Transcription

Wicked: A Pretty Little Liars NovelSara Shepard

To Colleen, Kristen, Greg, Ryan, and BrianThe sun also shines on the wicked.—LUCIUS ANNAEUS SENECAINQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW .Wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what people are thinking? If everyone’s heads were like those clearMarc Jacobs totes, their opinions as visible as a set of car keys or a tube of Hard Candy lip gloss?You’d know what the student casting director really meant when she said, “Good job,” after your SouthPacific audition. Or that your cute mixed doubles partner thinks your butt looks hot in your Lacostetennis skirt. And, best of all, you wouldn’t have to guess whether your best friend was mad that youditched her for the hot senior with the crinkly-eyed smile at the New Year’s Eve party. You’d just peekinto her head and know.Unfortunately, everyone’s heads are locked tighter than the Pentagon. Sometimes people give awayclues to what’s going on inside—like the casting director’s grimace when you missed that high A-sharp,or how your best friend frostily ignored all your texts on January 1. But more often than not, the mosttelling signs go unnoticed. In fact, four years ago, a certain Rosewood golden boy dropped a huge hintabout something horrible going on inside his nasty little head. But people barely raised an eyebrow.Maybe if someone had, a certain beautiful girl would still be alive.The bike racks outside Rosewood Day overflowed with colorful twenty-one-speeds, a limited editionTrek that Noel Kahn’s father had gotten directly from Lance Armstrong’s publicist, and a candy pinkRazor scooter, shined to a sparkle. Seconds after the last bell of the day sounded and the sixth-gradeclass began to pour into the commons, a frizzy-haired girl skipped clumsily to the rack, gave the scooteran affectionate pat, and began to undo the bright yellow Kryptonite U-lock around its handlebars.A flyer flapping against the stone wall caught her eye. “Guys,” she called to her three friends by thewaterfountains. “C’mere.”“What is it, Mona?” Phi Templeton was busy untangling the string of her new butterfly-shaped Duncan

yo-yo.Mona Vanderwaal pointed at the piece of paper. “Look!”Chassey Bledsoe shoved her purple cat-eye glasses up the bridge of her nose. “Whoa.”Jenna Cavanaugh bit a baby pink fingernail. “This is huge,” she said in her sweet, high-pitched voice.A gust of wind kicked up a few stray leaves from a carefully raked pile. It was mid-September, a fewweeks into the new school year, and autumn was officially here. Every year, tourists from up and downthe East Coast drove to Rosewood, Pennsylvania, to see the brilliant red, orange, yellow, and purple fallfoliage. It was like something in the air made the leaves there extra gorgeous. Whatever it was madeeverything else in Rosewood extra gorgeous, too. Shiny-coated golden retrievers that loped around thetown’s well-kept dog parks. Pink-cheeked babies carefully nestled in their Burberry-by-Maclarenstrollers. And buff, glowing soccer players running up and down the practice fields of Rosewood Day,the town’s most venerable private school.Aria Montgomery watched Mona and the others from her favorite spot on the school’s low stone wall,her Moleskine journal open on her lap. Art was Aria’s last class of the day, and her teacher, Mrs. Cross,let her roam the Rosewood Day grounds and sketch whatever she liked. Mrs. Cross insisted it wasbecause Aria was such a superior artist, but Aria suspected it was actually because she made her teacheruncomfortable. After all, Aria was the only girl in the class who didn’t chatter with friends during ArtSlide Day or flirt with boys when they were working on pastel still lifes. Aria wished she had friends, too,but that didn’t mean Mrs. Cross had to banish her from the classroom.Scott Chin, another sixth-grader, saw the flyer next. “Sweet.” He turned to his friend Hanna Marin, whowas fiddling with the brand-new sterling-silver cuff bracelet her father had just bought her as an I’msorryMom and I are fighting again present. “Han, look!” He nudged Hanna’s ribs.“Don’t do that,” Hanna snapped, recoiling. Even though she was almost positive Scott was gay—heliked looking through Hanna’s Teen Vogues almost more than she did—she hated when he touched herdoughy, yucky stomach. She glanced at the flyer, raising her eyebrows in surprise. “Huh.”

