Stargazer Page 67

Bethany but by my other teachers, too. What did I care? If I flunked all my exams, it wasn’t like I’d be around to pick up my report card. It was easier to stare out the window and fantasize about Lucas, fiddling with the obsidian pendant around my neck, than it was to concentrate on Henry V.

Sometimes I felt weird tremors of uncertainty—I won’t go to college now. How will I keep in touch with Vic and Raquel? Will I ever see Balthazar again? How will I protect myself from the wraiths? Can I bring my telescope? But nothing was as important as escaping Evernight or the “destiny” my parents and teachers had decided on for me. I had only one chance to be free and to be with the guy I loved. I intended to take it.

I even started packing the few clothes I had in Mrs. Bethany’s carriage house. That’s what I was doing one night in mid-May when a rap on the door startled me.

Who could it be? I quickly stowed my half-packed bag under the bed, hurried into her living room, and called, “Come in!” Mrs. Bethany entered, imposing in a long black skirt and gray, high-necked blouse. “What a nuisance,” she said, apparently to herself.

“Knocking on one’s own door.”

“Hey, Mrs. Bethany. Is there something you need?” If I was helpful, I reasoned, she’d get out faster.

She didn’t pause as she swept past me into her bedroom. “I require some of my things and wanted to ensure that you hadn’t failed to water the violets.”

“They’re doing great, actually.”

“So I see.” Mrs. Bethany froze and stared at the wall. “What on earth is that monstrosity?”

“Oh, you mean the art project? That’s one of Raquel’s collages. She calls it Those Lips Will Lie to You.” It was a huge mural with all different kinds of mouths, magenta and peach and orange with lipstick, inter-cut with jagged black streaks and bolts. There were knives and guns, too, because Raquel said no artwork about the deception of love would be complete without some hostile phallic symbols. “Do you like it?” Mrs. Bethany held one hand to her throat. “You do intend to remove this when you leave?”

I hadn’t considered it before, but now I thought I’d leave it behind as a souvenir for Mrs. Bethany. “When do you think I can move back into the school, Mrs. Bethany?” I asked, just like I really wasn’t going to run away.

“We will inform you when the time is right.”

Then there was another rap at the door. I’d become very popular all of a sudden. I went to the door and opened it, saying, “Hello?” The danger occurred to me even as I started pulling it open—What if it’s Lucas? What if he came back and Mrs. Bethany sees him? But it wasn’t Lucas.

Charity stood on the step, hair pulled back into a neat chignon and a dark red cloak around her. With her youthful face and guileless eyes, she looked almost like Little Red Riding Hood—even though I knew she was really the wolf.

“You aren’t the one I expected to find,” she said with a smile. Per-versely, there was still something about her that made me feel protective.

“Has there been a mutiny?”

“Who is it?” Mrs. Bethany demanded as she came back into the room. Then she drew herself up to her full height. “My word. Miss More.”

I could feel the hatred in the air between them. But Charity opened up her arms like a beseeching child. She said, “I call upon the sanctuary of Evernight.”

Chapter Twenty-one


“Do you understand the rules of conduct at this school?” Even from my place outside the carriage house, where I crouched in the shrubs to eavesdrop, Mrs. Bethany’s voice rang sharply. “You have chosen to ignore them in the past.”

“The first rule of Evernight is that any vampire who seeks sanctuary must be given a place.” Charity sounded completely unruffled. “I’ll obey the rules if you will.”

The teachers, who were gathered around, muttered among themselves. I didn’t dare peek above the windowsill to see what was going on, but it basically sounded like Charity wanted to join the school as a student and they were going to have to let her in. But they didn’t like it.

Mr. Yee said, “There’s a certain wraith situation going on.”

“Because of the little baby. But that will be taken care of soon enough, won’t it? One way or another.” Charity obviously didn’t care if I lived or died; the feeling was rapidly becoming mutual.

I winced as I recognized my mother’s voice. “There are human students here now, and we have to protect them from harm. Your track record in that area leaves a lot to be desired.”

“I swear,” Charity said, as sincere and sweet as a child. “I swear upon my own grave that I will not be the one to break the peace at Evernight Academy.”

After a moment’s silence, Mrs. Bethany said, “Very well. How long do you intend to remain?”

“Not long. Cross my heart, I’ll be out of here before June.”

“Then we will find you a place in the faculty apartments. You should remain there as much as possible until the end of the semester. It would be difficult to explain a new pupil arriving so close to the end of term, and the fewer questions asked, the better,” Mrs. Bethany said. “We should review the new rules about blood consumption that have been in-stituted following the new admissions policy.”

“Hey.” The whisper was close to my ear, and I jumped in fright, then breathed a sigh of relief as I realized it was Balthazar. “What’s going on in there?”

“You nearly scared me to death.” We stepped away from the building together. “Why did you sneak up on me like that?”

“I didn’t sneak up on you. I sneaked up to the carriage house, and you were already there, doing the spying for me.” I smiled a little at that. Only then did I realize that we were talking to each other again, and it wasn’t nearly as awkward as I’d feared. That might have been only because he was so focused on the carriage house.

Balthazar’s eyes remained fixed on it like he had X-ray vision and could watch his sister through the walls.

“They’re going to let her stay,” I said. “She has to hide up in the tower, though, so nobody asks why there’s a new student coming only for finals. Mrs. Bethany’s ticked off about it, but apparently you were right about the sanctuary thing.”

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