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Home > Wanted (Pretty Little Liars #8)(7)

Wanted (Pretty Little Liars #8)(7)
Author: Sara Shepard

“It’s not true,” he protested. There were pink splotches on his face and neck.

“Whatever, dude.” Mason rolled his eyes. “I know this is your locker.” He flashed his iPhone screen toward Naomi, Kate, and Riley. They groaned and squealed.

Hanna squeezed Mike’s hand. “What’s going on?”

Mike’s gray-blue eyes were wide. “Someone sent Mason a photo of my lacrosse locker,” he said sheepishly. “But they weren’t mine, I swear.”

“Sure, skidmarks,” James teased.

“Skidz,” Naomi quipped. Everyone tittered.

“What wasn’t yours?” Hanna glanced briefly at Naomi, Riley, and Kate. They were still staring at Mason’s iPhone. “What wasn’t Mike’s?” she repeated firmly.

“Someone’s got a little skids problem,” Riley chimed gleefully. The lax boys chortled and nudged each other.

“I don’t,” Mike protested. “Someone’s messing with me.”

Mason snorted. “You’re messing yourself, more like it.”

Everyone giggled again and Hanna grabbed the iPhone from Mason. On the screen was a picture of a Rosewood Day sports locker. Hanna recognized Mike’s blue Ralph Lauren hoodie hanging from a hook, and nestled on the top shelf was his lucky Kellogg’s Corn Flakes stuffed rooster. Front and center was a pair of white D&G boxer-briefs that were blatantly…skidded.

She slowly untangled her hand from Mike’s and stepped away.

“I don’t even wear D&G underwear.” Mike stabbed at the screen, trying to delete the photo.

Naomi let out a screech. “Ew, Mason, Skidz touched your phone!”

“Purell!” James declared.

Mason took the phone from Hanna and held it tentatively between his thumb and forefinger. “Ugh. Skidz germs!”

“Skidz germs!” the girls echoed. A couple of blond, willowy freshman girls across the hall whispered and pointed. One of them took a picture with her camera phone.

Hanna glowered at Mason. “Who sent you this photo?”

Mason shoved his hands into the pockets of his pin-striped dress pants. “A concerned citizen. I didn’t recognize the number.”

Across the room, a poster for an upcoming French club food festival warped and wobbled before Hanna’s eyes. It was just the kind of text A would have sent. But A was Billy…and Billy had been arrested.

“You believe me, right?” Mike took Hanna’s hand again.

“Aw, they’re holding hands!” Riley elbowed Naomi. “Skidz found a girl who doesn’t mind his dirty undies!”

“Don’t they make a cute couple?” Kate giggled. “Skidz and Psycho!”

The group exploded into jeering laughter. “I’m not a psycho,” Hanna cried, her voice cracking.

The laughing continued unabated. Hanna looked around helplessly. A bunch of kids in the hall were staring. Even a student teacher ducked out of an earth science classroom and looked on with benign curiosity.

“Let’s get out of here,” Mike murmured in Hanna’s ear. He wheeled around and stormed down the hall. His shoelace was untied, but he didn’t stop to fix it. Hanna wanted to follow, but her legs felt fused to the polished marble floor. The giggles multiplied.

This was worse than the time in fifth grade when Ali, Naomi, and Riley called Hanna a “butterball” in gym, taking turns poking her stomach like the Pillsbury Doughboy. This was worse than when Hanna’s presumed best friend in the world, Mona Vanderwaal, sent her a six-sizes-too-small court dress to wear to her birthday party—the dress split down the butt as soon as she walked in. Mike was supposed to be popular. She was supposed to be popular. And now they were both…freaks.

Hanna swept through the lobby and outside. The brisk February air bit at her nose and set the flags in the center of the green flapping angrily against the flagpole. They were no longer at half-mast, but a couple of people had placed flowers honoring Jenna and Ali at the base of the pole. Buses groaned into the drive and idled at the curb, ready for afternoon pickup. A couple of crows hunched under a spindly limbed willow tree. A dark shadow slid behind an overgrown shrub.

Goose bumps rose on Hanna’s arms, the photo of her that had run in People popping into her mind. Hanna’s crazy roommate at the Preserve, Iris, had taken it in a secret attic room whose walls were decorated with doodles from patients past. The drawing right behind Hanna’s head, eerily close to her face, was a huge, unmistakable portrait of Ali. The girl in the drawing looked ominous and…alive. I know something you don’t, the Ali on the wall seemed to say. And I’m keeping a secret.

Just then, someone tapped Hanna’s shoulder. She screamed and whipped around. Emily Fields took a couple of defensive steps back, holding her hands in front of her face. “Sorry!”

Hanna ran her fingers through her hair, taking heaping breaths. “God,” she groaned. “Don’t do that.”

“I had to find you,” Emily said, out of breath. “I was just called into the office. Ali’s mom was on the phone.”

“Mrs. DiLaurentis?” Hanna wrinkled her nose. “Why would she bother you at school?”

Emily rubbed her bare hands together. “They’re holding a press conference at their house right now,” she said. “Mrs. DiLaurentis wants all of us to be there. She said she had something she needed to tell us.”

An icy shiver wriggled up Hanna’s spine. “What does that mean?”

“I don’t know.” Emily’s eyes were wide and her freckles stood out on her pale skin. “But we’d better get over there. It’s starting now.”

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