11. AT LEAST SWEET POTATOES HAVE LOTS OF VITAMIN A

“Her. Definitely her,” Hanna whispered, pointing.

“Nah. They’re too small!” Mona whispered back.

“But look at the way they puff up at the top! Totally fake,” Hanna countered.

“I think that woman over there has had her butt done.”

“Gross.” Hanna wrinkled her nose and ran her hands over the sides of her own toned, perfectly round butt to make sure it was still perfectly perfect. It was late afternoon on Wednesday, just two days until Noel Kahn’s annual field party, and she and Mona were lounging on the outside terrace at Yam, the organic caf? at Mona’s parents’ country club. Below them, a bunch of Rosewood boys played a quick round of golf before dinner, but Hanna and Mona were playing another type of game: Spot the Fake Boobs. Or fake anything else, as there was lots of fake stuff around here.

“Yeah, it looks like her surgeon messed up,” Mona murmured. “I think my mom plays tennis with her. I’ll ask.”

Hanna looked again at the pixieish, thirtysomething woman by the bar whose butt did look suspiciously extra-luscious for the rest of her toothpick-skinny figure. “I’d die before I got plastic surgery.”

Mona played with the charm on her Tiffany bracelet—the one she, evidently, didn’t have to give back. “Do you think Aria Montgomery had hers done?”

Hanna looked up, startled. “Why?”

“She’s really thin, and they’re like, too perfect,” Mona said. “She went to Finland or wherever, right? I hear in Europe they can do your boobs for really cheap.”

“I don’t think they’re fake,” Hanna murmured.

“How do you know?”

Hanna chewed on her straw. Aria’s boobs had always been there—she and Alison had been the only two of the friends who needed a bra in seventh grade. Ali always flaunted hers, but the only time Aria seemed to notice she even had boobs was when she knit everyone bras as Christmas gifts and had to make herself a larger size. “She just doesn’t seem the type,” Hanna answered. Talking to Mona about her old friends was awkward territory. Hanna still felt bad about how she and Ali and the others used to tease Mona back in seventh grade, but it always seemed too weird to bring up now.

Mona stared at her. “Are you all right? You look different today.”

Hanna flinched. “I do? How?”

Mona gave her a tiny smirk. “Whoa! Somebody’s jumpy!”

“I’m not jumpy,” Hanna said quickly. But she was: Ever since the police station and that e-mail she had gotten last night, she’d been freaking. This morning, her eyes even seemed more dull brown than green, and her arms looked disturbingly puffy. She had this horrible sense that she really was going to spontaneously morph back into her seventh-grade self.

A blond, giraffelike waitress interrupted them. “Have you decided?”

Mona looked at the menu. “I’ll have the Asian chicken salad, no dressing.”

Hanna cleared her throat. “I want a garden salad with sprouts, no dressing, and an extra-large order of sweet potato fries. In a carry-out box, please.”

As the waitress took their menus, Mona pushed her sunglasses down her nose. “Sweet potato fries?”

“For my mom,” Hanna answered quickly. “She lives on them.”

Down on the golf course, a group of older guys teed up, along with one young good-looking guy in fatigue shorts. He looked a little out of place with his messy brown hair, cargos, and…was that a…Rosewood Police polo? Oh no. It was.

Wilden scanned the terrace and coolly nodded when he saw Hanna. She ducked.

“Who is that?” Mona purred.

“Um…,” Hanna mumbled, half under the table. Darren Wilden was a golfer? Come on. Back in high school, he was the type to flick lit matches at the guys on Rosewood’s golf team. Was the whole world out to get her?

Mona squinted. “Wait. Didn’t he go to our school?” She grinned. “Oh my God. It’s the girls’ diving team guy. Hanna, you little bitch! How does he know you?”

“He’s…” Hanna paused. She ran her hand along the waistband of her jeans. “I met him on the Marwyn trail a couple of days ago when I was running. We stopped at the water fountain at the same time.”

“Nice,” Mona said. “Does he work around here?”

Hanna paused again. She really wanted to avoid this. “Um…I think he said he was a cop,” she said nonchalantly.

“You’re kidding.” Mona took out her Shu Uemura lip moisturizer from her blue leather hobo bag and lightly dabbed her bottom lip. “That guy’s hot enough to be in a policeman’s calendar. I could just see it: Mr. April. Let’s ask if we can see his nightstick!”

“Shhh,” Hanna hissed.

Their salads came. Hanna pushed the Styrofoam container of sweet potato fries to the side and took a bite of an undressed grape tomato.

Mona leaned closer. “I bet you could hook up with him.”

“Who?”

“Mr. April! Who else?”

Hanna snorted. “Right.”

“Totally. You should bring him to the Kahn party. I heard some cops came to the party last year. That’s how they never get busted.”

Hanna sat back. The Kahn party was a legendary Rosewood tradition. The Kahns lived on twenty-some acres of land, and the Kahn boys—Noel was the youngest—held a back-to-school party every year. The kids raided their parents’ extremely well-stocked liquor supply in the basement, and there was always a scandal. Last year, Noel shot his best friend James in the bare ass with his BB gun because James had tried to make out with Noel’s then-girlfriend, Alyssa Pennypacker. They were both so drunk they laughed the whole way to the ER and couldn’t remember how or why it happened. The year before that, a bunch of stoners smoked too much and tried to get Mr. Kahn’s Appaloosas to take hits from a bong.

