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Authors: Andrea Cremer

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Shadow Days

BOOK: Shadow Days
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A N o v e l l a

PHILOMEL BOOKS

A division of Penguin Young Readers Group.

Published by The Penguin Group.

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.).

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England.

Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd).

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd).

Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India.

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd).

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa.

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England.

Copyright © 2010 by Andrea R. Cremer. All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014. Philomel Books, Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Published simultaneously in Canada.

Edited by Jill Santopolo. Design by Amy Wu. Text set in Apolline.

A n d r e A C r e m e r

A N o v e l l a
PHILOMEL BOOKS

AN IMPRINT Of PENGUIN GROUP (USA) INC.

ACknowledgments

Writing this prequel was an extraordinary experience not unlike a relay race — to succeed it required the speed, precision, and skill of the whole team. fortunately I work with an exceptionally talented team of publishers, editors, and marketers. I can’t thank my editor, Jill Santopolo, enough for believing this whirlwind project and racing along with me toward the finish line. The Penguin marketing team is beyond fantastic: Lisa DeGroff, Shanta Newlin, Emily Romero, Erin Dempsey, Courtney Wood, and Anna Jarzab put so much energy and creativity into the campaign, making it shine. I’d also like to thank the smashing folks at Campfire for bringing Rowan Estate to life and particularly to Dan Rodriguez, Brian Cain, Bret Kane, and Charissa Kane for welcoming me into their world. Will Browning deserves heaps of confetti and sparklers for being the fabulously talented and lovely person he is. There isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not thankful for my amazing crew at InkWell: Richard Pine, Charlie Olsen, and Lyndsey Blessing, who are the backbone of all my endeavors. finally, to all the incredible, clever, and creative fans who’ve traveled with Shay from his first explora-tions of Rowan Estate — you are what makes writing so rewarding.

Thank you for helping Shay step into the real world; it is our friends who make us brave and give us the strength to solve life’s mysteries.

This novella is dedicated to you.

one

E

Home wAs A word witHout much meaning for me,

but Portland was the closest I’d come to knowing one. That ended with a phone call, like it always did.

“Morning, Seamus, my boy,” Uncle Bosque said, his voice crackling through the static.

Since I’d turned eighteen at the beginning of the month, I didn’t appreciate that he insisted on still calling me “boy.” But considering that it was Bosque, I had to accept that he likely saw anyone who didn’t possess a stock portfolio worth at least five million dollars as less than a real man.

I rolled over in bed, blinking at the clock. 7:00 a.m. On a Saturday.

Bosque was one of those workaholic types with an unhealthy com-mitment to productivity.

“Hey, Uncle Bosque,” I croaked around the morning frog lodged in my throat.

“Exciting news,” he said. “I’m taking you home.”

I sat up, rubbing my eyes. “I’m sorry?”

“Home, dear nephew. We’re finally going home.”

“What are you talking about?” I rolled out of bed, stumbling toward a laundry basket. I found a clean pair of jeans and pulled them on with one hand while holding the phone to my ear with the other.

“You want to take a trip to Ireland?”

2

This was the only possibility I could dredge up. Ireland was as much home as anyplace else: I’d been born there.

“No, no.” Bosque’s laugh was indulgent, as if I’d just asked if he was taking me to meet Santa Claus at the North Pole for Christmas.

“We’re moving to the family estate.”

The phone dropped from my hand. I swore under my breath.

“Shay?” Bosque’s voice sounded tinny from where the phone lay.

I scooped it up. “Sorry, I’m here. We have a family estate?” This was the first I’d ever heard of it.

“Of course.” Bosque’s tone implied that us having an estate was akin to keeping a family photo album.

“Where is it?” Now that I was beginning to wake up, I felt the too familiar discomfort, like a rock had landed in my gut. Another move. He was talking about another move.

“Colorado.”

I closed my eyes. “When?”

“You haven’t asked
where
in Colorado,” Bosque said. “I think you’ll be quite pleased.”

“Where?” I forced myself to be polite.

“Vail.” I could hear the self-satisfaction in Bosque’s reply. “Think of all the rocks you can climb there. They have these rather large ones called the Rocky Mountains.” He laughed at his own poor joke.

When Bosque had learned a couple years ago that bouldering was a favorite hobby of mine, he’d regarded me with amusement, asking if I planned to try lion taming next. My uncle had no interest in my outdoor hobbies. His only close encounter with nature had been indulging my request for a pet rabbit when I was four. I’d had to give up floppy when we moved from Oxford to Mumbai three weeks later.

“Vail. Great,” I said quietly.

“Excellent school,” Bosque said. “Quite a pleasant town. We’ll have a fine life there.”

3

He threw around the word we easily, but I was betting I’d be in Vail and Bosque would be globe-trotting as usual.

“I’m sure it will be great,” I said. “So . . . when?”

“A car will pick you up in two days.” Bosque’s reply was clipped.

“And I’m sending someone over to ship your personal effects.”

I didn’t care about where we were moving—there was always a
where
—it was when that really mattered.
When
was two weeks before I was supposed to start my senior year of high school.

“Two days?” My voice cracked. “Please tell me you’re kidding.”

The other end of the phone was silent.

I counted to ten, forcing myself to take slow breaths.

“I’m sorry, Uncle Bosque. I guess I was just really hoping to finish up school here.”

