Oh, Luke. Stop being so clever. (He’ll explain.)

Being clever has its peaks and pits. Typically, it gets people laughing. Other times it offends those who are, how should I put it, asking for it? (Really, though. Whose fault is that?) Read the below and you’ll see what I mean.

* * *

Just as he was about to dose off, a burst of laughter rang in his ears.

“Get off my back, Dromore!”

In the distance, a small group of kids huddled around one of the couches. A boy in a dark blue baseball cap was on his feet, his face screwed up in anger.

“Or what Woodbird?” asked a black-haired kid with a slouchy stance. His sleeves were rolled up, his hands in his pocket. And whatever he was saying, those around him were snickering. Just then, the laughter got louder.

“Just let it go!”

But as he elbowed the black-haired boy out of the way, a burly kid stepped forward and stopped him like a solid wall. Before he knew what he was doing, Luke bounded over to help. “Why don’t you give the guy some room?” Burly-kid didn’t move. No one did. Instead, everyone stared at him like he was some kind of fungus. One keeper in particular.

“Excuse me. Do I know you?” It was the black-haired kid.

Luke loved a good condescending voice. It reminded him of Stanley. “Doubt it. I’m new here.”

More silence. More staring. Finally, someone spoke. It was the kid in the baseball cap. “Hi. I’m Wood,” he said, holding out his hand.

Luke shook it. “I’m Luke.”

“How old are you?” asked the first boy. He was pale, with clear green eyes, and a chiseled face that appeared as cold and vacant as a statue. Everything, from his layered hair to his sharply pressed collard shirt, however, was impeccable. This kid definitely had money.

“Thirteen.”

“You didn’t just get your key did you?”

“Maybe,” said Luke, not sure what he meant by that.

“My gosh, I thought father was lying when he said keepers didn’t all get their keys at twelve.”

Luke felt heat prickle his ears. “Peachy.”

“So where do you live? You don’t live below the lake do you?”

“What is this, twenty questions?”

The boy ignored him. “Because if I had to attend one of those schools…” He shuttered, glancing behind him at his group who laughed with him.

“Knock it off, Gravis,” said Wood.

“I’m just trying to find out a little more about our new friend here. We all go to Phoenix,” he said nodding to those behind him. “Woodbird included.”

“I’m sorry, I thought he said his name was Wood.”

Gravis slung his arm around Wood and smiled. “Yes, but Woodbird and I have the kind of relationship that allows for nicknames. Just like our fathers, wouldn’t you say?”

Wood squeezed out of Gravis’ hold, rearranging his cap. “Yeah, whatever,” he muttered. A reddish tinge crept up his neck.

Suddenly, Gravis’ eyes widened. “I see you have a silver key.”

“Uh—”

“You don’t see many of those anymore,” he continued. “Shame, really, what with all the bronzes coming into place. Like Woodbird’s, here. Or the silver ones that aren’t truly silver. Dad thinks that if you look close enough, you can tell who’s really got a silver key and who’s got a mix. Yours isn’t a mix, is it?”

“Gravis,” said Wood, rolling his eyes.

Luke had no idea what he was talking about, but answered none-the-less with, “No. Is yours?”

Gravis snaked his hand around his key, hanging on a long black leather strip. He narrowed his eyes at Luke like he had offended him, which made no sense at all. He was the one who had brought it up.

“Of course it isn’t. Doesn’t Dromore mean anything to you? Anyway, you should hang out with us sometime. Not with him,” he said, pointing at Wood, “but with some of my other friends.”

Luke was shocked. And confused. Like Mrs. Hall had just invited him for tea.

“Did you want me to show you around?” asked Wood suddenly. “Because I can if you want.”

And before Luke could answer, Wood was dragging him over to where his bags were. He dropped onto the couch, threw his hands over his face, and moaned. “Sorry, but I can’t stand him.”

“Hard to imagine why. What was all that talk about keys anyway?”

“Oh, nothing. Well, some keepers think the color of your key means something. Not that silver isn’t nice,” Wood said quickly, “but Gravis thinks it’s more powerful or something.” He looked at his own key before letting it fall back against his shirt. “Still, it bugs me so much that sometimes, I wish I had one. Just to shut him up.” His eyes were stormy under his cap. “Stupid, huh?”

“No,” said Luke. He knew what it was like to want something someone else had.

“So, where’d you say you were from?”

*pssst…..read more about Luke and Wood HERE

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