19.34 Maggie Hall The Conspiracy of Us

ISBN 13: 9780399166501

The Conspiracy of Us

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9780399166501: The Conspiracy of Us

A fast-paced international escapade, laced with adrenaline, glamour, and romance--perfect for fans of Ally Carter

Avery West's newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family--but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she's falling in love with. 

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About the Author:

Maggie Hall indulges her obsession with distant lands and far-flung adventures as often as she can. She has played with baby tigers in Thailand, learned to make homemade pasta in Italy, and taken thousands of miles of trains through the vibrant countryside of India. In her past life, she was a bookstore events coordinator and marketing manager, and when she's not on the other side of the world, she lives with her husband and their cats in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she watches USC football, dabbles in graphic design, and blogs about young adult literature for YA Misfits.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CHAPTER 1

The piece of paper could have been anything.

The spotlight behind me flashed acid green, then pink, then went dark. The pink still seared my retinas, lending a rosy glow to the folded page clenched in my fist.

I stared at it for a few seconds, then reopened it.

The six-inch square had just dropped out of Jack Bishop’s bag.

Jack Bishop, the new guy, who had transferred to Lakehaven High at the beginning of this week. Who had shown up here at lighting tech rehearsal, even though he was the last person I’d expect to be a theater kid.

He’d glanced at his phone and hurried down from the catwalk, and was now making his way across the stage below, his footsteps echoing through the theater. His white T-shirt went orange with the next floodlight, then blue, a bright spot in the dark.

I made sure no one was watching, then smoothed the paper flat again.

It was a photo. A photo of a girl with long dark hair and matching dark eyes focused just out of the frame.

The girl was me.

CHAPTER 2

I watched Jack until he disappeared.

On the other end of the catwalk, Lara Sanchez, the lighting director for the spring play and the person who forced me to come today, leaned over all the new theater techs to demonstrate how another light operated. It made the whole structure shudder.

I clutched at the wire mesh with white-knuckled fingers and glanced at the photo again. In it, my lips were slightly parted, my head turned, like I was talking to someone. He must have gotten it online. Lara posted a ton of pictures. For Jack Bishop to go to the trouble of searching one out meant . . . Well, there weren’t many reasons a guy would be carrying your picture around.

I suddenly realized how stagnant the air up here was. Hot. Stuffy. I was doing better than I thought I would, but I wouldn’t say no to an excuse to get down.

I scrambled to my feet. “Sorry,” I whispered to Lara as I stepped over legs and backpacks. “Excuse me.” I didn’t stop until I was on solid ground. I brushed off my jeans, shoved the picture into my messenger bag, then pushed open the heavy theater door.

B Hall looked especially drab after the neon stage, but Jack, halfway to the gym and looking at his phone, might as well have had a spotlight on him.

Since he’d started at Lakehaven on Monday, Jack had been invited onto the yearbook committee and half the school’s sports teams, and into EmmaBeth Porter’s pants, and those were just the offers I’d overheard.

Meanwhile, I’d spent the whole week fighting the flutter in my stomach that started when he sat next to me in sociology class. And got worse when he smiled at me in calculus. And then he’d showed up at lighting, which meant I’d been staring at the tattoo on his forearm for the last half hour instead of paying attention.

I wasn’t just fascinated with his forearms, though, or his deep gray eyes, or the dimple in his right cheek. He was ridiculously attractive—not pretty, but good-looking in a chiseled way, his jawline an angle rather than a curve, not a strand of espresso-colored hair out of place—and to a lot of people, that would be enough.

To me, though, there was more. Jack was the new kid, like I was. Like me, he said no to all the invitations. I never saw him talking to anyone for more than a couple of minutes. But he seemed so confident about it. It was like he actually . . . didn’t care.

I pretended I didn’t care. About friends. About boys. About having a life. Sometimes I thought I’d actually gotten the hang of it, but then I’d find myself sneaking out of lighting rehearsal because there was a traitorous part of me that wanted to know if this guy I’d been watching for the past week had been watching me, too.

Jack made an abrupt right out the exit to the courtyard.

I should have stopped following him. What was I planning to do, anyway? But when I got to where he’d turned, I heard a voice echoing back into the hall through the plink of raindrops. “Why would he be coming here?”

I stopped short, confused. Carefully, I peered through the propped-open doors. Maybe it was somebody else.

It wasn’t. All I could see was his left arm, but it was Jack. His compass tattoo was facing me, north pointing to the ground.

“Have you got any idea when?” he said, and I tried to make sense of it. Unless my ears weren’t working, Jack Bishop was speaking with a British accent.

He glanced behind him, and I shrank flat against the lockers.

“No, I haven’t seen him yet. Aren’t there more important things to worry about?” He paused. “What would the Dauphins want with her?”

Her? My hand flew to the front pocket of my bag, where I’d tucked the photo.

