I won’t lie.

Walking into a room and seeing your girlfriend reading a baby-name book can kind of make your heart stop. “I’m no expert,” I began, choosing my words carefully. “Well actually, I am. !nd I’m pretty sure there are certain things we ha"e to do before you need to be reading that.” #ydney #age, the aforementioned girlfriend and light of my life, didn’t e"en look up, though a hint of a smile played at her lips. “It’s for the initiation,” she said matter-of-factly, as though she were talking about getting her nails done or picking up groceries instead of $oining a co"en of witches. “I ha"e to ha"e a %magical’ name they use during their gatherings.” “&ight. 'agical name, initiation. (ust another day in the life, huh)” *ot that I was one to talk, seeing as I was a "ampire with the fantastic yet complicated ability to heal and compel people. +his time, I got a full smile, and she lifted her ga,e. !fternoon sunlight filtering through my bedroom window caught her eyes and brought out the amber glints within them. +hey widened in surprise when she noticed the three stacked boxes I was carrying. “What are those)” “! re"olution in music,” I declared, re"erently setting them on the floor. I opened the top one and un"eiled a record player. “I saw a sign that some guy was selling them on campus.” I opened another box full of records and lifted out &umours by -leetwood 'ac. “*ow I can listen to music in its purest form.” #he didn’t look impressed, surprising for someone who thought my ./01 'ustang which she’d named the I"ashkinator was some sort of holy shrine. “I’m pretty sure digital music is as pure as it gets. +hat was a waste of money, !drian. I can fit all of the songs in those boxes on my phone.” “2an you fit the other six boxes that are in my car on your phone)” #he blinked in astonishment and then turned wary. “!drian, how much did you pay for all that)” I wa"ed off the 3uestion. “4ey, I can still make the car payment. 5arely.” I at least didn’t ha"e to pay rent, since the place was prepaid, but I had plenty of other bills. “5esides, I’"e got a bigger budget for this kind of stuff, now that someone made me 3uit smoking and cut back on happy hour.” “'ore like happy day,” she said archly. “I’m looking out for your health.” I sat down beside her on the bed. “(ust like I’m looking out for you and your caffeine addiction.” It was a deal we’d made, forming our own sort of support group. I 3uit smoking and cut back to one drink a day. #he’d ousted her obsessi"e dieting for a healthy amount of calories and was down to only one cup of coffee a day. #urprisingly, she’d had a harder time with that than I’d had with alcohol. In those first few days, I thought I’d ha"e to check her into caffeine rehab. “It wasn’t an addiction,” she grumbled, still bitter. “'ore of a . . . lifestyle choice.” I laughed and drew her face to mine in a kiss, and $ust like that, the rest of the world "anished. +here were no name books, no records, no habits. +here was $ust her and the feel of her lips, the ex3uisite way they managed to be soft and fierce at the same time. +he rest of the world thought she was stiff and cold. 6nly I knew the truth about the passion and hunger that was locked up within her well, me and (ill, the girl who could see inside my mind because of a psychic bond we shared. !s I laid #ydney back on the bed, I had that faint, fleeting thought I always did, of how taboo what we were doing was. 4umans and 'oroi "ampires had stopped intermingling when my race hid from the world in the 7ark !ges. We’d done it for safety, deciding it was best if humans didn’t know of our existence. *ow, my people and hers 8the ones who knew about 'oroi9 considered relationships like this wrong and, among some circles, dark and twisted. 5ut I didn’t care. I didn’t care about anything except her and the way touching her dro"e me

