Page 7

 Sara Shepard

  • Background:
  • Text Font:
  • Text Size:
  • Line Height:
  • Line Break Height:
  • Frame:

Then Kate rose. “You know, girls, I suddenly got a major craving for some red wine. Wanna swing by Rive Gauche?”
Naomi and Riley’s eyes lit up. “Totally,” they both said in unison, and stood up too.
Hanna let out an indignant squeak, and everyone stopped. Kate stuck out her lip in a faux-concerned pout. “Oh, Han! Are you really…upset about Lucas? I seriously thought you didn’t care.”
“No,” Hanna snapped, her voice irritatingly shaky. “I don’t care about him. I…I just don’t want to go somewhere with rats.”
“Don’t worry,” Kate said gently. “I won’t tell your dad if you don’t want to come along.”
She slung her Michael Kors bag over her shoulder. Naomi and Riley looked back and forth from Hanna to Kate, trying to decide what to do. Finally, Naomi shrugged, fiddling with her blond hair. “Red wine does sound really good.” She glanced at Hanna. “Sorry.” And Riley followed behind saying nothing. Traitors, Hanna thought.
“Watch out for rat tails in your wineglasses,” Hanna yelled after them. But the girls didn’t turn, traipsing into the courtyard, linking elbows and laughing. Hanna watched them for a moment, her cheeks blazing with fury, and then turned back to Dot, took a few deep breaths, and wrapped her cashmere poncho around her shoulders.
Kate might have won the queen bee battle today, but the war was far from over. She was the fabulous Hanna Marin, after all. That silly little bitch had no idea who she was dealing with.
Early Monday evening, Spencer and Andrew Campbell sat in her family’s sunroom, their AP econ notes spread before them. A lock of Andrew’s long blond hair fell into his eyes as he leaned over the textbook and pointed to a drawing of a man. “This is Alfred Marshall.” He covered up the paragraph under his picture. “Quick. What was his philosophy?”
Spencer pressed her fingers to her temples. She could add columns of numbers in her head and supply seven synonyms for the word assiduous, but when it came to AP econ, her brain went…mushy. But she had to learn this. Her teacher, Mr. McAdam, said Spencer would be out of his class unless she aced this semester—he was still pissed that she’d stolen her older sister’s AP econ paper and hadn’t confessed to it until after she’d won the prestigious Golden Orchid essay prize. So now Andrew, who did naturally get econ, was her tutor.
Suddenly, Spencer brightened. “The theory of supply and demand,” she recited.
“Very good.” Andrew beamed. He flipped a page of the book, his fingers accidentally brushing against hers. Spencer’s heart quickened, but then Andrew pulled away fast.
Spencer had never been so confused. The house was empty right now—Spencer’s parents and her sister, Melissa, had all gone out to dinner, not inviting Spencer along, as usual—which meant Andrew could make a move if he wanted. He’d certainly seemed interested in kissing her Saturday night at the Rosewood Day benefit, but since then…nothing. True, Spencer had been preoccupied with Ian’s Disappearing Body late on Saturday, and on Sunday she’d made a quick trip to Florida to attend her grandmother’s funeral. She and Andrew had been friendly in class today, but Andrew didn’t mention what had happened at the party, and Spencer certainly wasn’t going to bring it up first. Spencer had been so anxious before Andrew came over that she’d dusted every one of her trophies for spelling bees, drama club, and field hockey MVPs just for something to do. Maybe Saturday’s kiss had been just a kiss, nothing more. And anyway, Andrew had been her nemesis for years—they’d been competing for the top spot in the class ever since their kindergarten teacher held a contest to see who could make the best paper bag puppet. She couldn’t seriously like him.
But she wasn’t fooling anyone.
A bright light shone through the sunroom’s floor-to-ceiling windows, and Spencer jumped. When Spencer returned from Florida last night, there were four media vans on her front lawn and a camera crew near the family’s converted barn apartment at the back of the property. Now, a police officer and a German shepherd from the K-9 unit were prowling around the pine trees at the corner of the lot with an enormous flashlight, puzzling over something. Spencer had a feeling they’d found the bag of Ali memories the girls’ grief counselor, Marion, had urged them to bury last week. A reporter would probably ring her doorbell any minute, asking her what the objects meant.
A fearful, nervous feeling throbbed deep in her bones. Last night, she hadn’t been able to sleep a wink, terrified that not one but two people had now died in the woods behind her house, just steps from her bedroom. Every time she heard a twig snap or a whoosh of the wind, she sat up in horror, certain Ian’s killer was still roaming the woods. She couldn’t help but think that the murderer had killed him because he’d gotten too close to the truth. What if Spencer was too close to the truth too, simply from the vague hints that Ian had given her when they talked on the porch—that the cops were covering something up and that there was an even bigger secret about Ali’s murder that all of Rosewood had yet to uncover?
Andrew cleared his throat, gesturing to Spencer’s nails, which were digging into the surface of the desk. “Are you okay?”
“Uh-huh,” Spencer snapped. “I’m fine.”
Andrew pointed to the cops out the window. “Think of it this way. At least you have twenty-four-hour police protection.”
Spencer swallowed hard. That was probably a good thing—Spencer needed all the protection she could get. She glanced at her econ notes, shoving her fears down deep. “Back to studying?”
