3. HANNA’S FIRST TOGGLE

“And apparently they were having sex in Bethany’s parents’ bedroom!”

Hanna Marin stared at her best friend, Mona Vanderwaal, across the table. It was two days before school started and they were sitting in the King James Mall’s terraced French-inspired caf?, Rive Gauche, drinking red wine, comparing Vogue to Teen Vogue, and gossiping. Mona always knew the best dirt on people. Hanna took another sip of wine and noticed a fortysomething guy staring lecherously at them. A regular Humbert Humbert, Hanna thought, but didn’t say out loud. Mona wouldn’t get the literary reference, but just because Hanna was the most sought-after girl at Rosewood Day didn’t mean she was above sampling the books on Rosewood Day’s recommended summer reading list now and then, especially when she was lying out next to her pool with nothing to do. Besides Lolita looked deliciously dirty.

Mona swiveled around to see who Hanna was looking at. Her lips twisted up into a naughty smile. “We should flash him.”

“Count of three?” Hanna’s amber eyes widened.

Mona nodded. On three, the girls slowly pulled up the hems of their already sky-high minis, revealing their panties. Humbert’s eyes boggled and he knocked his glass of pinot noir into the crotch of his khakis. “Shit!” he yelled before he shot off to the bathroom.

“Nice,” Mona said. They threw their napkins on their uneaten salads and stood to leave.

They’d become friends the summer between eighth and ninth grade, when they both got cut from Rosewood’s freshman cheerleading tryouts. Vowing to make the squad the following year, they decided to lose tons of weight—so they could be the cute, perky girls that the boys tossed in the air. But once they got skinny and gorgeous, they decided cheerleading was pass? and the cheerleaders were losers, so they never bothered trying out for the team again.

Since then, Hanna and Mona shared everything—well, almost everything. Hanna hadn’t told Mona how she’d lost weight so quickly—it was too gross to talk about. While hard-core dieting was sexy and admirable, there was nothing, nothing glamorous about eating a ton of fatty, greasy, preferably cheese-filled crap and then puking it all up. But Hanna was over that bad little habit by now, so it didn’t really matter.

“You know that guy had a boner,” Mona whispered, gathering the magazines into a pile. “What’s Sean gonna think?”

“He’ll laugh,” Hanna said.

“Uh, I don’t think so.”

Hanna shrugged. “He might.”

Mona snorted. “Yeah, flashing strangers goes well with a virginity pledge.”

Hanna looked down at her Michael Kors purple wedges. The virginity pledge. Hanna’s incredibly popular, extraordinarily hot boyfriend, Sean Ackard—the boy she’d lusted over since seventh grade—was behaving a little strangely lately. He’d always been Mr. All-American Boy Scout—as in volunteering at the old-age home and serving turkey to the homeless on Thanksgiving—but last night, when Hanna, Sean, Mona, and a bunch of other kids were hanging out in Jim Freed’s cedar hot tub, covertly drinking Coronas, Sean had taken All-American Boy Scout up a notch. He’d announced, a little proudly, that he’d signed a virginity “promise” and vowed not to have sex before marriage. Everyone, Hanna included, had been too stunned to respond.

“He’s not serious,” Hanna said confidently. How could he be? A bunch of kids signed the promise; Hanna figured it was just a passing trend, like those Lance Armstrong bracelets or Yogalates.

“You think?” Mona smirked, brushing her long bangs out of her eyes. “Let’s see what happens at Noel’s party next Friday.”

Hanna gritted her teeth. It seemed like Mona was laughing at her. “I want to go shopping,” she said, standing up.

“How about Tiffany’s?” Mona asked.

“Awesome.”

They strolled through the brand-new luxe section of the King James Mall, which had a Burberry, a Tiffany’s, a Gucci, and a Coach; smelled of the latest Michael Kors perfume; and was packed full of pretty back-to-prep-school girls with their beautiful moms. On a solo shopping trip a few weeks ago, Hanna had noticed her old friend Spencer Hastings slipping into the new Kate Spade, and remembered how she used to special-order an entire season’s worth of nylon shoulder bags from New York.

