Black Heart: The Curse Workers Book 3

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I hope she stays hidden. I just wish I knew where she was. We duck into a deli across the street. Barron orders us two coffees, and we stand near the window, waiting. Any other subject. How long have you been into her? Since you were what, eleven? We stand like that for several minutes, until he sighs. I feel sorry for the girl, whoever she is, but I am gleeful. When he gets off the phone I will never stop making fun of him. I would have to bite off my whole face. He notices me grinning out the window at him, turns his back and stalks to the entranceway of a closed pawnshop half a block away.

I made sure to waggle my eyebrows while he was looking in my direction. With nothing else to do, I stay put. I drink more coffee. I play a game on my phone that involves shooting pixelated zombies. The boy lights a cigarette inside his cupped palm, leaning against the wall. This is one of those moments when a little more training would help. I have no idea how to signal my brother. Improvise, he said. I walk out of the deli as nonchalantly as I can manage.

Maybe Barron will notice me and come back over on his own. I spot a bus stop bench and lean against it, trying to get a better look at the boy. Misdirection, a classic of magic tricks and cons. Look over here, one hand says. He must be telling a joke too, because the man is laughing. But I can see his other hand, worming out of his glove. I see a flash of bare wrist and thumb. People turn toward me, but no one is watching the boy. Even the idiot guy from the pool hall is looking in my direction.

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The man, whoever he was, collapses like a sack of flour. The boy spins toward me, bare fingers reaching for skin. I catch his wrist and twist his arm as hard as I can. He groans and punches me in the face with his gloved hand. I stumble back. For a moment we just regard each other. I see his face up close for the first time and am surprised to notice that his eyebrows are carefully tweezed into perfect arches.

His eyes are wide and brown beneath them. He narrows those eyes at me. Then he turns and runs. I chase after him. We go down block after block, me getting closer and closer. Chase bad guys. I feel like I am hunting my own shadow.

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He veers abruptly into an alley. I take the corner in time to see him reaching for something under his hoodie. I go for the nearest weapon I can find. A plank of wood, lying near a stack of garbage. Swinging it, I catch him just as he gets out the gun. I feel the burn of my muscles and hear the crack as wood hits metal.

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Taking slow steps, I hold up the plank, which is split now, a big chunk of the top hanging off by a splinter, the remainder jagged and pointed like a spear. He watches me, every part of him tense. He might even be younger. Three on the bottom. One on top.

We both are.

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I bend down and lift the gun in one shaking hand. My thumb flicks off the safety.

Black Heart (Curse Workers #3)

I drop the plank. I have no idea who I am right now. Despite that, he seems more stunned than scared. It was just a job.

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No one puts a collar on Gage. It sits like a flawed pearl in the palm of his glove. Then he grins. A death worker who loses only a single tooth with each hit is a very dangerous guy. Every curse—physical, luck, memory, emotion, dream, death, and even transformation—causes some kind of blowback. As my grandfather says, all work works the worker.

Blowback can be crippling, even lethal. Or, apparently, something as minor as a tooth. Belonged to my gran. You would have done it already. He sucks on his teeth. She never said anything, except where I could find him.

Black Heart: Curse Workers, Book 3

Killed a family in what was supposed to be a simple smash and grab. I reach down and tug it out of my pocket with one hand, then glance down. At that moment Gage vaults himself at the chain-link fence. I look at him go, and my vision blurs. My grandfather. My brother.

Any of us could be him, could have been him, coming from a hit, scrambling to get over a fence before getting shot in the back. I just let him go. The good guy. I wipe off the gun on my green shirt, then tuck it in the waistband of my jeans, against the small of my back, where my jacket will cover it.

He grabs me by the shoulders. The agents take down my statement. I tell them that I followed the hit man, but he got ahead of me and over the fence. His hood was up. Yes, I know Agent Yulikova.

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Yes, she will vouch for me. She does. They let me go without patting me down. The gun remains tucked in the back of my jeans, rubbing against the base of my spine as Barron and I walk back to the car. I shake my head. They are always restless. They are always hungry. They are bad news. They will drink you down like a shot of whisky. Falling in love with them is like falling down a flight of stairs. Reading Group Guide.

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About The Author. Photograph by Sharona Jacobs. Holly Black. Product Details. Awards and Honors. Kirkus Best Young Adult Book. Resources and Downloads. More books from this author: Holly Black. See more by Holly Black. Sign up for our newsletters! The thing about being a con man is that you are usually the one doing the conning. Cassel Sharpe should know best.

He has grown up in a family of curse workers people who are able to manipulate emotions, change luck, affect memories, and more and has seen cons being played out left and right. He has also pulled off a few cons himself, as he is a transformation worker, who can change the shape of anything into something entirely new. First of all, there is the small problem of Cassel reluctantly agreeing to work for the Feds.

His older brother, Barron, is a new agent himself and has dragged Cassel along for a little training. Sure, the Feds have agreed to let Cassel finish out high school before working for them, but there is no way the government is going to let a transformation worker out of their sight. If the Feds are crooked, then who is there to trust? For her part, Lila is having a bumpy time taking over the Mob business from her father.