Shadow Days Page 7

“Master Bosque, your guests have arrived.”

“Excellent.” Bosque strode from the room, passing Thomas and leaving me standing alone, still lost in thoughts about what kind of family I came from and how I was supposed to live in this gigantic place all alone.

“Master Shay.” I looked up when Thomas addressed me, frowning at the formal and disconcerting title. His smile was sym-pathetic. “Pardon me, sir. Shay—will you follow me to the dining room?”

I shrugged, trailing after Thomas and wondering what friends of my uncle could be like. A minute later I had my answer: Uncle Bosque had friends that worked as models for Armani. At least that’s what they looked like. I assumed the pair were father and son, but I couldn’t pin down how old the senior member of the party was. His face didn’t look quite old enough for him to be the father of the boy who was clearly my age. They both had blond hair that Rumples-tiltskin could have spun.

Bosque waved me over. “Shay! I’d like you to meet dear family friends. This is Efron Bane and his son, Logan.”

Efron extended his hand. His grip was firm and his smile blind-ing in its perfect whiteness.

“Welcome to Vail.” He pushed his son toward me. “My son has been anticipating your arrival. You’ll be in school together.”

Logan looked like he was fighting not to roll his eyes.

“You’re a senior?”

Logan managed to partially hide his sigh, but not the boredom in his barely polite smile. “Yes.”

I decided to make one more attempt at friendliness. “I hate to admit it, but I’m really dying to start school. Life’s kinda boring without it. Who knew?”

“I heard there was a delay,” he said, apparently not amused by my joke. “But the Mountain School has rigorous admissions standards. I’m sure you understand.”

“Mmmmmm” was all I could muster in response. Logan and I were not cut from the same cloth, and he was starting to piss me off after two minutes of conversation. The hole of loneliness that had been living beneath my ribs started to grow.

“Let’s take our places, shall we?” Bosque moved to the chair at the head of the table. He gestured for me to sit on his left while Efron and Logan sat opposite me.

The moment we were gathered at the table, the doors to the kitchen swung open and a swarm of uniformed staff were piling silver chafing dishes before us. My vision of the Beowulf kitchen didn’t seem too far off. Even if we weren’t an army, they were going to feed us like one. As one by one the lids were whisked off serving platters, my mouth watered. The scent of the food that filled the air was irresistible. My uncle favored a hunting theme in his dining room as well as his lounge; the meal was dominated by meats: suckling pig, braised venison, and roast pheasant were accompanied by sautéed vegetables and steaming mounds of whipped potatoes.

I hadn’t noticed until that moment that I was starving. Since I had moved to food nirvana, I giddily heaped slabs of meat and a huge spoonful of potatoes on my plate until it was full. The vegetables could wait. Logan watched me scarfing down food, his mouth twisted in disgust as if he’d been forced to dine with a Neanderthal.

But Efron and my uncle both looked delighted as I ate with abandon.

Bosque nodded in approval when I gave him a thumbs-up. He turned to Efron.

“As you’re aware, much to my regret I cannot remain here with my nephew.” He gestured toward Logan. “I’m trusting you’ll help Shay get settled into his life in Vail.”

“We wouldn’t dream of having it any other way,” Efron said.

I nodded my thanks at him while musing that pheasant might be the most delicious meat I’d ever tasted.

“The estate is a bit out of the way.” Logan was picking at his own food. “He’ll need a car to get into town and to school, of course.”

“That’s true,” Bosque said. “I’m not storing any cars here at the moment. I hadn’t thought of that when I made the arrangements for Shay to come here.”

I tried to say, “I’ll figure something out.” But it came out as,

“Irmlfugshmt,” because my mouth was so full.

Efron turned to his son. “You’ve been favoring the Lotus. You could lend Shay your Mercedes CL600.”

Logan shrugged and looked at me as if expecting me to melt with gratitude, but I spluttered, “No, no. That’s okay.” I was pretty much relieved I hadn’t spit mashed potatoes on him.

The golden-haired boy arched his eyebrow. “You’d prefer something else? We also have a BMW, if you don’t mind last year’s model.”

I was desperate to convince myself that I’d only imagined his shudder of disgust.

“I’m not really into cars,” I said, trying to figure out a way to get out of this without offending anyone. The offer was generous, but I wanted to feel out Vail and find my place here. Making first impres-28

sions with flashy wheels wasn’t my style. And if townie–boarding school relations were as bad here as they were in some places I’d lived, I knew that driving through town in a brand-new car wasn’t the way to make friends. “I can find something on my own.”

“forgive my nephew,” Bosque said, smiling at Logan. “He fancies himself something of a bohemian.”

“Ah,” Logan said, pursing his lips.

Efron gave his son a chastising glance. “Whatever makes Shay comfortable, of course.”

“Of course,” Logan repeated, studying the steaming slices of rare beef on his plate with disdain.

I was getting tired of being talked about like I wasn’t in the room.

“I’d rather have something that can take a beating. I may need to go off road.”

Logan chewed on his meat, eyeing me. “Off road where?”

“Anywhere,” I said. “I’ll head for the best hiking spots. Sometimes it takes a rough road to get to them.”

Efron and Logan exchanged a glance.

Bosque smiled at me but shot a stern glance at Efron. “Seamus is an experienced hiker. He won’t find trouble. There’s no need to be concerned.”

“If you’re certain,” Efron said. He pointed the tip of his steak knife at me. “It’s more of a wilderness around here than you’d imagine. Keep that in mind when you’re exploring.”

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