THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE

One dead body, one photograph, one compromising secret. Everyone’s a suspect in this classic “whodunit” murder mystery from Timeless author, Alexandra Monir.

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One dead body, one photograph, one compromising secret. Everyone’s a suspect in this classic “whodunit” murder mystery from Timeless author, Alexandra Monir.  

Nicole Morgan has been labeled many things—the geeky music girl, the shy sidekick of Miss Popularity, and the girl with the scar. Now only one name haunts her through the halls of Oyster Bay Prep. The girl in the picture.

After heartthrob Chace Porter is found dead in the woods near the school, the police search for the girl snuggled up next to him in a picture discovered among his personal effects. A girl no one knew was even close to him—and whose best friend, Lana Rivera, was his girlfriend.

Nicole is that girl, and now she’s the primary suspect in his murder.

What happened that night? Were Nicole and Chace dating behind Lana’s back? Were he and Lana over? Could either of the girls have killed him?

In alternating points of view—that of suspect Nicole Morgan and that of Lana Rivera—and weaving between present-day, flashbacks, and the characters’ surreal subconscious, The Girl in the Picture is a unique tale of teen friendship, romance, and deadly secrets.

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Author: Alexandra Monir
Publisher: Delacorte Press/Penguin Random House
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Romance
Language: English

Format: Hardcover
Retail Price: $17.99 (USD)
ISBN-13: 978-0385743907
ISBN-10: 0385743904
Pages: 272

Format: eBook
Retail Price: $10.99 (USD)
ISBN-13: 978-0385372527
ISBN-10: 0385372523
Pages: 272

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CHAPTER 1

NICOLE
October 24, 2016
Senior Year

“Though some may reach for the stars,

Others will end behind bars.”

The words play in my mind, my eyes closed as I dance the bow across the strings of the violin. She and I are a team, moving and breathing in unison, producing a sound that transforms this cold, lonely dorm room into a makeshift Carnegie Hall. A momentary paradise.

Some violins sound too bright, better suited to cheery occasions like Christmas concerts or wedding processionals. Not this one, a walnut-brown Maggini on loan from Professor Teller. It’s full of dark tones and blue notes that grow icier as I move my bow closer and closer to the fingerboard.

It sounds like me.

My phone starts to vibrate, rattling against the desk, and for a moment my hopes rise. But then I hear the tinny clanging bells and remember. It’s only my stupid alarm clock.

I open my eyes, and without thinking, my gaze flicks toward the mirror on the opposite wall. Just like that, the spell is broken. I’m not the star violinist anymore. I’m the girl with the scar.

I turn away, switching my focus to the careful packing of my violin and cueing up a playlist on my iPhone, which launches with a whimsical, horn-drenched score by Alexandre Desplat. One of my favorites. The music steers me, nudging me through my morning routine. Lord knows I wouldn’t be able to get up most days without it.

I keep my back to the mirror while I button the stiff white collared shirt emblazoned with Oyster Bay Prep’s crest, and zip up the navy plaid skirt that cuts just above the knee. A navy jacket, kneesocks, and penny loafers complete the look, and for a moment I think I hear Lana’s snickering voice. “I bet you this uniform was dreamed up by a creepy old dude on faculty, indulging in some sort of schoolgirl fantasy.” She had a point there. I look about twelve years old in this getup, but my taller, better-endowed classmates might as well be playing dress-up for the cover of Maxim.

It’s almost time to face myself, but first I wash up in the little sink I had installed in my room. Anything to not have to stand in line with the other fourth-floor girls, all of us brushing our teeth in unison while staring at our reflections. No, thank you. I’d rather just zip in and out whenever I have to use the toilet, keeping my head down until I’m back in the safety of my room, which Headmaster Higgins was sympathetic enough to let me keep as a single.

The clock flashes 7:50, and I know I can’t put this off any longer. Grabbing a tube of my latest overpriced concealer, I turn to face the mirror.

In the initial weeks following the accident, I used to hold my breath and dream that it would be gone—that my face might have magically healed on its own, without any need for a surgery so expensive it would require Mom to file for bankruptcy. But I’ve learned my lesson since then. There’s no such thing as an overnight miracle, and when I look now, the jagged edge is still ever present, running down my cheek like a frozen teardrop.

I examine my scar in the mirror, turning my head this way and that as I apply the concealer with its dainty little wand. With each new product I try, I can’t help but hope that this will be the one that finally delivers on the advertising’s promise: “Erase your most unsightly blemish!”

Yeah, right. All this concealer manages to do is tint the scar orange. But it doesn’t matter. Even if I did manage to cover the scar, it would still be there—still the first thing they saw whenever they looked at me, the rumors of That Night forever associated with my name.

It’s funny, because I never even used to care how I looked. All that mattered was how well I played. I guess it’s true what they say, that you don’t miss something until it’s gone—because the day I transformed from a decently attractive girl into the Phantom of the Opera’s sister was the day my wildly ambitious dreams devolved into just one: to look normal . . . or maybe even pretty.

With a sigh, I hoist my schoolbag over my shoulder and stick my earbuds into my ears. It’s time to leave the little haven of Room #403.

I open my door to the typical morning scene in the dorm hall: bleary-eyed girls yawning their way into the bathroom with toiletry bags in hand, their type-A counterparts thundering down the stairs as though they’re ten minutes late instead of early. The social butterflies are darting in and out of each other’s rooms, taking selfies and trading accessories, and it’s hard to believe that for a minute I was one of them.

Even with my headphones on, I can hear two of my classmates saunter up behind me, their conversation a low hum punctuated by a loud burst of laughter. I’d know that laugh anywhere. And that’s when it happens—a sickening lurch in my stomach. A moment when my vision turns pixelated. A fuzzy memory pokes its way into my consciousness, edging out the music playing in my earbuds, and I can feel myself falling again, my body tumbling over a precipice, the earth scratching at