Afterlife Page 32

Once the police left, I was eager to talk to him, to see how he was — but so was someone else. Skye stepped to his side, glowing with excitement and relief. “I just had to tell you, that was amazing, “she said. “You saved my life. For real. I can’t thank you enough.”

“just glad you’re okay,” Lucas said, and despite the turmoil I knew he had to be in, he smiled a little for her. That made Skye beam at him, and I realized with a start just how pretty she was: sleek dark hair, pale blue eyes with thick lashes, perfect skin, thin but not emaciated looking — All at once, I wasn’t entirely thrilled about the fact that Lucas had saved her. Not that I wanted Skye dead, but she was a gorgeous girl who was probably about to have a huge crush on my guy. And that was not good.

“Do you really think they were gang members?” She looked doubtful. “They looked kind of old for that.”

“Guess you never get too old to be stupid.” Lucas couldn’t quite meet her eyes.

Skye put one hand on Lucas’s forearm. I was this close to hating her when she said, “I’m kind of shaken up… . I want to go call my boyfriend back home — but before I take off, thanks again. Seriously.”

just like that, I suddenly liked Skye a whole lot more. When Lucas waved good — bye to her, I murmured in his ear, “It’s okay. We got through it. You didn’t break. Lucas, see how strong you are?”

“I need to be alone.” Lucas stalked away from me, and I wanted to follow but didn’t. His mother had just tried once again to kill him; no wonder he couldn’t take any pleasure in his small victory over himself.

As I sadly watched him go, I caught sight of someone else — Patrice, who now sat alone on a small bench. She appeared to be studying the hem of her floral — patterned skirt for any rips or tears. Typically, she’d gotten through that entire fight, giving as good as she got, without messing up her hair.

l went to her side and said, “Thanks for all of that.”

“Bianca.” Patrice lifted her head, with that faraway look people got when they talked to me while I was invisible. ;’You’re a wraith now?”


She settled herself onto the bench, clearly getting comfortable. “Tell me the whole story. Start back when you and Lucas broke up, which I now assume was not exactly the truth.”

Patrice had never been someone I confided in much, but after the way she ‘d come through for us, I knew that I could trust her. So I told her the whole story, as concisely as I could, from the beginnings of my clandestine relationship with Lucas to our deaths to the current situation at Evernight Academy. She listened  not as sympathetically as some people might have, talking about how terrible it was and how bad they felt for us — but she didn’tjudge. After all the guilt and recrimination going around, that alone was a relief.

Once I’d finished, I realized I had a few questions of my own. “Why did you trap me? How did you trap me?”

““d felt something following me around. Or following Lucas around, I see now, but I knew I sensed it. Something ghostly. I Wasn’t positive, but I decided to take action ifl felt it again. You’re chilly sometimes, you know iliat?”

“How come you aren’t scared of me? Most vampires are.”

Patrice’s full lips quirked into a smile. “Most vampires are pretty stupid about wraiths — I heard about the panic last year. What a lot of silliness. But in New Orleans, where I started out? Back then, there was a woman named Marie Leveau who knew everyiliing about vampires, ghosts, spirits, you name it. I went to her when I was newly turned.” She gazed into the distance as though she were trying to look into the past. “There was a man who’d died .. . someone I wanted to see again… well. Bringing someone back against his will turns out to be a bad idea.”

“I can imagine.” Adjusting to being a wraith had been hard enough for me. For someone who had been peacefully dead, it was probably a lot worse. “Did you trap him in a mirror?”

“And in the end, I broke the mirror to let him go.” From her purse she pulled out the compact she’d used to trap me. The frost had melted, and when she opened it, I saw the reflecting pane remained intact. “Since then, I’ve figured out how to release ghosts without breaking any mirrors. It’s such a pain, replacing them.”

That was Patrice for you — worrying about her cosmetics case while she was messing with the line between the living and the dead. “Where do ghosts go when you use the mirror to trap them?”

“I was hoping you could tell me,” she said. “Into the mirror, as far as I know.”

To me it felt more like no place, some area between existence and nonexistence, but mysteries like this were beginning to feel almost routine now that I’d become a wraith. Besides, earthly concerns felt more pressing at the moment.

I began, “You know, Lucas could use a few more friends at Evernight Academy. And it would be nice to have somebody else to talk to.”

Particularly, I thought, another girl. Lucas, Balthazar, Ranulf, and Vic were each terrific in their own ways, but hanging out with only them did get a little sweat socky after a while.

“I don’t tend to make friends with Black Cross hunters, unlike some people,” she sniffed. But I could see her regal features softening slightly.

“Though I guess Lucas isn’t with them anymore. So backing him up is basically the same as giving Black Cross the finger.” Not much of an avowal of eternal friendship, but I would take it.

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