The raven boys, p.18

The Raven Boys, page 18

 part  #1 of  The Raven Cycle Series


The Raven Boys

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Page 18


  The poor are sad they’re poor, Adam had once mused, and turns out the rich are sad they’re rich.

  And Ronan had said, Hey, I’m rich, and it doesn’t bother me.

  Out loud, Gansey said, "Fine, then. We’d find another good school. We play the game. We make up a new life for you. "

  Adam reached past him to find a rag and began to wipe between each greasy finger. "I would have to find jobs, too. This didn’t happen overnight. Do you know how long it took me to find these?"

  He didn’t mean working in the carport outside his father’s double-wide. That was merely a chore. Adam held down three jobs, the most important of which was at the trailer factory just outside Henrietta.

  "I could cover you until you found something. "

  There was a very long silence as Adam continued scrubbing his fingers. He didn’t look up at Gansey. This was a conversation they’d had before, and entire days of arguments were replayed in the few moments of quiet. The words had been said often enough that they didn’t need to be said again.

  Success meant nothing to Adam if he hadn’t done it for himself.

  Gansey tried his best to keep his voice even, but a bit of heat crept in. "So you won’t leave because of your pride? He’ll kill you. "

  "You’ve watched too many cop shows. "

  "I’ve watched the evening news, Adam," Gansey snapped. "Why don’t you let Ronan teach you to fight? He’s offered twice now. He means it. "

  With great care, Adam folded the greasy rag and draped it back over a toolbox. There was a lot of stuff in the carport. New tool racks and calendars of topless women and heavy-duty air compressors and other things Mr. Parrish had decided were more valuable than Adam’s school uniform. "Because then he will kill me. "

  "I don’t follow. "

  Adam said, "He has a gun. "

  Gansey said, "Christ. "

  Laying a hand on the mutt’s head — it drove her insane with happiness — Adam leaned out of the carport to look down the dirt road. He didn’t have to tell Gansey what he was watching for.

  "Come on, Adam," said Gansey. Please. "We’ll make it work. "

  A wrinkle formed between Adam’s eyebrows as he looked away. Not at the double-wides in the foreground, but past them, to the flat, endless field with its tufts of dry grass. So many things survived here without really living. He said, "It means I never get to be my own person. If I let you cover for me, then I’m yours. I’m his now, and then I’ll be yours. "

  It struck Gansey harder than he thought it would. Some days, all that grounded him was the knowledge that his and Adam’s friendship existed in a place that money couldn’t influence. Anything that spoke to the contrary hurt Gansey more than he would have admitted out loud. With precision, he asked, "Is that what you think of me?"

  "You don’t know, Gansey," Adam said. "You don’t know anything about money, even though you’ve got all of it. You don’t know how it makes people look at me and at you. It’s all they need to know about us. They’ll think I’m your monkey. "

  I am only my money. It is all anyone sees, even Adam.

  Gansey shot back, "You think your plans are going to keep working when you miss school and work because you let your dad pound the shit out of you? You’re as bad as her. You think you deserve it. "

  Without warning, Adam slammed a small box of nails off the ledge beside him. The sound it made on the concrete startled both of them.

  Adam turned his back to Gansey, his arms crossed.

  "Don’t pretend you know," he said. "Don’t come here and pretend you know anything. "

  Gansey told himself to walk away. To say nothing else. Then he said, "Don’t pretend you have anything to be proud of, then. "

  As soon as he said it, he knew that it wasn’t fair, or even if it had been fair, it wasn’t right. But he wasn’t sorry he’d said it.

  He went back to the Camaro and took his phone out to call Ronan, but the cell signal had completely disappeared, like it often did in Henrietta. Usually, Gansey took that as a sign that something supernatural was affecting the energy around the town, knocking down the cell signal and sometimes even the electricity.

  Now, he thought it probably just meant he wasn’t getting through to anyone.

  Closing his eyes, he thought about the bruise on Adam’s face, with its spreading, soft edges, and the hard red mark over his nose. He imagined coming here one day and finding that Adam wasn’t here, but in the hospital, or worse, that Adam was here, but that something important had been beaten out of him.

  Even imagining it made him feel sick.

  The car jerked then, and Gansey’s eyes came open as the passenger door groaned.

  "Wait, Gansey," Adam said, out of breath. He was all folded over to be able to see inside the car. His bruise looked ghastly. It made his skin seem transparent. "Don’t leave like —"

  Sliding his hands off the wheel and into his lap, Gansey peered up at him. This was the part where Adam was going to tell him not to take what he’d said personally. But it felt personal.

  "I’m only trying to help. "

  "I know," Adam told him. "I know. But I can’t do it that way. I can’t live with myself that way. "

  Gansey didn’t understand, but he nodded. He wanted it to be over; he wanted it to be yesterday, when he and Ronan and Adam were listening to the recorder and Adam’s face was still unmarked. Behind Adam, he saw the figure of Mrs. Parrish watching from the porch.

