Black Tangled Heart
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"Readers are in for a thrilling and emotional ride with this one! The storyline is engrossing, the characters are complex, and the chemistry is off-the-charts palpable. It's my favorite book by Samantha Young to date."K.A. Tucker
USA Today Bestselling Author
"Black Tangled Heart is AMAZING! So many twists and turns - this story is intense! I loved every minute of it!"Monica Murphy
New York Times Bestselling Author
The New York Times Bestselling author of the On Dublin Street series and As Dust Dances returns to the world of the arts in this addictive and passionate standalone romance about love, revenge, and surviving both.
To the McKenna sisters, Jane was a friend. A pseudo-sister, the girl they grew up with.
To Jamie McKenna, she was everything.
Their youthful passion consumed them.
When their world fell apart, Jamie thought their love would be the thing that held them together but Jane abandoned him when he needed her most.
And now he'll never forgive her.
For years he's been planning his revenge against the people who took everything from him. Jane won't be an exception. He's coming for her.
She knows it and she doesn't understand why. After all, Jamie was the one who pushed her away.
Despite their mutual hate, they have one thing in common. They both want the people who destroyed the McKennas to pay for their crimes. She wants justice. He wants vengeance. And to save herself from the boy she once loved Jane will reluctantly join forces with Jamie to ensure it.
Lives will be changed forever, secrets revealed, deceptions unravelled, and Jamie will be left facing a devastating choice between love and revenge.
Release date: May 15, 2020
Publisher: Samantha Young
Print pages: 370
Content advisory: explicit language; sexual content;
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Black Tangled Heart
Thirteen years old
The smog was a pain. Willa sometimes let me go with her when she drove into the city, but it was a bad smog day, which meant we were staying at our apartment in the nice complex in Glendale. I was bored. Willa was too busy with my younger foster siblings to care about my boredom. Flo was eighteen months old and fascinated by sockets and switches. Tarin was three and interested in destroying everything in sight.
His screaming and Flo’s yelling was not fun.
“Can I help?” I asked from the hallway.
Willa waved me away as she lifted Flo up into her high chair. “It’s the summer, kid. Go be with your friends.”
Willa and Nicholas Green were the nicest foster parents I’d had. I’d been with them for over two years, and I hoped I’d get to stay with them until I was eighteen. That was five years away, so I knew I should get used to the constant nerves in my belly, waiting for my social worker to turn up and tell me I was being moved again.
Hoping Willa and Nick would keep me around, I tried to be as helpful as possible.
They were kind of busy with the younger kids, which was why Willa still hadn’t realized I didn’t have any friends. But they didn’t drink, they didn’t cuss at me, and they’d never hit me.
“Are you sure?”
My foster mom shot me a flustered smile. “You’re not hired help, Jane. It’s summer vacation. Go be a kid.”
Nodding, I turned toward the small bedroom at the back of the apartment. Nicholas worked as a production manager for one of the big film studios, which was why we lived in a nice apartment. It was one of the bigger three-bedroom units. The little ones shared a room and I had the smallest room.
Willa and Nick might not give me a lot of their time, but they buy me books and art supplies. Grabbing my sketch pad and a tin of charcoals, I swiped a bottle of water from the refrigerator and stepped outside. It was like walking into a bubble of heat, the air sticking to my skin as I wandered along the balcony. It overlooked the pool, and I saw a few neighbors on loungers while some kids from school splashed around in the water.
Those kids weren’t my friends. I’d never been very good at making friends.
As I passed my neighbors’ apartments, I could hear loud voices coming from the last unit by the staircase. They had interesting accents, like they might be from Boston, and they were shouting to be heard over their music playing.
I noted their door was wide open.
“Lorna, we haven’t finished unpacking. Get up, Lor. I want this finished by dinner. You can park your butt on the couch for the rest of the evening once it’s all done.”
I slowed. She said “park” like “pahk,” which was definitely Bostonian, right?
“I’m bored unpacking,” a girl replied in the same accent. “Can we take a break?”
“But once it’s done, it’s done. Your brother has already unpacked all his stuff.”
They continued to argue while I sat down on the first step and opened my sketch pad. Their conversation became background noise as I sketched my neighbors at the pool.
Like always, I zoned out. Sketching made everything else go away. The loneliness. My fears. The separation I felt from almost everyone else. Drawing was my way to connect, but from a safe distance. I liked the rasp of the charcoal against the vellum, the way it smudged my hands. The freedom of using the smudge to create interesting shadows and curves. It gave life to the kids splashing around in the pool. Movement. Energy. Made me feel as if I were a part of them.
