Evernight Page 10

“You’re going to meet some incredible people,” Mom promised.

I shook my head, thinking of Courtney. She was already definitely one of the least incredible people I’d ever met. “You can’t know that.”

“I can and I do.”

“What, you can see the future now?” I teased.

“Honey, you’ve been holding out on me. What else does the soothsayer predict?” Dad asked as he got up to change the records. The man still kept his music collection on vinyl. “This, I want to hear.”

Mom played along, putting her fingertips to her temples like a gypsy fortune-teller. “I think Bianca will meet—boys.”

Lucas’s face flashed in my mind, and my heartbeat quickened within an instant. My parents exchanged looks. Could they hear my pulse pounding all the way across the room? Maybe so.

I tried to make a joke of it. “I hope they’re going to be cute.”

“Not too cute,” Dad interjected, and we all laughed. Mom and Dad really thought it was funny; I was trying to cover the fact that I now had butterflies in my stomach.

It felt weird, not telling them about Lucas. I’d always told them almost everything about my life. Lucas was different, though. Talking about him would break the spell. I wanted him to remain a secret for a while longer. That way, I could keep him for myself.

Already I wanted Lucas to belong only to me.

Chapter Three

“YOU DIDN’T HAVE YOUR UNIFORM TAILORED, did you?” Patrice smoothed her skirt as we prepared for the first day of classes.

Why hadn’t I seen it before? Of course all the real Evernight types had sent their uniforms to a tailor—tucked the blouses here and the kilts there so that they were chic and flattering instead of boxy and asexual. Like mine. “No. I didn’t think of it.”

“You really must remember to do that,” Patrice said. “Individual tailoring makes a world of difference. No woman should neglect it.” I could already tell that she liked giving advice, showing off how worldly and smart she was. This would have annoyed me more if she hadn’t been so obviously right. Sighing, I set back to work, trying to get my hair to lie smooth beneath my headband. Surely I’d see Lucas at some point that day, so I wanted to look my best, or as good as I could look in this stupid uniform.

We picked up our class assignments in an enormous line in the great hall, slips of paper handed out to us, just the way it would’ve been done a hundred years ago. The crowds of students were less rowdy than they would have been back at my old school. Everyone here seemed to understand the routine.

Maybe the quiet was only an illusion. My uneasiness seemed to swallow sound, muffling everything, until I wondered if anybody could even hear me if I screamed.

Patrice remained by my side at first, but only because we shared our first class, which was American History, taught by my mother. She was the only parent I would have for a teacher; instead of Dad’s biology class, I’d be taking chemistry with a Professor Iwerebon. I felt awkward walking next to Patrice with nothing to say, but I didn’t really have any alternative—until I saw Lucas, the sunlight through the frosted glass in the hallways turning his golden-brown hair to bronze. At first I thought he saw Patrice and me, but he kept on walking without breaking his stride.

I began to smile. “I’ll catch up with you later, okay?” I said to Patrice, already darting away from her. She shrugged as she looked for other friends to walk with. “Lucas?” I called.

He still didn’t seem to hear me. I didn’t want to yell after him, so I jogged a couple of steps to catch up. He was headed in the opposite direction from me—not in Mom’s class, apparently—but I was willing to run the risk of being late. More loudly, I said, “Lucas!”

He turned his head only enough to glimpse me, then glanced around at the students nearby as though he was worried we would be overheard. “Hey, there.”

Where was my protector from the forest? The guy standing in front of me now didn’t act like he wanted to take care of me; he acted like he didn’t know me. But he didn’t know me, did he? We’d talked once in the woods—when he’d tried to save my life, and I’d repaid him by telling him to shut up. Just because I thought that was the start of something didn’t mean he did.

In fact, it looked like he definitely didn’t. For one second, he turned his head, then gave me a quick wave and a nod—the way you would any random acquaintance. After that, Lucas just kept on walking, until he vanished into the crowd.

There it was—the brush-off. I wondered how I could possibly understand guys even less than I’d thought.

The girls’ restroom on that floor was nearby, so I was able to duck into a stall and collect myself instead of bursting into tears. What had I done wrong? Despite how strange our first meeting had been, Lucas and I had ended up having a conversation that was as intimate as any I’d had with my best friends. I didn’t know a lot about guys, maybe, but I’d been sure that the connection between us was real. I had been wrong. I was alone at Evernight again, and it felt even worse than before.

Finally, once I was steady, I hurried to Mom’s classroom, barely avoiding being tardy. She shot me a look, and I shrugged as I sank into a desk in the back row. Mom quickly snapped out of mother mode into teacher mode.

“So, who here can tell me about the American Revolution?” Mom clasped her hands together, looking expectantly around the room. I slumped down in my seat, even though I knew she wouldn’t call on me first. I just wanted to be sure she understood how I felt about it. A guy sitting next to me raised his hand, rescuing the rest of us. Mom smiled a little. “And you are Mr.—”

“More. Balthazar More.”

The first thing to understand about him is that he looked like a guy who could actually carry off the name “Balthazar” without being mocked for all time. On him, it looked good. He seemed confident about anything my mother might throw at him but not in an annoying way like most of the guys in the room. Just confident.

“Well, Mr. More, if you were going to sum up the causes of the American Revolution for me, how would you put it?”

“The tax burdens imposed by the English Parliament were the last straw.” He spoke easily, almost lazily. Balthazar was big and broad-shouldered, so much so that he barely fit into the old-fashioned wooden desk. His posture turned difficulty into grace, as though he’d rather lounge like that than sit up straight any day. “Of course, people were concerned about religious and political freedoms as well.”

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