“Sir?” Jack’s voice changed from agitated to confused. “Certainly,” he said. “Level one priority. I understand.”

I shook my head. Of course he wasn’t talking about me. But what was he talking about?

“I’ll do it by tonight, then,” Jack said after a pause. “Yes, sir.”

He must have hung up the phone, because he cursed under his breath, and his footsteps squelched away on the rain-soaked sidewalk.

I sagged against the lockers. The last few words of the conversation played out in my head. Level one priority. Sir.

An old teacher of his, maybe. A strict British grandfather. It was none of my business, but the uncertainty in Jack’s usually calm voice had unsettled me as much as the accent had.

I tucked a strand of dark hair behind my ear and took out the picture again, studying my face in the dull fluorescent light.

Wait.

I looked closer. This photo was taken in the front yard at my house. I recognized the spiky pine tree.

I didn’t remember Lara taking pictures there, and I never posted photos online.

And if that was the case, where had Jack gotten it?

CHAPTER 3

Avery June West!” I jumped. I’d spent too much time thinking about the picture, and now I was about to be late for next period. I turned to find Lara bouncing down the hall toward my locker, her blue-tipped hair swinging. “Dude, thanks for running out on me. What is your problem?”

For some reason, I didn’t want to tell her about Jack. “I told you I don’t really like heights,” I said instead.

I spun my lock, jiggled the handle, and smacked the corner of the door with my palm. It sprang open. Being the new kid in the middle of the year means you get a lot of leftovers. Lockers are no exception.

“And we agreed lighting would be good for that, remember?” Lara pulled a pack of Twizzlers from her backpack and offered it to me. I shook my head. “And then you get to hang out with me. If you did set design, you’d have to deal with Amber Leland the rest of the year, and gross.”

I grabbed my Ancient Civilizations book. “I’m not going to ditch you for set design.”

On the way to Ancient Civ, Lara told me about how Amie Simpson had been suspended for smoking cigarettes with the janitor, and how her date had no one to go to prom with now, and their dinner reservation was blown.

“You should just come,” she said, pointing a long red Twizzler rope at the prom committee table. “I know you said you weren’t going, but you could be Amie’s replacement.”

I looked at the prom poster. The theme was A Night in Hollywood. “I don’t think so, but thanks.”

I didn’t do school dances. Just like clubs—and especially like very cute, very intriguing boys—they weren’t part of The Plan. I was determined to stick to The Plan here in Lakehaven, Minnesota.

“Your loss,” Lara said. “The Olive Garden has unlimited breadsticks.”

I tuned out when Molly Mattison came running up to ask if she could borrow Lara’s favorite feather earrings.

Was the whole idea of The Plan cynical of me? Sure. Kind of pathetic? Definitely. But I’d realized I needed to stop caring years ago, in a moving truck between Portland and St. Louis. The Plan worked, just like it was working this time. Lara was nice, but we’d never be all that close. I’d done lighting today to get both her and my mom off my back, but I’d specifically chosen the activity so I had an excuse to fail. Thank you, fear of heights.

The thing is, being lonely is like walking in the cold without a coat. It’s uncomfortable, but eventually you go numb. Once you get used to not being lonely, though, the shock of going back is like having your down comforter yanked off at six o’clock on a Minnesota December morning.

Lara stopped talking and narrowed her eyes.

“What?” I started to say, but then I saw. Jack was walking toward us down the hall. There was no way he’d followed me to my house and taken a picture when I wasn’t looking. Lara must have taken it.

“He is a ridiculous human being,” Lara said.

Unlike every other girl in the school, she had no interest in Jack. She thought he was a snob. “Too J.Crew,” she said, and she wasn’t entirely wrong. He strutted down the hall with his hands in his pockets, wearing a tailored button-down with rolled-up sleeves, like he’d just stepped out of a photo shoot.

“Yeah,” I said. “Ridiculous.” I twisted the gold chain of my locket between my fingers and shot one last glance over my shoulder as the bell rang and we hurried into Ancient Civ. A few seconds later, Jack paused in the doorway. His eyes met mine before he took his seat, and I traced lines on my notebook.

Jack was in this class, calc, and sociology with me. We’d been paired up for a project on “Families in America” the past couple of days in sociology, which meant he now knew everything there was to know about my life, from the constant moving for my mom’s job to my dad leaving us when I was little. I was still surprised I’d told him as much as I had. He wasn’t nearly as forthcoming. I thought he would have at least mentioned posh British relatives who gave him enigmatic assignments over the phone.

“Miss West? Avery?”

I jumped, and my pen slipped off my desk with a clatter. I hadn’t even realized that class started.

“Can you answer the question for us?” Mrs. Lindley asked.

“Um . . .” I glanced at Lara. She pointed to her notes, but I couldn’t read her pink scrawls. On my own notebook, where I should have been taking notes, was a rough sketch of Jack’s compass tattoo. I quickly covered it with my elbow.

