Blue Lily, Lily Blue Page 8

Then she pulled the plug on the battery that was Blue Sargent.

The room went still. The papers settled. The light flickered once more and then strengthened. She heard a little gasp of a sob, and then absolute quiet.

Gansey looked shocked.

Noah sat in the middle of the floor, papers all around him, a mint plant spilling dirt by his hand. He was all hunched over and shadowless, his form slight and streaky, barely visible at all. He was crying again.

In a very small voice, he told Blue, “You said I could use your energy.”

She knelt in front of him. She wanted to hug him, but he wasn’t really there. Without her energy, he was a paper-thin boy, he was a skull, he was air in the shape of Noah. “Not like that.”

He whispered, “I’m sorry.”

“Me too.”

He covered his face, and then he was gone.

Gansey said, “That was impressive, Jane.”


That night, Blue leaned against the spreading beech tree in her backyard, her eyes cast up to the stars and her fingers touching the chilly, smooth bark of one of the roots. The kitchen light through the sliding door seemed far away.

That was impressive, Jane.

Although Blue was perfectly aware of the positive effects of her ability, she had never really considered the opposite. And yet Noah would have destroyed Monmouth Manufacturing if she hadn’t cut herself off from him.

The stars winked through the beech leaves. She’d read that new stars tended to form in pairs. Binary stars, orbiting in close proximity, only becoming single stars when their partner was smashed off them by another pair of wildly spinning new stars. If she pretended hard enough, she could see the multitude of pairs clinging to each other in the destructive and creative gravity of their constellations.


Maybe she was a little impressed. Not by pulling the plug on a dead boy — that seemed sad, nothing to brag about. But because she’d learned something about herself today, and she’d thought there was nothing left there to discover.

The stars moved slowly above her, an array of possibilities, and for the first time in a long time, she felt them mirrored in her heart.

Calla opened the sliding door. “Blue?”


“If you’re done gallivanting for the day, I could use your body,” Calla said. “I have a reading.”

Blue raised her eyebrows. Maura only asked for her help during important readings, and Calla never asked, period. Curiosity rather than obedience pulled Blue to her feet. “This late? Now?”

“I’m asking now, aren’t I?”

Once inside, Calla fussed over the reading room and called for Persephone so many times that Orla screamed back that some people were trying to conduct phone calls and Jimi shouted, “Is it something I can help with?”

All of the fuss made Blue strangely nervous. At 300 Fox Way, readings happened so often that they ordinarily felt both perfunctory and unmagical. But this felt like chaos. This felt like anything could happen.

The doorbell rang.

“PERSEPHONE, I TOLD YOU,” Calla roared. “Blue, get that. I’ll be in the reading room. Bring him in there.”

When Blue opened the front door, she discovered an Aglionby student standing in the glow of the porch light. Moths fluttered around his head. He wore salmon-colored pants and white Top-Siders and boasted flawless skin and tousled hair.

Then her eyes adjusted and she realized that he was too old to be a raven boy. Quite a bit too old; it was hard to imagine how she would have thought it before even for a moment.

Blue scowled at his shoes and then at his face. Although everything about him had been cultivated to impress, she found him less impressive than she might have a few months before. “Hola.”

“Howdy,” he replied, with a cheery smile full of unsurprisingly straight teeth. “I’m here for a probing of my future. I expect the timing is still good?”

“You expect right, sailor. Come in.”

In the reading room, Calla had been joined by Persephone. They sat on one side of the table like a jury. The man stood across from them, idly drumming his fingers on a chair back.

“Sit,” intoned Calla.

“Any old chair,” Persephone added mildly.

“Not any old chair,” Calla said. She pointed. “That one.”

He sat opposite, his bright eyes all over the room as he did, his body dynamic. He looked like a person who got things done. Blue couldn’t decide if he was handsome or if his demeanor was fooling her into believing him so.

He asked, “Well, how does this work? Do I pay you up front or do you decide how much it is after you see how complicated my future is?”

“Any old time,” Persephone said.

