Home > Wicked (Pretty Little Liars #5)(12)

Wicked (Pretty Little Liars #5)(12)
Author: Sara Shepard

Spencer stopped dead, astonished. She threw up her hands. “Of course something’s wrong. Everything’s wrong. Happy now?”

Andrew stepped back, blinking rapidly. Realization washed slowly over his face. “Ohhh. The Golden Orchid…stuff. I forgot about all that.” He squeezed his eyes shut. “I’m an idiot.”

“Whatever.” Spencer gritted her teeth. Could Andrew seriously have forgotten what had happened to her? That was almost worse than him gloating about it all winter break. She glared at a neatly cut-out snowflake over the handicapped water fountain. Andrew used to be good at cutting out snowflakes, too. Even back then, it was a private battle between the two of them to see who could be the best at everything.

“I guess I put it out of my head,” Andrew blurted out, his voice rising higher and higher. “Which was why I was so surprised when I didn’t see you in Greece. It’s too bad you weren’t there. No one on the trip was really very…I don’t know. Smart. Or cool.”

Spencer fidgeted with the leather tassels on her Coach bucket bag. It was the nicest thing anyone had said to her in quite a while, but it was too much for her to bear, especially coming from Andrew. “I have to go,” she said, and hurried down the hall to the headmaster’s office.

“He’s expecting you,” the head secretary said when Spencer burst through the office’s double glass doors. Spencer walked toward Appleton’s office, passing the large papier-mâché shark that had been left over from last year’s Founders’ Day float parade. What did Appleton want, anyway? Maybe he’d realized he’d been too harsh on her and was ready to apologize. Maybe he wanted to reinstate her class rank or let her do the play after all. The drama club had planned to perform The Tempest, but right before winter break, Rosewood Day told Christophe Briggs, the senior director, that he wasn’t allowed to use water or pyrotechnics onstage to replicate the play’s signature storm. Christophe, kicking up a tempest of his own, had shut down The Tempest for good and started casting for Hamlet. Since everyone was learning new parts, Spencer hadn’t even missed any rehearsals.

When she carefully closed Appleton’s door behind her and turned around, her blood turned to ice. Her parents were sitting side by side in stiff leather chairs. Veronica Hastings was in a black wool dress, her hair pulled back with a velvet headband, her face puffy and red with tears. Peter Hastings was in a three-piece suit and shiny loafers. He was clenching the muscles in his jaw so tightly they looked as though they might snap.

“Ah,” Appleton blustered, rising from his desk. “I’ll leave you three alone.” He huffed out of the office and shut the door.

Spencer’s ears rang in the silence. “W-what’s going on?” she asked, slowly lowering herself into a chair.

Her dad shifted uncomfortably. “Spencer, your grandmother died this morning.”

Spencer blinked. “Nana?”

“Yes,” Spencer’s mother said quietly. “She had a heart attack.” She folded her hands in her lap, clicking into business mode. “Her will reading is tomorrow morning because your dad needs to fly to Florida to take care of the estate before her funeral next Monday.”

“Oh my God,” Spencer whispered faintly.

She sat very still, waiting for the tears to come. When had she last seen Nana? They’d just been to Nana’s house in Cape May, New Jersey, a couple months ago, but Nana had been in Florida—she hadn’t come up north in years. The thing was, Spencer had struggled through so many other deaths lately, and of people much younger. Nana had lived a rich, happy ninety-one years. Plus, Nana hadn’t always been the warmest of grandmothers. Sure, she’d generously built Spencer and Melissa an enormous playroom in her Cape May manse, outfitting it with dollhouses and My Little Ponies and big trash buckets of Legos. But Nana always used to stiffen when Spencer tried to hug her, never wanted to see the sloppy birthday cards Spencer made for her, and grumbled about the Lego airplanes Spencer carried out of the playroom and left on top of Nana’s Steinway baby grand piano. Sometimes, Spencer wondered if Nana even liked children or whether the playroom had just been a way to get Spencer and her sister out of her hair.

Mrs. Hastings took a big swig of her Starbucks latte. “We were in a meeting with Appleton when we got the news,” she said after swallowing.

Spencer stiffened. Her parents had already been here? “Were you meeting about me?”

“No,” Mrs. Hastings said tightly.

Spencer let out a loud sniffle. Her mother closed her purse and stood, and her father followed. Mr. Hastings checked his watch. “Well, I’ve got to get back.”

An ache rippled through Spencer’s body. All she wanted was for them to comfort her, but they’d been acting cold to her for months, all because of the Golden Orchid scandal. Her parents had known Spencer stole Melissa’s work, but they’d wanted her to keep quiet about it and accept the award anyway. Not that they were admitting that now. When Spencer confessed the truth, her parents had pretended to be shocked by the news.

“Mom?” Her voice cracked as she spoke. “Dad? Could you maybe…stay a few more minutes?”

Her mother paused for a moment and Spencer’s heart lifted. Then Mrs. Hastings looped her cashmere scarf around her neck, grabbed Mr. Hastings’s hand, and turned for the door, leaving Spencer all alone in the office.

5

THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD

At lunchtime on Monday, Hanna sauntered down the arts hall toward her advanced fabrics classroom. There was nothing like starting off a new semester looking absolutely fierce. She’d lost five pounds over the break and her auburn hair gleamed, thanks to the ylang-ylang deep-conditioning treatment she’d charged to her father’s for-emergencies-only credit card. A group of boys in matching Rosewood Day ice hockey jerseys leaned up against their lockers, ogling her as she passed. One of them even whistled.

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