Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia

  I smiled to myself and reached under my bed, pulling out the first book I found. Robert Frost, one of Lena’s favorites. I opened to a random page. “We make ourselves a place apart / Behind light words that tease and flout, / But oh, the agitated heart / Till someone really find us out…”

  I didn’t stop reading. I felt the reassuring weight of Lena’s consciousness leaning against mine, as real as if her head was leaning against my shoulder. I wanted to keep her there as long as I could. She made me feel less alone.

  Every line felt like it was written about her, at least to me.

  As Lena drifted off, I listened to the hum of the crickets until I realized it wasn’t the crickets at all. It was the lubbers. The plague, or whatever Mrs. Lincoln wanted to call it. The longer I listened, the more it sounded like a million buzz saws in the distance, destroying my town and everything around it. Then the lubbers faded into something else—the low chords of a song I would recognize anywhere.

  I’d been hearing the songs since before I met Lena. Sixteen Moons had led me to her, the song only I could hear. I couldn’t escape them, any more than Lena could run from her destiny or I could hide from mine. They were warnings from my mom—the person I trusted most, in any world.

  Eighteen Moons, eighteen spheres,

  From the world beyond the years,

  One Unchosen, death or birth,

  A Broken Day awaits the Earth…

  I tried to make sense of the words, the way I always did. “The world beyond the years” ruled out the Mortal world. But what was coming from this other world—the Eighteenth Moon or the “One Unchosen”? And who could that be?

  The only person it ruled out was Lena. She’d made her choice. Which meant there was another choice to be made—by someone who had yet to make one.

  But the last line was the one that made me sick. “A Broken Day?” That pretty much covered every day now. How could things possibly get more broken than this?

  I wished I had more than a song and that my mom was here to tell me what it meant. More than anything, I wished I knew how to fix everything we had broken.


  Glass Houses and Stones

  A whole catfish stared at me with glassy eyes, its tail giving a final flop. On one side of the fish was a massive plate piled with slabs of fatty, uncooked bacon. A platter of raw shrimp, translucent and gray, sat on the other side, next to a bowl of dry instant grits. A plate of runny eggs, with bleeding yolks in thick white sauce, was the best of the worst. It was weird, even for Ravenwood, where I sat across from Lena in the formal dining room. Half the food looked like it was ready to get up and run or swim its way off the table. And there wasn’t one thing on the table that anyone in Gatlin would ever eat for breakfast. Especially not me.

  I looked back at my empty plate, where chocolate milk had appeared in a tall crystal glass. Sitting next to the runny eggs, the milk wasn’t appealing.

  Lena made a face. “Kitchen? Seriously? Again?” I heard an indignant clanging from the other room. Lena had irritated Ravenwood’s mysterious cook, who I’d still never seen. Lena shrugged, looking at me. “I told you. Everything is out of whack around here. It gets worse every day.”

  “Come on. We can grab a sticky bun at the Stop & Steal.” I’d lost my appetite around the time I saw the uncooked bacon.

  “Kitchen’s doing her best. Life is hard enough lately, I’m afraid. Last night Delphine was pounding on my door in the middle of the night, insisting the British were coming.” A familiar voice, the soft shuffling of slippers, a scraping chair—and there he was. Macon Ravenwood, holding an armful of rolled newspapers, lifting a teacup that was suddenly full of what probably was supposed to be tea but looked like some kind of soupy green muck. Boo stalked in after him and curled up at his master’s feet.

  Lena sighed. “Ryan’s crying. She won’t admit it, but she’s afraid she’ll never completely come into her powers now. Uncle Barclay can’t Shift anymore. Aunt Del says he can’t even turn a frown into a smile.”

  Macon raised his cup, nodding in my direction. “That can all wait until after breakfast. ‘How do you rate the morning sun,’ Mr. Wate?”

  “Excuse me, sir?” It sounded like a trick question.

  “Robbie Williams. Quite the songwriter, don’t you think? And quite a relevant question as of late.” He glanced down at his tea before taking a sip, and put the cup down. “My way of saying good morning, I suppose.”