So lost in creating, I didn’t hear her approach until she was sitting down beside me on the step.
“You’re wicked talented.”
I jumped, startled, and a charcoal line scored through my drawing.
“Sorry about that.”
I looked at the girl, who wore an apologetic wince. She had eyes the color of the ocean and short, light brown hair.
“Your drawing.” She pointed to it. “It’s wicked good.”
“It was okay,” I murmured as I tried unsuccessfully to rub out the charcoal line.
“Where did you learn to draw like that?”
I shrugged because, truthfully, I didn’t learn. I just … drew.
“What’s your name?”
“Jane. I’m Lorna McKenna.” A hand appeared above my sketch.
The small hand had stubby fingernails painted with a bright pink, glittery polish. I smiled and looked up at Lorna. She seemed determined to get to know me. Usually my shyness pushed would be friends away.
I showed her my charcoal covered palm and fingers.
She shrugged, her chin jutting out with determination. “Then shake it with your other hand.”
I did. Her hand was cool, as if she’d been sitting beneath the AC inside her apartment.
She broke into a wide grin as we shook hands, and I couldn’t help but return her smile. Her gaze dropped to my left cheek. “You have a dimple!” Lorna exclaimed, as if this was the most impressive thing she’d ever encountered.
I automatically touched the dimple with my charcoal covered fingertips.
“It’s cute. I wish I had a dimple. How old are you?”
She nodded like she’d expected that. “I’ll be thirteen in three weeks.”
“Where are you from?” My curiosity got the better of my usual timidity. I had to know if I was right about Boston.
Lorna smirked. “Dorchester. That’s in Boston.”
Ah. I was right. I’d seen the movie Good Will Hunting a lot because Willa had a thing for Matt Damon.
“Is it nice there?” I asked.
Lorna wrinkled her nose. “Boston is. Not the area of Dorchester we lived in. It was a shitty neighborhood. A guy got shot outside our apartment a few months ago.” She shrugged like it was no big deal.
I was pretty sure my mouth was hanging open.
“So, how come you’re not playing with those kids down by the pool?” she asked.
I followed her curious gaze to the two girls and two boys squealing and splashing around. The girls were neighbors; the boys lived on our block. And I knew because we were in the same class at middle school. “That’s Summer and Greta. They’re the most popular girls in my class.”
I blushed, knowing what I was about to say would probably push Lorna away. “I’m not exactly popular.”
Lorna nudged me with her shoulder, giving me a conspiratorial nod. The action was familiar. Like we’d been friends for ages. It was nice. “Popular and not-so-popular kids? Like on TV, huh? Back at my school, we didn’t have cliques like that. You had the kids who were just trying to lie low and get through the year and the kids who were shiesty—already into bad shit and to be avoided at all costs.”
“Did you live in the ghetto?”
She laughed. “The ghetto? Really? Noooo.” She nudged me again as if she thought I was cute. “We were poor, though. Everyone we knew was. Mom said people do stupid shit to forget the crappiness of their life or even stupider shit to cheat their way out of poverty.”
I didn’t know a lot about money, but I knew our apartment complex wasn’t cheap as far as rent costs went because Willa was always complaining about it.
Seeming to read my thoughts, Lorna told me, “We moved in here with our big sister, Skye.”
As if on cue, a woman’s voice rang out from the apartment. “Lorna! The Waterboys!”
Her face lit up. “Come on.” Lorna grabbed my hand, pulling me to my feet, so I had no choice but to follow. I dropped my sketch pad on the top step and let her lead me into the apartment. When was the last time someone held my hand?
A thrill thrummed beneath my skin.
The apartment was the same size as Willa and Nick’s, and there were packing boxes everywhere.
A tall, stunning young woman was swaying with her hands in the air as an unfamiliar song played from the TV. She broke into a gorgeous smile at the sight of us. “Who’s this?”
“This is Jane!” Lorna called over the music. “Jane, this is my big sister, Skye.”
“Nice to meet you,” she said, and seemed to mean it. I waved shyly. Then she leaned over, picked up a remote and pointed it at the TV, and the volume increased.
I watched as Lorna let go of my hand and joined her sister in the middle of the room. It occurred to me that Lorna was tall for her age too, ably spinning her big sister as they shouted lyrics at the top of their lungs about how the other saw the whole of the moon while they only saw the crescent. As unfamiliar as the song was, I immediately liked it.
Realizing I was just watching, Lorna waved me over.
Too timid to join them, I stayed put.
It was Skye who broke away from her little sister and pulled me into the center of the room with them. “Just let go!” she yelled. “You’ll love it!”