“No,” Calla said. “Now. Fifty.”

He parted with the bills without malice. “Could I get a receipt? Business expense. That is a fantastic portrait of Steve Martin over there, by the way. Behold how its eyes follow you around the room.”

“Blue, would you get the receipt?” Persephone asked.

Blue, lingering by the door, went for a business card to write the amount on. When she returned, Persephone was saying to Calla, “Oh, we will have to use just yours. I don’t have mine.”

“Don’t have yours!” Calla replied incredulously. “What happened to them?”

“Coca-Cola shirt has them.”

With a mighty snort, Calla retrieved her tarot cards and instructed the man on how to shuffle them. She finished, “Then you pass them back to me, facedown, and I’ll draw them.”

He began.

“As you shuffle them, you should be thinking about what you’d like to know,” Persephone added in her small voice. “That will focus the reading quite a bit.”

“Good, good,” he replied, shuffling the cards more aggressively. He glanced up at Blue. Then, without warning, he flipped the deck so that the cards were faceup. He fanned them out, eyes darting over the selection.

This was not how Calla had instructed him.

Something in Blue’s nerves tingled a warning.

“So, if the question is ‘How can I make this happen?’ ” — he plucked a card free and set it on the table — “that’s a good start, right?”

There was dead silence.

The card was the three of swords. It depicted a bloody heart stabbed with the aforementioned three swords. Gore dripped down the blades. Maura called it “the heartbreak card.”

Blue needed no psychic perception to feel the threat oozing from it.

The psychics stared at the man. With a cool curl in her stomach, Blue realized that they hadn’t seen this coming.

Calla growled, “What’s your game?”

He kept smiling his cheery, congenial smile. “Here’s the question: Is there another one of you? One that looks more like that one?” He pointed at Blue, whose stomach turned over unpleasantly once more.


“Go to hell,” Calla burst out.

He nodded. “That’s what I thought. You expecting her anytime soon? I’d love to have a chat with her in particular.”

“Hell,” Persephone said. “I actually agree in this case. Insofar as going there is concerned.”

What does this man want with Mom?

Blue frantically memorized everything about him so that she could describe him later.

The man stood, sweeping up the three of swords. “You know what? I’m keeping this. Thanks for the info.”

As he turned to go, Calla started after him, but Persephone put a single finger on Calla’s arm, stopping her.

“No,” Persephone said softly. The front door closed. “That one’s not to be touched.”


Adam was reading and re-reading his first-quarter schedule when Ronan hurled himself into the desk beside him.

They were the only two in the navy-carpeted classroom; Adam had arrived very early to Borden House. It seemed wrong that the first day of school should carry the same emotional weight as the anxious afternoon in the cave of ravens, but there was no denying that the gleeful and anticipatory jitter in his veins now was as pronounced as those breathless minutes when birds sang around them.

One more year, and he had done it.

The first day was the easiest, of course. Before it had really all begun: the homework and the sports, the school-wide dinners and the college counseling, the exams and the extra credit. Before Adam’s night job and studying until three A.M. conspired to destroy him.

He read his schedule again. It bristled with classes and extracurriculars. It looked impossible. Aglionby was a hard school: harder for Adam, though, because he had to be the best.

Last year, Barrington Whelk had stood at the front of this room and taught them Latin. Now he was dead. Adam knew that he had seen Whelk die, but he couldn’t seem to remember what the event had actually looked like — though he could, if he tried hard enough, imagine what it should have looked like.

Adam closed his eyes for a moment. In the quiet of the empty classroom, he could hear the rustling of leaves against yet more leaves.

“I can’t take it,” Ronan said.

Adam opened his eyes. “Take what?”

Take sitting, apparently. Ronan went to the whiteboard and began to write. He had furious handwriting.

“Malory. He’s always complaining about his h*ps or his eyes or the government or — oh, and that dog. It’s not like he’s blind or crippled or anything.”

“Why couldn’t he have something normal like a raven?”

