Home > Perfect (Pretty Little Liars #3)

Perfect (Pretty Little Liars #3)
Author: Sara Shepard


Have you ever had a friend turn on you? Just totally transform from someone you thought you knew into someone…else? I’m not talking your boyfriend from nursery school who grows up and gets gawky and ugly and zitty, or your friend from camp whom you’ve got nothing to say to when she comes to visit you over Christmas break, or even a girl in your clique who suddenly breaks away and turns goth or into one of those granola Outward Bound kids. No. I’m talking about your soul mate. The girl you know everything about. Who knows everything about you. One day she turns around and is a completely different person.

Well, it happens. It happened in Rosewood.

“Watch it, Aria. Your face is going to freeze like that.” Spencer Hastings unwrapped an orange Popsicle and slid it into her mouth. She was referring to the squinty-eyed drunk-pirate face her best friend, Aria Montgomery, was making as she tried to get her Sony Handycam to focus.

“You sound like my mom, Spence.” Emily Fields laughed, adjusting her T-shirt, which had a picture of a baby chicken in goggles on it and said, INSTANT SWIM CHICK! JUST ADD WATER! Her friends had forbidden Emily from wearing her goofy swimming T-shirts—

“Instant Swim Dork! Just add loser!” Alison DiLaurentis had joked when Emily walked in.

“Your mom says that too?” Hanna Marin asked, throwing away her green-stained Popsicle stick. Hanna always ate faster than anyone else. “Your face will freeze that way,” she mimicked.

Alison looked Hanna up and down and cackled. “Your mom should’ve warned you that your butt would freeze that way.”

Hanna’s face fell as she pulled down her pink-and-white striped T-shirt—she’d borrowed it from Ali, and it kept riding up, revealing a white strip of her stomach. Alison tapped Hanna’s shin with her flip-flop. “Just joking.”

It was a Friday night in May near the end of seventh grade, and best friends Alison, Hanna, Spencer, Aria, and Emily were gathered in Spencer’s family’s plushly decorated family room, with the Popsicle box, a big bottle of cherry vanilla Diet Dr Pepper, and their cell phones splayed out on the coffee table. A month ago, Ali had come to school with a brand-new LG flip phone, and the others had rushed out to buy their own that very day. They all had pink leather holsters to match Ali’s, too—well, all except for Aria, whose holster was made of pink mohair. She’d knitted it herself.

Aria moved the camera’s lever back and forth to zoom in and out. “And anyway, my face isn’t going to freeze like this. I’m concentrating on setting up this shot. This is for posterity. For when we become famous.”

“Well, we all know I’m going to get famous.” Alison thrust back her shoulders and turned her head to the side, revealing her swanlike neck.

“Why are you going to be famous?” Spencer challenged, sounding bitchier than she probably meant to.

“I’m going to have my own show. I’ll be a smarter, cuter Paris Hilton.”

Spencer snorted. But Emily pursed her pale lips, considering, and Hanna nodded, truly believing. This was Ali. She wouldn’t stay here in Rosewood, Pennsylvania, for long. Sure, Rosewood was glamorous by most standards—all its residents looked like walk-on models for a Town & Country photo shoot—but they all knew Ali was destined for greater things.

She’d plucked them out of oblivion a year and a half ago to be her best friends. With Ali by their sides, they had become the girls of Rosewood Day, the private school they attended. They had such power now—to deem who was cool and who wasn’t, to throw the best parties, to nab the best seats in study hall, to run for student office and win by an overwhelming number of votes. Well, that last one only applied to Spencer. Aside from a few twists and turns—and accidentally blinding Jenna Cavanaugh, which they tried their hardest not to think about—their lives had transformed from passable to perfect.

“How about we film a talk show?” Aria suggested. She considered herself the friends’ official filmmaker—one of the many things she wanted to be when she grew up was the next Jean-Luc Godard, some abstract French director.

“Ali, you’re famous. And Spencer, you’re the interviewer.”

“I’ll be the makeup girl,” Hanna volunteered, rooting through her backpack to find her polka-dotted vinyl makeup bag.

“I’ll do hair.” Emily pushed her reddish-blond bob behind her ears and rushed to Ali’s side. “You have gorgeous hair, chérie,” she said to Ali in a faux-French accent.

Ali slid her Popsicle out of her mouth. “Doesn’t chérie mean girlfriend?”

The others were quick to laugh, but Emily paled. “No, that’s petite amie.” Lately, Em was sensitive when Ali made jokes at her expense. She never used to be.

“Okay,” Aria said, making sure the camera was level.

“You guys ready?”

Spencer flopped on the couch and placed a rhinestone tiara left over from a New Year’s party on her head. She’d been carrying the crown around all night.

“You can’t wear that,” Ali snapped.

“Why not?” Spencer adjusted the crown so it was straight.

“Because. If anything, I’m the princess.”

“Why do you always get to be the princess?” Spencer muttered under her breath. A nervous ripple swept through the others. Spencer and Ali weren’t getting along, and no one knew why.

Ali’s cell phone let out a bleat. She reached down, flipped it open, and tilted it away so no one else could see. “Sweet.” Her fingers flew across the keypad as she typed a text.

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