And to my surprise, my feet moved, my hips too. Lorna grabbed one hand, Skye the other, and we made a circle, lifting our clasped hands in the air. I laughed as the siblings continued to shout the lyrics at the top of their lungs. It was the most bizarre and wonderful moment, feeling a part of something with these two strangers.
When the song ended, I giggled with them, feeling high on the connection—and the feeling of being seen.
“I’ve never heard that song before,” I confessed as Skye lowered the volume.
“It’s called ‘The Whole of the Moon’ by The Waterboys,” Lorna informed me. “They’re an eighties band. It was our mom’s favorite song.”
“Now it’s our song.” Skye reached out to wrap an arm around her sister, pulling her into her side. Lorna giggled and playfully pushed her away.
Her big sister turned to me. “Lemonade?”
I nodded, thirsty after all the dancing.
The sitting room and kitchen were all one room. She moved into the kitchen while Lorna gestured for me to take a seat on the sofa, the only piece of furniture not covered in stuff.
I relaxed, surprised how quickly I’d become comfortable around the sisters. Lorna threw herself energetically down beside me. We both wore shorts and T-shirts, but where my legs barely touched the floor, hers sprawled out on it. She was paler than me and Skye, but winters in California versus Massachusetts would fix that.
“When did you move in?”
“Last night. You’re the first person we’ve met.”
Skye returned with the lemonade, a glass for each of us. She pushed aside items on the coffee table and sat on it to face us while we sipped the cool drink.
“You live here, Jane?” she asked.
At Skye’s stillness, I was once again struck by her beauty. I really wanted to draw her. She and Lorna shared the same ocean eyes and light brown hair. Except Skye’s reached the middle of her back in soft waves, and she had golden highlights. While Lorna had a strong nose, Skye’s was daintier. A little button. The resemblance between them was undeniable, but it was as if Skye’s features had been perfected, while Lorna’s had quirks and imperfections that made them even more interesting. I thought they both had wonderful faces—great for sketching.
“I do,” I answered Skye’s question. “I live a few doors down.”
“With your parents?”
Her expression softened in sympathy.
“It’s just me, Jamie, and Skye now,” Lorna stated.
I looked at her, my brow furrowed in confusion. “Who’s Jamie?”
“My big brother. He’ll be fifteen this September. Our mom died three months ago. And our dad took off when I was young.” Lorna’s mouth twisted in a bitter sneer. “He never liked me.”
Uncomfortable, I didn’t know what to say.
Skye apparently sensed this and reached to pat Lorna’s knee. “Sweetie, you know that’s not true.” She flicked me a look. “I’m sorry, Jane. Things are a little difficult at the moment.”
“No, they’re not.” Lorna pushed her sister’s hand away. “They’re the best they’ve ever been.”
My eyes widened. Her mom died, and this was the best things had ever been?
“What is Jane going to think?” Skye huffed in exasperation.
“The truth.” Lorna gave me that stubbornly determined look I’d already come to suspect was a common expression for her. “Jane’s going to be my new best friend, and best friends tell each other everything.”
While Skye chuckled at this, I felt my heart lurch in my chest.
I hadn’t had a best friend since second grade.
“Skye moved to LA a few years ago to become an actress, and she just won this amazing role on the show, The Sorcerer.”
My eyes widened. There were a lot of wannabe actors in LA, but that didn’t mean I’d met anyone from a show as big as The Sorcerer. “I love that show.”
Skye beamed. Like Lorna, she had the kind of smile that prodded your own lips to mirror the action. While Lorna’s ocean eyes were flinty and a little too hardened for a thirteen-year-old, Skye’s were warm and sparkled like waves beneath the sun. “Great! A fan! I’m a new major character.”
I noted then that Skye’s accent was more diluted than her sister’s.
“That’s amazing.” I was totally impressed.
“You want to be an actor?” Lorna misunderstood my awe.
I shook my head adamantly. No way. Cameras in my face, pretending to be someone I wasn’t. People watching my every move. My face plastered across tabloids. Ugh, I would rather eat slugs.
“Let me guess … an artist?”
I blushed at Lorna’s guess and shrugged. Which meant yes.
“Do you want to act?” I asked Lorna.
“Nope. The money is too uncertain.” Lorna straightened her spine. “I’m going to go to college and become a fancy litigator. That’s a kind of lawyer. They make a ton of money.”
“And she’ll do it too.” Skye grinned affectionately at her sister before turning to me. “Your new best friend is the most ambitious person you’ll ever meet.”
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