Map of Fates (The Conspiracy of Us #2) by Maggie Hall

CHAPTER 1

Tourists streamed up the steep staircase toward the wedding-cake contours of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, and I pressed myself against the railing, out of their way. “Are we sure this is where he said to meet him?”

“First landing on the stairs to the west of the carousel,” Jack said. “That’s here.”

Jolly accordion music started up nearby, like we were in an old-timey Charlie Chaplin movie.

“He’s late,” I said.

“You can’t expect criminals to keep regular hours.” Jack boosted himself onto the low wall lining the landing, and I paced in front of him, searching faces for the heavyset man we’d given our photos to a week ago. All I found was the regular Montmartre Sunday-afternoon crowds.

The accordion in the courtyard down the street stopped, and there was a smattering of applause. At any time of the day here, street performers could be found playing instruments or doing over-the-top mime shows or painting portraits of tourists. This neighborhood had been a haven for authors and artists since groups of expats claimed it in the early 1900s—Montmartre had been home to Hemingway, Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

And now us.

It had been two weeks since Jack and I had escaped the wedding where I was supposed to marry Luc Dauphin, after which the Order kidnapped my mother and killed my friend and Jack’s mentor, Mr. Emerson. Overall, not a great day.

Two weeks since the chase across Europe that left us with this bracelet I kept on my wrist all the time now, even while I was sleeping. I held up my arm, and it glinted dully in the warm afternoon sun. The wide band of tarnished gold had belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte, and it was part of a string of clues he’d left that led to the tomb of Alexander the Great.

The tomb and the weapon against the Order allegedly inside it—which the Order would do anything to keep the Circle from procuring—were our only bargaining chips for my mom’s release. The bracelet had an inscription on it that referred to my twin and I, indicating that it was part of a matching set. To find the tomb, we had to find the other bracelet.

And so it had been two agonizing weeks of holing up in a tiny apartment and spending the days searching the Internet and scouring museums online and around Paris for the bracelet’s twin.

Two weeks of my heart racing every time the phone rang, wondering if it was the Order calling to say they’d killed my mother because we weren’t fast enough. I hoped that as long as we were actively searching, they wouldn’t do that—why would they want to lose their leverage? But Jack was worried that they might do it on a whim, and then kill or kidnap me. That’d be just as good for them—then no one would find Alexander’s tomb.

They were already working on making sure the Circle would never be able to find it. At first the attacks had seemed random: A Saudi Circle member. Liam Blackstone, an American actor. An attack on the Dauphin family, which killed one of the twins Madame Dauphin was carrying. But it wasn’t random. The baby girl would have been the first girl in the Circle with purple eyes . . . besides me. The rest of the assassinations targeted boys who might be the One, so they couldn’t marry me and fulfill the mandate, which was meant to reveal the way to the tomb.

So it had been two weeks of looking over my shoulder for the Order and for the Circle, who still wanted me for their own and still thought Jack was a traitor.

I rubbed my eyes and scanned the area. Like the rest of Paris, Montmartre straddled the line between dirty big city and fairy tale. At the bottom of these steps was an apartment building that would have been considered a castle anywhere else. It had wide wrought iron balconies and dark stone turrets, which contrasted starkly with the dirty ground-level tourist shops that sold postcards and scarves and fake Dior sunglasses, like the huge pair I was wearing right now as a disguise.

This neighborhood was also the highest point in Paris. One day I’d spent a good half hour looking for Notre-Dame. I found it immediately now, even though its twin spires were barely visible among the rest of the cream and gray buildings.

“You didn’t see anything when you did recon, did you?” I said.

Jack shook his head.

I knew he was good at watching out for us, but I couldn’t stop being extra cautious. We never went outside without sunglasses and hats, and tried to stay away from places like Metro stations—which we knew had cameras. “I just keep thinking someone’s going to see us.”

Jack rocked forward on his palms, and the compass tattoo bulged on his forearm. “I know. But they probably think we’re halfway across the world by now. Eating dim sum in Shanghai. Hiding out on a beach in Brazil. We’d never be dumb enough to stay in the Dauphins’ backyard, right?”