In case you ever read Sweet Valley Confidential and wondered who the heck Nicky Shepard was, this is the book for you!
Jessica is feeling a little like the bastard stepchild in this book because she thinks that everyone loves Liz and basically tolerates her. Steven is back from school, having taken off the rest of the semester to grieve over Tricia. Since he keeps moping around all of the time, Elizabeth thinks it might be a smart idea to invite him to Cara's big party. She also decides that Jess should do it because it would make more sense.
As soon as Jess does it, Steven flips his lid. He rants and raves about having no interest in Cara at all and storms away from the table. Ned goes off on Jessica about being so cruel to her grieving brother, and Liz jumps in to say that it was all her idea. Suddenly, it makes perfect sense and Ned thinks it's a good idea.
Jessica leaves and meets Cara at the Dairi Burger, and they run into Nicky Shepard. He's the bad boy of Sweet Valley: he hangs out at the Shady Lady, keeps to himself, and the rumors say that he drinks and does drugs. He flirts with Jessica little, which makes Cara freak out, and she thinks that he's pretty attractive.
Cut to Cara's party and Steven sitting in the corner and moping. Elizabeth spends the whole night dancing with Todd and asks Jess to keep an eye on him while she goes to the bathroom. Todd keeps gushing about how great she is, which causes Jess to flip and stomp outside. She runs into Nicky again, who came with Dana, and they do some more flirting before dancing the night away.
Nicky asks her to grab some food with him and she agrees. Liz warns her about his reputation, and then Steven comes running out. He asks her to come with him and some others for pizza, and he admits that it was Liz's idea but doesn't understand why she was so annoyed. Nicky tells her that he plans to run away from home, drop out of school, and move to San Francisco where he has a job waiting.
Liz and Steven go out for ice cream the next day and run into Ricky working at the ice cream parlor. He seems a little funny, but she ignores it because she wants to talk about Jessica. Steven tells her that she's probably just going through a phase, which is exactly what her parents say when she brings up her twin's recent attitude change.
Jessica decides that she'll make everyone a huge dinner to make up for her attitude. They all act hesitant to try her food, and they all bring up the times that she screwed up dinner. Since Ned has no clue what client-lawyer confidentiality means, he tells his family about Ricky's problems. His parents divorced, his dad moved to New York, and now his grandparents want to see him and his sister but his mom forbids it. Jessica doesn't think it's fair to deprive the kids of their grandparents, and Ned basically ignores her. Then, Liz says basically the same damn thing and Ned goes crazy at what a fantastic idea it is.
This is kind of the premise of the whole book. Jessica does something and everyone looks down at her, and then Elizabeth does something and everyone loves her. Liz wants her to to the their dad's trial and Jessica says that he doesn't want her there. When Liz talks to Ned, he kind of just says that it's not Jessica's type of thing and he doesn't care if she's there.
Steven tries to talk to her a little, but then he admits that he only did it because Liz asked him to. Jessica finally works up the nerves to tell her parents how she feels. Her mom leaves for work early, and her dad glosses over the situation, mentions what a great idea Liz had, and then tells her that she could come watch the trial if she wants. She also tries to talk to Liz, who keeps looking at her watch because she has a big appointment.
That big appointment is with the local newspaper. Liz called the editor and told him about the upcoming trial, and he thought it was such a great idea that he asked her to cover it and write the article. Ricky flips out at her in the courthouse, asks her not to write the article, and lets her know that he doesn't want his life splashed across the paper. Liz then talks to Ned, who tells her that she needs to weigh the story carefully. He basically tells her that if other people would get something out of it, she should write the story. What the fuck Ned?
Jessica keeps dating Nicky and avoiding her usual friends. He takes her to a party where he keeps drinking beer, though she does notice that he turns down pot. When they go home, they get in a minor car accident. He has to call his parents, and they treat him like shit. When he drops Jessica off at home, he tells her that he's leaving town on Friday and he wants her to come with him.
The more she thinks about it, the more she thinks it's a good idea. She eventually calls him after some more family problems, and he decides to leave on Thursday and let her follow him up the next day. She tries to talk to her family, but they're too busy with the trial to worry about what she thinks. She writes a goodbye letter, leaves it on Liz's dresser, and closes the door, not realizing that the wind blew it off.
Liz talks to Ricky at the courthouse and encourages him to tell his mom how he feels. He finally stands up in the courtroom to say that he does want to see his grandparents. Ricky then thanks Liz because he couldn't do it without her help (bull shit), and everyone decides to go out and celebrate. Liz calls Jessica at Lila's house, where she said she was spending the weekend. When she realizes that she's not there, she finds her closet and dresser empty. The whole family starts searching for her, and Liz and Steven end up at the bus station, while Ned and Alice go to the airport.
Jessica let three buses leave because she thought Liz would find her letter and rush to save her. She finally hops on a bus, thinking that no one loves her. Steven and Liz chase the bus down and catch up with it at one stop. They find Jessica and bring her home. They all exchange a bunch of hugs and promise to make things better. Nah, I'm just messing with you. She goes home and immediately goes right back to her old self.
*How much of an outsider is Nicky if he's good enough friends with Dana and other members of the band that they ask him to the party?
*The whole dinner thing was incredibly rude. They all take little tiny bites and wait to see how they feel, and they keep poking at the food before eating it. I know she messed up in the past, but the twins made dinner for years.
*Liz's idea is basically that the kids are the one who suffer in the situation. Ned thinks it's such a great idea that he wants to talk about it right away. Um, isn't that the type of thing that would come up in any custody issue?
*People are smoking joints! There's actually people smoking pot in a SVH book!
*Seriously, less than an hour after running away, Jessica is making jokes about how she wants to buy a new sweater at the mall. Yes, this is how all teen runaway stories always end.
*I get that Steven is "heartbroken," but no one really gives him any help. If he's so upset that he can't even handle school, he really needs to talk to a professional.
*Jessica does write Nicky a letter to tell him that she isn't coming but there's not really any resolution to the story.
*Steven really overreacts to the party idea. She says that it's a party at Cara's house and she needs a date, and everyone automatically assumes that she's trying to set him up.
*How does Ned still have a job? This isn't the first or last time that he told his family about a case he was working on.
*Liz is such an asshat! Ricky, who she claims is a friend, tells her that he doesn't want her to write the story, and she feels the need to ask others what she should do. How about doing what your friend wants?
*Why would any newspaper run this story? It's a basic run of the mill custody case that doesn't involve anyone famous. I like to imagine that the editor just told Liz he would do it because he was too busy and wanted to get her off the phone LOL.