Spencer Hastings was walking with Kirsten Cullen, chattering about Youth League field hockey. Theyalmost bumped into dorky Mona Vanderwaal, whose Razor scooter was blocking the path. ThenSpencer noticed the flyer. Her mouth dropped open. “Tomorrow?”Emily Fields nearly missed the flyer, too, but her closest swimming friend, Gemma Curran, looked over.“Em!” she cried, pointing at the sign.Emily’s eyes danced over the headline. She shivered with excitement.By now, practically every Rosewood Day sixth-grader was gathered around the bike rack, gawking atthe piece of paper. Aria slid off the wall and squinted at the flyer’s big block letters.Time Capsule Starts Tomorrow, it announced. Get ready! This is your chance to be immortalized!The nub of charcoal slipped from Aria’s fingers. The Time Capsule game had been a school traditionsince 1899, the year Rosewood Day was founded. The school forbade anyone younger than sixth gradeto play, so finally getting to participate was as big a rite of passage as a girl buying her first Victoria’sSecret bra or a guy, well, getting excited over his first Victoria’s Secret catalogue.Everyone knew the game’s rules—they’d been passed down by older brothers and sisters, outlined onMySpace blogs, and scribbled on the title pages of library books. Each year, the Rosewood Dayadministration cut up pieces of a Rosewood Day flag and had specially selected older students hidethemin places around Rosewood. Cryptic clues leading to each piece were posted in the school lobby.Whoever found a piece was honored in an all-school assembly and got to decorate it however theywanted, and all the reunited pieces were sewn back together and buried in a time capsule behind thesoccer fields. Needless to say, finding a piece of the Time Capsule flag was a huge deal.“Are you going to play?” Gemma asked Emily, zipping up her Upper Main Line YMCA swimming parkato her chin.“I guess so.” Emily giggled nervously. “But do you think we have a shot? I hear they always hide theclues in the high school. I’ve only been in there twice.”Hanna was thinking the same thing. She hadn’t even been in the high school once. Everything about high

school intimidated her—especially the beautiful girls who went there. Whenever Hanna went to Saks atthe King James Mall with her mom, there would inevitably be a group of Rosewood Day high schoolcheerleaders gathered at the makeup counter. Hanna always covertly watched them from behind a rackof clothes, admiring how their low-slung jeans fit perfectly around their hips, how their hair hungstraightand shiny down their backs, and how their smooth, peachy skin was blemish-free even withoutfoundation. Before she went to sleep every night, Hanna prayed that she would wake up a beautifulRosewood Day cheerleader, too, but every morning it was the same old Hanna in her heart-shapedmakeup mirror, her hair poop brown, her skin blotchy, and her arms like chunky sausages.“At least you know Melissa,” Kirsten murmured to Spencer, also overhearing what Emily said. “Maybeshe was one of the people who hid a piece of the flag.”Spencer shook her head. “I would’ve heard about it already.” It was as much an honor to be selected tohide a piece of the Time Capsule flag as it was to find one, and Spencer’s sister, Melissa, never failed tobrag about her Rosewood Day responsibilities—especially when her family played Star Power, the gamewhere they went around the table describing their most ambitious accomplishment of the day.The school’s heavy double doors opened, and the remaining sixth-graders spilled out, including a groupof kids that seemed to have walked right out of a page of a J. Crew catalogue. Aria returned to the stonewall and pretended to be busy sketching. She didn’t want to make eye contact with any of themagain—a few days ago, Naomi Zeigler had caught her staring and cawed, “What, are you in love withus?” These were the sixth-grade elite, after all—or, as Aria called them, the Typical Rosewoods.Every single one of the Typical Rosewoods lived in gated mansions, multi-acre-spanning compounds, orluxurious converted barns with horse stables and ten-car garages. They were such cookie cutters: theboys played soccer and had ultra-short haircuts; the girls had the exact same laughs, wore matchingshades of Laura Mercier lip plumper, and carried Dooney & Bourke logo bags. If Aria squinted, shecouldn’t tell one Typical Rosewood from another.Except for Alison DiLaurentis. No one mistook Alison for anyone else, ever.