hiding the brightness of tur3uoise lace with the conser"ati"e attire she liked to armor herself in. one managed by a lenient teacher who let her take off early and race o"er here. I think it was part of her inherent ability to keep track of a hundred things at once.wild.” #ydney held one up and studied it with an expert eye. 5ut although I was a decent painter. !nd $ust like that. +his was our weekday pattern. our romance was a tightly guarded secret. e"en as her calm and steady presence soothed the storms that raged within me. +here was a softness in them that I rarely saw at other times. and her aura faded away. the clock was ticking. I still ached . #o far. !nd all the records you want. It was the price for that kind of power. I felt a lump in my throat.” 4er hand gently touched my face. :"en now. one that re3uired a lot of sneaking around and carefully calculated planning. “+hey were a birthday present from !unt +atiana a few years ago. off to places I couldn’t follow at least not yet and I was here. . #he had an independent study for her last period of the day at school. #he sat up. though. and though I was always sad to see them disappear. her expression filled with concern. “=ou’"e got a fortune here. In fact. and the light returned to the world. In these moments. +hen. that shining light around her. empty with the loss of my aunt. I saw what she’d picked up and stiffened< sparkling cuff links set with rubies and diamonds. and the walls seemed to close in on me as I remembered the way she’d been stabbed to death and how they’d paraded those bloody pictures around when trying to find her killer. It wouldn’t bring !unt +atiana back. alone and insignificant and floundering . cheeks flushed and golden hair tousled. I focused on her eyes. +his is platinum. *ot me. hopeless place. a scholar’s yellow balanced with the richer purple of passion and spirituality. and these sudden shifts had become more and more fre3uent recently. as did the deadly exhilaration of spirit. “It’s okay. #he was so beautiful that it made my soul ache. capturing her on can"as was beyond my skill. the warmth and $oy I’d $ust felt was replaced by a cold but familiar darkness. my thoughts were usually focused on getting her shirt off and whether I’d get past the bra this time. +he magic brought a brief surge of pleasure inside me.” #ydney’s "oice was calm but firm. 3ueen of the 'oroi and the only relati"e who hadn’t $udged me. :"erything’s okay.oe got out of class. +he world was suddenly a cruel. I always wished desperately that I could paint her in these moments and immortali. !s she walked o"er to the mirror at my dresser. I was $ust $oking. #he grinned.” “I’d sleep in a cardboard box before I sold those. #omehow. “What’s this)” “4mm)” I came to stand behind her and wrapped my arms around her waist. It didn’t matter that the killer was locked away and slated for execution. “4ey. #he was gone. a total and complete "ulnerability in someone who was normally so guarded and analytical in the rest of her life. We’d get one precious hour of making out or talking usually making out. those secret spots of color in her life. ! blink of the eye. I hadn’t. made more frantic by the pressure bearing down on us and then she was back to her pri"ate school. #ell these. it made me happy to know they were there. and you’d ha"e allowance for life. . and then I saw it. “!drian. #he collected her brown blouse and buttoned it up. #he’d done an o"erhaul of her bras in the last month.” #he noticed the change in me and turned around. I summoned some of the spirit magic within me to get a glimpse of her aura.” 5ut it wasn’t okay. #ydney had an internal clock that told her when time was up. $ust as her clingy and "ampire-hating sister .e that look in her eyes. +hat didn’t mean we flaunted this. I dredged myself out of the despair that could come on so 3uickly and hea"ily. and slowly. It was its typical self. a darkness that had increased o"er the years the more I used spirit. #he finished smoothing her hair and looked down. the energy that surrounded all li"ing things.

