Hanna stared at the little dandelions growing out of the cracks in the sidewalk. Foxy was the annual charity ball for “the young members of Rosewood society,” sponsored by the Rosewood Foxhunting League, hence the name. A $250 donation to the league’s choice of charity got you dinner, dancing, a chance to see your picture in the Philadelphia Inquirer and on glam-R5.com—the area’s society blog—and it was a good excuse to dress up, drink up, and hook up with someone else’s boyfriend. Hanna had paid for her ticket in July, thinking she’d go with Sean. “I don’t know if I’m even going,” she mumbled gloomily.
“Of course you’re going.” Mona rolled her blue eyes and heaved a sigh. “Listen, just call me when they’ve reversed your lobotomy.” And then she put the car back into drive and zoomed off.
Hanna walked slowly back to her Prius. Her friends had gone, and her silver car looked lonely in the empty parking lot. An uneasy feeling nagged at her. Mona was her best friend, but there were tons of things Hanna wasn’t telling her right now. Like about A’s messages. Or how she’d gotten arrested Saturday morning for stealing Mr. Ackard’s car. Or that Sean dumped her, and not the other way around. Sean was so diplomatic, he’d only told his friends they’d “decided to see other people.” Hanna figured she could work the story to her advantage so no one would ever know the truth.
But if she told Mona any of that, it would show her that Hanna’s life was spiraling out of control. Hanna and Mona had re-created themselves together, and the rule was that as co-divas of the school, they had to be perfect. That meant staying swizzle-stick thin, getting skinny Paige jeans before anyone else, and never losing control. Any cracks in their armor could send them back to unfashionable dorkdom, and they never wanted to go back there. Ever. So Hanna had to pretend none of the horror of the past week had happened, even though it definitely had.
Hanna had never known anyone who had died, much less someone who was murdered. And the fact that it was Ali—in combination with the notes from A—was even spookier. If someone really knew about The Jenna Thing…and could tell…and if that someone had something to do with Ali’s death, Hanna’s life was definitely not in her control.
Hanna pulled up to her house, a massive brick Georgian that overlooked Mt. Kale. When she glanced at herself in the car’s rearview mirror, she was horrified to see that her skin was blotchy and oily and her pores looked enormous. She leaned closer to the mirror, and then suddenly…her skin was clear. Hanna took a few long, ragged breaths before getting out of the car. She’d been having a lot of hallucinations like this lately.
Shaken, she slid into her house and headed for her kitchen. When she strode through the French doors, she froze.
Hanna’s mother sat at the kitchen table with a plate of cheese and crackers in front of her. Her dark auburn hair was in a chignon, and her diamond-encrusted Chopard watch glinted in the afternoon sun. Her Motorola wireless headset hung from her ear.
And next to her…was Hanna’s father.
“We’ve been waiting for you,” her dad said.
Hanna took a step back. There was more gray in his hair, and he wore new wire-rimmed glasses, but otherwise he looked the same: tall, crinkly eyes, blue polo. His voice was the same, too—deep and calm, like an NPR commentator. Hanna hadn’t seen or spoken to him in almost four years. “What are you doing here?” she blurted.
“I’ve been doing some work in Philly,” Mr. Marin said, his voice squeaking nervously on work. He picked up his Doberman coffee cup. It was the mug her dad used faithfully when he’d lived with them; Hanna wondered if he’d rooted through the cupboard to find it. “Your mom called and told me about Alison. I’m so sorry, Hanna.”
“Yeah,” Hanna sounded out. She felt dizzy.
“Do you need to talk about anything?” Her mom nibbled on a piece of cheddar.
Hanna tilted her head, confused. Ms. Marin and Hanna’s relationship was more boss/intern than mother/daughter. Ashley Marin had clawed her way up the executive ladder at the Philly advertising firm McManus & Tate, and she treated everyone like her employee. Hanna couldn’t remember the last time her mom had asked her a touchy-feely question. Possibly never. “Um, that’s okay. But thanks,” she added, a little snottily.
Could they really blame her for being a tad bitter? After her parents divorced, her dad moved to Annapolis, started dating a woman named Isabel, and inherited a gorgeous quasi-stepdaughter, Kate. Her father made his new life so unwelcoming, Hanna visited him just once. Her dad hadn’t tried to call her, e-mail her, anything, in years. He didn’t even send birthday presents anymore—just checks.
Her father sighed. “This probably isn’t the best day to talk things over.”
Hanna eyed him. “Talk what over?”
Mr. Marin cleared his throat. “Well, your mom called me for another reason, too.” He lowered his eyes. “The car.”
Hanna frowned. Car? What car? Oh.
“It’s bad enough you stole Mr. Ackard’s car,” her father said. “But you left the scene of the accident?”
Hanna looked at her mom. “I thought this was taken care of.”
“Nothing is taken care of.” Ms. Marin glared at her.
Could’ve fooled me, Hanna wanted to say. When the cops let her go on Saturday, her mother mysteriously told Hanna she’d “worked things out” so Hanna wouldn’t be in trouble. The mystery was solved when Hanna found her mom and one of the young officers, Darren Wilden, practically doing it in her kitchen the next night.
