Evernight Page 55

Chapter Fifteen

WITH MARCH CAME RAIN, TORRENTS OF IT, blurring the windowpanes and turning the earth to mud. For the first time, the grounds weren’t available to us as an escape. But for the first time, we didn’t need it. Lucas and I were learning about Evernight now. We were becoming a part of it.

“Look at this.” Lucas pushed one of Mrs. Bethany’s heavy, black, leather-bound books toward me as we sat together in a private corner of the library. The only other sound was raindrops pattering against the window. The book’s pages were brownish with age and the ink had faded, so I had to squint to make out the words. I read as Lucas explained, “They keep talking about ‘the Tribe.’ Some older group of vampires. Is anybody here from this Tribe?”

“I never heard of the Tribe before.” I’d never imagined how complicated vampire lore was; my parents had never hinted at any of this. “But what do they mean by older? My dad is nearly a thousand years old. Surely that’s about as old as it gets.”

“Not if everyone is immortal. There ought to be vampires two, three, ten times older than him. Ancient Romans. Ancient Egyptians. Whoever came before those guys. Where are they? Not here, I don’t think.”

He was right. The oldest vampire at Evernight was probably Ranulf, who had died in the seventh century. Of course, some vampires did die, like, finally die; if you didn’t get any blood for months and months, or even if you didn’t drink blood for a shorter time and then were exposed to the sun—that could get you. My parents had made that clear when I was a little kid who didn’t want to finish her glass of goat’s blood. Everyone’s worst nightmare was fire, which killed vampires even more quickly than it did humans. Despite all those dangers, a lot of vampires should have survived even longer than Ranulf.

“Mom and Dad say some people get lost,” I murmured. “That they lose track of time and humanity altogether. Evernight Academy was built so that vampires wouldn’t fall into that trap. Do you suppose that’s what my parents meant? Maybe the Tribe is all the vampires who get lost. They’re hermits and recluses, with no connection to humanity.” The thought made me shiver.

“Is this creeping you out?”

“Yeah, a little.”

Lucas brushed his thumb across my cheek. “You want us to take a break?”

I realized that I did, kind of. “I ought to study history. It’s hard enough to get As when you’re being graded on a curve alongside people who actually witnessed about half the events in the book. Now Mom’s being tougher on me than ever.”

“Go ahead.” Already he had turned his attention back to the book of vampire lore. “I’ll be right here.” Lucas didn’t lift his head from the book for the next hour, and when I bundled up my things to go downstairs, he let me leave without him so that he could keep working until the moment the library closed. (There was no taking the book back to his room; we agreed that Vic might be oblivious, but he wasn’t stupid, and leaving the real vampire information out where Vic could see it would be crazy.)

Every once in a while I asked myself if Lucas could have any other reason for immersing himself in Mrs. Bethany’s books. But I always pushed the thought away almost instantly. Mostly I encouraged him, thinking that he was getting closer to becoming a vampire—and staying with me—forever.

Not that everybody liked that idea, of course. Courtney had kind of chilled out after I bit Lucas for the first time, apparently figuring that I was now “in the club.” However, she didn’t want Lucas in the club with us, which meant that after news of the second bite spread around the school, she was in high bitch mode.

“Can you imagine hanging around with that guy for a hundred years?” she complained loudly to Genevieve in Modern Technology one day, while Mr. Yee was in the corner patiently explaining something to the perpetually bewildered Ranulf. “I mean, eww. One school year of Lucas Ross’s attitude is too much. If he thinks I’m going to acknowledge his sorry existence in a couple of decades, when he’s trying to suck up to all the people he put down here, he can think again.”

Balthazar, who had been attempting to program the microwave that provided the lesson for the day, casually called, “Hey, Courtney, refresh my memory. The other day, I was thinking that I’d seen you in French Indochina, but then I realized that wasn’t quite right. You were changed—what—fifty years ago?”

“Um.” Courtney suddenly became really interested in the tip of her ponytail. “About that.”

“Wait, no. Not fifty.” Balthazar’s forehead furrowed, as if the microwave had deeply confused him, although I could see he’d already figured out the controls. “It was—no, not the seventies either—1987, right?”

“No!” Her cheeks were pink now. Genevieve stared at her friend; she hadn’t heard this before and looked appalled. Courtney retorted, “It was 1984.”

“Ohhh. 1984. Three years earlier. Way after the French left Indochina. My mistake.” Balthazar shrugged. “Forgive me, Courtney. The decades sort of run together for those of us who’ve been around awhile.”

I pretended not to overhear, but I couldn’t help smirking as Balthazar triumphantly hit Start and the microwave started nuking a cup of blood. Age meant status: Anybody who hadn’t even lasted half a century yet was a newbie, so all Courtney’s posturing was completely blown. Lucas and I belonged at the school every bit as much as she did—

—which felt weird, but was true. Perhaps we would return here in forty years, or four hundred. Maybe we would come back to learn about how human life had changed and revisit the place we’d first met. It still spooked me to think about the vastness of the years that stretched out in front of us both. I got a little scared every time I thought about how much I might have to adapt to a world that could change as much as it had changed for my father since the Norman Conquest. The feeling that came over me was a lot like the fear of heights—so far to fall.

But when I thought about facing those years with Lucas by my side, I wasn’t afraid.

The worst storm of all blew through about the middle of March, a Saturday night so windy that even the thick antique glass of the school’s windows rattled in the frames. Lightning lit up the sky so often that sometimes, for a minute or more, it looked like daylight outside. With absolutely everyone trapped inside, every single common room was packed. Fortunately, a few friends and I had a way to escape.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies