Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 55)

Her scarf—her brother’s stolen scarf—was folded on top of my backpack, and I had to keep walking over to touch it. That part was real, at least.

It was foggy and dark outside my window, absolutely perfect. She had no reason to miss school today. I dressed in layers, remembering I didn’t have my jacket and hoping I wouldn’t get soaked all the way through before I could find it again.

When I got downstairs, Charlie was gone—I was running later than I’d realized. I swallowed a granola bar in three bites, chased it down with milk straight from the carton, and then hurried out the door. Hopefully the rain would hold off until I saw Jeremy. Hopefully my jacket was still in his car.

It was really foggy; the air looked like it was filled with smoke. The mist was ice cold where it touched my face, and I couldn’t wait to get the heat going in my truck. It was such a thick fog that I was a few feet down the driveway before I realized there was another car in it: a familiar silver car. My heart did the weird double-thump thing, and I hoped I wasn’t developing some kind of aortic issue.

The passenger window was down, and she was leaning toward me, trying not to laugh at my I might be having a heart attack face.

“Would you like a ride to school?” she asked.

Though she was smiling, there was uncertainty in her voice. She didn’t mean this to be a no-brainer for me, she wanted me to really think about what I was doing. Maybe she even wanted me to say no. But that wasn’t going to happen.

“Yeah, thanks,” I said, trying to sound casual. As I ducked into the warm car, I noticed a light tan jacket slung over the headrest of the passenger seat.

“What’s this?”

“Royal’s jacket. I didn’t want you to catch a cold or something.”

I set the jacket carefully on the backseat. She didn’t seem to mind borrowing her brothers’ stuff, but who knew how they felt about it? One of the confused images I remembered from the car accident, however many weeks ago it was now, was the faces of her siblings, watching from a distance. The word that had best summed up Royal’s face was fury.

I might have a hard time being afraid of Edythe, but I didn’t think I’d have the same problem with Royal.

I pulled the scarf from my bag and laid it on top of the jacket.

“I’m good,” I told her, and thumped my fist against my chest twice. “Immune system in top form.”

She laughed, but I wasn’t sure if it was because she thought I was funny, or ridiculous. Oh well. Just as long as I got to hear her laugh.

She drove through the foggy streets, always too fast, barely looking at the road. She wasn’t wearing a jacket, either, just a pale lavender sweater with the sleeves pushed up. The sweater hugged her body, and I tried not to stare. Her hair was wound up into a twist on the back of her head—messy, with strands falling out everywhere—and the way it exposed the slender column of her neck was also distracting. I wanted to brush my fingertips down the length of her throat.…

But I had to be more careful, like she’d warned me last night. I wasn’t entirely sure what she meant, but I would do my best, because it was something she obviously needed from me. I wouldn’t do anything that would scare her away.

“What, no Twenty Questions today?” she asked me.

“Was that annoying last night?”

“Not annoying, just… confusing.”

I was surprised she felt that way. It seemed like I was the one in the dark. “What does that mean?”

“Your reactions—I don’t understand them.”

“My reactions?”

She glanced at me, raising an eyebrow. “Yes, Beau. When someone tells you they drink blood, you’re supposed to get upset. Make a cross with your fingers, throw holy water, run away screaming, that sort of thing.”

“Oh. Um… I’ll do better next time?”

“By all means, please work on your expressions of horror.”

“Horror isn’t exactly how I’d describe last night.”

She exhaled through her nose, irritated. I didn’t know what to say. Nothing could make me see her as something to run away from.

“So, um, where’s the rest of your family?”

I didn’t actually want to think about her family. I didn’t want to deal with the idea of more vampires—vampires who weren’t Edythe. Vampires who might inspire real horror.

But the fact was that usually her car was full, and today it wasn’t. Of course, I was grateful. It was hard to imagine something that would keep me out of a car when Edythe invited me in, but a bunch of furious vampires in the backseat might complicate things.

She was just pulling into the school parking lot. Already.

“They took Royal’s car.” She gestured to a glossy red convertible with the top up as she swerved into the spot next to it. “Ostentatious, isn’t it?”

“If he’s got that, why does he ride with you?”

“Like I said, it’s ostentatious. We try to blend in.”

I laughed as I opened the car door. “No offense, but you’re totally failing there.”

She rolled her eyes.

I wasn’t late anymore. Her lunatic driving had gotten us to school with time to spare. “Why did Royal drive today if it’s more conspicuous?”

“My fault—as usual, Royal would say. Haven’t you noticed, Beau? I’m breaking all the rules now.”

She met me at the front of the car, staying very close to my side as we walked onto campus. I wanted to close that little distance, to reach out and touch her hand again, to put my arm around her shoulders, but I was afraid that wouldn’t be careful enough for her.


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