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I'm not sure how I never noticed it before; I'm usually so good at picking up on these things. Spencer Hastings is hopelessly in love with Aria Montgomery. Not that I'd spent much time with either of them lately. We all sort of drifted apart after Ali went missing, especially Aria. She and her family moved to Ireland or something soon after it happened. Spencer, Emily and I just sort of stopped talking.
"Hanna?" Mona interrupted my thoughts. "What's up?"
I nodded towards the doors of the cafeteria where Aria was still standing looking around. "Looks like Aria's back." I tried to sound indifferent, not tipping Mona off about my revelation.
"Thank God she got rid of that ugly pink streak in her hair." Mona said.
I shrugged and sat down at my usual table.
First day back at school, and I couldn't be happier. I thrived on academic achievement, and there wasn't much that compared to the first day of the new school year to satiate my academic drive. I had heard that the new English teacher was going to start with To Kill A Mockingbird, which is one of my favorite books.
I bought an apple and a cranberry juice and found a seat at an empty table in the middle of the cafeteria. I was about to get my personal copy of To Kill A Mockingbird out when I saw Aria standing by the doors. She was looking around the cafeteria. I hadn't realized that she had returned from Iceland. I smiled.
She must've seen me because she started heading my way.
I'm not sure how I felt about being back in Rosewood. The year in Iceland had been wonderful, and it couldn't have come at a better time with all that had happened a year ago. I still couldn't believe that Alison was gone. She'd been missing for a year and as much as I hated to admit it, I couldn't see how she could be anything but dead. I saw a poster of her last night at the Hollis Bar & Grill.
On the up side, I had met Ezra last night, and he seemed pretty amazing. We connected, he'd been to Reykjavik too, and we shared the same taste in music. Maybe this would be a good year, here in Rosewood.
Tamborelli wanted to see me when I got to school. He went over everything I had done in Iceland. I'm pretty sure he was searching for something that I hadn't done so he could knock me back a few classes. I'm not sure why though. In fact, his search had been so thorough that I was in his office until lunch.
When I reached the cafeteria, I looked around for Emily, Spencer and Hanna. I hadn't talked to them since I had left. I saw Spencer's face beaming up at me from across the cafeteria. I smiled back at her and headed towards her.
"Aria! I didn't know you were back."
"We've only been home a couple days."
"So how's your first day back at Rosewood High?" Spencer asked inquisitively.
"I've been in Tamborelli's office all morning. I swear he was trying to find something wrong with my transcripts from Iceland."
"Tamborelli's a jerk" Spencer said somewhat angrily.
I wasn't sure what Spencer's deal with Tamborelli was, but I really didn't feel like discussing him right now. Luckily Spencer changed the subject.
"So what do you have next?"
I pulled my schedule from a pocket in my bag. I hadn't even looked at it yet. I scanned down to fifth period. I had English, my favorite subject.
"English" I answered happily.
"Me too. I heard the new teacher's hot. And he's supposedly using one of my favorite books for the first unit." Spencer said putting her hand on her copy of To Kill A Mockingbird.
"God, Spence, you're reading that again? I'm pretty sure the last time I saw you, you were reading that for the two-hundredth time." I said jokingly.
"It's a good book." Spencer said defensively.
"So where are Emily and Hanna?" I asked curiously.
Spencer looked around. She pointed across the cafeteria, and I followed with my eyes.
"Is that Hanna?" I asked, shocked.
"She looks GOOD! And who's that with her? Is that Mona!"
I walked into the Cafeteria thinking about Alison. It's been a year since she disappeared. I missed her so much. The rational part of me had succumbed to the reality that she wasn't coming back, but there was still a part of me that hoped she would; the part that was always looking for her to reappear, probably acting like she had never been gone. Yeah, that sounded like something Ali would do, pretend she had never been gone.
When I looked around, secretly hoping to see Ali, I was delightedly surprised to see Aria, though I think I would've been happier to see Ali. Aria was talking to Spencer. I hadn't talked to Spencer or any one of my former best friends much since Ali disappeared. I saw Spencer point across the cafeteria. Following her direction, I saw Hanna and Mona gossiping at a table on the other side of the room.
I started towards Aria and Spencer.
"She looks GOOD! And who's that with her? Is that Mona!" I heard Aria ask Spencer.
I came up behind Aria and said casually, "Hanna's the 'it' girl now. She and Mona are inseparable."
Aria spun around. I saw her face light up when she saw it was me.
"Emily!" she exclaimed.
I gave her a hug. I thought a saw a spark in Spencer's eye.
"When did you get back?" I asked her.
"Oh, just a couple of days ago."
