Recently fired from her job as an Interim Fate, one of the most powerful people in the world, Tiffany VanDerHoven must move in with her mother in Eugene, Oregon. Tiffany finds living without magic hard enough, but high school? Not even movies or TV prepared her for that.
Tiffany has tumbled into "the real world," and it baffles her.
To make matters worse, she can't talk to her sisters Crystal and Brittany (the other two Interim Fates)—except for an hour or so, on the weekend, under strict parental supervision. Parental, meaning their mothers' supervision. Because none of the girls can talk to their father, the Greek God Zeus, who started this entire mess when he wanted his daughters to use their Fateness to get rid of true love.
Tiffany needs to face her future, but first she must decide what kind of future she wants. One with her crazy magical Greek God family? One in the "real world"? Or can she discover the strength to straddle both worlds?
Whatever Tiffany decides will impact not just her own fate but her sisters' fates, too.
"This is a completely new aspect of Greek Mythology. It's light hearted and fast moving and quite amusing. … The author cleverly weaves the myths, the unhappiness and fitting into a normal teenage life with great expertise."– Long and Short Reviews
"Grayson's clever, humor-tinged writing is absolutely delightful."– Booklist
My first day of school—ever—and I'm wearing a pair of blue jeans my mom picked out, a shirt my dad gave me that says Interim Fate: You Better Believe It, Baby all in pink glitter, and a pair of Jimmy Choos (also pink) that I conjured the last day I had my magic. I was going to wear pink beads at the base of my cornrows, but I couldn't fasten them right, and so twenty-four hours before I'm heading to a place my mom calls high school and her neighbor calls hell, I'm heading to the beauty parlor (where no one is beautiful) and getting my locks chopped off.
Now I've got a modified afro (that's what Mom calls it) that only needs a pick to keep up, some glitter eye shadow Mom let me buy at a place she calls the mall, but whose sign out front says Valley River Center, and some matching glitter polish that was harder to put on than I remember.
Not that I ever did anything the old-fashioned way when I had magic. Back then, I'd snap my fingers and get what I wanted. Literally. Sometimes I had to say a spell, and sometimes I said it wrong, but mostly, I was good at magic. So good, my dad appointed me and my sisters the head of all magic for about a year.
Now I've got to be driven places in a car that's older than I am. My mom goes everywhere with me, and she's explaining stuff in this really fast voice because she knows I spent my entire life (except vacations) on Mount Olympus—not the one on mortal maps, but the one where the gods (mages, really) live—and she's a little worried I'm not going to survive my first day on my own.
I'm a little worried too. I'm learning too much to absorb—and I'm the smartest of the three of us sisters. The other two have been farmed to their moms (we all have the same dad, but not the same mom—more on this later), and we used to work as a team. Brittany and Crystal would remember things I couldn't. Right now I don't have my backup memories—one's in New York (which is kinda cool) and one is in Northern Wisconsin, wherever that is, and we're not going to see each other until winter holiday break.
I didn't even know there were such things as winter holidays before, even though I've seen movies about Christmas. More on that later, too.
First, a little bit on now:
I live in Eugene, Oregon. I can give you the street address if you ask, but Mom says I shouldn't go divulging information to strangers unless it's necessary—which I find to be mystical talk of the first order. Same goes for the landline and the cell numbers. Mom didn't want to give me a cell, but she finally decided to give me my own with extremely limited hours. She decided to give me mine after sending me shopping in that so-called mall—three stores on my own before I saw something I liked, and then I learned about this concept of paying. Weird and a bit cumbersome. But most stuff here is cumbersome. A lot of work for very little reward. Which, my therapist says, is One Of The Reasons I'm Here.
My mom's name is Serena VanDerHoven, which makes my name Tiffany VanDerHoven because my dad, Zeus, doesn't have a last name at all. He's like Madonna or Cher—so famous he doesn't need one. He met my mom when she was on some college-sponsored year abroad in Greece, and the rest, as Mom says, is history. Only I'm just beginning to find out about all the delicate negotiations that went on before history could happen.
Mom says that in order to explain things to my teachers and future friends, I have to say that my dad had custody for the first fifteen years of my life, and I lived everywhere (kinda true if you add "and nowhere at the same time") but never spent any real time in the United States. Because of our weird lifestyle, my dad home-schooled me (not true; I learned mostly from my older sister Athena, who hated that we younger kids didn't have much education, so she set up this little temple and…oh, never mind. That's one of those digressions Mom says I can't make), and because of that home-schooling thing, I didn't spend a lot of time with people my age.
