The raven boys, p.25

The Raven Boys, page 25

 part  #1 of  The Raven Cycle Series


The Raven Boys

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Page 25


  Noah merely smiled in a far-off way. He kicked one of the wooden boards off the plywood, looking triumphant.

  "To the psychic’s? You know what that place was?" Ronan asked. "A castration palace. You date that girl, you should send her your nuts instead of flowers. "

  "You’re a Neanderthal. "

  "Sometimes you sound just like Gansey," Ronan said.

  "Sometimes you don’t. "

  Noah laughed his breathy, nearly soundless laugh. Ronan spit on the ground beside the BMW.

  "I didn’t even realize that ‘midget’ was the Adam Parrish type," he said.

  He wasn’t being serious, but Adam was, all at once, fatigued with Ronan and his uselessness. Since the day of the fistfight at Nino’s, Ronan had already gotten several notices in his student box at Aglionby, warning him of the dire things slated to befall him if he didn’t begin to improve his grades. If he didn’t begin attempting to get grades. Instead, Ronan was out here building ramps.

  Some people envied Ronan’s money. Adam envied his time. To be as rich as Ronan was to be able to go to school and do nothing else, to have luxurious swaths of time in which to study and write papers and sleep. Adam wouldn’t admit it to anyone, least of all Gansey, but he was tired. He was tired of squeezing homework in between his part-time jobs, of squeezing in sleep, squeezing in the hunt for Glendower. The jobs felt like so much wasted time: In five years, no one would care if he’d worked at a trailer factory. They’d only care if he’d graduated from Aglionby with perfect grades, or if he’d found Glendower, or if he was still alive. And Ronan didn’t have to worry about any of that.

  Two years earlier, Adam had made his decision to come to Aglionby, and, in his head, it was sort of because of Ronan. His mother had sent him to the grocery store with her bank card — all that had been on the conveyer belt was a tube of toothpaste and four cans of microwave ravioli — and the cashier had just told him there were insufficient funds in her bank account to cover the purchase. Though it was not his failing, there was something peculiarly humiliating and intimate about the moment, hunched at the head of a shopping line, turning out his pockets to pretend he might have the cash to cover instead. While he fumbled there, a shaved-headed boy at the next register moved swiftly through, swiping a credit card and collecting his things in only a few seconds.

  Even the way the other boy had moved, Adam recalled, had struck him: confident and careless, shoulders rolled back, chin tilted, an emperor’s son. As the cashier swiped Adam’s card again, both of them pretending the machine might have misread the magnetic stripe, Adam watched the other boy go out to the curb to where a shiny black car waited. When the boy opened the door, Adam saw the other two boys inside wore raven-breasted sweaters and ties. They were despicably carefree as they divvied up the drinks.

  He’d had to leave the boxes and the toothpaste on the conveyer belt, eyes hot with shamed tears that wouldn’t fall.

  He’d never wanted to be someone else so badly.

  In his head, that boy was Ronan, but in retrospect, Adam thought it couldn’t have been. He wouldn’t have been old enough to have his driver’s license yet. It was just some other Aglionby student with a working credit card and exquisite car. And also, that day wasn’t the only reason he’d decided to fight to come to Aglionby. But it was the catalyst. The imagined memory of Ronan, careless and shallow but with pride fully intact, and Adam, cowed and humiliated while a line of old ladies waited behind him.

  He still wasn’t that other boy at the register. But he was closer.

  Adam looked at his battered old watch to see how late Gansey was. He told Ronan, "Give me your phone. "

  With a raised eyebrow, Ronan retrieved the phone from the roof of the BMW.

  Adam punched in the psychic’s number. It rang just twice, and then a breathy voice said, "Adam?"

  Startled at the sound of his name, Adam replied, "Blue?"

  "No," the voice said. "Persephone. " Then, to someone in the background, "Ten dollars, Orla. That was the bet. No, the caller ID doesn’t say anything at all. See?" Then, back to Adam, "Sorry about that. I’m terrible when there’s competition involved. You’re the Coca-Cola T-shirt one, right?"

  It took Adam a moment to realize that she meant the shirt he’d worn to the reading. "Oh, um. Yeah. "

  "How wonderful. I’ll go get Blue. "

  There was a brief, uncomfortable moment while voices murmured in the background of the telephone. Adam swatted at gnats; the parking lot needed to be mowed again. The asphalt was hard to see in some places.

  "I didn’t think you’d call," Blue said.

  Adam must not have truly expected to get Blue on the phone, because the surprise he felt when he heard her voice made his stomach feel hollowed out. Ronan was smirking in a way that made him want to punch his arm.

  "I said I would. "

  "Thanks for the flowers. They were pretty. " Then she hissed: "Orla, get out of here!"

  "It seems busy there. "

  "It’s always busy here. There are three hundred and forty-two people who live here, and they all want to be in this room. What are you doing today?" She asked it very naturally, like it was the most logical thing in the world for them to have a conversation on the phone, like they were already friends.

  It made it easier for Adam to say, "Exploring. Do you want to come with?"

