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Home > Crushed (Pretty Little Liars #13)(8)

Crushed (Pretty Little Liars #13)(8)
Author: Sara Shepard

But then the girl spoke. “Oh, there you are!” she said to someone across the room. It was Chassey Bledsoe’s honking-horn voice, the same voice that had called after Hanna, Ali, and the others on the playground in middle school, desperate to be part of their group. New-and-improved Chassey flounced over to her best friend, Phi Templeton, who was sitting in a booth in the corner. Though Phi was in ill-fitting Mudd jeans and an oversized T-shirt with a stain over a boob, it didn’t seem to cramp New Chassey’s style.

“Wasn’t she out of school for, like, a month with shingles?” Hanna whispered. Chassey was in her calculus class; the teacher had taken pity on her because she’d had shingles once, too.

“I thought so.” Mike drummed his fingers on the bar. “But if that’s what shingles does to you, maybe more girls should get it.”

Kirsten Cullen, who was sitting at a bistro table near Hanna, raised an eyebrow, listening in. “She looks amazing. She should totally run for May Queen.”

More kids murmured that New Chassey should run—even some of the lax team Hanna-chanters called out a halfhearted “Chas-sey.” Hanna looked at Mike helplessly. “Can’t you do something?”

Mike raised his palms. “Do what?”

“I don’t know! May Queen is my thing!”

Beep.

Hanna’s cell phone flashed insistently inside her purse. She pulled it out. ONE NEW TEXT FROM ANONYMOUS.

Her stomach sank. She hadn’t heard from A all week, but she’d known it would only be a matter of time. She glanced around the restaurant, hoping to spot the texter. A figure slipped behind a fountain in the courtyard. The door to the kitchen swung shut fast, swallowing up a shadow.

Bracing herself, she pressed READ.

Only losers campaign against losers. Make any effort to win, and not only will you lose my respect—I’ll tell Agent Fuji about all your naughty little lies. —A

3

Dear Emily, I’m On to You

That same afternoon, Emily Fields and her mother entered a boutique called Grrl Power in Manayunk, a hipster neighborhood in Philadelphia. A song by a grungy girl band blared through the stereo speakers. A girl with a pierced eyebrow and a half-shaved head watched them from the other side of the counter. Two girls with hands in each other’s pockets perused the jeans section. Mannequins wore tees that boasted things like I CAN’T EVEN THINK STRAIGHT! and I’M NOT GAY, BUT MY GIRLFRIEND IS.

Mrs. Fields sifted through items on a table, then held up a pair of canary-yellow leggings. “These are cute, don’t you think? I could wear them on my morning walks.”

Emily stared at them. Printed on the butt was I LOVE A GOOD MUFFIN IN THE MORNING. She wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Did her mom know what that meant?

Then she looked around. Everyone in the store seemed to be staring at her, on the verge of cracking up. She yanked the leggings from her mom’s hand.

Mrs. Fields stepped away from the table, looking cowed. Instantly, Emily wondered if she’d been too harsh. Her mom was trying so hard. This was the same woman who’d banished Emily to Iowa for coming out last year. Emily had just dropped another bomb on her mom, too: She’d had a baby last summer and given her away to a couple in Chestnut Hill. For a while, her family had cut her off entirely, but there was nothing like a real bomb on a cruise ship and a near-drowning at sea to put things in perspective. When Emily returned from the cruise alive, her parents had given her a hero’s welcome and promised to try to make things right.

So far, Mr. Fields had made Emily banana pancakes for breakfast every day this past week. Both her parents had sat at Emily’s computer and looked at her cruise photos with her, oohing and aahing at her shots of glowing orange sunsets and far-off dolphin fins. Today, Mrs. Fields had come into Emily’s bedroom at eight AM and announced they were going to have a girls’ day: manicures, lunch, and then shopping in Manayunk. Even though mani-pedis and shopping weren’t Emily’s thing, she’d readily agreed.

Emily placed the leggings back on the table and selected a red pair that read GIRLS RULE on the butt. She handed them to her mom. “I think red looks the best on you.”

The smile returned to her mom’s face. There. That felt better.

Then Mrs. Fields’s phone beeped, and she pulled it out of her pocket, looked at the screen, and smiled. “Carolyn just texted that she aced her biology final. Isn’t that great?”

Emily pulled her bottom lip into her mouth. Her sister was now at Stanford on a swim scholarship, and Emily had heard secondhand how she’d struggled with the coursework all year. Carolyn hadn’t told her herself, of course. Her sister had bitterly hidden Emily in Philly during the later stages of her pregnancy, and they weren’t exactly on speaking terms.

Emily fiddled with a studded leather bracelet on a display tray. “So when do you think I’ll hear from Carolyn?”

Mrs. Fields refolded a T-shirt she’d been looking at, carefully avoiding Emily’s gaze. “I’m sure she’ll call you soon.”

“Does she really want to apologize?”

Mrs. Fields’s eyelid twitched. “We should concentrate on you and me, don’t you think? I’m so happy that we’re out together. I hope we can do this more often.”

Emily cocked her head. “So . . . that means Carolyn is still really mad?”

Mrs. Fields’s cell phone blared, and she made a big production of rooting through her bag to find it. “I need to take this,” she said briskly, even though Emily was pretty sure it was only her dad . . . or maybe Carolyn herself.

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