Pretty little liars, p.6
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       Pretty Little Liars, p.6

         Part #1 of Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard
Page 6


  “How about Tiffany’s?” Mona asked.

  “Awesome. ”

  They strolled through the brand-new luxe section of the King James Mall, which had a Burberry, a Tiffany’s, a Gucci, and a Coach; smelled of the latest Michael Kors perfume; and was packed full of pretty back-to-prep-school girls with their beautiful moms. On a solo shopping trip a few weeks ago, Hanna had noticed her old friend Spencer Hastings slipping into the new Kate Spade, and remembered how she used to special-order an entire season’s worth of nylon shoulder bags from New York.

  Hanna felt funny knowing those sorts of details about someone she wasn’t friends with anymore. And as she watched Spencer peruse Kate Spade’s leather luggage, Hanna wondered if Spencer was thinking what she was thinking: that the mall’s new wing was just the sort of place Ali DiLaurentis would have loved. Hanna often thought of all the things Ali had missed—last year’s homecoming bonfire, Lauren Ryan’s sweet sixteen karaoke party in her family’s mansion, the return of round-toed shoes, Chanel’s leather iPod nano holders…iPod nanos, in general. But the biggest thing Ali had missed? Hanna’s makeover, of course—and it was such a bummer she had. Sometimes, when Hanna twirled around in front of her full-length mirror, she pretended that Ali was sitting behind her, critiquing her outfits the way she used to. Hanna had wasted so many years being a chubby, clingy loser, but things were so different now.

  She and Mona strode into Tiffany’s; it was full of glass, chrome, and white lights that made the flawless diamonds extra shimmery. Mona prowled around the cases and then raised her eyebrows at Hanna. “Maybe a necklace?”

  “What about a charm bracelet?” Hanna whispered.

  “Perfect. ”

  They walked to the case and eyed the silver charm bracelet with the heart-shaped toggle. “So pretty,” Mona breathed.

  “Interested?” an elegant older saleswoman asked them.

  “Oh, I don’t know,” Hanna said.

  “It suits you. ” The woman unlocked the case and felt around for the bracelet. “It’s in all the magazines. ”

  Hanna nudged Mona. “You try it. ”

  Mona slid it onto her wrist. “It’s really beautiful. ” Then the woman turned to another customer. When she did, Mona slid the bracelet off her wrist and into her pocket. Just like that.

  Hanna mashed her lips together and flagged down another saleswoman, a honey-blond girl who wore coral lipstick. “Can I try that bracelet there, with the round charm?”

  “Sure!” The girl unlocked the case. “I have one of these myself. ”

  “How about the matching earrings, too?” Hanna pointed to them.

  “Of course. ”

  Mona had moved over to the diamonds. Hanna held the earrings and the bracelet in her hands. Together, they were $350. Suddenly, a swarm of Japanese girls crowded around the counter, all pointing at another round-charm bracelet in the glass case. Hanna scanned the ceilings for cameras and the doors for detectors.

  “Oh, Hanna, come look at the Lucida!” Mona called.

  Hanna paused. Time slowed down. She slid the bracelet onto her wrist and then shoved it farther up her sleeve. She stuck the earrings in her Louis Vuitton cherry-monogrammed coin purse. Hanna’s heart pounded. This was the best part of taking stuff: the feeling beforehand. She felt all buzzy and alive.

  Mona waved a diamond ring at her. “Doesn’t this look good on me?”

  “C’mon. ” Hanna grabbed her arm. “Let’s go to Coach. ”

  “You don’t want to try any on?” Mona pouted. She always stalled after she knew Hanna had done the job.

  “Nah,” Hanna said. “Purses are calling our names. ” She felt the bracelet’s silver chain press gently into her arm. She had to get out of here while the Japanese girls were still bustling around the counter. The salesgirl hadn’t even looked back in her direction.

  “All right,” Mona said dramatically. She handed the ring—holding it by its diamond, which even Hanna knew you weren’t supposed to do—back to the saleswoman. “These diamonds are all too small,” she said. “Sorry. ”

  “We have others,” the woman tried.

  “Come on,” Hanna said, grabbing Mona’s arm.

  Her heart hammered as they wove their way through Tiffany’s. The charm tinkled on her wrist, but she kept her sleeve pulled down. Hanna was a seasoned pro at this—first it had been loose candy at the Wawa convenience store, then CDs from Tower, then baby tees from Ralph Lauren—and she felt bigger and more badass every time. She shut her eyes and crossed the threshold, bracing herself for the alarms to blare.

  But nothing did. They were out.

  Mona squeezed her hand. “Did you get one too?”

  “Of course. ” She flashed the bracelet around her wrist. “And these. ” She opened the coin purse and showed Mona the earrings.

  “Shit. ” Mona’s eyes widened.

  Hanna smiled. Sometimes it felt so good to one-up your best friend. Not wanting to jinx it, she walked quickly away from Tiffany’s and listened for someone to come chasing after them. The only noise, though, was the burbling of the fountain and a Muzak version of “Oops! I Did It Again. ”

  Oh yes, I did, Hanna thought.



