Tangledby Erica O'Rourke
Constance started to keen as the air around us began to thrash and twist, the caustic scent of ozone burning my nose. As I watched, her dark gold hair began to lift and kink into knots.
"I'm here. It'll be okay." It was the last thing I said before my best friend's little sister went supernova in the second-floor girls' bathroom, taking me with/i>… See more details below
Constance started to keen as the air around us began to thrash and twist, the caustic scent of ozone burning my nose. As I watched, her dark gold hair began to lift and kink into knots.
"I'm here. It'll be okay." It was the last thing I said before my best friend's little sister went supernova in the second-floor girls' bathroom, taking me with her.
A month ago, Mo Fitzgerald risked her life to stop an ancient prophecy and avenge her best friend's murder. Now, she only wants to keep her loved ones safe. But the magic – and the Chicago Mob – have other plans.
Mysterious, green-eyed Luc is back, asking for help – and a second chance. Colin, her strongest protector, is hiding a shocking secret. And inside Constance, the magic is about to go terribly wrong. Tangled in a web of love and betrayal, Mo must choose between the life she's dreamed of and the one she's destined for.
Praise for Erica O'Rourke's Torn
"Dark, magical, and delicious!"
—New York Times bestselling author C. L. Wilson
"Exciting and totally addictive! Just. . .wow!"
—Kristi Cook, author of Haven
Be sure to read Erica O'Rourke's magical debut novel!
"Torn will keep you turning pages ‘til the very end."
--New York Times bestselling author C. L. Wilson
Read an Excerpt
By ERICA O'ROURKE
K TEEN BOOKSCopyright © 2012 Erica O'Rourke
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTruth is overrated. Lots of things are overrated: Oreos, the Christmas windows on State Street, classic rock, marriage. Everyone wants you to think that the truth is this beautiful shining gift that will set you free. They are lying.
The truth is scary, and usually painful, and it might set you free, but it can also leave you lonely. People say that truth hurts—and they're right, it does—but you can survive the truth. Lies, on the other hand, will kill you dead.
And here's the lie I told myself: I could get my old life back. I could let the nightmare that began my senior year fade away and be the girl I used to be. Ordinary Mo Fitzgerald.
Like I said: The truth might be overrated, but a lie will kill you.
"I don't believe you," Lena Santos said, leaning against a bank of lockers while I rummaged through mine, looking for a library book. "No. Sorry. Not possible."
I shoved aside loose papers, hair elastics, and SAT prep guides until I found it, stuffing the dusty volume into my already-overloaded bag. "Got it. I will not be sad to finish this presentation."
"Don't try changing the subject. I refuse to believe you are skipping the Sadie Hawkins dance."
"I don't have a date."
"So? Neither do I, but I'm still going. Have you even asked anyone?"
We trudged up the staircase, in no particular rush to get to the library. Other schools had lounge furniture and a welcoming staff. St. Brigid's had wooden chairs and Sister Agatha, with her thick black glasses and perpetual shushing. Our presentation on the 17th-century French monarchy was not an incentive to pick up the pace, either.
"Who would I ask?" I shrugged, adjusting my book bag.
Lena made a show of tapping her chin thoughtfully. "Oh, I don't know ... Colin?"
"Trust me. Colin Donnelly is not the type to attend a high school dance."
"He would if you asked. Aren't you two kind of ... together?"
"We're figuring it out." I stared at my shoes as we rounded the corner. There was a lot to figure out, like why Colin had put the brakes on—way, way on. Our relationship was like rush-hour traffic. A tiny bit of progress, accompanied by rapid, forceful application of said brakes. He had his reasons, he said, but I was losing patience.
"Besides, can you imagine what my mom would—ow!" I slammed into someone and went sprawling, books, binders, and pens spilling everywhere.
"My apologies," said the man I'd run into—an older gentleman in a black wool top coat and slightly outdated pinstriped suit. He looked like someone's well-off grandfather as he leaned heavily on an ivory-handled cane. "Are you all right?"
There was the faintest trace of an accent in his voice, but I couldn't quite place it. His hat, a black fur dress cap, the kind you usually saw in winter, had fallen nearby. "My fault," I said, handing it to him as I scrambled up.
"No, no. Let me help you." He bent and picked up my bag, then smiled approvingly at me. "One good turn deserves another, yes?"
Bowling him over didn't exactly seem like a good turn, but I took the olive-drab bag and returned the smile. He wasn't wearing the stick-on ID badge that the office printed out for all visitors, which was strange. The security guards were pretty good about making sure people checked in.
Lena must have noticed something was off, too, because she said solicitously, "Are you looking for someone? Do you need directions?"
"No, thank you." He clamped his hat to his head. As he headed toward the stairs, swinging his cane jauntily, he called back, "I found who I was looking for."
