Evernight Page 57

Everything after that happened so fast. Balthazar pulled me away from the fight, hard, so that I stumbled and fell onto the floor. He threw a punch at Lucas, too, but Lucas ducked it. Patrice wrapped her arms around me, screaming loudly, and because of that unable to move. My mother slammed one of the wooden dinner chairs onto the floor so forcefully that it broke. I thought at first that she was trying to get the guys’ attention, to figure out what the hell was going on, but instead she took one of the chair legs in her hand as a club and swung it into the small of Lucas’s back.

He shouted in pain, but instantly he spun, broke Mom’s grip, and left her clutching her hand. Dad and Balthazar were both on Lucas, trying to fight him as one, but he was as fast as they were, blocking every blow. I remembered the pizza parlor and the fight there. As formidable as Lucas had come across then, that had been nothing. This was how he could really fight—powerful enough to fend off two vampires at once.

I was strong enough to fight with them, but I didn’t want to fight my parents for Lucas, or Lucas for my parents, not until I understood what the hell had just happened.

“What are you doing?” I shrieked. “Stop it, everyone, stop it!”

They didn’t stop. My father swung at Lucas’s gut, and when Lucas dodged it, he seemed to fall backward—but he was faking, crouching to grab the chair leg my mother had dropped. Immediately Dad and Balthazar edged backward, and I realized Lucas now possessed a stake. Maybe he couldn’t kill either of them forever with that alone, but he could take them out of commission.

Patrice screamed in my ear as Lucas plunged the stake toward Balthazar’s chest. Balthazar leaped backward, only barely avoiding the blow. I could see a cut along his cheekbone, crescent shaped from Lucas’s fist. Then, to my horror, Lucas focused on my father. He was actually trying to stake Dad.

“Lucas, don’t!” I pleaded. “Mom, tell him to—Where’s Mom?” She seemed to have vanished while I was distracted by the fight.

“She’s run downstairs for help.” My father’s words came out in a growl. “Mrs. Bethany will be here soon, and then we’ll get this taken care of.”

Lucas only hesitated for a second. “Bianca, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“Lucas?”

His eyes met mine. “I love you.”

And then he ran, out the door, down the steps. At first all of us were too stunned to do anything, but then Dad and Balthazar took off after him. I turned to Patrice, who still huddled next to me on the floor. “Do you understand any of this?”

“No.” She ran her hands over her smooth, plaited hair, as if she could erase her earlier panic by fixing her own appearance. Nothing else mattered to her.

Though my legs shook, I got up and rushed after them, stumbling down the steps. I could hear Balthazar’s shouts echoing against the stone: “Stop him! Stop him now!”

Then there was a terrible crash, the silvery sound of splinters of glass ricocheting against floors and walls, and my father swore. My heart pounded so hard that I felt almost like I’d die if I didn’t stop running, but I’d die if I did stop, because Lucas was in danger and I had to be with him.

I half ran, half fell the last spiral of the steps to see Balthazar, Dad, and a few students standing around, staring at the one clear glass window of the great hall. The window was shattered, and I realized that Lucas had used the chair leg to break it and escape. He hadn’t even had the minute it would’ve taken to run halfway down the hall to the door. My parents had probably stopped chasing him only because plenty of human kids were in the room, freaked-out and about to start asking difficult questions.

My mother walked into the great hall, clutching her wrist. A few steps behind her was Mrs. Bethany, whose dark eyes flashed with barely suppressed rage.

“What the hell is going on?” Raquel came down the steps behind me. “Was there—was there a fight or something?”

Mrs. Bethany drew herself upright. “This is none of your concern. Everyone, back to your rooms.”

Raquel shot me a look as she started edging back up to our floor. Obviously she wanted me to explain, but how could I? My entire body flushed hot, then cold with every heartbeat, and I couldn’t really breathe. It hadn’t been five minutes since I’d sat next to Lucas while we laughed at my parents’ jokes.

Mom, Dad, and Balthazar didn’t move when the others did, so I remained still, too. As soon as everyone else had left, I wanted to ask Dad what this meant, but I didn’t get the chance. Mrs. Bethany demanded, “What happened?”

“Lucas is part of Black Cross,” my father said. Mrs. Bethany’s eyes went wide—not like she was scared but definitely surprised, the first time I’d ever seen her show any vulnerability at all. “We found out only now.”

“Black Cross.” She balled her hands into fists and stared at the broken window. The rain blew through the jagged opening with the gusts of wind, and thunder boomed out again. “What can they mean by this?”

“We have to go after him immediately.” Dad looked ready to run outside that second. Mom laid her good hand on his arm.

Very quietly, she said, “There will always be hunters. Nothing has really changed.”

Mrs. Bethany turned toward her, head cocked, eyes narrow. “Your pity is useless to us, Celia. I understand your desire to spare your daughter pain, but if you and your husband had been more vigilant, she would not be in this situation now.”

“This kid came here for a reason. He hurt our daughter to accomplish it. I intend to find out what it is.” Dad peered through the darkness. “He can’t move as fast in the storm as we can. We should go now.”

“We have time to assemble a team,” Mrs. Bethany insisted. “Mr. Ross will summon help as soon as he can, which means we cannot be sure of finding him alone. Mr. and Mrs. Olivier, both of you, come with me to fetch and arm the others.”

“I’m on the team, too.” Balthazar’s jaw was set.

Her eyes swept up and down as though taking his measure. “Very well, Mr. More. For the moment, I suggest you see to Miss Olivier. Explain her folly and keep her quiet.”

Mom held out a hand toward me. “I should talk to her.”

“Given your willingness to ignore the hard facts, I think the task is better left to a more neutral party.” Mrs. Bethany pointed toward the staircase.

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