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Even if it's a terrible one.
My father's coming home party was a perfect example of good intentions gone awry.
"This is ridiculous," I said to Colin. "Who throws a huge party for someone fresh out of prison?"
My mom, that's who. I'd tried to talk her out of it—I felt less than celebratory at the prospect of my dad's return—but she'd insisted. Then I'd argued that a small family gathering at the house might be more appropriate. But for once, my mother wasn't concerned with propriety.
So I was stuck at my uncle's bar with everyone we'd ever known, waiting for my dad to walk in the door for the first time in twelve years.
Around me, the crowd was growing impatient, their small talk taking on an irritable note. I should have been setting out bowls of peanuts and pretzels, but instead I slumped against the back wall and watched a game of darts. "You know she's hoping for one of those big reunion scenes. Like we're all going to hug and cry and be a happy family again."
Colin's hand found mine and squeezed, but his eyes swept across the sea of people, searching even in the dim light of the bar. "Just hang in there a little bit longer."
"I don't know why I even agreed to come," I said.
"Because it's important to your mother," my uncle said, appearing beside us. Irritation flickered across his face at the sight of my fingers linked with Colin's. "Be grateful I told her you had to work, or you'd have been off to Indiana along with her. They'll be arriving any moment, so start practicing your smile."
I bared my teeth. "How's this?"
"I'll not have you spoil her day, Mo. She's waited a long time for this."
"Longer than she needed to, right?"
Billy's eyes narrowed, and beside me, Colin made a low noise of warning. "Don't bait the bear," he was telling me, and any other day I would have listened. But tonight, my nerves were stretched to breaking.
Ignoring the ripple of tension along Colin's arm, I lifted my chin and stared at my uncle. A moment passed, and finally Billy made a show of looking around the room. "Make sure everyone has something to toast with, and then you're free for the night. I'll need you back on Monday."
With that, he was off to mingle. I leaned my head against Colin's shoulder and he murmured, "The sooner we get The Slice up and running, the better. I don't like you working for Billy."
I wasn't a fan of the arrangement, either, but I had no choice. As long as I worked for my uncle, Colin was safe. He didn't know about the deal we'd struck, and he definitely wasn't aware my job was more than wiping down tables and carting empties to the recycling bins out back. He assumed, like almost everyone else in my life, that I was working at the bar until my mom's restaurant was rebuilt, at which point life would go back to normal.
I had learned the hard way that normal was not an option anymore.
I went up on tiptoe, brushed a kiss over his lips. His hand tightened on my waist for an instant before he edged away.
"What? Everyone knows we're together." I sank back down, trying not to feel hurt.
"I'm not crazy about having an audience."
I glanced around. There were a few people eyeing us—not many, but enough to make Colin uncomfortable. "Fine. But we're not staying here all night."
He grinned and ducked his head, his breath warm against my ear. "Wasn't planning on it."
I made the rounds of the bar, my back aching from carrying a full tray back and forth. The whole time, I could feel Colin watching me, an anchor in a stormy sea, and I clung to the sensation. But gradually, I became aware of another one, a prickling awareness that made me rub my arms to ward off a chill, despite the overheated room.
Around me, voices faded to a murmur. I spun, looking for Colin, but the crowd hid him from view. The magic stirred— anticipation and stress and dread waking up the force inside me. Something was happening.
Luc? He had a knack for showing up at the worst possible moment, and I couldn't imagine a worse one than tonight. The connection between us had lain dormant for nearly three months, a welcome break while I got acclimated to my new life and the constant presence of the magic inside me. I'd always known he would come back. I'd just hoped to have things under control before he turned my world inside out again.
My hands clutched the empty tray to my chest like a shield. I squeezed my eyes shut, feeling along the lines for the vibrating tension that would indicate an Arc was here. But the lines were quiet, their power held in abeyance. There was no sign of Luc or anyone else in the room working a spell— even a concealment. I opened my eyes and searched for a familiar green gaze and sharp cheekbones, but they weren't there. Better that way, I told myself.
People stood three deep in front of the oak counter running along the side of the room. Behind them I could see the backs of the regulars hunched over their drinks, and Charlie, my favorite bartender. He was pulling beers and gauging who'd hit their limit, working his way down the line in a steady rhythm. He seemed to pop in and out of view as the people milled in front of him.
