Have you ever dreamed about starting a new life? Running away from your school, your town, your home, even your family and friends, and starting over somewhere else. Changing how you look, what you like, who you are. In a new place, you’d have no baggage. Your past and future would be a blank canvas. Of course, you’d also no longer be you, and that might mess with your head. And it would suck to have the people back home worry about you, going so far as to, say, put your face on a milk carton. Which is why it’s just a fantasy.
But for one manipulative girl from Rosewood, it isn’t a fantasy. It’s survival.
And to her four enemies, it might mean the end of their pretty little lives—forever.
The first thing Alison DiLaurentis noticed when she woke up was how buttery-soft her sheets were. Her down pillow was fluffy, and her blanket smelled like fresh fabric softener. A band of sun streaming in from the window warmed her legs, and a bird chirped euphorically in the trees. It was like she was sleeping in paradise.
She sat up and stretched, then broke into a grin as it hit her again. She was free.
Score another win for Ali D.
She picked up the remote and turned on the small television at the foot of the bed, which was already set to CNN. The same story she’d been following last night was on the news again: Pretty Little Murderers Go to Trial. Last year’s school pictures of Spencer Hastings, Aria Montgomery, Emily Fields, and Hanna Marin were splashed across the screen. The reporters recounted the tantalizing tale of how the four girls had brutally murdered Alison DiLaurentis and were now on trial, facing life in prison.
Ali’s smile broadened. This was playing out exactly as she’d planned.
“Traces of Alison’s blood were found in an abandoned pool house in Ashland, Pennsylvania. The police are working hard to find her body,” a reporter was saying. “Investigators also found a journal of Alison’s, in the woods outside the pool house. It details how the girls methodically captured and tortured her.”
A short man with curly gray hair and wire-framed glasses popped onto the screen. Seth Rubens, read the caption under his name. Defense Attorney. He was the lawyer representing the girls. “Not only did my clients not torture Alison,” he said, “they also had nothing to do with her murder. The trial will prove—”
The newscast cut him off mid-sentence. “Opening statements for their trial will start next Tuesday. Stay here for full coverage.”
Ali flopped back on the bed and wiggled her toes. So far, so good. Everyone bought that she was really dead, and everyone thought those bitches had killed her. It had been a bold move, but she’d pulled it off. She’d even done it mostly alone.
It had been risky returning to Rosewood, Pennsylvania, after her last scheme to bring her sister’s old friends down had failed. But it had pissed her off that things had gone so wrong . . . again. After all, she’d plotted everything so meticulously: her boyfriend and accomplice, Nicholas, had painstakingly infiltrated the girls’ lives the previous summer. First he’d used his massive trust fund to fly to Jamaica and set up an elaborate hoax for all the girls. Then he’d bounced to Philly to target Spencer, to Iceland to ensnare Aria in an international incident, and back to Philly again to gather secrets about the other two. When shit started to go down and the Liars spiraled out of control, Ali and Nick started rumors that the bitches had a suicide pact—and spread it to the press, to kids at school via Facebook, even to random people around Rosewood. Knowing the girls were looking for Ali, Ali and Nick laid out clues to her whereabouts, luring them to the basement of a ramshackle building in Rosewood. The girls were supposed to die down there. The cops were supposed to come after it was all over, when Ali and Nick had safely escaped, and think it was a group suicide.
But that wasn’t how it had happened. Somehow, the girls had been saved, and the cops had hauled Nick off to prison. Ali had gotten away, but worry plagued her. How long would Nick stick to the lie they’d agreed upon: that Ali had died in the fire in the Poconos a year ago and that he’d gone after Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Hanna alone? Prison probably sucked, especially for a rich kid who was used to sleeping on zillion-thread-count sheets and who’d had to shoplift a sound machine from Target because he needed white noise even when on the lam.
After all that, drums still beat in Ali’s head, overpowering all thoughts of lying low. You have to get them, she thought. You have to finish this.
And so she had. First she penned a journal, a story so brilliantly crafted it probably would have received an A+ in AP English. She twisted her relationship with Nick into something sordid and abusive, poor little sick Ali dragged into a murderous rampage with no way of escape. Nick killed my sister. Nick killed Ian. Nick set fire to Spencer’s woods. Nick killed Jenna Cavanaugh. It was all Nick’s idea, and he’d pulled Ali along for the ride.
She wrote that Nick had barely cared for her after the Poconos fire and forced her to take part in more nefarious activities, threatening to kill her if she told anyone or tried to leave. She wrote about clawing her way out of that basement to get away from him. Several entries talked about how wonderful it felt to be free—but how scary, too. She wrote that she’d been hiding in a barn in Limerick, Pennsylvania, though actually she’d been in the pool house at Nick’s parents’ vacation home in Ashland . . . which would play into the second part of her plan.
She’d also written whole chapters about the Liars, creating a different picture of them than what the public assumed. My sister’s dear old friends, she called them, splattering salt water on the diary to look like tears. I hope they forgive me and understand that I wasn’t the one behind all this. I’ve wanted to tell them so many times. Ali wrote that she wanted to go to the cops with her story, but she was afraid they wouldn’t believe her. She wrote about wanting to anonymously turn in the journal, but she didn’t know who to trust.