“It’ll ruin the surprise if I tell you.” He eased the car out of the parking space. “Open it.”
Wary, I slipped my fingers under the red, satiny ribbon, sliding it off. Drawing a deep breath, I lifted the lid, prepared for something to spring out and sting me in the face.
Then I saw what was in the box.
I opened my mouth.
I closed my mouth.
And then a loud laugh burst out from me as I stared into it, not really believing what I was seeing.
“His name is Diesel,” Luc explained as he pulled out of the parking lot, turning right. “He likes to be cuddled and held.”
“Luc, it’s a…” Another laugh escaped me as I shook my head. I couldn’t believe what I was even staring at.
It was a rock.
A hand-size, oval-shaped rock nestled in cotton balls. And it wasn’t just a normal rock. It had a face—a face drawn by a black marker. Two round eyes that had purple eyeballs. Eyebrows. An angle-shaped nose. A wide smile. There was also a lightning bolt drawn above the right eyebrow.
“It’s a rock, Luc.” I looked over at him.
“His name is Diesel. Don’t judge him for the shape and form that he comes in.”
I stared at him, mouth hanging open. “Was he attacked by Voldemort?”
“Maybe.” That half grin appeared. “He’s lived a very interesting life.”
Slowly shaking my head, it took me a couple of moments to even formulate a coherent response. “You made me leave school early because you had a rock for me?”
“Now, Peaches, he’s a pet rock, and I didn’t make you do anything.”
I gaped at him. I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d heard the words pet and rock used in the same sentence.
“And where was I supposed to keep him while I waited for you to get out of class?” he asked. “The trip to school already scared him since I was moving so fast.”
“I don’t even know what to say right now,” I murmured. Diesel the pet rock smiled back up at me. “Thanks?”
“You’re so very welcome.”
I blinked as I stared down at the rock, fighting a silly grin, because this whole thing was just so stupid and silly that it was actually sort of amazing.
“So, learn anything interesting in class today?” he asked, and when I looked up, I realized we were on Interstate 70, heading west.
“Not really.” I held on to the box. “April was protesting again. We kind of got into it.”
“Nothing much.” I stared out the window. Shopping centers gave way to tall elms and oaks, their leaves a stunning array of golds and reds. “She’s … I don’t know. Sometimes I don’t even understand how Zoe could’ve been friends with her.”
“Zoe has amazing restraint.”
“If you spent any time with April, you’d understand how amazing that restraint really is,” I said, looking over at him.
It struck me then how much my life had changed in a matter of weeks. A little over a month ago, I couldn’t even fathom being in my car right now, going Lord knows where, with someone like Luc, while I was supposed to be sitting in class, stressing over what the hell I was going to do when I graduated. Every single aspect of my life, from the minor to the extreme, had changed. Some were in major ways, and others, like right now, were small and barely noticeable, but crept up on me.
Evie from two months ago wouldn’t dare to do something like this. I didn’t skip school. Hell, I’d been almost too afraid to go into Foretoken the first night with Heidi.
This was an adventure. This was fun despite all the insane things that had happened and were sure to come. I needed this.
I looked down at Diesel and smiled against the sudden burn in the back of my throat. I hadn’t realized until this very moment that I needed this—the goofy-as-hell pet rock and this trip to wherever.
Glancing over at Luc, I wanted to hug him. Maybe do more. Like kiss him. Except that might cause him to wreck, and I liked my car.
“Peaches?” Luc was waiting.
Flushing, I was grateful that for once he didn’t appear to be peeping on my thoughts. “I just want to kick April in the face. That’s all I have to say.”
He chuckled. “Please try to refrain from doing that, or at least make sure I’m there first to witness it.”
Laughing, I let my head fall back against the seat. I saw a sign for US-340 West and, underneath it, the words Harpers Ferry. I repeated them absently. There was something familiar about it. I knew it was a town in West Virginia, but there was something more about it. Had I been here before or heard of the town? “Are we going there? Harpers Ferry?”
“Yeah. We’re about thirty or so minutes out from there now. It’s a small, old town. Famous for John Brown, an abolitionist. When he raided the federal armory in town with the intention of arming the slaves, it basically led to the Civil War a year later.”