Evernight Page 34

No. My heart was still beating. While I lived, Lucas lived. I couldn’t die and complete my transformation into a vampire until I had taken a life.

But if that was the case, what was happening to me?

During breakfast, Dad explained. “You’re feeling the first hints of what it’s going to be like when you change. You drank blood from a human being; now you know how it affects you. It gets even more powerful later.”

“I hate it.” I was squinting against the light in our kitchen. Even the oatmeal Mom had given me tasted overpoweringly strong; it was like I could sense the root and the stalk and the dirt of where the oats had come from. My morning glass of blood, on the other hand, had never been blander. I’d always thought it tasted good, but now I realized it was a pale imitation of what I was supposed to be drinking. “How do you take this?”

“It’s not always as vivid as it feels at first. For you, today, it will probably wear off in another hour or two.” Mom patted my shoulder. She had her glass of blood in her other hand, apparently satisfied with it. “As for later—well, you get used to the reactions after a while. Good thing, too. Otherwise none of us would ever get any sleep.”

My head was already pounding from the stimulation. I’d never had more than a half a beer in my life, but I suspected this was a lot like a hangover. “I’d rather not get used to it, thanks.”

“Bianca.” Dad’s voice was sharp with the anger he hadn’t shown last night. Even Mom looked surprised. “Never let me hear you talk like that again.”

“Dad—I just meant—”

“You have a destiny, Bianca. You were born to be a vampire. You’ve never questioned that before, and I don’t intend for you to start now. Am I clear?” He grabbed his glass and stalked out of the room.

“Clear,” I said feebly to the space where he’d been.

By the time I went downstairs in jeans and my pale-yellow hoodie, my senses were already going back to normal. In some ways, I felt relieved. The brightness and din had nearly overwhelmed me, and at least I didn’t have to hear Courtney bitching about her hair anymore. Yet I felt a kind of loss, too. What had been my normal world now felt strangely quiet and far away.

All that really mattered was that I felt better and could visit Lucas. After what had happened, I knew he couldn’t possibly be up and around, but at least I could visit him in Mrs. Bethany’s apartment. He’d be so horrified, waking up there, and who knew what story Mrs. Bethany had told him?

Even thinking about that made my body tense up, as if anticipating a blow. Mom swore that Lucas wouldn’t remember, but how could that be true? I hadn’t thought about it at the time, but I realized that my bite had to have hurt like hell. He would have been shocked and angry and probably frightened, too. I knew I should hope that he’d forgotten it all, but then I would wonder if he’d forgotten our kisses, too. Regardless, it was time to face what I’d done.

I set out across the grounds, ignoring the few students playing rugby on the far corner of the lawn, though I saw some of them glancing in my direction and heard some vaguely dirty laughter. Courtney had been talking, no doubt; probably every vampire in the school knew what I’d done. Ashamed and angry, I hurried toward the carriage house—and stopped mid-step as I saw Lucas walking toward me. He recognized me and raised one hand, almost bashful.

I wanted to run away. Lucas deserved better than that, so I would have to overcome my shame. Forcing myself to go toward him, I called, “Lucas? Are you okay?”

“Yeah.” The leaves crunched under his feet as we finally met. “Jesus, what happened?”

My mouth felt dry. “Didn’t they tell you?”

“They told me, but—a crossbar hit me in the head? Seriously?” His cheeks were flushed with embarrassment, and he almost seemed angry—at the gazebo or gravity or something. I’d seen Lucas lose his cool before, but I’d never seen him like this. “Gashed my neck open on the stupid cast-iron railing—that has got to be about the lamest—I’m just hacked off something had to get in the way while I was kissing you for the first time.”

Somebody bolder would’ve kissed Lucas again right then. I just gaped at him. He looked fine, basically. Lucas was still pale, and a thick white bandage covered the side of his neck, but otherwise it could have been any other day. In the distance, I could see that a few people were watching us curiously. I tried to ignore the fact that we had an audience.

“I thought—I mean, I guess—” Before I could get any more incoherent, I quickly said, “At first I thought you fainted. Sometimes I have that effect on guys. It’s too intense. They can’t take it.”

Lucas laughed. The sound was sort of hollow, but he was laughing. It was really okay; he really didn’t know a thing. Relieved, I put my arms around him and hugged him tight. Lucas held me, too, and for a few moments we stood there, wrapped in each other, and I could pretend nothing had gone wrong at all.

His hair gleamed like bronze in the sunlight, and I breathed in the scent of him, so much like the woods that surrounded us. It felt so good, the knowledge that he was mine—I could hold him like this, out in the open, because we belonged to each other now. And every second we touched, the memories became stronger: kissing him, feeling his hands on my back, the salty softness of his skin between my teeth and hot blood gushing into my mouth.

Mine.

Now I knew what my mother had meant. Biting a human wasn’t as simple as taking a sip from a glass. When I drank Lucas’s blood, he became a part of me—and I became a part of him. We were bound now, in ways I couldn’t control and Lucas could never understand.

Did that make the way he held me less real? I closed my eyes tightly and hoped it didn’t. It was too late to do anything else.

“Bianca?” he murmured into my hair.

“Yeah?”

“Last night—I just fell into the railing like that? Mrs. Bethany told me how it went down, but it seems to me—Well, I don’t remember any of it. But you do? You remember?”

His old suspicions about Evernight must’ve been kicking in again. The obvious thing to do was say yes. I couldn’t bring myself to do it; it was one lie too many. “Kind of. I mean, it was all really confusing, and I—I guess I panicked. It’s all kind of a blur, if you want to know the truth.”

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