Today's Reading

"Iris Thorne!" an unfamiliar voice yelled from behind.

I turned, my pulse turning into a drum. Just like there were twoways people treated me, there were two kinds of Elementia fans: the ones who loved the trilogy—and the ones who'd reconstructed theirlives for it. The latter group called themselves Thornians. They wrote letters to my family. They knew my birthday.

And one of them tried to abduct Ryder when he was six. I was sort of relieved to see it was my ex-in-flight boyfriend, the newly redubbed Mr. Nerdy Torso Tattoo, jogging over. "How do you know my name?" I asked, my voice breaking a little as I put out an arm to keep him from getting too close to Ryder.

"Your brother was yelling it. I didn't even know M. E. Thorne had young grandkids."

I relaxed slightly. "I'm not that young."

"I'm crossing my fingers you're eighteen." The guy leaned close with flirtatious wickedness, reminding me of what had drawn my attention to him during the flight. Lanky gorgeousness. The glasses. Blue eyes. Dark, tight swirls of hair. He rested a long-fingered hand on the top of my guitar case. Definitely musician's fingers. Also, it was suddenly quite obvious that I'd been wrong; he was well beyond college age.

Earth to Iris. Walk away, Iris'

"I'm...seventeen." I stepped back, oddly relieved to bump into Eamon. "Have to go."

The guy pulled out his wallet and handed me a business card. "Shoot me a message around your birthday. I'll take you out, and we can talk about the movie, or the books, if you prefer."

Neither, thank you. "I live in LA."

"I'll make the trip." He smiled at the person he thought was me. He walked away. And I hated M. E. Thorne more than usual, which, to be honest, was already a lot.

We walked toward the parking lot, and I kept my head down.

"You work fast, Lady Iris," Eamon said, low enough that Ryder couldn't hear.

"No way," I muttered back. "That guy has the hots for my dead grandma." He glanced at me, concerned. "I'm fine," I added, hoping I looked annoyed—bold and unflappable—but from the way his expression fell, I think maybe my sad was showing.


WHAT DO YOU MEAN "WE'RE GETTING ON A BOAT?"

EAMON STUFFED MY duffel into the hatchback trunk of the smallest vehicle I've ever seen. Its color was rust red, by which I mean that the rust was eating all the red. It also only had two doors.

"We're not going to fit in there." I glanced around the parking lot filled with cars exactly like the one before me. The big, shiny SUVs I was used to were nowhere to be seen.

"Sure you are." Eamon propped the front seat forward so Ryder could scurry into the back. He shoved Ryder's bag in too, smooshing my brother against the far side.

Ryder's delight was palpable. "Hey! These seats are buckets!"

"Did my dad tell you to pick me up in this?" I asked.

Eamon stopped shoving to peer at me. "What would I have to do with your da?"

Good question. I glanced at my watch, exhaustedly disoriented. It was 4:46 a.m. back in LA. In a few hours, the sun would wake up, brilliant and hot. In Ireland, the clouds were cement. Thick and gray. Or grey. Whichever of those words means the color plus the emotion. And it was chilly. Which meant I'd completely bungled my packing. "I... My dad likes to mess with me."

Ryder craned his head out the passenger window. "Dad made us fly coach. He said it was good for us. He calls Iris 'Jaded Iris' because she acts so old."

"That's not very kind," Eamon said.

"Says the guy who called me a mountain troll," I snapped. "And what do you plan on doing with Annie?"

"Say, who?"

"Her guitar!" Ryder yelled.

"Your guitar is called Annie? That's fairly cute." He smiled, and part of me was tempted to smile back. I told that part to sit down and don't even think about it. Instead, I focused on his scrappy hair—I mean, really, it was the scrappiest dirty-blond argument of a hairstyle I'd ever seen. At least it flopped over his elf ears in a way that slightly camouflaged their weirdness.

Eamon held up some rope. "Let's tie Annie to the roof."

"Are you insane?" I cried out.

He laughed, slammed the trunk, and held open the driver's side door, which was actually the passenger door, because the car was inverted. "Annie'll have to ride on your lap."
...

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