Stargazer Page 3

After I stripped off my wet clothes and curled up beneath the covers, I closed my eyes and remembered my favorite picture, Klimt’s The Kiss. I tried to imagine that the lovers in the painting were Lucas and I, that it was his face so close to mine, and that I could feel his breath on my cheek. Lucas and I hadn’t seen each other in almost six months.

That was when he’d been forced to escape Evernight because his true identity—as a Black Cross hunter of vampires—had been revealed.

I still didn’t know how to handle the fact that Lucas belonged to a group of people dedicated to destroying my kind. Nor was I sure how Lucas felt about the fact that I was a vampire, something he hadn’t realized until after we’d fallen in love. Neither of us had chosen what we were. In retrospect, it seemed inevitable that we would be torn apart. And yet I still believed, down deep, that we were destined to be together.

Hugging my pillow to my chest, I told myself, At least soon you won’t have so much time to miss him. Soon school will start again, and then you’ll be busier.

Wait. Am I reduced to HOPING for school to start?

Somehow, I have discovered a whole new level of pathetic.

Chapter Two

ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, NOT LONG AFTER dawn, the procession began.

The first few students arrived on foot. They stepped out of the woods, simply dressed, usually with just a single bag slung over one shoulder. I think some of them had walked all night. Their eyes searched the school hungrily as they came closer, as though hoping they would immediately be granted the answers they sought. Even before I saw the first familiar face—Ranulf, who was more than a thousand years old and didn’t understand the modern era a bit—I knew who the students in this group were. These were the lost ones, the oldest vampires. They didn’t make trouble for anyone; they sank into the background, studying, listening, trying to compensate for the centuries they’d missed.

Lucas had slipped in among these last year. I remembered the way he’d appeared from the fog in his long black coat. Even though I knew better, I kept searching the face of each student who arrived on foot, wishing I could see his face again.

At breakfast time, the cars started to arrive. I was watching from the hallway of the classroom area, just a couple of stories up, so I could see the ornaments on the hoods: Jaguar, Lexus, Bentley. There were little Italian sports cars and SUVs big enough for the sports cars to park in. I could tell that these were the human students, because none of them came alone. Most of them had their parents with them, with a few younger brothers and sisters along for the ride. I even recognized Clementine Nichols, who had a light-brown ponytail and freckles across her nose. To my surprise, Mrs. Bethany met most of them in the courtyard, holding out her hand as graciously as a queen receiving courtiers. She seemed to want to talk to the parents, and she smiled warmly at them as though they were making friends for life. I knew she was faking it, but I had to hand it to her—she was good. As for the human students, the longer they hung out in the courtyard and stared up at Evernight Academy’s forbidding stone towers, the more their smiles faded.

“There you are.”

I turned from the scene below to see my father, who had pried himself out of bed early for the occasion. He wore a suit and tie, like a professor should, but his rumpled, dark red hair revealed more of his true personality. “Yeah,” I said, smiling at him. “I just wanted to see what was going on, I guess.”

“Looking for your friends?” My father’s eyes twinkled as he stood by my side and peered out the window. “Or scoping out new guys?”


“Backing off as requested.” He held up his hands. “You seem a little happier about this than you did last year.”

“I’d almost have to, wouldn’t I?”

“Guess you would,” Dad said, and we both laughed. Last year, I’d been so anti-Evernight that I’d tried to run away the day the students arrived—it seemed like a lifetime ago. “Hey, if you want some breakfast, I think your mother’s got the waffle iron fired up and ready to go.”

Even though they usually stuck to drinking blood from the clandestine shipments the school provided, my parents always made sure that I ate the real food I still needed. “I’ll be up in a sec, okay?”

“Okay.” His hand rested on my shoulder for a moment before he turned to leave.

I took one last look at the courtyard. A few families continued milling around or dragging in suitcases, but the third and final wave of students had begun to arrive.

They each came alone, in rented cars. There were a couple of taxicabs, but most of the cars were hired sedans or limousines. When the students emerged, they were already dressed in their tailored uniforms, their hair slicked back and shining. None of them had suitcases; these were the ones who had sent their many possessions on ahead in the boxes and trunks that had been arriving at Evernight for two weeks now. To my displeasure, I saw Courtney, one of my least favorite people, waving airily to some of the other girls. She was one of the many who wore dark sunglasses. That meant they were sensitive to sunlight, which in turn meant they hadn’t drunk blood in a while. Dieting, probably, so that they’d look thinner and fiercer.

These were the vampires who needed help with the twenty-first century but weren’t yet totally lost in the changes of time. These were the ones who still had their power—and weren’t going to let anyone else at this school forget. I always thought of them the same way.

They were “the Evernight type.”

By the time I’d finished my waffles and gone downstairs, the great hall was crammed with a throng of laughing, talking students. For a couple minutes, I was jostled around, feeling small, until I heard one voice shout out above the din, “Bianca!”

“Balthazar!” I smiled and raised my hand above my head, waving to him excitedly. He was a big guy, so tall and so muscular that he could’ve seemed intimidating as he pushed through the crowd toward me, if it weren’t for the kindness in his eyes and the friendly smile on his face.

I went on tiptoe to hug him tightly. “How was your summer?”

“It was great. I worked the night shift at a dockyard in Baltimore.” He said this with the same kind of relish that anybody else would use to describe a dream vacation in Cancun. “The guys and I made friends, hung out in bars a lot. I learned how to shoot pool. Started smoking again, too.”

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