“Nah.” Hanna bit into another tomato. “I think I’m going with Sean.”

Mona scrunched up her face. “Why waste a perfectly good party night on Sean? He took a virginity pledge! He probably won’t even go.”

“Just because you sign a virginity pledge doesn’t mean you stop partying, too.” Hanna took a big bite of her salad, crunching the dry, unappetizing vegetables in her mouth.

“Well, if you’re not gonna ask Mr. April to Noel’s, I will.” Mona stood up.

Hanna grabbed her arm. “No!”

“Why not? C’mon. It’d be fun.”

Hanna dug her fingernails into Mona’s arm. “I said no.”

Mona sat back down and stuck out her lip. “Why not?”

Hanna’s heart galloped. “All right. You can’t tell anyone, though.” She took a deep breath. “I met him at the police station, not the trail. I was called in for questioning for the Tiffany’s thing. But it’s not a big deal. I’m not busted.”

“Oh my God!” Mona yelled. Wilden looked up at them again.

“Shhh!” Hanna hissed.

“Are you all right? What happened? Tell me everything,” Mona whispered back.

“There isn’t much to tell.” Hanna threw her napkin over her plate. “They brought me to the station, my mom came with me, and we sat for a while. They let me off with a warning. Whatever. The whole thing took like twenty minutes.”

“Yikes.” Mona gave Hanna an indeterminate look; Hanna wondered for a second if it was a look of pity.

“It wasn’t, like, dramatic or anything,” Hanna said defensively, her throat dry. “Not much happened. Most of the cops were on the phone. I text-messaged the whole time.” She paused, considering whether she should tell Mona about that “not it” text message she’d received from A, whoever A was. But why waste her breath? It couldn’t have actually meant anything, right?

Mona took a sip of her Perrier. “I thought you’d never get caught.”

Hanna swallowed hard. “Yeah, well…”

“Did your mom totally kill you?”

Hanna looked away. On the drive home, her mom had asked Hanna if she’d meant to steal the bracelet and earrings. When Hanna said no, Ms. Marin answered, “Good. It’s settled then.” Then she flipped open her cell to make a call.

Hanna shrugged and stood up. “I just remembered—I gotta go walk Dot.”

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Mona asked. “Your face looks kind of splotchy.”

“No biggie.” She smacked her lips glamorously at Mona and turned for the door.

Hanna sauntered coolly out of the restaurant, but once she got to the parking lot, she broke into a run. She climbed inside her Toyota Prius—a car her mom had bought for herself last year but had recently handed off to Hanna because she’d grown tired of it—and checked her face in the rearview mirror. There were hideous bright red patches on her cheeks and forehead.

After her transformation, Hanna had been neurotically careful about not only looking cool and perfect at all times, but being cool and perfect, too. Terrified that the tiniest mistake would send her spiraling back to dorkdom, she labored over every last detail, from little things like the perfect IM screen name and the right mix for her car’s built-in iPod, to bigger stuff like the right combo of people to invite over before someone’s party and choosing the perfect it boy to date—who, luckily, was the same boy she’d loved since seventh grade. Had getting caught for shoplifting just tarnished the perfect, controlled, ?ber-cool Hanna everyone had come to know? She hadn’t been able to read that look on Mona’s face when she said “yikes.” Had the look meant, Yikes, but no big deal? Or, Yikes, what a loser?

She wondered if maybe she shouldn’t have told Mona at all. But then…someone else already knew. A.

Know what Sean’s going to say? Not it!

Hanna’s field of vision went blurry. She squeezed the steering wheel for a few seconds, then jammed the key into the ignition and rolled out of the country club parking lot to a gravelly, dead-end turn-off a few yards down the road. She could hear her heart pounding at her temples as she turned off the engine and took deep breaths. The wind smelled like hay and just-mown grass.

Hanna shut her eyes tight. When she opened them, she stared at the container of sweet potato fries. Don’t, she thought. A car swished by on the main road.

Hanna wiped her hands on her jeans. She snuck another peek at the container. The fries smelled delicious. Don’t, don’t, don’t.

She reached over for them and opened the lid. Their sweet, warm smell wafted into her face. Before she could stop herself, Hanna shoved handful after handful of fries into her mouth. The fries were still so hot that they burned her tongue, but she didn’t care. It was such a relief; this was the only thing that made her feel better. She didn’t stop until she’d eaten them all and even licked the sides of the container for the salt that had gathered at the bottom.

At first she felt much, much calmer. But by the time she pulled into her driveway, the old, familiar feelings of panic and shame had welled up inside her. Hanna was amazed how, even though it had been years since she’d done this, everything felt exactly the same. Her stomach ached, her pants felt tight, and all she wanted was to be rid of what was inside of her.

Ignoring Dot’s excited cries from her bedroom, Hanna bolted to the upstairs bathroom, slammed the door, and collapsed onto the tiled floor. Thank God her mom wasn’t home from work yet. At least she wouldn’t hear what Hanna was about to do.

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