The Raven Boys(9)

By: Maggie Stiefvater

“Holy grail, finally,” Ronan replied, too sarcastic to be any use at all.

But the fact was this: Gansey had spent the last four years working with the thinnest scraps of evidence possible and the barely heard voice was all the encouragement he needed. His eighteen months in Henrietta had used some of the sketchiest scraps of all as he searched for a ley line — a perfectly straight, supernatural energy path that connected spiritual places — and the elusive tomb he hoped lay along its path. This was just an occupational hazard of looking for an invisible energy line. It was … well, invisible.

And possibly hypothetical, but Gansey refused to consider that notion. In seventeen years of life, he’d already found dozens of things people hadn’t known could be found, and he fully intended to add the ley line, the tomb, and the tomb’s royal occupant to that list of items.

A museum curator in New Mexico had once told Gansey, Son, you have an uncanny knack for discovering oddities. An astonished Roman historian commented, You look under rocks no one else thinks to pick up, slick. And a very old British professor had said, The world turns out its pockets for you, boy. The key, Gansey found, was that you had to believe that they existed; you had to realize they were part of something bigger. Some secrets only gave themselves up to those who’d proven themselves worthy.

The way Gansey saw it was this: If you had a special knack for finding things, it meant you owed the world to look.

“Hey, is that Whelk?” Ronan asked.

A car had slowed considerably as it passed them, affording them a glimpse of its overly curious driver. Gansey had to agree that the driver did look a lot like their resentful Latin teacher, an Aglionby alumnus by the unfortunate name of Barrington Whelk. Gansey, owing to his official title of Richard “Dick” Campbell Gansey III, was fairly immune to posh names, but even he had to admit there wasn’t much forgivable about Barrington Whelk.

“Hey, don’t stop and help or anything,” Ronan snapped after the car. “Hey, runt. What went down with Declan?”

This last part was directed at Adam as he climbed out of the BMW with Ronan’s phone still in hand. He offered it to Ronan, who shook his head disdainfully. Ronan despised all phones, including his own.

Adam said, “He’s coming by at five tonight.”

Unlike Ronan, Adam’s Aglionby sweater was secondhand, but he’d taken great care to be certain it was impeccable. He was slim and tall, with dusty hair unevenly cropped above a fine-boned, tanned face. He was a sepia photograph.

“Joy,” Gansey replied. “You’ll be there, right?”

“Am I invited?” Adam could be peculiarly polite. When he was uncertain about something, his Southern accent always made an appearance, and it was in evidence now.

Adam never needed an invitation. He and Ronan must’ve fought. Unsurprising. If it had a social security number, Ronan had fought with it.

“Don’t be stupid,” Gansey replied, and graciously accepted the grease-splotched fast-food bag that Adam offered. “Thanks.”

“Ronan got it,” Adam said. In matters of money, he was quick to assign credit or blame.

Gansey looked to Ronan, who lounged against the Camaro, absently biting one of the leather straps on his wrist. Gansey said, “Tell me there’s no sauce on this burger.”

Dropping the strap from his teeth, Ronan scoffed. “Please.”

“No pickle, either,” Adam said, crouching behind the car. He’d not only brought two small containers of fuel additive, but also a rag to place between the gas can and his khakis; he made the entire process look commonplace. Adam tried so hard to hide his roots, but they came out in the smallest of gestures.

Now Gansey grinned, the warmth of discovery starting to course through him. “So, pop quiz, Mr. Parrish. Three things that appear in the vicinity of ley lines?”

“Black dogs,” Adam said indulgently. “Demonic presences.”

“Camaros,” Ronan inserted.

Gansey continued as if he hadn’t spoken. “And ghosts. Ronan, queue up the evidence if you would.”

The three of them stood there in the late morning sun as Adam screwed the fuel-tank lid back on and Ronan rewound the player. Yards and yards away, over the mountains, a red-tailed hawk screamed thinly. Ronan pressed PLAY again and they listened to Gansey say his name into thin air. Adam frowned distantly, listening, the warm day reddening his cheeks.

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