Hanna felt funny knowing those sorts of details about someone she wasn’t friends with anymore. And as she watched Spencer peruse Kate Spade’s leather luggage, Hanna wondered if Spencer was thinking what she was thinking: that the mall’s new wing was just the sort of place Ali DiLaurentis would have loved. Hanna often thought of all the things Ali had missed—last year’s homecoming bonfire, Lauren Ryan’s sweet sixteen karaoke party in her family’s mansion, the return of round-toed shoes, Chanel’s leather iPod nano holders…iPod nanos, in general. But the biggest thing Ali had missed? Hanna’s makeover, of course—and it was such a bummer she had. Sometimes, when Hanna twirled around in front of her full-length mirror, she pretended that Ali was sitting behind her, critiquing her outfits the way she used to. Hanna had wasted so many years being a chubby, clingy loser, but things were so different now.

She and Mona strode into Tiffany’s; it was full of glass, chrome, and white lights that made the flawless diamonds extra shimmery. Mona prowled around the cases and then raised her eyebrows at Hanna. “Maybe a necklace?”

“What about a charm bracelet?” Hanna whispered.

“Perfect.”

They walked to the case and eyed the silver charm bracelet with the heart-shaped toggle. “So pretty,” Mona breathed.

“Interested?” an elegant older saleswoman asked them.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Hanna said.

“It suits you.” The woman unlocked the case and felt around for the bracelet. “It’s in all the magazines.”

Hanna nudged Mona. “You try it.”

Mona slid it onto her wrist. “It’s really beautiful.” Then the woman turned to another customer. When she did, Mona slid the bracelet off her wrist and into her pocket. Just like that.

Hanna mashed her lips together and flagged down another saleswoman, a honey-blond girl who wore coral lipstick. “Can I try that bracelet there, with the round charm?”

“Sure!” The girl unlocked the case. “I have one of these myself.”

“How about the matching earrings, too?” Hanna pointed to them.

“Of course.”

Mona had moved over to the diamonds. Hanna held the earrings and the bracelet in her hands. Together, they were $350. Suddenly, a swarm of Japanese girls crowded around the counter, all pointing at another round-charm bracelet in the glass case. Hanna scanned the ceilings for cameras and the doors for detectors.

“Oh, Hanna, come look at the Lucida!” Mona called.

Hanna paused. Time slowed down. She slid the bracelet onto her wrist and then shoved it farther up her sleeve. She stuck the earrings in her Louis Vuitton cherry-monogrammed coin purse. Hanna’s heart pounded. This was the best part of taking stuff: the feeling beforehand. She felt all buzzy and alive.

Mona waved a diamond ring at her. “Doesn’t this look good on me?”

“C’mon.” Hanna grabbed her arm. “Let’s go to Coach.”

“You don’t want to try any on?” Mona pouted. She always stalled after she knew Hanna had done the job.

“Nah,” Hanna said. “Purses are calling our names.” She felt the bracelet’s silver chain press gently into her arm. She had to get out of here while the Japanese girls were still bustling around the counter. The salesgirl hadn’t even looked back in her direction.

“All right,” Mona said dramatically. She handed the ring—holding it by its diamond, which even Hanna knew you weren’t supposed to do—back to the saleswoman. “These diamonds are all too small,” she said. “Sorry.”

“We have others,” the woman tried.

“Come on,” Hanna said, grabbing Mona’s arm.

Her heart hammered as they wove their way through Tiffany’s. The charm tinkled on her wrist, but she kept her sleeve pulled down. Hanna was a seasoned pro at this—first it had been loose candy at the Wawa convenience store, then CDs from Tower, then baby tees from Ralph Lauren—and she felt bigger and more badass every time. She shut her eyes and crossed the threshold, bracing herself for the alarms to blare.

But nothing did. They were out.

Mona squeezed her hand. “Did you get one too?”

“Of course.” She flashed the bracelet around her wrist. “And these.” She opened the coin purse and showed Mona the earrings.

“Shit.” Mona’s eyes widened.

Hanna smiled. Sometimes it felt so good to one-up your best friend. Not wanting to jinx it, she walked quickly away from Tiffany’s and listened for someone to come chasing after them. The only noise, though, was the burbling of the fountain and a Muzak version of “Oops! I Did It Again.”

Oh yes, I did, Hanna thought.

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