What was . and the little guy had grown on me. I wasn’t misunderstood. but I considered it a small thing in order to be with her. “4e’s been out for a while. Inside was a dragon. “I’ll take him for a while. and we didn’t want a trail of texts and calls. “:scape plan number se"enteen. but again. 5ut if you need anything ” “I know. #ydney had summoned him from some demonic realm as a sort of helper. We usually called him 4opper.” I warned. one I was reluctant to let end. #miling. #ydney lifted the lid of the tank and let the small golden-scaled creature scurry into her hand. and to maintain his health. slipping him into her purse. +he “escape plans” were a running $oke with us. we had to take turns hanging out with him. I wasn’t alone. I usually made them up on the spot.” #he stared at me with concern a few moments longer and then relaxed a little. his health re3uired he come out now and then. 6nly she could transform him. It was a handy way to talk since we didn’t ha"e a lot of time together in the waking world and because we didn’t spend much time talking in the waking world these days but like any use of spirit. It worried her a lot. :"en if he was inert. always farfetched and numbered in no particular order. !nd I know you’ll want to know how things go for me. “6kay. though. #age. !nd I don’t want him to watch me kiss you goodbye.” I promised.” I told her. I know. 'ostly he seemed to want to help us out by eating all the $unk food in my apartment. “&un away and open a $uice stand in -resno. #wallowing. #he and I were tied to him. +echnically. =ou’ll make .” “!drian ” “I’ll keep it short. howe"er. -or now. “!drian. !s we cut through the li"ing room. but we rarely used that term. “=ou ready to take a break)” 4opper could exist in this li"ing form or be transformed into a small statue. It’s too risky. the organi. I cupped her face in my hands. 4e ga. he still benefited from being near her.” #he ga"e him a light tickle on the chin and spoke the words that turned him into a statue.” #eeing the doubt in her face. =ou need to go. I pressed a kiss to her forehead. 2all on the >o"e ?hone. *o.e. and be late for your witch meeting. #he reluctantly agreed not looking happy at all and I walked her out to the door. +hat.oe had mo"ed in. it was called a callistana. it was a continual risk to my sanity. 4e keeps trying to eat my paints. her features hardened again. no. I nodded and ga"e her a weak smile as spirit’s dark hand released its hold on me. she knelt down and tapped the glass. -ree of his beady little ga. my place had become his primary residence. my hope and my anchor. I ga"e her a long kiss goodbye.” +hat brought her smile back. wouldn’t be able to track.” she said. really. “I’m okay.oe wonder. *ot that they regularly tracked her main phone but they certainly could if they thought something suspicious was happening.ation she worked for. !t that. “I want to know how things go.” “Why -resno)” “#ounds like the kind of place people drink a lot of $uice. but #ydney was here. We’d recently ac3uired secret prepaid cell phones that the !lchemists.” #he grinned and kissed me again.” !nother of spirit’s benefits was the ability to "isit people in their dreams.” she said. “&eally.ed up at her adoringly. and I couldn’t blame him for that. “=eah. “*o arguments. which helped a"oid uncomfortable 3uestions when people came by. #ince .” I added.for my aunt. >ife was certainly easier that way. she paused at a small terrarium sitting near the window. “!nd I’ll come by tonight.

when I was ready for bed. 5reaking that second kiss was difficult too. -or now. so I had to use whate"er help I could get. and when fi"e o’clock came around. 'aybe I $ust didn’t know myself. I could do this sober. !nd I was stumped. though. It could be anything. fragile face of my friend (ill 'astrano 7ragomir. with a future that was anything but clear. she’d be out paying the bills while I stayed home and cleaned.ed. *ot all of them were real. and the ?alm #prings winter e"ening barely re3uired a light $acket. I could ha"e painted flaming roses in tribute to my ex-girlfriend. that one drink was needed for the end of the day. It was more angry than sad. I couldn’t e"en pronounce half the things that interested her. feeling a return of that earlier darkness. I left the art behind and stepped outside my door. not like #trigoi the undead "ampires who killed for their blood. I could probably do that reasonably well. +he sun was going down outside. I knew these fears eating at me were being amped up by spirit. who knew e"erything about e"erything and could excel at any career she wanted. 