A teen forger and thief forms a criminal crew from her high school friends (and crush) to perform a series of heists leading to the location of her missing mother in this action-packed contemporary YA novel.
By day, seventeen-year-old Fiona Spangler runs small cons for her ritzy prep-school classmates: getting them out of tests and forging fake hall passes. But by night, Fiona joins her dad on riskier heists: stealing back the clue-filled forgeries her mom scattered across the country before she disappeared. Fiona desperately hopes that her mother will be waiting at the end of the scavenger hunt she left behind.
And they are SO close. Just three more heists remain, but then disaster strikes when Fiona’s dad is captured by the FBI. Desperate to finish the job and save what’s left of her family, Fiona assembles of crew of teen criminals: a master of disguise who can transform into anyone, a talented hacker who only communicates in glares, and a rival con artist with a vendetta against—and possible crush on—Fiona.
All they have to do is perform three nearly impossible heists, solve her mother’s incredibly complex clues, and evade the FBI. Easy, right?
My USB purrs when I drag the folder with the grades onto it. With a satisfied smile, I eject the USB, stuff it in my skirt pocket, and reverse my entrance until my feet land with a wet splat onto the grass. Victory never tasted so sweet.
I spin on my heels to flee but run smack into Colin O’Keefe. Beads of water stick to his hair and eyelashes, making it seem like he’s posing as the romantic lead in the climax of a movie. He blinks at me as though he can’t believe what he just saw. “I admit, I’m impressed.”
“Good.” I turn to leave, but he places one arm against the brick wall, blocking me.
“Tell me how you did it. I clearly could use some tips.” He lets out a self-deprecating laugh that sounds almost endearing. Almost.
“I’m a better criminal. That’s how.” I wheel around to go the other way, but he falls into step beside me. I stop short, blinking against the pounding rain. “Tell me what your plan was first.”
He leans against the trellis, his white button-up turning see-through from the rain. My mouth goes dry at the way it sculpts against his abs. I force myself to look away and cross my arms over my own see-through shirt.
“I was going to do it at night,” he whispers. He’s speaking so low, I have to inch toward him to hear. And even when I stand a foot away, I still have to come closer. I lean next to him on the trellis, both of our shoulders pressed into the metal lattice, facing each other in spite of the rain. “I already swiped Mrs. Jensen’s keys and had a few feelers out to some electronics people I’ve heard about to help with the security alarm. Someone named Tig.”
“She wouldn’t have helped you,” I whisper.
He shrugs, clearly trying to downplay how utterly terrible his plan was. “But seriously. Climbing up the trellis was badass.”
My cheeks ignite, wet hair clinging to my torso. For some rea- son I want to duck my head and giggle—and I banned giggles from my vocabulary years ago. “Thanks,” I whisper back, surprised at the sincerity in my voice. Even though the pounding rain demands shouting, I keep my voice to trading-secrets levels.
“I’ve been thinking.” He scoots even closer. Our shoulders brush, sending crackles of electricity through me. “Maybe this challenge was a mistake. Maybe we can work together instead. Be a team. I have a few tricks I can show you, too.”
The way he says the last part makes it seem like his tricks have nothing to do with cons but rather his lips. And when he hits me with his spectacular grin, I suddenly understand how he captivated Olivia and Jessica so fast. I’m swooning, too.
I want to nod along to everything he says, but I force myself to respond. “I’m—I’m not sure.”
Colin tilts his head at me as if he’s just noticed something and purses his lips. “Hey.” He reaches out a hand toward me, hovering it in front of my face. “Can I?”
I nod to this, too, even though I have no idea what he’s asking until he brushes his fingers softly along my cheek and sweeps a wet lock of hair behind my ear. Tingles follow in the wake of his touch, and my eyelids flutter.
My own fingers instinctively reach up to push his matted-down bangs off his forehead. When his eyes briefly close and he sucks in a shaky breath, my hands keep going, fingers knotting in the hair at the base of his neck.
Following suit, he trails his hands down my neck, along my collarbone, wiping water away even as it sloshes right back. My mouth parts at the amazing feel of his touch. Friends, I think, then correct myself. More than friends.
He wraps one arm around my waist while his fingers continue their exploration down my sides. My hands interlock behind his neck. Bending down, he brushes his lips along my ear instead of the place I want them to land: my lips. My breath comes out shaky, but his voice sounds confident when he whispers, “When I told you my plan before, I lied. This was my plan.”
And then he drops his arm from around my waist. My arms fall to my sides in surprise. He backs away from me a few steps and flashes the USB drive at me, because of course Colin won’t do any- thing unless he can brag about it. I reach into my pocket to confirm, but I know the drive’s gone, stolen while Colin distracted me with something I didn’t know I wanted and definitely don’t want anymore.
Shana Silver studied creative writing at Syracuse University. She’s been a computer animator, an e-book creator for a major publisher, and now works as a Project Manager in digital and TV advertising where she enjoys telling people what to do. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, young daughter, and the characters she dreams up. MIND GAMES is her debut novel. THE CON CODE comes out in Summer 2020.