“Of course,” Andrew said, suddenly businesslike. He turned to his notes.
Spencer felt a mix of disappointment and apprehension. “Or we don’t have to study,” she blurted, hoping Andrew got her drift.
Andrew paused. “I don’t want to study.” His voice cracked.
Spencer touched his hand. Slowly, he inched toward her. She moved closer too. After a few long moments, their lips touched. It was a thrilling relief. She wrapped her arms around Andrew. He smelled like a mix of a woodstove and the pineapple-shaped, citrus-smelling air freshener that dangled from the rearview mirror of his Mini Cooper. They broke apart, then kissed again, longer this time. Spencer’s heart thudded fast.
Then, Spencer’s phone let out a loud ping. As she reached for it, her heart sped up, worried it was from A. But the e-mail was titled News About Your Mom Match!
“Oh my God,” Spencer whispered.
Andrew leaned over to look. “I was just about to ask you if anything happened with that.”
Last week, Nana Hastings had willed her “natural-born grandchildren” Melissa and Spencer’s cousins two million dollars each. Spencer, on the other hand, got nothing. Melissa had raised a theory about why—perhaps Spencer had been adopted.
As much as Spencer wanted to believe it was just another one of Melissa’s ploys to humiliate her—they were constantly trying to one-up each other, with Melissa usually winning—the idea nagged at her. Was that why her parents treated Spencer like shit and Melissa like gold, barely acknowledging Spencer’s accomplishments, reneging on their promise to let Spencer live in the backyard barn for her junior and senior years, and even canceling Spencer’s credit cards? Was that why Melissa looked like a clone of her mother, and Spencer didn’t?
She’d confessed the theory to Andrew, and Andrew told Spencer about a biological mom-matching service a friend had used. Curious, Spencer registered her personal information—things like her birth date, the hospital where she was born, and the color of her eyes and other genetic traits. When she received an e-mail at the Rosewood Day benefit on Saturday that the site had matched her data with that of a potential mother, she hadn’t known what to think. It had to be a mistake. Certainly they’d contact the woman and she’d say Spencer couldn’t possibly be her child.
With trembling hands, Spencer opened the e-mail. Hello Spencer, My name is Olivia Caldwell. I’m so excited, because I think we’re a match. If you’re up for it, I would love to meet you. With sincere fondness, O.
Spencer stared at it for a long time, her hand clapped to her mouth. Olivia Caldwell. Could that be her real mother’s name? Andrew poked her in the side. “Are you going to respond?”
“I don’t know,” Spencer said uneasily, wincing as a police car outside turned on its shrill, piercing siren. She gazed at her Sidekick screen so hard, the letters began to blur. “I mean…it’s hard to believe this is even real. How could my parents keep this from me? It means my whole life has been…a lie.” Lately, she’d discovered that so much of her life—especially the stuff with Ali—was built on lies. She wasn’t sure if she could stomach anything more.
“Why don’t we see if we can prove it?” Andrew stood up and offered his hand. “Maybe there’s something in this house that explains it beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
Spencer considered for a moment. “All right,” she conceded slowly. It was probably a good time to snoop around—her parents and sister wouldn’t be home for hours. She clasped Andrew’s hand and led him into her father’s office. The room smelled like cognac and cigars—her dad sometimes entertained his law clients at home—and when she flipped the switch on the wall, a bunch of soft lights flickered on above her father’s massive Warhol print of a banana.
She sank down in the Aeron chair at her dad’s tiger maple desk and gazed at the computer screen. There was a slide show of family pictures as the screen saver. First was a photo of Melissa graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, the cap’s tassel in her eyes. Then there was a photo of Melissa standing on the stoop of her brand-new Philadelphia brownstone their parents had bought for her when she got into the Wharton School. Then, a photo of Spencer popped up on the screen. It was a snapshot of Ali, Spencer, and the others crowded on a giant inner tube in the middle of a lake. Ali’s brother, Jason, was swimming next to them, his longish hair sopping wet. This had been taken at Ali’s family’s lake house in the Poconos. By the looks of how young everyone was, it must have been one of the first times Ali had invited them there, a few weeks after they’d become friends.
Spencer sat back, startled to see herself in the family montage. After Spencer admitted she’d cheated to win the Golden Orchid, her parents had pretty much disowned her. And it was eerie to see such an early photo of Ali. Nothing bad had happened between Ali, Spencer, and the others yet—not The Jenna Thing, not Ali’s clandestine relationship with Ian, not the secrets Spencer and the others tried to keep from Ali, not the secrets Ali kept from them. If only it had remained that way forever.
Spencer shuddered, trying to shake her jumble of uneasy feelings. “My dad used to keep everything in file cabinets,” she explained, wiggling the mouse to make the screen saver disappear. “But my mom’s such a neat freak and hates piles of papers, so she made him scan everything. If there’s something about me being adopted, it’s on this computer.”