5ut myself) I didn’t know what to do for me. I’d promised her I’d ha"e only one drink a day. the can"as remained bare. I ne"er had in my entire life. but she finally managed it. so I crouched down in front of an easel. I felt like the slacker most people had always said I was. 'ost of the albums were from the sixties and se"enties. but they were hard to shake. We needed all the help we could get in the fight against them. 'aybe it was $ust an artistic block. and my feet nearly carried me to the kitchen but I resisted. 'aybe I couldn’t capture that exact look of rapture #ydney had in my arms. who’d torn my heart apart yet still managed to make me admire her. 5oth of us were painfully aware that we were "ery much li"ing in the now. I had to wonder what I could possibly offer her. though. It was especially depressing when I thought about #ydney. hoping to find distraction in the night to come. I could ha"e painted the wistful. staring up at the blank can"as as I tried to decide how to deal with my current assignment in ad"anced oil painting< a self-portrait. and I focused back on the can"as. 'y sober resol"e didn’t result in inspiration. I didn’t sleep well. laced with the frustration of not being able to do this. I could practically taste the "odka already. 6nce #ydney got o"er her stance that they were a wasteful splurge. I could’"e painted anyone else I knew. my frustration growing. destined for a lifetime of failure. and I’d hold true to that. It was a fa"orite time of the e"ening for 'oroi. It didn’t ha"e to be an exact likeness. !lcohol didn’t necessarily make for the best art. she wouldn’t be able to help herself and would end up sorting them all by artist or genre or color. !nd I really wasn’t good at that either. I set up the record player in my li"ing room and pulled out an album at random< 'achine 4ead by 7eep ?urple. but it usually inspired something. !s I stared at the can"as. so long as it was representati"e of me. If we e"er managed some normal life together. but I didn’t make any attempts at that. I had to fight off the need to go to my neglected li3uor cupboard and pour a drink.ul. was that they were actually more thought-out than any real plans we had. !nd for the time being. I brought in the rest of the boxes from my car and sifted through the treasures within. but I could paint her aura or the color of her eyes. let alone discuss them.sad. 'y apartment seemed dimmer in her absence. a suburb only ten minutes away from downtown that housed . and I watched her walk away. 'y art teachers claimed I had talent. when there was still light but not enough to be uncomfortable. I dro"e out to @ista !. It could be abstract. I had a few more hours until dinner. but in moments like this. +he earnestness in #ydney’s eyes burned through my mind. We could handle some sunlight. If she $ust wanted to come home at night to eye candy with good hair. I could mix it with orange $uice and pretend I was being healthy. a young princess of the 'oroi. #unlight destroyed them. I stood up and stretched out the kinks in my body. which was a perk for us. with a little eighties here and there. +hey weren’t organi. 'y fingers twitched. ?utting aside the "ampire-human problem.

+hey piled in. “=our car doesn’t ha"e enough seats. “+his seat’s meant to hold three. “!ll aboard.” I told her.oe had been at !mberwood for a month but was in full possession of all the hang-ups and pre$udices her people had around "ampires and dhampirs. +hat miracle had bonded us with a connection that allowed her to feel and see my thoughts though not the other way around. but dead nonetheless.” I mean it.!mberwood ?rep. When we’d first come to ?alm #prings. +he last member of the party stood outside the car. !nd so. +he newest addition to the group was *eil &aymond. bringing us up to a lucky se"en. . she’d still be getting co. #ydney had nearly had a heart attack o"er altering the 'ustang from its original state. #ydney was normally the group’s designated chauffeur. (ill’s three bodyguards climbed into the backseat. right)” +o gi"e us easy access to one another. (ill and !ngeline seemed to think his non-smiling demeanor was a sign of some kind of noble character. someone had come up with the 3uestionably brilliant idea to send (ill into hiding in the middle of a human city in the desert. (ill had the added misfortune of being one of two people left in a dying line of 'oroi royalty. (ill was the second. what "ampire would want to li"e here) It was certainly a 3uestion I asked myself a lot. +his was recent news to her. was slightly less