Stargazer Page 58

Maybe it was my disgust at the idea of cremation. Maybe it was my own confused feelings about watching Courtney die—I’d never liked her, but I’d never have wished for her to be murdered. Maybe it was the tension of nearly having our cover blown, then having it saved in the worst possible way. Maybe it was watching Balthazar look so lost. Maybe it was anger at myself for my foolish belief in Charity’s goodness.

Maybe it was months of separation finally taking their toll.

Whatever it was about that moment, it made something inside me snap.

“Burn her up. Burn her up.” I wheeled toward Lucas, so angry that I shook. “You don’t even think of her as a person, do you? Because vampires aren’t people! Not to you!”

“Whoa, whoa—that’s not what I said.” Lucas held up his hands. “It’s only cremation, Bianca.”

“It’s not only cremation, not to you. You think vampires aren’t like other people, and so you think it’s fine to treat them however you want.

You could’ve killed Courtney yourself. You could’ve killed Balthazar. If we hadn’t met at Evernight, you might even have killed me someday.

You wouldn’t have thought twice about it, would you?” Lucas couldn’t stand being yelled at like that. I could see the last remnants of his self-control incinerate as his temper took over. “Well, you think vampires never, ever hurt anybody, even though every single one of you is hardwired to drink blood and to kill! Even after Erich!

Even after this! What the hell is that about, Bianca? I’ve tried to make you see the truth, but you won’t see anything you don’t want to see.” Quietly, from beside us, Balthazar said, “I’m going to go get the car, bring it around.” We ignored him.

“You’re still in Black Cross,” I said, shaking with rage. “Still, more than a year after you found out that I’m a vampire, too. You talked about leaving, but that’s all it is, isn’t it? Just talk! Am I the only one who has to change? The one who has to give everything up?”

“What have you given up, Bianca? You haven’t left Evernight. You haven’t stopped planning on becoming a vampire. You get to be your parents’ perfect daughter and Balthazar’s perfect girlfriend and keep me on the side where it’s convenient for you.”

“Convenient? You think anything about this is convenient?”

“You looked pretty comfortable with the situation earlier tonight.” He was referring to my walking beside Balthazar. Something as simple as a stroll had turned into ammunition to be used against me. Tears had begun to sting my eyes. “I should have known. You never stopped hating vampires. That made it inevitable that someday—someday you’d hate me.”

Lucas looked like he’d been punched in the gut. “Bianca—God, please, you know I don’t hate you.”

“Maybe you don’t now, but you will.” My throat tightened so much that it hurt to talk. “I don’t know why I ever thought this would work.”


“Go away. Just go.”

“I’m not leaving you alone here.”

“Balthazar will be back with the car any second.” Lucas’s expression hardened. “I guess Balthazar takes real good care of you. Don’t need my help anymore.”

“No.” My voice broke on the word, but he believed me anyway.

“Fine.” Lucas stalked off into the darkness. He walked the opposite direction from Charity, so I knew he wasn’t on the hunt, but he vanished into the dark as quickly as she had. I was alone.

Did we just break up? Did I just dump Lucas?

I thought so, but I wasn’t sure. Somehow not knowing for absolute sure made it even worse. But we hadn’t figured out where or how to see each other again—which meant I might not ever be able to find him again. If he didn’t come after me, we’d never see each other after tonight. I leaned against the minivan and started to cry. Then I thought it was incredibly petty of me, crying over my breakup while Courtney was lying dead at my feet, but that only made me sob harder.

It seemed like eternity before Balthazar pulled up in the car, though really it couldn’t have been even ten minutes. He saw me crying and said, “It didn’t end well, I guess.” I shook my head. “It’s okay. Get in the car, Bianca. I’ll see to Courtney.”

Balthazar rolled up Courtney’s body in an old blanket that must have been in the trunk, which was where he put her. I didn’t watch; I sat in the passenger seat and bawled. By the time he was done cleaning up the area and locking the trunk, the worst of my sobbing had passed. Tears still rolled down my cheeks, but I felt numb inside.

When he got in the car, I whispered, “What are we going to do?”

“We’ll have to drive into the countryside and build a fire.” He cast an uncertain glance at me. “Lucas was right about the frozen ground.”

“Oh. Okay.”

Balthazar started the car. I looked behind us at the house where Courtney’s family was still celebrating a birthday party. As we drove away, I could see their silhouettes in the windows. They were dancing.

Chapter Eighteen

“THANK GOD WE’RE FINALLY SEEING SIGNS OF spring,” Raquel said, opening our window to let in the breeze. “If I’d woken up one more morning and seen icicles, I swear I would’ve stabbed somebody with one.”

“Can you not talk about stabbing people, please?” I was curled on my bed, in the same pajamas I’d worn all weekend, flipping through one of Raquel’s back issues of Wired. It wasn’t very good reading—by this point she’d cannibalized virtually all the pictures for her art projects—

but then, I wasn’t really concentrating.

Raquel pushed the magazine down so we were face-to-face. “Remember earlier this year?” she said, more quietly than before. “When I was the one hiding in this room, and you were the one who snapped me out of it? Well, take that and reverse it.”

“I don’t need to be snapped out of anything.”

“Bianca, get real. For the last month, you’ve been like some kind of zombie.”

Vampire, not zombie, I thought. That made me smile just a little. “I just need some time to—get my head together. Okay?”

“A couple of days, sure. A couple of weeks, even. But this? This has been going on for almost a month. Even your head should be together by now.” Raquel stood up and yanked my blanket off the bed. “Get up.

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