The Raven Boys(10)

By: Maggie Stiefvater

It could have been any one of the mornings in the last year and a half. Ronan and Adam would make up by the end of the day, his teachers would forgive him for missing class, then he and Adam and Ronan and Noah would go out for pizza, four against Declan.

Adam said, “Try the car, Gansey.”

Leaving the door hanging open, Gansey crashed onto the driver’s seat. In the background, Ronan played the recording again. For some reason, from this distance, the sound of the voices made the hair on his arms stand slowly. Something inside him said that this unconscious speech meant the start of something different, although he didn’t know what yet.

“Come on, Pig!” snarled Ronan. Someone laid on their horn as they blew by on the highway.

Gansey turned the key. The engine turned over once, paused for the briefest of moments — and then roared to deafening life. The Camaro lived to fight another day. The radio was even working, playing the Stevie Nicks song that always sounded to Gansey like it was about a one-winged dove. He tried one of the french fries they’d brought him. They were cold.

Adam leaned into the car. “We’ll follow you back to the school. It’ll get you back, but it’s not done yet,” he said. “There’s still something wrong with it.”

“Great,” Gansey replied, loudly, to be heard over the engine. In the background, the BMW pumped out a nearly inaudible bass line as Ronan dissolved what was left of his heart in electronic loops. “So, suggestions?”

Reaching into his pocket, Adam retrieved a piece of paper and offered it to him.

“What’s this?” Gansey studied Adam’s erratic handwriting. His letters always looked like they were running from something. “A number for a psychic?”

“If you didn’t find anything last night, this was going to be next. Now you have something to ask them about.”

Gansey considered. Psychics tended to tell him he had money coming his way and that he was destined for great things. The first one he knew was always true and the second one he was afraid might be. But maybe with this new clue, with a new psychic, they’d have something else to say.

“Okay,” he agreed. “So what am I asking them?”

Adam handed him the digital recorder. He knocked the top of the Camaro once, twice, pensive.

“That seems obvious,” he answered. “We find out who you were talking to.”

Mornings at 300 Fox Way were fearful, jumbled things. Elbows in sides and lines for the bathroom and people snapping over tea bags placed into cups that already had tea bags in them. There was school for Blue and work for some of the more productive (or less intuitive) aunts. Toast got burned, cereal went soggy, the refrigerator door hung open and expectant for minutes at a time. Keys jingled as car pools were hastily decided.

Partway through breakfast, the phone would begin to ring and Maura would say, “That’s the universe calling for you on line two, Orla” or something like that, and Jimi or Orla or one of the other aunts or half aunts or friends would fight over who had to pick it up on the upstairs phone. Two years ago, Blue’s cousin Orla had decided that a call-in psychic line would be a lucrative addition and, after some brief skirmishes with Maura about public image, Orla won. “Winning” involved Orla waiting until Maura was at a conference over a weekend to secretively set up the line, and it was not so much a sore spot as the memory of a sore spot. Calls started coming in around seven A.M., and some days a dollar a minute felt more worth it than others.

Mornings were a sport. One that Blue liked to think she was getting better at.

But the day after the church watch, Blue didn’t have to worry about battling for the bathroom or trying to make a bag lunch while Orla dropped toast butter-side down. When she woke up, her normally morning-bright room had the breath-held dimness of afternoon. In the next room over, Orla was talking to either her boyfriend or to one of the psychic hotline callers. With Orla, it was difficult to tell the difference between the two sorts of calls. Both of them left Blue thinking she ought to shower afterward.

Blue took over the bathroom uncontested, where she gave most of her attention to her hair. Her dark hair was cut in a bob, long enough to plausibly pull back but short enough that it required an assembly of clips to do so successfully. The end result was a spiky, uneven ponytail populated by escaped chunks and mismatched clips; it looked eccentric and unkempt. Blue had worked hard to get it that way.

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