Hello again! Thanks for all the reviews and story alerts. They're really appreciated. Okay, so this round the girls are just as annoyed with Ali, and that may be going on for a bit. Ali's only giving them bits and pieces of the game and they want to straight-out know the whole thing. But that's not going to happen quite yet because Ali has a plan. So I concocted this chapter for you darlings.
Is anyone else annoyed with the highlighted blue words that pop up ads? Ugh. It's simply atrocious.
I really hope that you can follow what's happening in this chapter. If not, please let me know so I can make it more clear; thanks! I hope you like it and please leave a review! Enjoy!
September 1, 2011 - 11:50 A.M.
"What is the game, Ali?" Hanna spits out threateningly.
"The game?" Ali smiles as she rises from her spot. She walks around the couch that Hanna and Em are sitting on, letting her fingers trail along the soft fabric as she makes her way to the kitchen. Her heels click on the wooden floor as she trots along and her golden curls bounce. A minute later she continues, "Ah yes. The game. All will be discovered in due time, Hanna, so be patient. It's no fun with you asking questions. And anyways, you'll find out everything soon enough. Just wait through four more letters at the least. Please?"
Hanna's eyes narrow and her nose scrunches in disgust. She doesn't want to do what Ali is asking her to do, but what choice does she have?
"Whatever," She answers and sinks back into her place on the couch.
Ali skips toward the counter where Spencer is leaning as she surveys the scene. Spencer questions, "What are you going to do after you tell us all of this? Why did you come back at now of all times? Why not let the game run on? Ali, you're a devilish, manipulative person and no one here trusts you after you faked your death. We all recognize how mean you treated us two years ago. So why come back now and tell us?"
"Not so many questions at once," Ali grins. Her face grows serious as she complies, "Fine; I'll answer a few questions. I know you must be bursting with inquiries. After all, I am back from the dead." Ali giggles and jumps up onto a bar stool, placing her elbows on the counter and her face in her palms.
As the girls curiously watch her, Ali begins, "I'm telling you this because it isn't just you girls in trouble. I am too. And... I need your help," Ali admits as she bites her bottom lip nervously.
Aria is the first to react to that, "Oh, no way! We've done so much for you, Ali; too much. We're not busting our butts again to save your ass."
"Yeah, you know what? Aria's right. You can deal with this on your own. Get lost," Hanna agrees, very opinionated and not at all afraid to show it anymore.
On the other side of the couch, Emily appears queasy as she follows the conversation with a sick feeling in her stomach. After all Emily's been through, losing Ali and then losing Maya, she finally has something good happen. Ali's back. Why would she wish her away? No; Emily couldn't do that even if she tried. Deep down she still loves Ali to pieces, and would do anything for her. But what would her friends think about her if she let Ali stay? Conflicted, Emily just listens until she decides to speak up. If Em doesn't talk for Ali, no one will.
"You guys; I think we should just hear her out. Sure, she's done a lot to hurt us in the past-"
"A hell of a lot!" Spencer exclaims.
"-But think about it. She's back. We all thought she was dead. Aren't you girls curious as to where she's been all this time? What she's been up to?" Emily begs, her eyes wide as she stares at each of them pleadingly.
Aria's the first to cave, "Well she does have a point."
With disgust written all over her face, Spencer gives Ali another chance, too, saying, "Go on. But if we don't help you, that's our choice. Not yours."
"Hey!" Hanna shouts, outraged. "It's my decision too whether or not I want to hear this. And I vote not!"
Four pairs of eyes land on Hanna though only one speaks up. Ali smirks, "Looks like somebody's found their voice. I used to think you'd always bow to what I wanted Hanna. I think I liked the old you better."
A scowl appears on her face as she glares daggers at Ali, "Yeah, well I still wish you were dead. Then we wouldn't have to deal with all of this confusing shit."
"Hanna!" Emily cries sadly. Her brown eyes are watery and are shining with unshod tears.
Grumpily, the annoyed and outraged blond girl slumps back into the couch, defeated. Hanna speaks tight-lipped, "Go on. Before I change my mind."
As Aria stares at Hanna, she's fairly certain that she hears her mutter "annoying twit." Aria's shocked. What has gotten into Hanna? Of course it is a difficult situation, but Hanna spoke with such disrespect.
Reaching over to the coffee table, Emily picks up the thinner bundle of letters and walks them over to the counter, placing them before Ali. They both smile at each other before Ali picks up a letter. Em heads back over to the couch and curls up.
"September 7, 2010. Dear Aria,
"What have we here? Darling little Aria, who always seems to do everything good despite her punk-rocker look? Okay, well you ditched the look when you got to Iceland. Props to that. It wasn't really working for you, anyway, although the pink streaks did look interesting. When you got back from Iceland, I was shocked. Was it really Aria who got back, or was it someone else entirely? You are more grown up now. But at the same time just as dumb as before.
"Why would you go out with a teacher? You know that teachers fool around with students all the time. A lot do; just ask your dad. Are you really sure that Ezra is serious about you? Right; of course he is. Because he's 'in love' with you. God, if you could only see your idiotic self right now. Aria, you've always been the odd one out. That might be why I chose you when I befriended you four girls. But you've also always been trying to find yourself. And let me tell you - you're way out of your league with this one. Leave him to me; Ezra Fitz looks delicious. I'd know how to handle him. If only I was still alive.
"Speaking of which, my funeral was the other day. It was hilarious to see your face along with the other girls' when you received my text outside the church. Didn't think I was there, watching? Oh, that's right. You thought I was the dead girl in the coffin. Sorry to break your dreams, but you were wrong.
"I have my hiding spots, and I know how to get around without being found. I hated watching you girls sob over the decaying body in the coffin; it took all of my will not to scream and yell. But if I did it would wreck all that I created. So I didn't. No one could know that I was alive, despite how I wished they did. With all my knowledge, you girls seem like idiots. But you were only blind to reality; I'm surprised that you haven't figured out my game yet.
"Oh, Aria. Sorry I had to tell your mom about Byron's affair the other day. But you always knew I was right; you should have told her from the start. But you were weak and annoying back then, and you were never sure of anything. That's why I liked you; it was easy to get you to do what I wanted. You yearned for attention and I gave it to you. God, you were so dumb back then. Anyway; Sorry Ella was so heartbroken, honey, but it was your job to tell her. Why did I have to clean up the situation for you?
I know you must be raging at me, but it isn't my fault. I was only doing what's best. For you; for Ella; for Byron. And it's fun, I must admit. It's entertaining to finally be messing with your lives again, not watching from the sidelines.
"Wondering where I was while you were in Iceland for a year and the girls were growing in Rosewood? I had unfinished business to attend to elsewhere. In Bristol, Pennsylvania to be more exact. Doing what you ask? I was checking up on 6795 Wickery Lane and another place for reasons of my own. Still curious as to why I was there? Go search it yourself.
"Aria, you're such a pro liar. But it's never the best thing for you. Maybe it would be better if your Ezra secret came out sooner than later; your mother may not be as angry as she was with you for keeping Byron's secret from her. Hmm. I may just act for you if you don't do something about it soon.
"One last thing: Aria, you hold more pieces to the puzzle than you'll ever know. I'd be surprised, however, if you could put it all together. Game on, bitches."
September 1, 2011 - 12:16 P.M.
Ali stops reading and silence hits the air. Aria is speechless. What does this all mean? And she can't get over the fact that Ali insulted them all to the point where she is ready to screech. Why were Ali's letters so rude? Yet they held so many answers. So many answers to their million questions.
For a minute the girls just sit there. Aria has no desire to speak up even though it was her letter Ali just read. She doesn't want to cause trouble. Not yet at least.
Suddenly a whirring noise begins and the girls all jump, thoroughly scared. Spencer's eyes grow wide as she realizes what it is.
"The garage," She hisses. "My parents must be home from Florida already. Although I can't imagine why."
"I- I've got to go," Ali cries, jumping up and racing to the other side of the room. Her fingers fumble with the latch to the white door.
"Where?" An alarmed Emily wants to know.
"Just somewhere," Ali waves the question off and bolts out the door, leaving it to swing in the breeze. Still written all over Em's face is extreme worry.
Flapping in the wind are the letters that Ali left behind. Locating the letter that Ali just read and left on the counter top, Spencer grabs it and rushes over to the coffee table, pinning them all down with a coaster.
Just then, the alarm system chimes, alerting the girls that someone entered the house. On the other side of the room, Aria is pulling the door the last few inches closed. It shuts with a dull click. Sighs are let out as heels tap into the room. Everyone looks up.
"Oh, good Spencer; you're home. Hello Aria; Hanna; Emily," Veronica Hastings greets them. She places her beige purse on top of the counter as the girls awkwardly attempt to look at ease. It isn't working. Tense as ever, the air is quiet as Veronica gets settled.
"Hi Mom," Spencer answers warily. "Why are you home so soon? I thought you were gone until Friday. And it's only Wednesday."
"Your father decided that he wanted to come home early, honey," Veronica answers as she looks up at Spencer. "To spend some time with you. Family time."
Spencer snorts, "Since when?"
"I've been thinking about it for a while, Spencer, and decided that we finally need it. After all, I've been working a lot lately, and haven't had much time to see you," Peter Hastings answers, stepping into the room as he lugs two large suitcases through the house. Finally spotting the other girls, he acknowledges them, "Hello girls."
Aria, Hanna and Emily murmur their 'hello's, quietly watching the scene unfold before them.
"Okay," Spencer replies slowly and warily. "Well, we'll be up in my room. We can play tennis later or something," She tells her father.
One by one the girls stand up. Emily's eyes sweep over the room and spot the pile of letters on the coffee table. As inconspicuously as possible, she lifts the coaster off of them and slips them behind her back. She smoothly follows Spencer and the other girls up the white wooden stairs and into Spencer's room, escaping the wrath of Peter and Veronica Hastings.
"God, that was a close one," Aria laughs as Spencer shuts her door. The other girls smile too, mostly in wonder. Did Ali really come back? Is she really alive? Did that really just happen?
All of a sudden, Hanna smacks her forehead, "Wait; we forgot the letters!"
Em grins, "I grabbed them for you. You're welcome." Hanna rips them out of Emily's hands and waves them in the air like they're a lottery ticket.
"What do you say? Who wants to read them?" Hanna smiles devilishly.
Without the other girls' consent, she tears into the top one on the pile. And when her eyes scan the first sentence, her face goes pale and her eyes widen in surprise.
The girls had no clue what dangerous situation they were getting themselves into. They wouldn't ever know until it was too late.