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Home > Ali's Pretty Little Lies (Pretty Little Liars 0.5)(3)

Ali's Pretty Little Lies (Pretty Little Liars 0.5)(3)
Author: Sara Shepard

“Do you see them out there?” Courtney asked Ali, who was now standing at a counter, angrily whipping through a magazine, headphones in her ears. Jason was gone, and by the sounds of it, their parents were still upstairs, getting dressed.

Ali’s head snapped up. She tore the headphones out. “Huh?”

“There are some girls outside. One of them is the girl who lives next door.”

“She’s in the yard?” Ali looked annoyed and walked to the window. But when she peered out, she frowned. “I don’t see Spencer. Thank God.”

“You’re not friends with her?”

Ali snorted. “No. She’s a bitch.”

And you’re not? Courtney thought.

Ali turned to face her as if Courtney had said it out loud. A nasty smile settled across her lips. “Cute shirt. But it’s giving me déjà vu.”

Courtney grabbed a banana from the basket. “I liked the color.”

“Yeah, right.” Ali sauntered to the counter and grabbed a donut from the open box.

“Careful,” Courtney said, strolling toward her. “Donuts will make you fat.”

Jelly dripped down Ali’s chin. “So will mental hospital food, schizo.”

Courtney winced. She wasn’t a schizo, and Ali knew it. “Don’t.”

“Don’t,” Ali imitated, her features turning ugly.

Courtney sucked in her stomach. Ali always used a nasal, dumbed-down voice to mimic her. “Stop it,” she snapped.

“Stop it,” Ali imitated.

Courtney felt the old fire rise up inside, the one that had gotten her in trouble before. Although she tried her hardest to suppress it, something broke loose. “Guess what,” she spat. “I do have your Time Capsule flag.”

Ali’s eyes widened. “I knew it. Give it back.”

“It’s gone,” Courtney said. “I gave it to Jason. And he doesn’t want to give it back to you.” It wasn’t exactly the truth, but this version sounded better.

Ali glowered at Jason, who had just reappeared in the doorway. “Is this true? You knew she had my flag?”

Jason looked back and forth between the girls, his gaze lingering on their matching outfits. “Well, yeah, Ali, but—”

Ali’s gaze darted to something in Jason’s pocket. The shiny blue fabric peeked out. She snatched it out halfway, her eyes widening at the wishing well that was now wedged between the manga frog and the bubble-letter awesome. Her eyes narrowed on Courtney. “Did you draw this?”

Jason grabbed it back from her and stuffed it back in his pocket. “Ali, just let it go.”

Ali squared her shoulders. “You’re always on her side!”

“I’m not on anyone’s side,” Jason said.

“Yes, you are!” Ali glowered at Courtney. “It’s a good thing I told Mom that you threatened me last night. That’s why you’re going to the Preserve, you know.”

Courtney’s eyes widened. “I didn’t do anything to you!”

Ali tipped her chin down. “Maybe you did. Maybe you didn’t. Either way, you’re not welcome here, bitch.”

“Ali, enough!” Jason shouted.

“Enough!” Ali imitated with a sneer. When she brushed past him for the stairs, she shoved him. Jason staggered backward and crashed into a wrought-iron bookshelf. The whole thing wobbled, and a platter with the New York City skyline on the top shelf shook precariously. Jason lunged forward, but it was too late. The plate shattered on the wood floor.

The silence after the crash was deafening. Jason glared at Courtney, who had frozen in the corner. “Why did you have to start things with her?” he hissed.

“I couldn’t help it,” Courtney said weakly.

“Yes, you could,” Jason said. And then, letting out a frustrated groan, he pushed out the back door.

Courtney’s insides turned over. “Jason, wait!” she yelled, running to the window. Jason was her only ally—she couldn’t have him angry at her. But when she gazed out the glass, Jason was gone. The four girls were still cowering in the bushes, though.

She glanced over her shoulder into the kitchen. Pieces of the New York City plate lay all over the floor. Soon enough, her mother would appear from wherever she was and discover the mess. She would call to her two daughters to ask what had happened. One would appear from upstairs. What if the other daughter was outside, talking to a few girls from school? It wouldn’t be Courtney out there, after all—she didn’t know anyone. She wasn’t even allowed outside.

This was it. Her opportunity. If she went out there, their parents would think she was Ali, not Courtney. It would be the first time she’d ever impersonated her sister without Ali making her. The first thing you need to do, she told herself, is channel her. No one will believe you’re her if you don’t. So she shut her eyes and channeled her sister. A beautiful bitch. A manipulative queen bee. The girl who’d ruined her life.

Her skin prickled. It wasn’t even that difficult: Courtney had been the queen bee of a group of popular girls at the Radley, scoring the best table in the day room, controlling what shows they watched on TV, putting on the best performance for the ward’s talent show. And even before she’d gone to the Radley, kids had loved her—more than her sister, in fact. People felt at ease with Courtney; they picked her first for kickball, they teamed up with her for art projects, she got more valentines than anyone else in the class. Ali, however, sometimes put people off. She was too pushy, too intense. She yelled at people when no adults were watching, pouted when she didn’t get the best gift in the Secret Santa exchange, and once even kicked a girl’s brand-new kitten that she’d brought to show-and-tell. Yes, Ali was beautiful—a teensy bit more beautiful than Courtney, in fact—but she wasn’t the most-loved. It was why she’d worked so hard to get Courtney out of the picture. She wanted to be the one and only star.

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