Blue Lily, Lily Blue Page 34

Persephone was dead.

Gansey couldn’t believe it, not because he could not believe in the nearness of death — he could not stop believing in the nearness of death — but because he would not have expected Persephone to do something as mortal as dying. There had been something immutable about the three women in 300 Fox Way — Maura, Persephone, and Calla were the trunk from which all of the branches sprang.

We must find Maura, he thought as he climbed from the Camaro and started up the walk, Ronan dogging his steps with his hands shoved in pockets, Chainsaw flapping grimly from branch to branch to follow. Because if Persephone can die, there is nothing to stop Maura from dying, too.

Adam sat on the dappled shade of the front step, eyes blank, a wrinkle between his eyebrows. Gansey’s mother used to press her thumb to that place between Richard Gansey III’s brows and rub the frown out; she still did it to Gansey II. He felt the urge to do it now as Adam tipped his face up.

“I found her,” Adam said, “and it didn’t do any good at all.”

He needed Gansey to say it was all right, and even though it was not all right, Gansey found his voice and said, “You did your best. Calla told me on the phone. She’s proud of you. It’s not going to feel any better now, Parrish. Don’t expect it to.”

Adam, freed, nodded miserably and looked at his feet.

“Where’s Blue?”

Adam blinked. He clearly didn’t know.

“I’m going in,” Gansey said as Ronan sat down on the step beside Adam. As Gansey shut the door behind him, he heard Adam say, “I don’t want to talk,” and Ronan reply, “The f**k would I talk about?”

He found Calla and Jimi and Orla and two other young women he didn’t recognize in the kitchen. Gansey had meant to begin with I’m sorry for your loss or something polite, something that would make sense outside of this kitchen, but in this context, all of it felt more false than usual.

Instead, he said, “I’m going into the cave. We are.”

It was impossible, but it didn’t much matter. Everything was impossible. He waited for Calla to say that it was a bad idea, but she didn’t.

A small part of him still wished that she would: the part that could feel small legs crawling over the back of his neck.


He had spent a long time learning to put that in the back of his mind, and he did it now.

“I’m going with you,” Calla said, her knuckles tight around a glass. “Enough of this flying solo nonsense. I’m so angry I could …”

She hurled the glass to the kitchen floor; it splintered at Orla’s feet. Orla stared at it and then at Gansey, her expression apologetic, but Gansey had lived with Ronan’s grief for long enough to recognize it.

“There!” Calla shouted. “That’s what it’s like. Just destroyed for no purpose!”

“I’ll get a vacuum,” Jimi said.

“I’ll get a Valium,” Orla said.

Calla stormed into the backyard.

Gansey retreated and crept up the stairs to the Phone/Sewing/Cat Room. It was the only place he’d been on the second floor, and the only other place he knew to look for Blue. She was not in there, though, nor in the adjacent room that was clearly her bedroom. He found her instead in a room at the end of the hall that seemed to be Persephone’s; it smelled like her, and everything was odd and clever in it.

Blue sat beside the bed, chipping aggressively at the polish on her nails. She looked up at him; the afternoon sunlight came in sharp and strong to land on the side of the mattress behind her, causing her to squint.

“That took forever,” she said.

“My phone was off. I’m sorry.”

She chipped another bit of polish onto the shaggy rug. “I guess there was no point to hurrying anyway.”

Ah, Blue.

“Is Mr. Gray here?” she asked.

“I didn’t see him. Look, I told Calla we were going into the cave. To find Maura.” He corrected, more formally, “Your mother.”

“Oh, seriously! Don’t Richard Gansey on me!” Blue snapped, and then, at once, she began to cry.

It was against the rules, but Gansey crouched down beside her, one of his knees against her back, one against her knees, and hugged her. She curled against him, hands balled up against his chest. He felt a hot tear slip into the dip of his collarbone. He closed his eyes against the sun through the window, burning hot in his sweater, foot falling asleep, elbow grinding into the metal bed frame, Blue Sargent pressed up against him, and he didn’t move.

