Evernight Page 48

“The students who escape are the smart ones. Which makes me surprised that Erich was the first to leave.” Raquel paused. “They seem awfully sure that he ran away, given that he didn’t talk to anybody about it. And you’d think he would’ve cut out over Christmas break, if he was going to go. Do you think the cops are coming? They ought to at least be asking us questions.”

“Probably he just called his parents to come pick him up, ship him off to some other fancy boarding school. Mrs. Bethany knows all about it, I’m sure. Courtney’s just being a drama queen.”

“Yeah, that wouldn’t be a surprise. And he’s just the kind of jerk who’d trash his room before he left to make a mess somebody else would have to clean up.” But Raquel didn’t appear to be convinced. “They should be asking questions, though. The teachers, and maybe even the cops.”

“Everybody just found out.” The whole subject made me uneasy. “Give it time.”

“People at this school act like it’s no big deal when a student disappears.” Shaking her head, Raquel said, “What I said last semester goes double now. I am never coming back here next year.”

I wondered if that was what Erich had said.

Everyone behaved strangely the rest of the day. Students were distracted in class, placing bets about where Erich had gone. David pointed out that Erich had taken all his books and papers but left his clothes behind—pretty much the opposite of his usual priorities. I kept waiting for Mrs. Bethany to call an assembly and offer some kind of explanation, but she never did.

That night, I found myself hanging out in the turret stairwell, the one with narrow windows one brick wide that provided the best view of the gravel pathway that led from the main road to the school. I didn’t expect to see Erich down there, but all the same, I was waiting for something.

“So, I guess the police won’t come.”

I turned from the window to see Lucas standing a few steps behind me. He wore the black version of the uniform, and the light from the next story’s hallway silhouetted him so sharply that I couldn’t make out his face. Only his outline was clear—his broad shoulders, the way he leaned against the stone wall of the stairwell. All my fear melted away into longing.

When I answered him, the words came out slightly breathless. “No. Mrs. Bethany wouldn’t call the police. It would attract the wrong kind of attention.”

“But there’s no worry that one of the—one of the ‘rich kids’ got him.”

“No, Erich was as much of a ‘rich kid’ as anyone else here.”

Lucas took one step closer to me, and now I could see his face despite the shadows. All the hours I’d spent missing him over Christmas seemed to well up inside me at once, and I wanted so badly to put my hand on his cheek or lay my head against his shoulder. But I didn’t. There was a barrier between us now, one that might never go away.

“I’m sorry I didn’t answer your e-mail before,” Lucas said. “I was—in shock, I guess.”

“I don’t blame you.” My heart beat faster.

Lucas said only, “We ought to talk. Alone.”

If he trusted me enough to be alone with me, even knowing that I was the one who had bitten him, then there was a chance for us after all. I tried to sound calm as I said, “I know a place. Come there with me?”

“Lead the way,” Lucas said, and I dared to let myself hope.

Chapter Thirteen

“WHERE ARE WE HEADED?” LUCAS ASKED AS I LED him up the back staircase.

“The north tower. Above and behind the guys’ dorm. It’s just storage up there—we can be alone.”

“Isn’t there someplace else we could go?”

My heart sank. He didn’t trust me enough to be alone with me, maybe. “I think this is the only place we can be sure of having some privacy. If you’d rather—I don’t know, wait until daylight or something—”

“No, it’s all right.” Lucas sounded wary, like it wasn’t all right at all, but he kept walking behind me. I guessed that was as much as I could hope for.

Students usually left the back staircase alone, mostly because it was close to the faculty apartments. The rest of the faculty, of course, were other vampires—mostly very powerful vampires. Maybe students like Vic and Raquel didn’t know that difference between the students and teachers, but they certainly felt it. At my old school, people snarked at the teachers all the time, but at Evernight, everyone—human and vampire alike—gave the teachers respect. Some of the teachers, like my parents, lived in the other tower, but most of them lived here. I suspected that Lucas and I were the first ones to make our way up past the faculty apartments all year.

Our footsteps clattered against the stone, but nobody seemed to hear us. I hoped not, anyway. This was the last conversation I’d ever want anybody to overhear.

“How do you know about this place? Do you come up here sometimes?” Lucas still seemed uncomfortable.

“Remember how I said I did some exploring before the school year started? This is one of the places I found then. I haven’t been back since, but I bet nobody else has discovered it either.”

When we got to the door at the very top of the stairs, I pushed it open carefully. Last autumn, I’d been rewarded with a shower of spiderwebs and dust. The spiders must have moved on, because now we were able to step inside easily. Inside were rooms laid out just like my parents’ apartment, but instead of being cozily furnished, they were piled high with boxes upon boxes, a few yellowed corners of paper peeking out of the lids. These were Evernight’s records—the histories of every student who had ever attended the school since it was founded in the late eighteenth century.

“It’s cold up here.” Lucas pulled the sleeves of his sweater down over his hands. “Are you sure we can’t find someplace else?”

“We need to talk about this. And we need to be alone.”

“The gazebo—”

“Is covered with ice, Mr.-it’s-cold-up-here. Besides, we could be seen outside, and they’d make us come in, and—and then we won’t end up talking.” I turned toward the window so that I could look out at the stars; even now, they comforted me. “We’re both too good at avoiding the subject.”

“Yeah, we are.” Lucas gave in and sat down heavily on a nearby trunk. “Where do we start?”

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