Stargazer Page 65

“There are reasons,” she said, like that was an answer.

But I realized the answer almost instantly. Maybe it was because I was in the same room where I’d committed my first burglary in an effort to understand why Mrs. Bethany had admitted human students to Evernight. I remembered figuring it out with Balthazar: The humans were connected to the ghosts. I’d thought that she wanted to learn more about the vampires’ enemies somehow. Since then, I’d seen her attack a wraith, devastating it almost instantly. I’d seen that she knew how to shut them down cold, yet hadn’t done it. Mrs. Bethany wanted something else.

“You’re hunting the wraiths,” I said. “You need them to come into Evernight so you can catch them.”

Strangely, her eyes lit up, like she was almost excited someone had caught on. But she said only, “Your theories are irrelevant, Miss Olivier.

The wraiths are a danger to you and to others of our kind. You will be best protected here.”

“You’re not going to tell me why you’re hunting them.” She hadn’t denied it either, I noticed.

“Do you accept my offer or not?”

“Do I really have a choice?”

“No, not really.”

I’d have liked to tell Mrs. Bethany where she could stick her offer.

But she was right about my being a danger to the other students. For their safety, as well as my own, I’d have to move to the enemy camp.

Mrs. Bethany’s carriage house was actually sort of pretty once you got used to it, but staying there unnerved me. No matter how many times I opened the windows or sprayed a bit of my perfume in the air, the house always smelled of lavender, reminding me of its true owner.

I noticed that every desk drawer and closet had been thoroughly cleaned out before I moved in. She hadn’t left me any more chances to snoop.

My human friends didn’t understand why Mrs. Bethany’s place was safer than Evernight Academy, but after I’d given them an (edited) account of the wraith’s most recent attack, they didn’t question that something had to be done. Raquel helped me pack my clothes, and Vic helped me haul them to the carriage house while she toted the telescope. I didn’t bring everything; no point in even pretending I could ever get comfortable there. Yet I managed to sneak in the carved jet brooch Lucas had given me last year. I thought of it as my own stone with its own power—

my talisman, my shield against the gloom of the place.

Late at night, I’d lie in Mrs. Bethany’s massive canopy bed and imagine that the shadows in the corner of the room were starting to move, or that the air was colder than it ought to be, or any other number of crazy things. Then I’d reach for the brooch on the bedside table and clasp it in my hand, willing all my fear and loneliness to go away. It didn’t matter that I’d lost him. Remembering Lucas would always give me strength.

As April drew to a close, the school became very quiet. Even more of the students had fled in the wake of the most recent event with the wraith; probably only two thirds of the student body remained. The vampires had been far more likely to depart, meaning that humans made up almost half the students at the school. The mood was friendlier over-all, and because so many of the humans considered ghosts no big deal, the atmosphere became almost relaxed. I might have enjoyed it, if I hadn’t been an exile.

The next-to-last night in April offered one small treat, though—a blue moon.

It’s not like a blue moon is some incredible astronomical event. All it means is that it’s the second full moon in a single month. But I always sort of liked to make a celebration of them, to be sure and look up at the sky and remember that nights like that didn’t come along very often.

I waited until late at night before I slipped outside in my jeans and Tshirt. I wanted to be alone. The sky was too over-cast for real stargazing, but the moon shone brightly, tinting the clouds nearest it pale with light.

Quickly I walked across the grounds to the gazebo, so I could sit down and watch the moon through the cast-iron lattices. I had other memories of the gazebo—memories of Lucas. This was the first place we’d ever kissed.

“You still love a blue moon.”

I whirled around to see Lucas standing on the grounds behind me.

At first I honestly thought I had to be imagining things. But he stepped into the gazebo, his battered boots making the floor creak, and I realized he had to be real.

“Lucas? What—what are you doing here?” I cast a hurried glance around us. “It’s dangerous. If they find you—”

“They’re not going to find me.”

“They will if you just stand here!” Now that I had finally accepted that Lucas had come back to Evernight, I was even more astonished than I’d been before; this was reckless to the point of being suicidal. “Anybody could walk out here at any second!”

“I won’t stay much longer.” Lucas put his hands in the pockets of his corduroys. He wore an old flannel shirt over a T, and his body was hunched and tense, ready to fight at a moment’s notice. But none of that wild energy was directed at me. When Lucas looked at me, his eyes were only sad. “I thought I’d have a good chance of catching you outside tonight, what with the blue moon and all.”

“Yeah. You caught me.” I couldn’t think what to say. My longing for him wouldn’t come out in words, and I was too startled to know what to do. “How long have you been waiting out here?”

“Since sundown.”

It was almost midnight. He’d been on the Evernight grounds for hours, and anyone could’ve seen him. If somebody had reported Lucas to Mrs. Bethany, by now he could’ve been a prisoner, even dead. He was as reckless as ever, but this time I couldn’t be angry. “Why did you come?”

“Because I couldn’t leave things between us like that.”

“I was ugly to you,” I whispered. “Lucas, I’m so sorry.”

“You were angry, and you had a right to be angry.”

“We ended up cremating Courtney after all.”

“Okay, you didn’t have a right to be angry about that.” The hint of a smile played upon his face, but only briefly. His hair had grown out, scruffy again. I thought he’d lost some weight. Wasn’t he taking care of himself anymore? “You said I didn’t accept you being a vampire, Bianca. I guess—maybe you were right.”

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