I'm having trouble keeping track of the lies and the half-truths—the things I can say and the things I can't say—and, as I said, that's weird for me because I'm the smart one.
Although I don't feel that way as I stumble through the doors of Central High (Home of the Cougars! whatever that means). We have to go through metal detectors, which I recognize from the movies, and which seems kinda strange just for going to school.
Mom's beside me, looking stern, which I've never seen before. She's taller than me, and has that whole world-class beauty thing going for her. If I had to describe her, I'd say she was a cross between Halle Berry and Wonder Woman (see, I know some cultural references) but that description doesn't quite get at the whole I'm-smarter-than-you-are-and-you-better-respect-it thing she can do with her face.
She's wearing that face now as she drags me down this wide hallway filled with badly dressed kids who are, I guess, my age. They all watch me stumble, looking at me like I'm the strange one, when half the guys wear pants that hang off their butts and bag at the knees. Don't they watch TV? Don't they know that's—in the words of Alicia Silverstone of Clueless fame—so five minutes ago?
The whole place is in Sensurround—everywhere something new. You come in the main double doors to more double doors, only this little airlock part smells like bubblegum, hairspray, and cigarettes (which I thought were illegal). Then you go through those doors and the metal detectors and you're in this big echoy room with brick walls and a high ceiling and a lot of glass.
Trophy cases line up near the open window that leads to the office, and hallways branch off each side. Only you can't see all that right off because the big room is filled with kids my age. Some of them are talking really fast and some of them slouch against the brick wall and some of them have coupled up and are groping near the trophy cases (where, I guess, you can't easily see them from the window). Everybody has backpacks except me, and everybody knows everybody except me, and no one looks at me, but all the guys stare at my mom, which is, I gotta say, totally normal.
She marches right up to that window, says, "Serena VanDerHoven for Principal Meyers," as if she's my stepmom Hera (wife of Zeus and one of the Powers That Be) and Principal Meyers is some poor captain of the guard. The woman behind the window, who is clearly younger than Mom but nowhere near as pretty, says she'll take care of it, and we should wait, and we do, and I watch these kids move around like amoebae in that one science experiment I got to do in Athena's temple class before Dad pulled me out to be head of all magic.
In movies about high school, there aren't this many students, and all of them dress better than they do here, except for the handful of losers and the theater club (upgraded losers) and of course, our hero (or heroine), who learns how to dress and how to talk and how to Fit In.
I watched a lot of movies to get ready for this, not to mention lots of TV shows and tons of YouTube videos. So while I'm prepared for lots of drama and tons of backbiting, I'm not quite ready for all this space filled with so many people who haven't even noticed me, even though I'm the best-dressed person in the room.
The woman behind the desk bleeps open a door that almost magically appears in the wall (I say "almost" because once I stared at it, I realized the door was cut into the wall; I just hadn't noticed it before). Mom yanks me through the door, and I trip over the sill, and Mom says something about my Jimmy Choos, which I don't think anyone should say in the office of someone in authority.
Back here, it smells like coffee. Computers run on nearby desks and so do some security feeds, mostly of the outside of the building, which surprises me (there are kids out there smoking and, from what I gather from some disgruntled employee, one teacher). Lots of desks are sprawled haphazardly and there are dying plants on most of them, along with stacks of files and uncapped pens in pen containers. A few chairs have sweaters hanging off them, which seems weird to me, given how warm it was out front, but the longer I'm in here, the more I realize it makes sense, because air coming from the vents is icy cold.
A wood door is open in the back, and on it is a sign that's got to be older than Mom. It says Principal's Office, and since I've heard such awful things from so many movies (or maybe because everything's so dang new), my stomach clenches up like I ate a bad oyster or something.
"Ma," I say, "I don't think I can…."
Then she turns that look on me, that look that says one-more-word-and-I'm-sending-you-back-to-your-father-in-disgrace, which is somehow worse than staying here where everything's so new. (You see, my dad's really mad at me. I'm the one who started the whole you're-an-unfit-parent dialogue in the therapist's office, but I'm always the one who starts conversations, and besides, that day I was really mad [and, according to Megan, my therapist, I was right, too. Like beyond right. All the way to who keeps letting this man have children? But more on that later.])
