Blue Lily, Lily Blue Page 21

She was afraid of it until she hit the gas, and then her heart was pounding too hard to remember being afraid.

The Camaro was like Gansey tonight: terrifying and thrilling, willing to do whatever she asked.

She was bolder with each turn. For all its noise and posturing, the Pig was a generous teacher. It did not mind that Blue was a very short girl who had never driven a stick before. It did what it could.

She could not forget Gansey’s hand on her knee.

She pulled over.

She had thought it was such a simple thing to avoid kissing someone when she’d been with Adam. Her body had never known what to do. Now it knew. Her mouth didn’t care that it was cursed.

She turned to Gansey.

“Blue,” he warned, but his voice was chaotic. This close, his throat was scented with mint and wool sweater and vinyl car seat, and Gansey, just Gansey.

She said, “I just want to pretend. I want to pretend that I could.”

He breathed out.

What was a kiss without a kiss?

It was a tablecloth tugged from beneath a party service. Everything jumbled against everything else in just a few chaotic moments. Fingers in hair, hands cupping necks, mouths dragged on cheeks and chins in dangerous proximity.

They stopped, noses mashed against each other in the strange way that closeness required. She could feel his breath in her mouth.

“Maybe it wouldn’t hurt if I kiss you,” he whispered. “Maybe it’s only if you kiss me.”

They both swallowed at the same time, and the spell was broken. They both laughed, again at the same time, shakily.

“And then we never speak of it again,” Gansey said, mocking himself softly, and Blue was so glad of it, because she had played the words from that night over and over in her mind and wanted to know he had, too. Gently he tucked her hair behind her ears — this was a fool’s errand, because it had never been behind her ears to begin with and wouldn’t stay. But he did it again and again, and then he took out two mint leaves and put one in his mouth and one in hers.

She couldn’t tell if it was very late or if it had become very early.

And now the catastrophic joy was wearing off and reality was sinking back in. She could see now that he was very nearly that boy that she’d seen in the churchyard.

Tell him.

She rolled the mint leaf over and over her tongue. She felt shivery with cold or fatigue.

“Did you ever think of stopping before you found him?” she asked.

He looked bemused.

“Don’t give me that face,” she said. “I know that you have to find him. I’m not asking you to tell me why. I get that. But as it gets riskier, have you ever thought of stopping?”

He held her gaze, but his eyes had gone far away, pensive. He was weighing it, maybe, the cost of this quest versus his undying need to see his king. Then he was focused on her again.

He shook his head.

She slouched back and sighed big enough to make her lips go blbbphhbbbt. “Well, okay.”

“Are you afraid? Is that what you’re asking?”

“Don’t be stupid,” she replied.

“It’s okay if you are,” Gansey said. “This is only mine, in the end, and I don’t expect anyone else —”

“Don’t. Be. Stupid.” It was ridiculous; she didn’t even know if it was the search for Glendower that would kill him — any old hornet would do. She couldn’t tell him. Maura was right — it would just ruin the days he had left. Adam was right, too. They needed to find Glendower and ask for Gansey’s life. But how could she know this huge thing about him and not tell him? “We should go back.”

Now he exhaled, but he didn’t disagree. The clock in the Camaro didn’t work, but it had to be dangerously close to morning. They switched places; Blue curled again in his coat, feet up on the seat. As she tugged the collar up to cover her mouth and nose, she let herself imagine that this place was rightfully hers. That somehow Adam and Ronan already knew and were already okay with it. That her lips carried no threat. That Gansey was not going to die, that he wasn’t going to leave for Yale or Princeton, that all that mattered was that he had given her his coat with its wheatgrass and mint on the collar.

As they headed back into downtown, they spotted a shiny vehicle, undoubtedly a raven boy car, pulled over by the side of the road. It was glittering and astronomical in the streetlights.

The ugly feeling of reality nudged Blue again.

“What’s this —?” Gansey said.

