During her free period Thursday afternoon, Spencer strode into the Rosewood Day reading room. With its ceiling-high stacks of reference books, giant pedestal globe in the corner, and stained-glass window on the far wall, it was her favorite place on campus. She stood in the middle of the empty room, closed her eyes, and inhaled the old, leather-bound book smell.

Everything had gone her way today: The unusual cold snap had allowed her to wear her brand-new Marc Jacobs pale blue wool coat, the Rosewood Day caf? barista had made her a perfect double skim latte, she’d just aced a French oral exam, and tonight she would be moving into the barn, while Melissa had to sleep in her old, cramped bedroom.

Despite all that, an uneasy haze hung over her. It was a cross between a bothersome feeling she sometimes had when she’d forgotten to do something and the sense that someone was…well, watching her. It was obvious why she was feeling so off: that creepy “covet” e-mail. The flash of blond hair in Ali’s old window. The fact that only Ali knew about Ian…

Trying to shake it off, she sat down at the computer, adjusted the waistband of her navy blue Wolford patterned stockings, and logged on to the Internet. She began research for her upcoming AP bio project, but after scrolling through a list of Google results, she typed, Wren Kim, into the search engine.

Trolling through the results, she stifled a giggle. On a site called Mill Hill School, London, there was a photo of a longer-haired Wren standing next to a Bunsen burner and a bunch of test tubes. Another link was to Oxford University’s Corpus Christi College student portal; there was a photo of Wren looking gorgeous in Shakespearean garb, holding a skull. She hadn’t known Wren was into drama. As she tried to magnify the photo to check out the fit of his tights, someone tapped her on the shoulder.

“That your boyfriend?”

Spencer jumped, knocking her crystal-studded Sidekick cell phone to the floor. Andrew Campbell grinned awkwardly behind her.

She quickly closed the window. “Of course not!”

Andrew bent down to pick up her Sidekick, pushing a lock of straight, shoulder-length hair out of his eyes. Spencer noticed that he might actually have a chance at being cute if he cut off that lion’s mane.

“Oops,” he said, handing the Sidekick back to her. “I think a jewel thing fell off.”

Spencer grabbed it from him. “You scared me.”

“Sorry about that.” Andrew smiled. “So your boyfriend’s an actor?”

“I said he wasn’t my boyfriend!”

Andrew stepped back. “Sorry. Just making conversation.”

Spencer eyed him suspiciously.

“Anyway,” Andrew went on, hefting his North Face backpack higher on his shoulder. “I was wondering. You going to Noel’s tomorrow? I could give you a ride.”

Spencer looked at him blankly and then remembered: Noel Kahn’s field party. She’d gone to last year’s. Kids did beer funnels, and practically every girl cheated on her boyfriend. This year would be more of the same. And what—Andrew seriously thought she’d ride with him in his Mini? Would they both even fit? “Doubt it,” she said.

Andrew’s face fell. “Yeah, I guess you’re probably kind of busy.”

Spencer furrowed her brow. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Andrew shrugged. “You seem to have a lot going on. Your sister’s home, right?”

Spencer leaned back in her chair and drew her bottom lip into her mouth. “Yeah, she just got home last night. How’d you know tha—”

She stopped. Wait a second. Andrew drove his Mini up and down her street all the time. She’d seen him just yesterday, when she was at the mailbox getting her test scores….

She swallowed hard. Now that she thought about it, she might have seen his black Mini drive by the day she and Wren were in the hot tub together. He must’ve been driving it up and down her street a lot to notice Melissa was home. What if…what if Andrew was the one skulking around spying on her? What if Andrew wrote that creepy “covet” e-mail? Andrew was so competitive it seemed possible. Wouldn’t sending threatening messages be a good way to throw someone off her game and make it easier to be reelected as next year’s class president…or, even better, beat out his competition for valedictorian? And the long hair! Maybe she’d seen him in Ali’s old window?

Unbelievable! Spencer stared at Andrew incredulously.

“Is something wrong?” Andrew asked, looking concerned.

“I have to go.” She gathered up her books and walked out of the reading room.

“Wait,” Andrew called.

Spencer kept going. But as she pushed through the library doors, she realized that she didn’t feel enraged. Sure, it was bizarre that Andrew was spying on her, but if Andrew was A, Spencer was safe. Whatever Andrew thought he had on her, it was nothing…nothing…compared to what Alison knew.

She reached the door to the commons—coming in at the same time was Emily Fields.

“Hey,” Emily said. A nervous look crossed her face.

“Hey,” Spencer answered.

Emily readjusted her Nike backpack. Spencer pushed her bangs off her face. When was the last time she’d spoken to Emily?

“It got cold out, huh?” Emily asked.

Spencer nodded. “Yeah.”

Emily smiled in that I-don’t-know-what-to-say-to-you way. Then Tracey Reid, another swimmer, grabbed Emily’s arm. “When is our swimsuit money due?” she asked.

As Emily answered, Spencer wiped some nonexistent dirt off her blazer and wondered if she could just walk away or if she had to say a formal good-bye. Then something on Emily’s wrist caught her eye. Emily was still wearing her blue string bracelet from sixth grade. Alison had made them for everyone right after the accident—The Jenna Thing—happened.

Initially, they’d just wanted to get Jenna’s brother, Toby; it was supposed to be a prank. After the five of them planned it, Ali went across the street to watch through Toby’s tree house window, and then when it happened, it did something…horrible…to Jenna.

After the ambulance pulled away from Jenna’s house, Spencer discovered something about the accident none of the other girls ever found out: Toby saw Ali, but Ali saw Toby doing something just as bad. He couldn’t tell on her, because then she’d tell on him.

Not long after, Ali made everyone the bracelets to remind them they were best friends forever and now that they shared a secret like this, they had to protect one another forever. Spencer waited for Ali to tell the others that someone saw her, but she never did.

When the cops questioned Spencer after Ali went missing, they asked if Ali had any enemies, anyone who hated her so much they might want to hurt her. Spencer said that Ali was a popular girl, and like any popular girl, there were some girls who didn’t like her, but it was just jealousy.

That, of course, was a bold-faced lie. There were people who hated Ali, and Spencer knew she should tell the police what Ali told her about The Jenna Thing…that maybe Toby wanted to hurt Ali…but how could she tell them that without telling them why? Spencer couldn’t get through a day without passing Toby and Jenna’s house on her street. But they’d been sent away to boarding school and hardly ever came home, so she thought their secret was safe. They were safe from Toby. And Spencer was safe from ever having to tell her best friends what she alone knew.

As Tracey Reid said good-bye, Emily turned around. She seemed surprised Spencer was still standing there. “I’ve got to get to class,” she said. “Good to see you, though.”

“’Bye,” Spencer answered, and she and Emily exchanged one last awkward smile.


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