Mom clenches my arm real tight and drags me through that door into a pretty room (all wood) with living plants and a large window with a view of the parking lot. The woman behind the desk is tiny—not even five feet tall—and pretty in a wholesome way, and as she leans forward, extending her hand, I realize that this little person is Principal Meyers.
Now, if you watch the movies and stuff, you know that principals are either ugly middle-aged mortal men or even uglier not-quite-so-middle-aged mortal women. Their meanness shows on their face, and you just know they're going to be the bad guy.
But she doesn't look mean. She looks nice in a tough, sort of don't-mess-with-me kinda way.
"Take her hand," Mom hisses, like I don't know what a handshake is (which I guess is logical on her part, since I don't know a lot of basic mortal stuff), and I do, and Principal Meyers shakes my fingers authoritatively, and then lets go.
She says, "Welcome to Central High," but she doesn't add Home of the Cougars, so I guess that's not always required. Then she sweeps her hand toward the two uncomfortable looking wooden chairs in front of the desk, which is, I guess, a command to sit, and we do, and she does, and she smiles at me.
"I hear you've had quite the exciting life, Tiffany."
I look at Mom, surprised that Mom would tell Principal Meyers about my past, but Mom shakes her head just enough that I realize she hasn't said a word except the lies and half-truths that I'm supposed to remember, and I blush, which is embarrassing in and of itself.
"Yeah," I say in my best slouchy American manner (even though I know I don't have the accent exactly right), "I guess."
"It'll probably be hard for you to adjust to the regulated lifestyle we have here at Central High," Principal Meyers says, as if my slouchy attitude is something she expected. "If you have any troubles, just let one of your teachers know that you'd like to get in touch with me."
I don't see how come I can't get in touch with her directly if I want to be in touch with her, and I open my mouth to say that when Mom kicks me in the shin.
"Okay," I say, and Principal Meyers thinks I'm talking to her when I'm really talking to Mom. I'm beginning to wonder how I'm going to get through the day without Mom hanging on my every word, when Principal Meyers slides a sheet of paper in front of us.
"Here's your schedule," she says to me. "We've done the best we could with what's open and the fact that you've been home-schooled overseas. We've learned that our overseas students are often ahead of our local students in areas like math and science, so we put you in advanced classes there—"
I look at Mom, terrified. I had arithmetic, thanks to Athena, but real math—like, hello!, who needs math when they can conjure anything they want?
"—and we're putting you in three remedial social studies classes, figuring your American history is probably a bit behind, and—"
"Actually," Mom says, "I think we'll have to redo this. Tiffany will be excellent in things like Greek Mythology."
I glare at her again. Doesn't she know that "myth" word pisses off the Powers That Be? And then I remember that the Powers That Be aren't monitoring my every move any more. I've been demoted from head of all magic (actually, that was me, as Interim Fate) and my powers taken away until I'm menopausal (like, y'know, a thousand lifetimes from now) and no one cares if I say or do something bad because it won't have magical consequences.
And while I was censoring all that, Mom was going on about my schedule and the fact that I need remedial algebra (whatever that is) and basic science and she and Principal Meyers are staring at the various openings on the computer and finally, Principal Meyers turns to me and says,
"Good heavens. What did you study at your father's house?"
I shrug and say, "You know. Basics. Like History of the Magical Universe, and Spellcasting 101-200 and—"
Mom kicks me again, and my blush gets worse. "Her father is very New Agey. You can see why I was finally able to get custody."
The principal looks at her in sympathy. "I should say. Well, we'll just redo this, and let Tiffany find her way."
Then she looks at me and says, "You know, there's a large fundamentalist contingent in this community. While we try to be open-minded, you might want to keep some of your magical history to yourself."
I swallow real hard, then the principal goes back to her computer and I glare at Mom. I mouth, You said she'd have trouble with this, and Mom glares back (probably because she can't understand me) and I have a hunch we'll talk about this later. That's Mom's answer to everything. Talk. Which is better than Dad's, which is to pat me on the head and tell me it'll all work out. If he listens at all.
So they hand me this schedule, tell me I've already missed P.E. (Principal Meyers proudly says they're one of the few schools in Oregon that can still afford regular P.E., whatever that is), and send me off to American History (Overview) which is one of those remedial social studies courses that somehow stayed on my schedule. The principal also gave me a map (!) and a few directions, and Mom waved at me, saying she's going to stay to wrap up a few things—probably clean up some of the dumb things I said—and off I go, into the sea of people I've never met.
All mortals. Of which, apparently, I am now one.