Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 26)

“Tell me one of your theories.”

Whoops. “No way.”

“You promised me a favor.”

“And you’ve broken promises before,” I reminded her.

“Just one theory—I won’t laugh.”

“Yes, you will.” I had no doubt about that.

She looked down, then glanced up at me through her thick lashes, her long gold eyes scorching underneath.

“Please?” she breathed, leaning toward me. Without permission, my body leaned closer to her, like she was a magnet and I was a paper clip, till her face was less than a foot from mine. My mind went totally blank.

I shook my head, trying to clear it, and forced myself to sit back. “Um… what?”

“One little theory,” she purred. “Please?”

“Well, er, bitten by a radioactive spider?” Was she a hypnotist, too? Or was I just a hopeless pushover?

She rolled her eyes. “That’s not very creative.”

“Sorry, that’s all I’ve got.”

“You’re not even close.”

“No spiders?”

“No spiders.”

“No radioactivity?”

“None at all.”

“Huh,” I mumbled.

She chuckled. “Kryptonite doesn’t bother me, either.”

“You’re not supposed to laugh, remember?”

She pressed her lips together, but her shoulders shook from holding the laughter back.

“I’ll figure it out eventually,” I muttered.

Her humor vanished like a switch flipped off. “I wish you wouldn’t try.”

“How can I not wonder? I mean… you’re impossible.” I didn’t say it like a criticism, just a statement. You are not possible. You are more than what is possible.

She understood. “But what if I’m not a superhero? What if I’m the villain?” She smiled as she said this, playfully, but her eyes were heavy with some burden I couldn’t imagine.

“Oh,” I said, surprised. Her many hints started adding up until they finally made sense. “Oh, okay.”

She waited, suddenly rigid with stress. In that second, all of her walls seemed to disappear.

“What exactly does okay mean?” she asked so quietly it was almost a whisper.

I tried to order my thoughts, but her anxiety pushed me to answer faster. I said the words without preparing them first.

“You’re dangerous?” It came out like a question, and there was doubt in my voice. She was smaller than I was, no more than my age, and delicately built. Under normal circumstances, I would have laughed at applying the word dangerous to someone like her. But she was not normal, and there was no one like her. I remembered the first time she’d glared at me with hate in her eyes, and I’d felt genuinely afraid, though I hadn’t understood that reaction in the moment, and I’d thought it foolish just seconds later. Now I understood. Under the doubt, outside the incongruity of the word dangerous applied to her slim and perfect body, I could feel the truth of the foundation. The danger was real, though my logical mind couldn’t make sense of it. And she’d been trying to warn me all along.

“Dangerous,” I murmured again, trying to fit the word to the person in front of me. Her porcelain face was still vulnerable, without walls or secrets. Her eyes were wide now, anticipating my reaction. She seemed to be bracing herself for some kind of impact. “But not the villain,” I whispered. “No, I don’t believe that.”

“You’re wrong.” Her voice was almost inaudible. She looked down, reaching out to steal the lid for my lemonade, which she then spun like a top between her fingers. I took advantage of her inattention to stare some more. She meant what she was saying—that was obvious. She wanted me to be afraid of her.

What I felt most was… fascinated. There were some nerves, of course, being so close to her. Fear of making a fool of myself. But all I wanted was to sit here forever, to listen to her voice and watch the expressions fly across her face, so much faster than I could analyze them. So of course that was when I noticed that the cafeteria was almost empty.

I shoved my chair away from the table, and she looked up. She seemed… sad. But resigned. Like this was the reaction she’d been waiting for.

“We’re going to be late,” I told her, scrambling to my feet.

She was surprised for just a second, and then the now-familiar amusement was back.

“I’m not going to class today.” Her fingers twirled the lid so fast that it was just a blur.

“Why not?”

She smiled up at me, but her eyes were not entirely disguised. I could still see the stress behind her façade.

“It’s healthy to ditch class now and then,” she said.

“Oh. Well, I guess… I should go?” Was there another option? I wasn’t much for ditching, but if she asked me to…

She turned her attention back to her makeshift top. “I’ll see you later, then.”

That sounded like a dismissal, and I wasn’t totally against being dismissed. There was so much to think about, and I didn’t do my best thinking with her near. The first bell rang and I hurried to the door. I glanced back once to see that she hadn’t moved at all, and the lid was still spinning in a tight circle like it would never stop.

As I half-ran to class, my head was spinning just as fast. So few questions had been answered—none, really, when I thought through it—but so many more had been raised.

I was lucky; the teacher wasn’t in the room when I ran in late, face hot. Both Allen and McKayla were staring at me—Allen with surprise, almost awe, and McKayla with resentment.


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