Chapter OneIn preparing for this pageant, how much did you spend on wardrobe?To-Do List:1. Study for algebra final2. Paint nails3. Rob bank"Can I borrow two thousand dollars?" I look hopefully across the lunch table at my best friend, Justine Renault, who, unlike me, is incredibly rich.Yeah, while my grandfather spent the sixties selling "love beads" out of a beat-up version of the Mystery Machine, Justine's grandfather was busy going to Harvard medical school and inventing some sort of super-important surgical thingy that "revolutionized twenty-first-century medicine" and made a bajillion trillion dollars. Can you say, "Life is so not fair"?"For what?" she replies absently, turning a page of the (yawn)Newsweekmagazine spread out beside her lunch.In addition to being incredibly rich, Justine is also incredibly smart, which means she reads the most boring magazines ever. Seriously. I can't even read the covers of her magazines without going to sleep.And for the record, I know this looks bad. But I swear I don't normally go around asking my friends for large sums of money. Or any sums of money, for that matter. This is a special situation. The special part being that I'm desperate.Plus, I'm totally going to pay her back -- with interest, even. I had Riley Pilkington, the school's resident math whiz, figure out a repayment plan and everything."Oh, you know," I say casually. "College application fees, cheerleading camp, stuff like that."Justine looks up, frowning. "But the PTA is paying for us to go to camp this year. And you already mailed all your college applications. We went to the post office last week after practice. Remember?"Rats. I totally forgot about going to the post office together last week. And that the PTA is paying for cheer camp.Sigh. Why do I even try to lie? I totally stink at it.Sure enough, Justine's expression has gone from confused to suspicious. "What are you up to?" she asks, narrowing her eyes."Nothing," I say innocently."You're lying.""No, I'm not.""Yes, you are. You're twirling your hair. You always twirl your hair when you're lying."I start to shoot back thatshe'sthe one who is lying, because everyone knows I would never, ever engage in behavior that could cause split ends, but then I notice the clump of blond hair wound around my index finger. "Er, that doesn't mean anything," I say, yanking it loose. "And I wasn't twirling. I was...finger-combing."Justine ignores me. "Just tell me what's going on," she says impatiently. "You know you will eventually, so you may as well get it over with.""Nothing! I already told you.""Presley," she says threateningly.I blow out a breath. "Oh, all right. I need it to buy a new evening gown.""You want me to loan you two thousand dollars for anevening gown?" She looks at me as if I'm deranged. Not because she's appalled I would pay that much for a dress but because she knows what the dress is for.And what is that, you ask? Well, Justine would call it a "cattle market," or if she was really worked up, a "misogynist tool of patriarchy," but to non-insane people, the Miss Teen State contest is generally what's known as a beauty pageant.(Shhh. Don't tell anybody I used the b-word, okay? You're supposed to say "scholarship pageant." All the major pageants did away with the b-word back in the eighties because it's not politically correct. Which is great and everything, but seriously -- who wants to be called a "scholarship queen"?)Yep, that's right. My name is Presley Ashbury, and I'm a beauty queen. Big hair, fake tan, sparkly rhinestones -- these are the things that make my heart go pitter-patter. So if you cringe at the sight of a tiara or have a bunch of freaky feminist issues, you should probably make a break for it now, while you still can. Otherwise, you're going to end up quizzinLinker, Julie is the author of 'Crowned', published 2008 under ISBN 9781416960522 and ISBN 141696052X.