Help, he thought. He remembered Gwenllian saying that it was starting, and he could feel it, winding out faster and faster, a ball of thread caught in the wind.

Starting, starting —

He could not tell who was comforting whom.

“I’m part of the useless new generation,” Blue said finally, the words right on his skin. Desire and dread lay right next to each other in his heart, each sharpening the other. “The computer generation. I keep thinking that I can hit the reset button, restart things.”

He pulled back, wincing through pins and needles, and gave her a mint leaf before sitting back against the bed frame beside her. When he looked up, he realized that Gwenllian stood in the doorway. It was impossible to say how long she’d been there, her arms stretched up above her to the door frame as if she was trying to keep from being pushed into the room.

She waited until she was sure Gansey was looking, and then she sang,

“Queens and kings

Kings and queens

Blue lily, lily blue

Crowns and birds

Swords and things

Blue lily, lily blue”

“Are you trying to make me angry?” he asked.

“Are you angry, knightling?” Gwenllian replied sweetly. She leaned her cheek on her arm, rocking back and forth. “I used to dream of death. I had sung every song I knew so many times while I lay in that box on my face. Every eye! Every eye I could reach I asked to look for me. And what did I get but stupidity and blindness!”

“How did you use other people’s eyes if you’re just like me?” Blue asked. “If you don’t have any psychic powers of your own.”

Gwenllian’s mouth hung in the most dismissive shape possible. “This question! It is like asking how you can smash a nail if you are not a hammer.”

“Whatever,” Blue said. “It doesn’t matter. I don’t really care.”

“Artemus taught me,” Gwenllian said. “When he wasn’t working one-two-three-four my father. Here’s a riddle, my love, my love, my love, what grows, my love, my love, my love, from dark, my love, my love, my love, to dark, my love, my love, my love.”

Blue pushed angrily to her feet. “No more games.”

“A tree at night,” Gansey said.

Gwenllian stopped rocking on her arms and studied him where he still sat on the floor.

“Much of my father,” she replied. “Much of my father in you. That is Artemus, the tree at night. Your mother looks for him, blue lily? Well, then you should seek my father. Artemus will be as near to him as he is able unless something prevents him. The better to whisper.”

She spit on the floorboards by Gansey.

“I am seeking him,” Gansey said. “We’re going underground.”

“Order me to do something for you, little prince-boy,” she told Gansey. “Let’s see your king-mettle.”

“Is that how your father convinced people to do things for him?” he asked.

“No,” Gwenllian said, and looked annoyed about it. “He asked them.”

Even through all of this wrongness, this impossibility, this warmed Gansey. This was right: Glendower should have ruled by request, not by command. This was the king he sought.

“Will you go with us?” he asked.


When Colin Greenmantle went out onto the porch of the historic farmhouse and looked down at the field below, he discovered a herd of cows standing far away and two young men standing very close.

It was, in fact, Adam Parrish and Ronan Lynch.

He looked down at them.

They looked up.

Neither party said anything. Both of the boys were unsettling — Adam Parrish, in particular, had a curious face. Not as in, he was a curious person. But rather that there was something peculiar about his facial features. He was an alien, handsome specimen of this western Virginia species; feather-boned, hollow-cheeked, eyebrows fair and barely visible. He was feral and raw-boned by way of those Civil War portraits. Brother fought brother while their farms ran to ruins —

And Ronan Lynch looked like Niall Lynch, which was to say, he looked like an ass**le.

Oh, youth.

So Greenmantle broke the ice. He called down, “Are you turning in your exercises?”

They continued standing there, looking like a pair of horror movie twins, one dark, one light.

Adam Parrish smiled a little; it took two years off his age in a second. He had teeth on both his top and bottom jaw. “I know what you are.”

This was interesting. “And what am I?”

“Don’t you know?” Adam Parrish asked it with bland insouciance.

Greenmantle narrowed his eyes. “Are we playing a game, Mr. Parrish?”