"You should've called." I said.
"Yeah, sorry" Aria apologized,
"Hey Em," Spencer said somewhat curtly.
"Hi Spence," I smiled.
Mona was rambling on about her latest crush when I saw Spencer point at me over Mona's shoulder. Aria must've asked where I was. I saw the jealousy in Spencer's face when Emily showed up at their table and gave Aria a hug.
"Hanna?" Mona asked, "Are you even listening?"
"What? Sorry. I was just thinking we should buy something cute for Noel's back-to-school bash tomorrow night."
"Great idea!" Mona started rambling on again.
I saw Emily and Aria leaving the cafeteria together. I looked at Spencer again. Her former best friend's frustration was so obvious. I wondered how long Spencer had been in love with Aria.
The bell rang. I got up along with everyone else and started making my way to class.
I saw Spencer standing at her locker, looking in the mirror. I came up behind her, seeing my own reflection in the mirror.
"I know your secret" I whispered in her ear.
Her face showed pure terror. I didn't mean to scare her, but I had to admit that face was priceless. For a moment I felt like Alison. I wasn't sure that I wanted to feel entirely like Alison. I left Spencer standing at her locker and walked away.
When the bell rang, I made my way to my locker. I opened it and just stood there. I wasn't sure what I was doing here. I didn't really need anything from it. I looked in the mirror. I still looked exactly the same as I had this morning.
Suddenly I saw Hanna's reflection alongside mine.
"I know your secret" she whispered in my ear.
I froze. What secret could she know? I saw Hanna walk away. I turned after her.
"What secret?" I asked.
But she was gone. I thought, what secret could Hanna possibly know? I relaxed a little realizing, Hanna knew and had some of the same secrets I did. Like the Jenna thing. Granted, I admittedly knew a little more about what happened that night with the Jenna thing than the other girls.
I hoped she hadn't found out about any of my secrets that I hadn't shared with her. Like her kiss with Ian that Ali had threatened to tell Melissa about. Not that Ian and Melissa were together anymore. In fact, she had dinner with her family tonight to meet Melissa's fiancée.
I made a mental note to ask Hanna about this later, when I'm able to get her alone. I headed to class.
I was just outside of the classroom when my phone vibrated in my pocket. I took it out and looked at it. I had a new text message from a blocked number.
I know your secret. You should tell her before I do.
I froze. Alison? It couldn't be. She'd been missing for a year. Could she be back? It could be Hanna; she had just told me that she knew my secret. Which one I wasn't sure, but was she threatening to tell Melissa? But if it was Hanna, why would she sign the message –A?
I put my phone back in my pocket. I walked into the classroom, the hot new English teacher wasn't there yet. I saw Aria and smiled automatically. I wasn't entirely sure why. I thought it must be because I hadn't really seen her in so long, and she had been my best friend once upon a time. Then again, so had Emily, who happened to be sitting right next to her. They were talking and laughing. I felt my smile fade.
Then I saw Hanna, who had also been one of my best friends back then. She was smirking at me while Mona was babbling in her ear. My lips formed a frown as I took my seat in the front of the class. Maybe it was Hanna. But why would she be threatening to expose me?
My train of thought was interrupted when the new teacher walked in. The word in the halls was right. The new teacher was downright delectable. He wrote his name on the chalkboard, underlining it when he was done. Mr. Fitz. He looked around the room.
"Holy crap," Mr. Fitz said looking at Aria, who wasn't paying attention.
No way. Aria could not be back from Iceland for two days and already be involved with our new teacher? No, he must know her from somewhere else. Maybe he's friends with her parents. He's awfully young though. Maybe Mr. Montgomery had Mr. Fitz as a student at Hollis?
I felt everyone's eyes on me, so I looked up only to see Ezra standing at the front of the classroom, staring at me. Holy shit. I knew he said he was going to be teaching English, but I never thought he would be teaching me. This is bad.
My phone went off. I broke eye contact with Ezra and dug it out of my bag, having forgotten to put it on vibrate. Not that we needed to, despite the school's policy, nobody ever got in trouble for calling or texting in class. I knew that much. But it was polite.
Having my phone in my hand I looked back at Ezra.
"Sorry," I practically whispered. I was apologizing for my phone going off, that was obvious, but I was secretly also apologizing for misleading him, though I never told him I went to Hollis, I knew that's what I had him thinking last night.
"Uh," Ezra broke out of his trance and looked at the rest of the class. "I'm Mr. Fitz, your new English teacher."
I shook my head in disbelief before turning my attention back to my phone. The text was from an unknown number.
Maybe he fools with students all of the time. A lot of teachers do. Just ask your dad. –A