Shadow Days Page 1


Home wAs A word witHout much meaning for me, but Portland was the closest I’d come to knowing one. That ended with a phone call, like it always did.

“Morning, Seamus, my boy,” Uncle Bosque said, his voice crackling through the static.

Since I’d turned eighteen at the beginning of the month, I didn’t appreciate that he insisted on still calling me “boy.” But considering that it was Bosque, I had to accept that he likely saw anyone who didn’t possess a stock portfolio worth at least five million dollars as less than a real man.

I rolled over in bed, blinking at the clock. 7:00 a.m. On a Saturday.

Bosque was one of those workaholic types with an unhealthy com-mitment to productivity.

“Hey, Uncle Bosque,” I croaked around the morning frog lodged in my throat.

“Exciting news,” he said. “I’m taking you home.”

I sat up, rubbing my eyes. “I’m sorry?”

“Home, dear nephew. We’re finally going home.”

“What are you talking about?” I rolled out of bed, stumbling toward a laundry basket. I found a clean pair of jeans and pulled them on with one hand while holding the phone to my ear with the other.

“You want to take a trip to Ireland?”

This was the only possibility I could dredge up. Ireland was as much home as anyplace else: I’d been born there.

“No, no.” Bosque’s laugh was indulgent, as if I’d just asked if he was taking me to meet Santa Claus at the North Pole for Christmas.

“We’re moving to the family estate.”

The phone dropped from my hand. I swore under my breath.

“Shay?” Bosque’s voice sounded tinny from where the phone lay.

I scooped it up. “Sorry, I’m here. We have a family estate?” This was the first I’d ever heard of it.

“Of course.” Bosque’s tone implied that us having an estate was akin to keeping a family photo album.

“Where is it?” Now that I was beginning to wake up, I felt the too familiar discomfort, like a rock had landed in my gut. Another move. He was talking about another move.


I closed my eyes. “When?”

“You haven’t asked where in Colorado,” Bosque said. “I think you’ll be quite pleased.”

“Where?” I forced myself to be polite.

“Vail.” I could hear the self-satisfaction in Bosque’s reply. “Think of all the rocks you can climb there. They have these rather large ones called the Rocky Mountains.” He laughed at his own poor joke.

When Bosque had learned a couple years ago that bouldering was a favorite hobby of mine, he’d regarded me with amusement, asking if I planned to try lion taming next. My uncle had no interest in my outdoor hobbies. His only close encounter with nature had been indulging my request for a pet rabbit when I was four. I’d had to give up floppy when we moved from Oxford to Mumbai three weeks later.

“Vail. Great,” I said quietly.

“Excellent school,” Bosque said. “Quite a pleasant town. We’ll have a fine life there.”

He threw around the word we easily, but I was betting I’d be in Vail and Bosque would be globe-trotting as usual.

“I’m sure it will be great,” I said. “So . . . when?”

“A car will pick you up in two days.” Bosque’s reply was clipped.

“And I’m sending someone over to ship your personal effects.”

I didn’t care about where we were moving—there was always a where—it was when that really mattered. When was two weeks before I was supposed to start my senior year of high school.

“Two days?” My voice cracked. “Please tell me you’re kidding.”

The other end of the phone was silent.

I counted to ten, forcing myself to take slow breaths.

“I’m sorry, Uncle Bosque. I guess I was just really hoping to finish up school here.”

“I can understand your position, Shay,” Bosque said. “I assure you the Mountain School in Vail is an exceptional school, far better than your current academy.”

I swallowed my objection, though my current school was just fine. If Bosque said I was moving, I was moving.

Bosque cleared his throat. “The car will arrive at noon on Monday and take you to the airport. I’ll be waiting for you at my jet so we can arrive at our new home together. I trust you’ll be ready for the trip?”

Surprise made me forget I was angry. I usually moved alone, seeing Bosque only in passing if he decided to drop in at my new school.

Relocating to the family estate must really mean something to him.

“I’ll see you Monday,” I said.

He hung up.

I stumbled my way toward the kitchen, knowing I’d never get back to sleep. My mind churned as I attempted to call up images of Colorado. Mountains, skiing, hiking, climbing. I rattled off positives, but I was having a hard time getting past how pissed off I was that Bosque had decided to yank me out of Portland. I’d been here for over a year. It was the longest I’d been anywhere in the last decade.

I had friends. I lived in a cool city. And I was about to start my senior year in high school.

Not anymore.

I found Ally in our common area standing in tree pose, her eyes closed, while the coffeemaker chortled and steamed at her back.

She opened one eye. “You know it’s Saturday, right?”

I mumbled an affirmative, grabbing a mug and sloshing myself a cup from the half-brewed pot.

“Taking me up on my offer to teach morning yoga?” She threw me a wry smile.

I dropped into a chair. “I’m moving.”

She abandoned her serene posture and joined me at the kitchen table. “What?”

“My uncle called,” I said. “We’re going to Colorado.”

“But school starts in two weeks,” she said. “Why now?”

“Why ever?” I sipped my coffee, avoiding her worried gaze.

“This is my life. Always has been.”

“Your uncle’s a real nutclubber, huh?” Ally said.

I cracked a smile for the first time since the phone call. Ally believed in only cursing with newly invented words. After I’d met her and commented on it, she’d replied: “The best thing about English is its inventiveness. There are always new words.