My grip tightened on the strap of my bag and I stood, unmoving, until he was out of sight.
"Library," Lena said, nudging me.
As Sister Agatha shelved books and frowned at our whispered conversation, we grabbed a computer and pretended to review our presentation slides.
"What about the other guy? From this fall?" Lena asked when Sister Agatha had tottered into the stacks. "Ask him to the dance."
"He's gone." Saying the words out loud felt like a door slamming shut inside me. Gone was good, I reminded myself.
My tone must have been too harsh, though, because Lena drew back and inspected her notes for our history presentation with a lot more care than necessary.
I felt a pang of guilt. Lena was smart, and fun to hang out with, and pretty much the only person at St. Brigid's who didn't treat me like a leper. Since my best friend's murder, people had avoided me, like grief was contagious. I didn't want to drive Lena away, too.
"We could do something after the dance. You could crash at my place. If you don't have plans already," I said.
She thawed. "That sounds fun. You're sure you don't want to go?"
I shook my head, and she sighed. "Okay. Sleepover after. Hey, have you sent in your NYU app?"
I swallowed, careful to keep from sounding defensive. "Ummm ... not yet."
"What?" She looked genuinely startled. "I know your interview was a disaster, but they'll understand."
Disaster was putting it mildly. I'd walked out midquestion. With good reason, but none that I could explain to the college rep I'd been trying to impress. It had ruined my shot at early admission, and maybe even getting into NYU at all.
"You haven't changed your mind about going, right? You've been talking about NYU since freshman year, you and ..." She trailed off. "You and Verity. I get it now."
She really, really didn't. And there was no way I could explain it to her. Verity and I had always planned to go to college in New York, the two of us united, leaving behind my family's shady history and her picture-perfect one. Now Verity was dead, and I was the one left behind. Despite the rumors, I hadn't blown the interview to sabotage myself. I'd bailed because no matter how much I wanted to get into my dream school, revenge for Verity's death was more important. I'd gotten it, and now I needed to get my life back to normal.
It was nearly impossible to picture normal these days. I knew what it was supposed to look like: Verity and me, window-shopping at the funky Wicker Park boutiques she liked, scoping out college guys over sushi, poring over guidebooks for New York, and making plans for our great escape. But that world vanished the day Verity died. In its place was one of ancient magic, dangerously beautiful and full of secrets, with a boy to match. We'd saved his world, and I hadn't seen him since. Every day I reminded myself how little I missed him.
After the things I'd seen and done, I wasn't sure how to make a normal life again. I wasn't sure I wanted to.
But one thing was certain: Normal wasn't going to happen here in Chicago, in the shadow of my family. I needed to be in New York, where people reinvented themselves every day. It was what Verity and I had planned all along, and I owed it to both of us to make it happen.
I rubbed my temples, trying to dispel the headache that had been brewing all morning. "I tanked in the interview, and Jill McAllister was perfect. If they compared us during early admission, there's no way I'd get in. If I wait until regular admission, I might have a shot." Plus, I could show them I had recovered from Verity's death. Strength of character, triumph over adversity, all the things admissions counselors liked to see in an applicant. It felt like I was trading on my grief, but I'd learned that even when the world was falling to pieces, you had to carry on and make do with what you had.
Through the glass doors of the library, I could see someone coming down the hallway, weaving slightly, leaning against the wall for balance. Lena followed my glance. "Jesus," she said, voice low. "Speaking of missing Verity. That girl is going downhill fast, chica. Do you think she's wasted?"
"Constance?" I shook my head. Baby-faced Constance Grey, my best friend's sister. She was struggling, sure, but I couldn't see her filling a water bottle with vodka just to make it through Biology class. "Maybe she's sick."
Constance stumbled, lolling her head. Her caramel-colored hair, a few shades darker than Verity's, swung in a curtain across her back. My skin prickled, like I'd scuffed across shag carpeting in my socks.
"Cover for me with Sister?" I asked, standing up. Lena nodded, with a look mixing pity and exasperation.
"She won't want your help," she called.
The library doors swung shut behind me. Constance and I were alone in the deserted hallway. "You okay?"
Her head snapped up, and my heart squeezed. She looked so much like Verity. Lighter eyes, more freckles, features more rounded. But the same nose, the same cheekbones, the same slight wave to their hair. For a second, I wondered who she saw in the mirror each morning: Herself? Or Verity?
She scowled and turned away. "I'm fine. Go 'way." Her voice was strained, like she couldn't get the words out, and she banged into the lockers with a crash. Lena was right—she didn't want my help. I still had to try.
"Are you sick?"
"I said, go away!" She turned to glare at me, and I stepped back at the sight of her pupils, so enormous they were barely ringed with blue.
"You're on something." She didn't smell like alcohol, though. The prickling feeling intensified, centered in my palms. I rubbed my hands together. "Constance, what did you take? If one of the teachers finds you ..."