“I’m serious,” Ms. Marin said, and Hanna stopped smirking. “The police have agreed to drop the case, yes, but it doesn’t change what’s going on with you, Hanna. First you steal from Tiffany, now this. I didn’t know what to do. So I called your father.”
Hanna stared at the plate of cheese, too weirded out to look either of them in the eye. Her mom had told her dad that she’d gotten caught shoplifting at Tiffany too?
Mr. Marin cleared his throat. “Although the case was dropped with the police, Mr. Ackard wants to settle it privately, out of court.”
Hanna bit the inside of her mouth. “Doesn’t insurance pay for those things?”
“That’s not it exactly,” Mr. Marin answered. “Mr. Ackard made your mother an offer.”
“Sean’s father is a plastic surgeon,” her mother explained, “but his pet project is a rehabilitation clinic for burn victims. He wants you to report there at three-thirty tomorrow.”
Hanna wrinkled her nose. “Why can’t we just give him the money?”
Ms. Marin’s tiny LG cell phone started to ring. “I think this will be a good lesson for you. To do some good for the community. To understand what you’ve done.”
“But I do understand!” Hanna Marin did not want to give her free time away to a burn clinic. If she had to volunteer, why couldn’t it be somewhere chic? Like at the UN, with Nicole and Angelina?
“It’s already settled,” Ms. Marin said brusquely. Then she shouted into her phone, “Carson? Did you do the mock-ups?”
Hanna sat with her fingernails pressed into her fists. Frankly, she wished she could go upstairs, change out of her funeral dress—was it making her thighs look huge, or was that just her reflection in the patio doors?—redo her makeup, lose five pounds, and do a shot of vodka. Then she would come back down and reintroduce herself.
When she glanced at her father, he gave her a very small smile. Hanna’s heart jumped. His lips parted as if he were going to speak, but then his cell phone rang, too. He held up one finger to Hanna to hold on. “Kate?” he answered.
Hanna’s heart sank. Kate. The gorgeous, perfect quasi-stepdaughter.
Her father tucked the phone under his chin. “Hey! How was the cross-country meet?” He paused, then beamed. “Under eighteen minutes? That’s awesome.”
Hanna grabbed a hunk of cheddar from the cheese plate. When she’d visited Annapolis, Kate wouldn’t look at her. She and Ali, who’d come with Hanna for moral support, had formed an insta–pretty girl bond, excluding Hanna entirely. It drove Hanna to wolf down every snack within a one-mile radius—this was back when she was chubby and ugly and ate and ate. When she clutched her stomach in binged-out agony, her father had wiggled her toe and said, “Little piggy not feeling so good?” In front of everyone. And then Hanna had fled to the bathroom and forced a toothbrush down her throat.
The hunk of cheddar hovered in front of Hanna’s mouth. Taking a deep breath, she stuffed it into a napkin instead and threw it in the trash. All that stuff happened a long time ago…when she was a very different Hanna. One only Ali knew about, and one Hanna had buried.
IS THERE AN AMISH SIGN-UP SHEET SOMEWHERE?
Emily Fields stood in front of the Gray Horse Inn, a crumbling stone building that was once a Revolutionary War hospital. The current-day innkeeper had converted its upper floors into an inn for rich out-of-town guests and ran an organic café in the parlor. Emily peered through the café’s windows to see some of her classmates and their families eating smoked-salmon bagels, pressed Italian sandwiches, and enormous Cobb salads. Everyone must have had the same post-funeral brunch craving.
“You made it.”
Emily swung around to see Maya St. Germain leaning against a terra-cotta pot full of peonies. Maya had called as Emily was leaving the Rosewood Day swings, asking that she meet her here. Like Emily, Maya still had on her funeral outfit—a short, pleated black corduroy skirt, black boots, and a black sleeveless sweater with delicate lace stitching around the neck. And also like Emily, it seemed that Maya had scrounged to find black and mournful-looking stuff from the back of her closet.
Emily smiled sadly. The St. Germains had moved into Ali’s old house. When workers started to dig up the DiLaurentises’ half-finished gazebo to make way for the St. Germains’ tennis court, they uncovered Ali’s decayed body underneath the concrete. Ever since then, news vans, police cars, and curiosity seekers had gathered around the property 24/7. Maya’s family was taking refuge here at the inn until things died down.
“Hey.” Emily looked around. “Are your folks having brunch?”
Maya shook her thick brownish-black curls. “They went to Lancaster. To get back to nature or something. Honestly, I think they’ve been in shock, so maybe the simple life will do them some good.” Emily smiled, thinking of Maya’s parents trying to commune with the Amish in the small township west of Rosewood.
“You wanna come up to my room?” Maya asked, raising an eyebrow.
Emily pulled at her skirt—her legs were looking beefy from swimming—and paused. If Maya’s family wasn’t here, they’d be alone. In a room. With a bed.
When Emily first met Maya, she’d been psyched. She’d been pining for a friend who could replace Ali. Ali and Maya were really similar in a lot of ways—they were both fearless and fun, and they seemed to be the only two people in the world who understood the real Emily. They had something else in common: Emily felt something different around them.