  “Morning, sir.” I tried not to stare. He was wearing a black satin robe. At least I thought it was a robe. I’d never seen a robe with a handkerchief sticking out of the chest pocket. It didn’t look anything like my dad’s ratty checkered bathrobe.

  Macon caught me staring. “I believe the term you’re searching for is smoking jacket. I find, now that I have whole days of sunshine ahead of me, I’ve discovered there is more to life than formal haberdashery.”


  “Uncle M likes to lounge around in his pajamas. That’s what he means.” Lena gave him a kiss on the cheek. “We have to get going or we’ll miss out on the sticky buns. Be nice and I’ll bring you one.”

  He sighed. “Hunger is such an incredible inconvenience.”

  Lena picked up her backpack. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

  Macon ignored her, smoothing open the first of his newspapers. “Earthquakes in Paraguay.” He snapped open the next, which appeared to be written in French. “The Seine is drying up.” Another. “The polar ice cap is melting at ten times the predicted rate. If one is to believe the Helsinki press.” A fourth paper. “And the entire southeastern coast of the United States appears to be afflicted by a curious plague of pestilence.”

  Lena closed his newspaper, revealing a plate of white bread sitting directly in front of him. “Eat. The world will still be on the brink of disaster when you finish your breakfast. Even in your smoking jacket.”

  The darkness in Macon’s expression lifted, the green eyes of an Incubus-turned-Light-Caster blazing a bit lighter at her touch. Lena gave him a smile, the one she saved only for him. The smile that said she had noticed all of it—every minute of their life together. What they had, they knew. Since Macon had basically come back to her from the dead, Lena hadn’t taken a minute they shared for granted. I never doubted that, though I envied it.

  It was what I’d had with my mom—and now I didn’t. I wondered if I had smiled differently when I looked at her. I wondered if she’d known that I had noticed it all, too. That I knew she’d read every book I was reading, just so we could talk about it over dinner at our old oak table. That I knew she’d spent hours at the Blue Bicycle bookstore in Charleston, trying to find the right book for me.

  “Come on!” Lena motioned, and I shook loose the memory and picked up my backpack. She gave her uncle a quick hug. “Ridley!” she called up the stairs. A muffled groan floated down from one of the bedrooms. “Now!”

  “Sir.” I folded my napkin and stood up.

  Macon’s relaxed expression vanished. “Be careful out there.”

  “I’ll keep an eye on her.”

  “Thank you, Mr. Wate. I know you will.” He lowered his cup. “But you be careful yourself. Things are a bit more complicated than they might seem.” The town was falling apart, and we’d pretty much broken the whole world. I wasn’t sure how things could get any more complicated than that.

  “Careful of what, sir?” The table was quiet between us, even though I could hear Lena and Gramma arguing with Ridley in the hallway.

  Macon looked down at his pile of newspapers, smoothing open the last one, in a language I’d never seen and yet somehow recognized.

  “I wish I knew.”

  After breakfast at Ravenwood, if you could call it that, the day only got weirder. We were late for school because when we got to Link’s house to pick him up, his mom caught him dumping his breakfast in the trash and made him sit through a second one. Then, when we drove by the Stop & Steal, Fatty, Jackson’s faithful truant officer, was
n’t sitting in his car eating a sticky bun and reading the paper. And there were half a dozen buns left in the bakery section. That had to be the first sign of the apocalypse. But even more unbelievable, we walked into the administration building twenty minutes late, and Miss Hester wasn’t at the front desk to give us detention. Her purple nail polish sat in front of her office chair, unopened. Like the whole world had somehow rotated five degrees in the wrong direction.

  “This is our lucky day.” Link put up his fist, and I tapped his knuckles against mine. I would have gone with freaky.

  It was confirmed when I caught a glimpse of Ridley wandering toward the bathroom. I could’ve sworn she had changed into a regular girl, wearing weirdly regular-girl clothes. And finally, when I slid into my seat next to Lena, on what should have been Mrs. English’s Good-Eye Side, I found myself in the Twilight Zone of classroom seating charts.

