elizabeth knew that Jessica had a history of starting exciting new projects and never finishing them. But somehow, she had a feeling - a twin feeling - that this was different. She could almost feel Jessica’s enthusiasm for this latest scheme. Jessica was determined to write a novel. And she would succeed.
“Unless...” thought Elizabeth. A strange feeling was running through her veins, a feeling which Jessica would have recognised at once but which was utterly unfamiliar to the virtuous twin. She was feeling the thrill of evil inspiration. “Unless I stop her.”