by Mary Elizabeth Summer
Paperback, 266 Pages
Fans of Ally Carter, especially her Heist Society readers, will love this teen mystery/thriller with sarcastic wit, a hint of romance, and Ocean’s Eleven–inspired action.
“Julep’s investigations and quick escapes keep the high-stakes story entertaining and readers guessing…” – Publisher’s Weekly
“Hey, Julep. Got a sec?” Murphy Donovan—a soft, bespectacled nerd from my biology class—stops me before I get very far.
“You happen to have a decent cup of espresso on your person?” I say.
“Not on me, no.”
“Then if you want to talk, you’ll have to walk me.”
He falls into step like a well-trained puppy, but he seems to need a little prodding in the talking department.
“So is this a social call?” I ask.
“No. That is, um, I’d like to”—he lowers his voice and looks over his shoulder at the students flitting hither and yon around us—“hire you.”
“I see. How can I be of service?”
“I want you to get Bryn Halverson to go to the fall formal with me,” he all but whispers.
I consider his request as I shift my bag. I could do it. Easily, in fact. All it takes is a modified fiddle game. My brain is already spinning the con, assessing resources, gauging the mark. But I’d like a little more information before I take the job.
“The Bryn Halverson?” I say. “Head JV cheerleader, homecoming court, failing Spanish—that Bryn Halverson?”
“She’s failing Spanish?”
“Yes, her,” Murphy answers.
“Do you mind if I ask why?”
He drops his gaze to his hands. “I like her,” he mumbles.
“You and every other straight, red-blooded American male,” I say, more truthful than kind. I don’t need to drag this out of him. I can do the job without it. But how I approach the job affects him, and understanding his motivations lets me know how far I can go.
“I liked her before. I’ve liked her since middle school, when she had braces and frizzy hair and was whipping all our butts at algebra.”
I sigh and give him a sympathetic look. I’m going to take the job, of course, but I’m not thrilled about it. Not because I’m opposed to manipulating Bryn, but because I already know Murphy’s going to get trampled. And since Murphy’s a tech-club buddy of Sam’s, Sam is not going to be pleased if I help Bryn break Murphy’s heart.
“Honestly, Murphy, it would be easier if you just wanted the social status.”
“So you’ll do it?”
I nod reluctantly. “Yes. But you’ll probably regret it.”
“Depends on how much you like her.”
“No, I mean—”
I wave him to silence. “I know what you mean,” I say, calculating the fee in my head. What is the going rate for breaking somebody’s heart? This is one of those questions that make me reconsider my line of work.
“Five hundred. Cash. Plus the standard proviso.”
“You owe me a favor.”
“What kind of favor?”
“The kind where you don’t know what it is until I ask it,” I say, pausing at the door to the Ballou. “If it’s any comfort, it’s usually something pretty tame, and generally in your area of expertise.”
Murphy mulls over my terms for all of half a second before forking over the cash. I’d never pay that much for a school dance, but then most of the students at St. Aggie’s have money to burn. Even worse is the threat of an unspecified favor to be called in at a later date. But I’ve never had anyone protest. I guess that’s what comes of having unlimited access to whatever you want—when you need something you can’t get, you’re willing to put everything on the line. Maybe the opportunity to confess your undying love is worth it. I’ve never felt that way about anyone, so what do I know?
“When should I ask her?” he says.
“A week from tomorrow,” I answer as I open the door. “That gives us time to lay the groundwork, but still gives her a few days to buy a dress. Assuming she doesn’t have a closet full already.”
“What if she says no?”
“You should be more worried about her saying yes.”
He gives me a confused look.
“I’ll take care of it,” I say, stepping into the warm glow of the Ballou.
Mary Elizabeth Summer is an instructional designer, a mom, a champion of the serial comma, and a pie junkie. Oh, and she sometimes writes books about teenage delinquents saving the day. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her daughter, her partner, and her evil overlor–er, cat. TRUST ME, I'M LYING, a YA mystery, will be released by Delacorte in Fall 2014.