Games, at least, were one of Greenmantle’s specialties. He leaned against the railing. “In that case, I know what you are, too.”

Ronan Lynch handed Adam Parrish an oversized, bulging manila envelope.

“Oh, I don’t think you do,” Adam replied.

Greenmantle disliked the fearlessness in his face. It was not even fearlessness: It was a lack of expression entirely. He wondered what was in the envelope. Confessions of a Teen Sociopath.

He said, “Do you know what keeps poor people down, Mr. Parrish? It’s not a lack of income. It’s a poverty of imagination. The trailer park dreams of the suburbs, and the suburbs dreams of the city, the city dreams of the stars, so on and so forth. The poor can imagine the throne, but not being kingly. Poverty of imagination. But you — you are a cuckoo who sneaks into this nest. You are Mr. Adam Parrish, of twenty-one Antietam Lane, Henrietta, Virginia, and you have a good imagination, but you are a pretender nonetheless.”

The kid was good. The skin around his eyes tightened only a tiny bit when Greenmantle read off the trailer park’s address.

“And it would be so easy to hurl you to the ground from this tree,” Greenmantle said, in case he wasn’t nervous yet. “You would long for those days in your trailer park.”

Adam Parrish looked at him. Greenmantle realized all at once that he was unsettling in the same way that Piper had been when he caught her looking in the mirror.

Adam turned the bulging envelope around so that Greenmantle could see that it was seeping something red-brown, which was never a good sign. He said, “If you’re not out of Henrietta by Friday, everything in that envelope comes true.”

Ronan Lynch smiled then, too, and it was a weapon.

They left the envelope there.

“Piper!” Greenmantle called after they had gone. But she didn’t answer. It was impossible to know if she was there, but in a trance, or if she was gone, hunting for the thing that she heard humming in mirrors.

This place. This damn place. They could have it.

He climbed down the stairs, finally, and managed to find a door that led outside. He opened the envelope. The seeping was from a rotting, severed hand. It was small. A child’s hand. Beneath it was a sealed plastic bag, smeared with gore, containing paperwork and photographs.

Individually, they were distasteful.

Collectively, they were damning.

The envelope contents told a story of Colin Greenmantle, intellectual mass murderer and habitual pervert. It provided evidence of where the bodies, and parts of bodies, could be found. There were screenshots of condemning texts and cell phone photos — and when Greenmantle swiped up his real phone, he discovered that, somehow, they actually were on his phone in all their gruesome glory. There were letters, homemade DVDs, photographs, a mountain of evidence.

None of it was true.

All of it had been dreamt up.

But it didn’t matter. It looked true. Truer than the truth.

The Greywaren was real, and those two boys had it, but it didn’t matter, because they were untouchable, and they knew it.

Damn youth.

On the very bottom of the stack of filth was a single piece of paper with handwriting so similar to Niall Lynch’s that it could only belong to his son.

It said, Qui facit per alium facit per se.

Greenmantle knew the proverb.

He who does a thing by the agency of another does it himself.


“Okay, we’re going,” Greenmantle said. “Family emergency. Back to Boston. Pack your things. Call your friends. You’re off the hook for that book club book.”

Piper was getting her purse. “No, I’m going out with the men.”

“The men!”

“Yes,” Piper said. “Does that horrible Gray Man drive a white car? One of those boy racer cars. You know, with the big wing on the back. It’s supposed to demonstrate what a big member the driver has? Because I feel like one of those has been following me. I mean, ha, more than usual, because please.” She flipped her hair.

“I don’t want to talk about the Gray Man,” Greenmantle said. “I want to talk about your luggage.”

“I’m not packing. I think I’ve found something,” Piper said.

Greenmantle showed her the envelope.

She was not as impressed as he had been. She said, “Oh, please. If I find what I think I’m finding, making that go away will be children’s play. No pun intended. Oh, that was distasteful.” She laughed. “Okay, I’m out.”

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies