Shadowland (The Mediator #1) by Meg Cabot

Chapter One

They told me there’d be palm trees.

I didn’t believe them, but that’s what they told me. They told me I’d be able to see them from the plane.

Oh, I know they have palm trees in southern California. I mean, I’m not a complete moron. I’ve watched 90210, and everything. But I was moving to northern California. I didn’t expect to see palm trees in northern California. Not after my mom told me not to give away all my sweaters.

“Oh, no,” my mom had said. “You’ll need them. Your coats, too. It can get cold there. Not as cold as New York, maybe, but pretty chilly.”

Which was why I wore my black leather motorcycle jacket on the plane. I could have shipped it, I guess, with the rest of my stuff, but it kind of made me feel better to wear it.

So there I was, sitting on the plane in a black leather motorcycle jacket, seeing these palm trees through the window as we landed. And I thought, Great. Black leather and palm trees. Already I’m fitting in, just like I knew I would….

…Not.

My mom isn’t particularly fond of my leather jacket, but I swear I didn’t wear it to make her mad, or anything. I’m not resentful of the fact that she decided to marry a guy who lives three thousand miles away, forcing me to leave school in the middle of my sophomore year; abandon the best—and pretty much only—friend I’ve had since kindergarten; leave the city I’ve been living in for all of my sixteen years.

Oh, no. I’m not a bit resentful.

The thing is, I really do like Andy, my new step-dad. He’s good for my mom. He makes her happy. And he’s very nice to me.

It’s just this moving-to-California thing that bugs me.

Oh, and did I mention Andy’s three other kids?

They were all there to greet me when I got off the plane. My mom, Andy, and Andy’s three sons. Sleepy, Dopey, and Doc, I call them. They’re my new stepbrothers.

“Susie!” Even if I hadn’t heard my mom squealing my name as I walked through the gate, I wouldn’t have missed them—my new family. Andy was making his two youngest boys hold up this big sign that said WELCOME HOME, SUSANNAH! Everybody getting off my flight was walking by it, going, “Aw, look how cute,” to their travel companions, and smiling at me in this sickening way.

Oh, yeah. I’m fitting in. I’m fitting in just great.

“Okay,” I said, walking up to my new family fast. “You can put the sign down now.”

But my mom was too busy hugging me to pay any attention. “Oh, Susie!” she kept saying. I hate when anybody but my mom calls me Susie, so I shot the boys this mean look over her shoulder, just in case they were getting any big ideas. They just kept grinning at me from over the stupid sign, Dopey because he’s too dumb to know any better, Doc because—well, I guess because he might have been glad to see me. Doc’s weird that way. Sleepy, the oldest, just stood there, looking…well, sleepy.

“How was your flight, kiddo?” Andy took my bag off my shoulder, and put it on his own. He seemed surprised by how heavy it was, and went, “Whoa, what’ve you got in here, anyway? You know it’s a felony to smuggle New York City fire hydrants across state lines.”

I smiled at him. Andy’s this really big goof, but he’s a nice big goof. He wouldn’t have the slightest idea what constitutes a felony in the state of New York since he’s only been there, like, five times. Which was, incidentally, exactly how many visits it took him to convince my mother to marry him.

“It’s not a fire hydrant,” I said. “It’s a parking meter. And I have four more bags.”

“Four?” Andy pretended he was shocked. “What do you think you’re doing, moving in or something?”

Did I mention that Andy thinks he’s a comedian? He’s not. He’s a carpenter.

“Suze,” Doc said, all enthusiastically. “Suze, did you notice that as you were landing, the tail of the plane kicked up a little? That was from an updraft. It’s caused when a mass moving at a considerable rate of speed encounters a counter-blowing wind velocity of equal or greater strength.”

Doc, Andy’s youngest kid, is twelve, but he’s going on about forty. He spent almost the entire wedding reception telling me about alien cattle mutilation, and how Area 51 is just this big cover-up by the American government, which doesn’t want us to know that We Are Not Alone.

“Oh, Susie,” my mom kept saying. “I’m so glad you’re here. You’re just going to love the house. It just didn’t feel like home at first, but now that you’re here…Oh, and wait until you’ve seen your room. Andy’s fixed it up so nice….”

Andy and my mom spent weeks before they got married looking for a house big enough for all four kids to have their own rooms. They finally settled on this huge house in the hills of Carmel, which they’d only been able to afford because they’d bought it in this completely wretched state, and this construction company Andy does a lot of work for fixed it up at this big discount rate. My mom has been going on for days about my room, which she keeps swearing is the nicest one in the house.

“The view!” she kept saying. “An ocean view from the big bay window in your room! Oh, Suze, you’re going to love it.”

I was sure I was going to love it. About as much as I was going to love giving up bagels for alfalfa sprouts, and the subway for surfing, and all that sort of stuff.

