Home > Pretty Little Secrets (Pretty Little Liars #4.5)

Pretty Little Secrets (Pretty Little Liars #4.5)
Author: Sara Shepard

Christmas Stalking

Here’s a pretty snow-globe scene for you:

It’s December of Hanna, Emily, Aria, and Spencer’s junior year. Snow is falling, blanketing Rosewood’s perfectly manicured lawns and dusting the tops of luxury SUVs. Christmas lights brighten every window, and cherub-cheeked kids are busy making their lists for Santa. The whole town is at peace, especially the pretty little liars.

Now that Alison DiLaurentis’s murderer is in jail and A is dead, they can finally relax. But little do they know that I’m going to pick up where A left off. I’m going to be the new A, and I’ve made a list of my own. Guess who’s at the top of the naughty column? That’s right: Hanna, Emily, Aria, and Spencer.

And these liars have been bad! Hanna got caught shoplifting and totaled her ex-boyfriend’s car. Emily defied her parents so many times they sent her away to Iowa. Aria’s after-school smooch sessions with her English teacher got him fired. And Spencer may have been the naughtiest of them all. Stealing her sister’s fiancé wasn’t enough—Spencer also took her economics paper and pushed her down the stairs when Melissa found out what she’d done. Tsk tsk. These liars deserve coal in their stockings—or worse. Luckily I’m here to make sure they get what’s coming to them.

It’s only a matter of time before the pretty little liars get their hands dirty again—especially now that they think A is gone. So what trouble will they get into next? Well, I’ll just have to lie low . . . and watch. I’ll watch and watch and come to understand exactly what kind of bitches I’m dealing with. I’ll find out everything.

And once I do, I’ll know how to take them down.

Let’s start with . . . Hanna. This girl’s undergone some major upheaval. Her mom ditched her for Singapore. Her estranged dad is moving in with his Stepford fiancée and her perfect daughter, Kate. At least Hanna has her loyal boyfriend, Lucas. Or does she?

Let the stalking begin!

Hanna’s Pretty Little Secret

Chapter 1

Home for the Holidays

It was a blustery Wednesday in early December in Rosewood, Pennsylvania, a bucolic suburb twenty miles from Philadelphia. While many residents were cutting down Frasier firs at the local Christmas tree farm or adorning the outsides of their houses with pinecone wreaths, a moving van was pulling up to a Georgian house with the word MARIN stenciled on the mailbox. Three men disembarked and slid open the back door to reveal dozens of boxes. Tom Marin, his fiancée, Isabel Randall, and Isabel’s daughter, Kate, stood in the yard as the movers shuttled their belongings through the front door. Hanna Marin, who had lived in the house since she was five, observed from inside the foyer, biting her fingernails.

“Be careful with that,” Isabel screeched to the burly guy who was hefting a medium-sized box. “It contains my vintage doll collection.”

“And that box goes upstairs,” Kate called nervously to another mover. “Those are all my handbags.”

Hanna snuck a peek at her soon-to-be stepsister, Kate, who had a slender body, long, lustrous chestnut-colored hair, and big blue eyes. She was carrying a Chloé bag Hanna had only seen on the pages of Vogue. When Hanna asked where Kate had gotten it, Kate had trilled that it was an early Christmas present, shooting a grateful smile at Hanna’s father. Ick.

“Hanna?” Mr. Marin thrust a small box marked DELICATES at her. “Can you take this up to your mom’s—er, our—bedroom?”

“Sure,” Hanna mumbled, eager to get away from Isabel and Kate—one of them was wearing a perfume that kept making her sneeze.

She climbed the stairs, her miniature pinscher, Dot, following at her heels. Just a few weeks ago, before Thanksgiving, Hanna’s mother, Ashley, had dropped the bomb that she was taking a job in Singapore—and Hanna couldn’t come.

Hanna would have loved to start over somewhere else. She’d had a horrible year. She’d been taunted by an evil text-messager named A. Her old best friend, Alison DiLaurentis, who’d been missing for three years, had been found under a concrete slab behind her old house in September. It turned out Ian Thomas, Ali’s secret boyfriend—who Hanna and her other best friends Spencer Hastings, Aria Montgomery, and Emily Fields had all crushed on when he was a senior and they were seventh graders—had murdered Ali the night of the girls’ end-of-seventh-grade sleepover. The police had arrested him a few weeks ago. It had all come as a massive shock.

But instead she was stuck here, with her father moving in with his new family—his replacement wife, Isabel, the ex-ER nurse who wasn’t nearly as pretty or interesting as Hanna’s mom, and his perfect stepdaughter, Kate, who’d taken Hanna’s place in her dad’s heart and who hated Hanna’s guts.

Hanna padded into the empty master bedroom. It smelled slightly of mothballs, and there were four heavy indentations on the carpet where her mother’s sleek Danish-modern bed used to stand. When Hanna dropped the DELICATES box on the floor, one of the flaps popped open and a little blue gift box with a blank gift tag peeked out.

Looking over her shoulder to make sure no one was watching, she lifted the lid. Inside was a round white-gold locket with a cluster of pavé-cut diamonds in the center.

Hanna breathed in. It was the Cartier locket that had belonged to her grandmother, whom everyone, even nonrelatives, called Bubbe Marin. Bubbe had worn it religiously when she was alive, boasting that she didn’t even take it off in the bathtub. She’d died when Hanna was going into seventh grade, shortly after Hanna’s parents divorced; by that time, Hanna hadn’t been on speaking terms with her dad. She hadn’t known what had happened to the locket, or who it had been willed to.

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