Read The Nexus Ring Online

Authors: Maureen Bush

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The Nexus Ring

Contents
  1. Title Page
  2. Book & Copyright Information
  3. Dedication
  4. Introduction
  5. Chapter One
  6. Chapter Two
  7. Chapter Three
  8. Chapter Four
  9. Chapter Five
  10. Chapter Six
  11. Chapter Seven
  12. Chapter Eight
  13. Chapter Nine
  14. Chapter Ten
  15. Chapter Eleven
  16. Acknowledgements
  17. About the Author

© Maureen Bush, 2007.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the publisher or a licence from The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright). For an Access Copyright licence, visit www.accesscopyright.ca or call toll-free to 1-800-893-5777.

This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Edited by Laura Peetoom.

Cover painting by Aries Cheung.

Cover and book design by Duncan Campbell.

Printed and bound in Canada by Gauvin Press.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Bush, Maureen A. (Maureen Averil), 1960-

The nexus ring / Maureen Bush.

(Veil of magic ; 1)

ISBN 978-1-55050-362-3

I. Title. II. Series: Bush, Maureen A. (Maureen Averil), 1960- .

Veil of magic; 1.

ps8603.u825n49 2007 jc813'.6 c2007-901255-8

Available from:
Coteau Books
,
2517 Victoria
Ave, Regina, Saskatchewan Canada S
4P 0T2

The publisher gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (bpidp), the Association for the Export of Canadian Books and the City of Regina Arts Commission for its publishing program.

To Mark, Adriene and Lia,

who played the game in the beginning,

read draft after draft,

and supported me through it ­all.

This is for ­you.

I
knew for sure that something
was wrong
when I recognized the troll. I spun around to look at him as we drove away from the toll booth. He was staring at me with the nastiest glare I’d ever seen. We’d been travelling for seven hours, and I’d already seen him five times. I shivered, and muttered to myself, “This is not good, Josh.” Why was he following us? And how did he get to the toll booth ­first?

Chapter One

The Queen of Saanich

I
t all started with a stupid game.
Mom,
Dad, Maddy and I were travelling home from Grandma’s house in Metchosin. That’s near the southern tip of Vancouver Island, west of Victoria. We live in Calgary, and every summer we drive out to visit Grandma. She has this fabulous art studio where I draw and paint every minute I can. My head was bursting with new ideas, and I couldn’t wait to get home to work on them. But home was two long, hot days ­away.

To make the trip even worse, Dad made us get up early so we wouldn’t miss the seven-o’clock ferry. But the traffic past Victoria and north to Sidney was awful. By the time we got to the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay, it was five minutes to ­seven.

“You might make it on the eight-o’clock ferry,” said the woman selling tickets, her voice ­cheery.

Dad swore. “So much for my schedule,” he grumbled. “This is the worst I’ve ever seen it.”

The ferry terminal was packed with row after row of cars. Dad drove to the lane we were directed to, and parked at the end of another long row. Ferry staff keep everyone in order by time of arrival, unless you’ve paid extra to reserve a spot, which Dad always refused to ­do.

We got out of the van in the middle of the vast parking lot and organized ourselves for the wait. The sky was a beautiful clear blue, but a blustery wind tugged at our clothes. I pulled my navy hoodie over my t-­shirt, and Mom handed Maddy her purple fleece. Dad was cranky because his schedule was messed up; I was cranky because Dad had woken me at 5:30 in the morning; and Maddy was asking, for the third time, “Mommy, when will we get home?”

Mom struggled to brush Maddy’s hair into pigtails so it wouldn’t tangle in the wind. She sighed, and spoke around the pink elastic in her mouth. “Tomorrow night, Maddy. Tomorrow night.”

I could see her wondering how to get all these cranky people home without going crazy. She took the elastic out of her mouth and said, “Let’s play a game.”

“I Spy,” said Maddy, leaping up and down. “Let’s play I Spy.”

“Stand still,” said Mom, trying to hang on to Maddy’s bobbing ­pigtail.

“I spy the seven-o’clock ferry leaving without us,” I ­said.

“I spy my schedule ruined,” Dad ­added.

Mom frowned at us. “Maybe something else.” Her voice dropped to a whisper, and she waved her hands as she spoke. “I know why we missed the ferry. We don’t have the right magic.”

“What magic?” asked Maddy, already drawn into the ­story.

I rolled my eyes. Mom always makes up games. Last year was The Search for Unicorns. Actually, that was kind of fun, but I‘m too old for that now. I’m almost twelve. Maddy’s only seven; she adores Mom’s ­games.

“There are veils of mist all along our route home, and we need something magic to pass through each one. Right now we need to find the right magic to get us onto the ferry.”

“How do we find it?” Maddy ­asked.

“I don’t know,” said Mom. “That’s the mystery. You and Josh will have to search until you each find something that feels just right.”

There was no way she was building me into this game! I leaned into the van to grab my sketchbook and ­pencils.

We walked down the line of cars until we were as close to the water as we could get, near the huge ferry docks. While Maddy looked for something magic, I sketched the islands beyond the ­harbour.

A girl about my age walked up, looking out over the water. She had brown hair in long tight curls, and beautiful warm brown skin. I stared, wondering how to mix her skin colour from the watercolour paints Grandma gave ­me.

She looked up and caught me staring. I turned back to my sketch; she stepped closer to take a look. “Wow, that’s really good,” she ­said.

“Thanks,” I ­muttered.

“The islands look like cardboard ­cut-­outs sitting one behind the other.” Then she laughed. “Sorry, that probably sounds really rude, saying your drawing looks like cardboard.”

I grinned back. “No, it’s okay. That’s how I wanted them to look. That’s how these islands always look to me.”

She smiled, and we stood in silence. Desperate to say something, I said, “Where are you going?” just as she asked exactly the same thing. “You first,” I ­said.

“Pender Island.” She pointed across the ferry terminal to the Gulf Islands lineup. “I live in Nanaimo, but we’re visiting friends on Pender for a few days.”

“We were visiting my grandma in Metchosin,” I said. “We’re going to Tsawwassen.” I pointed at the monster lineup and frowned. “Well, Vancouver. Calgary, eventually.” I ground to a halt, feeling ­foolish.

Just then Maddy bounced up. “Josh, I found some magic!” She held up a white seagull feather. “It’s perfect for our game – it’ll help us fly across the ocean.”

The girl smiled, but I didn’t. “I’m not playing that stupid game,” I said. “And I’m busy. Don’t interrupt.”

Maddy looked hurt. “Fine,” she said as she walked away. “But it’ll be your fault if we don’t get on the next ferry.”

I sighed, then carefully tore my sketch out of my sketchbook. I turned to the girl to ask if she wanted it, just as a man called out to her. “C’mon, Sam, time to go.”

She raised a hand to him, then smiled at me, shrugged and walked ­away.

I was watching her leave when Maddy, Mom and Dad joined ­me.

“Did you find some magic?” Mom ­asked.

“No,” I said, as I watched Sam get into her car. “I was just working on a sketch.”

Mom looked ­disappointed.

Maddy said, “Josh doesn’t want to play. He never wants to play with me anymore.”

She sounded so forlorn I felt bad. I handed her the sketch. “Here’s my magic. I just needed to finish it.” It was almost worth not being able to give it to Sam, to see Maddy’s face light ­up.

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