"No! Don't feel good. Itchy," she said, sounding fretful. "Skin's too tight."
"Somebody gave you something. What was it?" Glancing around, I guided her into the bathroom.
"Nothing!" Inside, she pressed her cheek against the tile wall and moaned, scrabbling at the sleeves of her navy sweater. Her nails scored thin red lines along her arms. "Too tight."
I reached for her hands, but she shrieked and twisted away. I had to talk her down. Someone would hear her soon, and we'd get caught, and it wouldn't matter how sorry people felt for her—a fact she'd been using to her advantage since the first day of school, blowing off homework and mouthing off to teachers, skipping chapel and coming in late every day. If they found her high as a kite in the bathroom during second period, she'd be starting school at a building with metal detectors and a visible police presence by the end of the week.
Constance hated me. She'd made that clear the day of Verity's funeral, and who could blame her? Verity and I both went for ice cream. I'd lived. Verity hadn't. What she didn't know—and what I couldn't tell her—was that her sister's death wasn't a random street crime. It was an assassination. Maybe if she'd known, things would be different between us. Maybe she'd let me take care of her. But I kind of doubted it, especially when her elbow caught me across the face and I staggered back, crying out.
"What the hell, Constance? Knock it off!" Blood poured out of my nose, and I clapped my hand over it, trying to staunch the flow. The tingling sensation spread from my hands to my arms and into my chest, uncomfortable but not painful. I glanced around the room, shoving back dread and the feeling that I was in over my head. Again.
"How long?" I asked.
She rapped her head against the tile, still clawing at her arms, the shrieks transforming to agonized moans.
I grabbed her wrists and dragged her away from the wall, blood dripping onto my shirt. "When did this start?"
"This weekend," she panted, the veins in her neck standing out. "It hurts so bad. What's wrong?"
"I don't know, honey. Hang on." The scar on my hand, a shiny, mottled pink, pulsed painfully, and Constance started to keen. Around us, the air thrashed and twisted, the caustic scent of ozone burning my nose. As I watched, her dark gold hair began to lift and kink into knots.
"I'm here. It'll be okay."
I was lying. It was the last thing I said before my best friend's little sister went supernova in the second-floor girls' bathroom, taking me with her.
Chapter TwoI don't know how long we were out. Not long, probably, because Lena entered, her expression more mild concern than outright panic as I was waking up. "Everything all ... holy shit."
Constance was sprawled near the sinks, pale as moonlight except for the crimson streaks dribbling from her nose. I knelt next to her, holding my hand an inch above her open mouth. "She's breathing."
She looked at me, did a double take. "You're bleeding! What happened?"
I shifted Constance's head onto my lap instead of the black and white tiles. "It was an accident."
"Her fist accidentally ran into your face?" Lena yanked a handful of paper towels out of the dispenser and ran cold water over them. "Use this."
"Thanks. She didn't mean it. She's ... sick." Could magic make people sick? The instant before we'd been knocked out, I'd felt it. Raw magic, staggeringly powerful, sweeping through us both. It was gone now, but its appearance in that bathroom pretty much confirmed Constance was an Arc.
So much for getting back to normal life.
"Look, Mo. I know you worry about her, but maybe it's time for some tough love, you know? The girl is on something." She handed me another clutch of damp paper towels.
I brushed Constance's hair away from her face and dabbed at the blood. A whisper of a breeze flittered through the room and vanished. "She's not waking up. Shouldn't she be waking up?"
"Hell if I know. We should get the nurse."
"The nurse can't do anything." We needed Luc. I'd promised him my help, if he needed it, but I wasn't looking forward to asking for his. Owing Lucien DeFoudre was never a good idea. I touched my wrist, trying to sense the faint, otherworldly chain connecting us. The last time I'd felt it had been a month ago, in the graveyard where Verity was buried. "I need more time."
Lena checked her watch. "You've got eight minutes until the bell rings. What if she's hurt?"
"I know somebody. He can help."
Lena squatted down, carefully tucking her skirt under her. "Mo, whatever the frosh is mixed up in, it's bad. Don't let her bring you down, too. Let someone else take care of this."
Constance convulsed once on the floor. The air thrummed while my scar burned white through the blood coating my hand. Last time the blood had been Verity's, and she'd died. I wouldn't let that happen again.
"Promise you won't get the nurse," I said.
"Tell me you are joking."
"I'll take care of her. You know I wouldn't let anything happen to her; she's Verity's sister, for God's sake. But I can't let anyone else see her like this."
"Mo, in five minutes, half the sophomore class will be in here."
"Go back to the library. Tell Sister Agatha I didn't feel well." Which was not a lie. My headache had bloomed into a migraine and my stomach clenched with nausea. My skin crawled as the magic built, turning the air oppressive and charged, like a lightning strike. The sensation made me nervous, for all of us. "Seriously. I will take care of Constance. But you need to go."
