The Good Girls - Sara Shepard

PROLOGUE

“HE DESERVES TO BE PUNISHED.”

That’s how it starts—with a simple statement like that. You might say it about a boyfriend who broke your heart when he kissed that skanky new girl. Or that former best friend who lied about you to save his ass. Or about a bully who went too far. You’re angry and hurt, and deep down, all you want is to get even.

That doesn’t mean you do it, of course. You might fantasize about fulfilling your darkest wishes . . . but you’re a good person. You wouldn’t actually go through with it. But as five girls learned, sometimes even thinking about revenge can lead to danger—and murder.

In other words, be careful what you wish for. Because you might get exactly what you want.

In a normal-seeming classroom in a normal-seeming high school in the normal-seeming town of Beacon Heights, Washington, thirty teenagers sat in darkness as the words The End flashed across the flat-screen TV before them. They had just watched And Then There Were None, an old black-and-white movie about justice, punishment, and murder. This was film studies class, a popular senior elective at Beacon High that was taught by the well-liked—and, at least according to most of the girls, totally gorgeous—Mr. Granger.

When Granger flicked on the lights, he had a smug, I’m-handsome-and-smart-and-you-should-worship-me smile on his face. “Amazing, right?” He swiftly divided the class into groups. “Discuss. What do you think this movie is truly about? Get some ideas for your papers.” Granger assigned an open-themed paper on every film they watched. It might seem easier that way, but his grading scale was brutal, in line with every other class at ultra-competitive Beacon High, so group discussions to come up with paper topics were key.

At the back of the room, Julie Redding sat in a group of girls who were, mostly, relative strangers to her. But she knew them in passing: There was musical genius Mackenzie Wright—word had it she’d played onstage with Yo-Yo Ma. Gorgeous Ava Jalali sat across from them, who’d done some small-time modeling gigs and apparently was snapped as a “trendsetter on the street” in Glamour. There was soccer star Caitlin Martell-Lewis, who was twitchy as a caged animal. Next to Julie sat the only one she knew well—her best friend, Parker Duvall, whose only talent these days was being a pariah. And of course, there was Julie herself, the most popular girl at school.

The girls didn’t know each other very well—yet. But soon enough, they would.

At first they talked about the movie, which was about killing people who had done terrible things—was that simply punishment, or murder? Suddenly Parker took a deep breath. “I know it’s kind of sick,” she said, her voice low, “but sometimes I think the judge in the movie was right. Some people deserve to be punished.”

There was a shock wave through the group, but then Julie spoke up, always quick to come to Parker’s defense. “Right?” she chimed in. “I mean, I know some people who deserve punishment. Personally, first on my list would be Parker’s dad. The judge let him off too easy.” She hated Parker’s dad for what he’d done to Parker. The scars of it were still all over her face, and ever since that night, Parker had gone from the most popular girl in school to . . . well, a damaged outsider. Parker hadn’t even tried to regain the friends she’d pulled away from, though maybe it was easier to hide than to reveal exactly how broken she was.

Parker nodded at Julie, and Julie gave her friend’s hand a squeeze. She knew