Hullo, friends! So in preparation for the release of Lightporter, I decided to release the first three chapters of the book here on my blog! I know I said I would post this on Monday, but… I forgot. So for the next three Mondays until the tour starts, you can stop by and read the chapters! If you’re new, you should definitely read Twinepathy first, or you can just try out the second book. Enjoy!
Hello, my name is Albany York, and I never thought I’d see Anvil mowing our lawn. Maybe he makes awesome macadamia nut cookies and “killer” lasagna, but mowing the lawn seems awfully… normal. It just doesn’t seem right for a dangerous secret superhero guy.
Brooklyn and I are supposed to be working on homework, but I’m reading my new favorite book, and she’s staring out the window, daydreaming. That’s unfortunate, because those daydreams keep sneaking their way into my head—one of the cons of having a telepathic connection with your sister. Maddie’s at Keller’s house, since it’s the weekend. I’m in the middle of the climax of my book when Brooklyn straightens, staring out at the yard.
“Albany!” She presses her nose to the glass. “It’s Anvil!”
I look up in surprise. “What?!” My mind immediately starts going over all the terrible reasons he could be here. Did something happen to Maddie? Or Blaze? Or Jen?
“He’s mowing the lawn,” Brooklyn announces, as if it’s the most normal thing in the world. She gets up and heads to the door. “I’m gonna go say hi.”
She’s out the door before I can protest. I go to the window, and sure enough, Anvil’s pushing a rumbling lawn mower across our yard. Not normal at all. More importantly, though, why is he here?
I tramp down the stairs and discover Brooklyn in the kitchen. “What are you doing? I thought you were going to talk to him,” I say.
“I’m making lemonade for him. It’s hot outside,” she replies. By her easygoing attitude, you’d think it was Denver mowing the lawn, not Anvil. I shrug and head outside.
I step out onto the porch and wave to Anvil. He spots me and stops the mower, and I hurry over to talk to him. “What are you doing here?” I ask.
He swipes a hand across his forehead. “I’m mowing your lawn.”
I cross my arms. “Well, duh. But why?”
He looks down at me. “Your mom hired me.”
“Why?” I ask again, getting more frustrated by the second.
“Mission,” Anvil finally says. “Details after I finish.” He nods at the lawn mower, hinting.
I sigh. “Fine. I’ll go help Brooklyn with the lemonade.”
About twenty minutes later, the rumble of the lawn mower stops, and I help Brooklyn carry a pitcher of lemonade and some glasses out onto the porch. Anvil accepts a glass and guzzles it down. “Thanks. It tastes great.”
“You’re welcome!” Brooklyn pours him some more. “I squeezed the lemons myself. I actually experimented with the recipe a little, and added less sugar than usual…”
I clear my throat. “You said something about a mission, Anvil?”
The corner of his mouth twitches in an almost-smile. He pulls an envelope out of his pocket and hands it to me. “Times and details inside. Blaze will be here to pick you up at whatever time.”
I frown. “You don’t know the time?”
Anvil shrugs. “I’m not on this one. I’m just delivering the summons.”
“Hello!” Mom hurries up the walkway and joins us on the porch. “I see you’ve met my daughters, Cade. The lawn looks wonderful.”
Great. I forgot that Mom would know Anvil by his real name, not his IDIA code name. Now I’ll have to remember to call him Cade around Mom and Dad.
Anvil nods at Mom. “Thank you. I’ll start the back in a minute. Your daughters just brought out some lemonade.”
Mom looks at us with a smile. “Good. Come inside when you’re done, Cade, so I can pay you.” She starts to go inside, but I hold out a hand and stop her.
“Mom, I forgot to tell you, we have to study with Blaze later tonight.”
Mom nods slowly, throwing a glance in Anvil’s direction. She knows about IDIA, and so does Anvil, so I could easily say what I really meant: we have an assignment tonight. But Mom doesn’t know that Anvil’s an agent, and Jen stated clearly that our family should only know about me, Brooklyn, Maddie, Blaze, and Jen herself. Understandable. My only complaint is a big one—this means Denver doesn’t know about Ezra.
“All right,” Mom replies. “Let me know how long you’ll be gone, okay?”
I agree, and Mom heads back inside. Anvil finishes his lemonade, gives Brooklyn and me a quick nod, and heads back out to finish the yard. I drag Brooklyn upstairs and pull open the envelope. Because of all the notes we’ve gotten from Blaze about missions in the past three months since we joined IDIA, I’ve learned to recognize his handwriting, and I know instantly this isn’t his. It’s way too elegant.
Jazz and Pop are required for a mission. Please report to Lava Java Café to be picked up by Blaze at three o’clock. Meet me privately when you arrive, as I also have a private mission for you. Do not mention to Blaze. –Data
Jen, of course. I look at Brooklyn, surprised. I’m pretty sure this is the first time that we’ve gotten a note from her. Why doesn’t she want us to tell Blaze about this “private mission”?
“That’s weird,” Brooklyn says with a frown, reading over my shoulder.
I nod. “I guess we’ll figure out what this is all about at three.” Waiting. If anyone ever wants to torture me, that will be the best way to do it.
Brooklyn gives me a look. “Keep in mind it would be best if you didn’t try to find out before then.”
Having a sister who can read your mind—literally and figuratively—is not always beneficial. “The thought didn’t even cross my mind,” I say innocently. But for once, I agree with Brooklyn. I should probably wait. “Don’t worry, I’ll wait.”
I grab my book and flop on my bed, but in spite of how reluctant I was to put it down earlier, now I’m antsy with anticipation, and it’s almost impossible to concentrate. Eventually, I put the book down and force myself to work on homework instead. My mind keeps going over the possibilities, trying to figure out why Jen wants to meet with us privately. It can’t be about the dumpster incident with Blaze last week, since Brooklyn wasn’t involved in that. Sure, there have been a few mishaps since then—maybe more than a few—but I’m able to rule out almost all of them. The only one even mildly possible is the Chipmunk Escapade, and Jen already lectured me about that. The only other reason I can come up with is that Jen has a special, secret mission for us. That theory only makes me more antsy.
Brooklyn makes me wait until it’s almost three before we leave. Anvil’s long gone, and we tell Mom we’re not sure how long we’ll be. I hope we’re home for dinner, because I’m pretty sure I saw Mom’s shrimp scampi recipe on the counter. My favorite kind of seafood ever. But I might have to make a choice: top secret mission or shrimp scampi. Hopefully I don’t have to make that decision.
We head over to the fake Lava Java Café, and since there aren’t any illusions inside, I’m guessing we’re supposed to meet out back. I lead the way into the alley, since Brooklyn hates dark, narrow streets, and I’m surprised to find Maddie waiting by the back door.
“Maddie!” Brooklyn exclaims, going over to her and hugging her. “Aren’t you supposed to be at Keller’s?”
Maddie smiles and wiggles her way out of Brooklyn’s too-tight hug. “I was, but I got a note from Data about a mission. I didn’t know you were coming.” She smiles at me, her eyes bright.
I can’t help but grin back. “We didn’t know you were going to be here, either. Did you get any details?” I really want to ask about the secret meeting with Jen, but I don’t know if I should. Jen only said not to tell Blaze…
Maddie shakes her head. “No, but Data wants to meet with me before.”
Brooklyn looks around and then speaks in a low voice. “Did she tell you not to tell Blaze, either?”
Maddie nods. “Not sure what that’s about.” She taps her mask. “You guys should mask up.”
Blaze appears next to us as Brooklyn and I slip on our masks. He’s frowning, a rare sight for him. Other than that, he looks normal, with his black mask and fudge brown hair. “Ready?”
“Ready as a dragon,” I say with a grin. Blaze said the same thing to me a while back, and I’ve been looking for a chance to use it back to him. But instead of throwing out his patented grin, Blaze just sends me a glare. I put my hands on my hips. “Really? I’ve been waiting to do that for ages. Not even a smirk?”
Blaze sighs. “Ha. Ha. That better?”
“What’s wrong?” Brooklyn asks. “Are you all right?” I can’t tell if she’s concerned or if she’s trying to get more information for our meeting with Jen.
Blaze sighs, running a hand through his hair, which makes it stick out in all directions. “Nothing. I’m just really stressed out, and I’m not in the mood for joking around, okay? So let’s just get you guys to HQ, all right?”
I gape at Blaze. Moody and snappy? That’s something I’d expect from Trav, Blaze’s perpetually frowning teleporter friend, or Anvil, but Blaze? No way. “Since when are you not in the mood for—”
Brooklyn gives me a look, and I close my mouth. Whatever’s going on, I hope it stops soon. I already miss cheerful Blaze. Brooklyn turns to Blaze. “Let’s go, then.”
Oooh, Blaze being grumpy? And a mission! What do you think will happen next? Comment your thoughts below, and make sure to tune in next Saturday to read chapter two!