Evernight Page 20

“Explore. Wander. Feel the earth beneath my feet.” Vic waggled his eyebrows. “Maybe meet some hotties in town.”

“Better buy the amp later, then,” Lucas pointed out. “It’s going to cut into your action if you have to lug that thing around with you.” Vic nodded seriously, and I hid my smile behind my hand.

So Lucas and I weren’t really alone together until we were walking along Riverton’s main street, just a block from the theater. We both brightened when we saw what was on the marquee.

“Suspicion,” he said. “Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. He’s a genius.”

“Starring Cary Grant.” When Lucas gave me a look, I added, “You have your priorities, I have mine.”

Several other students milled around in the lobby. This probably had less to do with a sudden revival in Cary Grant’s popularity than it did with the fact that Riverton didn’t offer much in the way of amusement. We were genuinely looking forward to it, though—at least, until we saw who the chaperones for the theater were.

“Believe me,” Mom said, “we’re as appalled as you are.”

“We thought for sure you’d get something to eat.” Dad had his arm around her shoulders, as though this were their date, not ours. We were all standing in front of the poster-board in the lobby, Joan Fontaine staring out at us in alarm, as though she were facing my dilemma instead of her own. “That’s the reason we decided to take positions here. Somebody else is covering the diner.”

Encouragingly, Mom added, “Not too late for pancakes. We won’t be offended.”

“It’s okay.” It was so not okay to spend my first date with my parents, but what was I supposed to say? “Turns out Lucas loves old movies, so—we’re good, right?”

“Right.” Lucas didn’t look like we were good. Somehow he looked even more freaked-out than I felt.

“Unless you like pancakes,” I said.

“No. I mean, yes, I like pancakes, but I like old movies more.” He lifted his chin, and it was almost as though he were challenging my parents to intimidate him. “We’ll stay.”

My parents, instead of becoming intimidating, grinned.

I’d told them last Sunday at dinner that Lucas and I were going into Riverton together. I didn’t really spell it out any more than that, for fear of paralyzing them with shock, but they definitely got the gist. To my surprise and relief, they hadn’t interrogated me; in fact, they’d glanced at each other first, weighing their own reactions even before mine. It was probably strange to have your “miracle baby” become old enough to go out with someone. Dad mentioned calmly that Lucas seemed like a good guy, then asked me if I wanted more macaroni and cheese.

In short, whatever crazy overprotective reaction Lucas was expecting didn’t materialize. Mom said only, “In case you’re trying to avoid us—and I would guess that you are—we’re headed to the balcony, because that’s where most of the students are going to go.”

Dad nodded. “Balconies are powerful temptations, and they exert a strong gravitational pull on fountain drinks in the hands of teenagers. I’ve seen it happen.”

Straight-faced, Lucas said, “I think I remember that from junior high science.”

My parents laughed. I basked in the warm rush of relief. They liked Lucas, and maybe someday soon they’d invite him to Sunday dinner. Already I could see Lucas beside me all the time, all the places in my life where he would fit.

Lucas didn’t look as certain—his eyes were wary as he led me into the theater lobby—but I figured that was pretty much the standard guy response to parents.

We chose seats beneath the balcony, where Mom and Dad would have no chance of seeing us. Lucas and I sat close to each other, our bodies sort of angled together, and my shoulder and knee brushed against his.

“Never done this,” he said.

“Been to an old-style movie house?” I glanced appreciatively at the gilded scrollwork that decorated the walls and balcony, and the dark red velvet curtain. “They really are beautiful.”

“That’s not what I meant.” For all his aggressiveness, Lucas could seem almost bashful at times; that only happened when he talked to me. “I never got to just—go out with a girl before.”

“This is your first date, too?”

“‘Date’—people still use that word?” I would’ve felt embarrassed if he hadn’t playfully nudged my elbow with his. “I just mean, I never got to be with anybody like this. Hang out without any pressure or knowing that I’d have to move on in another week or two.”

“You make it sound like you never felt at home anywhere.”

“Not until now.”

I shot him a skeptical look. “Evernight feels like home? Give me a break.”

Lucas’s slow grin crept across his face. “I didn’t mean Evernight.”

At that moment, the houselights were dimmed, and thank goodness. Otherwise I probably would’ve said something stupid instead of reveling in the moment.

Suspicion was one of the Cary Grant movies I hadn’t seen before. This woman, Joan Fontaine, married Cary even though he was sort of reckless and spent too much money. She did this because he’s Cary freakin’ Grant, which makes him worth losing a few bucks. Lucas wasn’t convinced by this reasoning. “You don’t think it’s weird that he’s researching poisons?” he whispered. “Who researches poisons as a hobby? At least admit that’s a weird hobby.”

“No man who looks like that can be a murderer,” I insisted.

“Has anybody ever suggested that you might be too quick to trust people?”

“Shut up.” I elbowed Lucas in the side, which jostled a few kernels of popcorn from our bag.

I enjoyed the movie, but I enjoyed being close to Lucas even more. It was amazing how much we could communicate without saying anything—a sidelong glance of amusement or the easy way our hands brushed against each other and he twined his fingers with mine. The pad of his thumb traced small circles in my palm, and that alone was enough to make my heart race. What would it be like to be held by him?

In the end, I was proved right. Cary turned out to have been researching the poisons so he could commit suicide and save poor Joan Fontaine from his many debts. She insisted they would work it out, and they drove off together. Lucas shook his head as the last shot faded. “That ending is fake, you know. Hitchcock meant for him to be guilty. The studio made him redeem Cary Grant in the end so audiences would like it.”

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