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Authors: Francine Pascal

Liar

2000 Francine Pascal

A horn blast tore through the air.

Sam snapped his head around. His feet became jelly. He hadn't looked before he'd rushed into the street. He heard the tires screeching and perceived only a massive blur, framed by the dark gray drabness of the winter landscape. He knew it was a car, though, and that it was going too fast to stop in time. In seeming slow motion the blur consumed his entire field of vision … drowning out all other sights and sounds until there was nothing.

He was about to ask himself a question, but he never had the chance.

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#1 Fearless

#2 Sam

#3 Run

#4 Twisted

#5 Kiss

#6 Payback

#7 Rebel

#8 Heat

#9 Blood

#10 Liar

#11 Trust

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#13 Bad

#14 Missing

#15 Tears

#16 Naked

#17 Flee

#18 Love

#19 Twins

#20 Sex

#21 Blind

#22 Alone

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LIAR

FRANCINE PASCAL

SIMON PULSE
New York London Toronto Sydney Singapore

To Taryn Adler

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

First Simon Pulse printing May 2002

Text copyright © 2000 by Francine Pascal

SIMON PULSE
An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com

Produced by 17th Street Productions,
an Alloy, Inc. company
151 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10001

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

For information address 17th Street Productions, 151 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10001.

Printed in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4

ISBN: 0-671-03951-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-671-03951-6
eISBN-13: 978-0-743-43414-0

GAIA

I
read somewhere once that there are four stages of grief. Or maybe five. I can't remember. Which is kind of strange because I have a great memory. Photographic, in fact. All the shitty things that have ever happened to me are permanently burned into my mind, like a continuous movie. And it's not a movie you would want to pay eight bucks for, either—no heroes or happy endings, just a lot of sadness and destruction.

Anyway, the first stage is denial. That's one I can understand. In fact, it's probably the reason why I don't remember the stages of grief in the first place—because for a while there, I didn't want to believe that grief even existed. If I can't feel fear, then why should I feel grief? I mean, it makes sense, right? I don't even have to deny fear. It just doesn't exist. Things are much easier to deal with if they don't exist.

The next stage is anger. (I think.) That's also another one that makes perfect sense to me. For example, when I finally realized that my friend Mary Moss was truly
gone,
that she was never coming back,
ever—
I got pissed.

So I went on a little mission. I decided to murder somebody.

That somebody was Skizz, the asshole coke dealer who ended Mary's life. Luckily, another somebody beat me to it.
Barely.
Skizz died in front of my eyes.

Even more luckily, I was reborn.

I know that sounds really lame and cheesy, but it's true. I realized that by going on this mission—by thinking of nothing else except murdering a scumbag whose life isn't worth the coke he sells—I was losing the one person I have left. Ed Fargo.

This isn't an exaggeration, by the way. I'm not being melodramatic. Ed
is
the only person I have left in the world.

I know what you're thinking. Don't I have
anyone?

What about my mom, for instance? Nope. Gone.

My dad? Also gone. Missing in action the night Mom died.

George, my guardian of the moment? Nice, sweet, sincere—but not really there for me.

Ella, the evil bitch who happens to be George's coguardian? Best not to go there.

Which brings me to Sam. Sam Moon, the guy who haunts me, the guy I obsess over; the boy goes out with Heather Gannis…. Okay, it's best not to go
there,
either. But for a brief moment I thought Sam and I had made a breakthrough. That is, until he showed up at my door, took one look at the Wicked Witch of the West Village (Ella, in case you haven't guessed), then bolted. Not that I can blame him for running away from
her.
Still, it was kind of weird. And I've only seen him once since. I basically told him to screw off.

Of course, that was when I was still in the “anger” stage.

I'm pretty sure the last stage of grief is acceptance. Which is where I am now. I accept that Mary's dead. I accept that Sam Moon and I will never happen. I accept that my life sucks, that danger stalks me like a psychotic villain, that I'll live the rest of my life with no friends except a guy without feeling in his legs.

I guess that means I'm fully recovered, right?

gaia's problem

A little Charles Manson and a little Mother Teresa …

The Beauty of Ed

GAIA STARED BLANKLY AT THE book on her desk. She almost laughed. What was she thinking? Did she really believe she would spend Friday evening in this lame little bedroom and actually
read?
Maybe she was finally pulling herself together after the trauma of Mary's death—but still, normalcy came in stages. It came in baby steps. And reading
The Great Gatsby
in the Nivens' house felt like a giant step clear into somebody else's 1ife.

Besides, nobody did homework on Fridays. Not even the ultranormal. Not even studious people like … well, like Sam Moon. Not even if
The Great Gatsby
was the great work of literature everyone said it was.

Time to bolt. Bolting was a specialty of hers.

