Evernight Page 19

I shook my head. “Not at all. Like I said, Evernight just gets to people.”

“The drugstore,” Raquel said quietly as she gathered her things to go back to her room. “Sleeping pills. That way, I’ll sleep through it.”

“Sleep through what?”

“The sounds on the roof.” Her face was grave now, that of someone older than her years. “Because somebody is up there at night. I can hear it. That part isn’t a nightmare, Bianca. It’s real.”

For a long time after she had gone back to bed, I stood alone in the bathroom, still shivering.

Chapter Five

NORMALLY, YOU’D THINK THE GIRL GOING OUT on her first date ever would have dibs on the mirror. But when the Friday night of the Riverton trip came, Patrice was so busy looking at herself that I might as well have been dressing in the dark. She kept studying her face and figure in the full-length mirror, squinting and turning, unable to find whatever she was searching for, whether imperfections or beauty. “You look fine,” I said. “Eat something, will you? You’re practically invisible.”

“The Autumn Ball isn’t even a month away. I want to look my best.”

“What good is going to the Autumn Ball if you can’t enjoy it?”

“I’ll enjoy it even more this way.” Patrice smiled at me. She had a way of being both patronizing and completely sincere. “Someday you’ll understand.”

I didn’t like it when she talked down to me like that, but she was on my good side. For my date, Patrice had let me borrow a soft, ivory-colored sweater she owned, acting as if this was the biggest favor anyone had ever done for anyone. Maybe she was right. In that sweater, my figure—well, you could tell that I had one, something the dowdy Evernight plaids and blazers never revealed.

“None of you guys are going?” I asked as I tried pulling my hair back into a high ponytail. I didn’t have to explain who “you guys” meant.

“Erich’s throwing another party by the lake.” Patrice shrugged. She still wore her pink satin robe, and her hair was covered with a lacy scarf. Probably the party wouldn’t start until after midnight, not if she hadn’t even started getting ready. “Most of the teachers will be in town chaperoning. That makes it a prime night here.”

“I don’t admit that Evernight Academy has prime nights.”

“It’s not as though they keep us in a cage, Bianca. Also, that hairstyle is not working for you.”

I sighed. “I know. I can see for myself.”

“Hold still.” Patrice came up behind me, shook out the uneven braids I’d painstakingly woven, and ruffled her fingers through the strands. Then she gathered my hair back in a soft knot just at the nape of my neck. A few tendrils slipped loose to frame my face—messy but beautiful, just the way I always wanted my hair to look. Watching this transformation in the mirror, I thought it looked almost as if my hair had been fixed by magic.

“How did you do that?”

“You learn over time.” She smiled, prouder of her handiwork than of me. “Your hair’s a wonderful color, you know. When it falls over the ivory of this sweater, you get to show it off more. See?”

When did this shade of red become a “wonderful color” for hair? I smiled at my reflection, thinking that as long as Lucas and I were going out, any miracle was possible.

“Beautiful,” Patrice said, and this time, somehow, I realized that she meant it. The compliment was still impersonal—I thought that the idea of beauty meant more to her than I did. But she wouldn’t say I looked beautiful if she didn’t think so.

Bashful and delighted, I stared at my reflection a little while longer. If Patrice could see something beautiful in me, then maybe Lucas could, too.

“You look great!” Lucas called.

I nodded at him, trying to maintain eye contact as we each pushed through the students squeezing into the bus that would take us into town. Evernight Academy didn’t have anything as ordinary as a normal yellow school bus; this was a small luxury shuttle, the kind of thing a swanky hotel might operate, which had probably been rented for the occasion. I’d been shoved on in the first wave, and Lucas was still struggling to get near the door. At least I could see his smile through the window.

“Dee-luxe.” Vic laughed, flopping down into the seat next to me. He was wearing a fedora that looked like something from the 1940s, and he actually was pretty cute—but he still wasn’t who I wanted to ride with. My face must have fallen, because he nudged my shoulder. “No worries. I’m just keeping the seat warm for Lucas.”

“Thanks.”

If it hadn’t been for Vic, I wouldn’t have gotten to sit with Lucas at all. People couldn’t get onto that bus fast enough, and it seemed like about two dozen students—in fact, virtually all the kids who weren’t the “Evernight type”—were determined to get into Riverton. Given how boring Riverton was, probably they just wanted to get away from school, and anyplace else would do. I knew how they felt.

Vic gallantly surrendered his seat when Lucas finally made his way to my side, but I wouldn’t say the date started then. We were completely surrounded by other students, all of whom were laughing, talking, and shouting, relieved to be off the claustrophobic school grounds at last. Raquel was a few rows away, talking animatedly to her roommate; I must have put her fears at ease, at least for now. A few people cast curious glances in my direction that weren’t exactly friendly. Apparently I was still suspected of being part of the in crowd, which was so wrong it was funny. Vic knelt on the seat in front of us, determined to tell us all about the amp he was going to buy at a music store that was open late in town.

“What are you going to do with an amp?” I shouted over the din as we bounced along the road to town. “They’re not going to let you play electric guitar in our rooms.”

Vic shrugged, a grin still splashed across his face. “It’s enough just to look at it, man! To know I have something so excellent. Gonna make me smile every day.”

“You never stop smiling. You smile in your sleep.” Despite the teasing way Lucas said this, I could tell that, down deep, he liked Vic.

“Only way to live, you know?”

Vic was the exact opposite of the Evernight type, and I decided I liked him, too. “So what are you going to do while we’re at the movies?”

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