Blood Flesh Bone Trilogoy

By: Juliet Vane

June’s Blood - Chapter One

Welcome to Switchback

Switchback, Colorado was exactly the kind of place I would have both mocked and avoided just a few weeks ago. The tiny town had a single cafe, grocery store, and gas station. Its narrow main street probably reflected narrow minds.

For the next three months, it would be the closest town to the old school building I’d be calling home, though, so I decided to get used to it. Besides, it wasn’t like I needed much in the way of attractions or shopping—my job here was to eat, sleep, play, and dream classical music. Distractions, attractions? I didn’t have space for them in my schedule or in my heart.

I navigated my little SUV down Main Street. Switchback was a mountain town that I hadn’t been able to find on the map until I’d zoomed in several times. “Blink and you’ll miss it,” Natalie Frost, the music program director, had told me on the phone.

There was no other word for it. The town was...quaint. I’d thought my hometown in western Colorado was small at a population of ten thousand, but Switchback was tiny. I drove past a burger place, a Thai food place, and a grocery store. Up ahead, I saw the gas station. Maybe there were more businesses on other streets, or maybe people had to go out of town to find other things.

The darkness of night probably wasn’t doing the town many favors, either. During the day, I bet it was downright cheerful. I could picture older folks sitting out at little tables in front of the grocery store, exchanging gossip. Or maybe a cute farmer’s market at one end of the street. But right now, it just looked dark and empty.

I pulled into the gas station. My gas tank was down to the one-quarter mark, and I didn’t like to take risks. If I got lost in the woods on my way to the Rosebud Girls Academy, I wanted plenty of gas to get me back out again.

After filling up the tank, I went inside for the restroom because if lost in the woods, I didn’t want to have to go into the wilderness to pee.

The guy at the counter gave me the classic cool dude head nod. I nodded back.

After using a surprisingly clean bathroom, I went back into the store. The Red Vines beckoned. I might not be able to come back into town for a while, so I grabbed three packs, and a handful of energy bars for good measure.

The guy rang up my purchases, his dark eyebrows furrowed in concentration. Other than his friendly smile, he looked classically “tall, dark, and dangerous.” Although I was guessing about the tall part because he was sitting down.

“Are you a musician?” His voice was deep, and I could hear music in it, threads of melody just beneath the surface.

I stared at him. “How can you tell?”

“You’re not the first freaked-out college student to show up and stock up on booze and junk food.”

“No booze in this pile,” I said, handing him a twenty. I didn’t correct him that I wasn’t a college student. I hadn’t graduated high school yet. The people in charge of diplomas hadn’t looked kindly on all those Fs on my report card. This summer, while attending Rosebud, I’d also be working on three summer school classes so that I could finish high school.

He gave me my change. “So, what instrument?”

“Huh? Oh, piano.”

“I can see that,” he said.

I wondered how he could see it, given that up until six weeks ago, I hadn’t practiced in almost a year.

“Next weekend,” he said, “some of my friends are getting together. We hang out over on the Ripples Campground side of Green Lake. You should come, bring your new music geek friends.”

“Yeah, thanks.”

He smirked, and his deep brown eyes crinkled at the edges. “Was that a ‘yeah, thanks, here Logan let me give you my number so we can plan something’ or a ‘yeah, thanks, leave me alone, local jerk?’”

My mouth fell open. Wow, he was direct. Fine, I could be direct, too. “Somewhere in the middle.”

He laughed. “So, no phone number, then.”

I shook my head and gathered up my snacks.

“Don’t worry,” he continued, “I wasn’t hitting on you. I’ve got a girlfriend, and no, I’m not making her up to save face. Her name is Helen and she’s doing nursing school this summer. She might even come to the party this weekend. The party you won’t be attending.”