Google+ Reading Teen: LIES I TOLD by Michelle Zink {Excerpt & Giveaway}

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

LIES I TOLD by Michelle Zink {Excerpt & Giveaway}

What if, after spending a lifetime deceiving everyone around you, you discovered the biggest lies were the ones you've told yourself?

Grace Fontaine has everything: beauty, money, confidence, and the perfect family.

But it’s all a lie.

Grace has been adopted into a family of thieves who con affluent people out of money, jewelry, art, and anything else of value. Grace has never had any difficulty pulling off a job, but when things start to go wrong on the Fontaines' biggest heist yet, Grace finds herself breaking more and more of the rules designed to keep her from getting caught...including the most important one of all: never fall for your mark.

Perfect for fans of Ally Carter, Cecily von Ziegesar, and Gail Carriger, this thrilling, high-stakes novel deftly explores the roles of identity and loyalty while offering a window into the world of the rich and fabulous.

Excerpt From LIES

I left the house early Sunday morning before anyone else was awake. I’d spent the night in a kind of half sleep, drifting in and out of consciousness, floating in that half-space between dreams and the endless loop of my thoughts. It was six-thirty when I finally gave up, and I threw on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt before letting myself quietly out of the house. 

                  I didn’t have a destination in mind. I just needed to move. I headed down Camino Jardin, turning onto another residential side street, and kept on going. The morning was damp, a light mist falling from an overcast sky. The smell of the sea was heavy in the air, the ebb and flow of the tide audible in the distance. Every now and then a flash of color caught my eyes from the trees. I thought about the parrots, making themselves a home in the only one they had. I wondered if they were happy here. 

                  Parker hadn’t been home when Logan dropped me off, although the door to his bedroom had been closed when I left this morning. I knew I should tell our parents about his behavior. It was erratic, a danger to us all. But I wasn’t sure I could do it. Wasn’t sure I could put the job -- or even my own security -- before Parker. 

                  And that’s what I’d be doing, because if my dad believed that Parker was jeopardizing the  job, he would find a way to eliminate Parker from the equation, pay him to leave or hold something over his head to get him to step back. 

                  And then what? After the Fairchild con, we’d move on. There would be no Logan. No Selena to cushion the blow of my loneliness. We needed each other, Parker and I. My isolation had never been more palpable. Normally, I would talk to Parker about my problems. Now he was the problem, and I had nowhere to turn. 

                  I was turning the corner, ascending one of the peninsula’s steep hills, when I saw the figure coming toward me. Shrouded by the mist, almost blending into the early morning twilight, there was something familiar about the gait, the slight stoop to the shoulders. He was only a few feet away when I realized it was Parker, wearing the same hoodie he’d been wearing the night before when he’d vandalized Logan’s car. 

                  He slowed down as I approached. “Hey.”

                  “Hey,” I said. 

                  “Mind if I join you?”

                  I shrugged and he fell into step beside me. For a few minutes, we walked in silence, our companionship like an old friend in spite of everything that had happened. 

                  “I’m sorry,” he finally said. 

                  I glanced over at him. Even in profile, I could see the dark circles under his eyes, his sallow complexion. “For what you did to Logan’s car or for jeopardizing the job?”

                  We were outside the War Room, out in the open where anyone could hear. But somehow, I couldn’t find the energy to care. 

                  He looked at me. “For putting you in that position.”

                  “I’m not the only one exposed here,” I said. 

                  His eyes were unwavering. “You’re the only one I care about.”

                  I shook my head. “And what do you think would happen to me if the job went bad? If something happened to you or Mom and Dad?”

                  His laugh was bitter. “Trust me, you’d be fine without ‘Mom and Dad.’”

                  We came to a dead end, the sidewalk stopping at a chain link fence. A field of brush lay past it, and beyond that, the ocean. Parker bent down, lifting up a piece of the fence that had been cut. I ducked under it and waited for him to follow, the unspoken language of longtime allies flowing between us. Following a path through the overgrowth, we stopped at the edge of the cliff, the water frothy and violent below us. 

                  I dropped onto the ground and looked out over the sea. “We’re all in this together. If one of us goes down, we all go down.” I paused, trying to figure out where things had gone so wrong. “I guess I just don’t get it.”

                  He looked at me. “What?”

                  “What’s changed? Why now?”

                  His gaze tracked the seagulls gliding in circles over the water. “I see how you look at him,” he said softly. “At Logan.”

                  The flush of humiliation warmed my face, as if he had unearthed my deepest secret, laid it bare for us to inspect and analyze. 

                  I didn’t look at him. “Haven’t you ever liked someone? Gotten attached?”

                  He was silent so long I wondered if he’d heard me. “There was someone once.”

                  I looked at him, surprised by his honesty. “Who?” I thought back, trying to guess. “That girl in Seattle? Maya Richardson?” 