“The Diadochi, Miss West, from the reading assigned last night. Can you tell us the role they played in the life of Alexander the Great?”

I’d done the reading. I always did the reading. I might not be good at people, but I was good at school. Right now, though, I was drawing a complete blank.

“Alexander the Great conquered a lot of the ancient world. Um, from Greece all the way to India,” I said, stalling as I flipped pages, hoping the words would jump out at me.

Mrs. Lindley’s lips pursed like she’d bitten into something sour.

“The Diadochi were Alexander’s successors,” a deep voice said, from three rows away. I turned. Jack was staring right at me. His voice was back to normal, with no trace of the British accent.

Mrs. Lindley quirked an eyebrow in my direction.

“Alexander didn’t have a blood heir, so he left his kingdom to his twelve generals,” Jack continued. Mrs. Lindley sighed and turned her attention to him.

“Thank you, Mr. Bishop, for demonstrating what happens when we do our homework. This time, I’ll forget that you didn’t raise your hand. Can you tell us what year Alexander the Great died?”

When Jack had answered all her questions, he glanced back my way.

I turned quickly back to my notes. I wished he hadn’t done that. The last thing I needed was another reason to like him. I ripped out the drawing of his tattoo, crumpled it, and shoved it into my bag.

After class, I waited while Lara put her books away. I made a point to not look at Jack, but when I heard footsteps heading toward us as the rest of the class filed out, I knew exactly who it was.

Jack’s dark hair had gone a bit wavy from the humidity, and he had his canvas messenger bag slung casually over one shoulder. I fiddled with the lace at the hem of my tank top.

“Hey! You left me high and dry at lighting, too,” Lara said, poking her index finger in the middle of Jack’s chest. “Rude. Both of you are rude.”

“I’m sorry about that.” Jack’s voice was low and rough around the edges, like it was scraping over gravel. “I had to take a call. My grandfather’s sick.”

Oh. The tension I didn’t realize had been building in my chest relaxed. I resisted the urge to ask where in England his grandfather lived—then reminded myself once more that I shouldn’t care. Not about Jack’s personal life, and not about the fact that even when he was talking to Lara, he was looking at me.

Lara wrinkled her nose in a way that could mean either I’m sorry or eww, old people. “That sucks,” she said. She turned back to me as I hitched my bag up on my shoulder. And then she turned back to Jack when he didn’t leave. And to me again. She gave me the most unsubtle eyebrow raise ever. “Oh. Okay. I just remembered I gotta go. Do . . . things. Ave, come over after school if you want, even if you aren’t coming to prom. We’re doing our nails.”

I could have killed her, but I just pulled my hair out from under the strap of my bag and smiled through clenched teeth.

“I think you lost this.” Jack handed me my pen as Lara walked away. “It rolled under my desk.”

“Thanks.”

He walked beside me out of class, slowing his long strides to match mine. He was probably just a little taller than average, but I still had to crane my neck to look up at him. He glanced at me out of the corner of his eye at the same time.

“And thanks for earlier,” I said quickly, “but I did do the reading. I would have remembered the answer eventually.”

“Oh.” The space between his brows knitted together. Jack’s brows were heavy and dark, and were as expressive as the rest of him was stoic. “I’m sorry. I thought—”

“No, it’s okay.” I went through the motions of opening my locker again. “I’m just saying I didn’t actually need to be rescued. But I appreciate it.”

He gave me a tiny smile, and it was like sun shining through armor. I busied myself putting my books in my bag.

“Actually, Avery,” Jack said, “I need to talk to you.”

My calculus book fell the rest of the way into my bag with a thump.

“Can we go somewhere—” His phone buzzed. He let out a frustrated breath. “One second.”

While he checked a text, I zipped my bag shut. I didn’t care what he had to say, I told myself. I didn’t. I didn’t. My black ankle boots squeaked on the damp tile, and the hall echoed with last-minute prom plans and the finality of lockers slamming one last time before the weekend.

Maybe he was going to ask about homework. Or maybe he’d say something horribly arrogant, Lara could be proven right, and I could truly forget about him.

I hazarded a glance up, and Jack’s brows quirked down dangerously as he typed a text. It was the same look he’d had on his face when he’d left lighting earlier.

“Is your grandfather okay?” I asked.

“My...

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Descrizione libro G.P. Putnam s Sons Books for Young Readers, United States, 2015. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A fast-paced international escapade, laced with adrenaline, glamour, and romance--perfect for fans of Ally Carter Avery West s newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead. To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family--but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she s falling in love with. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780399166501

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Descrizione libro G.P. Putnam s Sons Books for Young Readers, United States, 2015. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A fast-paced international escapade, laced with adrenaline, glamour, and romance--perfect for fans of Ally Carter Avery West s newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead. To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family--but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she s falling in love with. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780399166501

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