Evernight Page 33

“Yes, ma’am,” I whispered. “I’m so sorry. It won’t happen again.”

“You say that now.” She glanced at Lucas, coolly curious. “We’ll see what happens when Mr. Ross wakes.” Then she swept out to return to the ball.

It was strange to think that, just a few hundred feet away, people were still waltzing.

“I’ll stay with Lucas,” Dad said. “Celia, you take Bianca back to the school.”

“I can’t go back to my dorm room now. I want to be here when Lucas wakes up,” I pleaded.

Mom shook her head. “It’s better for you both if you’re not. Your presence might remind him of what really happened, and Lucas needs to forget. I tell you what—come up to your old room. Just for tonight. Nobody will mind.”

My snug turret room at the top of the tower had never sounded more welcoming. I even wanted to see the gargoyle again. “That sounds great. Thank you both so much, for everything.” Tears welled in my eyes again. “You saved me and Lucas tonight.”

“Don’t be so melodramatic.” Dad’s smile softened his words. “Lucas would’ve lived no matter what. And you would’ve bitten somebody eventually. I wish you’d waited awhile, but I guess our little girl had to grow up sometime.”

“Adrian?” My mother took Dad’s hand and started pulling him from the room. “We should talk about that thing.”

“Thing? What thing?”

“The thing that’s in the hallway.”

“Oh.” My dad got it about the same time I did. Mom had found an excuse to give me a moment alone with Lucas.

As soon as they’d gone, I sat on the edge of the bed by Lucas’s side. He was still handsome, despite his pale skin and the dark circles beneath his eyes. His bronze hair looked almost brown next to his pallor, and when I lay my hand on his forehead, he was cool to the touch.

“I’m so sorry I hurt you.” A hot tear trickled down my cheek. Poor Lucas, always trying to protect me from danger. He’d never guessed that I was the dangerous one.

Later that night, I stared at my beautiful dress, now stained with blood. Mom had hung it on the hook on my bedroom door. “I thought the dance was going to be so perfect,” I whispered.

“I wish it could’ve been, honey.” She sat beside my bed, stroking my hair, the way she used to when I was small. “Everything will be better in the morning. You’ll see.”

“You’re sure Lucas won’t be a vampire when he wakes up?”

“I’m sure. Lucas didn’t lose nearly enough blood to put his life in danger. And this is the first time you’ve bitten him—right?”

“Right.” I sniffled.

“Only people who have been bitten multiple times become vampires, and even then only when the last bite is fatal. And like we told you, killing someone by drinking their blood is actually pretty hard work. No matter what, you have to die to become a vampire, and Lucas’s not going to die.”

“I’m a vampire, and I never died.”

“That’s different, honey. You know that. You were born special.” Mom touched my chin, turning my head so that we faced each other. Behind her I could see the gargoyle grinning at us, like an eavesdropper. “You won’t become a true vampire until you kill someone. When you do that, you’ll die too—but only for a little while. It’ll be just like taking a nap.”

My parents had told me all of this, of course, a thousand times at least, just like they told me to brush my teeth before bed or to get a full name and phone number if somebody called while they were out. Most vampires never killed anyone, they said, and even though I couldn’t imagine hurting anyone, they insisted there were ways to do it that would be okay. We’d been over and over my eventual transformation: I could go to a hospital or nursing home, find someone really old or near death, and do it that way. They’d always told me it would be that simple—ending someone’s suffering, maybe even giving them the chance to live forever as a vampire, too, if we planned ahead and made sure I would have more than one opportunity to drink. The explanation was nice and neat, the way they liked me to leave my room.

What had happened between Lucas and me had proved that reality wasn’t as tidy as my parents’ explanations.

“I don’t have to become a vampire before I’m ready,” I said. That was another thing they’d told me countless times, and I expected my mother to agree automatically.

Instead she was quiet for a few moments. “We’ll see, Bianca. We’ll see.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ve tasted the blood of a living person. Basically, you’ve turned over the hourglass—your body will begin reacting like a vampire now, sometimes.” I must have looked terrified, because she squeezed my hand. “Don’t worry. It’s not like you have to change this week or even this year, probably. But your need to do the things we do will be stronger now, and get stronger all the time. Besides all that, you care about Lucas. The two of you will be very—well, drawn together now. When your body is changing as fast as your heart, it’s a powerful combination.” Mom leaned her head against the wall, and I wondered if she was remembering the mid-1600s, when she was alive and Dad was a handsome, mysterious stranger. “Try not to get in over your head.”

“I’ll be strong,” I promised.

“I know you’ll try, honey. That’s all we can ask.”

What did she mean by that? I didn’t know, and I should’ve asked. But I couldn’t. The future was rushing toward me too quickly, and I felt as tired as if I’d been awake for days. I closed my eyes tightly as I pressed my face into my pillow and longed for the forgetfulness of sleep.

Even before I opened my eyes the next morning, I could tell the difference.

Every sense was sharper. I could feel almost every thread in the sheets against my skin, and I heard not only my parents talking in the front room but sounds from several floors below us—Professor Iwerebon yelling at someone who was trying to sneak in after a night of partying, footsteps on the stone floors, a leaky faucet somewhere. If I’d tried, I might have been able to count the leaves rustling in the tree outside. When I opened my eyes, the daylight was almost blinding.

At first I thought my parents must have been wrong. I’d become a true vampire overnight, and that meant that Lucas was—

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