                  Maya had been Parker’s mark. I’d spent a lot of rainy afternoons with her younger sister, Lacey, watching movies in the family room with a fire blazing in the giant fireplace. They had been nicer than a lot of our marks. 

                  He shook his head. “Her little brother, Ben.”

                  “Ben?” I only vaguely remembered him, a small, quiet boy with dark glossy hair and eyes that had seemed two big for his delicate face.  

                  Parker nodded. “I played basketball with him when it wasn’t raining, built legos in his room when it was. He... well, I think he looked up to me.”

                  “You told Mom and Dad that Maya and Ben were close,” I said, remembering. “That you could get on her good side by spending time with her little brother.”

                  “It wasn’t a lie,” he said. 

                  “But that’s not all there was to it.”

                  “No.” He hesitated. “He was so innocent. It was like...” He shook his head. “I don’t know. Like seeing myself. The kid I could have been if I’d had parents with boring jobs and a house in the suburbs, the kind who put out presents from Santa at Christmas and pretend to eat the cookies left by their kids.”

                  “Was it hard?” I lowered my voice. “Stealing from them?”

                  The job had been simple; steal the savings bonds purported to be somewhere in the house. After two months of snooping, Parker had found them in a couple of shoes boxes at the top of the parent’s closet.

                  He picked up a rock and tossed it angrily over the cliff. “Turns out the bonds were for Maya and Lacey and Ben. For college. Their parents had been buying them since the kids were born. They weren’t even rich.”

                  Dread swept over me. It was the dread of sudden realization, like I’d been swimming in the shallow end only to extend my legs and find that the bottom was nowhere in site.  

                  “But you took them anyway.” We’d stuck around Seattle for two more months, but no one ever said a word. I wonder how long it took the Richardsons to realize the bonds were gone. 

                  He looked at me. “I lost something on that job, Grace. Some... I don’t know, some part of me that still believed I was redeemable. That believed I could be someone else someday. And it was because I stole from Ben. Because I cared about him and I stole from his family anyway.”

                  I didn’t know what to say. It had never occurred to me that Parker had a conscience about what we did. His loyalty to our parents had been less than enthusiastic, but he had never openly questioned their motives until we came to Playa Hermosa. Until it had been to protect me.   

                  “I’m sorry, “ I said. “I didn’t know about Ben, about the Richardsons. But this is the deal. It always has been. You’ve never minded before.”

                  “That’s not true.” His voice was dangerously low, an undercurrent of anger running through it. “I’ve never liked the way they use you. The way they use us.”

                  “They’re not using me,” I said. “I’ve profited from our jobs. So have you.”

                  He continued looking out over the water. “Yeah, well, we’ve lost, too.”

                  “Maybe. But that’s life. And this is who we are.”

                  His eyes bore into mine. “What if it isn’t?”

                  The words struck a chord, some long-buried part of myself snapping to attention.

                  Maybe, maybe, maybe...

                  But no. I couldn’t afford to think that way. Not now. We were in too deep. 

                  I shook my head. “You can’t just change the rules in the middle of the game.”

                  “I don’t want to change them,” he said. “I want to stop playing.”


                  “Come with me, Grace. That’s all I’m asking. You don’t even have to stay with me if you don’t want. I just want you to... to have a chance.”

                  “A chance at what?”

                  “Another life. A better life.”

                  “What about you?” I asked. “Don’t you want that, too?”

                  He looked away. “I think it might be too late for me.”

                  My heart seemed to skip a beat. “Don’t say that. You’re only a year older than me. If I have a chance, you do, too.”

                  “I’m not like you, Grace. I don’t have an endless supply of hope, of optimism.”

                  “You think I don’t lose hope? I don’t feel despair?”

                  He turned toward me. “Then come with me. Before it’s too late.”

                  I thought about it, tried to imagine it. Parker and me somewhere else. On our own. No more lying. No more running. 

                  “I’m not saying no,” I said. “I just... I can’t think about it right now. Let’s just finish this job. Then we can figure out what’s next. Can we do that?”

                  “You’ll think about getting out?”

                  I nodded. “But Parker... you have to stop what you’re doing. You’re shining a light on the whole family. And neither of us will get out if we’re exposed us now.”

                  “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’ve been at loose ends. But I can hold it together until the end of this job. I will hold it together.”


                  He put his arm around me and pulled me close in a brotherly embrace. “I promise.”

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Michelle Zink is the award-winning author of six published novels and six novellas. Her first series, Prophecy of the Sisters, was one of Booklist’s Top Ten Debut Novels and a Booklist Top Ten YA novel. It was also on the Lonestar List, New York Public Library’s Stuff for the Teen Age, and Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best. Her character, Alice, is the recipient of the Best Villain Award from the Teen Read Awards, an award won in competition with Lord Voldemort. Michelle’s work has been translated into more than twenty languages and published in over twenty countries. She lives in New York in an old converted barn with too many teenagers and too many cats.

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