“D, goodness, why aren’t you at prom?”
Dakotah rolled his eyes while his mom, November, burst into laughter. She continued in mock distress, “Quick, get dressed, you’ll be late for the Grand Promenade!”
“Shut up, Mom,” he yelled from the couch, over the sounds of his music blasting from his laptop.
“Talk that way to me again, young man, and your punishment will be me driving you down to the Landmark Center in a rented tux.”
“You had to buy tickets like a month ago, they wouldn’t let me in.”
November cackled as she flopped into the armchair. “I bet they sell them at the door. The only good thing about all your friends being at prom is that I finally get to see you. I never thought I’d have to say ‘You work too much’ to my seventeen-year-old son. Is SVU on?”
“Wrong channel,” said Dakotah, finally grabbing the remote out of her hands as she switched modes instead of channels. “Here.”
“Thank god,” said November. “I can’t live without my crime shows. Seriously though, I can drive you over there. I’ll buy your ticket. Are you sure you don’t want to hang out with your friends? I bet it’s fun.”
Dakotah made a face. “Phin’s there with his other friends. Val’s got a date. Anyway, I don’t wanna go at all.”
“What about Pete? Should we invite her over for a movie?”
He winced at the sound of her name. “No.”
Frowning, Dakotah twisted his head to see his mom. He could tell from her face she already knew something was up.
“Because she’s pissed at me.”
“Because you didn’t ask her to prom?”
“What? No! I don’t know why.”
He did know why. A couple weeks ago he’d revealed Pete’s almost-boyfriend to be a changeling fey, and the almost-boyfriend had not taken the news well. He’d dumped Pete–or actually, told Pete to dump him after his memory was wiped. Pete had obeyed, and been furious with Dakotah ever since. She hadn’t been to the shop. She stopped tagging along if Phin came over. She didn’t greet him in the halls.
“Vio says she broke up with her boyfriend and now you two are fighting. I think you know why.”
Dakotah sighed loudly to indicate his annoyance at being tricked into a heart-to-heart with his mom. “That wasn’t my fault. She’s acting like it’s my fault!”
“But you were involved in some way.”
The computer screen stared blankly at him. “Well, I mean, yeah, but, like…”
“What did she say when you talked it out?”
“We didn’t talk shit out.”
“Don’t curse. Why don’t you go talk shit out then?”
“She’s the one–”
“I’ll tell you right now, D, that tone won’t help things. That’s your friend. Go say sorry for whatever you did, and then tell her how you feel–like she’s blaming you for something you didn’t do. Pete’s a great girl, she’ll respond to that. And you know she’s home now.”
“I thought I was spending time with you.”
“Come back after. We’ll watch a prom horror movie.”
The night air was heady with the scent of lilacs in full bloom. The bushes covered St. Paul, coloring the streets from his landscaped backyard to his shop and everywhere in between.
Dakotah entered through the back door. The Abe’s house was large enough that he could avoid Violeta and Adolfo and take the back staircase to the second floor. He knocked on Pete’s bedroom door.
She called, “Yeah, come in,” and then sat bolt upright in surprise as he entered.
She wore floral shorts and a tank top with her thick black hair in a messy topknot. She’d been reclining on her bed, eating cereal while The Office played on Netflix.
They both waited while Dakotah closed the door, because her parents could be strict and might kick him out. Then she moved her laptop, set her cereal down, and said, “Get the fuck out of here.”
“Nah,” he said flatly. “We gotta talk. Let’s get out of here.”
“I’m not going into the fey world.”
“Ok, fine. We’ll just take the Lake outta the house. Grab a sweater or whatever.”
She obeyed with a roll of her eyes, throwing on track pants and Nordic skiing sweatshirt.
“Let’s go,” she said, standing a yard away.
Dakotah responded with his own eyeroll and raised the Lake. She got into the front of the canoe without help while Dakotah steadied it. They both took up paddles and Pete’s room faded away.
Behind her back, Dakotah sighed and looked up into the gray sky over the Lake. He’d never done that before, and the feeling of vertigo was so intense he was forced to look back at the back of Pete’s head. He changed his mind about where they were going.
The oppressive silence of his companion and the Lake in general made the trip go faster than ever. Their paddles cut the water until a strong stroke sent them out of the Lake. The mortal sky bloomed over them suddenly, sprays of stars arriving with a wash of cold air.
Pete made a small sound of surprise as they glided from the Lake onto real water. She whipped her head around, but behind her was the bank and trees.
“Won’t the canoe disappear?”
“You should’ve let us out closer to shore,” she accused as she turned back around.
“We aren’t going to shore.”
She turned back around to glare. “Where are we going?”
“For a paddle. My uncle used to take me here when I was angry.”
“Up north. On the rez.”
“Huh,” was all she said, though her head swiveled to take a look around.
There wasn’t much to see from the lake. He’d purposefully taken them to the far side. They’d lived here on and off for most of his childhood, and he had a bunch of family around. If anyone saw him, he’d have a lot of explaining to do to his mom.
Pete stopped paddling and he took them on a slow arc. This far up north the night was alive with sounds of nature, bookended by his paddle in the water.
But he didn’t give a shit about that because Pete didn’t seem more relaxed at all. And despite what his mom had said, he didn’t know how to fix things. What was he going to say, “Thanks for all your help, sorry the fey fucked up your life?” The damage was done; she’d never not know about this other world. Knowing about it was going to influence the rest of her life.
He couldn’t begin to think how it would influence his.
My YA fantasy novel TURQUOISEBLOOD is out now! Get your copy here!
When the dangerous rogue dragon Anya crash lands in an isolated mountain village during a snowstorm, Kiri saves her life. Anya awakens seemingly cured of her madness and in thanks offers to show Kiri the country outside her village.
What starts as a simple pact quickly becomes something more as Kiri becomes embroiled in the intrigue of the royal court and the hunt for a murderer.
Meanwhile, 200 years in the past, Pristina fights to stop a rising civil war.