Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 122)
“Before noon, please, Beau. I haven’t got all day,” she said.
“Where’s Phil?” I hissed.
“Ah, be careful now, Beau. Wait until I ask you to speak, please.”
“It’s important that you don’t make your friends suspicious when you go back to them. Tell them that your mother called, and that you talked her out of coming home for the time being. Now repeat after me, ‘Thank you, Mom.’ Say it now.”
“Thank you, Mom.” It was hard to understand the words. My throat was closing up.
“Say, ‘I love you, Mom, I’ll see you soon.’ Say it now.”
“I love you, Mom,” I choked out. “I’ll see you soon,” I promised.
“Goodbye, Beau. I look forward to seeing you again.” She hung up.
I held the phone to my ear. My joints were frozen with horror—I couldn’t unbend my fingers to drop it.
I knew I had to think, but my head was filled with the sound of my mother’s panic. Seconds ticked by while I fought for control.
Slowly, slowly, my thoughts started to break past that brick wall of pain. To plan. Because I had no choices now but one: to go to the mirrored room and die. I had no guarantees that doing what she wanted would keep my mother alive. I could only hope that Joss would be satisfied with winning the game, that beating Edythe would be enough. Despair was like a noose pulling tight around my neck; there was no way to bargain, nothing I could offer or withhold that would influence her. But I still had no choice. I had to try.
I pushed the terror back as well as I could. My decision was made. It did no good to waste time agonizing over it. I had to think clearly, because Archie and Jessamine were waiting for me, and deceiving them was absolutely essential, and absolutely impossible.
I was suddenly grateful that Jessamine was gone. If she had been here to feel my anguish in the last five minutes, how could I have kept them in the dark? I fought back the fear, the horror, tried to force a lid on it all. I couldn’t afford to feel now. I didn’t know when she would be back.
I tried to concentrate on my escape, then immediately realized that I couldn’t plan anything. I had to be undecided. No doubt Archie would see the change soon, if he hadn’t already. I couldn’t let him see how it happened. If it happened. How could I get away? Especially when I couldn’t even think about it.
I wanted to go see what Archie had made of all this—if he’d seen any changes yet—but I knew I had to deal with one more thing alone before Jessamine got back.
I had to accept that I would never see Edythe again. Not even one last look at her face to take with me to the mirror room. I was going to hurt her, and I couldn’t say goodbye. It was like being tortured. I burned in it for a minute, let it break me. And then I had to pull my shell together to go face Archie.
The only expression I could manage was a blank, dead look, but I felt like that was understandable. I walked into the living room, my script ready to go.
Archie was bent over the desk, gripping the edge with two hands. His face—
At first the panic broke through my mask, and I jumped around the couch to get to him. While I was still in motion, I realized what he must be seeing. It brought me up short a few feet away from him.
“Archie,” I said dully.
He didn’t react when I called his name. His head rocked slowly from side to side. His expression brought the panic back again—maybe this wasn’t about me, maybe he was watching my mother.
I took another step forward, reaching out to touch his arm.
“Archie!” Jessamine’s voice whipped from the door, and then she was right behind Archie, her hands curling over his, loosening them from their grip on the table. Across the room, the door swung shut with a low click.
“What is it?” she demanded. “What did you see?”
He turned his empty face away from me, looking blindly into Jessamine’s eyes.
“Beau,” he said.
“I’m right here.”
His head twisted, his eyes locked on mine, their expression still blank. I realized that he hadn’t been speaking to me—he’d been answering Jessamine’s question.
“WHAT WAS IT?” I’D LOST CONTROL OF MY VOICE—IT WAS FLAT, UNCARING.
Jessamine stared at me. I kept my expression vacant and waited. Her eyes flickered between Archie’s face and mine, feeling the chaos. I knew what Archie had seen.
A peaceful atmosphere settled around me. I didn’t fight it. I used it to keep my emotions under control.
Archie recovered, too. His face snapped back to its normal expression.
“Nothing,” he said, his voice amazingly calm and convincing. “Just the same room as before.” He looked at me, focusing for the first time. “Did you want breakfast?”
“I’ll eat at the airport.” I was calm, too. Almost like I was borrowing Jessamine’s extra sense, I could feel Archie’s well-concealed desperation to get me out of the room, so that he could be alone with her. So he could tell her that they were doing something wrong, that they were going to fail.
Archie was still focused on me.
“Is your mother all right?”
I had to swallow back a throatful of bile. I could only follow the script I’d planned earlier.
“My mom was worried,” I said in a monotone voice. “She wanted to come home. It’s okay. I convinced her to stay in Florida for now.”
“Yes,” I agreed robotically.