“I can understand your position, Shay,” Bosque said. “I assure you the Mountain School in Vail is an exceptional school, far better than your current academy.”

I swallowed my objection, though my current school was just fine. If Bosque said I was moving, I was moving.

Bosque cleared his throat. “The car will arrive at noon on Monday and take you to the airport. I’ll be waiting for you at my jet so we can arrive at our new home together. I trust you’ll be ready for the trip?”

Surprise made me forget I was angry. I usually moved alone, seeing Bosque only in passing if he decided to drop in at my new school.

Relocating to the family estate must really mean something to him.

“I’ll see you Monday,” I said.

He hung up.

I stumbled my way toward the kitchen, knowing I’d never get back to sleep. My mind churned as I attempted to call up images of Colorado. Mountains, skiing, hiking, climbing. I rattled off positives, but I was having a hard time getting past how pissed off I was that 4

Bosque had decided to yank me out of Portland. I’d been here for over a year. It was the longest I’d been anywhere in the last decade.

I had friends. I lived in a cool city. And I was about to start my senior year in high school.

Not anymore.

I found Ally in our common area standing in tree pose, her eyes closed, while the coffeemaker chortled and steamed at her back.

She opened one eye. “You know it’s Saturday, right?”

I mumbled an affirmative, grabbing a mug and sloshing myself a cup from the half-brewed pot.

“Taking me up on my offer to teach morning yoga?” She threw me a wry smile.

I dropped into a chair. “I’m moving.”

She abandoned her serene posture and joined me at the kitchen table. “What?”

“My uncle called,” I said. “We’re going to Colorado.”

“But school starts in two weeks,” she said. “Why now?”

“Why ever?” I sipped my coffee, avoiding her worried gaze.

“This is my life. Always has been.”

“Your uncle’s a real nutclubber, huh?” Ally said.

I cracked a smile for the first time since the phone call. Ally believed in only cursing with newly invented words. After I’d met her and commented on it, she’d replied: “The best thing about English is its inventiveness. There are always new words.

If you’re sticking with standard cussing, you’re not thinking hard enough.”

“Yeah, that’s one way to put it,” I said.

“All right.” She patted my shoulder, heading out of the kitchen.

“Seeing how we don’t have much time left, I’ll wake up the rest of the crew.”

5

• • •

Two hours later my housemates and I were fully caffeinated and wrestling my stuff into boxes.

“I’ll give you my first child,” Mike said, hefting my stack of
Walking Dead.

“No deal.” I roll another sweater into a ball and sank it into a suitcase. “Put them in the trunk and back away slowly.”

“Pimplepus!” Ally jumped out of the way before a stack of books crashed to the floor where she’d been standing.

Sam, my other housemate, who’d been not so much packing as offering instructions to everyone else while he sat on the bed picking out tunes on his acoustic, glanced in her direction.

“Top heavy,” Sam said.

“Excuse me?” Ally glared at him.

Sam grinned at her. “The bookshelves, babe.”

Mike wrapped his arms around Ally. “Hey, don’t insult my lady friend. I might be forced to defend her honor.”

Sam pretended to cower.

“I think I’m better off without that brand of defense.” Ally shoved him off.

Mike laughed and began gathering up books. “Dude, these are seriously warped. Why don’t you get some nice books?”

for a moment I wished I could stop time and stay in this place with these people. I’d spent a week arguing with Bosque over my moving into this house for the summer. He’d been unconvinced that living with real people as opposed to a mostly empty school dorm would be in my best interest. I couldn’t help feeling like I was being yanked away from my friends as payback for winning that last battle.

Mike had made a tower of yellowing paperbacks. “If I put all these outside our house on the curb, I don’t think I could get five bucks for them.”

6

“Leave him alone,” Ally said, offering me an apologetic smile.

“Look at this one.” Mike held up a tattered copy of Arthur C.

Clarke’s
Imperial Earth.

“face it, Mike,” I said. “You have no taste. I’m ready to defend the value of flea market books and the utter genius that is cover art from the seventies.”

“Yeah?” Mike said, handing the book to Ally and picking up another one. The cover had fallen off, leaving the title page naked, so I could see it was Vonnegut’s
Breakfast of Champions.
“Nice cover art here.”

I shrugged. “Read it too many times. And dropped it in a lake once.”

“Maybe if you read books too many times, I wouldn’t have to help you cheat your way through all your lit classes,” Ally said, sticking her tongue out at Mike.

“Don’t I remember you being my girlfriend?” Mike pulled her in for a kiss. “Aren’t you supposed to be nice to me?”

“Not in my contract,” Ally said, but she kissed him back, smiling.

Still wearing the half-dazed grin he couldn’t fight off whenever Ally kissed him, Mike tried to frown at the shelves of Penguin Classics still waiting to be put in boxes.

“Seriously, man. Augustine, Aquinas, Hobbes, Seneca. You haven’t read all this philosophy. You aren’t that boring.”

“Yes, I have,” I said. “And philosophy isn’t boring. If you ever cracked one of those books open, you’d know that.”

“I prefer learning via proxy,” he said, putting his arm around Ally.

She sighed. “I’ve created a monster.”

“An ignorant monster.” I jumped out of the way when Mike tried to sucker punch me.

BOOK: Shadow Days
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