dependable. se"en years younger than me. . +hey were stronger and faster than the rest of us. . but (ill understood me in a way no one else could. #ydney might be the lo"e of my life. making ideal warriors in the battle against #trigoi and royal assassins. #he leaned forward and met my eyes with brown ones almost like #ydney’s. ?roper. we’d made !mberwood belie"e we were all siblings or cousins. but there was a grace and wisdom that radiated from her already. “5esides.” “*ot true.oe stared at the empty spot for se"eral seconds. “+here’s no room. there’d $ust been four. the pri"ate boarding school that #ydney and the rest of our motley crew attended. (ill. the reason we were all here. I knew them well because #ydney used to ha"e all of them too. I opened up the door. but with less gold. +hey were all dhampirs. #ydney’s sister. howe"er.” she said. a race born of mixed "ampire and human heritage from the time our races had shared in free lo"e. !ngeline 7awes. >issa the 'oroi 3ueen and a good friend of mine needed (ill ali"e in order to hold on to her throne.” #he was a scrapper in a fight. 5ecause seriously. the red-haired spitfire. 6n cue. though. #he was only fifteen. (ill mo"ed closer to me. aka +all. in order to in"oke an ancient family law re3uiring a monarch to ha"e one other li"ing family member. It had been forged when I used spirit to sa"e her life last year and when I say “sa"e.” I mean. :"en though the seat really was long. (ill had technically been dead. !nd by “less dependable. If #ydney was the main calming force in my life. When *eil arri"ed. the !lchemists had finally gi"en up on making him a relati"e since things were getting kind of ridiculous. and 5oring. “not at all.oe #age. +he fact that he’d gone to school in :ngland and had picked up a faint 5ritish accent especially seemed to fire up their estrogen. a dependable rock who’d been with (ill from the beginning. had #ydney been there. :ddie 2astile was the de facto leader of the group. I’d used spirit’s power to perform a miraculous feat of healing and bring her back before the next world could claim her. -or reasons I didn’t understand.” I said. plus me.” and that alone would ha"e been enough to mess up any kid. It was ironic because the . we’re all family. and her sister.y with (ill. with that psychic bond. +here were fi"e of them now. >ast owner e"en fitted it with an extra seat belt. scooted in beside me and flashed me a grin. only for less than a minute. +hose who opposed >issa’s liberal rule conse3uently wanted (ill dead.” While that was safer for modern times. >eaning across the passenger seat. ?eople brought back that way were called “shadow-kissed. It was kind of hard not to. refusing to get in. +he gang was all waiting at the curb outside the girls’ dorm as I pulled up. but that dubious honor had fallen on me tonight while she scurried off to her clandestine meeting with the co"en.

seeing as she was a natural at e"erything. $umping when the !lchemists ordered her to new assignments. did something. It was why . +hat was how #ydney had originally been drafted.” *o. while I . +hey helped us grudgingly and were useful in a situation like (ill’s. when arrangements with human authorities and school officials needed to occur behind the scenes. I thought. eager to learn whate"er she could. though there was a perpetual sharpness in his eyes as he scanned the world for danger. where she could learn anything she wanted. “Bi"ing one hundred percent to a task is slacking for her.oe disappro"ingly. lest we taint them with our e"il. ?h. I ga"e her a wan smile back. then to the outskirts of ?alm #prings to the home of 2larence .ation of badasses that protected the 'oroi. to smooth the way for (ill and her exile. I could see an easy smile on his face. largely to impress the #age father. who they feared wouldn’t be able to handle it. I’d concluded after many stories.oe know that said pro$ect in"ol"ed #ydney being initiated into her teacher’s co"en. #ydney didn’t $ust eat up knowledge for the sake of her "ocation. !lchemists excelled at making things happen. +here was probably nothing else I could’"e said that would’"e moti"ated her more. her $ade-colored eyes shining.” I amended. 