The Raven Boys(7)

By: Maggie Stiefvater

“Where are you?” Ronan asked, finally.

“Next to the Henrietta sign on 64. Bring me a burger. And a few gallons of gas.” The car had not run out of gas, but it couldn’t hurt.

Ronan’s voice was acidic. “Gansey.”

“Bring Adam, too.”

Ronan hung up. Gansey stripped off his sweater and threw it in the back of the Camaro. The tiny back of the car was a cluttered marriage of everyday things — a chemistry textbook, a Frappuccino-stained notebook, a half-zipped CD binder with naked discs slithering out across the seat — and the supplies he’d acquired during his eighteen months in Henrietta. Rumpled maps, computer printouts, ever-present journal, flashlight, willow stick. When Gansey plucked a digital recorder out of the mess, a pizza receipt (one large deep-dish, half sausage, half avocado) fluttered to the seat, joining a half-dozen receipts identical except for the date.

All night he’d sat outside the monstrously modern Church of the Holy Redeemer, recorder running, ears straining, waiting for — something. The atmosphere had been less than magical. Possibly not the best place to try to make contact with the future dead, but Gansey had maintained high hopes for the power of St. Mark’s Eve. It wasn’t that he’d expected to see the dead. All of the sources said that church watchers had to possess “the second sight” and Gansey barely possessed first sight before he put his contacts in. He’d just hoped for —

Something. And that was what he had gotten. He just wasn’t quite sure what that something was yet.

The digital recorder in hand, Gansey settled himself against the rear tire to wait, letting the car shield him from the buffeting of passing vehicles. On the other side of the guard rail, a greening field stretched out and down to the trees. Beyond it all rose the mysterious blue crest of the mountains.

On the dusty toe of his shoe, Gansey drew the arcing shape of the promised supernatural energy line that had led him here. As the mountain breeze rushed over his ears, it sounded like a hushed shout — not a whisper, but a loud cry from almost too far away to hear.

The thing was, Henrietta looked like a place where magic could happen. The valley seemed to whisper secrets. It was easier to believe that they wouldn’t give themselves up to Gansey rather than that they didn’t exist at all.

Please just tell me where you are.

His heart hurt with the wanting of it, the hurt no less painful for being difficult to explain.

Ronan Lynch’s shark-nosed BMW pulled in behind the Camaro, its normally glossy charcoal paint dusted green with pollen. Gansey felt the bass of the stereo in his feet a moment before he made out the tune. When he stood up, Ronan was just opening his door. In the passenger seat was Adam Parrish, the third member of the foursome that made up Gansey’s closest friends. The knot of Adam’s tie was neat above the collar of his sweater. One slender hand pressed Ronan’s thin cell phone tightly to his ear.

Through the open car door, Adam and Gansey exchanged the briefest of looks. Adam’s knitted eyebrows asked, Did you find anything? and Gansey’s widened eyes replied, You tell me.

Adam, frowning now, spun the volume knob down on the stereo and said something into the phone.

Ronan slammed the car door — he slammed everything — before heading to the trunk. He said, “My dick brother wants us to meet him at Nino’s tonight. With Ashley.”

“Is that who’s on the phone?” Gansey asked. “What’s Ashley?”

Ronan hefted a gas can from the trunk, making little effort to keep the greasy container from contacting his clothing. Like Gansey, he wore the Aglionby uniform, but, as always, he managed to make it look as disreputable as possible. His tie was knotted with a method best described as contempt and his shirt-tails were ragged beneath the bottom of his sweater. His smile was thin and sharp. If his BMW was shark-like, it had learned how from him. “Declan’s latest. We’re meant to look pretty for her.”

Gansey resented having to play nicely with Ronan’s older brother, a senior at Aglionby, but he understood why they had to. Freedom in the Lynch family was a complicated thing, and at the moment, Declan held the keys to it.

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