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Home > Cross My Heart, Hope To Die (The Lying Game #5)(6)

Cross My Heart, Hope To Die (The Lying Game #5)(6)
Author: Sara Shepard

For once, Emma and I were thinking the exact same thing: Those footsteps by the church had been real. My killer was still watching Emma’s every move.

3

THE FACE THAT LAUNCHED A THOUSAND FISTS

“These shirts are so lame,” Laurel whined, pulling at the collar of her blue cotton tee. “Why couldn’t they have gotten American Apparel instead of Hanes Beefy-Ts?”

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and Emma, Sutton’s friends, and the Mercer family were gathered in Saguaro National Park for the annual Hollier High Parent-Student Football Fun Fest—that was what the banner arching over their heads called it, anyway. An artificially green swath of grass splayed out before them, and a bunch of families flipped burgers on the public barbecues and loaded plates with potato salad and watermelon slices. Little kids tumbled across the freshly chalked lines of the football field, playing freeze tag. Mr. Mercer tossed a U-of-A-branded football in the air, seeming pumped for the flag football game that was about to begin.

Emma laughed, tucking her own red shirt into Sutton’s mesh Adidas shorts. “It’s a fund-raiser. I’m sure the shirts were donated.”

Charlotte Chamberlain rolled her eyes. “My mom does plenty of fund-raisers. Everyone knows if you want to get big money, you have to spend big money. Last year she held a raffle for a vintage Chanel coat and got three times what it was worth.”

“What was the charity?” asked Madeline Vega, another one of Sutton’s friends, who was tall and lithe next to Charlotte’s short and curvy frame.

Charlotte shrugged, pulling her reddish curls into a ponytail. “Does it matter?”

There was shuffling and giggling behind them, and the girls turned. The Twitter Twins, Gabriella and Lilianna Fiorello, twirled over. They’d come dressed in short cheerleader outfits—Lili in black and red, with giant safety pins pierced through the skirt, and Gabby in sky blue and white, her blond hair in a high ponytail. Both of them carried sparkly pompoms and made a lot of noise when they shook them.

“Oh my God, what are you guys wearing?” Madeline snickered.

“It’s ironic, duh,” Gabby trilled, lifting a pompom high in the air.

Emma smiled at all of them. These were Sutton’s friends, but she’d begun to think of them as her friends, too. Aside from Alex, her best friend from Henderson, she’d never been close to any girls, let alone a whole group of them. It was a nice feeling, even if she couldn’t talk to them about her actual problems.

I wasn’t sure I had talked to my friends about my serious problems either. We loved each other with a fierce loyalty, but we weren’t the best at saying it. I think we were all so focused on maintaining our fabulous images that we forgot they weren’t always real.

Emma pulled her hair into a knot and did some deep knee bends to stretch. Her legs still ached from chasing Becky’s car, but she’d gotten a lot stronger while pretending to be Sutton—she’d had tennis practice almost every day.

“Oh my God, Sutton, are you actually playing this year?” Madeline asked, incredulous.

“I thought I’d try something new,” Emma said lightly. Though football clearly hadn’t been Sutton’s thing, she was actually looking forward to this game. The closest thing to a family outing she’d ever had in foster care was a trip to the recycling center to turn in soda cans. She loved that the Mercers had annual traditions like this. Plus, it was just the kind of distraction she needed after the panic of receiving another note from Sutton’s murderer.

“But you always complain about how much you hate grass stains and that Dad’s end-zone shuffle makes you want to die of embarrassment,” Laurel said cautiously.

Emma elbowed Laurel, grinning. “Scared I’ll beat you, little sis?”

“You wish.” Laurel laughed. “Bring it on!”

Emma surveyed the field. Besides Sutton’s friends, plenty of other kids from Hollier were gathered to play. Emma waved at Nisha Banerjee, who sipped an iced tea under the awning, and Nisha gave her a friendly wave back. Nisha and Sutton had been rivals, both on the tennis court and off, but Emma had recently forged a tentative friendship with her. Sutton’s ex-boyfriend Garrett Austin was here, too, sharing a hot dog with his younger sister, a sophomore with Buddy Holly glasses and purple hair. Emma avoided catching his eye—she’d broken his heart after he’d offered his willing body to her on her birthday.

Charlotte grabbed her by the elbow. “Don’t look now, but you have an admirer.”

Emma glanced around, looking for Ethan, but it was Thayer whose eyes she met. He stood in a group of guys across the field. The other boys were punching each other on the arm and horsing around, but Thayer just stared at Emma. When she caught his eye, he grinned bashfully and looked down.

He meant that look for me, I repeated to myself, but knowing it didn’t make it any easier to watch.

“Here we go again,” Madeline groaned.

“What?” Emma turned to her friends. They were all watching her with varying degrees of skepticism on their faces. She swallowed nervously. It wasn’t that hard to guess what they were thinking—that something was going on between her and Thayer. Ever since he’d returned to Tucson, things between Emma and Sutton’s friends had been a bit tense. Charlotte hated the fact that Sutton always seemed to get all the guys—which Sutton hadn’t exactly helped when she’d stolen Garrett from Charlotte several months ago. Madeline didn’t think Sutton was good for Thayer, who was recovering from his alcohol addiction. And as for Laurel, she and Thayer had been best friends for a long time. She’d always had a crush on him, which had made it especially humiliating when Sutton decided to go for him. Emma could only imagine how upset Laurel had been when she found out Thayer was meeting her sister in secret the whole time he was supposedly missing.

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