4e and *eil had been trained by the guardians.oe took a deep breath and steeled herself. #he only needs to pass. and was now fully immersed in learning the trade from her . It would almost be comical. “#ydney should’"e left the #A@. +he !lchemists were dri"en by the belief that members of my kind were twisted parts of nature best ignored and kept separate from humans. #he did it because she lo"ed it. I felt a small hand on my arm and glanced briefly down to see (ill looking sympathetically up at me. and (ill is safe. #he knew what I was thinking. #he’d escape the !lchemists’ hold and become 7r. “5ecause it’s #ydney. well. was a ma$or asshole.” said . $ust as she had of me. when this is all o"er. she’d been born into her family $ob. “=ou could whip up something like that in your sewing club. “=ou don’t ha"e to go if you’re afraid. anyway) :r. “It’s $ust a stupid class. pulling out of the school’s dri"eway. and I didn’t know how. “*ot that I don’t like chauffeuring you guys around. . #ydney #age. #age #enior.” she muttered a little while later. not as amused as the rest of us.oe shadowing her had made e"erything so dangerous lately. Without another world.oe had been sent recently as an apprentice and had become a huge pain in the ass for hiding our relationship. if not for the fact that I worried the hard-core . who nudged me back. #he was dri"en to become a super !lchemist. “Where is #age. #he needs to learn.7.ealots among the !lchemists would do something terrible to #ydney if she was e"er caught.” said :ddie from the backseat. “#he’s always doing something for her. Instead. +erwilliger. huddling as close to it as possible. 4uman magic was still a strange and mysterious thing to me and completely anathema to the !lchemists but #ydney was apparently a natural. *o surprise.” I nudged (ill. #he’d already graduated from high school but treated this second senior year as seriously as the first. I didn’t know where. (ackie +erwilliger.” >ittle did .” . . she climbed in beside (ill and slammed the door.any yet lo"eable mentor. since the !lchemists didn’t want a 'oroi ci"il war. . who.oe shook her head. In the rear"iew mirror. but #ydney would figure out those logistics. We dro"e across town. the dhampir organi.” “#he’s off doing some pro$ect for 's. we’ll run away from e"erything. (ailbait. knew about the fantasies I often spun. =ou should’"e brought me a little black cap. #he’d o"ercome her fears of it. !nd what she would’"e lo"ed more than anything was to lose herself in the academic throes of college.!lchemists’ mission was to keep the world of "ampires and the supernatural hidden from their fellow humans.” I said. +o say the !lchemists wouldn’t like that was an understatement. In fact. #omeday. I don’t get why history research takes up so much time. . it was really a toss-up which would piss them off more< learning the arcane arts or making out with a "ampire.

7onahue.” I faked a yawn and leaned back into the couch. I’m sure. !s appealing as that openness was. leaning down to kiss his cheek.” 7orothy. and :ddie shot me a withering look. though we didn’t need it in nearly the same 3uantities..oe lifted her head up high. -irst she paledE then she turned an angry red. “Is it) Weren’t you $ust here yesterday) Well.oe.” “It’s -riday. “*ot usually. “'aybe she figures if we’re well fed. will be happy to accommodate you. ! look of distaste crossed . It’s not "ery polite. his aging housekeeper. though she said nothing. !ngeline looked from face to face. and while 2larence could still pro"ide an occasional high. 7orothy. I hated camping. It’s not that . “4ere on a +hursdayD What a nice surprise. “+here’s always food.oe’s face. sitting in his massi"e leather chair and using a magnifying glass to read some ancient book.” I corrected. 6ld 2larence was kind of a crackpot. +hat masala or whate"er stuff.” .ing.e swi"eled to . “*eitherD I’m not your concierge. 'oroi don’t ha"e to kill for blood like #trigoi did. I don’t know why she always takes care of that stuff for you.” said (ill gently. 'oroi also needed that sort of food. We found 2larence in the li"ing room. ignoring !ngeline’s familiar and endearing tendency to stray into tangents. 6lder 'oroi didn’t drink as much blood as young ones. the only 'oroi foolish enough to li"e in this desert until my friends and I had shown up last fall. you two won’t look that appeti. “:nough. and humans who were the only ones I knew of that freely li"ed together and intermarried. there were plenty of humans in the world happy to pro"ide it in exchange for a life spent on the endorphin high brought on by a "ampire bite. It’s not my $ob to feed you guys. “!lways. and the two of them left the room for more pri"ate accommodations. 4e looked up at our entrance. It was a nice way to pretend we led normal li"es. 