“One of yours,” she replied.

Gansey pulled up alongside and motioned for Blue to roll down her window.

An equally astronomical and glittering black-haired boy sat behind the wheel of the other car.

“You’re a chick,” he said to her, puzzled.

“Twenty points!” Blue replied tensely. “Heck, have thirty, because it’s late and I’m feeling generous.”

“Cheng. What’s going on?” Gansey said, leaning forward to see past her. His voice had changed immediately to his raven boy one, which made Blue suddenly annoyed to be seen in a car with him. It was like her anger from before had not been properly extinguished and now it only took the knowledge that she was a girl in a car with an Aglionby prince to reignite it.

Henry Cheng leapt out of his car to lean in the passenger window. Blue was distinctly uncomfortable to be this close to his sharp cheekbones.

He said, “I don’t know. It stopped.”

“Stopped how?” Gansey asked.

Henry replied, “It made a noise. I stopped it. It seemed angry. I don’t know. I don’t want to die. I have my whole future ahead of me. Do you know anything about cars?”

“Not electric ones. What kind of noise did you say it made?”

“One I don’t want to hear again. I can’t break it. I broke the last one and my father was pissed.”

“Do you want a ride back?”

“No, I want your phone. Mine’s dead and I can’t walk by the road or I’ll get raped by the locals.” Henry kneed the side of the Camaro and said, “Man, this is the way to do it. American muscle you can hear from a mile away. I’m not very good at this WASP thing. You, on the other hand, are a champion — only I think you have it backward. It’s supposed to be hanging with chicks during the day, boys at night. That’s what my halmeoni used to say, anyway.”

There was something terrible about the entire exchange. Blue couldn’t decide if it was because it didn’t require her, or because it was between two extremely rich boys, or because it was a concrete reminder that she had broken one of her most important rules. (Stay away from Aglionby boys.) She felt like a dusty and ordinary accessory. Or worse. She just felt — bad.

She mutely passed Gansey’s phone to Henry.

As the other boy returned to his shiny spacecraft to place the call, she said to Gansey, “I don’t like when your voice sounds like that, FYI.”

“Like what?”

She knew it wasn’t nice to say it, but her mouth said it anyway. “Your fake voice.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“The one you do with them,” she said. “With the other Aglionby bastards.”

“Henry’s all right,” Gansey said.

“Oh, whatever, ‘raped by the locals’?”

“That was a joke.”

“Ha ha ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. It’s a joke when someone like him says it, because he doesn’t have to actually worry about it. It’s just so typical.”

“I don’t understand why you’re being this way. He’s actually a little like you —”

Blue scoffed. “Oh ho!” She knew she was being over the top, but she couldn’t seem to stop. It was just something about their handsome faces and handsome hair and handsome cars and easy confidence with one another.

“I just think it’s probably a good thing that we can’t really — we’ll never —”

“Oh, is it?” Gansey asked, dangerously polite. “Why is that?”

“We’re just not in the same place, is all. We have very different priorities. We’re too far apart. It wouldn’t actually work.”

“Two seconds ago we were nearly kissing,” he said, “and now it’s all off because we stopped to let a guy use my phone?”

“It was never on!” She felt as furious as she had when she first woke up. More.

“Is this because I didn’t agree that Henry was a bastard? I’m trying to see things from your point of view, but I am having a very difficult time. Something about my voice?”

“Never mind. Forget it. Just take me home,” Blue said. Now she was really regretting — everything. She wasn’t even sure where her argument had taken her, only that now she couldn’t back down. “After he gives your phone back.”

Gansey studied her. She expected to see her anger mirrored on his face, but instead, his expression had cleared. It wasn’t happy, exactly, but he no longer looked confused. He asked, “When are you going to tell me what this is really about?”

This made her heave a great shuddered breath that was close to tears. “Never.”


