Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, forty-three weeks, and two days. Or so she thinks.
The boy she maybe-sort-of-definitely loved and sort-of-maybe-definitely hated has dropped off the face of the planet in the face of tragedy, leaving a Jack Hunter–shaped hole. Determined to be happy, Isis fills it in with lies and puts on a brave smile for her new life at Ohio State University.
But the smile lasts only until he shows up. The menace from her past—her darkest secret, Nameless—is attending OSU right alongside her. And he’s whispering that he has something Isis wants—something she needs to see to move forward. To move on.
Isis has always been able to pretend everything is okay. But not anymore.
Isis Blake might be good at putting herself back together.
But Jack Hunter is better.
It seems to me that old people really like to tell you to enjoy your life while you’re young. Said people are usually forty-nine hundred years old and drive Volvos. Not that there’s anything wrong with Volvos. But there is definitely something wrong with being forty-nine hundred years old. This is primarily because having too much experience makes you boring and flat as week-old soda.
Exhibit A: Jack Adam Hunter.
Exhibit B: Immortal vampires, probably.
Exhibit C: Grandparents.
My grandma is the one and only exception to this rule in the entire world. My grandma is tremendous. When I was two months old she took me for a ride in the basket attached to her Harley-Davidson. I’m slightly positive this experience full of wind and exhaust and bawling crafted me into the dashing heroine I am today. Mom and Dad sent her to an old people’s home, since I guess taking your infant granddaughter for a spin with your bike gang is the first sign of dementia or something. But now that I’m in Georgia, we are reunited at last. There were tears. And snotty tissues. That lasted for roughly five minutes. Now there’s mostly a lot of insanity.
“I’m not one to question the validity of doing neat things,” I say as I hand Gran another fistful of fireworks, “but if I were the sort of person to do that, you know, someone really boring and lame and definitely not me, my question would be along the lines of, ‘what the hell are we doing on this roof at four in the morning, question mark.’ At least four question marks go after that. And like, a very concerned emoji.”
Gran makes a tut-tut noise and stuffs the rest of the fireworks into the chimney’s mouth. There are so many I can’t see the dark brick inside anymore. We ran a fuse up through the chimney an hour ago, and now Gran ties it to the huge combined fuse of all the fireworks. She sits back on her heels and wipes wispy dyed-green hair from her eyes, flashing a wicked grin at me.
“As chairman of the Greeting and Farewell Committee of Silverlake Home for the Elderly, it’s my duty to give the girls and guys here a proper sendoff. None of this funeral-procession, boring-priest nonsense. Viola was a good woman, with a lot of love for life. She’d never want a dull sendoff, but her kids are forcing that on her. Even after she’s dead!”
“The horror!” I gasp in sync with her.
“Exactly.” Gran points at me. Her eyes are the same as mine, reddish-brown. Dad’s reddish-brown. “Horrible. The things people do these days to disrespect the dead are just awful. So we’re going to respect my dead friend properly.”
“By stuffing the chimney full of fireworks.”
“By stuffing the chimney full of fireworks,” she agrees. “When the nurse comes by in the morning and starts the fire, she’ll light this whole damn place up! Viola would’ve gotten a good laugh out of that.”
I smile and help Gran down the fire escape. She’s tall and in shape for a seventy-year-old, but she’s still thin, her fingers tiny. When we’re back on solid ground and walking across the lawn to her building, Gran throws an arm around my neck.
“What about your funeral, eh?” she asks.
“You mean the one that is never going to happen ever because I am going to gather the seven Dragon Balls and wish for eternal life?”
She laughs. “Yeah, that one. What would you want for it?”
I muse it over for all of six and a half seconds. “Make-outs. Naked dancing. Maybe a cake.”
Gran smirks at me as we walk up the whitewashed stairs.
“What? What is it? Why are you giving me That One Look?”
“Oh, nothing. You’ve grown so much, is all. You said ‘make-out’ without turning five shades of purple.”
“Yes, well, now I am an extremely mature, responsible adult, and I can do things like discuss the trials and tribulations of adolescence calmly.”