It was a familiar sight, but something seemed off-kilter. Like a puzzle in a kid's magazine, where you compared two pictures of the same scene and circled the differences. What was the difference? The bar. Charlie. The customers. The party. What was out of place?
A gap opened in the crowd, giving me a clear view of the bar for only an instant. But it was enough.
The regulars all faced Charlie or the front door. From my spot at the rear of the bar, only the backs of their heads were visible. Except for one guy, facing the opposite direction.
For a split second, I could see him as clearly as if I'd taken his picture—eyebrows raised mockingly, mouth twisted in a caustic smile—and then the shutter closed as the crowd filled the gap again.
Suddenly, I wished it was.
Anton Renard. Leader of the Seraphim. A renegade Arc who wanted me dead.
The feeling was mutual.
I forced myself to walk toward him, but when I reached the barstool, he was gone, and the lines were silent as the grave.
"Problem?" Colin asked from behind me. He rested his hands on my shoulders, the weight reassuring.
I drew in a shaking breath, turning to him. "I thought I saw Anton. Here."
His expression hardened. "You're sure?"
"No." If it was Anton, I would have felt the spell he'd used to hide himself as it resonated along the lines. Either I was mistaken, or he'd managed to blend convincingly into a Flat bar on the South Side of Chicago. But the Anton I knew was too arrogant for blending.
Something had triggered the magic's fretfulness, but maybe it was my own unhappiness. Three months ago, I'd willingly given myself over to the magic—taken it inside of me, bound myself to the source of the Arcs' power—and discovered that it wasn't just a supernatural energy source, but a sentient being. Alive. Since then, our connection had strengthened. We couldn't carry on a conversation, but I was getting better at interpreting its moods, and it responded to mine: a pleasant hum beneath my skin when I was content, a tremor every time I crossed the threshold of Morgan's. I didn't know which one of us was responsible for the disturbance I felt now.
From the front of Morgan's, someone called, "They're here! Where's Mo?"
Colin took my hand, tugging me toward the narrow front doors as they opened. The crowd drew a collective breath as my mom stepped inside, cheeks flushed with cold and excitement. And I forgot all about half-seen faces, because immediately behind her, blinking at the noise of the crowd's shouts of "surprise" and "welcome home," was my father.
I hadn't seen him in five years.
From behind a wall of people, I studied him carefully. He was still my dad, sharp greenish-brown eyes framed with heavy black glasses. His dark red hair, curling at the collar, needed a trim, and his narrow face managed to look surprised, even though the expression was a beat too slow to be genuine. But there were lines at the corners of his eyes that hadn't been there before, and his hair was streaked with gray. His posture was a little more stooped, as if he were trying to withdraw into himself. He looped one arm around my mother, drawing her close as people lined up to greet him.
Billy spotted me trying to fade into the crowd and grasped my elbow. "Don't you dare ruin this," he muttered, and towed me into the circle surrounding my parents. His voice suddenly brimmed with good cheer. "Jack! Welcome home!
Look what I've brought you—a sight for sore eyes, don't you think?"
He stepped back, releasing me. The expectation of the crowd, waiting for our tearful reunion, weighed on me like the air before a storm.
After a moment, my father let go of my mom and took a tentative step toward me, spreading his arms wide. "There's my girl," he said, his voice cracking in the suddenly quiet room. "There's my Mo."
I wanted to turn away, punish him for all the pain he'd caused us. I wasn't going to let him back in, and there was no reason to pretend otherwise.
Until I saw my mom blinking back tears, a wobbly smile on her lips. All her hopes for our family crystallized in a single moment, and my reaction would either let them grow or shatter them on the worn oak floorboards. I licked my lips and swallowed the dust clogging my throat.
"Hi, Dad." I wound the apron string around my fingers until it cut off the circulation, untwisted it again. "It's ... good to have you home."
He was across the room in three strides, wrapping me in the same bear hug he used to give me when I was five, and for a second I let myself believe Mom was right. Tonight could be a fresh start, a chance for us to be a family again. His return might not be such a terrible thing after all.
And then, still squeezing me tightly, my father whispered one word to me. "Liar."
"See anyone?" I asked.
"Nobody that shouldn't be here," he said, and laced his fingers with mine. "You look beat."
"I thought he'd be nicer," I said without thinking.