Gansey woke up in a terrible mood. He was still tired — he had lost hours of sleep to playing and replaying the events inside the car, trying to decide if he had been wrong or right or if it even mattered — and it was drizzling, and Malory was whistling, and Noah was cracking pool balls against each other, and Ronan was pouring breakfast cereal from the box into his mouth, and Gansey’s favorite yellow sweater smelled too doggy to bear another wearing, and the Pig flooded and wouldn’t start, and so now they were headed off to get Blue and Adam in the soulless Suburban and a brown sweater that looked exactly on the outside like Gansey felt on the inside.

This cave wasn’t going to be anything but a cave, like they always were, so Gansey would have been fine staying in Monmouth for another four hours of sleep and doing it another day.

“It might as well be Wales out there with all this rain,” Malory said, not sounding very pleased about it. Beside him, Adam was silent, expression troubled in a way Gansey hadn’t seen in a while.

Blue, too, was sullenly quiet, with bags under her eyes to match Gansey’s. Last night his coat collar had still been scented with her hair; now, he kept turning his head in hopes of catching it, but like everything else in the wretched day, it had gone muted and dusty.

At the Dittley farm, Malory, the Dog, and Jesse settled in the house (Malory, unhopeful: “I don’t suppose you have any tea?” Jesse: “DO YOU WANT EARL GREY OR DARJEELING?” Malory: “Oh, sweet heavens!”) and the teens trekked across the damp field to the cave.

Adam asked, “Are you really bringing that bird into a cave?”

“Yes, Parrish,” Ronan replied, “I believe I am.”

There was no way to ask Blue about the night before.

He was too dull-edged to analyze it anymore. He just wanted to know. Were they still fighting?

Gansey remained in a bad mood as they applied their caving equipment and checked and double-checked their flashlights. Blue had acquired a used set of coveralls from somewhere and the sheer effort of not looking at her in them was taking what little concentration he could dredge up.

This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be, he thought. It wasn’t supposed to be crammed in between school events and Congressional tasks. It shouldn’t have been a murky fall day, too humid for the season. It should have been a day where he had slept enough to properly feel things. It wasn’t supposed to be any of the things that it was, and instead, it was all of them.

This was not, he thought as they descended, even how the cavern was supposed to look. Of course Glendower was underground — of course Gansey had known that he would have to be buried — but somehow he had imagined it lighter. This was just a hole in the ground like the rest. Dirt walls pressing in close, clawed and chiseled out when they grew too narrow to admit a coffin. A rabbit hole, down and down.

This was not how it had looked in his vision, back when he’d stood in Cabeswater’s vision tree. But perhaps that hadn’t been the truth.

Here was the truth. They were looking right at it.

“Stop it, Lynch,” Adam said. He was at the back of the line; Ronan was right in front of him.

“Stop what?”

“Oh, come on.”

Ronan didn’t reply; they kept walking. They had only made it a few more yards, though, when Adam said, “Ronan, come on!”

They came to a slow and stuttering halt. Adam had stopped, and that had jerked Ronan to a stop, which had stopped Blue, and then, finally, Gansey. Chainsaw flapped up, wings grazing the close cavern walls. She came to rest on Ronan’s shoulder again, her head pitched low and wary. She frantically cleaned her beak on his shirt.

“What?” Ronan demanded, flicking thumb and finger in the raven’s direction.

“Singing,” Adam said.

“I’m not doing anything.”

Adam had his fingers pressed against one of his ears. “I know now — I know it’s not you.”

“You think?”

“No,” Adam said, voice thin. “I know it’s not you because I’m hearing it in my deaf ear.”

A little chill scurried across Gansey’s skin.

“What is it singing?” Blue asked.

Chainsaw’s beak parted. In a trilling, sideways little voice completely unlike her coarse raven voice, she sang, “All maidens young and fair, listen to your fathers —”

“Stop that,” Ronan shouted. Not to Chainsaw, but to the cave.

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