  “Honey, you’re not supposed to eat mussels with your hands. It’s not polite. ”

  Spencer Hastings looked across the table at her mother, Veronica, who nervously ran her hands through her perfectly highlighted ash-blond hair. “Sorry,” Spencer said, picking up the ridiculously small mussel-eating fork.

  “I really don’t think Melissa should be living in the town house with all that dust,” Mrs. Hastings said to her husband, ignoring Spencer’s apology.

  Peter Hastings rolled his neck around. When he wasn’t practicing law, he was furiously cycling all the back roads of Rosewood in tight, colorful spandex shirts and bike pants, shaking his fist at speeding cars. All that cycling gave him chronically sore shoulders.

  “All that hammering! I don’t know how she’ll get any studying done,” Mrs. Hastings went on.

  Spencer and her parents were sitting at Moshulu, a restaurant aboard a clipper ship in the Philadelphia harbor, waiting for Spencer’s sister, Melissa, to meet them for dinner. It was a big celebratory dinner because Melissa had graduated from U Penn undergrad a year early and had gotten into Penn’s Wharton School of Business. The downtown Philly town house was being renovated as a gift from their parents to Melissa.

  In just two days, Spencer was starting her junior year at Rosewood and would have to surrender herself to this year’s jam-packed schedule: five APs, leadership training, charity drive organizing, yearbook editing, drama tryouts, hockey practice, and sending in summer program applications ASAP, since everyone knew that the best way to get into an Ivy was to get into one of their pre-college summer camps. But there was one thing Spencer had to look forward to this year: moving into the converted barn that sat at the back of her family’s property. According to her parents, it was the perfect way to prepare for college—just look how well it had worked for Melissa! Barf. But Spencer was happy to follow in her sister’s footsteps in this case, since they led out to the tranquil, light-flooded guesthouse where Spencer could escape her parents and their constantly barking labradoodles.

  The sisters had a quiet yet long-standing rivalry and Spencer was always losing: Spencer had won the Presidential Physical Fitness Award four times in elementary school; Melissa had won it five. Spencer got second place in the seventh-grade geography bee; Melissa got first. Spencer was on the yearbook staff, in all of the school plays, and was taking five AP classes this year; Melissa did all those things her junior year plus worked at their mother’s horse farm and trained for the Philadelphia marathon for leukemia research. No matter how high Spencer’s GPA was or how many extracurriculars she smashed into her schedule, she never quite reached Melissa’s level of perfection.

  Spencer picked up another m
ussel with her fingers and popped it into her mouth. Her dad loved this restaurant, with its dark wood paneling, thick oriental rugs, and the heady smells of butter, red wine, and salty air. Sitting among the masts and sails, it felt like you could jump right overboard into the harbor. Spencer gazed out across the Delaware River to the big bubbly aquarium in Camden, New Jersey. A giant party boat decorated with Christmas lights floated past them. Someone shot a yellow firework off the front deck. That boat was having way more fun than this one was having.

  “What’s Melissa’s friend’s name again?” her mother murmured.

  “I think it’s Wren,” Spencer said. In her head she added, As in scrawny bird.

  “She told me he’s studying to be a doctor,” her mother swooned. “At U Penn. ”

  “Of course he is,” Spencer quietly singsonged. She bit down hard on a piece of mussel shell and winced. Melissa was bringing her boyfriend of two months to dinner. The family hadn’t met him yet—he’d been away visiting family or something—but Melissa’s boyfriends were all the same: textbook handsome, well mannered, played golf. Melissa didn’t have an ounce of creativity in her body and clearly looked for the same predictability in her boyfriends.

  “Mom!” a familiar voice called from behind Spencer.

  Melissa swooped to the other side of the table and gave each of her parents a huge kiss. Her look hadn’t changed since high school: her ash-blond hair was cut bluntly to her chin, she wore no makeup except for a little foundation, and she wore a dowdy square-necked yellow dress, a pearl-buttoned pink cardigan, and semi-cute kitten-heeled shoes.

  “Darling!” her mother cried.

  “Mom, Dad, here’s Wren. ” Melissa pulled in someone next to her.

  Spencer tried to keep her mouth from dropping open. There was nothing scrawny, birdlike, or textbook about Wren. He was tall and lanky and wore a beautifully cut Thomas Pink shirt. His black hair was cut in a long, shaggy, messy style. He had beautiful skin, high cheekbones, and almond-shaped eyes.

  Wren shook her parents’ hands and sat down at the table. Melissa asked her mom a question about where to have the plumber’s bill sent, while Spencer waited to be introduced. Wren pretended to be really interested in an oversize wineglass.

  “I’m Spencer,” she said finally. She wondered if her breath smelled like mussels. “The other daughter. ” Spencer nodded toward the other side of the table. “The one they keep in the basement. ”

  “Oh. ” Wren grinned. “Cool. ”

  Was that a British accent she heard? “Isn’t it strange they haven’t asked you a single thing about yourself?” Spencer gestured at her parents. Now they were talking about contractors and the best wood to use for the living room floor.

  Wren shrugged, and then whispered, “Kinda. ” He winked.

  Suddenly Melissa grabbed Wren’s hand. “Oh, I see you’ve met her,” she cooed.

  “Yeah. ” He smiled. “You didn’t tell me you had a sister. ”

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