Colin's mouth twitched. "He probably thought the same thing about you. The guy's been in prison for twelve years, Mo. Nice doesn't last long there."
"He went to prison for Billy. Added an extra seven years to his sentence to keep us safe. That's nice, right?"
"Not nice. Desperate. He'd do whatever was necessary to protect his family." He finished the beer he'd nursed all night, set it back on the bar with a crack. "Don't confuse nice with good."
"You think he's a good guy?" Colin saw my family a lot more clearly than I did. If he thought my dad deserved another chance, maybe I could bend a little.
"I think he's on his way over."
The crowd had thinned out, but my dad took his time crossing the room, his attention riveted on us. Colin started to draw away, but I held fast.
"Aren't you going to introduce me, Mo?" my father asked. Without waiting for my response, he said, "You're Colin Donnelly."
"It's good to meet you, sir."
"Annie's told me a lot about you. Says you've done a good job keeping my daughter out of trouble."
I bristled at the words, but Colin's voice was cool. "I try my best. You know Mo."
My father's jaw clenched as he caught the implication—he didn't know me at all. "The good news is, now that I'm home, things will settle down. I don't think we'll need your help for much longer. Annie says you're a carpenter?"
He was getting rid of Colin? "But ..." I started to protest, but Colin's hand brushed mine, reassuring.
"With all due respect, sir, I work for Billy." Now the words held an edge.
My dad looked disappointed. "I figured you'd say that."
My mom joined us, worry creasing her brow, and my dad settled an arm around her waist. She brightened instantly. "It's a nice party, don't you think? Everyone's so happy to see you."
He dropped a kiss on her forehead. "You did great. Never saw it coming."
Looked like I wasn't the only liar in the family. I coughed, and he frowned at me. "Don't spoil her fun," his look telegraphed. "Can I bail, please?" I asked. "I'm wiped out."
"Honey, it's your dad's party!"
"Yeah, with your friends. Not mine." Like I would have invited any of my friends to this. "Look, I helped set up, and I did the big welcome. Why do I have to stay?"
"Oh, Annie, let her go." Billy approached us, a tumbler of whiskey in hand, doing his best impression of the doting uncle. "What fun is she going to have with a bunch of old people? Besides, we've things to discuss." Her mouth thinned, and she glanced at my father, who shrugged. "It's fine. We'll have plenty of time to catch up."
"I suppose." She gave me a quick hug. "We'll be home in a bit."
While Colin went to warm up the truck, I popped into the back room and clocked out. The sudden quiet was a relief, and I took a minute to steady myself. I'd survived. While I was still reeling from my dad's greeting, the other guests had swarmed in to welcome him, and I'd slipped off to the side. Other than the brief exchange between my dad and Colin, I'd managed to steer clear of my family for the night. It could have been worse.
It could have been much worse. It could have been Anton on that barstool instead of a random stranger.
I'd worked so hard to keep my real life separate from my magical one. If Anton had shown up, it would have meant only one thing: He and the Seraphim, his genocidal cult, were back. Anton and his followers wanted to release the magic from the ley lines that carried it safely through the world. But doing so would be lethal to weaker Arcs and any Flats—ordinary people—who came in contact with untempered magic. They called it The Ascendency, when members of the Seraphim would destroy the Arcs' society and rise to their rightful place. They'd been the ones to order Verity's death last summer, and they'd been after me ever since. We'd defeated them a few months ago, but I knew they would regroup. I just didn't know when.
But Anton never passed up an opportunity to attack me. I'd had no word from the Arcs that I was in danger. The ley lines around Morgan's had been quiet all night. For now, at least, I was safe.
I bent over, trying to untie my apron.
The string was so badly knotted, I was going to have to cut it off or try to wriggle out. Behind me, the door opened and the noise from the party swelled, grating on my nerves.
"The stupid string won't come undone," I told Colin. "Can you help me get this off?" I turned, tugging at the white canvas hem.
It wasn't Colin.
"Nothing I'd like better," said Luc, stepping inside and shutting the door with a wave.
I gaped at him. He looked ordinary—or at least, as ordinary as it was possible for Luc to appear. Dark jeans, dark green shirt, black leather coat, cut close to display his lean swimmer's build. It wasn't his clothing that set him apart. It was the eyes, the smirk, the way he walked into a room and instantly, effortlessly took command, like it was his due.