Gaia sighed and brushed a few tangled strands of blond hair out of her face, then pushed herself away from the desk. Part of the problem was that Ella was home, and even though Gaia had avoided her (Ella was locked in her bedroom, listening to some horrid Celine Dion CD), the knowledge that they were under the same roof was enough to make Gaia want to puke.

She stood up and stretched, peering out the window. It was cold and dark—but that had never stopped her from going out before. Maybe she'd go to
the park and try to hustle a chess game. Or maybe she'd swing by Ed's and see if he wanted to see a movie. She grinned. That sounded perfect, actually. Ed would definitely be up for something. He hated being stuck in his bedroom almost as much as Gaia hated—

“I'm sorry about your friend.”

What the hell?

Gaia whirled around, her blue eyes smoldering.

Ella was standing in the open doorway—decked out, as usual, as if she were going to model at a teen fashion show. Today's outfit consisted of a tight baby T-shirt that wouldn't fit a dwarf, black leather miniskirt, and boots. And her red hair was in pigtails. Freaking pigtails. It was almost funny.

“Don't you knock?” Gaia asked.

Ella stared back at her blankly. “Not in my own house,” she replied.

Toucé,
Gaia thought. That was classic Ella. Always reminding Gaia of her place. Always making sure Gaia knew who was in charge. And this was Ella's house. Not Gaia's. It never would be. At least that was something they could agree on.

“So what do you want?” Gaia demanded impatiently, turning toward her closet.

“I just wanted to tell you that I'm sorry about your friend,” Ella repeated. Her tone was colorless, without emotion. “You know. The one who died.”

Gaia froze. She scowled.
Sorry about your friend?
Please. Ella didn't give a shit about anyone but herself. And she sure as hell had never offered any kind of sympathy toward Gaia before.

“What do you really want, Ella?” Gaia asked, looking her directly in the eye.

“I told you,” Ella replied.

“You're … sorry,” Gaia stated dubiously.

Ella's face darkened. “Look, just forget it. I …” She bit her lip, hesitating. Finally she shook her head. “Forget it,” she said again. “This isn't going to work.” She turned and strode down the steps.

A moment later Ella's bedroom door slammed.

Gaia's jaw fell open. In all the months she'd been stuck in this freakish house, that was by far the most bizarre encounter she'd ever had. And disquieting, too—much more so than any of their arguments. That's because their arguments made sense. Even when Gaia had smacked Ella in the face a couple of months ago, there had been some kind of logic involved. Ella had said something particularly loathsome. Therefore Gaia had found herself throwing a punch.
A
led to B, which led to C. Gaia had regretted hitting her; she'd promised it would never happen again—but Ella had provoked the incident. It hadn't come out of
nowhere.

Not like this.

So. That posed a very disturbing question.

Could it be that Ella actually
meant
what she said? That she was sorry about Mary?

No. Gaia shook her head. Of course not. This was the woman who treated Gaia like dirt … who was using her unsuspecting husband for some sinister purpose Gaia had yet to determine—but that probably involved embezzlement and sleazy affairs with one or more men. Ella was evil. Plain and simple. This was just another manifestation of Ella's multiple personality disorder: slipping from mask to mask without ever revealing her true face.

Still, what had she meant by
“This isn't going to work”?
It sounded like the kind of thing that somebody would say if they were trying to mend a relationship. But she and Ella didn't have a relationship of any kind. At all.

Gaia took a deep breath. She took two quick steps across her room and picked up the phone, then punched in Ed's number.

After two rings he picked up. “Hello?”

Ed's voice could always make Gaia smile. It was so open, so friendly—but with an edge, too.

“Hey, Ed,” she whispered.

“Hey, I think we've got a psychic connection,” Ed remarked dryly.

“Why's that?”

“Because I was just about to call
you.
My new wheelchair came today while we were at school. I
wanted to show it off. It's radical, I'm talking state-of-the-art. Power steering. It goes from zero to sixty in four hours. Faster down a flight of subway steps, of course.”

Gaia wanted to give Ed credit for being funny, but she couldn't muster a laugh. “Sounds good,” she mumbled. “Actually I was … um, I was just calling to see if you wanted to go see a movie. Or rent one, maybe.”

“Sure.” There was a pause. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” she said automatically. But then she frowned. In the past she would have shrugged off Ed's questions or told him to mind his own business. But after the events of the past week—after she'd nearly killed Ed and destroyed his wheelchair on the aforementioned subway steps—she was determined not to hide from him anymore. He was her one friend, so she might as well treat him like one.

“Nothing's wrong?” Ed prodded.

She flopped down on her bed, twirling the phone cord in her fingers. It took a few seconds to get the words out. “Actually, there
is
something wrong.”

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