“What are you waiting for?” Cerise asked, bouncing on her heels and clutching her purse in both hands. “Open it!”

“This isn’t just another birthday present,” scolded Rowan, standing beside her with his hands crossed behind him, looking for all the world like a serious businessman in his thirties instead of a boy of sixteen. “He’s taking it seriously. Like it deserves. Let him be.” But he, too, was leaning forward a little, watching the third member of their little group – and the brightly-wrapped box on the table in front of him – with dark, intense eyes.

Drake hadn’t taken his eyes off the box since they’d come upstairs and seen it. Oh, his mother had told them Professor Juniper had dropped by, had told them what the Professor was giving them. But to come up here and see it waiting for them, bright green with an equally-bright red ribbon wrapped around it… to read the note and learn that, yes, the Professor trusted the three of them to each take charge of one of the lives waiting within, to go out and see the world and learn more about the creatures that dwelt in it…

Rowan was right, and Drake knew it. It was a big thing.