The Raven Boys(3)

By: Maggie Stiefvater

April days in Henrietta were quite often fair, tender things, coaxing sleeping trees to bud and love-mad ladybugs to beat against windowpanes. But not tonight. It felt like winter.

Blue glanced at her watch. A few minutes until eleven. The old legends recommended the church watch be kept at midnight, but the dead kept poor time, especially when there wasn’t a moon.

Unlike Blue, who didn’t tend toward patience, Neeve was a regal statue on the old church wall: hands folded, ankles crossed beneath a long wool skirt. Blue, huddled, shorter and thinner, was a restless, sightless gargoyle. It wasn’t a night for her ordinary eyes. It was a night for seers and psychics, witches and mediums.

In other words, the rest of her family.

Out of the silence, Neeve asked, “Do you hear anything?” Her eyes glittered in the black.

“No,” Blue answered, because she didn’t. Then she wondered if Neeve had asked because Neeve did.

Neeve was looking at her with the same gaze that she wore in all of her photos on the website — the deliberately unnerving, otherworldly stare that lasted several more seconds than was comfortable. A few days after Neeve had arrived, Blue had been distressed enough to mention it to Maura. They had both been crammed into the single bathroom, Blue getting ready for school, Maura for work.

Blue, trying to clip all of the various bits of her dark hair back into a vestigial ponytail, had asked, “Does she have to stare like that?”

In the shower, her mother drew patterns in the steamed glass door. She had paused to laugh, a flash of her skin visible through the long intersecting lines she had drawn. “Oh, that’s just Neeve’s trademark.”

Blue thought there were probably better things to be known for.

In the churchyard, Neeve said enigmatically, “There is a lot to hear.”

The thing was, there wasn’t. In the summer, the foothills were alive with insects buzzing, mockingbirds whistling back and forth, ravens yelling at cars. But it was too cool, tonight, for anything to be awake yet.

“I don’t hear things like that,” Blue said, a little surprised Neeve wasn’t already aware. In Blue’s intensely clairvoyant family, she was a fluke, an outsider to the vibrant conversation her mother and aunts and cousins held with a world hidden to most people. The only thing that was special about her was something that she herself couldn’t experience. “I hear as much of the conversation as the telephone. I just make things louder for everyone else.”

Neeve still hadn’t looked away. “So that’s why Maura was so eager for you to come along. Does she have you at all her readings as well?”

Blue shuddered at the thought. A fair number of the clients who entered 300 Fox Way were miserable women hoping Maura would see love and money in their future. The idea of being trapped in the house with that all day was excrutiating. Blue knew it had to be very tempting for her mother to have Blue present, making her psychic powers stronger. When she was younger, she’d never appreciated how little Maura called on her to join in a reading, but now that Blue understood how well she honed other people’s talents, she was impressed at Maura’s restraint.

“Not unless it’s a very important one,” she replied.

Neeve’s gaze had edged over the subtle line between discomfiting and creepy. She said, “It’s something to be proud of, you know. To make someone else’s psychic gift stronger is a rare and valuable thing.”

“Oh, pshaw,” Blue said, but not cruelly. She meant to be funny. She’d had sixteen years to get used to the idea that she wasn’t privy to the supernatural. She didn’t want Neeve to think she was experiencing an identity crisis over it. She tugged a string on her glove.

“And you have plenty of time to grow into your own intuitive talents,” Neeve added. Her gaze seemed hungry.

Blue didn’t reply. She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.

Neeve finally dropped her eyes. Tracing an idle finger through the dirt on the stones between them, she said, “I passed by a school on the way into town. Aglionby Academy. Is that where you go?”

Blue’s eyes widened with humor. But of course Neeve, an outsider, couldn’t know. Still, surely she could have guessed from the massive stone great hall and the parking lot full of cars that spoke German that it wasn’t the sort of school that they could afford.

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