Stargazer Page 5

Just then, Balthazar grinned and waved at somebody else—no telling who in that crowd, especially given that he was friends with nearly everybody. “I’ll catch you later, okay?” I called after him as he started walking off.


For a moment, I felt lonely without him. I was surrounded by vampires—real vampires, powerful and sensual and strong, with centuries of experience behind their beautiful, young faces. I wasn’t yet a full vampire, and the distance between us hadn’t closed much during my first year at Evernight. Next to them, I was still small, naive, and awkward.

All the more reason to head upstairs right away, I decided. I would have a different roommate this year, and I couldn’t wait to say hello.

When I walked into my dorm room, Raquel sighed. “Welcome back—to hell.”

She was flopped across her bare mattress, arms splayed out. Her duffel bag lay crumpled on the floor, as if deflated, and her clothes and art supplies were strewn around. It looked like she’d shaken the bag out and left her unpacking at that.

“Good to see you, too.” I sat on the edge of my own bed. “I thought you’d at least be happy that we could be roommates this year.”

“Trust me, you’re the only reason I can stand the thought of being here again. Did your parents, like, bribe Mrs. Bethany or something? If so, I owe them big-time.”

“No, just the luck of the draw.” That was almost a lie. My parents hadn’t asked Mrs. Bethany for any favors, but apparently there had been an odd number of humans and vampires admitted this year—both boys and girls. Since I still ate regular food more than I drank blood, I was considered the female vampire most likely to be able to hide the truth from a human when we dined in our rooms, as everyone did at Evernight.

Getting Raquel, though—that had been luck. That, and the fact that nearly every other human girl who had come here for her sophomore year had made sure to go somewhere else for her junior year. I couldn’t blame them.

“So,” I said, trying to keep my voice playful, “besides spending more time in my fascinating company, why did you come back? I know that’s not what you’d planned.”

“No offense, but even your fascinating company wasn’t enough to change my mind.” Raquel rolled over onto her belly, so that we were facing each other again. Her dark hair was cut even shorter than last year; at least she’d had a barber do it so that it looked good, even a little bit punk. “I told my parents I wanted to try somewhere else. Maybe live with my grandparents in Houston, go to school there. They didn’t want to hear it. Evernight’s ‘private’ and ‘exclusive,’ and that should be enough for me, they said.”

“Even learning about—about Erich—”

Raquel’s mouth twisted into a scowl. “They said he was probably just trying to flirt with me. They said I was too stand-offish with guys, and I had to learn to ‘like somebody back.’”

I stared at her, aghast. Erich hadn’t been some overzealous would-be boyfriend. He had been a vampire intent on stalking and killing her. Raquel didn’t know that, but she’d understood that he was dangerous. If I’d told my parents that somebody had scared me half as badly as Erich had scared her, my father would have held me tightly until I felt safe again, and my mother would’ve probably taken a baseball bat to whomever had dared threaten her little girl. Raquel’s parents had laughed at her and sent her back to this place she hated.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

She shrugged one shoulder. “I should’ve realized they wouldn’t listen. They never have. Even when I—”

“When what?”

Raquel didn’t answer. Instead, she shoved herself into a sitting position and pointed accusingly at the wall behind me. “So, are we stuck with the Klimt?”

I’d hung my print above my bed. The Kiss was so important to me that I’d forgotten Raquel had never seen it before. “What? You don’t like it?”

“Bianca, that picture is so cliché. You can get it, like, on fridge magnets and coffee mugs and stuff.”

“I don’t care.” Maybe it’s stupid to like something just because everyone else likes it, but if you ask me, it’s even stupider to dislike something because everyone else likes it. “It’s beautiful, and it’s one of my favorite things, and it’s in my half of the room. So nyah.”

“I might paint my side of the room black,” Raquel threatened.

“That wouldn’t be too bad.” I imagined putting glow-in-the-dark stars upon the walls and ceiling, just the way my room had been when I was little. “That would be great, actually. Too bad Mrs. Bethany wouldn’t let us get away with it.”

“Who says she’d object? They’ve done everything else to make this place as creepy as possible. Why not black paint all over everything?”

I got the mental picture of the school’s stone towers in shining black—which was pretty much all it needed to go straight to Dracula’s castle territory. “Even the bathrooms. Even the gargoyles. I didn’t think we could make Evernight any scarier, but we could, couldn’t we?”

“It would still be better than being home.” Raquel’s eyes were strange as she said this—so weary that for a moment she looked older in spirit than the vampires who had surrounded us at the assembly.

I wanted to ask her more about what had happened with her parents, but I didn’t know how. As I tried to find the words, Raquel briskly said, “C’mon and help me put away this crap.”

“What crap?”

“My stuff.”

“Oh,” I said, nodding as we got to our feet and headed toward her boxes and duffel bag in the corner. “That crap.”

After we’d gotten her bed made and her few things situated, Raquel wanted to take a nap. Her parents weren’t wealthy, like most of the families of human students at Evernight; instead of being driven to the front door in a luxury sedan, she’d had to catch a bus from Boston before dawn, make a couple of transfers, and then wait for a cab to bring her up here. She was completely wiped and had fallen asleep even before I’d gotten done lacing up my shoes to go outside.

Raquel is here on scholarship, I thought. That means Mrs. Bethany is actually paying for her to attend this school. Why would she do that?

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