Ronan ignored this. “And he got up three times in the night to piss. I think he has a tumor.”

Adam said, “You don’t sleep anyway.”

“Not anymore.” Ronan’s dry-erase marker squeaked in protest as he jabbed down Latin words. Although Ronan wasn’t smiling and Adam didn’t know some of the vocabulary, Adam was certain it was a dirty joke. For a moment, he watched Ronan and tried to imagine that he was a teacher instead of a Ronan. It was impossible. Adam couldn’t decide if it was how he’d shoved up his sleeves or the apocalyptic way he had tied his tie.

“He knows everything,” Ronan said in a casual way.

Adam didn’t immediately reply, though he knew what Ronan meant, because he also found the professor’s omniscience uncomfortable. When he thought harder about the source of the unpleasantness — the idea of Malory spending a year with fifteen-year-old Gansey — he had to admit that it was not paranoia, but jealousy.

“He’s older than I expected,” Adam said.

“Oh, God, the oldest,” Ronan replied at once, as if he had been waiting for Adam to mention it. “He never chews with his mouth shut.”

A floorboard popped. Immediately, Ronan put down his marker. One couldn’t open the front door of Borden House without making the floor creak two rooms over. So both boys knew what the noise meant: School was under way.

“Well,” Ronan said, sounding nasty and unhappy, “here we go, cowboy.”

Returning to his desk, he threw his feet up on it. This was forbidden, of course. He crossed his arms, tilted his chin back, closed his eyes. Instant insolence. This was the version of himself he prepared for Aglionby, for his older brother, Declan, and sometimes, for Gansey.

Ronan was always saying that he never lied, but he wore a liar’s face.

In the students came. It was such a familiar sound — desk legs scraping the floor, jackets swooshing over chair backs, notebooks slapping worktops — that Adam could’ve closed his eyes and still seen the scene with perfect clarity. They were chattering and hateful and oblivious. Where have you been on break, man? Cape, always, where else? So boring. Vail. Mom broke her ankle. Oh, you know, we did Europe, hobo style. Granddad said I needed to get some muscles because I was looking g*y these days. No, he didn’t really say that. Speaking of which, here’s Parrish.

Someone cuffed the back of Adam’s head. He blinked up. One way, then the other. His assailant had come up on Adam’s deaf side.

“Oh,” Adam said. It was Tad Carruthers, whose worst fault was that Adam didn’t like him and Tad couldn’t tell.

“Oh,” mimicked Tad benevolently, as if Adam’s standoffishness charmed him. Adam wanted desperately and masochistically for Tad to ask him where he had summered. Instead, Tad turned to where Ronan was still reclined with his eyes closed. He lifted a hand to cuff Ronan’s head but lost his nerve an inch into the swing. Instead, he just drummed on Ronan’s desk and moved off.

Adam could feel the pulse of the ley line in the veins of his hands.

The students kept coming in. Adam kept watching. He was good at this part, the observing of others. It was himself that he couldn’t seem to study or understand. How he despised them, how he wanted to be them. How pointless to summer in Maine, how much he wanted to do it. How affected he found their speech, how he coveted their lazy monotones. He couldn’t tell how all of these things could be equally true.

Gansey appeared in the doorway. He was speaking to a teacher in the hall, thumb poised on his lower lip, eyebrows furrowed handsomely, uniform worn with confident ease. He stepped into the classroom, shoulders square, and for just a second, it was like he was a stranger again — once more that lofty, unknowable Virginia princeling.

It hit Adam like a real thing. Like somehow he had stopped being friends with Gansey and forgotten until this moment. Like Gansey would take a seat on the other side of Ronan instead of the one by Adam. Like the last year had not happened and once more it would be just Adam against all the rest of these overfed predators.

Then Gansey sat down in the seat in front of Adam with a sigh. He turned around. “Jesus Christ, I haven’t slept a second.” He remembered his manners and extended his fist. As Adam bumped knuckles with him, he felt an extraordinary rush of relief, of fondness. “Ronan, feet down.”

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