Stargazer Page 42

“Is it open tonight?” I said eagerly.

“For tonight, it’s our private observatory. We’ll have to open it ourselves.”

This turned out to mean Lucas picking the lock—which he made look easy. Once we stepped inside, we were in a circular room, not terribly wide but about thirty feet high. A spiral metal staircase led up to the telescope. The open dome meant that it was as cold inside as out, but I didn’t care. Lucas held my hand as we climbed the stairs, and our footsteps on the metal echoed slightly.

The telescope hadn’t looked that large from below, but once we got there, the many wheels and handles made Lucas whistle. “You know how to steer this thing?”

“I think I can figure it out.” I’d never worked with a telescope quite this grand, at least not on my own, but I’d been to an observatory at science camp in middle school and read enough books to get the gist.

Orienting myself—north, south, east, west—I focused the lens on the nearest constellation. A nebula I’d usually seen as a slightly less defined star was now vivid and detailed, almost like in my books. This was better, though; this was real. “Oh, wow.”

“Can I see?”

“The Orion nebula. Look.” I stepped aside so that Lucas could peer into the lens, and I put my arms around him, touched and thrilled by the thoughtfulness of his gift. For one moment I remembered Balthazar, whom I’d shown this constellation last year, but from a view so much farther away. I hoped he was okay, alone at the movies.

“That’s pretty spectacular.”

“Mmm-hmm.” Lucas was so warm in my arms, and already I felt his attention shifting from the stars to me. I wanted to revel in the opportunity to see everything in such amazing detail, but it was getting harder to think about anything but how close we were to each other. If only we could always be this close. I would do anything to make that possible; surely Lucas would, too.

Lucas turned from the telescope and kissed me lightly. I took his face in my hands to kiss him again, deeper this time. It wasn’t enough. I kept kissing him, harder and faster, until my breath started to catch in my throat.

“I missed you,” Lucas whispered into my hair. “Every night I go to sleep thinking about you, except the nights I can’t sleep at all because I want you with me so bad.”

“I know.” I pulled my coat open and guided his hands inside, bringing them up my sides so that I shivered. “Me, too.” Lucas kept stroking my skin, his fingertips brushing the curve of my breasts, and then I couldn’t wait anymore. I couldn’t think. I sat down on the metal floor and pulled him with me. Even as he eased himself to my side, I tugged my sweater open, each button popping through its hole just before it might have been torn free. He stared, startled only for a moment, before he opened his coat and lowered himself over me—

sheltering me, keeping me warm.

Our kisses were more fevered now, almost desperate. What I was feeling couldn’t be said in words. Dizzy and blissful, I let my head loll back. The stars seemed to tilt and spin above the open dome. I wove my fingers into Lucas’s hair so I could keep him there as long as he made me feel that way.

He wants this as badly as I do, I thought. Lucas knows where this is going, and he doesn’t want to stop.

Then he was kissing my open mouth again, and we were both breathing hard, getting crazy. Lucas pushed one of his thighs between my legs.

I put my hands on either side of his face. “You and I—do you want me to—is this going to happen?”

“What?” Lucas seemed to be coming back to me from a very great distance. “Oh. Oh. I didn’t think—tonight—”

“Me either, but I can tell you want to.” I kissed him; he was trembling, maybe with excitement. It was just like it had been at the top of the north tower last year, just as overwhelming and desperate. “Then we’ll really be together. Always.”

“Are you sure?”

“It changes everything—for both of us—but yeah. I am. Are you?” He gave me that sexy, lazy grin that always made me warm all over.

“Absolutely.” When we kissed again, there was a new intensity to it.

Purpose. Need. Then he whispered against my cheek, “Do you have, you know—protection?”


“You know.” I didn’t. “Well, I didn’t bring any condoms. Because I am just. That. Stupid.” Lucas thumped his head once against my shoulder. “I didn’t think you’d—that we’d get to this. I should’ve known better. Every time I touch you—”

“Wait, you thought I was talking about sex?”

Lucas stared at me. I realized immediately that of course he’d been talking about sex; he was lying on top of me, and I was half undressed. It wasn’t like I hadn’t been thinking about that, too—maybe even later tonight—but I had been talking about tying us together forever.

“Bianca, are you—Did you mean—you were talking about drinking my blood?”


“But not just drinking my blood.” His face was drawn and pale.


“I thought you wanted me to—to make you a vampire.” The ultimate gift. I lay one hand on Lucas’s cheek, loving the touch of him. Old dreams of mine sparkled like new in my mind, and for an instant I dared to hope. “Doing that would make me a vampire, too. And then, Lucas—

we’d never have to be apart again.”

Lucas went totally still. “I’d die first. I mean, die and stay dead. Bianca, don’t ever ask me that again. Because that is the one thing in the world I won’t do for you. I’ll never be a vampire. Never.” Every word was a blow. He’d come so far in understanding us, and I thought his old resistance to the idea might have vanished. But here it was, as strong as ever. I felt confused; worse, I felt rejected. Lucas didn’t want what I’d offered or what I was.

There didn’t seem to be anything else to say, and the crazy heat that had goaded us on before had vanished like it had never been. We both sat up, shifting slightly away from each other. My bare skin finally felt the cold, and after a moment I began to button my sweater with shaking fingers. Lucas gently put an arm around my shoulder, but the embrace was awkward now. I’d never thought it could feel weird to be held by him, but it did.

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