Monday, September 11, 2000
“Creepy.” Cynara stared at the barn, at the lift slowly lowering the Jeep, at the warehouse they were coming down into. “This is not exactly inspiring any confidence in this Adder’s Who—”
“Addergoole.” Luke Hunting-Hawk was not the most talkative of travel companions, and he clearly didn’t want to be out here hauling her in. He’d been wearing the same pissed-off since he showed up at the motel room door to collect her. “It’s the Addergoole School.”
“—Addergoole School place.” If she went on talking, it might distract her from the mess of this whole situation. “Look,” she tried, just to say something, “running wasn’t my idea, you know. I didn’t even know we were running.”
He turned his glare on her, and she stepped back a step. “I didn’t!” She held up both hands. “We move all the time. Isn’t the first time we’ve crashed in a motel room for a bit, either.”
And suddenly, the glare was gone, replaced by a twisted-lip expression that she couldn’t quite figure out. “I know. Your father… he had the idea, I guess, he could run from his obligations, and he dragged you along with him.”
Cynara barked out a short, bitter laugh. “That’s my father, all right. But I don’t get it. He’s never worked this hard at keeping me out of school before, and how is sending me to a – um. A boarding school?” It seemed nicer than “terrifying hole in the ground” – “an obligation?”
The lift the Jeep was on bumped to the bottom. Luke opened his door and popped the trunk before he answered, and when he did, he spoke slowly. “Your father and your mother made a promise, back when you were a baby, to send you here when you were of age.”
“Not legal age. Just… age.” He shifted uncomfortably. “Before we go in, there’s something you ought to know.” He rolled his shoulders. Cya took a step backwards and looked around. Always know where your exits are. The way they came in wasn’t an exit, not easily. There was a door behind her, though. She could go through there if he got –
He had wings. “Oh! Neat.”
He folded his wings against his back. They were indigo, like bat wings or demon wings. Folded, the claws poked over the top of his head. “You’re not surprised?”
“Well, my dad has antlers. Moose, you know?” She held her hands to either side of her head, fingers splayed. “But I’ve never seen wings like that.”
The wings vanished. “He’s not supposed to…” Luke trailed off, muttering.
“That’s my father,” Cynara smirked. “If there’s a loophole, he’ll find it.”
“Hrmph. Sounds like him.” Luke shrugged, the glower back. “Let me get you to your classes, and I’ll take your stuff to your room.”
“Sure. I mean, I can carry my stuff around, too. I don’t want to be any more inconvenience.”
He looked pointedly at the two wooden chests in which Cya had carried almost all of her worldly belongings. “It’s fine. I don’t mind carrying this.”
Cya gave up. “All right. Where’s classes?”
The warehouse they’d landed in made her expect something equally industrial for classes, concrete-block walls and industrial green paint or something, steel doors and ominous locks. Instead, Luke opened a door into some sort of 1920’s library, with lush carpets and wood paneling.
And, Cya noted uncomfortably, endless halls that seemed to stretch away with no exit. Of course, they were underground. But that was no reason to ignore basic safety.
“Where’s the way out?” For being underground, this place had very irregular heating. She stepped through a patch of icy air into a blast of heat.
“You missed Period One classes, but you’re just in time for two.” Ignoring or missing her question, Luke fished a folded piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to her. “American History with Valerian, that’s right here. All the classrooms are on this hallway, so you really can’t get lost. Once you’ve met all your teachers, you should start thinking about a Mentor. Everyone gets one – someone to guide you through your education in fae matters. First, classes.” He pointed directly at a room. “That’s Valerian’s room. You don’t want to be late.”
She wanted the way out, but he was already stomping down the hall. Cynara hunched her shoulders and walked forward.
This was her seventh new school in four years. Seventh set of strangers who wouldn’t bother to get to know her, seventh set of teachers who would be irritated that she was at a different point in all their units, seventh set of new cliques and new traditions and new layouts to get used to.
And, in addition to all that, it was a boarding school. Her father had finally “sent her away to school.”
Right. Chin up, smile on, never let ‘em see you bleed. Cynara forced herself to put her shoulders back and walked into the History class as if she belonged there.
By the time she stumbled out of History – nobody had said anything about her being new except the teacher; nobody except the teacher had gotten a word in edgewise – Cynara was over the new-school nerves and onto an entirely different set of insecurities. That class had been hard. She couldn’t remember the last time a class had really been difficult.
“Hey. I haven’t seen you before. Been hiding?”
There was suddenly a guy standing in front of Cynara, smiling down at her. Jock? Not football or hockey, track or swimming maybe. He wasn’t bulky enough for football. He had a nice smile, nice sandy-blond hair, and really nice eyes. And he was aiming all of that at her.
“Hiding?” Oh! “Oh, no, I just got here.” She pulled her schedule from the front of her backpack. “I’m Cynara. Cya. I’m supposed to be in…” She checked her schedule. “PE right now.”
“Just got here. Funny.” He smirked at her. “Right, if you want me to show you to PE, I don’t mind playing along.”
Cynara cleared her throat. Really? Really? “I’m not lying.”
“Honey, it’s a cute story, but people don’t just transfer into Addergoole.”
“Except when they do.” Another guy stepped into their conversation. Was this school absolutely filled with gorgeous men? This one was pale-skinned, so pale it looked fake, with dark eyes and a charming smile. “If you have PE next, I believe you’re new. I would have noticed someone as pretty as you by now.”
There were lots of pretty people in Addergoole – not just the hunks; Cynara had seen quite a few stunning girls, too. “Oh, I probably don’t stand out. Not here, that’s for sure.”
“Nonsense. You’re beautiful.” He bowed over her hand in an old-fashioned gesture. “And, as I am going to PE, might I walk you?”
“Dysmas,” the first guy complained. But the gentleman just smiled, closed-mouthed.
“Rand,” he mocked. “And now that we’ve introduced each other, miss, you would be?”
He hadn’t released her hand. Cynara didn’t feel like taking it back. “Cya. Nice to meet you… Dysmas.”