Which he probably figured it was.
"What are you—" I sighed as the pieces fell into place. "Some people actually say hello, you know. They don't lurk in corners."
He looked offended. "Neither do I."
"You've been watching me all night. It's a little creepy."
"Just walked in the front door." He crossed the room, took my hands in his ice-cold ones. Up close, I could see water beading on the surface of his coat. "City's a hell of a lot less charming in the winter, by the way."
I pulled away, crossed my arms over my chest. "I felt you. Earlier tonight. The magic knew you were here."
"Magic doesn't know anything." He blew on his hands, enveloping them in a red-tinged glow. Show-off. As my words sank in, his brow furrowed. "Wasn't me. What happened?"
Excerpted from Bound by Erica O'Rourke Copyright © 2012 by Erica O'Rourke. Excerpted by permission of K Teen Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted October 25, 2012
Oaths that Bind
The final installment in the Young Adult Torn series trilogy by Erica O’Rourke “Bound” finds us returning to Morgan’s, the South Side Chicago bar belonging to the Mafia-connected Uncle Billy as Mo Fitzgerald (Maura Kathleen), awaits the arrival of her father who has just been released from a twelve year prison sentence. The welcome home party held in his honor dreamed up by her mother does not sit well with Mo, which she does not hesitate to mention however sarcastically to her Uncle. Although still bound by the oath she made to protect the magic which now resides in her, Mo has been had the luxury of three months of peace and quiet which also has left dormant the tie that binds her (both physically and mentally), to the elusive Luc DeFoudre. Also still living up to the bargain struck with her Uncle to keep Collin and his sister safe, Mo makes her required rounds ensuring the bar patrons have a drink to celebrate upon the guest of honor’s arrival. The shimmer of magic however, draws her heightened attentions and Mo fears Luc is once again making his presence known. Unfortunately, to Mo’s consternation the individual she glimpses is actually Anton Renard the renegade Arc who happens to be the leader of the opposing Seraphim. Puzzled, Mo knows nothing good could be forthcoming in Anton’s unwelcomed appearance and a fear the time of quite that she has spent with Collin is now at an end. It is a close race both Anton and Mo run each in their wish that the other was dead. Mo finds herself ironically envisioning a visit from Luc. His disconcerting powers notwithstanding that happen to twist her senses in another direction entirely would have served a better distraction than the dark purpose she feels is evident in Anton’s return. Mo discovers the time has come for the Arcs to elect the leader in the too long vacancy held by the Water house upon Evangeline’s death, which would once again complete and unite the Quartoren. As if the task at keeping the magic safe was not enough to keep Mo on her toes the added return of her father and the views he is determined to enforce after his long time absence in her life only adds fire to the flame of animosity. The added element of Billy’s inopportune discovery and the lengths he is willing to go in his greedy thirst for power may bring on the destruction outside anything the bonds of Mo and Luc or the guardians of magic could protect.
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Posted August 21, 2012
The last novel in this trilogy – and what an awesome series this has
been! Mo Fitzgerald is not like the normal teenage girl. She is a
Flat with the magic alive in her. She is caught up in a love triangle,
yet bound by magic to one of the men. She has to deal with her uncle,
who is part of the Chicago MOB, her hunky bodyguard and his annoyance of
Mo poking around in his personal life, and Luc, the ARC she is bound to,
all atop of the family reunion of her father returning from prison. In
this novel, Mo learns about his father, how far her uncle will go, and
just how much she really does love someone. In the end, she must make
the choice of which man she is going to stick around with, and learn
that live is full of hard knocks and bruises! O’Rourke has done an
exceptional job with this trilogy! I have enjoyed reading all three
novels and actually read the last two back to back! They were easy
reads and I was able to get caught up into Mo’s world and rooting for
her to make the right decision! Five star read!
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Posted November 30, 2012
The last in the series, I was excited to see how it would end. The main character Mo has been through a lot. From being thrown into a world she had no idea existed, to unexpected family drama.
I found this book quite enjoyable. The plot quickly filled with answer as Mo decides what she will do with her future. She faced with college, family decisions as well as boy decisions. I like that the plot is not predictable. As of now, I had no idea who Mo will choose. She has given up so much for others, I wanted her to finally have something for herself. Each chapter excels faster in Mo taking steps for her future. For once, she doesn't allow others to make her decisions. Mo is finally calling the shots.
