Evernight Page 51

“Do you have to give yourself a pedicure every single day?” I threw back the covers.

Patrice glanced down at my bare feet, which obviously hadn’t been given much attention in a while. “Some of us place a higher priority on hygiene and grooming than others. It’s simply a matter of preference. I try not to look at it as a reflection on anyone’s character.”

“Some people have better things to do than paint their nails,” I retorted. She ignored me and continued brushing burgundy polish onto her little toe.

By the time I got downstairs, I felt like I was getting a handle on my enhanced senses. What worried me more was the suspense about seeing Lucas. Even though he’d asked to be bitten, the wound had to hurt. What if that had scared him off?

He wasn’t waiting for me when I came downstairs. Last term, when we’d been together, he’d usually waited at the entry to the girls’ dorm, backpack over one shoulder, but today, nothing. I shrugged it off and told myself that Lucas had simply overslept again. Sometimes he did, and after the previous night, no doubt he needed his rest.

At lunchtime, I looked for him on the grounds. Lucas was nowhere to be seen. Still, I said nothing to my parents or anyone else. Lucas had said last night that he believed in me, and that meant I had to believe in him. Even when I got to chemistry class and saw that Lucas had skipped, I kept telling myself that I had to have faith.

It was just after class when Vic sidled up to me in the hallway, doing a very poor job of acting casual. “Heya. Remember that time you sneaked into our room?”

“Yeah, just before Christmas.” I squinted at him. “Why?”

“You think you could do it again? Something weird is going on with Lucas, and he won’t say what’s up. I figure if anybody could talk him into going to the doctor, it’s you.”

The doctor? Oh, no. Stricken, I grabbed Vic’s arm. “Get me up there. Now.”

“Okay, already!” He started leading me toward the guys’ dorm, glancing around furtively as if we were being followed. “Don’t panic. It’s not like appendicitis or something. Lucas’s just acting strange. Stranger than usual, that is.”

Everyone was on edge since Erich’s disappearance, so it wasn’t quite as easy for me to sneak up there this time. Vic had to scout each hallway, wait for the coast to be clear, and then motion frantically to me. Then I hurried into the next hallway and ducked into a corner while Vic checked the next hall. Finally we made it, and I stepped inside their room.

Lucas lay on his bed with his hands on his stomach, as if he felt sick. When he looked up at me, I saw surprise—and then relief. He was happy to see me, despite everything, and that made me so glad I had to smile. “Hey,” I said, kneeling by the side of his bed. “Stomachache?”

“I don’t think that’s the problem.” He closed his eyes as I brushed a few strands of hair away from his sweaty forehead. “Vic, could you give us a few seconds?”

“Sure thing. Just hang your necktie on the doorknob if you get busy in here. Usually I’m all about the free porn, but—”

“Vic!” we protested in unison.

He held up his hands and backed out, grinning. “Okay, okay.”

The second the door shut, I turned back to Lucas. “What’s wrong?”

“Ever since this morning, it’s like—Bianca, I can hear everything. Everything in this whole school. People talking, walking, even writing. The pens scraping on paper. It’s all so loud.” It was all so familiar that an eerie shiver swept through me. Lucas squinted, as if the light was too much for his eyes. “Smells are intense, too. Everything is just…exaggerated, I guess. It’s unbearable.”

“It happened to me, too, after I bit you.”

Shaking his head, Lucas insisted, “It can’t be the bite. I didn’t feel this last time. I woke up at Mrs. Bethany’s sort of light-headed, but that was all.”

“More than once,” I whispered, remembering what my mother had told me. “You can’t become a vampire until you’ve been bitten more than once.”

Lucas jerked upright, so that his back was wedged against the metal headboard. “Whoa, whoa. I’m not a vampire. I’m alive.”

“No, you’re not a vampire. But you could become a vampire now. It’s possible for you. And maybe—maybe once it’s possible—your body starts to change.”

He grimaced. “You’re kidding me, right?”

“I wouldn’t joke about something like this!”

“Well, can we, like, reverse it? Fix it so I couldn’t become a vampire?”

“I don’t know! I don’t know how any of this works.”

“How can you not know this? Don’t you get some kind of vampire facts-of-life speech?”

Lucas was hinting again that my parents had kept important facts from me; I still found it irritating, but now I had the sinking realization that he might be right. “They told me how I would become a vampire. They prepared me for my own change. Not for you.”

“I know, I know.” His hand on my arm was reassuring, and I hated that he had to comfort me while he was so scared and uncomfortable himself. “I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around this.”

“That makes two of us.”

Why hadn’t I realized until now how little I understood about the hard facts of being a vampire? It never seemed like anything I had to question, before. Maybe my parents weren’t willfully hiding the truth from me; maybe they were simply waiting until I was ready. It hit me that this might’ve been the real reason they’d insisted I attend Evernight Academy. They could have been trying to prepare me to learn the entire truth.

If that were the case, they’d get their wish. “I’ll try and find something out. There must be books in the library. Or I could ask someone who wouldn’t get suspicious—Patrice, maybe. Balthazar would tell me, I know, but he’d figure out that I bit you again. He might not tell my parents, but he might, if he thought it was for our own good.”

“Don’t take any risks,” Lucas said. “We’ll figure this out somehow.”

Learning that truth proved harder than I thought.

“See how easy it is?” Patrice was so happy that I’d asked her to teach me the art of the pedicure, you would’ve thought I was paying her for private tutoring. “Tomorrow we’ll switch to a color more suitable to your skin tone. That coral looks a bit sickly.”

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