That Sunday started like any other on Morris Island.
Yelling up the stairs.
"Shelton Devers!" Her voice arrowed through my door like it wasn't even there. "Get out of bed, lazy bones! It's almost eight thirty."
"I'm up!" I lied, burrowing deeper into my blankets.
Need my beauty rest.
But I knew a personal visit came next. My mother does not tolerate slacking.
Groaning, I rolled from bed and stumbled to the bathroom, slapping my Avatar poster for luck along the way.
Toilet. Shower. Toothbrush. My brain slowly churned awake.
I was halfway through a second round of flossing-you've got to protect your gums-when One Direction blasted from my iMac's speakers.
"That's what makes you beautiful." Mumbled, as I dropped into my desk chair.
Hey, I don't care. Haters gonna hate, but them dudes can sing.
I located my glasses-black, box-framed, with inch-thick lenses-and slid them onto my nose. Necessary evil. I've tried contacts a thousand times, but can't pop the little buggers into place. Something about touching my eyeball-I break into shivers just thinking about it.
The world snapped into focus.
An image of the Most Interesting Man in the World filled my screen.
Hiram. Wanting to chat.
"What's he doing up?" I said aloud.
Mouse click. My new avatar-Donkey Kong preparing to Space Jump-appeared as I typed a response.
Donkey Kong: Takeout or delivery?
TMIMITW: Searched level four, but can't find World Breaker mace. Near Coilfang? Need to increase my critical strike rating!!!
"Rookie," I muttered, punching in a response.
Donkey Kong: Defeat Fathom-Lord Karathress in the Serpentshrine Cavern. He'll drop it. Can you handle that? Or is this your first day?
Two cursor blinks, followed by:
TMIMITW: You're a first day.
"Any time, noob." I logged off and hurried downstairs. Drag your feet in my house, you end up cooking your own breakfast.
Luckily, Mom and Dad were just sitting down.
"Don't mind if I do." I snagged three silver dollar pancakes. My favorite.
"Big plans today, honey?" my mother asked between bites. Born in Japan, she had a round face and soft, delicate features. That morning, her long black hair was tied in a thick braid. "The weather's supposed to be gorgeous."
"None yet." Words I immediately regretted.
My mother abhorred idleness. A veterinary technician at the Loggerhead Island Research Institute, she viewed work and fun as synonymous, and was frequently surprised when others didn't. She could strike quickly to fill a hole in my schedule.
"Well, there's a speaker on primordial lipoproteins at Charleston University this afternoon." She sipped orange juice straight from the bottle. Mom didn't stand on ceremony. "Or you could help me collect sea kelp down at Folly Beach. I'm running toxicity tests, hoping to figure out what's been causing the bird population-"
"Let the boy alone, Lorelei," Dad interrupted. Mildly. Nelson Devers was no fool. "It's the weekend. Shelton probably wants to spend time with his friends."
"That's right," I agreed hastily. "Tory asked me to help train Cooper."
Dad is ten years older than Mom, a former dockworker from the Bronx who'd joined the Navy and been stationed in Okinawa. They'd met at a Japanese community college where he'd been teaching computer science.
Nelson was the first black man Lorelei ever met. Crazy. When his enlistment was up, they'd married, then moved to Charleston for the weather. I'm the end result.
Dad also worked at LIRI and had just been named IT director. A position that made him Mom's superior at work. Not that he'd ever point that out.
"Fine." My mother aimed her fork at me. "But don't spend your Sunday playing Call of Warfare with Hi and Ben. You need fresh air."
"Call of Duty," I corrected. "And I won't. Promise."
At that moment, the phone rang. My father scooped up the handset. "Hello?"
As he listened, a frown creased his forehead.
"Who is it?" Mom mouthed.
Dad covered the receiver with his hand. "It's Kit Howard. There's been a break-in on Loggerhead-huge headache for him."
That caught my attention. LIRI was the only thing out there.