"I do not understand you."
"I know. Lena, please."
She bit her lip, hurt and indecision clouding her face. Lena was the kind of pretty that made people underestimate her. They saw big brown eyes in a heart-shaped face and immediately wanted to protect her. At first, anyway. Once they'd seen her in action—ferociously bloodthirsty on the soccer field, blunt and opinionated everywhere else—they reconsidered. But right now, she just looked wounded, like I'd betrayed her somehow.
"Later," she said, voice brittle. "You're going to explain all this later, right?"
I hesitated, not wanting to make a promise I couldn't keep. "I'll let you know how she's doing."
Constance convulsed again, eyes rolling back, her body slamming into the ground.
Lena shook her head and backed out of the bathroom.
"Constance, honey. It'll be okay." Another false promise, and the stall doors banged wildly, as if a tornado were ripping through the room. She gasped, trying to get a full breath as the pressure in the room ramped up. Why was the magic attacking her—attacking us?
Excerpted from Tangled 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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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The story just gets better and better.
Amazinng loved it!!!!!
A good quick read.
After the loss of her best friend to magic, Mo feels it is her obligation to make sure that Verity’s younger sister, Constance, is watched over. When the powers that be realize that the magic is broken, and Constance gets her magical powers early, the Quartoren call upon Mo to fix the magic again. Mo in return asks that someone train Constance so that the girl is able to control herself. It is a big risk Mo takes, yet she realizes what her duties are as the Vessel. In between dealing with the Quartoren Mo must sort out her feelings between Collin, the hunky bodyguard her uncle has assigned her, and Luc, and even hunkier ARC, and her overbearing uncle and his ties to the mob, Mo is trying to complete her senior year in as normal of a manner as possible. . . Yet, once she started dealing with the magic, normal was no longer a possibility. Mo falls in love with Collin, which infuriates her uncle so much that he puts a hit out on Collin. Mo makes a deal with her uncle that she will begin working for the company so long as Collin is kept safe. She is in a tangled web of lies and magic and cannot untangle herself. O’Rourke has another hot one on her hands! After reading the first novel, Torn, from this trilogy, I was anxious to read further about Mo and to see what would happen between her, Colin and Luc. O’Rourke did not let me down! I was anxious to read the third novel and started it right after this one!
Good YA book. mob AND paranormal.. what more do you want?
Waiting on the next one to be published. Good series, stong storyline.
Great story, great series....really enjoyed this book!
I LOVED Torn! I LOVED Tangled! I can't wait for Bound to see how this story turns out! Still hoping Luc wins her heart. Thank you so very much for such an enjoyable story.
Love the combination of magic and the mob. Great sequel! All Mo wants to do is get away from the magic and the mob but they just keep pulling her back in. Tangled picks up about a month after where Torn, the first book in the series, ended. Torn was all about avenging the death of Verity, Mo’s best friend, but Mo had to make sacrifices to get justice. Having done what she needed to do, Mo just wants her normal, invisible life back but no one will let her have it ever again. The series is partially set in Chicago where Mo’s uncle is connected to the mob and partially set in New Orleans where a secret society of Arcs, people who can pull on the magic in the Earth’s elements, are headquartered. In many ways, the Arcs are no different than the mob: they are ruthless and will sacrifice anyone to get what they want. Unfortunately, Mo is caught between both groups as well as some other characters, all of whom have their own agendas and almost none of them care about Mo’s well being. Mo realizes that she will never have normal again and that her dream of moving away from all of it may not be possible. The love triangle from Torn continues in Tangled with Mo being pursued by magical Luc with his sexy Louisiana drawl and being drawn to Colin, her bodyguard with his mob ties and secrets. Both boys have their pros and cons and Mo does spend most of the book undecided about which one she is going to be with. One of the things I like about the book is that Mo’s character does grow throughout the story and she emerges a lot surer of herself than when she started. This confidence also extends to her decisions about the love triangle and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Bound, to see how she deals with the mob, the magic and the men. Tangled is exciting, fast paced and the combination of magic and the mob is very cool. If you have not started this series yet, you really should. The series stand out from other books in the YA paranormal market and is definitely worth reading. Bound will be released in October 2012 and I'm looking forward to it. Content: Profanity, kissing and violence
Second book in this series. A month ago, Mo Fitzgerald risked her life to stop an ancient prophecy and avenge her best friend's murder. Now, she only wants to keep her loved ones safe. But the magic—and the Chicago Mob—have other plans. Mysterious, green-eyed Luc is back, asking for help—and a second chance. Colin, her strongest protector, is hiding a shocking secret. And inside Constance, the magic is about to go terribly wrong. Tangled in a web of love and betrayal, Mo must choose between the life she's dreamed of and the one she's destined for.