The love interest is quite the battle. I admit that Mo making this decisions will change everything. It will decide if she stays or goes. For the boy she picked, I felt it was right. Mo made this all on her own knowing all of her choices. It is her chance to do what she wants instead of doing what others expect of her.
Overall, Bound is great ending to an awesome series. I have enjoyed every single book and look forward to more of Ms. O'Rourke writings. An explortative take on two different world colliding into one, Bound is solid.
Posted October 16, 2012
Posted August 10, 2012
Posted August 2, 2012
Bound is the third book in the Torn trilogy, and I was so glad that it ended in a great way! I'm usually scared of how authors end their books sometimes, and I have to say that Erica did a great job! Maura Fitzgerald, Mo, is a great protagonist. She really does not depend on guys at all, and always does what her heart tells her to do. I really admire her for that. I was really excited for the third book, mostly because of the love triangle. I just love Colin, and for the first time in any book I have read, the main protagonist likes the "normal" human being and not the "paranormal" character, who in this case is Luc. Erica constructed such a complicated and lovely love triangle that made my heart hurt with them.
While reading Bound, there wasn't a time where I felt like the book was boring or even a bit draggy. It was all balanced out, and that made it really comfortable to read. I really liked how Erica included pats of the magic world, parts of Mo's personal family issues, and part of the romance as well. That way I got a taste of everything, which I thought was pretty cool! If I had to compare the three books, I would say that the second book, Tangled, was the best. After that would come Bound, then Torn, which is the first book of the trilogy. Therefore if you have read Torn and maybe didn't enjoy it that much, read the second book because it is awesome!!
I really want to thank KensingtonTeen for send me an ARC of Torn, because I would have never started this series if it weren't for them! It was a great adventure with Mo, Collin, and Luc, and I am slightly upset that it ended. The Torn trilogy will always be in my heart, because yes, it was that great! I really cannot wait to pick up future works by Erica O'Rourke!
Posted July 28, 2012
This is the final installment of the Torn series and she did a great job of finishing off all the loose ends and making it a happy ending, with some surprises that I didn't see coming. I think this series was well worth reading.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 26, 2012
I was so excited to read Bound so I could see what happens, and the path that Mo decided to take. And I was not disappointed! I really enjoyed this series, and the new idea of mixing the mob and magic. I really liked how this concluded and who Mo chose to be with in her love triangle. And the uncle even gets all he deserves in the end. Highly recommend to teens and all lovers of YA!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 10, 2012
Posted July 5, 2012
I absolutely love this series! Once i read torn and tangled, i could not wait for bound! Erica o'rouke does an amazing job carrying out the plot and making everything extremely detailed. Bound is the book that mo's flat and arc lives collide, and cause her to make sacrafices and choices that affect many things. The book was very realistic, like you are a character in the book yourself, It just sucks you in and you don't want to put it down. A fantastic read! :)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 2, 2012
i love these books! once again she saves the magical world for the arcs and she being only a flat. she plays a double agent in a way. sends info to the other mob boss while secretly getting info to give to jenny to put her uncle behind bars. trying to figure out who her dad is after he is released from prison, but only to find out at the last moment. the only thing that gets me is how she's so willing to jump in bed with colin but when he breaks up with her, she loves luc so much and jumps into bed with him. granted i love both guys and didn't care who she ends up with but it just made her seem like a horny teenager. lol. overall i think this trilogy was well worth it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 29, 2012
Bound (the last book in a trilogy) by Erica o"Rourke was a fascinating fun read. This book brings the two lives of Mo Fitzgerald together. The magical life she has been thrust into through the death of her best friend, and the anything but normal life of a High School senior with Chicago Mob relations. Torn between two guys Colin her solid safe bodyguard and her supposed destiny with the "secret guy" Luc, Mo works to find herself, her own voice, and many forms of love.
This is the first book I have ever pre-ordered. After reading Torn and Tangled last February, I could not wait for Bound!! I am happy to say I was not disappointed. The plot was intricate, the characters were well developed, and the conclusion was extremely satisfying. A definite read for older teens and adults.
Posted June 27, 2012
Posted August 23, 2012
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Posted August 10, 2012
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