  Adam closed his eyes for a minute. Gansey could see his irises moving underneath the thin skin of his eyelids, a dreamer awake.

  And then, in one easy movement, he’d slid into the passenger seat. Gansey’s mouth opened to form a question he didn’t ask.

  "Let’s go," Adam said. He didn’t look at Gansey. His mother stared at them from the porch, but he didn’t look at her, either. "The psychic was the plan, right? We’re doing the plan. "

  "Yes. But —"

  "I need to be back by ten. "

  Now Adam looked at Gansey. There was something fierce and chilling in his eyes, an unnamable something that Gansey was always afraid would eventually take over completely. This, he knew, was a compromise, a risky gift that he could choose to reject.

  After a moment of hesitation, Gansey bumped knuckles with him over the gearshift. Adam rolled down the window and gripped the roof as if he needed to hold on.

  As the Camaro headed slowly out of the single-track road, their path was blocked by a blue Toyota pickup truck, approaching from the other way. Adam’s breath stopped audibly. Through the windshield, Gansey met the eyes of Adam’s father. Robert Parrish was a big thing, colorless as August, grown from the dust that surrounded the trailers. His eyes were dark and small and Gansey could see nothing of Adam in them.

  Robert Parrish spit out the window. He didn’t pull over for them to pass. Adam’s face was turned out to the cornfield, but Gansey didn’t look away.

  "You don’t have to come," said Gansey, because he had to say it.

  Adam’s voice came from far away. "I’m coming. "

  Jerking the wheel of the car, Gansey revved the engine up high. The Pig stormed off the road, clouds of dirt exploding from the tires, and slammed through the shallow ditch. His heart thudded with anticipation and danger and the desire to shout everything he thought about Adam’s father to Adam’s father.

  As they charged back onto the driveway on the other side of the Toyota, Gansey could feel Robert Parrish’s stare follow them.

  The weight of that gaze seemed like a more substantial promise of the future than anything a psychic might tell him.

  Chapter 15

  Of course, Gansey was not on time for his reading. The appointment time came and went. No Gansey. And, perhaps more disappointingly, no phone call from Adam. Blue pulled aside the curtains to glance up and down the street, but there was nothing but normal after-work traffic. Maura made excuses.

  "Maybe he wrote down the wrong time,"
she said.

  Blue didn’t think he’d written down the wrong time.

  Ten more minutes slouched by. Maura said, "Maybe he had car trouble. "

  Blue didn’t think he had car trouble.

  Calla retrieved the novel she’d been reading and started upstairs. Her voice carried down toward them. "That reminds me. You need to get that belt looked at on the Ford. I see a breakdown in your future. Next to that sketchy furniture store. A very ugly man with a cell phone will stop and be overly helpful. "

  It was possible she really did see a breakdown in Maura’s future, but it was also possible she was being hyperbolic. In any case, Maura made a note on the calendar.

  "Maybe I accidentally told him tomorrow afternoon instead of today," Maura said.

  Persephone murmured, "That is always possible," and said, "Perhaps I will make a pie. " Blue looked anxiously to Persephone. Pie making was a lengthy and loving process, and Persephone did not like to be interrupted during it. She wouldn’t begin a pie if she really thought Gansey’s arrival would interrupt her.

  Maura eyed Persephone as well before retrieving a bag of yellow squash and a stick of butter from the fridge. Now Blue knew precisely how the rest of the day was going to go. Persephone would make something sweet. Maura would make something with butter. Eventually, Calla would reappear and make something involving sausage or bacon. It was how every evening went if a meal hadn’t been planned in advance.

  Blue didn’t think that Maura had told Gansey tomorrow afternoon instead of today. What she thought was that Gansey had looked at the clock on his Mercedes-Benz’s dashboard or Aston Martin’s radio and had decided that the reading interfered with his rock climbing or racquetball. And then he’d blown it off, just like Adam had blown off calling her. She couldn’t really be surprised. They’d done exactly what she expected from raven boys.

  Just as Blue was getting ready to sulk upstairs with her needles and her homework, Orla howled from the Phone Room, her wordless wail eventually resolving itself into words:

  "There is a 1973 Camaro in front of the house! It matches my nails!"

  The last time Blue had seen Orla’s nails, they’d been a complicated paisley pattern. She wasn’t exactly sure what a 1973 Camaro looked like, but she was sure that if it was paisley, it must be impressive. She was also certain that Orla must be on the phone, or she would’ve been down here ogling.

  "Well, here we go," Maura said, abandoning her squash in the sink. Calla reappeared in the kitchen, exchanging a sharp look with Persephone.

  Blue’s stomach dropped to her feet.

  Gansey. That’s all there is.

  The doorbell rang.

  "Are you ready?" Calla asked Blue.

  Gansey was the boy she either killed or fell in love with. Or both. There was no being ready. There just was this: Maura opening the door.

  There were three boys in the doorway, backlit by the evening sun as Neeve had been so many weeks ago. Three sets of shoulders: one square, one built, one wiry.

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