Stargazer Page 34

Was she trying to pull me to safety or into danger? “Lucas doesn’t know that you’re going to burn up.”

“He’ll save me! He’ll come for me!”

She shook her head, and behind her I could see the glow of flame.

“He won’t. Because he can’t.”

I woke up breathing hard and lonelier than ever.

Chapter Twelve

“ROMEO AND JULIET DON’T KNOW EACH OTHER very well.” The words sounded strange, even though I had written them.

“They defy their parents for each other, risk their lives for each other, and finally die for each other, even though they’ve only met a handful of times. It’s a huge love story built on infatuation. Maybe Shakespeare should have let them know each other longer.”

“Everything you say is true, Miss Olivier, but I am not convinced that it is a flaw in the play.” Mrs. Bethany sat at her desk, tapping her fingers against the wood so that her long, grooved fingernails clicked loudly enough to be heard. “Romeo and Juliet are virtually strangers to each other, even at the play’s end. But is it not possible that this is Shakespeare’s point? That the kind of mad, self-sacrificing passion Romeo and Juliet share usually belongs only to the first flush of love? That their mistakes should not be made by more mature, informed people?” I shrank down in my desk. Fortunately, Mrs. Bethany didn’t want to make me her personal piñata for the day. She glanced around the room.

“Does anyone else want to suggest a flaw he or she perceived in the play?”

Courtney raised her hand, eager as ever to show me up. “They acted like there was just no way they could have had sex without being mar-ried, and, hello, not true.”

Mrs. Bethany sighed. “Keep in mind that, despite the bawdy humor in Shakespeare, he generally wrote to suit the morality of the time. Anyone else?”

For the first time I could remember, Vic spoke up in class. “If you ask me, the Bard kind of wussed out by having Tybalt kill Mercutio before Romeo killed Tybalt. They’re all supposed to be blood enemies, right? And the Montagues aren’t any better than the Capulets, if that prince guy at the end is telling the truth. So it would’ve been gutsier to have Romeo and Tybalt fight only because they hated each other. Having Tybalt kill Mercutio first lets Romeo off the hook.” I waited for the inevitable smackdown, but it never came. Mrs. Bethany said, “Mr. Woodson makes an excellent point. By framing Romeo’s murder of Tybalt as he does, Shakespeare loses a certain amount of moral ambiguity.”

As Mrs. Bethany wrote moral ambiguity on the chalkboard, I glanced over at Vic, who shrugged with a look on his face that clearly meant, I just can’t help my genius.

Despite the entertainment value of listening to Vic and Mrs. Bethany discuss literature, I had a strange, hollow feeling all through class and long afterward. In the library, I sat alone in a small chair in one corner, the light orange and gold through the stained-glass window, and kept staring down at my notes. How well did Lucas and I know each other, really? We’d met more than a year ago, and I had sensed the connection between us from the beginning. But the meeting we’d lost in Riverton had reminded me how rarely we’d been able to be together, or to reveal the full truth about ourselves or anything important to us.

What if we were like Romeo and Juliet, risking everything too soon?

Then I remembered sitting with Lucas in this same library, and how the light through the stained glass window had turned his hair to bronze.

I remembered him telling me how he’d run away from home when he was only five years old, carrying a bag of Oreos and a slingshot. I remembered us trying on funny old clothes together in the vintage store in Riverton and flirting in the gazebo and the way it felt when we kissed for the first time.

I remembered him saying that he loved me even though I was a vampire, even though he’d been taught to hate vampires his whole life. And I remembered him lying beneath me, arching his neck so that I could bite down, freely offering me his blood.

That wasn’t infatuation. That was love. If I knew nothing else, I knew that for sure.

Smiling, I shut my notebook and closed my eyes, the better to get lost in those memories. Even if I had to carry on every day as if I weren’t longing for Lucas, I could still be true to him and to what we had together. The time we were spending apart wouldn’t matter, not if I could remain strong. I wasn’t going to feel sad about all the things our relationship couldn’t be, not when I considered all the amazing things it already was. It was time to stop mourning and start celebrating.

My mother didn’t have to alter my dress for the Autumn Ball this year, and I handled my makeup myself, so she had more time to fix my hair. As I sat on the corner of my bed upstairs in my strapless bra and panties, I carefully blew onto each clear-polished fingernail and thought of Patrice, who had given herself a manicure and pedicure virtually every day. “Patrice would be proud if she could see me now.”

“You should write and tell her.” Mom’s words were slightly slurred; she was talking despite having a few bobby pins between her lips. “I bet she would love to hear from you.”

“I guess.” I doubted Patrice spent too much time thinking about anybody but herself. All the same, I owed her a postcard or something.

“I thought maybe you were reaching out a little more,” Mom said as another bobby pin nestled itself near the nape of my neck. “Talking to more of our kind. Now that you and Balthazar are a couple, I mean.”

“I guess so,” I said. “It’s a little weird for me, though. He’s older than I am.” That was an understatement, seeing as how he was practically at the first Thanksgiving.

She shrugged. “Your father has almost six centuries on me. Trust me, after the first hundred years or so, we hardly even noticed.” Mom and Dad made bridging that gap look so easy; I had grown up thinking nothing of it. Only now that I was spending more time with Balthazar did I realize that those years truly made a difference. “Still, it kind of makes you wonder.”

“I know. You have to start thinking long-term—the way all vampires learn to think, if they’re smart. That’s something Balthazar can give you that—well, that Lucas couldn’t.”

My body tensed, and I felt her hands in my hair go still. We were treading on dangerous ground now, and we both knew it. My parents and I talked about almost everything, but not Lucas. “I’m not with Balthazar because it’s a learning experience,” I said quietly. “Just like I wasn’t with Lucas because I was rebelling.”

Prev Next