Stargazer Page 68

“Sanctuary.” His face lit up with hope. “Sanctuary means she’s running from someone. It’s got to mean she’s running from the tribe. She’s turned away from them.”


“It’s got to be.”

He wanted to believe in her so badly. I didn’t trust Charity as far as I could throw her, but I didn’t say anything. For Balthazar’s sake, I hoped Charity behaved herself for a while, so at least he could visit her again.

“Are you going to go in and see her?”

“Mrs. Bethany wouldn’t want me to interrupt. I’ll find Charity later tonight.” Balthazar tentatively put a hand on my shoulder. “Have you been okay?”

“Yeah.” I couldn’t share either my disappointments or my excitement about my impending escape. I could only ask, “How about you?”

“Everything’s going to be all right now,” he said, and he grinned.

“Maybe.” I thought about Lucas and returned his smile “Maybe for both of us.”

The next day, as we all met up in the hallway, Vic said, “Is it just me, or has time slowed to a standstill? It’s like summer is getting farther away, not closer.”

“I know what you mean,” I said. “Where is your family headed this summer?”

“Looks like we’re renting a villa in Tuscany,” Vic replied, with the kind of carefree boredom that only somebody superrich could ever use to announce news like that. Next to him, Raquel’s eyes became wide.

“Me, if I’m in Italy, I’d rather be in Rome, right? See all the ruins, like, where the gladiators fought, stuff like that? Not just sitting in some fancy-schmancy house in the middle of wine country while I’m still not legal to drink.”

“I always heard the drinking age was lower in Europe,” Raquel said.

“It is, but try telling that to my mom.” Vic stopped as we reached the entrance to the north tower where the boys’ dorms were. I figured he would tell us good-bye, but instead he peered up the spiral stairs.

“Something weird is going on up there.”

“Weird?” Raquel pulled her books closer to her chest. “Like, ghost weird?”

“I don’t think so. Some other kind of weird. Normally they don’t really care if people sit on the stairs in the evening—you know, just to hang out without annoying your roommate, or every once in a while Balthazar has a cigarette up there and blows the smoke out the window. But last night, Ranulf and I made, like, one move toward the stairwell, and all of a sudden Professor Iwerebon appeared out of thin air and read us the riot act for even thinking about going up that way.”

“I bet it has something to do with that,” Raquel said. “With ghosts, I mean. That’s the main reason people have acted strange this year.” I knew that really they were trying to keep the students away from Charity—or vice versa. “I wouldn’t worry about it,” I said. “Whatever it is, in two weeks we’ll all be out of here.”

“Unless that time-stretching thing keeps up.” Vic grinned and flipped us a wave as he loped into the dormitory wing.

As Raquel and I headed back down the main corridor toward our own tower, she said, “Here comes trouble.” I glanced to my right and saw my father walking purposefully toward us.

“Oh, no.” There was nowhere for me to run. “Stay here with me?”

“I would, but you know he’s going to make me go eventually. The sooner I leave, the sooner you get it over with.” She was right. I sighed. “Okay, talk to you later.” Raquel headed in the direction of the room we’d once shared, which left me alone as my father walked up. “I want to speak with you,” he said.

“That makes one of us.”

Dad didn’t appreciate backtalk, but I saw him resist an angry response. “You’re upset. I understand that you’re upset. I suppose you have a right to be.”

“You suppose?”

“You need to be mad at someone? Be mad at me. Ultimately it was my decision to handle things this way, and if I made a mistake, I’m sorry.” Before I could ask him what he meant by if, Dad continued, “But how long are you going to do this to your mother?”

“I’m not doing anything to her!”

“You’ve shut her out. You ignore her. You think that doesn’t hurt her feelings? That you’re the only person in this family who can be hurt?

Because this is tearing her up inside. I can’t stand to see her suffer, and I can’t believe you could stand it either, much less be responsible.” A memory flashed in my mind—Mom with bobby pins in her mouth, braiding my hair for the Autumn Ball. I refused to dwell on it. “I can’t have a relationship with people who can’t be honest with me.”

“You’re looking at this situation in its most extreme light. You’re a teenager; I guess it comes with the territory—”

“It’s not because I’m a teenager!” Quickly I glanced around—no students in sight, human or vampire. “Tell me what happens if I refuse to ever take a human life.”

“That’s not an option for you.”

“I think it is.” Still, he couldn’t tell me the truth. So much for my having a right to be upset, or Dad admitting he made a mistake. “What if that’s my choice?”

“Bianca, that is not something you can choose. Not ever. Don’t let your temper get in the way of reason.”

“We’re done,” I said, walking off. I wondered if he’d follow me, but he didn’t.

That night, I lay in Mrs. Bethany’s bed. My brooch sat upon the nightstand, Raquel’s artwork was almost as bright as a night-light upon the wall, and I tried to take as much pleasure in the colors, and in my plans, as I had before. But I kept thinking about my mother. This is tearing her apart.

As long as I was angry with Mom and Dad—and I was still furious—

the separation from them didn’t have to hurt. In other moments, I remembered how close we had always been, and then I missed them so badly I ached.

What I had lost was lost forever. Wasn’t it? I didn’t know how to look at the lies they’d told any other way.

The door of the carriage house banged open, and I jumped out of bed.

“Who’s there?” I cried, before thinking that if it were an intruder, I might have done better to stay quiet.

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