She couldn't believe what was going on. These four young innocent girls were being stalked, each moment of their lives manipulated by a person whose identity was kept secret from them, a person who could only be referred to as 'A'. This person however, was pure evil (as described by Spencer), 'A' had a way of knowing when the four were at their weakest and knew how to use their secrets against them.
What's more, she couldn't believe she had actually managed to get the girls to open up to her, even Hanna whom she had had minor breakthroughs with, but instantly retreated back into her shell once she realized what was happening. However, as miraculous as their confession was, it was evident to Dr. Sullivan that there were still secrets harbored deep that they were still reluctant to tell.
A sudden knock at the door interrupted Dr. Sullivan's thought process. She glanced up at the clock, noting it was 4:30; she stood up and opened the door to her office. "Aria, thank you for coming," the therapist smiled genuinely and stepped to the side, allowing the teen to come in. Dr. Sullivan had requested that each of the girls come in for another solo session with her, if they were comfortable sharing what was probably the biggest secret of their lives with her in a group, she could only guess what would be said when they were able to have one on one time. "Please, take a seat," she motioned to the couch and Aria cautiously walked over and sat down.
It was amazing how even after such a breakthrough that the shells around these girls were still virtually impenetrable. "So Aria," Dr. Sullivan began, "have you received any—messages recently?" she asked, avoiding specifics so as not to cause any negative reactions from the girl sitting across from her.
"No," Aria said, the smallest of smiles tugging at her mouth, but it was clear she knew the battle wasn't over.
"You seem upset by that," Dr. Sullivan urged, trying to get any information she could. She had to admit, although it was not her job to do so, being able to help these girls track down their stalker and put an end to their misery would be a truly rewarding accomplishment.
Aria turned her gaze to look out the window, surveying the landscape, looking for anything out of place. "'A' is everywhere. What happened yesterday probably just ticked him-or her off. 'A' knows all our secrets, the madder we make 'A', the more miserable we all become."
"And why is that?"
Aria tore her eyes from the window and looked her therapist in the eye, "It's her favorite game. 'A' pits us against one another, using our own secrets to get us to reveal each other's."
"Her favorite game?" Dr. Sullivan questioned, putting emphasis on the 'her' Aria had used.
"I don't know for sure that 'A' is a girl—or a boy for that matter—it's just that 'A' is very similar to Alison…" her voice trailed off, her words holding a tone of pain as she talked about her lost friend.
"Ali lived for secrets," Aria explained, "she loved to hear everyone else's, and when you shared them with her she made you feel special. But if you ticked her off, she had a way of using your secrets against you. She always claimed that her intents were only to help though. At the time, it felt like she really was trying. I never really noticed, but I guess she never shared any of hers with us…"her voice trailed off once more, but this time a hint of betrayal could be heard in her voice.
"And why can't you tell these secrets?" Dr. Sullivan pressed, "Isn't it easier to tell the truth instead of having someone hold a lie against you?"
"I wish it were that simple," Aria said, and the confused look from her therapist urged her to continue. "In my case, they aren't just my secrets. If I told, someone else would get in a lot of trouble."
"What kind of trouble?" Dr. Sullivan asked and Aria looked away, clearly unwilling to or unable to share the possible consequences. Dr. Sullivan leaned forward in her chair, "Aria, you do know everything you tell me I am legally not allowed to tell anyone."
"Anything?" Aria asked her voice barely in a whisper and her large eyes filled with sadness. And suddenly she seemed so small. One thing Dr. Sullivan had learned about Aria was that she was good at keeping a strong front. She didn't like to let people know when she was hurting or when she was afraid, so that word, although it was barely even audible, was a giant step.
"Yes, unless you are in danger of causing physical damage to yourself or someone else, I legally cannot tell anyone anything you say in here." Although as a professional rule, Dr. Sullivan tells each of her clients in their very first meeting this information, she has learned from her many years that it does wonders to repeat it.
Aria once again shifted her gaze to the window, and once she seemed content that no one was watching her, she turned to glance at the door, making sure it was shut securely before making eye contact with her therapist. "I'm doing something really bad," she paused, "Well, not bad for me or the other person involved, but if anyone were to find out it would be hell for him—" she froze, instantly regretting that she had revealed the gender of the other secret keeper.
Dr. Sullivan knew all too well that if she drew attention to Aria's slip up it could only cause her to shut down again, so instead she stored the piece of information in the back of her head and asked, "What do you mean by really bad?"
"Well I'm not totally sure, but it may be illegal…Google doesn't always help with everything."
Dr. Sullivan chooses this time to not respond, but only to look at Aria and wait for her.
"I—I'm seeing someone I shouldn't…and by seeing, I mean dating," Aria stated, her voice in a rush.
"And what about this relationship is illegal?" Dr. Sullivan asked, although she could guess she wanted Aria to give out all the information, she wanted Aria to trust her.
"The age difference," Aria looked down, afraid of the look the information she was giving out may warrant.
"How many years apart are you?"
"Six," she mumbled, still not looking up. It was weird to see Aria in this state. Even though she had only known Aria for a brief time, it was obvious that it was extremely rare that she ever let her front fall as far as it had in the 20 minutes since she had set foot in Dr. Sullivan's office.
"Well I can tell you right now you are doing nothing illegal. The age of consent in Pennsylvania is sixteen—"
"We're not doing anything like that," Aria interrupted quickly, not wanting her therapist to think anything about her that was untrue. "And even if it is legal, it's still really bad considering the circumstances." When Dr. Sullivan didn't say anything, Aria continued, her words spilling out of her mouth quickly, "We met at a bar on Labor Day last year and we connected, so we hooked up in the bathroom…and by hook up, I mean make out," Aria explained to eliminate any misunderstandings. "And it was great, but we left that night thinking we would never see each other again and…" her voice trailed off as it hit her that she was about to reveal something she hadn't told anyone before.
"And…" Dr. Sullivan prompted, not wanting the teen's new found bravery to diminish.
"And…," Aria sighed, continuing with her voice so quiet Dr. Sullivan had to strain her ears to hear, "He's my teacher…" Aria's gaze was on the ground, afraid to look up and see the criticism she would receive from her secret.