Stargazer Page 54

How can you be so sure she hasn’t changed?”

His eyes were sad. “We don’t change, Bianca. That’s the tragedy of what we are. That’s part of what it means to be dead.” My heart thumped reassuringly fast and strong in my chest. I’m alive, I thought. I’m not like the others. I’m still alive.

Chapter Seventeen

“OTHELLO SHOULDN’T KILL HER EVEN IF HE DOES think she’s cheating on him.” I couldn’t believe I had to argue this. Did all vampires take killing so casually? “He’s not wrong because Desdemona is innocent. He’s wrong because he thinks he has the right to kill his wife.”

“That’s not what Shakespeare would’ve thought.” Courtney flipped her blond hair over her shoulder. “Back in that day, women had, like, no rights. Isn’t that so?”

Mrs. Bethany, uncharacteristically, didn’t take sides. She wasn’t pacing the room today. Instead, she watched us from her desk, distant but amused. “The status of women has changed over the centuries, Miss Briganti, but the murder of a spouse has rarely been taken lightly.” She tapped upon the page. “Both of you seem to assume that Desdemona’s murder is cold and calculated. Before our next class, I hope you’ll both review the sections of the play that deal with Othello’s quick temper.

We’ll also cover how that relates to the question of race in the play.

Class dismissed.”

Everyone glanced around, all of us making sure we’d heard correctly.

Mrs. Bethany letting us out early? Sure, it was only five minutes before the bell, but for her, that was as good as five hours. Slowly, people began gathering their books, like they were waiting for Mrs. Bethany to change her mind, but she didn’t.

I shut my notebook and stuffed it inside my backpack, as eager as anyone to escape—until Mrs. Bethany said, “Miss Olivier, please remain a moment.” She shut the door behind the last student to leave. “Your parents inform me that you will be taking another trip outside the grounds this weekend with Mr. More.”

“That’s right.”

“I allowed these outings in the belief that Mr. More was helping you to assimilate more completely into our world.” She walked toward my desk, her hands clasped in front of her. The thick grooves in her nails seemed darker than usual. “Given your recent behavior regarding the wraith—which your parents reported to me—I doubt that your trips are having the desired effect.”

Mom and Dad told Mrs. Bethany about my latest encounter with the wraith? And it sounded like they had told her I’d been talking to the ghost, too—which meant they knew I’d lied and had said nothing to me, only to Mrs. Bethany. I should’ve expected it, but the betrayed confidence was painful nonetheless. I held my chin high. “I don’t see why becoming a vampire means I have to automatically try to hurt things I don’t understand.”

She cocked her head, studying me with her bright, birdlike eyes.

“Becoming a vampire means accepting that you must adhere to certain rules. We are stronger than humans, but we have vulnerabilities. We have enemies. The rules that protect you from those enemies are among the most important you will ever learn.”

“How do you know the wraith is my enemy?”

“How do you know it’s not?”

I couldn’t believe I was going to end up telling Mrs. Bethany this, but then again, she already knew most of it—and she was probably the only one with answers. “She tried to communicate. She said that we were alike—she and I.”

“How curious.”

“What did that mean? Do you know?”

“When I spoke about curiosity, Miss Olivier, I meant that it was odd that a girl such as yourself wouldn’t recognize that many adversaries begin their attacks with kindness. What better way to lure an innocent off her guard? After your experiences with Lucas Ross, I would think you’d know better.” I stared down at my desk, trying to hide my discomfort, but the amusement in her voice told me I’d failed. “I had also thought that your acquaintance with Mr. More would help you put Mr. Ross more firmly behind you. Perhaps I was wrong.”

“Lucas is not a part of my life.” The words sounded so final. “Balthazar’s been really good to me.”

“How little you appreciate what you have.” Mrs. Bethany walked away from me, her heels clicking on the floor. “You may leave.”

“Balthazar and I—we can still go this weekend, right?” Her gaze raked sharply over me. “I see no reason to change my earlier decision,” she said. “For now.”

From this moment on, I realized, any trip I took away from the Evernight campus might be my last.

Amherst seemed unnaturally quiet. Midterms, I guessed, or just a chill keeping the college students in their dorms.

The first time I had come to the town square, the streets had been filled with celebrating kids, the music and lights an echo of the jubilation I’d felt knowing that Lucas was near. Now the streets were still and dark, and uncertainty shadowed my mood.

“Charity just—came up to you here?” Balthazar walked by my side, his long coat billowing slightly in the wind. “Picked you out of a huge crowd?”

“She knew I was a vampire, of course.”

“With you it’s not that easy to tell, not yet.” I glanced at him. Silhouetted as he was by the streetlights, Balthazar’s expression was difficult to read. “Does that mean I’m becoming, well, more vampire?”

“It might mean that Charity is becoming more perceptive. That her senses are sharper.” After a pause, he continued, “That happens sometimes, when we consume more human blood.”

“You think she might have—that she’s—”

“It’s possible to drink without killing. You know that as well as anyone.” He wouldn’t meet my eyes. Then Balthazar stopped walking and turned around. When I did the same, I realized that we’d been followed.

“Lucas?” I took a couple of steps toward him. He stood there with his hands in his pockets, wearing an old canvas coat too thin for the weather. His eyes looked both distant and sort of sad—the way he used to look at me at Evernight in the early days before he was willing to risk our being together. I’d forgotten that he had fought our attraction in the beginning. “How long have you been following us?”

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