“I could always do home schooling.”
“No way, kiddo. You’re already in your own head enough. I won’t let you become a hermit.”
“Why don’t you let me worry about your father? Okay? This job is a good one. He’ll be making the same as he was here with a fraction of the workload. After you leave for college, we’ll talk about coming back to LA, but I doubt we will. I have a feeling we’re all going to be happier there. Plus, we’ll be by your cousins. I think you’ll find that you have more in common with them than you think.”
That had me sitting up. “Seriously?” The crazy brujos? She thought I’d have more in common with a bunch of crazy people that thought they were witches. I knew my abuela had gifts like mine, but some of the stuff the rest of the family believed was really out there. I doubted they’d see eye to eye with me.
“It’s my fault really. I didn’t keep up with them after your abuela died.” Her voice was soft, and tinged with regret. “But I tracked down my cousin Ana, and her twins Veronica and Carlos both have gifts. They’re a few years younger than you, but it’s better than nothing.”
She had a point. They couldn’t be any worse than the kids at school. Plus, who was I to judge someone for being weird.
Mom stood up, and smoothed down her dress. “I know it’s been hard for you here, but it’ll get easier.”
“Thanks. As you can tell,” I motioned to the boxes, “I think I might be ready to move.”
She laughed. “Good. You can help me pack the kitchen tomorrow.”
Dad popped in the doorway. “You okay, princess?”
I nodded. “Sorry, Dad.”
“Don’t apologize for things that aren’t your fault.” He turned to Mom. “People are clearing out.”
“I’ll be right down.”
“Great.” Dad winked at me. “Get some sleep, princess.”
Mom stopped at the door. “Light on or off?”
“Off.” She was almost out the door when I stopped her again. “Mom.”
“You’re very welcome.” It was too dark to see her face, but I could tell from the sound of her voice that she was smiling.
I lay in the dark listening to the sounds of the dying party. I had been excited about the move, but now I was seriously pumped. Cousins with gifts? This could change everything. But why hadn’t Mom contacted them before? What was different now?
The more I thought about it the more questions I had. And not only about my cousins, but about St. Ailbe’s. And those wolf-dog things. And that guy.
Mostly about that guy.
I rested my head against the window as my father drove. We were almost to our new home. After all the build up, the next chapter in my life was just around the bend, and the anxiety of meeting it head-on had my knees bouncing.
At least Axel wasn’t in the car with us. He and Mom were following us in his Jetta. We’d switched on the last stop so that Axel could eat his grotesque snack of choice. He was more than annoying when he didn’t get his way. Dad and I had much more acceptable munchies in the form of M&M’s and Cheetos in his Lexus SUV.
Neither car was fully packed with stuff. The moving van would come later today, and Mom’s car was getting shipped here from LA. She didn’t want anyone riding alone, just in case we got separated. I was still hoping now that Axel was taking off, a car for me would show up. It’d be nice not to have my parents drop me off on the first day of my senior year.
I grabbed for some snacks, more for a distraction than because I was hungry. I was trying to think positively about the chances of pulling off the whole “normal” thing at my new school, but the closer it got, the more my confidence waned. “Want any?” I held the open bag of Cheetos to Dad.
“I better not. Those things are like crack. Once you start, you’ll never stop.”
I fake gasped. “Dad! You’ve done crack?”
“But seriously. You dare turn down day-glow cheese?”
“Hey, I’m trying to undo the damage I did to myself when I was your age.” He patted his stomach, which was mostly flat. He turned a corner into a gated complex. Although the word “complex” was a stretch. The gate opened onto a dirt road. Vegetation on either side threatened to swallow it.
“What’s the code again?” Dad asked.