And it was Alison leading the crowd down the school’s stone path, her blond hair streaming behind her,her sapphire blue eyes sparkling, her ankles steady in her three-inch platforms. Naomi Zeigler and RileyWolfe, her two closest confidantes, followed her, hanging on her every move. People had been bowingdown to Ali ever since she’d moved to Rosewood in third grade.Ali approached Emily and the other swimmers and stopped short. Emily was afraid Ali was going totease them all about their dry, greenish-tinted, chlorine-damaged hair—again—but Ali’s attention waselsewhere. A sneaky smile crept over her face as she read the flyer. With a quick flip of her wrist, shetore the paper off the wall and spun around to face her friends.“My brother’s hiding one of the pieces of the flag tonight,” she said, loud enough for everyone else inthecommons to hear. “He already promised to tell me where it is.”Everyone began to murmur. Hanna nodded with awe—she admired Ali even more than the oldercheerleaders. Spencer, on the other hand, seethed. Ali’s brother wasn’t supposed to tell her where hewas hiding his Time Capsule piece. That was cheating! Aria’s charcoal crayon flew furiously over hersketchbook, her eyes fixed on Ali’s heart-shaped face. And Emily’s nose tickled with the lingering vanillascent of Ali’s perfume—it was as heavenly as standing in the doorway of a bakery.The older students began to descend the high school’s majestic stone steps across the commons,interrupting Ali’s big announcement. Tall, aloof girls and preppy, handsome guys ambled past thesixth-graders, heading for their cars in the auxiliary lot. Ali watched them coolly, fanning her face withtheTime Capsule flyer. A couple of puny sophomores, white iPod headphones dangling from their ears,looked downright intimidated by Ali as they unlocked their ten-speeds from the rack. Naomi and Rileysnorted at them.Then a tall blond junior noticed Ali and stopped. “What up, Al?”“Nothing.” Ali pursed her lips and stood up straighter. “What’s up with you, Eee?”Scott Chin elbowed Hanna, and Hanna blushed. With his tanned, gorgeous face, curly blond hair, and

stunning, soulful hazel eyes, Ian Thomas—Eee—was second on Hanna’s All-Time Hottie list, just underSean Ackard, the boy she’d crushed on since they were on the same kickball team in third grade. It wasunclear how Ian and Ali knew one another, but the gossip said upperclassmen invited Ali to their A-listparties, despite the fact that she was a lot younger.Ian leaned against the bike racks. “Did I hear you saying you know where a piece of the Time Capsuleflag is?”Ali’s cheeks pinkened. “Why, is someone jealous?” She shot him a saucy grin.Ian shook his head. “I’d keep it down, if I were you. Someone might try and steal your piece from you.It’s part of the game, you know.”Ali laughed, as if the idea was incomprehensible, but a wrinkle formed between her eyes. Ian wasright—stealing someone’s piece of the flag was perfectly legal, etched in the Time Capsule Official RuleBook that Principal Appleton kept in a locked drawer of his desk. Last year, a ninth-grade goth boy hadstolen a piece that was dangling out of a senior crew member’s gear bag. Two years ago, aneighth-grade band girl had snuck into the school’s dance studio and stolen two pieces from twobeautiful,thin ballerinas. The Stealing Clause, as it was known, leveled the playing field even more—if you weren’tsmart enough to figure out the clues that would allow you to find the pieces, then maybe you werecunning enough to snag one from someone’s locker.Spencer gazed at Ali’s perturbed expression, a thought slowly forming in her mind. I should steal Ali’spiece of the flag. More than likely, everyone else in sixth grade would simply let Ali find the piececompletely unfairly, and no one would dare to take it away from her. Spencer was tired of Ali gettingeverything handed to her so easily.The same idea formed in Emily’s mind. Imagine if I stole it from Ali, she thought, shuddering with anunidentifiable 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 inher 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 hersketchbook. Imagine, a Typical Rosewood dethroned by someone like Aria. Poor Ali would have togo 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’sgoing 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 chillygrimace 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 stra