Stargazer Page 64

“I’m going, and don’t you dare try to stop me.” I ran through the door, willing myself to make it downstairs before I started to cry.

Chapter Twenty

I’D THOUGHT NOTHING COULD BE WORSE THAN losing Lucas, but I was wrong. The worst was realizing that I’d lost him for nothing because he’d been right about all of it—vampires, my parents, everything.

He told me my parents lied. I yelled at him for it. He forgave me.

He told me vampires were killers. I told him they weren’t, even after one stalked Raquel.

He told me Charity was dangerous. I didn’t listen, and she killed Courtney.

He told me vampires were treacherous, and did I get the message?

Not until all my illusions had been destroyed by my parents’ confession.

I decided that the only vampire who had never lied to me was Balthazar, but after seeing what Charity was capable of, I thought he probably did most of his lying to himself. Every other vampire—including my parents—was deceitful and manipulative.

Well, maybe not Ranulf. But the rest of them.

And Lucas? Lucas had told me only one lie, ever; he’d kept the secret of Black Cross because it wasn’t his secret to tell. In every other way, he’d been honest with me and shared the hard truths nobody else thought I deserved to hear.

I wasn’t only mourning losing Lucas, of course. Too many other things had gone horribly wrong. But the grief was worse for my realizing that, if I’d only listened to him, everything might have been different. Better. Happy. Instead of this.

April was almost the worst month of my life. My parents tried to talk to me a couple of times, but I didn’t want to hear it; after about a week, they gave up. Probably they thought I was sulking, that I’d just “get over” learning my whole life was a lie and come crawling back for dinner some Sunday. I knew I’d never do that again. They’d figure it out soon enough.

The second Sunday I skipped, Raquel said, “Not going upstairs?”


“Last week I thought—you know, maybe you guys were just taking a week off.”

“I’m not going up there.”

“I thought your parents were better than mine,” she said quietly.

How often had my parents discouraged me from hanging out with Raquel, just because she was a human? She had given them more credit than they’d given her. I could’ve hugged her, but she would’ve hated it.

“Maybe I’d rather hang out with you.”

“I’ve got homework.”

“So we’ll do homework.”

That was fine with me. Even researching boring psychology papers was preferable to facing my parents again.

Balthazar and I were officially “broken up,” so far as the student body knew. Vic had made a few half-baked attempts to mediate so we’d be friends and hang out again; I hadn’t had the heart to discourage him, but after he backed off suddenly, I realized Balthazar hadn’t taken the suggestion kindly. Balthazar wasn’t angry with me, exactly, but he was kind of angry at the world in general, and he wanted to be alone for a while.

It was probably good for us to spend some time apart. I understood that, but I’d spent more time with him this last year than anyone else, even Raquel. I hadn’t realized how much I’d grown to rely on him cheering me up after a rough day, or simply giving me a smile when I walked out of class, until he wasn’t there anymore.

I still had Vic and Raquel, but if Mrs. Bethany had her way, I wouldn’t even have them much longer.

“Your regrettable refusal to discuss this with your parents compels me to deal with you personally,” Mrs. Bethany said, watering the line of violets along her windowsill. I sat in one of the uncomfortable, high-backed chairs in her carriage house. “You realize by now that you are a specific target of the wraiths.”


“Do you know why that’s so?” She seemed almost cheerful at the thought of my illusions having been dashed.

I gritted my teeth. “Yes.”

“The fact that you are a target, in turn, endangers the other students.

We have managed to hold the wraiths at bay with the stones so far, but there are limits to what we can accomplish. The wraiths are more determined than I thought they would be.”

“That’s flattering.”

She set the watering can down. “Please reserve your sarcasm for your friends, Miss Olivier. You are here today to discuss what is to be done about the situation. I am not so heartless as to drive you out of Evernight Academy altogether. In the outside world, you would lack any protection whatsoever.”

“I left campus a lot this year with Balthazar, but the wraiths never came after me anywhere else.”

“I expect they simply did not know where you were. Given enough time—eventually, the wraiths would find you, any place in the world.” I’d never thought of that. “Why do they want me so badly? Aren’t there enough ghosts in the world?”

“I imagine the broken promise matters to them more than any indi-vidual. When they consider themselves betrayed, they are relentless.” Mrs. Bethany’s heels clicked against her wooden floor as she walked toward me with her hands clasped behind her back. “There are empty faculty apartments within Evernight. I will move into one for the duration of the school year. You are welcome to stay here.”

“Here?” I couldn’t have understood that right. “Like, in your house?”

“Yes. I believe that you can still attend classes, if you’ll wear this.” She held out a pendant—the obsidian one my parents had given me for Christmas, the one I’d thrown at their feet. “It’s protection for you, though you must not have realized it. Its protection is not fail-safe, however, which is why you are safer remaining in my home at night.”

“Wait, I don’t understand. If I’m in danger at the school, why am I safe here?”

“You may have noticed the copper roof,” she said. “As you have apparently learned, wraiths are especially vulnerable to the metals and minerals found in human blood, such as iron and copper. My residence cannot be haunted. No wraith can enter.”

“Then why don’t you do that to the school, so it would be totally secure?”

It was an automatic question; I expected her to have a good answer.

Copper is expensive, maybe. Instead, she cocked her head, on her guard.

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