Home > Wicked (Pretty Little Liars #5)(3)

Wicked (Pretty Little Liars #5)(3)
Author: Sara Shepard

Spencer gazed at Ali’s perturbed expression, a thought slowly forming in her mind. I should steal Ali’s piece of the flag. More than likely, everyone else in sixth grade would simply let Ali find the piece completely unfairly, and no one would dare to take it away from her. Spencer was tired of Ali getting everything handed to her so easily.

The same idea formed in Emily’s mind. Imagine if I stole it from Ali, she thought, shuddering with an unidentifiable emotion. What would she say to Ali if she trapped her alone?

Could I steal it from Ali? Hanna bit an already nubby fingernail. Only…she’d never stolen anything in her life. If she did, would Ali invite Hanna into her circle?

How awesome would it be to steal it from Ali? Aria thought too, her hand still moving over her sketchbook. Imagine, a Typical Rosewood dethroned…by someone like Aria. Poor Ali would have to go searching for another piece by actually reading the clues and using her brain for once.

“I’m not worried,” Ali broke the silence. “No one would dare steal it from me. Once I get the piece, it’s going to be on me at all times.” She gave Ian a suggestive wink, and with a flip of her skirt, she added, “The only way someone is going to get it from me is if they kill me first.”

Ian leaned forward. “Well, if that’s what it takes.”

A muscle under Ali’s eye twitched, and her skin paled. Naomi Zeigler’s smile wilted. There was a chilly grimace on Ian’s face, but then he flashed an irresistible I’m just kidding smile.

Someone coughed, making Ian and Ali look over. Ali’s brother, Jason, was walking straight up to Ian from the high school steps. His mouth tight and his shoulders hunched, Jason looked like he had overheard.

“What did you just say?” Jason stopped less than a few feet from Ian’s face. A crisp wind blew a few stray golden hairs up off his forehead.

Ian rocked back and forth in his black Vans. “Nothing. We were just fooling around.”

Jason’s eyes darkened. “You sure about that?”

“Jason!” Ali hissed, indignant. She stepped between them. “What’s up your butt?”

Jason glared at Ali, then at the Time Capsule flyer in her hand, then back at Ian. The rest of the crowd exchanged confused glances, not sure whether this was a fake fight or something more serious. Ian and Jason were the same age, and both played varsity soccer. Maybe this was a pissing contest because Ian had stolen Jason’s opportunity for a goal in yesterday’s game against Pritchard Prep.

When Ian didn’t answer, Jason smacked his arms to his sides. “Fine. Whatever.” He wheeled around, stomped to a black, late-sixties sedan that had pulled into the bus lane, and slumped in the passenger seat. “Just go,” he said to the driver as he slammed the car door. The car sputtered to life, coughed up a cloud of noxious-smelling exhaust, and squealed away from the curb. Ian shrugged and sauntered away, grinning victoriously.

Ali ran her hands through her hair. For a split second, her expression seemed a little off, like something had slipped out of her control. But it quickly passed. “Hot tub at my house?” she chirped to her posse, looping her elbow around Naomi’s. Her friends followed her to the woods behind the school, a shortcut back to her house. A now-familiar piece of paper peeked out of the side pocket of Ali’s yellow satchel. Time Capsule Starts Tomorrow, it said. Get ready.

Get ready, indeed.

A few short weeks later, after most of the Time Capsule pieces were found and buried, the members of Ali’s inner circle changed. All of a sudden, the regulars were ousted, and others took their places. Ali had found four new BFFs—Spencer, Hanna, Emily, and Aria.

None of Ali’s new friends questioned why she’d chosen them out of the entire sixth grade class—they didn’t want to jinx things. Now and then, they thought about pre-Ali moments—how miserable they’d been, how lost they’d felt, how certain that they’d never mean anything at Rosewood Day. They thought about specific moments, too, including that day Time Capsule was announced. Once or twice they recalled what Ian had said to Ali, and how uncharacteristically worried Ali had seemed. Very little fazed her, after all.

For the most part, they shrugged off thoughts like that—it was more fun to think about their future than dwell on the past. They were now the girls of Rosewood Day, and with that came a lot of thrilling responsibility. They had a lot of good times to look forward to.

But maybe they shouldn’t have forgotten that day so quickly. And maybe Jason should’ve tried a bit harder to keep Ali safe. Because, well, we all know what happened. Just a short year and a half later, Ian made good on his promise.

He killed Ali for real.

1

DEAD AND BURIED

Emily Fields leaned back on the chestnut brown leather couch, picking at the chlorine-dried skin around her thumb. Her old best friends, Aria Montgomery, Spencer Hastings, and Hanna Marin, sat next to her, sipping Godiva hot chocolate from striped ceramic mugs. They were all in Spencer’s family’s media room, which was filled with state-of-the-art electronics, a seven-foot movie screen, and surround-sound speakers. A large basket of Baked Tostitos sat on the coffee table, but none of them had touched it.

A woman named Marion Graves was perched on the checkered love seat across from them, a flattened, folded-up trash bag on her lap. While the girls were in ratty jeans, cashmere sweats, or, in Aria’s case, a beat-up denim miniskirt over a pair of tomato red long johns, Marion was in an expensive-looking deep blue wool blazer and matching pleated skirt. Her dark brown hair shone, and her skin smelled of lavender moisturizer.

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