  I was sitting where I always did. It was the room that had changed, or Mrs. English, who spent the whole period grilling students on the wrong side of the room.

  “ ‘This is a sharp time, now, a precise time—we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world.’ ” Mrs. English looked up. “Miss Asher? How dusky a time would Arthur Miller think we live in today?”

  Emily stared at her, shocked. “Ma’am? Don’t you mean to be asking—them?” Emily looked over at Abby Porter, Lena, and me, the only people who ever sat on the Good-Eye Side.

  “I mean to be asking anyone who expects to pass my class, Miss Asher. Now answer the question.”

  Maybe she put her glass eye in the wrong side this morning.

  Lena smiled without looking up from her paper.


  “Um, I think Arthur Miller would be majorly psyched that we aren’t all so messed up anymore.”

  I peeked over my copy of The Crucible. And as Emily stammered to condemn a witch hunt not much different from the one she had all but led herself, that glass eye was staring straight at me.

  As if it could not only see me but see right through me.

  By the time school let out, things were starting to feel more normal. Ethan-Hating Emily hissed when I walked by, trailed by Eden and Charlotte, third and fourth in command, like the good old days. Ridley figured out that Lena had Cast a Facies Celata on her, Charming her Siren clothes so they appeared to be regular clothes. Now Ridley was back to her old self, black leather and pink stripes—revenge, vendettas, and all. Worse, as soon as the bell rang, she dragged both of us to basketball practice to watch Link’s scrimmage.

  This time there was no hanging out in the doorway of the gym. Ridley wasn’t happy until we were sitting front and center. It was painful. Link wasn’t even on the court, and I had to watch my old teammates screwing up plays I used to run. But Lena and Ridley were bickering like sisters, and there was more going on in the stands than on the court. At least, until I saw Link get up from the bench.

  “You Cast a Facies on me? Like I was some kind of Mortal?” Ridley was practically shrieking. “Like I wouldn’t know? So now you think I’m not only powerless but stupid?”

  “It wasn’t my idea. Gramma told me to do it after she saw what you were wearing at the house.” Lena looked embarrassed.

  Ridley’s face was as pink as the streaks in her hair. “It’s a free world. At least, it is outside of Gat-Dung. You can’t use your powers to dress people however you want. Especially not like that.” She shuddered. “I’m not one of Savannah Snow’s Barbie dolls.”

  “Rid. You don’t have to be like them. But you don’t have to try so hard to be so different.”

  “Same thing,” Ridley snapped.

  “It’s not.”

  “Look at that herd and tell me why I should care what those people think of me.”

  Ridley had a point. As Link moved up and down the court, the eyes of the entire cheer squad were glued to him as if they were one person. Which, basically, they were. I didn’t even watch the court after a while. I already knew Link could probably hit a jumper from the stands, with his superstrength.

  Ethan, he’s jumping too high.

  By about three feet. Lena was stressing, but I knew Link had been fantasizing about this moment his entire life.


  And running too fast.


  Aren’t you going to say something?


  Nothing was going to stop him. Word had gotten around that Link had kicked up his game over the summer, and it seemed like half the school had shown up at practice to see for themselves. I couldn’t decide if it was further proof of how boring life was in Gatlin, or how bad our new Linkubus was at Mortal camouflage.

  Savannah had the cheerleaders up and moving. To be fair, it was their practice, too. But to be fair to the rest of us, we weren’t exactly expecting Savannah’s new routines. From the looks of it, Emily, Eden, and Charlotte weren’t expecting them either. Emily didn’t even get off the bench.

  From the sidelines, Savannah was jumping almost as high as Link. “Give me an L!”

  “You’re not serious.” Lena almost spit out her soda.

  You could hear Savannah across the gym. “Give me an I!”

  I shook my head. “Oh, she’s serious. There’s nothing ironic about Savannah Snow.”

  “Give me an N!”

  “We are never going to hear the end of this.” Lena looked at Ridley. She was chewing gum like Ronnie Weeks slapping on nicotine patches when he quit smoking. The more Savannah jumped, the harder Ridley chewed.

  “Give me a K!”

  “Give me a break.” Ridley spit out her gum and stuck it underneath the bench. Before we could stop her, she was climbing over the aluminum bleachers, down to the court—superhigh sandals, pink-striped hair, black miniskirt, and all.

  “Oh no.” Lena started to get up, but I pulled her back down.

  “You can’t stop it from happening, L.”

  “What is she doing?” Lena couldn’t bear to look.

  Ridley was talking to Savannah, tightening the low-slung belt with the poisonous insect trapped in it, like a gladiator gearing up for battle. At first I strained to listen, but within seconds they were shouting.

  “What’s your problem?” Savannah snapped.

  Ridley grinned. “Nothing. Oh, wait… you.”

  Savannah dropped her pom-poms on the gym floor. “You’re a skank. If you want to lure some other guy into your skanky trap, be my guest. But Link is one of us.”

  “Here’s the thing, Barbie. I’ve already trapped him, and since I’m trying to play nice, this is me giving you fair warning. Back off before you get hurt.”

  Savannah crossed her arms over her chest. “Make me.”

  It looked like they needed a ref.

  Lena covered her eyes. “Are they fighting?”

  “Uh—more like cheering, I think.” I pulled Lena’s hand from her eyes. “You have to see this for yourself.”

  Ridley had one thumb hooked over her belt, the other shaking a lone, borrowed pom-pom like it was a dead skunk. The squad was next to her, climbing into their standard pyramid formation—Savannah leading the way.

  Link stopped running down the court. Everyone did.

  L, I don’t know if this is the right time for payback.

  Lena didn’t take her eyes off Ridley.

  I’m not doing anything. But someone is.

  Savannah was smiling from the base. Emily scowled as she climbed to the top. The other girls followed almost mechanically.

  Ridley waved a drooping pom-pom over her head.

  Link dribbled the ball in place. Waiting, like the rest of us who knew Ridley, for the terrible thing that hadn’t happened yet but would any second now.

  L, you think Ridley—?

  It’s impossible. She’s not a Caster anymore. She doesn’t have any powers.

  “Give me an”—Ridley shook her pom-pom halfheartedly—“R.”

  Emily wobbled at the top of the pyramid

  Ridley called out again. “Um, and an I?”

  A shudder went through the team, like they were doing the wave in pyramid formation.

  “And then, let’s go with a D.” Ridley dropped the pom-pom. Emily’s eyes widened. Link held the ball in one hand. “What does it spell, Cheerlosers?” Ridley winked.


  I started to move before I saw it happen.

  “Rid?” Link shouted at her, but she didn’t look back at him.

  Lena was halfway over the bench, on her way down to the court.

  Ridley, no!

  I was right behind her, but there was no way to stop it.

  It was too late.

  The pyramid collapsed on top of Savannah.

  Everything happened really quickly after that, like Gatlin wanted to fast-forward the whole story from breaking news to ancient history. An ambulance picked up Savannah and took her to the hospital, over in Summerville. People were saying it was a miracle Emily hadn’t been killed, falling all the way from the top. Half the school kept repeating the words spinal injury, which was only a rumor, because Emily seemed about as full of backbone as ever. Apparently Savannah cushioned her fall, as if she had selflessly martyred herself for the greater good of the team. That was the story, anyway.

  Link went to the hospital to check on her. I think he felt as guilty as if he’d beaten Savannah up himself. But the official diagnosis, according to Link’s call from the lobby, was “good an’ banged up,” and by the time Savannah sent her mom home for her makeup, everyone involved was feeling better. It probably helped that, the way Link told it, the whole cheer squad was there asking him who he thought had been friends with Savannah the longest.

  Link was still relaying the details. “The girls’ll be all right. They’ve sorta been takin’ turns sittin’ on my lap.”


  “Well, everyone’s pretty upset. So I’m doin’ my part to comfort the squad.”

  “How’s that going?”

Previous Page Next Page
Should you have any enquiry, please contact us via [email protected]