Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 125)
“Hello, Beau,” that easy voice answered. “That was very quick. I’m impressed.”
“Is my mom okay?”
“She’s perfectly fine. Don’t worry, Beau, I have no quarrel with her. Unless you didn’t come alone, of course.” Light, amused.
“I’m alone.” I’d never been more alone in my entire life.
“Very good. Now, do you know the ballet studio just around the corner from your home?”
“Yeah. I know how to get there.”
“Well, then, I’ll see you very soon.”
I hung up.
I ran from the room, through the door, out into the morning heat.
From the corner of my eye, I could almost see my mother standing in the shade of the big eucalyptus tree where I’d played as a kid. Or kneeling by the little plot of dirt around the mailbox, the cemetery of all the flowers she’d tried to grow. The memories were better than any reality I would see today. But I raced away from them.
I felt so slow, like I was running through wet sand—I couldn’t seem to get enough purchase from the concrete. I tripped over my feet several times, once falling, catching myself with my hands, scraping them on the sidewalk, and then lurching up to plunge forward again. At last I made it to the corner. Just another street now; I ran, sweat pouring down my face, gasping. The sun was hot on my skin, too bright as it bounced off the white concrete and blinded me.
When I rounded the last corner, onto Cactus, I could see the studio, looking just as I remembered it. The parking lot in front was empty, the vertical blinds in all the windows drawn. I couldn’t run anymore—I couldn’t breathe; fear had gotten the best of me. I thought of my mother to keep my feet moving, one in front of the other.
As I got closer, I could see the sign taped inside the door. It was handwritten on bright pink paper; it said the dance studio was closed for spring break. I touched the handle, tugged on it cautiously. It was unlocked. I fought to catch my breath, and opened the door.
The lobby was dark and empty, cool, the air conditioner thrumming. The plastic molded chairs were stacked along the walls, and the carpet was damp. The west dance floor was dark, I could see through the open viewing window. The east dance floor, the bigger room, the one from Archie’s vision, was lit. But the blinds were closed on the window.
Terror seized me so strongly that I was literally trapped by it. I couldn’t make my feet move forward.
And then my mom’s voice called for me.
“Beau? Beau?” That same tone of hysterical panic. I sprinted to the door, to the sound of her voice.
“Beau, you scared me! Don’t you ever do that to me again!” Her voice continued as I ran into the long, high-ceilinged room.
I stared around me, trying to find where her voice was coming from. I heard her laugh, and I spun toward the sound.
There she was, on the TV screen, mussing my hair in relief. It was Thanksgiving, and I was twelve. We’d gone to see my grandmother in California, the last year before she died. We went to the beach one day, and I’d leaned too far over the edge of the pier. Mom had seen my feet flailing, trying to reclaim my balance. “Beau? Beau?” she’d cried out in panic.
And then the TV screen was blue.
I turned slowly. The tracker was standing very still by the back exit, so still I hadn’t noticed her at first. In her hand was a remote control. We stared at each other for a long moment, and then she smiled.
She walked toward me, got just a few feet away, and then passed me to put the remote down next to the VCR. I pivoted carefully to watch her.
“Sorry about that, Beau, but isn’t it better that your mother didn’t really have to be involved in all this?” Her voice was kind.
And suddenly it hit me. My mom was safe. She was still in Florida. She’d never gotten my message. She’d never been terrified by the dark red eyes staring at me now. She wasn’t in pain. She was safe.
“Yes,” I answered, my voice breaking with relief.
“You don’t sound angry that I tricked you.”
“I’m not.” My sudden high made me brave. What did it matter now? It would be over soon. Charlie and Mom would never be hurt, would never have to be afraid. I felt almost dizzy from the relief. Some analytical part of my mind warned me that I was close to snapping from the stress, but then, losing my mind sounded like a decent option right now.
“How odd. You really mean it.” Her dark eyes looked me up and down. The irises were nearly black, just a hint of ruby around the edges. Thirsty. “I will give your strange coven this much, you humans can be quite interesting. I guess I can see the draw of observing you more closely. It’s amazing—some of you seem to have no sense of your own self-interest at all.”
She was standing a few feet away from me, arms folded, looking at me curiously. There was no menace in her expression or stance. She was so average-looking, nothing remarkable about her face or body at all. Just the white skin, the circled eyes I was used to. She wore a pale blue, long-sleeved shirt and faded blue jeans.
“I suppose you’re going to tell me that your friends will avenge you?” she asked—hopefully, I thought.
“I asked them not to.”
“And what did your lover think of that?”
“I don’t know.” It was weird how easy it was to talk to her. “I left her a letter.”
“How romantic, a last letter. And do you think she will honor it?” Her voice was just a little harder now, a hint of sarcasm marring her polite tone.
“I hope so.”
“Hmmm. Well, our hopes differ then. You see, this was all just a little too easy, too quick. To be quite honest, I’m disappointed. I expected a much greater challenge. And, after all, I only needed a little luck.”