'r.” !ngeline’s ga. but we did need it at least a couple times a week. It took a lot of energy to keep that acti"e dhampir metabolism fired up. but he was a nice enough one who’d welcomed a ragtag group of 'oroi and dhampirs and allowed us to use his feederChousekeeper. “2an I go now)” +he older woman nodded eagerly. It took her a moment to pick up the double meaning. not $ust for blood but also for regular food.” “#ydney usually takes care of food. !ngeline was practically bouncing up and down on the couch.” “In which sense)” I asked. “We’re here to keep (ill’s co"er and make sure she stays off the radar. 6rdering pi. *o one answered.a isn’t one of them. dhampirs. in case we’d ne"er noticed. I almost smiled. “What’s for dinner)” #he had an unusual southern accent from growing up in a rural mountain community of 'oroi. no matter. -ortunately. startled. “Why didn’t you ha"e us pick up something)” “5ecause that’s not my $obD” . “I liked that Indian food we had the other day. li"ing with them had ne"er crossed my mind in my fantasies with #ydney.oe was too horrified to respond.” she pointed out. :"eryone else in their respecti"e races regarded them with a kind of mingled horror and fascination. 4e regarded her fondly. #eeing her expression and the way she sat far away from e"eryone else was so like #ydney in the old days. +hese regular gatherings had become kind of a family dinner affair.” said :ddie. *either is #ydney. I knew perfectly well that was a mean thing to say to her but couldn’t resist. #he should only be dealing with things that are essential for your sur"i"al. #he’d hit the $ackpot when (ill and I arri"ed in ?alm #prings. “Well) Why isn’t there food here)” 7hampirs didn’t drink blood and could eat the regular kinds of food humans did. looked "ery accommodating. 5ut I don’t know if we should go there any more until they start calling it *ati"e !merican food. (ill hurried o"er to 7orothy.7onahue. fre3uent "isits from (ill and me pro"ided a near-constant one for her.

If you’d gone to my school in 7e"onshire. manly thing they’d e"er heard. #pend three days eating twigs and heather. .oe’s cell phone rang. but that was typical of him. “=ou didn’t pipe up with any re3uests. he didn’t show it. #he slowly shook her head.oe’s return. I barely paid any attention to the rest of the con"ersation as I counted the moments until . “Is #ydney okay)” +oo late I reali. It was all an act for both girls. “!re you okay with what we ordered)” !ngeline asked him. If :ddie was still hurt.oe. kept pretending she was in lo"e with *eil. an amused smile on her face. despite a recent and disastrous bout of dating.” . #ydney said he was secretly in lo"e with (ill. but no one not e"en #ydney belie"ed me. something else he was good at hiding. they left us alone on the moors to fend for oursel"es and learn sur"i"al skills. like !ngeline.oe was doing her !lchemist thing. “What is it)” I demanded. If something was up with her. something was up with #ydney. +he bond wasn’t on all the time. +hings were unexpectedly cordial between !ngeline and :ddie.” Without a backward glance. With the food dilemma settled. she answered and scurried out of the room. I don’t know. #omething bad had happened. :ddie wore an expression that reflected what I felt.. -ortunately. 4e kept his dark hair in a painfully short and efficient haircut.” !ngeline and (ill cooed as though that was the most rugged. we actually managed to fall into a surprising camaraderie well. *ot e"en our friends knew about me and her. It was the kind of no-nonsense thing the !lchemists would’"e lo"ed. but (ill. “It’s 7ad. “I .oe. pu. her ashen face told me I was right. all attention was on . When she did finally come back. It’s my parents.hard to order pi. you’d understand. . I could’"e appro"ed of that. e"eryone except . #he’d mo"ed on and now pretended to be obsessed with *eil..ling o"er whether this guy was as serious as he seemed or $ust some genius with swoon-worthy lines. “I can’t waste time 3uibbling o"er tri"ial things like pepperoni and mushrooms. -or one of my sophomore classes. I wasn’t one for premonition. #he’d apparently witnessed the exchange. who $ust watched and waited.” *eil shook his head. !nd that worried me. face stoic. when he knew . +hey’re getting di"orced. #he looked at the display and $umped up in alarm. but a chill ran down my spine. but it appeared to be going strong today.ed I shouldn’t ha"e showed any special concern for #ydney.” (ill was back by the time he finished the call. and you’ll learn not to argue about any food coming your way. . I’ll do it.a. +he #age dad wasn’t the kind of warm and friendly guy who’d call to say hello during business hours. eyes wide and disbelie"ing.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful