Evernight Page 56

“Okay, how can you have this much Duke Ellington and no Dizzy Gillespie?” Balthazar demanded of my father. He sat on the floor cross-legged, going through the albums to find music for us to listen to. I could’ve grabbed a few CDs and the player from my room, but that would’ve meant leaving my place beside Lucas on the sofa. Lucas had his arm around my shoulder, so I wasn’t budging.

“I used to have some Dizzy,” Dad said. “Lost that in a fire in sixty-five.”

Patrice, who sat primly in a nearby chair, sighed. “I had a terrible fire in 1892. It’s horrifying.”

“I would’ve thought you wouldn’t mind the chance to shop for a whole new wardrobe,” Lucas teased. Everyone sort of looked at him. “What did I say?”

“Fire is one of the few things that can kill us,” Mom explained, arms folded in front of her chest. She and Dad were still wary of Lucas, but they were trying to make the best of things. Like Mrs. Bethany, they had rationalized that the more Lucas knew, the less likely he was to make another terrible mistake. “That makes fire scary stuff.”

Lucas’s expression clouded, and for a moment I had no idea what he was thinking or feeling. Mostly I was pleased because Mom had said “us,” like Lucas already belonged.

Then Lucas said abruptly, “We were wondering about this the other day, actually. What are the other ways? That vampires can die, I mean?”

“Well, let’s see.” Dad clapped his hands together, like he had to work to remember this after a millennium. “Pretty short list, actually.”

“Stakes,” Lucas said firmly. “That’s what they show on TV, anyway.”

“Idiot box.” Patrice obviously thought television was too newfangled to merit her attention. But she was willing to talk to Lucas about being a vampire. I hoped she might open up a little, the way she had to me about her life in New Orleans, but so far she had mostly stuck to hard facts. “Stakes ‘kill’ us, but only temporarily. Once the stake is pulled out, you’ll be fine again in no time.”

Balthazar put a Billie Holiday album on as he added, “You just have to make sure you have a friend who can dig you up and take care of that.”

“It’s pretty much fire and beheading.” Mom ticked these two options off on her fingers.

“And holy water?” Lucas asked.

“Hardly.” My father didn’t bother to hide his contempt for Lucas’s suggestion. “I’ve had holy water thrown at me a few times. If there’s any difference between that and rainwater, I never felt it.”

Lucas looked skeptical, but he simply nodded. “Okay. Sorry, I know these are stupid questions.”

“It’s a lot to absorb,” Patrice said. From her, this was extremely charitable, so I gave her a smile as I leaned my head against Lucas’s shoulder. Sheets of rain washed against the windows, a constant whisper of noise beneath Billie’s croaky singing.

Mom must have noticed my snuggling a bit with Lucas, because she quickly tapped my father on the shoulder. “Okay, Adrian. We’ve hung out long enough. I’m sure the kids would rather talk without us.”

“Kids? Save that for the classroom. We’re almost exactly the same age!” Balthazar laughed. He was right, which was incredibly weird to think about. “You should stick around.”

“I don’t mind.” Patrice shrugged.

Lucas and I shared a look. We kind of did mind, but in an ideal world, Mom and Dad would’ve taken Balthazar and Patrice away with them so we could make out on the couch. That wasn’t going to happen.

Doing her eerie maternal-telepathy thing, Mom sighed sympathetically. “I guess there are times when no amount of privacy from the parents is enough, huh?”

“Evernight is definitely a challenging place to date,” Lucas agreed. Balthazar acted really interested in the Billie Holliday album cover all of a sudden.

Remembering how I’d shot Balthazar down, I cast about for any way to lighten the moment for him, then remembered a funny story I could tell. “Hey, at least it isn’t as bad for us as it was for your great-grandfather-whatever. Right, Lucas?” Lucas gave me a blank look. His face went pale, like I’d said something scary. Surely he was thinking about the wrong thing.

“Is this a family anecdote?” Mom asked. “Those are usually the best kind.” Everyone was listening now.

“One of Lucas’s ancestors came to Evernight, a great-grandfather or something around a hundred and fifty years ago. Come on, you tell it better!” I elbowed Lucas, but now his body was totally tense, as rigid as a board. He had said the story was a secret, but that had to be a joke, didn’t it? A story more than a hundred years old couldn’t be a secret. Maybe Lucas thought it was embarrassing, but I couldn’t see why he’d be ashamed of something that didn’t really have anything to do with him. “Anyway, he came here to study. He got into a duel with one of the other students, maybe over a girl, and they fought right in the great hall. That’s how that one stained-glass window was broken—did you know that? Neither of them died, but they expelled him, and…”

My voice trailed off as I saw that my parents and Balthazar had all gone completely still. They were staring at Lucas. His fingers were digging into my shoulder.

The only other person in the room who looked as confused as I felt was Patrice. “They let humans in before?”

“No,” Balthazar said sharply. “Never.”

“You had an ancestor who was a vampire?” I was astonished. “Lucas, you never knew this? Is that even possible?”

“I don’t think that’s what we’re dealing with.” My father stood up slowly. He wasn’t a very tall man, yet something about the way he loomed over us on the sofa was incredibly intimidating. “I don’t think that at all.”

“A hundred and fifty years ago.” Mom’s voice shook. “That was when…the one time that they…”

Dad never took his eyes off Lucas. “Yes.”

Then he grabbed Lucas by the throat.

I screamed. Had Dad gone crazy? Suddenly Lucas pushed his arms through my father’s, prying him off, and then Lucas’s fist smashed into Dad’s nose. Blood sprayed out, wet drops hitting me across the face.

“Stop! What are you doing? Stop!” I cried.

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