For some reason, Dopey opened his mouth, and went, “Do you like the sign?” in that stupid voice of his. I can’t believe he’s my age. He’s on the school wrestling team, though, so what can you expect? All he ever thinks about, from what I could tell when I had to sit next to him at the wedding reception—I had to sit between him and Doc, so you can imagine how the conversation just flowed—is choke holds and body-building protein shakes.

“Yeah, great sign,” I said, yanking it out of his meaty hands, and holding it so that the lettering faced the floor. “Can we go? I wanna pick up my bags before someone else does.”

“Oh, right,” my mom said. She gave me one last hug. “Oh, I’m just so glad to see you! You look so great….” And then, even though you could tell she didn’t want to say it, she went ahead and said it anyway, in a low voice, so no one else could hear: “Thought I’ve talked to you before about that jacket, Suze. And I thought you were throwing those jeans away.”

I was wearing my oldest jeans, the ones with the holes in the knees. They went really well with my black silk T and my zip-up ankle boots. The jeans and boots, coupled with my black leather motorcycle jacket and my Army-Navy surplus shoulder bag, made me look like a teen runaway in a made-for-TV movie.

But hey, when you’re flying for eight hours across the country, you want to be comfortable.

I said that, and my mom just rolled her eyes and dropped it. That’s the good thing about my mom. She doesn’t harp, like other moms do. Sleepy, Dopey, and Doc have no idea how lucky they are.

“All right,” she said, instead. “Let’s get your bags.” Then, raising her voice, she called, “Jake, come on. We’re going to get Suze’s bags.”

She had to call Sleepy by name, since he looked as if he had fallen asleep standing up. I asked my mother once if Jake, who is a senior in high school, has narcolepsy, or possibly a drug habit, and she was like, “No, why would you say that?” Like the guy doesn’t just stand there blinking all the time, never saying a word to anyone.

Wait, that’s not true. He did say something to me, once. Once he said, “Hey, are you in a gang?” He asked me that at the wedding, when he caught me standing outside with my leather jacket on over my maid of honor’s dress, sneaking a cigarette.

Give me a break, all right? It was my first and only cigarette ever. I was under a lot of stress at the time. I was worried my mom was going to marry this guy and move to California and forget all about me. I swear I haven’t smoked a single cigarette since.

And don’t get me wrong about Jake. At six foot one, with the same shaggy blond hair and twinkly blue eyes as his dad, he’s what my best friend Gina would call a hottie. But he’s not the shiniest rock in the rock garden, if you know what I mean.

Recommended
  • Stephenie Meyer: Twilight (Twilight #1)
  • Stephenie Meyer: Midnight Sun (Twilight #1.5)
  • Stephenie Meyer: New Moon (Twilight #2)
  • Stephenie Meyer: Eclipse (Twilight #3)
  • Stephenie Meyer: Breaking Dawn (Twilight #4)
  • Gayle Forman: Just One Day (Just One Day #1)
  • Gayle Forman: Just One Year (Just One Day #2)
  • Gayle Forman: Sisters in Sanity
  • Charlaine Harris: Midnight Crossroad (Midnight, Texas #1)
  • E.L. James: Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)
  • E.L. James: Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)
  • E.L. James: Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)
  • Abbi Glines: Fallen Too Far (Rosemary Beach #1)
  • Abbi Glines: Never Too Far (Rosemary Beach #2)
  • Abbi Glines: Forever Too Far (Rosemary Beach #3)
  • Abbi Glines: Rush Too Far (Rosemary Beach #4)
  • Abbi Glines: Breathe (Sea Breeze #1)
  • Abbi Glines: Because of Low (Sea Breeze #2)
  • Abbi Glines: Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)
  • Abbi Glines: Simple Perfection (Perfection #2)
  • Top Books
  • E.L. James: Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shad
  • Elle Kennedy: The Deal (Off-Campus #1)
  • C.L. Wilson: The Winter King (Weathermages o
  • J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Chamber of
  • Mariana Zapata: Under Locke
  • Jane Harvey-Berrick: Dangerous to Know & Love
  • Elle Kennedy: The Score (Off-Campus #3)
  • E.L. James: Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shade
  • Jeaniene Frost: One Foot in the Grave (Night Hu
  • J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Deathly Ha
  • Olivia Thorne: All That He Wants (The Billiona
  • Grace Draven: Radiance (Wraith Kings #1)
  • Olivia Thorne: All That He Loves (The Billiona
  • Tara Sue Me: The Submissive (The Submissive
  • Loretta Chase: Dukes Prefer Blondes (The Dress
  • Tiffany Reisz: The Saint (The Original Sinners
  • L.A. Casey: Ryder (Slater Brothers #4)
  • E.L. James: Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Sha
  • Tiffany Reisz: The Siren (The Original Sinners
  • J.D. Robb: Immortal in Death (In Death #3)