  Ronan’s eyes widened. No matter what she said now, the phone call had been worth it for the genuine shock on Ronan’s face.

  "What sort of exploring?"

  Shielding his eyes, Adam lifted his eyes to the sky. He thought he could hear Gansey coming. "Mountains. How do you feel about helicopters?"

  There was a long pause. "How do you mean? Ethically?"

  "As a mode of transportation. "

  "Faster than camels, but less sustainable. Is there going to be a helicopter in your future today?"

  "Yeah. Gansey wants to look for the ley line, and they’re usually easier to spot from the air. "

  "And of course he just … got a helicopter. "

  "He’s Gansey. "

  There was another long pause. It was a thinking pause, Adam thought, so he didn’t interrupt it. Finally, Blue said, "Okay, I’ll come. Is this a … What is this?"

  Adam replied truthfully, "I have no idea. "

  Chapter 21

  It was remarkably easy to disobey Maura.

  Maura Sargent had very little experience disciplining children, and Blue had very little experience being disciplined, so there was nothing to stop Blue from going with Adam when he met her in front of the house. She didn’t even feel guilty, yet, because she had no practice in that, either. Really, the most remarkable thing about the entire situation was how hopeful she felt, against all odds. She was going against her mother’s wishes, meeting with a boy, meeting with a raven boy. She should’ve been dreading it.

  But it was very difficult to imagine Adam as a raven boy as he greeted her, his hands neatly in his pockets, scented with the dusty odor of mown grass. His bruise was older and therefore more dreadful looking.

  "You look nice," he said, walking with her down the sidewalk.

  She was uncertain if he was being serious. She wore heavy boots she’d found at the Goodwill (she’d attacked them with embroidery thread and a very sturdy needle) and a dress she’d made a few months earlier, constructed from several different layers of green fabric. Some of them striped. Some of them crochet. Some of them transparent. It made Adam look quite conservative, like she was abducting him. They did not, Blue mused with a bit of unease, look anything like a couple.

  "Thanks," she replied. Then, fast, before she could lose her nerve, "Why did you want my number?"

  Adam kept walking, but he didn’t look away. He seemed shy until he didn’t. "Why wouldn’t I?"

  "Don’t take this the wrong way," Blue replied. Her cheeks felt a little warm, but she was well into this conversation and she couldn’t back down now. "Because I
know you’re going to think I feel bad about it, and I don’t. "

  "All right. "

  "Because I’m not pretty. Not in the way that Aglionby boys seem to like. "

  "I go to Aglionby," Adam said.

  Adam did not seem to go to Aglionby like other boys went to Aglionby.

  "I think you’re pretty," he said.

  When he said it, she heard his Henrietta accent for the first time that day: a long vowel and pretty like it rhymed with biddy. In a nearby tree, a cardinal went wheek. wheek. wheek. Adam’s sneakers scuffed on the sidewalk. Blue considered what he had said, and then she considered it some more.

  "Pshaw," she said finally. She felt like when she’d first read his card with the flowers. Weirdly undone. It was like his words had spun tight some sort of thread between them, and she felt like she ought to somehow ease the tension. "But thanks. I think you’re pretty, too. "

  He laughed his surprised laugh.

  "I have another question," Blue said. "Do you remember the last thing my mother said to Gansey?"

  His rueful face made it clear that he did.

  "Right. " Blue took a deep breath. "She said she wouldn’t help. But I didn’t. "

  After he’d called, she’d hastily scrawled an unspecific map to the unnamed church where she’d sat with Neeve on St. Mark’s Eve. It was just a few scratched parallel lines to indicate the main road, some spidery named cross streets, and finally, a square labeled only THE CHURCH.

  She handed Adam this map, unimpressive on a wrinkled piece of notebook paper. Then, from her bag, she handed him Gansey’s journal.

  Adam stopped walking. Blue, a few feet ahead of him, waited as he frowned at the things in his hands. He held the journal very carefully, like it was important to him, or perhaps like it was important to someone who was important to him. Desperately she wanted him to both trust her and respect her, and she could tell from his face that she didn’t have much time to accomplish either.

  "Gansey left that at Nino’s," she said quickly. "The book. I know I should’ve given it back at the reading, but my mom … well, you saw her. She doesn’t normally — she isn’t normally like that. I didn’t know what to think. Here’s the thing. I want to be in on this thing, that you guys are doing. Like, if there really is something supernatural going on, I want to see it. That’s all. "

  Adam merely asked, "Why?"

  With him, there was never any option but the truth, said as simply as possible. She didn’t think he would stand for anything else. "I’m the only person in my family who’s not psychic. You heard my mom; I just make things easier for people who are psychic. If magic exists, I just want to see it. Just once. "

  "You’re as bad as Gansey," Adam said, but he didn’t sound as if he thought that was very bad at all. "He doesn’t need anything but to know it’s real. "

  He tilted the notebook paper this way and that. Blue was instantly relieved; she hadn’t realized how still he’d been until he’d begun to move again, and now it was like tension had been bled out of the air.

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