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
Truth 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
“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
“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
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
“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
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
“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
“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
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
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
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.